Monday, April 24, 2017

Was it Fate, Timing, or a God Thing?

Have you ever question how or why certain situations appear at your front door (metaphorically speaking). Lately, this has been happening to me whether it’s my impeccable timing or just cause. Here are a few stories that I want to share.

Initially the weekend of April 8th-9th I was supposed to be up in the bay area visiting my uncle, but plans changed. With the change it allowed me to participate in our monthly Showers of Blessings and it was my first Sunday to go get sliced bread donated by Bread and Cie for our homeless guest. Also, I was able to join in the celebration of our 2nd year anniversary of Showers of Blessing; Claudia Dixon brought 2 cakes to celebrate the occasion with the First United Methodist and our homeless guest.

Was that a fate thing?

On Palm Sunday, April 9th I attended the 8am services and then stood in the courtyard chatting with others prior to the forum. The forum was our last week of our interfaith book club session held in the Great Hall and the people who attended were muslim women, different age groups and cultures , definitely a diverse group. Towards the end I sat next to Don Pelleoni and we started discussing a little about the book and the word “Fear”. We have known each other for a bit and served on chapter together but had not had one on one time. It was a great to be able to share our beliefs and experiences. We both have busy lives and its hard to find time to fit stuff in but I felt we stopped and took that moment to spend time to get to know each other better .

Was that fate or timing?

The Samba dancers and the congregation, and clergy were processing into the courtyard from the Palm Sunday march. After a few pictures were taken people were headed inside for service. I lingered in the courtyard by myself repositioning my signup table. As I was about to leave I was looking for my sunglasses and couldn’t find them so I thought I must have left them on the pew.

I started to enter the cathedral but something caught my eye on the sidewalk, there was this young gentleman pushing a woman (looked like his mother) in a wheelchair looking lost. I asked if they needed help and he responded that his mother wanted to go inside but they were only going to spend 5 minutes. I opened the cathedral doors and escorted them inside towards the back and gave them a bulletin; it was around 11:30am.

I stood in the back for a moment to make sure they were okay and heard them speaking in another language I thought was Spanish, I went over to ask and was going to tell them about MISA service it was. He replied that is was

Arabic, some strange thing came over me and I presided to tell them about communion or if they wanted just a blessing what to do at the altar.

Normally I wouldn’t get into people’s space not knowing their beliefs. He turned and asked his mother in Arabic and she said yes she would like to go up for a blessing. About 5 more minutes went by and I notice he was getting antsy, he called me over to say they were going to leave because he had lots to get done today and his mom couldn’t swallow a wafer anyways.

I felt a strange nudge (had to be the holy spirit- or I call it a God thing) and told him give it a few more minutes and communion was about to start. When it was time I speedily escorted them down the aisle passing everyone and made it to the far left altar ; Rev. Collins was posted there so I gave him the run down of her not speaking English and she couldn’t swallow a wafer but could he give her a blessing .

I was trying not to be intrusive standing to the side, but when he put his hands on her and gave a blessing she looked very peaceful and that was what she needed. It warmed my heart knowing she got what she needed from the blessing and that her son agreed to wait a few more minutes. We quickly walked back down the aisle and I held the doors open so he could wheel her out and right as we exited the last doors she looked up at me and said “ Thank You” and gave me a big smile. What a moment I had just then with her, I went to the greeters table to get them a card with our service times but within those few seconds they were gone.

Was that a God thing?

Have a Happy Easter everyone!!!



Jennifer Jow
People’s Warden and Outreach Chair

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Sunday Sermon: Our Wounded Savior

Alleluia, Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia!

There's a Thomas in every crowd. Join a board, attend a dinner party, sign up for the local basketball league, and when conversation begins you will more than likely find a Thomas. Thomas is the one who asks questions, who wonders aloud about the implications of a decision, who isn't afraid to show that he doesn't understand the issue. Think about the times in the Gospel when we hear from Thomas: "Let's go with Jesus to Jerusalem and probably get killed together." "What do you mean, you are the way? How can we know the way when we don't know where you are going?" And now, "How do we know this is the Jesus who was crucified and has risen?"

The Thomases of the world do the rest of us a great service. When Thomas says, "I don't understand- please explain again," he's probably speaking for half the people in the room, but he's the only one brave enough to admit his bafflement. It's way past time to set aside the jeer of "doubting Thomas", just as last week at the Easter Vigil our Bishop urged us to rehabilitate Mary Magdalene.

Thomas wants proof, and the proof is in the wounds. The one who comes to save him and us still has the nail holes in his flesh. He is not flawless, not pretty, but eternally marked by torture. Jesus is forever changed by his experience of the worst that humanity can do. And yet he says, "Peace be with you" to the faithless friends who abandoned him to his suffering. He insists that Thomas fully acknowledge the wounds, that he even touch them. Would you touch them? How would it feel to share the peace with one whom you betrayed, who carries the scars of that betrayal? The pain of fully understanding what Jesus has endured for us must change us as it changes Thomas. Once we have touched those wounds, we can no longer be passive or detached. Of course, we don't have the opportunity today to touch the wounds of Jesus. But we do have opportunities to touch the wounds of those in whom we see Jesus. We can touch the wounds of the body of Christ as we encounter it in our world today.

On Wednesday I attended an event hosted by the San Diego Organizing Project at our Lady of Guadalupe church in Barrio Logan. The event was called Faith Not Fear, and it brought together people of many faiths to express our support and solidarity for refugees and immigrants. I was pleased to see Sheriff Gore, SDPD Chief Shelley Zimmerman, and various elected officials there, as well as our own Bishop Mathes, RC Bishop MacElroy, and Imam Taha.

A number of faith leaders and community members spoke, and it seemed to me that they touched some of the wounds of Christ. They spoke of the dangers of driving while black or brown and of the school-to-prison pipeline. A courageous young woman, a so-called Dreamer, spoke of her experience growing up undocumented. We heard the pain of exclusion, of being thought "less than", of living in constant fear that a loved one could simply disappear, picked up and deported without warning. We heard the anger that grows in response to living with injustice and discrimination.

A priest shared a collection of statements made by his parishioners expressing their fears and anxieties, and we lit candles to drive away the darkness and rekindle hope.

All of this took place in a church decorated for Easter, with images of the wounded and risen Christ all around us.

Thomas touches the wounds of Christ to convince himself that this is indeed the risen Messiah. And, being convinced, he immediately worships his Savior as God. Events like the one I attended on Wednesday allow us likewise to touch those wounds, to recognize the suffering of the body of Christ in our community and to seek and serve the Christ in our wounded neighbors. But beyond that touch, the touch that makes real, there is desperate need for the touch that heals, and that is our true task.

The English scholar NT Wright calls on us to see that healing mission as the proper and natural expression of our basic discipleship. We are, he writes, "the community that feels the pain of the world, the depression and the worry and the anger and the exclusion and the hopelessness that are the daily lot of those around; and thus the community that, being itself healed by the wounded healer himself, can pass on that healing to its neighbors."*

Wright offers us "a vision of a Christian community, and hence of a Church, a country, and a world, purified and transformed by the fire of God's wounded love."*

When did the suffering of the world first make its mark on you? I remember a moment when I was pregnant with my first child, watching the news on TV of a young Israeli soldier who had been killed. I felt the pain of that soldier's heartbroken mother. Somehow, for the first time that I remember, I touched the wounds of a stranger. My own embryonic motherhood was touched by her agony. Looking back 30 years, I recognize that moment as a moment of grace, a moment when I became more fully human than before, a moment when Jesus breathed the Spirit into me and invited me into a new kind of life.

