Vestry Minutes: June 21, 2016
Adopted July 19, 2016
Presiding: Rev Holly Lyman Antolini
Members Present: Sylvia Weston, Lucas Sanders, Mardi Moran, Jules Bertaut, Andrew Rohm, Tom Tufts, Marian King, Olivia Hamilton, Nancy McArdle, Sarah Forrester, Matthew Abbate
Members Absent: Tom Beecher, Thomas Wohlers
Guests: Rev. Eric Litman, Ric Dumont, Jane Hirschi
● Following brief check-in time, Spiritual Practice was led by Jules B. who guided us in meditation and prayer
Discernment Committee for Olivia Hamilton
● Jane Hirschi presented the report of Olivia Hamilton’s discernment committee (distributed previously), followed by a period of Q and A with Olivia and Jane
● Jules B. moved that the Vestry present Olivia Hamilton for postulancy. Mardi M. seconded. Approved unanimously. Olivia was informed, congratulated, and the appropriate forms signed. The Vestry thanks the discernment committee for its work.
● Olivia moved that we enter Executive Session for a redevelopment update. Jules seconded. Approved unanimously.
● Jules moved to exit Executive Session. Marian seconded. Approved unanimously.
Black Lives Matter Sign
● Eric proposed the following language which will appear on the Black Lives Matter sign:
"We believe that all lives matter...that every individual is important and every person deserves to be treated with justice and compassion. We live in a society that often suggests otherwise. Because of the continuing injustice and violence disproportionately faced by people of color, we affirm that Black Lives Matter."
● Jules moved that we have a sandwich board type sign created, on both sides of which will say “Black Lives Matter” and the explanatory text, and it will be awesome. Andrew R. seconded. Approved unanimously.
● Jules provided an update on the Shared Leadership gatherings.
● The Formation and Fellowship meeting was held and went well. People in various ministries connected, and there was positive feedback. The Outreach meeting will be June 22. No dates yet for the Admin and Worship meetings.
Leadership for Nominating and Currency of Money Committees
● Holly reported that there is a need for 2 people for the Nominating Committee and 3 for the Currency of Money Committee (coordinator—who has some connection to the budget process, pledge recorder, communications person)
● Holly asked that the Vestry think of potential people by the July meeting
● Lucas moved that we enter Executive Session to discuss a pastoral matter. Jules seconded. Approved unanimously.
● Jules moved to exit Executive Session. Marian seconded. Approved unanimously.
Minutes of May Meeting
● Mardi moved that we approve the regular and executive session May 17th minutes. Jules seconded. Approved unanimously.
- Lucas presented the financial report, but because of some book-keeping issues, which may need correction, he did not review the financial statements with us. However he believes that our financial position remains similarly strong as in the recent past
- We have been approached by Seth Woody of LDI and the Circles of Action and Contemplation (CAC). CAC has asked us to be their financial agent. The Finance Committee is considering it and will report back in July.
Parish Activities May-June
- Wonderfully successful Parish Retreat w nearly 90 people, all ages, all stages, plus fine turn-out and service from Scout Collective 56. Parish Retreat Team did a dynamite job!
- Staff summer vacation: Hong has already taken a week in May; we have given Kathryn an extra week because she will be married this weekend, so is taking next week off for honeymoon and the week after July 4th to visit family in Minnesota. Pat is taking four Sundays off scattered through the summer. Eric is taking the week of July 4th off.
- Eric has cooperated with the Spirit to achieve a miracle: Rachel Asam to be Nursery Caretaker for the summer in Julia Reed-Betts’ absence!
- Olivia ready for postulancy application.
- Food Ministry Discernment Team held two successful meetings resourced by Isaac Martinez & Leadership Development Institute (LDI). A third meeting is planned in October (date TBA) to prepare for possible LDI training beginning in November. Report out re this group’s reconsideration of the planned Food Pantry space in the new Parish House will be on next month’s Vestry agenda.
- HOWEVER: Karen Coleman is reporting a lack of volunteers for summer Saturdays, and proposes closing for July & August. She is on vacation July 10-23. Am querying the Food Pantry Board about this. No lead time; hard for me to mobilize more St. James’s volunteers.
