Saturday, August 19, 2017

Introducing our Newest Faith Formation Staff Members

As your Director of Outreach and Faith Formation I am excited to announce the hiring of two new members to the St. Paul’s Cathedral staff and Faith Formation team.

 They are Maya Little-Saña and Abigail (Abby) Creager.

Maya Little-Saña, a San Diego native and St. Paul's parishioner for three years, is a student at San Diego City College pursuing an Associate’s Degree for Transfer to SDSU in Religious Studies. She believes working at St. Paul's with the youth will help her discern her vocation and "where her deep gladness and where the world's deep need" meets. She enjoys poetry, the beach, and dancing at local punk rock concerts. Maya officially joined the staff as our new Youth Minister on August 1st, and has already begun brainstorming new and exciting ways to cultivate community amongst the youth at St. Paul’s.



Abby Creager, from Monterey, CA, is the Cathedral's new Director of Children, Youth and Family Ministries. After recently moving to the San Diego area, Abby began working as a Sunday School coordinator at La Jolla Presbyterian Church. She has extensive experience in church ministry, played violin in her church's worship team for eight years and participated in mission work in Mexico. Abby earned her degree in violin performance from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and has been playing and performing for the past 18 years. She loves working with families and kids, and is so passionate about helping others through ministry. She is excited to be at St. Paul's and is thrilled to serve the community.

Together, the three of us will make up the Faith Formation team here at the cathedral. We will work together to bring the community multifaceted intergenerational faith formation offerings as well as strive to cultivate a sense of community around these various offerings.

As Director of Faith Formation, I am overjoyed to welcome Maya and Abby onto the staff and so excited to see what we can do together. Please welcome Abby and Maya as you see them around campus this week, and make sure to let them know the ways you would like to get involved with Children, Youth and Families ministries this year.

 Peace,

David Tremaine
Director of Outreach and Formation

Friday, August 18, 2017

AIDS walk: Call to register!


It is time once again for members of Saint Paul’s Cathedral to join our team to contribute, participate in the walk or run, and contact at least 10 friends and family members to commit a donation of any size to our team. Jack and I support this event because we, like many of you, have witnessed devastating losses of friends and family to this disease since its inception. We gather to remember them, their caregivers and the many researchers who were on the front lines of searching for treatment in the absence of any government recognition, support and funding.

Recall that in 1980 Ken Horne of San Francisco was the first recognized case of AIDS, exhibiting Kaposi’s Sarcoma and other symtoms. By 1984, thousands of gay men in the United States were dying every year. Reagan had still failed to mention its existence. In San Francisco, our friend, Dr. Larry Waites along with Dr. Martin Delaney and the immunologist, Dr. Alan Levin, did pioneering work researching dead ends like Compound Q, while also forming advocacy groups like Act Up to change the FDA’s arcane rules limiting access to drugs that showed promise in clinical trials. Today, pioneering work continues on a vaccine by researchers at Scripps and other San Diego institutions.

Thank God for our heroes then and now.

Our goal is to raise vital funds to support those living with the disease today.

To join our team at the march Sept 30:

1. Visit http://www.aidswalksd.org
2. Scroll down to “join a team”
3. Enter the team, “St. Paul’s Cathedral
4. Click, “join”
5. Select the appropriate participant options.
6. Make a donation online.
7. Share with your friends on Facebook.


Many thanks,

John Clemens, Team Captain

(on behalf of Saint Paul's Peace and Justice Committee)

The Sunday Sermon: Be Not Afraid!

In the lesson from the Hebrew Scriptures today, Joseph was a dreamer. It was one of the many reasons his brothers didn’t like him and tried to kill him. He had a gift for seeing the future broken loose from the chains of today.

The annual memorial service for another dreamer, Dr. Martin Luther King Junior, at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta begins each year with a haunting line from this passage, comparing the plot to murder Joseph the dreamer with the assassination of MLK who had a dream. “Behold, this dreamer cometh. Come now therefore, and let us slay him… and we shall see what will become of his dreams.” People describe it as chilling.

I wouldn’t dare to speak for the status of Martin Luther King’s dream. But I think I am safe in saying that this weekend, the events in Charlottesville have showed us that his dream, a dream that really originated not with one man but from more divine sources, has been tested sorely.

White supremacists gathered in Charlottesville this weekend to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. They encountered a fierce group of counter protesters, and violence ensued, with rocks thrown and pepper spray sprayed at random, and a car driven into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing at least one person, and a helicopter crash with police onboard taking the lives of two officers. It was a hateful scene.

Before I go on, I want to just name something. I want to say that before I think about what the Christian response might look like, I just need to name that I’m angry. I’m angry that we live in a country where bluster and inciting the mob and provoking each other has become the new normal. This incident recalls for me the church shootings in Charlottesville two years ago. I'm beyond words at the fact that those nine children of God were killed in Charlottesville simply for being black in church. The response in my then home town of Apple Valley. In that town my wonderful parish had a vigil for the victims and I'm angry because we drew fire from the local community for being too “pro-black.” My kids stood by at school and watched as white children wore confederate flags on their shirts to school as Charlottesville decided whether to remove those symbols of racism. As these children wore those shirts publicly, they taunted children of color who then had to decide whether to stand up for themselves or walk away. One particular African-American child stood up for himself and was beaten, and that makes me angry. And I'm angry because somebody's parent let that child wear that shirt to school.

I'm angry, too, at myself. Because I've been complacent. As a person of European descent I have had the luxury of putting race on the shelf. I have been able to pull out my concern for the peril of driving while black after the latest incident, or get angry after the most recent public shooting in El Cajon of a person of color, until I go back to normal. But I'm angry at myself because normal for me seems to somehow ignore the racism that exists everyday. I don't have to have “the talk” with my children about why they will be treated different. I don't get watched when I'm shopping in a store, and people don't clutch their purses a little tighter when they see me coming or cross to the other side of the street because the sight of me scares them. I have the privilege of moving in and out of concerns about racism at my leisure. And I do. And that makes me disappointed in myself. And I'm not alone, and that makes me disappointed in all of us.

But anger and disappointment isn’t going to solve this. In fact, anger may make this worse. I believe I have to figure out how to deal with my anger, and my grief and my fear, and then figure out what I can do to work on this problem. And that’s what I think we have to do as the church, too. But we aren’t going to get through the anger and the grief and the shock of it all if we don’t name it.

I also don't want to minimize the anger over race. But I know that many of us feel overwhelmed right now with anger and shock. It is tied into the anger and shock and the fear of so many other questions. It is tied into the question of whether we care enough about each other to provide for one another in sickness with health insurance, as the Good Samaritan cared for the injured one on the roadside. And it is tied to whether or not the human family is compassionate enough to break down the walls of nationalism and treat immigrants as human beings, just like the Holy Family were welcomed when they fled from their home as they were persecuted and dehumanized. And it is tied into the question of whether we will really embrace women as equals in the workforce, despite the voices legitimizing the crazy letter from the Google employee this past week and the call from Paul that in Christ there is neither male nor female. And it is tied to whether or not we will, as humanity, find a solution to our disagreements without resorting to nuclear war and total annihilation, seeking the peaceful way of Christ. This is tied in to what it means to be the human family of God. It is tied into the question of whether or not we belong to each other at all; whether we are a human family or just a human race.

The letter to the Romans describes that family of God: “there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him.” One of my favorite lines from Archbishop Desmond Tutu is similar. He says: “This family has no outsiders. Everyone is an insider. When Jesus said, “I, if I am lifted up, will draw . . .” Did he say, “I will draw some”? “I will draw some, and tough luck for the others”? He said, “I, if I be lifted up, will draw all.” All! All! All! – Black, white, yellow; rich, poor; clever, not so clever; beautiful, not so beautiful. All! All! It is radical. All! [Kim Jong-un, Vladmir Putin, Donald Trump] – all! All! All are to be held in this incredible embrace. Gay, lesbian, [transgender] so-called “straight;” all! All! All are to be held in the incredible embrace of the love that won’t let us go.”[1]

It’s amazing that the love of God for this family is perfect even though the family of God isn’t perfect. And the wonderful thing about the Hebrew Scriptures is that those folks aren’t perfect either. Joseph is a tattle-tale, his father really plays favorites, which causes jealousy among the rest of the family, and the brothers then take it way out of proportion and decide to kill him. What is more human than that? You can’t help but have compassion for the whole human family, with all its foibles, when you study the Hebrew scriptures. You love them. And you get angry with them for being disappointing. And you watch as God loves them even when you’d rather they be forsaken and left behind.