Just as the Lord we follow is wounded and remains wounded even after his resurrection, so we carry our own wounds into our life as a people transformed and redeemed. Just as the scars Jesus carries add a strange beauty and power to his message - a constant reminder for us that he has indeed suffered for us - so our own scars add authenticity to the message that we have for the world: the good news that all people, no matter how scarred, how disfigured by sin they may be, are beloved of God and carry the image of Christ within them.

And it is when we allow others to touch our own wounds that we most nearly resemble our wounded Savior. When we, as members of a community of love, share our fears, our failures, our secret conviction that we are not enough, we share the wounds of Christ and we give our brothers and sisters in faith an opportunity to offer the healing touch and so to live into the church's mission. This was the gift we received at Wednesday's Faith not Fear event from those courageous witnesses.

Thomas showed his brothers and sisters that the Lord they followed was still their Lord, despite the scars of his suffering. He led the way in worshiping the risen Jesus as God. Today we follow that same Lord, and we give thanks for his wounds, for they remind us of our own wounds and the wounds of the world, and they call us into solidarity with all the wounded and into our mission to touch, to love, and to heal.

Alleluia, Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia!

April 23,2017 Second Sunday of Easter
The Very Rev Penelope Bridges

* N.T. Wright "The Crown and the Fire: Meditations on the Cross and the Life of the Spirit" page 116. 1992: Eerdmans.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Welcoming All

The Rev Jeff Martinhauk shares, 

Tomorrow we will welcome four new members into the congregation!

There have been many more new members in the congregation over the past several months, but in the changing world around us, lives are busy, and expectations from the church are changing. So is the way people relate to church membership. We are working to create new ways to respond to those changes.

We make a big deal at St. Paul’s out of “Welcoming All.” I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. The celebration of new members is a good time to have some reminders on what Welcoming All looks like in practice. One thing I love about St. Paul’s is that “Welcoming All” is not just my job or just the greeters’ job-- it is everybody’s job. We are all in this together.

We have so many people that go above and beyond in welcoming it makes my heart sing! There are some things I wonder if we might think about to continue that journey. For example: how important is it for us to wear name tags as newcomers work on becoming new members? Long-timers have a few newcomers’ names to learn as they arrive constantly, but each week newcomers struggle to learn hundreds of names as they try to incorporate. How will we help them? (If you need a name tag, order one at the Greeters’ table, “Welcoming Central”.)

Coffee hour can be intimidating as well. The Greeters are focused on identifying newcomers so that we capture their information for welcome letters and formal institutional processes. But I wonder what we can all do to identify anyone-- long-timer or newcomer- who is standing at coffee hour looking for Christian fellowship?

Speaking of Greeters, did you know that newcomers often make up their mind whether or not they will return in the first ten minutes of their visit! We are working on making sure we have Greeters at all our services to make sure that those 10 minutes are full of friendly faces to give directions, answer questions, and just be helpful-- but we are in need of more greeters. We need Greeters especially at 10:30, and I would love to be able to add greeters to the Evensong service as well. If you are interested, please email me at We try to limit service to one Sunday a month. I wonder what you might be able to do before the service to be intentional about Welcoming All to make those first 10 minutes count?

But beyond the “standard” hospitality of hand-shakes and name-tags, the real focus of Welcoming All is to communicate to people that they belong. There is so much pain in the world, so much exclusion- even in churches- that if we are not instruments of God’s unconditional love, how can anyone understand that St. Paul’s is a safe space, a place of hope, a place where you can just be who God made you to be and heal? And that job starts with name tags and handshakes but must move beyond to something deeper.

It is for that reason we have changed the structured incorporation process starting last fall. The institutional church of the 1950s focused on belief first: people came to church and expected to be told what to believe. That is not the case anymore, and is not in line with our Anglican heritage of Elizabeth I’s not wanting to “create windows into men’s souls” -- where common worship holds us together instead of confessional belief. And so we have shifted our newcomer program to focus on belonging first: the newcomer’s class starts with a modified spiritual autobiography course now. We have just finished a series of that modified course and the feedback was great.

The “What is an Episcopalian” course will still be offered for Confirmation, to be timed with bishop visitations, because let’s face it: if you have not been Episcopalian there are a lot of questions you might have: “What is a patten, a verger, a purificator, the crazy bishop’s hat” and so forth.

But my hope is that we as a community will continue to deepen our ownership for each other’s spiritual lives, and for the lives of those who seek welcome from us. That may mean things like inviting newcomers to your home for gatherings you already have scheduled with long-time members, or to lunch after church, or other ways of intentionally Welcoming All as we informally gather and share stories as a church community. It may mean risking relationships with new people who may or may not stay around as long as others, sharing long-time relationships with them-- but getting a different kind of “payback” in that vulnerability and self-offering. I have to wonder if that isn’t what the call of the gospel is about, really? We strive to Love Christ, Serve Others, and Welcome All, and the riches of radical hospitality continue to make St. Paul’s what it is and who God has called us to be. Thanks be to God!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

News from Vida Joven/Dorcas House

Vida Joven de Mexico is a foster home/orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico that loves, protects and educates up to 35 children who have been abandoned, abused and neglected. With an enormous outpouring of support from the St. Paul’s community and beyond, the program has been delivering on this promise since 2006. For many years the fundraising mechanism in the US has been known as Dorcas House and the successes, measured in lives impacted across the border, have been numerous. Appropriately on Valentine’s Day in 2015 during Diocesan Convention, the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego voted to formally support Vida Joven/Dorcas House. Thus a non-profit was born and has thrived in its independence.

Due to the on-line nature of our operations and the wide-spread geographic makeup of our board of directors, it has become clear that maintaining an office for Vida Joven is an unnecessary luxury. Our monthly board meetings are now held exclusively at Good Sam in University City, due to its relative ease of access for many board members. In fairly short order a new mail receiving system has been set up and a few file drawers and shelves have been carved out in a home office and, Voila! Vida Joven, while evolving operationally, stays much the same!

We will continue to receive some mail going forward through the Cathedral office. With regular (but less frequent) trips to Bankers Hill, coinciding with a weekly deposit at our bank in Hillcrest and occasional meetings in the area, our close relationship with the Cathedral will continue as we evolve ever farther away from the original home base. Our ability to grow and expand has been possible due to that connectedness for which we are grateful.

I remain a member of the St. Paul’s community through all of these changes - active in the choir and on the Finance and Endowment committees – so my ability to directly serve the Cathedral if/when necessary will not change. These are exciting times in the life of Vida Joven de Mexico as we continue to pursue a better life for the children in our care in Mexico.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support,

Elizabeth Carey
Director of Operations
Vida Joven de Mexico

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Good Friday Sermon: A Better Way

It was an unspeakably violent and depraved act. The rulers of an oppressed people inflicting an agonizing death on the innocent. What were they thinking? Where was their humanity? As we once again grieve the passion and death of Jesus two thousand years ago at the hands of the Romans, in collaboration with a corrupt religious establishment, we must also grieve the outrageous acts of our own day. There is little difference between the actions then of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem and the actions in our day of Assad in Damascus against his own people.