- St. James’s Day: A farewell for Isaac and Mary Beth (and maybe Nicholas; I need to confirm his plans). I’m proposing a slightly ramped-up festivity and inviting the neighborhood, if the Redevelopment Committee is up for that. Maybe snow cones and popcorn, balloons and games for kids? No budget, so low-infrastructure! Looks like the Harris-Butlers may be willing to host hamburgers/hot dogs.
- Need two new members for Nominating Committee and at least two new members for Currency of Money Committee. Suggestions, please! July 19 is latest before we want these teams identified. We like to begin work in summer, before the fall rush.
- A-O Team "train-the-trainers" plans, publicity, leader recruitment, September 9/10 initial all-staff, all-trainers’ training; working on October date for 4-day training. Three leader-volunteers still needed to meet our goal of 7 in addition to program staff.
- Simpler, shorter liturgies for summer in the season after Pentecost. Single-service Sundays began on June 19 and end with Homecoming Sunday September 11.
- Will invite Worship Commission for summer oversight planning for 2016-2017, with smaller sub-teams for each season, which worked well in the last year.
- Attended Interior Restoration meetings as able; committee on track for summer painting and stenciling, possible staged lighting improvement plan.
- Eric working with parents on plans to address spiritual needs of older youth: what Charlie Allen calls, IEP’s: Individualized Episcopal Plans!
- An assortment of pastoral responsibilities & elder care. Shirley B. now has legal guardian who is comfortable with St. James’s continuing assistance.
- St. James’s Discovering God’s Economy still stalled short of finding the appropriate recipient for our experiment in “growing the local economy” by investing in small business in economically challenged communities.
- ECM Fundraiser less successful than the last few years due to our representatives not being fully in gear for recruitment.
- The Resolutions Committee – which I have chaired - will meet shortly after Labor Day to prepare for November Diocesan Convention.
- Excellent “Making Excellent Disciples” new-clergy mentoring retreat at Adalynrood May 31st through June 2nd. The Rev. Martin Smith presented on baptismal theology and ministry
- Gum surgery, June 30th!
- STILL continuing my labors on our parents’ estate in VT. Lots still to do.
- Vacation plans: Three weeks in August, gone Aug. 7, 14, & 21. (Eric will take Aug. 7 & 21 Sunday services; Laurie Rofinot will take August 14 as supply.) I will take the fourth vacation week after my late-October CREDO professional retreat to spend time with my daughter in New Orleans.
- Sylvia reported that there are weekly meetings of interior restoration team.
- Has arranged to have a lighting expert come and talk to the restoration team about lighting design
- Team has chosen a color for the walls and will put it on a wall of the church. Vestry members should take a look.
Assistant Rector’s Report
- Eric reported that a terrific job was done with the retreat
- He is working on plans for the older youth
Submitted by Nancy McArdle
Proper 10, Year C 1st Option 7-10-16
©Holly Lyman Antolini
Lections: Amos 7:7-17, Psalm 82, Colossians 1:1-14, Luke 10:25-37
O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that we may know and understand what things we ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them. AMEN.
This opening prayer is the powerful “collect for the day” today, the prayer that acknowledges it is one thing to “know and understand” a thing and quite another to “accomplish” it. It bears repeating. We may “know and understand” much about the implicit racism behind the incessant police brutality against people of color in our country (as at St. James’s, our Anti-Oppression Team has for years now been challenging our stunningly persistent national denial about the impact of this violence upon our communities of color); we may know and understand how insane the prevalence of gun ownership is, and the proliferation of “concealed” and “open carry” laws, whatever the lethality of the gun in any given instance. But in this terrible week, buffeted by wave upon wave of terrible violence, of terrible, visceral, vivid loss, WHAT THINGS OUGHT WE TO DO? In the name and the love of Jesus Christ, WHAT THINGS ARE WE CALLED TO ACCOMPLISH?