The hope of this story is that it doesn’t derail the main theme: this story of Joseph is one chapter in a long story on the way of Abraham’s descendants becoming a strong nation, the dream of God for that time. And even though they aren’t perfect, God is taking their foibles and imperfections and working God’s dream out among them, even as they stumble, even as they attempt murder, even as they treat each other horribly.

That doesn’t negate the pain of Joseph as he is down in that well in that story, or of Jacob when he believes Joseph is dead. Similarly it does not in our time negate the grief or anger of the mothers who lost their babies in Charlottesville. God didn’t put Joseph down in the pit, and God doesn’t make anyone think murder is a good idea, and God didn’t do any of those awful things in Charlottesville or anywhere else, and racism is abhorrent to God’s dream. But the promised land still came to be for the descendants of Jacob. And God’s dream is still alive now even when so much appears to stand in the way.

As Martin Luther King Jr, said: the moral arc of the universe is very long, and it bends towards justice. There are more chapters to the story than we can see from where we stand right now. And the tears God sheds for each tragedy pour out as God weeps with and for us. But the moral arc of the universe is very long, and it bends towards justice.

That isn't meant to take away our anger. But I hope it strengthens our resolve.

When I look at Peter in this gospel, I can’t explain it, but I feel hopeful about the future. Peter gets out of the boat and risks of himself to go towards Jesus. And he doesn’t make it. He falters. I can relate to that.

But Jesus reaches out, and I picture him saying as a parent, “You of little faith! Why did you doubt? You got this!” But the more important point is-- Jesus reaches out and saves him. Peter’s inability to have complete faith doesn’t cause him to drown, because Jesus saves him anyway.

And I guess that is the core of my faith, and the essence of my hope: That God completes those things which seem impossible. Hope is the essence of things unseen, and right now stability and love and peace in the world are unseen to me. Maybe its naive faith. Maybe its blind. But its faith, and its what I have. And I think that demanding anything else of God would be proof, and not faith.

There was a strong counterpoint to the hate-filled, torch carrying white supremacists this weekend. A group of clergy and faithful lay people, who had travelled to Charlottesville at risk to their own safety formed a counterprotest, locked arms with each other, and sang “This little light of mine” even while the other group shouted at them while holding assault rifles pointed in their direction. This courageous moment inspired faith and hope across the nation, with responses like “I'm so grateful for their strong presence” and “hide it under a bushel, no! I'm gonna let it shine.”

The dream of God is God’s to dream. Racism can't dismantle it. And my invitation, and yours, is to get out of the boat, and walk into the middle of the frightening storm, and work on that lovely dream of God with courage, and trust that it's going to be ok even though all you can see tells you otherwise. Be not afraid!

The Rev. Cn. Jeff Martinhauk
Proper 14A, August 13, 2017
St. Paul’s Cathedral, San Diego
Matt 14:22-33
________________

[1] https://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/quotes/desmond-tutu-on-jesus-universal-embrace

10:30 AM Sunday Sermon, August 13th, 2017, The Rev. Jeff Martinhauk, Preaching from St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The CAT Scan is here!

Thank you to the over 200 members who participated in the Congregational Assessment Tool this past spring.  The Congregational Assessment Tool, or CAT, is a congregation-wide survey to take the temperature of the congregation, highlight where we hope to go and where our opportunities lie.

The results are attached in this blog.  Scott Crispell, a former bishop’s warden of the cathedral and a diocesan CAT interpreter, presented the results to the congregation at the forum last week.  You can find the video of that presentation here:




Several reports are available to you now:

1) An executive summary of the findings (one page) which gives a high-level overview of the results.
2) The full results of the core survey (many pages).
3) Supplemental Questions – a few pages containing answers to questions that we worded specifically for our congregation.

The results of the survey were very strong: we have an energized and vital congregation with strengths related to inclusion and advocacy.

Please review these findings and bring your questions, comments, hopes and concerns to the forum this Sunday as the Dean leads us in a town hall conversation to discuss the results.  We will journey into conversation together to discuss things like: why did we answer the way we answered?  What is behind the data?  Where is the opportunity for us to do something with what the data tells us?

Join us Sunday at 9:00 in the Great Hall.  This forum will also be recorded and available on the web site.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

How to advocate in Congress

At Sunday’s forum, Susan Forsburg (whose weekday job is professor of molecular biology) described how she works with one of her professional societies to advocate Congress for science funding, including trips to Washington, DC to meet with Congressional representatives.

Here’s Susan’s list of ways to advocate for issues that you care about.  It is essential you let them know what you think--Congresspeople are responsive to their district constituents.   It’s just as important to let your Rep know you are happy with his/her votes and stands on the issues, as it is to try to persuade them to change. They need to hear from you even if you know they are voting as you wish.

1) Call your representative! The telephone is the most effective way to let them know what you think. Of course, it can be hard to get through, but keep trying!  And don’t forget to contact the local office, which is often easier to reach than the Washington office. The Senators both have offices in the major cities throughout California. Representatives have one or two offices depending on the size of their district.

 Not sure who your representative is? You can look up your district by zip code. https://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

To get you started, here are some telephone numbers.  Be prepared to identify yourself and provide your address and contact information.  But don't bother to call reps other than your own--if you don't live in their district, they aren't interested in hearing from you.

  • Senator Dianne Feinstein     DC: (202) 224-3841     local (619) 231-9712
  • Senator Kamala Harris    DC: (202) 224-3553   local (619) 239-3884
  • Rep Susan Davis     DC: (202) 225-2040   local (619) 280-5353
  • Rep Duncan Hunter     DC: (202) 225-5672   local (619) 448-5201
  • Rep Darryl Issa     DC: (202) 225- 3906   local (760) 599-5000
  • Rep Scott Peters     DC: (202) 225-0508   local (858) 455-5550
  • Rep Juan Vargas:     DC:  (202) 225-8045   local (619) 422-5963

2) If you can’t call, fax or stamped mail is the next best. Email is much less effective (unless it is part of a huge blast) and those online petitions have very little effect than to give other people your email address.

3) Visit your Representative or their staff, either locally, or if you are in Washington. You can stop in on the spur of the moment, but that is less effective than calling for an appointment. Ideally, you will be able to meet with a more senior staff person and not just the receptionist. Prepare for the meeting so that you are most effective in the limited time.

  • Research your representative’s record, so that you know where they stand. They all have web pages at house.gov or senate.gov that describe their positions. Are they on a committee that has a direct vote on your issue of concern?
  • Be clear what you want your Rep to do. Share your story.  
  • Provide materials that may bolster your position, or help them make the argument. Keep them short and to the point.
  • Follow up with a thank you note or email, and provide further information if needed.
  • Stay in touch!
If you do visit Congress, you will go through a metal detector to enter the House or Senate office buildings, but they are open!   No demonstrations or signs are allowed in the  office buildings, and neat professional dress is best.  Your Senator or Rep's office can also give you passes for the Gallery above the House or Senate chamber in the Capitol building (you can just stop in for those) but be prepared for a long line if you want to visit the Gallery.  


4) Attend town halls when your Representative is in the district.

5) Educate others in your cause and recruit them to go with you!  There’s power in numbers!  Write letters to the press and use social media to stay in touch with your member

There’s a saying: if we want better government, we need to be better citizens.  Don't be a silent majority--get active!

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Sunday Sermon: Exodus to Glory

If you’re experiencing a little déja vu this morning, it’s probably because you were at church on February 26, the last Sunday before Lent, which is our annual reading of the Transfiguration Gospel. We get the story twice this year because, in their wisdom, the compilers of our Prayer Book decreed that the traditional feast of Transfiguration on August 6 is so important that when it falls on a Sunday, it trumps the ordinary Sunday readings. So here we are again, back on the holy mountain, struggling with Peter, James, and John to keep our eyes open as Jesus is revealed to be the chosen one of God, the one we should listen to.

It’s a day for striking Scriptural images: the mountain, the dazzling white of Jesus’ clothes, the prophetic apparitions, the cloud and divine voice, echoing the experience of Moses likewise on a holy mountain, also shining after his encounter with the divine. It’s pretty clear why the Transfiguration Gospel is routinely paired with this story of Moses, and with the second letter of Peter with its memoir of the terrifying experience. But, like everything we read in Scripture, these accounts come to us mediated by the church’s tradition, by our human experience, and by the thousands of years that have passed since they were collected and written down, with the result that every time we read these stories there is the potential for new insight and new connections. For many of us, the image of the blinding flash of light is overlaid by our knowledge of the blinding flash that catastrophically struck Hiroshima on this day 72 years ago. The anniversary reminds us horrifically that light can be lethal in the wrong hands. Who would have made that connection before 1945?