El muerte del inocente en la Cruz fue un acto de violencia indescriptible. Tenemos que lamentar los eventos del pasado y del presente. La violencia del gobierno de Syria contra su propia pueblo no es diferente de la violencia de Poncio Pilato contra nuestro Señor.

The faces of the dead and dying in Syria haunt my memory, with bloody noses and pale faces, eyes open and staring, the massacre given pointed focus by the image of Aya and Ahmed, 9-month-old twins, lifeless in the arms of their devastated father. Unspeakable.

Las caras de los niños muertos se permanezcan en mi memoria.

As we come to the Cross tonight we cannot pretend that violence against innocents is something confined to history books or the Bible. It is here, with us, now, in the news reports, in the statistics of child abuse and domestic violence, in the living memories of native Americans and European Jews, and still, as it was 2000 years ago, in the daily lives of the Palestinian people.

Sabemos que la violencia contra los inocentes ocurre en nuestro era, en nuestro mundo.

We come to venerate a single Cross. Imagine, though, if we were to erect a cross for each one of these victims. There would be a forest of crosses, each bearing silent witness to a life cut short.

Podemos imaginar un bosque de las cruces, cada uno de las cuales da testimonio de una vida terminada de repente.

Our culture responds to such tragedy by calling for retaliation, punishment, answering one attack with another. In Syria, an air strike to destroy the base whence the chemical attack originated. In Afghanistan a bomb dropped with almost unimaginable reach and power. A message sent. More lives lost. America's status restored. But the dead are still dead. We have apparently restored some kind of balance, but what balance can exist while violence is the answer to violence? How is an airstrike justified while we refuse to open our doors to the victims of the attacks?

Atacamos al instalación militar y matamos a más personas. Este no es la respuesta. Y todavía no queremos abrir nuestras puertas a los víctimas.

There is a better way. This death, this man hanging broken on a Cross, shows us a better way. Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." His way is the way of the cross. It is the way of repudiating violence, of choosing out of love to submit to the worst humanity can offer, even though it means death. For this is not the end. Good Friday is not the end. The way leads us through suffering, even through the Cross, and we pause here tonight to weep, and to acknowledge our own complicity in all such violence, but there is more. We look beyond the Cross, beyond the darkness and the horror, and we see a glimmer of light, an empty tomb, a new dawn, a promise extended and kept, life that rises up from the grave.

Este muerte nos muestra un camino mejor, el camino del amor que se somete a lo peor de la humanidad. Más allá de la Cruz vemos una luz, una tumba vacía, una vida nueva.

The world's story is that violence is stemmed by violence. Our story is that violence is not only stemmed but entirely defeated by love, a love that is stronger than death. Once, a corrupt administration condemned an innocent to a cruel death. But in so doing, that government condemned itself, because a new administration was born out of the injustice, an administration of compassion, of generosity, of service, its emblem the empty cross, transformed from instrument of death to token of immeasurable love. And so we venerate the cross tonight, praying in the words of the ancient hymn:

Bend thy boughs, O tree of glory, thy relaxing sinews bend;
For a while the ancient rigor that thy birth bestowed, suspend;
And the King of heavenly beauty gently on thine arms extend.

Esta noche Veneramos la Cruz y esperemos que los almas de los inocentes matados llegan en el abrazo del Salvador sufriente, y que todos que lloran ahora puedan ser consolados por el sacrificio de nuestro Señor Jesucristo.

May the souls of all murdered innocents be gathered into the arms of the one who suffered so that all might know the fullness of life; and may all who weep tonight find comfort in the awful beauty of our Savior's sacrifice.

Good Friday Liturgy, April 14 2017
The Very Rev. Penelope Bridges

Good Friday meditation: this is what you get for saying "yes"

So this is what you get for saying yes.

The fruit of your body, the apple of your eye, bloodied, broken, gasping his last breaths while the brutal world, uncaring, continues its business.

Once, an angel visited a girl, its bright wings overshadowing her innocence. Dazzled by divinity, she said yes, and innocence departed. She endured the doubts, the taunts, the suspicion of her neighbors, because she had said yes. She risked being discarded by her fiancé and losing all social status, because she said yes. She carried the body and blood of God's son, holding him safe until she could deliver him, her great and unique gift, her child, God incarnate, the hope of the world, because she said yes.

This girl once sang a defiant song of triumph, spellbound by the angel's glory, affirmed in solidarity with cousin Elizabeth, fulfilled in the swelling that promised a healthy baby. My soul magnifies the Lord, she sang. My spirit rejoices in God my Savior. Where is that savior today? As Jesus croaks his last words, words of abandonment, from the Cross, Mary is left to wonder about broken promises, the promise God made to Abraham and to his seed for ever. How have the mighty been cast down? Where do the rich go hungry while the poor are filled with good things? This is not the vision the angel offered, this shame and loneliness and pain.

What mother hasn't known the secret grief of giving birth, the letting go of the most intimate bond, the ache of seeing the child grow up and away, reaching out to stretch, to risk, to fail or succeed without her gentle hands to steady, to caress, to heal?

And for Mary, now, all that love and care and grief comes to this, the bloody Cross, the jeering soldiers, the crushing of joy and hope, ah such a hope.

The Syrian mother cradles her child, poisoned by gas. The Sudanese mother buries the baby whom she could not nurse because she herself has nothing to eat. The Baltimore, or St Louis, or Atlanta mother screams her grief at city hall's door, her teenager lying cold and still in the city morgue with police bullets in him.

We say yes to new life, but the world has other ideas. Our children are exposed to danger, to injustice, to the brokenness of humanity and we cannot protect them. But we can stand with the mothers in their grief. We can hold accountable those in positions of power. We can engage in the vocation of the church, to bring about reconciliation among all people and with our God. And even as we join Mary in her agony, we can remember that this is not the end of the story. God's promises are sure, and all generations have and will call Mary blessed. Her son is broken today, but he will rise again. He will defeat the principalities and powers, he will bring new hope to those who are in despair, he will light the darkness for multitudes yet to come. The lowly shall be lifted up and God's mercy will endure.

All this shall come to pass, because she once carried the body and blood, because she once risked her future for an angel's word, because she once, in innocence and gentle obedience, said yes.

The Very Rev Penelope Bridges

The Maundy Thursday sermon: A new commandment

 When death came it was an invisible enemy, striking down adults, children, animals. It must have been like God's destroying angel, invading bedrooms and bomb shelters, catching the first responders as they raced to save lives and in the process lost their own. There was no Passover for the people of Khan Sheikhoun in Syria.

And on Palm Sunday, as Christians across the world sang Hosanna, "Save us Lord," the bombs exploded in Tanta and Alexandria, Egypt, one in a front pew of the church, the other outside the door, killing and maiming dozens, not only the faithful and their children, but also the professionals assigned to protect them from just such an attack. No Passover protection there either, for the Coptic Christians in their holy places.