In Luke’s story of the neighbor – note that I do not call it the story of “the Good Samaritan,” for even that title implies somehow a prejudice against Samaritans, as if they weren’t inherently “good;” rather, I call it the “story of the neighbor,” as its chief purpose is to redefine what a neighbor is – in Luke’s story of the neighbor, the verb “do” appears three times. First, the lawyer – the authority on the Jewish law, the Torah – stands up to test this upstart villager from Nazareth by asking “What must I DO to inherit eternal life?” To which Jesus replies with his own question that in turn puts the lawyer on the spot, asking the lawyer himself to draw on his own knowledge of that law to give its summary and essence, which is to love God with your whole self and love your neighbor with the same fullness. Which Jesus then approves, using the word “do” a second time: “You have given the right answer; DO this and you will live.”
The lawyer is engaging in a well-known form of debate in 1st-century Palestine, a form we call “challenge & riposte,” as if it were a fencing duel. “The intent was to display the inadequacy of the one being challenged, thereby lessening his [all-important] honor [and credibility] in the eyes of observers and increasing one’s own.” Of course Jesus is “a skillful debater whose honor is only heightened by the exchange with the lawyer.” He not only bests the lawyer at his own game; he goes on vastly to expand the sphere of concern from simple “correctness” of legal interpretation to a “radical recasting” of the “boundaries… his contemporaries employ[ed] to circumscribe righteousness and the reach of God’s salvation.” Jesus doesn’t merely win the argument; he fundamentally challenges the blindness of prejudice and widens the embrace of God’s kingdom to include all and exclude none.
The lawyer, trying to get back “on top” in the debate dynamic, then asks Jesus in turn to define the term, “neighbor.” He’s still hoping to use the Torah to catch Jesus out. Then as now, the tensions were fraught between Jewish Israelites and Gentile Palestinians. “Second Temple Judaism [in Jesus’ day] was characterized by a diversity of perspectives on relations with non-Jews. In Leviticus 19:18 [which the lawyer uses for his response to Jesus’ question], the context makes clear that ‘love of neighbor’ is love of one’s fellow Israelite, and while Leviticus 19:34 expands the command to include ‘the resident aliens,’ many Jews did not view the Gentile occupants of Palestine as covered by this clause.” New Testament scholar Joel Green “frames this controversy well: ‘Different attitudes toward these foreign intrusions developed into a fractured social context in which boundaries distinguished not only between Jew and Gentile but also between Jewish factions. How far should love reach?’”
[Karl Allen Kuhn, New Proclamation Year C 2010]
In the terms of our own day, from this point of view, a “neighbor” might be a legal immigrant (although even they – like the Muslim judge on the Trump University case – are suspect); it would NOT be an undocumented one. A neighbor might be a Christian; she can’t be a Muslim. A neighbor will be the person I already know. It can’t be a person I don’t know.
And the Samaritan whom Jesus chooses as his protagonist in this story, the man who sees the bloodied, unfortunate and anonymous man – “undesignated by sect, social group, institution or even ethnicity” or identifiers of any kind – lying by the roadside and who (unlike the devout Israelite exemplars of religious authority who “pass by on the other side”) is moved with compassion in his very gut – splagchnizomai is the Greek for this, which positively SOUNDS like one’s guts roiling – and goes to him and touches him, treats and bandages his wounds, takes him on his own mount to a place of respite, and insures that the necessary care will be sustained until the unidentified man is well – this Samaritan is a first-class instance of the one whom the lawyer and his ilk would dismiss as “unworthy” of the status of “neighbor.” Samaritans were members of a spin-off, ethnically mixed sect of Judaism, with Israelites and non-Israelites among them, who historically were followers of YAHWEH, like the Israelites who despised them, but had “their own Temple, Torah and sacred traditions.” Samaritans were regarded by the surrounding Israelites as “a degenerate form of faith” and “their adherents a degenerate people.” Yet it is a “spiritual and social low life” like this Samaritan, Jesus shows, who understands what a neighbor really is.