We see this dynamic in Scripture itself. The writer of the letter of Peter (who probably wasn’t St. Peter himself but an early bishop who wanted to claim the authority of Peter) interpreted the institutional memory of the transfiguration through a lens of prophetic authority, in a time when Christians were starting to doubt that Jesus would return in judgment, and they were starting to fall away from the teachings of Scripture. The church needed to reclaim the voice of the prophets.

The poet Miklos Radnóti, a victim of the Holocaust, writes this of prophecy:
But what happens if we don’t learn
From the voices of the past?
Of what use to the world
Is a poet
Or a prophet
Whose words go unheeded?
Peter claims that the transfiguration confirms the prophetic word, because it places Jesus in the immediate company of the two greatest Jewish prophets and carries God’s explicit stamp of approval. When we read the Transfiguration story in Luke’s Gospel, we read it in the context of Luke’s portrayal of Jesus as “a prophet mighty in word and deed”. And Moses, the archetypal prophet, was the leader of the Exodus, the liberation of God’s people, the foundational experience of Israel. Luke uses this same word, Exodus, translated in our text as Departure, to describe Jesus’ journey to the Cross. And Peter also uses Exodus to refer to his own departure, as he evidently expects to die soon.

If we follow Peter’s advice, to be attentive to the prophetic word as to a lamp shining in a dark place, we find the spotlight shining on this idea of Exodus. And we are moved to ponder Exodus as a community, guided by the Holy Spirit. One of the reasons we gather for worship every week is to reflect on scripture in community. No individual has a definitive interpretation, and, regardless of the people who cherry-pick a favorite verse to prove one thing or another, no single passage of Scripture conveys the whole meaning of God’s word for us.

Every Sunday we hear four passages of Scripture, taken from different sections of the Bible, written in different centuries and from different points of view. Sometimes the theology of one passage complements another. Sometimes they clash. And sometimes the place where a community finds itself as it reads sheds new light and opens up whole new meanings for a familiar story. When the enslaved Africans on this continent started to study Scripture, they found new life and hope in their identification with the Israelites held captive in Egypt. Feminist theologians have brought to light the importance of leaders like Lydia and Mary Magdalene in the early church. Scholars of queer theology have lifted up the loving covenant between David and Jonathan as an icon for same-sex relationships.

But, as Peter stresses, this interpretation doesn’t happen in isolation. It happens when men and women, plural, are moved by the Holy Spirit to shine the light of prophecy on the darkness of the world.

When Moses led the chosen people out of Egypt into the wilderness, it didn’t take long before those same people started to grumble and rebel. A few weeks ago the Rev Troy Perry preached here, memorably speaking about the “back to Egypt committee”. Even though the Exodus was leading them to freedom, there was a vocal minority in favor of returning to slavery, of abandoning the new thing God was leading them to and retreating to the comfort and predictability of their old life, even though that old life was leading directly to their extinction. Remember, the midwives were instructed to kill all the newborn Israelite boys.

Whenever we set off in a new direction, through uncharted territory, it is easy to forget the deadly elements of the old ways and remember only the good times. That’s one reason why we do discernment in community, listening to many perspectives, so that we don’t become paralysed by a single voice taking Scripture out of context.

It's never easy to lead a community through an exodus, whatever shape Egypt might have taken: a patriarchal, racist society in which women are treated as chattel; the dying remnants of an era of establishment religion and guilt-driven church attendance; an alcoholic family system where toxic secrets were the order of the day and everyone's lives revolved around the most dysfunctional family member ... Egypt shows up in all kinds of contexts.

As we struggle today to chart a new course for the church in this new, post-Christendom, post-denominational wilderness journey, it’s tempting to look back and remember the full classrooms and surplus budgets of the past, forgetting the exclusion of women from the altar, the pulpit condemnation of LGBT people, the sloppy stewardship of resources that was part of the church’s fabric for generations. We are in the midst of a new Exodus, one that will, by God’s grace, free us from worn-out assumptions, toxic habits, deadly prejudices. The prophetic word continues to lead us forward even as we look back over our shoulders at the comfortable prisons of the past.

The word of prophecy may come from an unexpected source. It may be the child who asks an existential question or the person pushing an overloaded cart who shouts out a random Bible verse. It may be the phrase of poetry that leaps off the page or the hard truth blurted out in the midst of an impassioned debate. We need to listen with the ears of faith, with hearts open to the new word that God may bring us.

When Peter, James, and John saw Jesus transfigured in glory on the holy mountain, their eyes were opened to the unique nature of their leader. And that’s why the Transfiguration story still has a powerful message for us, reminding us vividly that Jesus isn't just a teacher, a good example, or a revolutionary. He is the one chosen by God, the one we must listen to. His sacrifice is the culminating point in the story of God's people, and he is the prophet, and more than a prophet, who transcends history and who leads us in exodus from bondage to freedom, offering transformation and even transfiguration to those who love him and serve him through serving the world.

The God who brought the chosen people out of Egypt with a strong and outstretched arm brings us out of sin and alienation with the outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross, as he completes his exodus and enters into glory. As we join Peter, James, and John in joyful witness to the transfiguration, continuing in community to ponder the prophetic word and pressing forward towards a future of renewal and reconciliation, we will find the grace, as our Collect says, to be delivered from the disquietude of this world and gifted by faith to behold God’s true glory.

  The Very Rev Penelope Bridges
Transfiguration: August 6, 2017

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Sunday Sermon: Stewardship of the Kingdom

There is a story about a man who was a member of his parish, but who didn’t give anything to the church one year.

When the priest went to check on him, he opened the door and asked, “Did you know that my son just wrecked his car and needs a new one?”

The priest replied, “Why no, I didn’t know.”

“Or did you know that my daughter just lost her job and has no money.”

Again, the priest replied, “Oh my- no I had no idea.”

“And did you know that my wife is very sick and needs treatment?”

The priest, taken completely aback, said, “Oh my gosh, I’m just so sorry.”

The man said, “So if I didn’t give anything to any of them, what makes you think I’m going to give anything to you?” And closed the door, leaving the priest outside.

The man in this story clearly had a value attached to money that might not be the same as what we find in today’s gospel readings. We have today a series of parables about how God’s kingdom is different from what we expect, from what we are trained to value.

In the parable of the mustard seed, we have a tiny seed-- a weed, really, that takes over subversively. It isn’t anything the gardener wants to have planted in the yard: it just shows up; the tiny seed having been invisible among what he planted. When I lived in the desert, the mustard plants would take over the whole yard if I didn’t weed carefully each spring. They even came up through the landscape fabric designed to keep them out. They were insidious- they just appeared. Just like that, Jesus says the kingdom of God sneaks up from outside the expected places of the powers and provinces the way the empire works and then takes over with a different way, like a weed.

And next we have the parable of the yeast. Yeast silently works its way through the flour to leaven the whole batch. And the three measures of flour, incidentally, is quite a lot: enough to make about eleven loaves of bread. When is the last time you needed eleven loaves of bread at once? It’s abundant. It’s almost too much. This woman has taken the yeast and hidden it in about two gallons of flour. So this yeast has silently worked its way through a lot of flour, quietly but effectively working its way through a huge quantity. Just like the story of the mustard seed: the kingdom of God starts with something small and unseen, but before you know it, it spreads to something bigger than we can imagine needing. This is a generous God, working behind the scenes to change things in unexpected ways.

So it is no wonder that the next two parables then talk about what that kingdom is worth. In the parable of the hidden treasure and the merchant in search of fine pearls, the abundant price for the field and the price the merchant is willing to pay are only matched by the abundant yield of the kingdom. But that kingdom- worth so much these folks would give everything they own for it- isn’t a kingdom of vast resources of gold, or silver, or even oil or steel. This is a kingdom of mustard seeds and leavened bread from the prior two stories. But somehow that is worth everything these two people have once they learn about them.

So that’s what the kingdom is. This kingdom of God is subversive, it is worth giving everything away for, and it looks like… some bushes and bread. In the words of one commentator, Jesus’ point is to ask something like, “Would you give away everything you have for a crop of kudzu?”