When the people of God escaped from slavery under Pharaoh, they knew they were not yet safe. Pharaoh, an unpredictable, dangerously volatile leader, had changed his mind before, and he would probably change it again. It took a national catastrophe, the killing of the first-borns, to distract Pharaoh enough that he finally let the people go. The headlines were filled with terror and death: the mass departure of the Hebrew slaves wasn't the big news of the day. And after their on-the-hoof dinner, they slipped away into the dark, equally afraid of what was behind them and what lay ahead, not knowing where they were going, only knowing that somewhere out there in the wilderness was freedom.

Last Sunday the headlines were once again all about terror and death. Our observance of Palm Sunday would probably not have gained much media attention except for the fact that our Coptic cousins in Egypt had been attacked in the context of the very same worship that we were undertaking a few hours later, and so our voice was sought out. How tragic, how deeply ironic, that as we prepared to commemorate the brutal execution of an innocent man of faith, we gained public attention because of the horrific attack that killed dozens of innocent people of faith. In the very land where the people of God once celebrated the first Passover, the angel of death spread its wings, even as we began our week's journey to the Passover of the Lord. And tonight, hours after our military has deployed a bomb of obscene capacity, we re-enact the first Eucharist, the last meal of a condemned man, a meal shared with friend and enemy alike.

Tonight's Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament readings telescope as much as a thousand years into a few minutes. At one moment the people of God are eating their last meal in captivity, bags packed, sandals on, ready to hit the road, humming the Psalm as they go: I will lift up the cup of salvation ... you have loosed my bonds ... Praise the Lord!

And in the next moment Jesus is washing the dusty feet of his friends as they gather to relax in the holy city, the destination of their ancestors, and he is offering them bread and wine for body and blood, as a symbol of the death that he will now suffer on their behalf, the firstborn of God himself willingly shedding his blood so that God's people may once and for all pass through the valley of death to the land of promise. As Paul reminds us, "As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes."

Jesus gives new commandments in place of the perpetual ordinance of the Passover: "Do this in remembrance of me;" "Love one another as I have loved you." A perpetual ordinance of love.

We cannot escape the sharp juxtapositions of our story: firstborns killed to save God's people. An innocent executed for the sins of humanity. An intimate dinner with a traitor at the table. A congregation that proclaims its trust in God in the midst of anxiety and fear.

Our faith is never tidy: reality intrudes no matter how hard we try to shape our practice with beauty, with carefully rehearsed words and movement, with familiar ritual.

We celebrate the Eucharist tonight, welcoming all, coming to the altar rail with friends and strangers, with the people who annoyed us today and the people we annoyed. We share a symbolic meal, the wafers equally tasteless for everyone, a reminder that the Eucharist isn't about flavor but about coming together before God as one people. But then, after the Eucharist, we will celebrate a real meal together. Our soup supper continues our sacramental gathering, and we will celebrate the wonderful diversity of gifts and personalities in our congregation as we sample the different varieties of soup, knowing that the gift lies in the distinctiveness of each recipe. Think what we would lose if we mixed all the soups together, just as our community would lose if we insisted on a homogeneous congregation. We are one body, but that doesn't mean we are all the same.

The third component of our gathering tonight, the mutual washing of feet, weaves yet another strand into the rich tapestry of our life together. In this intimate ceremony we serve one another as Jesus served his friends and even his betrayer. It may well be that you or I have at some point betrayed or let down the person who washes our feet. It can be excruciatingly uncomfortable to be served in this way. As Jesus points out, your feet may be clean, but that is not why we do this. As we wash each other's feet we wash the feet of the refugees fleeing Pharoah. We wash the feet of Syrian children and Coptic clergy. We wash the feet of all the saints who have witnessed to the power of Christ in our lives. And we wash the feet of Christ himself, who loved us and gave himself for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

The Very Rev. Penelope Bridges
13 April 2017

Maundy Thursday footwashing

Photos from Maundy Thursday. More photos here.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Sunday Sermon: Mercifully grant that we may walk....

The collect for the second half of this service troubles me. It says in part, “Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection.”

I don’t know how that strikes you, but I don’t like it much. It may be just me and my own history with the Church, but it seems to imply to me that in order to share in the joy of the resurrection, I should ask God to send me a commensurate amount of personal suffering, as if this was some kind of zero-sum game. I absolutely object to that kind of theology.

I’ve been struggling to see if the rest of this day, this Palm Sunday, can help with that at all.

We start with the exuberant entry into Jerusalem, with Jesus coming into town in this unusual procession on a donkey and a colt. And the roads were surrounded with people shouting with joy waiting to greet him- “Save us Son of David!” They paved the way for him with meager cloaks and branches of trees, the only offerings they had. It is a crowd greeting a different kind of savior.

The picture we get is a subtle, or not so subtle, jab at a procession of the proclaimed kings of the time. Scholars imagine Pilate leading the Roman Calvary into Jerusalem on the other side of town, a contrasting image of empire from the kingdom of Jesus and his followers imagined in the procession of the palms.

Of course, it wouldn’t be too long before that same crowd shouting “Hosanna” would turn and shout “crucify,” more closely mirroring the procession of empire.

And so we have done today as we do every year on Palm Sunday.

The crowd faltered in their hope when they learned that the king they greeted with Hosannas would not overthrow the injustice of Pilate and Rome with force. They couldn’t imagine a different way, not only a different ruler who did things their way, but a different kingdom that worked completely outside the rules of their imagination.

Ancient Israel before them became a community of hope, in the words of scholar Peter Steinke, “by refusing to allow the exile to be the epitome of their destiny. They confidently trusted that God would in his own time mend the brokenness. They had no FDIC assurances, no natural endowment for rosy expectations, no hope that the law of averages had to play their number eventually- just ’My hope is in you’ (Ps 39:7)”. Full disclosure- I will draw on Steinke’s work a lot from here out so if you want references please check the blog later this week.

But of course the whole history of salvation is written with stories of forgetting that hope God continued to offer his creation.

And here we are today: in a world that wants assurances, that wants certainty, that has lost hope. We turn from Hosanna to Crucify at the drop of a pin. We move from caring about refugees to turning them away to bombing; we move from marching for peace to calling for vindication on our political enemies; we move from wanting justice to wanting revenge. We, this human race, all of us, are caught up in this struggle between these two processions- the procession of the palms and the procession of the empire.

And that, I think, is ironically, the good news here. God came anyway.

This messiness, this bifurcation, this… humanity-- this human condition-- is so beloved by God, that even when God came incarnate in Jesus, and even after being greeted joyfully with Hosannas, and even when this very human crowd turned on him, this God loved us enough- loves us enough- to stay through it. This God is so in love with the human condition that he was willing to receive the raw end of the deal-- which isn’t the way of the procession of empire at all.

But the thing is, that isn’t a “personal guilt trip” at all. This isn’t the Mel Gibson message. This isn’t a “you should feel horrible because your bad decisions killed Jesus” thing. This is a love message. This is a message to break the cycle of the procession of empire in the life of humanity, don’t you see? It’s from a God who is so deeply in love with all of humanity that this very God is willing to give of God’s own self, suffering to ensure that we have access to a different way than the procession of Empire, of Pharaoh, of Caesar. It is a God who comes to draw us closer, to remind us of open arms, no matter what it costs God’s own self!