[Karl Allen Kuhn, New Proclamation Year C 2010]
This whole terrible week has posed a profound challenge to our living up to Jesus’ understanding of “the essence of the law” and Jesus’ broad, inclusive definition of “our neighbor.” We have seen, in seeming wave upon pounding wave, proofs of our society’s incapacity to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. We seem instead to be ruled by fear and suspicion, by deep dynamics of prejudice that fuel rage-filled attacks upon the innocent, facilitated by our persistent determination to allow easy access to firearms and to use guns as a solution to problems. And the “call and response” of the violence and counter-violence shreds our social fabric still further, and fractures our allegiances to each other.
Charles M. Blow, columnist in the New York Times, gives voice to our experience: “We seem caught in a cycle of escalating atrocities without an easy way out, without enough clear voices of calm, without tools for reduction, without resolutions that will satisfy. There is so much loss and pain. There are so many families whose hearts hurt for a loved one needlessly taken, never to be embraced again. There is so much disintegrating trust, so much animosity stirring. So many — too many — Americans now seem to be living with an ambient terror that someone is somehow targeting them.”
He names the historical precedents for this: “Centuries of American policy, culture and tribalism are simply being revealed as the frothy tide of hagiographic history recedes. Our American “ghettos” were created by policy and design. These areas of concentrated poverty became fertile ground for crime and violence. Municipalities used heavy police forces to try to cap that violence. Too often, aggressive policing began to feel like oppressive policing. Relationships between communities and cops became strained. A small number of criminals poisoned police beliefs about whole communities, and a small number of dishonorable officers poisoned communities’ beliefs about entire police forces. And then, too often the unimaginable happened and someone ended up dead at the hands of the police.”
Then he asks the right questions, the questions Jesus would be putting to us at a time like this: “Will the people who can see clearly that there is no such thing as selective, discriminatory, exclusionary outrage and grieving when lives are taken, be heard above those who see every tragedy as a plus or minus for a cumulative argument? [Challenge & risposte!] Will the people who see both the protests over police killings and the killings of police officers as fundamentally about the value of life rise above those who see political opportunity in this arms race of atrocities?”
Will we cross to the other side of the road and see, see clearly, the wounds our fellow humans are suffering? Our people of color? Our immigrants? Our police? Will we allow our guts to be moved with compassion? (Mine have been churning all week. I seem to have gone through the whole week with tears in my eyes. Have you?) Will we set aside all our “categorizations” of those worthy and those unworthy of our care and concern? Are we willing to endure the discomfort of that up-close and personal connection with people with whom we have had historic mistrust? Will we look beyond what we experience as the prejudice of others toward us in order to weave new threads of trust with them where there have been few, or none? The Samaritan did it. Dare we DO it too?
Before the killing of Alton Sterling and Philando Chase, before the murder of the police in Dallas, I had chosen another “Samaritan” to illustrate Jesus’ story, a quieter one but one with no less courage in the face of prejudice and no less impact for all that. He was California agriculture inspector Bob Fletcher, who, “ignoring the resentment of neighbors, quit his job in the middle of World War II, [also a time of great national tension,] to manage the fruit farms of Japanese families forced to live in internment camps…” Mr. Fletcher died this May in Sacramento, in the great agricultural Central Valley of California, at 101. But back in late 1941, in the wake of Pearl Harbor, the U.S. was seized with a paroxysm of paranoia and prejudice, and set about interning over 100,000 Japanese-American farmers and orchardists who owned land on the West Coast in prison camps for the duration of the war. Mr. Fletcher knew, at least slightly, the people whose fruit he inspected. He knew what the loss of their land meant to them. So he flew directly in the face of serious prejudice from the surrounding community, gave up his job, and spent the war tending the farms of people in the camps.
“For the next three years [Bob Fletcher] worked a total of 90 acres on three farms ... He worked 18-hour days and lived in the bunkhouse [one of the farmers, a] Mr. Tsukamoto had reserved for migrant workers. He paid the bills of all three families — the Tsukamotos, the Okamotos and the Nittas. [Though they offered to let him keep all the profits,] he kept only half... Many Japanese-American families lost property while they were in the camps because they could not pay their bills. Most in the Florin area moved elsewhere after the war. When the Tsukamotos returned in 1945, they found that Mr. Fletcher had left them money in the bank and that his new wife, Teresa, had cleaned the Tsukamotos’ house in preparation for their return. She had chosen to join her husband in the bunkhouse instead of accepting the Tsukamotos’ offer to live in the family’s house. “Teresa’s response was, ‘It’s the Tsukamotos’ house,’ ” recalled Marielle Tsukamoto, who was 5 when she and her family were sent to the [internment] center.”