Because God’s kingdom doesn’t look like the way we expect kingdoms to look. The kingdom of God isn’t a kingdom of silver and gold. It isn’t cosmetic beauty even, or riches, or power. It’s something much more valuable.

What does that kingdom look like then? What does that mustard seed produce in our time? What is like the yeast for us, that goes to work silently transforming the world, maybe even getting out of control, even looking a little dangerous, but is actually the kingdom of God at work transforming the world around us? Is there anything you can think of that might call you to give up all you have-- especially for something as seemingly meaningless to the world as a mustard seed or eleven loaves of bread?

This is why we have to talk about money when it isn’t stewardship season. Because Stewardship isn’t fundraising for the church, although that’s what we’ve reduced it to. Stewardship is something much bigger than that.

Stewardship, for me has two components in the spiritual life. There is the corporate aspect of Stewardship: that is, how will we, in our common life, use all that we have to do all we can for the mission of God-- to spread all the mustard seeds we can, with all the yeast we can find, hiding it into all the flour available. But while fundraising in a non-profit may include conversations with donors about whether they are getting what they want and need, corporate stewardship in the church is not about that. Corporate stewardship is discernment among the whole body, where we work together knowing that everyone will not always get what they want, but that the members of the body work together for the common good of the mission of the church, not for the good of any one individual member, but for the furthering of the spread of these silly mustard seeds and that pesky yeast. It is about whether we are following God’s mission for us rather than donor’s desires, and that takes the body to discern with the leadership.

But there is another component to stewardship that is the root of Christian discipleship.

Personal stewardship is how each of us use the resources of the kingdom of this world in order to work for the kingdom of God. It’s how as individual followers of the Christ we are called to do all we can with all we have all of the time.

And, I’m sorry to tell the man from the beginning of the story, that includes money. Oh, we don’t like to talk about our money! But it also includes our children and our parents and our energy and our environment and what we purchase and everything else, too. Stewardship is doing all we can with all we have all of the time. It is selling everything we own to buy the field with that remarkable treasure in it; it is giving away everything because we have discovered the value of the pearl of a great price.

That is a really hard thing to talk about. Because just like the yeast, the kingdom is subversive. It isn’t something we can just write up some talking points and say, “this is why you should be a good steward.” Stewardship is doing all you can with all you have all the time, because you have found a hidden treasure, and you just know it’s value is unmeasurable.

Stewardship is making a decision about how you see the world and living into that, even when the world seems to value other things.

Stewardship is believing that the resource of kindness should be doled out amply. And deciding to give it out even when it seems like it is in short supply.

Stewardship is believing that reconciliation is a more abundant resource than getting even, and being willing to make withdrawals of forgiveness even when it seems in short supply or that being right is the only currency available.

Stewardship is seeing your child step out and make a decision that may not be what you would choose, but believing that her own agency and independence are her gift to be cherished and cultivated in abundance, so it is the currency that you convert to, because she doesn't belong to you, she is simply yours to steward for a season.

Stewardship is treating all people, immigrants, transgender people, even political enemies with respect. Because human dignity is the only currency for human interaction that have in your bank, and fear and tribalism are bankrupt.

Stewardship is choosing to be friendly to the earth, because it is the resource that you value as a generous gift from God to be revered.

Stewardship is not so much banking on the memories of the past or investing time in countless possibilities of future, but living fully in this present moment, knowing it is much more precious than past or future.

Stewardship is knowing that God is generous. Gratitude is the practice of naming those things of value that are otherwise discarded by the world so that you can treasure them, and value them, and see their worth in the world around you, and let go of the things that others may value more.

And that may mean that Stewardship might include determining how to live off of 90% of your income, so that you can live generously giving 5% or 7% or the Christian standard of 10% back to God in gratitude for cultivating this subversive kingdom that I hope you strive to be a part of. And it may mean that you do something different, too.

Whatever pearls of great price you have found, I hope that you use gratitude every day to remember their value, to cultivate generosity, and to remember the God that offers you a kingdom of abundance.

The Rev. Canon Jeff Martinhauk
Proper 12A, July 30, 2017
St. Paul’s Cathedral, San Diego
Matt 13:31-33; 44-52

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Sunday Sermon: Laboring Among the Weeds

Jacob is on the run. He is running from the murderous rage of his twin brother, Esau, whom he has tricked out of his birthright as the firstborn son. He is in the wilderness, alone, heading for the farm of his uncle, Laban, where he is to find a wife. And out there, in the desert, he has a dream. And he discovers that in this inhospitable place, this place of death, he can encounter the God of life, and God makes a promise that he will survive this, and even that he will be the father of a great nation. When Jacob awakens he commemorates the moment with worship, and he names that place Bethel - God's House.

Where is God's house for you? I'm not just talking about a beautiful Gothic building with stained glass and an altar. I'm talking about the places where you have met God, places perhaps of despair or fear, places of wilderness or pilgrimage, places where death and life stand close together, or where the holy becomes evident in unexpected ways.

Last week, for me, God's house was on Normal Street in the midst of a 100,000 strong Pride crowd, as we celebrated the Eucharist in the street with about 90 of our fellow Episcopalians. I have found myself in God's house at the hospital, on a boat in Mission Bay, at a tense board meeting, on a subway platform. Where have you found God's house?

The more we think about Jacob's journey, the broader becomes our conception of God's house. In this post-Christendom, post-institutional, post-millennial era, we might feel like we are walking through a wilderness, looking back to see the threat of secularism pursuing us, looking ahead to see nothing but desert. Attendance is falling. Resources are not meeting expenditures. Young people are simply not interested in traditional organized religion. How will the church survive in this place that feels like death? How will we maintain the beautiful fabric of our worship spaces, the comfort of our common prayer, the joy of being part of a community that serves others?

Today we need to hear St. Paul's pep talk: you didn't receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. Just as Jacob was adopted by God, so we too are God's children. We are not to live in fear but in hope. We are to look for God's house even in the places of death. We are to continue forward, knowing God's presence with us in the wilderness, believing the promises, and mentoring the young to seek and see the holy in their lives.

Something new is coming into being. The profound shift in religious culture is only part of this new thing. This year's pride parade included not only our expanded diocesan group but about 100 leaders of every faith, leading the parade, walking right in front of contingents of uniformed military personnel from all branches of the armed services. 43 years on from the first San Diego pride celebration in which participants had to wear paper bags on their heads for fear of violent reprisals, this year hundreds of community leaders were proud to be identified as LGBT clergy and public servants, while our own church marched under a banner proclaiming fearless love. We were a visible part of this new world in the making.

Now, new creation is not an easy or painless process. Whether you are making a complicated recipe, or designing a building, or birthing a new culture, it's hard work. As Paul puts it, the whole creation is groaning in labor pains. In the beginning there was chaos before creation, and every creative process starts in chaos, in a wilderness space, and the new thing is brought into being only through the pain and struggle of childbirth, the labor of becoming free. We are all part of that struggle.

And meanwhile the church continues its story, an unchanging story of death and resurrection, of love and sacrifice, of community and growth. Weeds and wheat grow alongside each other, sometimes looking remarkably similar, congregations getting tangled in the weeds of disfunction and despair, and idolatry, the wheat bearing fruit in new generations of Christians and new understandings of the amazing breadth of God's inclusive love.

Jesus warns against premature weeding. In an agricultural society his listeners would have understood that the bearded darnel that grows amongst the wheat wraps its roots around its neighbors, so that, if you try to pull up the weed, you will also uproot the good crops. So you wait, and in due course all will be harvested and the grains sorted by the farmer.

If Jesus were telling this story to us today he might use a different metaphor than wheat and weeds. Think about the news reports we see on social media. Some are genuine but a surprising number are inaccurate or deliberate hoaxes or lies. It's really hard to tell sometimes. I've been caught out myself. In the flood of information that comes our way, how do we know what is wholesome wheat and what is worthless darnel? I often turn to the experts at snopes.com because I am not equipped to judge.

When it comes to people, we are not equipped to judge, either. We might look at someone and think, "that person doesn't belong here", because of their appearance, their accent, or their body language. But that's not our job or our mission. We are to welcome all who want to be a part of our community and leave it to God to figure out who is wheat and who is weed.

Historically, the church has been infested with a toxic weed. It's the weed of exclusionary, judgmental, self-righteous theology which has insinuated itself into the very heart of Christianity, tearing people apart because their better natures cannot accept its lethal teachings.