Because in that procession of the Palms, in those Hosannas, in that king and savior, “We have a roll-up-your-sleeves hope. We have a destiny to make a difference. We are part of a large story where the ending is our beginning, where the future changes the present...We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come." (Steinke p 87).

The Jesus movement is not "about me" - about some soul-extraction moment after death where your souls gets to go to Hawaii. No, it is a new creation of God’s kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven that is a "startling reversal where the hungry will eat, the sound of weeping will cease, the premature dying of children will end, people who have no place to call home will not be pushed around, and vineyards will produce a surplus of grapes... 'The wolf and the lamb will feed together and the lion will eat straw like the ox.' “ (Steinke p. 83).

That kingdom of God on earth is a rejection of the procession of the empire. That only happens when we get through the other side of the passion and the new creation comes to fruition. And it all starts with the Hosannas on this Palm Sunday morning, and seeing the depth of the love given freely for us even when we shout “Crucify.”

And that love is not just for you and for me. That love is given for all of creation. So, let's go back to the collect: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection.” Perhaps the opportunity to enter into suffering that we are given is to join in the journey of the passion of the savior in hearing the groans of all creation under the procession of empire, to listen for the shouts of crucify-- not only in our own voices but in the world all around us-- to deepen our love for all of humanity and creation, and to move towards a new hope made possible in the gift of Jesus Christ.

Because it is in this week, in this Jesus that we have hope, and a “destiny to make a difference.” “We have a roll-up-your-sleeves hope. We are part of a large story where the ending is our beginning, where the future changes the present."... "We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come." (Steinke p. 87).

The Rev. Jeff Martinhauk
9 April 2017

Steinke, Peter L. A Door Set Open: Grounding Change in Mission and Hope. Herndon, VA: Alban, 2010. p. 79-92.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Sunday Sermon: Enough Light for New Stars

Fifth Sunday in Lent – Year A
St. Paul’s Cathedral, April 2, 2017
John 11:1-45
Christie Fleming

Jesus learns that one of his best friends is gravely ill. Lazarus is the brother of Martha and Mary, friends who had welcomed Jesus into their home. It was a home filled with love, a home that served as a welcome refuge during Jesus’ earthly life.

It seems natural that Martha and Mary would send for their friend and Lord at this time. Who better to offer healing and consolation? But when the messenger arrived with news of Lazarus’ illness, Jesus’ response was not what we might expect. He loved his friends deeply, but did not leave immediately for their home. He stayed at the Jordan River for two more days before making the 20-mile trek to Bethany.

Why didn’t Jesus come earlier? Mary and Martha were heartbroken, and I imagine his delay left them wondering if he was, indeed, who they believed him to be. Their friends came from Jerusalem to offer support, but they could not explain Jesus’ odd behavior.

And haven’t we all been there? We experience suffering, we turn to God for help, and, often, it feels like we get no response or that the answer is not what we hoped for. It is a time for tears and trust and for recognizing that we do not always see things as they really are.

When Jesus arrived in Bethany, he learned that Lazarus has been dead four days. Think about this…the timing is interesting. It is a two-day journey from the Jordan River to Bethany. This means that by the time the messenger reached Jesus, Lazarus was already dead. The reality of the moment was distorted; what Jesus was told by the messenger was no longer the truth.

When was the last time you looked up into a clear night sky and pondered the twinkling stars and glowing planets? You probably know that when we look at the stars we are looking back in time. The tiny specks of light look very similar to the naked eye but, in reality, they are massive bodies of energy that vary from hundreds to millions of light years away from the earth.

Polaris, the North Star, is a constant presence overhead. It is the star by which sailors have navigated and a metaphor for finding our way home. It is a yellow supergiant with a luminosity thousands of times that of our sun, and yet it only appears as a soft glow in our northern sky. When we look at Polaris, we are seeing it as it existed over 400 years ago, in the late 1500s. That is how long it takes the light from Polaris to reach us. It will be around the year 2450 before our descendants see it as it is today. Other stars in our galaxy are much farther from us, many nearly 100,000 light years away. Some of these may have already imploded and no longer exist, and there likely new stars we cannot yet see because their light simply hasn’t reached us. *

In the material as well as the spiritual, there are some things we cannot see as they really are, no matter how hard we try. Our human senses inform us on many levels, but they cannot be counted on to give us the full picture of reality. In today’s gospel story, I wonder how Lazarus and his sisters felt when, after Jesus had moved on and their friends had gone home, they had a moment to look up into the night sky and ponder what had just happened. Lazarus had died, but was now alive. They couldn’t explain that. They couldn’t know what was going to happen next. And yet, they put one foot in front of the other, drawing on their faith to step out of the chaos of the day and move forward. Something from the past…and the present…and the future lit their path in that moment, and they were transformed. Their experience gives us a different perspective on God’s love for us. It asks us to recognize that, even though God is present in the here and now, God does not always work in the logic of human understanding.

As hard as it is, I think it is crucial to rest in this time of self-refection, to resist the temptation to turn away from difficult feelings, and to rest in ambiguity for a while. God may not always prevent heartbreak, but God is always with us. We do not know what lies ahead, but we do know we are never alone. Jesus wept at Lazarus’ tomb. He was and is present to our sadness, our anger, our fear, our confusion, and he transforms it into a new way of being, a resurrection into a new kind of life.

We are given only enough light for the next step. Anything we think we can see beyond that needs to be held very lightly. Like the stars in the sky, what we think we are seeing may not be reality. By the time the light reaches our eyes, the truth may have changed. We wait, we watch, we mourn, we pray. Our faith tells us there is more to come, that truth is a process revealed over time and in our ongoing relationship with God-in-Christ. Resurrection is happening right now, but we need to be willing to stand in “not knowing”. We cannot see them, but even now, the seeds of new life are being planted. Even now, new stars are being born.

*I am indebted to the Rev. Claire Ranna for the metaphor of stars.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Photoessay: Altar Guild Working Party: Clean-up Day!

On Saturday, it was all hands on deck for a big working party.  Altar Guild (sacristans) and other volunteers joined in a Cathedral clean-up Day to clean and polish vessels and objects of all sorts.  They spread out in the Godly Play room, and finished with a shared lunch and fellowship.

The Altar Guild are the back-stage heroes of the Cathedral, doing everything from mending and ironing the linens, to polishing the silver, to washing up after Mass.  Do you feel called to help out on one of the teams in this ministry?  Ask Konnie Dadmun for more information!

See more photos of our hard-working sacristans here!

Thanks to Jim Witte for the photos.

Konnie working in the inner sacristy

Cherie getting down to it!

Polishing crew in the Godly Play room

Vicki and Mary are a little big for those chairs

Everyone brings an eye for detail
How many sacristans does it take.....?

Paula lays out the lunch


Friday, March 31, 2017

St. Paul’s Relaunching the Cathedral Peace and Justice Committee

The last few months have seen an increase in the level of activity and activism around issues of peace and justice, including immigrant rights, gender equality, LGBT and climate change issues, whether local, national, or internationally focused. To help the Cathedral community respond both thoughtfully and in a timely fashion to calls for action on many fronts, the Dean is reconstituting the Cathedral Peace and Justice Committee. Marshall Moore has graciously agreed to serve as convenor.