“Mr. Fletcher’s willingness to work the farms was not well received in [his neighborhood], where before the war some people had resented the Japanese immigrants for their success. Japanese children in the area were required to attend segregated schools. Mr. Fletcher was unruffled by personal attacks; he felt the Japanese farmers were being mistreated. ‘I did know a few of them pretty well and never did agree with the evacuation,’ he told The Sacramento Bee in 2010. ‘They were the same as anybody else. It was obvious they had nothing to do with Pearl Harbor.’”
As Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. reminds us, “On the night Martin Luther King died, two months almost to the day before he himself would be shot down in a hotel kitchen, Bobby Kennedy faced a grief stricken, largely African-American crowd in Indianapolis and with extemporaneous eloquence, prescribed a cure for the sickness he saw. ‘My favorite poet,’ he told them, ‘was Aeschylus. And he once wrote, ‘And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.’ Then Pitts begs us, “What we need in the United States is not division. What we need in the United States is not hatred. What we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness but is love and wisdom and compassion toward one another and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer in our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.’” Whether they be police or citizen. Be they immigrant or “indigenous.” Be they Christian or Muslim or Jew. Be they Samaritan, or “one of us,” whatever that “us” is. They are ALL “our neighbors.” Jesus calls us to DO mercy. AMEN. [http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/leonard-pitts-jr/article88403142.html#storylink=cpy]
Vestry Minutes: May 17, 2016
Adopted June 21, 2016
Presiding: Rev Holly Lyman Antolini
Members Present: Sylvia Weston, , Lucas Sanders, Mardi Moran, Jules Bertaut, Tom Beecher, Andrew Rohm, Thomas Wohlers, Tom Tufts, Marian King, Olivia Hamilton, Nancy McArdle, Sarah Forrester, Matthew Abbate
Guests: Rev Eric Litman, Jeff Zinsmeyer, Peter Merrell
● Dinner was provided by Jules, Sarah, and Eric
● Had brief check-in time
● Spiritual Practice was led by Tom Tufts who led us in an exercise related to yearning.
● Peter Merrill reported on the work of the interior restoration committee (see below). They've received three disparate bids and recommend that we contract with Artech. The Artech bid was all-inclusive, and they specialize in religious institutions and churches. Their work would lead to an entirely refreshed sanctuary, including stenciling repair.
● Peter would be “clerk of the works”, and we would also add an addendum to document the scope of work further. They hope to complete the work by September 11. Work would take about five weeks.
● We would also like to investigate the possibility of new lighting and would have to take into account the effect of our current electrical system.
● Thomas W moved that we accept the Artech proposals. Jules seconded. Approved unanimously.
● Peter mentioned that the question of paint color was delegated to a smaller group including Sarah Forester, Anne Tate, and Anne Read. They will also confer with a historical person preservation expert.
● The Vestry thanks Peter and the committee profusely.
● Lucas moved that we enter Executive Session for a redevelopment update by Jeff Zinsmeyer. Mardi seconded. Approved unanimously.
● Sylvia moved to exit Executive Session. Marian seconded. Approved unanimously.
● Jules reported that we hope to do the small group meetings in the next month. We are looking to ID key players by this Sunday and find three days when they could meet for 2 to 3 hours. Jules went over a very rough agenda of the planned meetings. There will also be an announcement in church in two Sundays from now.
Food Ministry Reframing
● The Food Pantry board met last Saturday.
● At that meeting Karen Coleman reported on continuing difficulties and stress around the constraints of the current space and some urgency about possibly moving out. The meeting was then joined by volunteers who told their stories of the food pantry.
● Isaac Martinez joined the meeting to discuss what LDI could offer. The group is interested in working with LDI on our future plans around food ministries. LDI introduction session is in November and training starts in January.
● This current group of people interested in food ministries will gather in June to meet with Isaac, talk about recruiting Parish leadership, and also look at building plans of our proposed new pantry space in the new building and see if it is adequate.