One of the most ancient heresies is the one that says we must root out the weeds, the people and viewpoints that we think don't belong in our church. We saw this heresy raise its ugly head a decade or so ago in the Episcopal Church, when some clergy and congregations divorced themselves from our community in the belief that we were weeds and that they were the only true wheat. The logical end result of that approach is that you end up with a one-person church, because the further you go down that road, the weedier everyone else starts to look.

As I look at where our church is today I see a healthier and much more loving church. We have largely made it through the labor pains of inclusion, the successive struggles of women, people of color, and LGBT people to be fully recognized and honored. It's not a perfect institution and it never will be, because we are all sinners in need of God's mercy. In particular, our Episcopal/Anglican way of being church is a comprehensive way, not a confessional way. We don't insist on uniformity, but we believe that the very act of worshiping as a community forms us into the body of Christ. It's not tidy, but neither, I suspect, is the Kingdom of God.

Our struggle in the church is just a small part of the global struggle, the universal shift that is striving to be born. This new world, this thing that the Spirit is birthing, is a world where nobody will be excluded for who they are, a world where corruption will be exposed and justice will be done, the hungry fed, the captives freed, and the gifts of all the people of God will be fully embraced. And we are not there yet. This is a difficult labor, an agonizing struggle, because the life of the new means the death of the old, and the old is comfortable for many. We see the struggle all over our culture, in the violent thrashing of the old order of patriarchy and greed, in the backlashes against anti-discrimination laws and environmental regulations and scientific expertise. Too many people are falling back into fear, as they see a landscape around them that seems to be a place of death. Too many people are refusing to dream the dream of God, to recognize the holy in unlikely places, or to embrace hope.

The call to the Church in this time of labor is to be a community of hope; to see and name the new life emerging out of death; to live in the tension of this messy and imperfect institution, weeds and wheat together, trusting God to sort it all out in the end, and boldly claiming the whole creation as the house of the God who created us, who loves us, and who longs to see us free, to shine like the sun in the kingdom of heaven.

The Very Rev Penelope Bridges
July 23, 2017

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Pride Homily: The Light Shines

Happy pride!

Pride is a time when people come out. Come out of hiding. Come out of dark places and into the light. When people celebrate things that for many years were visible only in secret places.

This reading today is part of Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount. He is talking to a people, the people of Israel, who have been beaten down. They have been taken over and occupied by Rome, and others before Rome, all the way back to the time of the Babylonian conquest. Time after time they had thought they would be able to come forth, and live in their identity as God’s people, and time and again they retreated to their ghettos, beaten back again by the powers of empire, gone into dark places; able only to celebrate who they were in secret.

Jesus makes an argument. He argues on the one hand against the zealots, who wanted to fight back against the empire with violence. He says that’s not how the kingdom of God works. That’s not the way to win.

He makes his argument against the Pharisees, too: that the kingdom of God-- which lives under the law of neighborhood instead of empire’s domination-- that God’s law of love isn’t in some far off place but the kingdom of God’s love starts right here, right now. Jesus fulfills the law and he tells his audience that love is already at hand, seeping from those ghettos and those hidden places and those refuges where the people of God had been hidden for so long. Love will shine and spill over into the rest of the world.

My friends, the kingdom of God’s love is at hand today as well, and it is fearless! God is here, and love abounds.

Just as it was true so long ago, the kingdom of God’s love originates in the hidden places and comes to fruition when the light comes out from the bushel and shines brightly.

The first LGBT march in San Diego was in 1974. Some of those folks marched with paper bags on their heads because they could not let their light shine. We have come a long way. Just look at the radiant light all around us today! It is hard to even call this a gay ghetto, but here we are.

And talk about salt! Salt is what gives food its flavor. It makes food more interesting. If you look around us today, I’d say we’ve got a lot of salt, a lot of flavor, here at the pride today, and I’d bet we will see a lot more flavor as the day goes on. The LGBTQ community is some of the salt that makes humanity interesting.

Sadly, somebody put up a sign near the cathedral the other day that questioned whether our community needed to have a bushel put on it, whether we as an LGBTQ people were embraced fully by the love of God.

But let me tell you something, the LGBTQ community doesn’t need somebody’s sign to tell us whether to let our light shine. Just as in those ghettos of old, God has always been here. We march today as the church not because the LGBTQ community needs the church. We march today because the church needs the LGBTQ community! The church needs the salt of LGBTQ people and all kinds of people to mirror God’s own creativity as we shine our light in the world. Because make no mistake, being gay is a gift from God, a treasure, a light to let shine. And the church needs straight allies to witness to power of love across difference, to vulnerability, and to openness in difference and for their own fearless love in shining their light on us in this long struggle for equality. We all of us together make up the many flavors of this human family.

So keep your eyes open for the light that, on this day, on this pride day, is revealed-- God’s kingdom that is already at work in the world: the bonds of community that love each other; the fellowship that is created when different kinds of people come together; the kingdom that is already happening right here right now.

And church, let’s taste that salt of the earth and let it make us thirsty: thirsty for the love of God that is already at work in the world, and let us use it to allow our own light to shine more brightly in a world that needs it desperately!

The Rev Jeff Martinhauk
15 July 2017

Monday, July 17, 2017

Assisting Bishop Jefferts Schori: Frequently Asked Questions

The transition team of the Episcopal Diocese has shared this FAQ with us:
Bishop Jefferts Schori (pictured here with the Rev Canon Brooks Mason
& Bishop Mathes) attended our 2014 Diocesan Convention

What is an assisting bishop?

An assisting bishop is a bishop appointed by the standing committee to serve under its direction for a certain period of time. An assisting bishop already exercises episcopal authority, which means he or she has the ability to perform ordinations, confirmations, receptions and visitations. Assisting bishops are qualified bishops who have previously resigned all previous responsibilities, or are qualified bishops of a church in communion with the Episcopal Church. Assisting bishops do not have voice and vote in the house of bishops on behalf of the diocese they serve. Bishop Jefferts Schori will have voice and vote in the house of bishops, but not on behalf of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego.


How was Bishop Jefferts Schori selected?
The standing committee of our diocese worked hard to solicit the interest of a short list of candidates for this position. With much prayer and careful consideration, the committee selected Bishop Jefferts Schori to be our assisting bishop.


How long does this appointment last?
Bishop Jefferts Schori will commence her tenure with us on Sunday, August 13 and continue until December 31, 2018. This may be extended until our fifth bishop is consecrated.

What will Bishop Jefferts Schori do?
In her ¾ time role, Bishop Jefferts Schori will visit congregations, baptize, ordain, assist with the selection and promotion of candidates for ordained ministry, provide pastoral care to clergy members, confer with the standing committee and the executive committee of the diocese and provide some shared oversight along with the standing committee.

Will she reside in San Diego?
Yes, she plans to live in San Diego while serving as our assisting bishop while maintaining her permanent residence in Reno, Nevada.

Friday, July 14, 2017

People's Warden Update

A. LLC Questions and Answers

No questions this month!

B. Cathedral Parishioner Questions and Answers


Q. With all the transitions and new personnel what type of leader is Dean Penny? Is she a hands -on or hands -off type of manager and does she view feedback from the congregation important?


A. These are pretty loaded questions, I will give it my best and hopefully it will give you a better perspective. I have worked with her staff pretty closely on projects and events during the past few years and I have heard nothing but good leadership qualities that are exhibited from Dean Penny.

Her staff comments that she has respect, confidence, and trust in them to do their job and if situations or concerns arise they will get her involved. Dean Penny is not a micro-manager; she took her time in hiring the right candidates because she wants her team to be able to collaborate and work cohesively. She is a hands-on manager, wants to be informed on what’s going on without all the gritty details (readers digest version). In my opinion, she’s the admiral of the ship and needs to be kept informed but doesn’t need to know there is no toilet paper in the stalls lol.

My own experience with Dean Penny as a leader has been positive (I am not trying to score points here – lol) , she does not dictate how things should happen. She has given me latitude to make decisions but just run it by her if the change may be drastic so she isn’t blindsided. If I needed help on something I felt I could solicit her advice or direction and not feel intimidated or stupid about asking her a question.

With regards to feedback from the congregation, I know she welcomes it and is important to her, really how do you know what is working or not unless you are told. As you know, feedback can sometimes not be positive but necessary to hear and address so issues don’t fester and become worst .

Lastly, Dean Penny initiated a CAT Scan at the end of May to check the pulse of our congregation. Did you fill it out and submit your feedback? The data results would be discussed with staff , Senior Warden and People’s Warden sometime in July and reported back to the congregation at a given date.