As an initial step, we invite those with a keen interest in issues of peace and justice to send an email to expressing your interest and specifying the issue areas you are most interested in.

If you come across an initiative, a piece of news or a planned action that you would like the Cathedral to consider supporting, you can send a link about the event to the same email address. Marshall will gather all the submissions and cathedral leadership will determine the extent to which our congregation should officially engage in a given event.

We are working to create the commission so that we can branch out to other areas such as advocacy or policy statements, and this is just a starting point.

Statement of Purpose for our Peace and Justice Ministry
“What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

Jesus said to his disciples, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” John 20:21 “The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.” BCP p.855

“Love Christ. Serve Others. Welcome All.” Mission statement of St. Paul’s Cathedral

As Christians, we worship a God who we believe is passionate for justice and who desires peace and wholeness (“shalom”) for the whole creation. Our Episcopal catechism tells us that our duty to our neighbor includes a duty “to show respect for the life God has given us; to work and pray for peace; … to seek justice, freedom, and the necessities of life for all people.” BCP p. 848

The Peace and Justice Ministry of St. Paul’s Cathedral seeks to encourage and assist the members of St. Paul’s in carrying out this duty and in serving the God of justice and peace. Working under the direction of the Dean and Chapter, we will do this in the following ways:

  • We will make known to the congregation opportunities to speak or to stand publicly for issues of peace and justice in our own community and in the world.
  • We will actively pray for peace at every level of our lives and for the world.
  • We will commit to seeking reconciliation with God and with others, individually and corporately.
  • We will support organizations whose mission is focused on the furtherance of peace and justice, provided they are congruent with the missions of the Episcopal Church and the Cathedral.
  • We will host and facilitate Cathedral events designed to further peace and justice.
  • We will seek out opportunities for ourselves and for the congregation to educate ourselves about issues of peace and justice, including but not limited to issues in the following areas
  • Immigration
    LGBT rights
    Ending war
    Human trafficking
    Stewardship of the earth and our environment
    Racial inequity
    Poverty  & inequity The use of violence to achieve societal change 
 In some instances, our efforts regarding one or more of these issues may overlap with the mission of our outreach, formation, or other Cathedral ministries. In such cases we will work cooperatively with the leaders of those ministries to further our common mission.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Beware Of Virus Threats and Scams on your Computer !!!

Hi all - some of you may already know that my computer has been hacked along with emails, personal credit cards and bank information. This happened last Monday and everyday there has been a new threat; I have Mcaffee virus protection but still hackers were able to penetrate again so I hope today it will be fixed and cleared up.

I am forwarding some pictures so you are aware of what may pop up on your screen and it sounds real because it rings alert and Microsoft message appears . "Do not call number listed it's is a scam ".

I already knew that and didn't call or give out any banking information somehow the hackers got it another way and planted a virus with "132 threats" .

Been working with Geek Squad , Microsoft Techs and now Netgear support for a week to get all these issues taken care of - if you don't have prepaid technical support warranty I would advise to get it .

Microsoft tech support charges $159 for annual service and $99 for a month service . Netgear charges $229 for an annual service for up to 5 computers . These support services access your computer remotely to clean up and delete the files that contain a virus.

Hopefully you find this information helpful so you do not fall into being a victim of these awful virus and scams. I'm sure that some of you like myself are aware of these attacks but you never know when it will hit your system .

Beware !!!

Don't call this number - scam and they want your credit card information to fix problem!!!

Netgear running remotely

A cleaner to locate threats

Take care , Jen

Jennifer Jow
People's Warden and Outreach Chair

From your blogmaster: More rules of thumb for security: 

 Do not re-use your passwords on different accounts. 
 Install anti-virus software and use it! 
Install Windows/MacOS system updates promptly. 
Disable Adobe Flash and Java on your browser. 
Backup regularly.
 Do NOT click on email attachments from anyone you don't know, or if they are unexpected from someone you do know (they may have been hacked). 
 Do NOT go to websites by clicking on links in email--they may misdirect you. 
See other posts on keeping your information safe.

Cathedral Campus Redevelopment Project Update

It has been a busy year for Nutmeg & Olive LLC, and its subsidiary, Fifth & Laurel LLC. You will have probably heard about most of our active projects, but enough questions pop up in coffee hour conversations or via email that it’s clearly time for a published update, including some new frequently asked questions. I hope this is helpful; please let me know if the answers below generate more questions for you.

How do the two LLCs support the ministries of the Cathedral? Nutmeg and Olive LLC continues to transfer the net rental income from the Park Chateau apartment complex to the Cathedral’s operating budget. In addition, Nutmeg & Olive annually transfers 5% of the LLC funds that are invested with the Episcopal Church Foundation to the Cathedral. This 5% transfer of invested funds mirrors the draw the Cathedral makes on its enduring and reserve funds, also invested via ECF. In 2016, these transfers of rental and interest income from Nutmeg & Olive in support of Cathedral operations totaled $157,000.

How did Nutmeg & Olive LLC support the Great Hall Restroom Project?
In addition to the transfer of $157,000 in rents and investment income to St. Paul’s, Nutmeg & Olive also transferred $318,800 to the Cathedral in 2016 for the Great Hall Restroom Project. It is unlikely that the Cathedral would have been able to complete this project without impinging on operational expenses or launching a campaign had it not been for the LLC’s support.

Why did we do the Great Hall Restroom Project, and why did it cost so much?
The convergence of several factors led both Nutmeg & Olive and the Chapter to the conclusion that 2016 was the right time for remodeling the basement restrooms and for adding two new accessible, unisex facilities on the main floor of the Great Hall. First, there was a concern about our preparedness for the loss of four restrooms in the Administration building at the point it is demolished for construction of the Olive parcel project. Second, once the Administration building is gone, we would not have any handicapped-accessible restrooms at the Cathedral. And finally, we had received negative comments from a number of couples who were considering the Cathedral for their weddings, or other special events, about the outdated and inadequate facilities in the basement, especially the restrooms.

Several people have asked about the cost of this project, and this is a fair question. This was not a simple “home bathroom renovation” type of project. In addition to the complete renovation of the two basement restrooms, the project involved construction of two new unisex, fully accessible restrooms in a location that had not been considered for this purpose by the original architects of the Great Hall. Major demolition and structural work needed to be done; a new floor, as well as plumbing and electrical service, needed to be created. Given the age of the structure no one was surprised when we found we would need to do asbestos abatement. Two competitive bids were received, and based on these bids, a budget of $300,000 for the project was adopted by Nutmeg & Olive. The final cost overrun was 6%, and occurred in part because of an upgrade to the quality of tile used and several additions to the project scope. In addition, architectural fees were slightly underestimated.

Here are photos of the demolition of the old basement-level women’s room, side by side with a partial view of one of the completed restrooms 

Why did the Fifth & Laurel LLC sell its remaining condominium?
Mindful of the Vision for Mission report, the Chapter adopted a 2016 operating budget to increase the Cathedral’s investment in clergy and lay staff support for our vital ministries. Living into God’s abundance required a “leap of faith” on Chapter’s part to budget beyond the 2016 expectation for pledge, plate and investment income. $125,000 of Chapter reserves were drawn to balance the 2016 budget, with the anticipation that additional draws would be necessary for two more years.