● Question--do we have partners in the city we haven't reached out to?
● Karen will meet with the community relations people at Schochet one time a month going forward.
Black Lives Matter Banner
● Eric reported on discussions with the interior restoration committee about hanging the banner. They do not feel that it's feasible to hang it from the outside of the building (architectural and permitting issues) and propose a ground sign which is changeable. Eric, Lauren Zook and Linda Luikel are proposing text to go with the banner.
● Installing a permanent sign will be a relatively long process, related to the redevelopment. We want to do a sandwich board sign in the near future. Eric will come back with the proposed language.
Assistant Rector Letter of Agreement
● Eric is currently working 20 to 25 hours a week, although he is only paid for one third time.
● Eric would like to focus more on the church school and family ministry with less emphasis on the Sunday service in church and also less preaching. We reviewed the revised job description with this emphasis.
● Eric will keep his own time-study going forward.
Minutes of February and special March Meetings
● We reviewed the Executive session minutes of March 15 and April 19. Thomas W. moved that we approve the minutes. Jules seconded. Approved unanimously.
● Marian moved that we approve the regular April 19 minutes. Jules seconded. Approved unanimously.
- Lucas presented the parochial report. Matthew moved to approve the parochial report pending correction to the number of baptisms under age 16. Thomas W. seconded. Approved unanimously.
- Property issues: Sylvia is spending a lot of time at the church to deal with property issues. For a few months we would like to try to share responsibility of meeting repair people at the church, before considering adding staff time to cover that. We need more people for the property committee. Matthew says he might sometimes be available to help by being at the church.
- Gun buyback: This is an annual event in Cambridge. They are trying to raise money for gift cards for the buyback. In the past the unused cards have been distributed to food pantries, including ours. Proposal made to use $300 from the food pantry funds towards the gun buyback program. Tom Beecher moved to give $300 from the Food Pantry funds to the gun buyback program. Mardi seconded. Approved unanimously.
- We reviewed the calendar items.
- Want to add the May 24 GBIO events and the June 11 Diocesan presence at the Pride parade.
Parish Activities April - May
- Olivia’s Discernment Committee concluded its work. We will receive the report at our June meeting and vote whether to recommend her to the Commission on Ministry for discernment of postulancy to the priesthood.
- A-O Team "train-the-trainers" plans, publicity, leader recruitment, September 9/10 initial all-staff, all-trainers’ training.
- Easter Season liturgies were lively and long with the Caribbean Mass a highlight, powerful Living Epistles from members of the A-O Team, and a diversity of preachers. Looking forward to simpler, shorter liturgies for summer in the season after Pentecost.
- Pentecost Sunday – both morning and afternoon - were powerful liturgies. The Anti-Oppression Team-sponsored Balm in Gilead conversation on race in the context of Eucharist was well-attended – some 50+ people in all from both St. Stephen’s in Lynn and St. James’s. Deep gratitude to Elaine Agard and the Hospitality Committee.
- Single-service Sundays begin on June 19 and end with Homecoming Sunday September 11.
- An assortment of pastoral responsibilities, elder care and funerals, including Tony Marsh’s and St. James’s neighbor Bruce Roberts’. Attending Shirley B’s hearing for guardianship on Thursday morning.
- St. James’s Discovering God’s Economy group’s dinner w Jean Horstman of Interise proved fruitful in connecting us to dynamic Chrismaldi Vasquez of Family Independence Initiative, which forms lending circles, and Vetto Casado of “Small Can Be Big.” We are still having difficulty sustaining the effort to find the appropriate recipient for our experiment in “growing the local economy” by investing in small business in economically challenged communities.
- Well-subscribed Parish Retreat ahead; strong team in place. The Rev. Angel Marrero will lead worship at St. James’s while we’re away.
- You heard already about the first meeting of a new Food Ministry Discernment Team to work w Leadership Development Institute (LDI). Isaac resourced the meeting of the Food Pantry Board on May 14th, and we had a number of people join us who volunteer in the Pantry to be part of that meeting, in prep for signing on for LDI coaching of this revitalization in the fall.