C.  Update on Vision for Mission
There will be a meeting held sometime in July or August for updates and how we are aligning with specific goals and timelines.


D. July happenings at the Cathedral

Saturday – July 15: Meet to walk up to parade starting point – 9:00am

Saturday – July 15 : Inaugural Eucharist for diocese pride marchers in front of pride trolley on Normal Street by DMV 9:45am – 10:45am

Saturday – July 15: BBQ for Pride Marchers and Volunteers – 12:00pm – 2:00pm

Saturday – July 15: Pride Festivities, DJ and Dancing – 12:00pm – 7:00pm

Sunday – July 16: Pride Service- 8:00am service and 10:30 am service

Sunday, July 16: Serve Christ in our Neighbors, (series of 3events) 12:00pm – 2:00pm Write postcards to incarcerated people.

Saturday, July 22: Serve Christ in our Neighbors – 12:00pm – 2:00pm – Bag lunches and give out clothing.

Monday, July 31: Serve Christ in our Neighbors – 12:00pm – 2:00pm – Details to come.




Any questions don’t hesitate to contact me.


Very Respectfully,

Jennifer “Jen” Jow

New Canons!

What's a Canon, you ask?

Canons of the Cathedral are those who have a formal or honorary affiliation voted on by the chapter and approved by the Bishop. They can be clergy, or lay people. This is a recognition of current office and/or previous service.  (See previous posts about our canons here.)

Canons wear purple cassocks (as do Vergers). They also receive a cross, with their name and office.

On Sunday at Evensong, we installed three new canons: Lisa Churchill, as Canon Verger; The Rev Dorothy Reed Curry, Honorary Canon; and the Rev Jeff Martinhauk , Canon for Congregational Life, and we celebrated the recognition of their talent, commitment, and service to our community!


Some of our Canons!  Lisa Churchill, Christine Spalding, the Rev Jeff Martinhauk,
Konnie Dadmun, the Rev Anne Chisham,  The Rev Dorothy Curry

More photos here:

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A sort of Eulogy

Robert Heylmun reflects on loss.

We never get used to it. The news of a friend’s death, I mean. As someone in his 70s, I’d think that some amount of immunity from the profound feeling of loss would have accrued, would have allowed me to take in the news with a dignified equanimity.

Pauline’s death came after years of her dealing with Alzheimer’s disease and then finally with its dealing with her. So her death was not a surprise as if she’d been struck by a car and killed, but it was a shock despite all of the preparations on my part for its imminence.

The clichés come out: She’s out of her suffering now, Robert. She’s in a better place. She would have wanted to leave this way. Cliché’s are born out of human experience of course, and they are all true in their way. They are a kind of band-aid applied to the wound of grief, meant to stanch the flow of sadness but not adequate to mitigate it very much.

Memories do more in that cause, memories of the days when Pauline, her husband Sid, and I found the kind of friendship that everyone wants. Filled with humor, good times, dinners, and shared events—thirty years’ worth. Some bad times too, but we were there for each other. When Sid died in 2007, Pauline and I stood at his grave while the Kaddish was chanted by the cantor. We were in many aspects a kind of family.

Just before Pauline re-met Jack, she and I booked a cruise down the Mexican Riviera, scandalizing some of our friends when we announced we would share a stateroom. At one afternoon party, we were telling people about the trip when an acquaintance of Pauline’s whom I didn’t know, stage whispered what she thought would be a juicy piece of gossip, that we’d be sleeping in the same room. Without missing a beat, Pauline turned to her and said, “Don’t worry, Robert bought pajamas.”

But the signs of Pauline’s illness became visible on that trip. I entrusted her with our tickets for several shore tours and when the time came to go, they were nowhere to be found. I took her out to the bar and sat her down for a drink, and then went to search our stateroom. Carefully hidden three drawers down under her underwear.

Jack Burke had been Pauline’s high school boyfriend and finally fiancé until their lives took different turns at college. Both had married, had children, and had moved away from Michigan. Now decades later at a high school reunion, they met again. Jack came to California and what Pauline would have done without him these last years is anyone’s guess. He has been absolutely devoted to her, but then, Pauline was the sort of person whom everyone wanted to be close to.

Do you feel better now? I do, just relating this, just reliving some memories (there are many, many more), and finding that the empty place in my heart is filling with those times, those moments in which Pauline provided sunshine and warmth. I think what’s left to fill is the hollow place that echoes how I will miss her, and here’s where a cliché does become useful. The last time I saw her, she was nearly comatose, unable to say a complete sentence, and was staring most of the time into middle distance. She is indeed in a better place than that one, and she goes with part of my heart.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Sunday Sermon:The call to Freedom

It's Independence Day weekend. This is a holiday when we celebrate freedom, when we celebrate the unique character of the United States, formed and shaped by the same men who also shaped the governance of our own Episcopal Church. It's a secular holiday, but the 4th of July is also named as a major feast in our Book of Common Prayer (it's on page 17 if you want to look it up), and the values embedded in this country's foundation are Gospel values of freedom, truth, and the right to speak and to be heard. This nation finds its identity in those who gave up everything they loved and owned to follow God's call to a distant land, much as Abraham once followed God's call.

Now, human beings have not been at their best at times of migration and colonization. The Israelites wiped out whole city states as they took over the promised land. On this continent and others, European colonists, whether English, Dutch, or Spanish, have massacred, enslaved, imprisoned, starved and infected indigenous people.

This story of Abraham and Isaac is troubling on a number of levels. Who would prepare to kill their son, their only son, whom they love, simply to prove their trust in God? We would certainly regard someone who did that as mentally unbalanced. It's not a story we want to take literally. But taken as a parable, it has something to teach us. The story is rooted in the ancient Middle East, inhabited at one time by peoples who routinely sacrificed their children in an attempt to appease their ruthless gods. This horrific tale actually tells us that, as part of the separation of Israel from her neighbors, the people of God turned away from child sacrifice, even as they demonstrated their trust in the God who had led them to the promised land. It'sa reminder that our story of faith has always been told in a diverse world, with the other close at hand and with cultural differences to address.

A detail that really troubles me is the absence of Sarah, Isaac's mother from the story. Apparently Abraham decides to do this awful thing without consulting his wife. As a woman, she is given no voice, no vote. I'd like to think that she wouldn't have gone along with Abraham's homicidal plan. So, perhaps inadvertently, the story also reminds us of how wrong it is to silence large portions of humanity.

Last week I attended a course in Latino Cultural Competency for Episcopal leaders. It was an intense course where we combined book and classroom study with experiential learning. Since we were in South Texas we also got a cultural immersion experience involving great barbeque and Tex-Mex food.

I learned some history about this continent. I learned about the Spanish conquistadors and missionaries of the 16th century; about the skullduggery in the US government in the 19th century to trump up excuses for war so that the US could take back huge swathes of land from Mexico. I learned about the suppression of indigenous voices and the relabeling of people who had lived in the south and southwest since time immemorial as aliens, worthless peasants, interlopers on the white man's land.

One of my classmates was astonished to learn that the corner of Kansas where she ministers was once in Mexico. There's a saying in southern Texas: we didn't come across the border, the border moved across us. The original inhabitants of the land lost the freedom to choose who would govern them or how they would organize their devotional life. We learned that the Franciscan missionaries forced the indigenous people to become Catholics, at the point of a sword. Their traditional celebrations and observances were banned. Their priests were murdered. The voice of the people was silenced.

That was centuries ago, but I also heard stories last week of churches in our own time, where they pretend they are Catholic to lure in Latinos, where they hide the Guadalupe image when the Anglo congregation worships, where they refuse to reach out to second and third generation Latino Americans, even though they outnumber first generation immigrants, those born in other lands, by 2 to 1.

As people of privilege, as members of a church that loves its traditions but which is falling short at bringing the Gospel to the next generation, we may need to sacrifice something precious if we are to be faithful to God's call. As we look at the young people in our communities, we don't see them flocking to church. The things that we cherish as part of our tradition are not so important to them: they don't see the attraction of sitting for an hour in a big stone building and listening to someone in funny clothes lecture them But they do long for connection, for important work to do, for opportunities to help make the world better and more free. The church is called to form disciples, to equip the saints, to offer transformation through the love and compassion of God, and to do those things no matter what it costs.