In mid-2016, Cathedral treasurer Betsey Monsell approached Fifth & Laurel about selling the remaining LLC-held condo at Laurel Bay. This property was bequeathed to us with the understanding that it was to be used in support of the Cathedral’s operating budget. Due to its low yield, operating the condo as a rental property was not a good investment strategy for the LLC. Following discussion, the LLC agreed to the Cathedral’s request, and the condo was sold in Fall 2016. Approximately $370K was distributed to the Cathedral in early 2017 from this sale. The distribution of these proceeds from the LLC makes it possible for the Cathedral to preserve the Chapter reserve funds that might have been required during the remaining two years of the planned budget shortfall.

Where does the development of the Olive Street parcel stand?
The process of developing this parcel, which will include new office, program space, and parking for the Cathedral, is complex, with various contractual thresholds and benchmarks. There have been delays and extensions to the originally negotiated timeline; the purchase and sale agreement has been amended five times. The LLC, with outstanding guidance and support from our consultant, Tom Delaney, has been able to increase our benefit from the sale agreement while simultaneously granting developer Greystar the timeline extensions it needs. Due to Greystar’s evolving design for the structure and the requisite amendments to the entitlements that Greystar must obtain from the City, it is unlikely that demolition/construction will begin before mid-2018, and possibly later, and will take about two years from start to completion.

When will the St. Paul’s community be able to see design concepts for the project?
It is safe to say that the structure to be built on the Olive parcel will look different from the artist’s conception of the project which congregants saw when we supported the entitlement process at Uptown Planners and the City Council. The LLC, along with representatives of Chapter, have reviewed revised drawings of the project, and holds a contractual right of approval over general design elements. But the design continues to be fluid as Greystar explores ways to increase the square footage of the structure. Architectural drawings will be shared with the community when there is a more definitive version available, hopefully within the next few months.

The Cathedral Campus Redevelopment Project we are now seeing take shape is the culmination of years of planning and thoughtful work. The two newer LLC managers, Dean Penny Bridges and I, are fortunate that three original managers of the LLC, Jack Lentz, Kendall Squires and Ken Tranbarger, continue their work today, almost 13 years after the formation of Nutmeg & Olive LLC. These three lions of our community have collectively devoted about 40 years of service to this project, which will benefit St. Paul’s Cathedral for generations.

Mark Lester
LLC Manager and Dean’s Warden

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Sunday Sermon: The Healing of the Blind Man

John 9:1-41 The Healing of the Man Born Blind: Gospel with Sermon Commentary 
Penelope M. Bridges, March 26, 2017 

 The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John.

Glory to you, Lord Christ. 

 As Jesus walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him."
Preacher What do the disciples see, when they look at the blind beggar at the Temple gates? They see a category, an example, an image shaped by their own narrow minds. Affliction, to the disciples, is a punishment from God. Someone must be to blame. If not the man himself, then his parents must have done something for him to deserve this blindness. What does Jesus see, when he looks at the man born blind? He sees a child of God, a man ripe for transformation; he sees an opportunity for God’s love, compassion and glory to be made known. The disciples are trapped in the past, demanding explanation for sin; Jesus looks into a bright future, filled with possibilities. When the prophet Samuel looked at David, the bright-eyed, ruddy-cheeked shepherd boy, he saw an overlooked younger brother. But God saw the future of Israel in that boy, a king in the making.

When we look at the person pushing an overloaded cart on the city sidewalk, what do we see? Do we see a strange, unattractive creature who somehow threatens our own well-being, do we see a sinner who deserves his misfortune, or do we see a child of God and an opportunity to demonstrate our Christian love? God is not concerned with our past, what has already happened to us; God is concerned with our future and what, through grace, we will make of it.
"We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
Preacher Jesus makes eight “I am” statements in John’s Gospel. This I AM statement introduces the sixth great sign, the turning of the blind man’s darkness into light. It demonstrates that he is indeed the earthly incarnation of the great I AM, the one who sent Moses, who called Samuel, who loved David. The light lives in all times. The light shines in the darkness, then and now.
When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see.
Preacher Three simple phrases: he went, he washed, he came back able to see. The simplicity of the language almost obscures the miraculous action. The simple actions and words of the man born blind stand in stark contrast to the confusion and complications raised by everyone else in this story. He simply does what he is told by Jesus, he goes where he is sent, and a miracle happens. It's as simple as that.
The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”
Preacher These people, who have known him all his life, doubt the evidence of their own eyes. Before, all the neighbors saw was a disabled person. They probably didn’t even look at his face; perhaps it would make them too uncomfortable. Now their limited imaginations cannot accept the transformation. They cannot see the truth. And see how the man is transformed: where before he didn’t even dare to ask for healing, now he speaks up for himself. He is no longer passive, begging. He is an evangelist, sharing the good news with clarity and confidence.
They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided. So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” He said, “He is a prophet.”
Preacher The Pharisees are blind to God’s power; they too are trapped in the darkness of their own minds. This cannot be the work of God because it’s against the rules. How often do we take refuge in the rules, so that we don’t have to risk reaching out beyond our safety zone? How far are we prepared to stretch for the sake of the Gospel? The Holy Spirit operates outside of our rules. It makes us uncomfortable. We look for justice: How can a sinner receive such a blessing? What has he done to deserve it? But instead we might look for mercy: What have we done to deserve redemption?
The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
Preacher To be blind is to be isolated in one way; to be healed miraculously, or even to acknowledge the miracle, is to risk isolation in another way. The parents are so afraid of the power that has been manifested in their son, that they turn away from him, afraid that they too will be blamed and expelled. They don’t have the courage to believe their son and to accept the good news. Like everyone else in this story, they are blind to the light shining in their darkness, to the truth in their midst.
So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.
Preacher Only the healed man has the courage to stand up to the Pharisees in their blindness, a courage given him by God in his healing. His encounter with Jesus has given his life meaning, a reason to be courageous. He has met the Truth, and so he must tell the truth. The truth has set him free, free for discipleship. But discipleship can be costly.
Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him.
Preacher Jesus goes out looking for the lost. He seeks out the outcast; he invites the exile to follow him. He offers a new community, a community of the healed, of those who make others uncomfortable, of those who stand in the light and see clearly the awesome power of God in the world. Jesus invites us too into the community of all those rescued and released from blindness.
Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”
Preacher Jesus offers us a new creation, a new way of seeing, a way of courage and freedom. Will we be like the man born blind, eyes opened to the truth, ready to believe and to follow, or will we be like the disciples, neighbors, parents, and Pharisees, blind to the possibility of transformation, trapped in our own darkness? Jesus offers us light and life. See, believe, and worship.
The Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, Lord Christ.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

A new Chapter Covenant

Dean Penny writes,

At the annual Chapter retreat in February, Chapter agreed to create a Covenant for how we will relate, as church leaders, to one another and to the wider community. We will hold ourselves and one another accountable to these standards of behavior. We invite all ministry groups of St. Paul's to adopt similar standards.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Thank You notes Show the Reach of Our Advent Gifts

During this time of Lent, Advent feels like it was a long time ago. But we recently received some notes that show the many blessings that came from the Advent project created by our outgoing Director of Children, Youth, and Families, Robin Taylor.

You may remember that more than 30 St. Paul’s families signed up to engage in Advent through an at home spiritual practice devised by Robin. Each family was given a basket and daily scripture and meditation cards, one for each day of Advent. Each family was also matched with a family in the All Kids Academy Head Start program at St. Alban’s in El Cajon, many of them refugee families. The cards asked the St. Paul family to meditate on an idea and, if they wanted to, add something to the basket for their match family. In January, Robin then took a carload stuffed full of gifts to St. Albans.

Last month, St. Paul’s received gifts of gratitude in return from some of the families at St. Alban’s. They sent thank you notes, chocolates, and a teddy bear. We invite you to read their touching notes, which have been transcribed below:

To the wonderful people at St. Paul’s Cathedral,

This is just a short note where I can’t say thank you enough for the beautiful Epiphany gifts and turkey. The card from your best friend A makes me want to explore and the scarf, hat and gloves were much appreciated for my daughter. My grandson is thrilled for baseball season to start to use his new glove and my son who is autistic fell in love with the backpack. Every item is cherished and appreciated.
Thank you,
T, K, KJ and M
Thank you for the Christmas gift and turkey. My family really appreciated the wonderful gifts and drawing! Love,
The H Family   *********************************************************************************
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We are very honored and humbled to be blessed by the staff and families at St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Many love and blessings to you all,
The F Family
Thank you so much for the gifts. As a single mother of two small children, I am very appreciative of all of this. My children are as grateful as I am. Every bit helps make my life and my children’s life better. Again thank you so much. Happy Holidays from myself and my babies.
Thank you!
M, N, and N
Dear C
We are very grateful for the blessings you have given us. I’m also a grandma, and I know what is like to be proud of one’s family. God bless you, and your family too. Also, I know you like crafts, so I give these to you with love!
NP and family
Thank you for the act of kindness and everybody included.
Thank you from the B family *********************************************************************************
To Whom It May Concern,
I wanted to write a letter acknowledging the generosity and kindness this holiday season. My son was rewarded with a Three Kings Basket with numerous great gifts, as well as a holiday turkey. We are very grateful that we were chosen to receive such great gifts.
Thank you again,
S, R, and W
Dear A & family
Thank you so much for all the wonderful goodies. We truly appreciate them. We hope your holidays were great.
A & B
I really want to thank you for the beautiful gesture of generosity that you so kindly give to us. My kids and I enjoy the basket gifts and we also went on a shopping spree (groceries!). Words do not express my gratitude, but I am very thankful.
The R Family
Thank you so much for all the gifts. My son is very grateful and as a single mother of two children I appreciate it very much as well. My little family is very fortunate to have received these gifts. God Bless!

Amikas Tiny House Expo and City Council meeting

Visit the Amikas Tiny House Expo - A bridge from Homeless to Housed  held at St. Luke's March 15- MArch 26 .  Amikas will be presenting a demonstration of emergency sleeping cabins and very affordable bungalow homes at an Expo at St Luke’s Episcopal Church from March 15-30.   The structures could be a crucial part of San Diego’s efforts to house homeless people by filling the gap of insufficient emergency shelter and the scarcity of very affordable housing.   This part of an effort spearheaded by Amikas to amend the California Shelter Crisis Act to authorize a limited period where San Diego can build emergency bridge housing. 

Hopefully, they city will adopt this type of short term solution to house the current homeless population until long term plans are finalized.  There will be a special City Council meeting on March 20 @ 1:00pm - Golden Hall.  Any questions, please contact  Rev. Susan Asarita @301.943.4550 or Jen Jow @ 619.840.2327.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Meet your new People's Warden!

As your new "People's Warden" I was going to do a write up detailing who I am,  my credentials, and the ministries I participate in at St. Paul's. I felt this would give those who didn't know me a chance to learn more about me and why it is a honor and a privilege to serve this community.

I decided not to waste your time with boring details, but give you (the congregation) an opportunity to let me know you better. You are the foundation, heart and soul of this cathedral and in order for me to serve you best it is important to understand your needs and expectations. Open communication along with trust and respect for one another is my guide both personally and professionally.

You can look for me on some Sunday's after the 8am service by the greeter table, mingling with others in the courtyard, or headed to the forum. During the week there's a huge possibility that I am on campus attending a meeting, setting up for an event, or doing some type of volunteer work.

We are a large cathedral with lots of people gathering here daily, it can be quite overwhelming for those not used to all the hustle and bustle. I never knew that so much goes on here until after I started to serve on different ministries and volunteer to help with projects in the facilities and operations department.

I look forward to meeting and getting to know each of you better during this year and thank you for trusting me to serve you. . Please feel free to contact me at (routes to my personal email) or my cell 619.840.2327. Any feedback, questions, joys, and concerns are always welcomed.

Blessings and Peace,


Jennifer Jow
People's Warden and Outreach Chair

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Chapter Retreat

I agreed to write a blog about the recent Chapter Retreat that was held on the evening of Friday, Feb. 3 and all day Saturday, Feb. 4th. And it has taken me longer than I had planned, secondary to the depth of information that was imparted and what we were asked to reflect on. Being as I am a new member, Saturday evening was a time to meet all the members of the Chapter and that includes our treasurer, chancellor, etc. Actually, I knew most of them by recognition and some I have known for many years. I thought I knew what many did and then found out I really didn’t have an in-depth knowledge of the skills that so many of the Chapter members possess. I would say that St. Paul’s is lucky to have a such a variety of people representing many walks of life who want the best for St. Paul’s.

On Saturday, we heard in depth reports of our financial status, the campus building plans, the legal framework which we operate under, and what future hopes are. We also spent time reviewing our Baptismal Covenant and its origins including Old Testament and New Testament contributions. Our task is to come up with a Chapter Covenant that will spiritually guide our behavior in future chapter meetings and our interaction with our fellow parishioners and those outside of the Cathedral. I think that people left the retreat with a spiritual commitment.

After the retreat, a tour of St. Paul’s Plaza, a new facility in east Chula Vista was offered. Even though I had seen articles in the newspaper and live only 7 ½ miles from the Plaza, I was the only one that evidently had not taken the tour previously. At our first Chapter meeting the following Tuesday, I was asked how I liked the tour. They were surprised when I said it was a 90 minute tour. I am an Occupational Therapist that works with the elderly and I am not a spring chicken any more either. One of my professional interests is working with the elderly on accessibility so I wanted to see more than the usual tour plus I had many questions. The tour guide was knowledgeable and seemed to be pleased to accommodate my interests.

So, my overall impression of that weekend was I came away excited to be serving my fellow parishioners and finally being able to fulfill a desire I have had for several years of serving on the Chapter. I have been attending St. Paul’s since 1986, so I am able to see the progress we have made in serving so many needs and building the community we now have. I think the most important part in sustaining St. Paul’s is developing relationships with God as our guide within and outside of our community.

Susan McClure, Chapter Member 

St Paul's Cathedral Chapter Retreat, 2017