In Matthew's Gospel Jesus continues the theme of welcome which we heard about two weeks ago. We talked about being a welcoming cathedral at that time, if you recall. Today we hear a startling expansion of the message: whoever welcomes you welcomes Jesus, in fact welcomes God. This teaching of Jesus is so important that it shows up in all the Gospels, in one form or another. Imagine how that might work if we took it seriously. We are instructed to see God in the face of every stranger, and we should expect to be treated like Jesus himself by the other Christians we encounter. Wow. This is a huge challenge. Think of all the ways Christians have shut out the other over the years: the dark-skinned confined to the slave gallery, the wheelchair-bound stuck at the bottom of the church steps, the person with an overstuffed wire cart stopped at the door, the woman banned from the altar, the non-English speaker or non-reader baffled by our Prayer Book. What if each of these people were Jesus?

Today, as we celebrate the Independence Day holiday, it's natural to turn our thoughts to welcome on a broader scale, a national stage. People come to this country seeking freedom: the freedom to practice their faith, the freedom to work and improve their living conditions, the freedom to speak and to vote. We aren't always great at welcoming those who have come more recently than we have. We hear a lot of nonsense about the dangers immigrants pose: for example, the statistics for crime by immigrants are absurdly inflated. The border patrol agents my class met with last week in Laredo told us that of the hundreds of people coming across the border illegally, 5% are known criminals, and in many cases their criminal record consists simply of the other times they have tried to enter the US.

Politicians spout alarmist reports about foreigners taking American jobs, while American business owners move their factories abroad to maximize profits for a few. We see European Americans becoming a minority, and we hear languages other than English spoken more and more in our communities. It is scary to feel our power and privilege diminish, precisely because of how we have treated the other in the past, and so we try to silence them. We make it harder to get a visa or a green card. Local governments try to pass laws preserving the advantage English has in public discourse. And even when we aren't doing it deliberately, we silence our neighbors from other cultures by neglecting to accommodate their social norms, assuming they will know how to elbow their way into a leadership role or vocally promote their own interests in the way that European Americans do routinely. Yes, our way of welcome leaves much to be desired.

But this country, in its very DNA, is a place of welcome, a place of refuge from hatred and oppression. While we sorely need to repent of the way the first Europeans treated the indigenous peoples of this continent, while we equally need to repent of the enslavement and involuntary relocation of Africans and other people of color, the legal and moral foundation of this country is clear: all are created equal, all should have equal opportunity to thrive, all are to be free to honor their diverse cultures, languages, and faiths. The celebration of this country's unique commitment to freedom is not only secular but is a Gospel value, for we were created to be free, and our God is a God who leads us from death to life, from silence to singing, from captivity to freedom.

One morning last week our class spent time with a woman called Frances. Frances left Honduras as a young woman and set out to walk to the United States, in search of a better life. She walked some of the way without shoes. She walked alone and with groups of strangers. She was kidnapped, threatened with death, and held to ransom, but engineered an escape. She slept on people's porches, wrapped in a garbage bag to protect her from the rain. She came to this country 13 years ago and has worked hard to get to a point where she can apply for legal residence.

As Frances told her story, tears trickled down her cheeks. She referred again and again to faith, to how trust in God was the only thing that kept her going, telling us that God answered her prayers over and over, and that she continues to put all her trust in God because God is all she's got. She was grateful to us for hearing her story, for giving her a voice to share her witness of faith. Frances gained her voice because her Episcopal priest heard her and invited her to talk with us, a group of church leaders from all over the Episcopal church. And now her voice is being heard through our voices: in Southern California and Massachusetts, in Oregon and Kansas, in the Presiding Bishop's staff and in seminaries.

The story of Frances echoes the story of Abraham, who put his whole trust in God. Her story is the story of this land, the story of people who gave up everything in order to come here and find freedom. Frances gave up her safety, her family and her home. She is not truly free yet, although she carries paperwork in her purse that says her residency application is in process. Freedom is within reach, and she has given up an awful lot to strive for it.

Let us pray. Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn: Grant that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain our liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


July 2, 2017 Independence Day weekend
The Very Rev Penelope Bridges
 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Ministry report: CSA farm tour

Did you know you can join a CSA and share /coordinate with fellow parishioners at St Paul's for pickup?  Simpler Living can tell you more.  Jen Jow shares news of the CSA farm tour.

CSA Farm Tour JR Organics Farm Tour May 14 - update by Carolyn Lief
http://all-free-download.com/free-photos/
download/vegetable-still-life-05-hd-picture_167404.html

What is CSA?
CSA or Community Supported Agriculture, is a way that city and suburban residents can get direct access to high quality, fresh produce grown locally by a regional farmer. When you become a member of our CSA, you’re purchasing a “share” of the farms’ produce delivered year round either weekly or bi-weekly, to a convenient pick-up location in your neighborhood. We provide many payment options but you can also contact us for special requests. With Community Supported Agriculture there is a direct link between the farmer and the consumer. Know how your food is grown, join JR Organics CSA.


Tour was very interesting and eye opener, SPC is already involved with program and looking to expand with more member memberships.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Save the Date: Light up the Cathedral /Interfaith PRIDE Celebration!


Save the date:  July 12, 7pm



Metropolitan Community Church Founder, the Reverend Troy Perry to keynote this year's Light Up The Cathedral- An Interfaith PRIDE Celebration!


St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral and San Diego Pride will celebrate the history of Pride in San Diego on July 12th at the "Light Up The Cathedral Interfaith PRIDE Celebration! In a show of solidarity and to highlight the history of the connection between the LGBT Community and the role played by affirming faith based organizations in the 1974 LGBT protest, Metropolitan Community Church, Dignity and The Imperial Court de San Diego will be honored. To highlight the faith connection the Rev. Troy Perry, Founder of Metropolitan Community Church and internationally acclaimed Human rights activist will be our keynote speaker!

Rev Troy Perry, Founder of
Metropolitan Community Churches and Gay Rights Activist

In 1974, when homosexuality was still a criminal offense, three local LGBT activists, Nicole Murray Ramirez a drag queen, Tom Homann, a civil rights attorney and Jess Jessop, a Vietnam war vet and peace activist who would later found The LGBT Center, went to the local police department seeking a permit to hold an LGBT Pride March in the streets of downtown San Diego to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots and make a public demonstration for civil rights and equality for LGBT people. The sergeant at the desk refused their request and told them " there will never be a homosexual event in San Diego." That sergeant's comments were the spark that lit the fire of an organized March on the sidewalks of downtown San Diego to City Hall and set the stage for what would become San Diego Pride.


There were only 3 organizations holding public meetings at the time because of the law. As a result of the connection and partnership that developed between these three activists, the San Diego community found safe affirming meeting spaces to organize more than 200 people to a Sidewalk March through downtown In protest to demonstrate and acknowledge the existence and civil rights of the San Diego LGBT Community at City Hall, many with paper bags over their heads to hide their identity for fear of arrest. The following year 1975 a permit for a parade was issued and today San Diego Pride is the largest one day event in our City!

Please join us and The Gay Men's Chorus, numerous faith leaders, dignitaries and community personalities as we recognize Rev Troy Perry of MCC, Fr. Don Greene of Dignity and Nicole Murray Ramirez of the Imperial Court de San Diego and present them with the Light of Pride honor and Light up the Cathedral for Pride!

Ministry Updates: FOMOS

Jen Jow shares with us some ministry news

Friends of Military Outreach Service (FOMOS) - update by Susan Astarita Ministry Leader

Main Project is with Amikas (women vets with children) Emergency Sleeping Cabins which is the size of tiny homes.

Next steps: Amikas is preparing a draft strategic plan to field one model Emergency Sleeping Cabin community. The group will be seeking political and financial support for this next step in solution of homeless challenge. FOMOS/AMIKAS received good support from the Bishop, Hannah Wilder, Nancy Holland and others in the Dioceseas well as Dean Penny, Jen Jow, and the cathedral community. We will be looking for continuing support as we take next steps.

Our May 21 forum and Soldier’s story presentation postponed until November time period around armed forces Evensong.

Planning begins for events around Evensong including veteran’s arts exhibit, possible forums and other associated events. Susan A met with Tony La Bue , Daniel Foster and Ric Todd re the arts project.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Chapter Q & A

Jen Jow shares Chapter Question and Answers


 A LLC Questions and Answers
No questions this month!

B. Cathedral Sunday Bulletin and Announcement Questions
Update provided by Jeff M. – Communications Dept.
Q. Why has the outreach ministry section been left out of the announcements and the contact information? That was vital information because it was used as a resource guide, especially for those who didn’t use a computer or have access to one.
A. The old list of ministries on the back of Cathedral Life was very confusing to newcomers.
• There wasn’t room for an explanation of what the ministries did – how would a newcomer know which one to call?
• Some ministries listed were very active, and some rarely met at all
• Calling through staff ensures every call receives appropriate and pastoral follow-up without adding work for non-staff ministry leaders
• Growing number of ministries kept length difficult to manage
In short, there were lots of problems with that list.

We looked around at other churches and found almost uniformly that only staff were listed, and adopted that as our standard. We are working on a separate piece that will list all ministries and their non-staff leadership to be used as a time and talent resource for ensuring that people can find ministries that suit them. Our new Church Management System, Realm, will also provide tools for ensuring that church members can connect to ministry leaders when they need to.

It should start coming on-line in June with full rollout by the end of the year.It is a work in process!

 We will keep on making improvements, some of them liked and well received—others less so but may be necessary on a path to someplace hopefully calling us all into greater collaboration and work for our common mission.

The Sunday Sermon: Entertaining Angels Unawares

How appropriate that, on the day when our secular culture celebrates fatherhood, we read in Genesis of God's promise to Abraham that he would be the father of nations. This is the story that puts the twinkle in his eye that ultimately becomes the whole chosen people of God.

Three strangers come to Abraham's desert camp, out walking in the midday sun when any sensible person is, like Abraham, taking a nap in the shade. Who are they? The narrator tells us it is the Lord who appears, but what Abraham sees is three men, and no further clues are offered. On this first Sunday after Trinity, we are immediately reminded of God in three persons. And the promise they bring is clearly from God, a followup to the promise Abraham received in the previous chapter.

Father Abraham demonstrates impeccable middle-eastern hospitality, setting a high bar, by the way, for fathers to come. Water for dusty feet, a seat in the shade, a special feast to welcome the visitors. Imagine for a moment this 99-year old man tottering back and forth in the sun, to invite the strangers in, to bring water, to tell Sarah to get cooking, to pick out a calf for butchering, to serve the feast. And he stands by to wait on them while they eat. This is a lot of work for random strangers, and it carries an important subtext: the stranger who comes to your door is sacrosanct, because, as the letter to the Hebrews will put it centuries later, some who have welcomed strangers have entertained angels unawares.

The conversation is surprising. Where is your wife, Sarah? Evidently Abraham and Sarah are known to the travelers. And then the prophecy, and Sarah's snort of laughter.

Laughter is not common in Scripture. We have nothing in the Gospels about Jesus laughing, and almost all Biblical references to laughter are about someone sneering or mocking. But not here. Overhearing the strangers' prophecy from her spot behind the tent, Sarah can't help but laugh aloud, in disbelief, in awakened hope, in embarrassment, in sheer astonishment. Her laughter says, "Are you kidding? Me, a dried up old stick, have a baby? And look at him - he's an old man."

But, as we learn again and again in Scripture, nothing is too wonderful for the Lord. And later, after the child is indeed born, she names him Isaac, which means laughter, and she laughs again, in joy and triumph, singing, "God has brought laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me."

After the mysterious strangers leave Abraham's camp, the next stop on their journey is Sodom, where they are to carry out God's punishment on the city for unspecified sins. Abraham's nephew, Lot, has learned from his uncle and, like Abraham, he goes over the top with hospitality. But the citizens of Sodom demonstrate their sinfulness by violating that sacred law. Contrary to popular belief, their sin is that they do not honor the stranger, and for this sin the city is destroyed. It is made really clear that abuse of hospitality is a cardinal sin in our story of salvation. And the thread continues in the ministry of Jesus.

In Matthew's Gospel, Jesus addresses hospitality from the other side, focusing more on the guest than the host. He sends out the disciples, two by two, to test the hospitality of the people they meet. He tries to prepare them for anything, but anyone who has ever answered the call to discipleship knows that we will encounter situations we could never have anticipated. (When I answered the call to come to St Paul's I didn't imagine that I would be using a bullhorn to bless marchers in Balboa Park and hosting press conferences.) The disciples are to go out among the people, taking no baggage and depending on those they meet for hospitality. Those who respond generously to the needs of the disciples will receive the peace of Christ. Communities that don't offer hospitality to the stranger - well, they will suffer the fate of Sodom. Only those who open their hearts to hear the good news of the Gospel from the stranger will know God's peace.

Today we are sending out disciples from St Paul's, as Matt and Katie McGinness leave San Diego for a new life in Hawai'i. We will offer them a special blessing at the end of the service. Terri Mathes just read a lesson in our pulpit for the last time this morning, before she and Jim depart for Virginia in just a couple of weeks; we will offer them our blessing on July 1. I sincerely hope that neither the McGinnesses nor the Mathes's will ever be dragged before governors and kings! In this city church we are constantly welcoming new members and saying goodbye to people we have come to love. We can think of all those who leave us as missionaries, to be sent with our blessing, carrying the peace of God with them to their new communities. And conversely, we can think of our many visitors and newcomers as holy strangers, messengers of the Gospel, sent to test our hospitality and to share good news if we are willing to hear it.

This week St Paul's was given an unusual opportunity to share the good news through the press conference we hosted, in which we were able to say to a wide audience that we are Christians who welcome everyone and rejoice in diversity, in contrast to those who call themselves Christians but who judge, condemn, and abuse those whose sexuality places them in a minority.

Each of us individually is a missionary, as we go about our daily lives in the office, in school, or in the community. We may feel rather ill-equipped to share the good news: Episcopalians generally don't get much training in sharing our faith stories.

But fear not: the cathedral staff is working on the introduction of small group ministry, which I hope will become the basic structure of all that we do here at St Paul's; and this ministry, this way of being, is intimately connected to the practice of holy hospitality.

Do you remember who welcomed you when you first came to St Paul's? For a lot of people, it was Deedra Hardman. Her mantle has passed to Pat Kreder and to our greeters' corps who watch for visitors and guide them to worship. I am struck by the number of people who, years or even decades later, remember who it was who ministered to them when they entered the cathedral for the first time. Hospitality matters, and it makes a deep impression. Wouldn't you like to be remembered in the same way? I invite you to think about how you show hospitality to our visitors here each week, and to do what you can to ensure that they will have warm memories of you in the years to come.

It's time for us to take hospitality to the next level, to what we might call radical hospitality. This means embracing those who come into our midst and taking the risk of giving them leadership roles, taking seriously their diverse gifts, and, crucially, being willing to change who we are for the sake of enriching our community. This is challenging, because it means giving up control, stretching our comfort zone, allowing transformation to take place. A lot of congregations and clergy never get there. I feel some resistance to radical hospitality myself. But the ability to stretch is actually in our Anglican DNA, thanks to the first Queen Elizabeth; and when we dare to be stretched, we will experience a holy transformation.

One way to practice this diversity in community is to form intentional small groups that pray, study, and share together, accepting that not every member will like every other member, that all of us will sometimes feel uncomfortable, but committed to giving every person a voice and vote, sacrificing our own comfort to make room for the other in our midst. Church isn't all about making friends, although that can be a wonderful side benefit. It's about being the body of Christ, about rubbing shoulders and sharing the table with people we don't understand and don't get along with. It's not like inviting friends to a dinner party in your home, because this isn't our house, this is God's house, and we are all equally guests and residents.

Everything we say about hospitality and the church also applies to our civic communities: cities, states, and nation. We are called to welcome the stranger and to open our hearts to the possibility - even the likelihood - that our community will be changed. This is a good thing: communities benefit from a diversity of leadership, from the combined creative power of multiple cultures and perspectives. We are made stronger by our diversity. In this week's dreadful fire in a 24-story apartment building in London, dozens of people perished. Fire alarms and sprinkler systems didn't work. The death toll would have been even higher if some of the residents, Muslims observing Ramadan, hadn't been up extra early to eat something before sunrise, which meant they discovered the fire and knocked on their neighbors' doors to wake them up. The beautiful diversity of that community saved lives on Tuesday night.

Stephanie Spellers, Canon for Evangelism and Reconciliation in the Episcopal Church, offers us this prayer*:
"May our hearts open to the spirit of God.
May we move beyond our fears, reaching out in trust, openness and welcome.
May our yearning for transformation create a space where God can pour more love, more trust, more compassion into us.
And may we extend the same compassion and radical welcome into the world, all for the sake of Christ."

Amen.

 Year C Proper 6 June 18 2017 
The Very Rev Penelope Bridges

*Stephanie Spellers, "Radical Welcome", p. 158, Church Publishing, 2006