- GBIO recruitment ahead for May 24 action on affordable housing and criminal justice reform. Sylvia is in charge. Still looking for 10 more people at least. Also raising $500 for Episcopal City Mission sponsorship for their June 14 annual gala and fundraiser. We’re already at $350.
- Clergy Conference was lively, with the Rev. Dr. Andrew MacGowan, presenter!
- I’ll continue on the Mission Institute Advisory Team next academic year.
- I’ll continue on the Resolutions Committee of Diocesan Convention.
- Eric and I will be at our “Making Excellent Disciples” new-clergy mentoring retreat at Adelynrood May 31st through June 2nd.
- STILL continuing my labors on our parents’ estate in VT. Lots still to do.
- Vacation plans: Three weeks in August, gone Aug. 7, 14, & 21. (Eric is discerning whether he can take all three Sunday services.) I will take the fourth vacation week after my late-October CREDO professional retreat to spend time with my daughter in New Orleans.
- Sylvia has been working a lot on property issues including weekly meetings on interior restoration.
- The boiler has been fixed after several repair visits. We are going to ask Aspinwall to do our boiler maintenance as we were unhappy with Winters work.
Assistant Rector’s Report
- A good team is working on the parish retreat, numbers seem similar to last year.
- There's a spring bowling event on June 5 with the church school.
- Church school planning for next year is started.
- Emily Litman is going to do a Godly Play training for St. James teachers this summer.
- Marian passed out her inventory vestment needs.
Evaluation, Norm check in
- Perhaps we should send out norms with our packet, since we did not go over them at the beginning of the meeting
- Tom mentioned that we were close to being on the schedule despite a full agenda.
- Holly mentioned that the dinner and spiritual reflection were very good. We still feel that we need more time or for check-ins or need to start them earlier.
- We closed with the Doxology.
Submitted by Nancy McArdle
Interior Renovation Committee Report
Summary of Proposals for Sanctuary Repairs
Bidder: Scope Description: Cost:
Masterworks: Plaster Repairs & Scaffolding not included. $65,000
Walls: $40,000 + Decoration (Stencil)$25,000
J Duddy Painting: Wall cracks excluded, Paint around stencil $12,850
detail, Total repair scope unconfirmed, match
existing not allow for possible color change.
Artech: Chemical clean all walls, Clean all lights and $44,760
windows, No interruption, Stencil restored.
Proposal #1 $34,560 + Proposal #2 $10,200
Sanctuary Repairs Committee Recommendation:
Committee voted unanimously on May 11th to recommend both of the Artech proposals for Vestry approval. Considerations were as follows:
Positive: + Comprehensive, all-inclusive scope of repairs:
All painted wall surfaces
Stencil detail restored (Proposal #2)
Clean all glass windows, lights, stone and brick surfaces
+ Single- Source Responsibility and Coordination for all of work
+ Project Experience:
Understands Parish need for use of space and scheduled events
Willing to accommodate use of space during repair work period
Positive experience with local church projects
Pleasurable experience working with Artech
High Satisfaction with Quality/Appearance
Negative: - “Vague” responses to Clarification of Work Scope
Clerk to enforce scope, Addendum to proposal to document scope
Proper 9 Year C 1st Option 7-3-16
©Holly Lyman Antolini
Lections: 2 Kings 5:1-14; Ps. 30; Galatians 6:7-16; Luke 10:1-11, 16-20
Lord God Almighty, you have made all the peoples of the earth for your glory, to serve you in freedom and in peace: Give to the people of our country a zeal for justice and the strength of forbearance, that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. [Book of Common Prayer, Collect “for the Nation,” p. 258]
It’s fairly irresistible to read the lections for the first Sunday in July as a gloss on our celebration of liberty and destiny as a nation, as we lay in supplies for our barbecues and plan to join the throng to view the fireworks. (And if we’re not actually planning our routes to ATTEND the parades, then we’ve been planning our routes AROUND the parades!) That’s why I opened with Rep. Byron Rushing’s choice of Collect – not the one written for Independence Day, but the one written “For the Nation;” not the one that claims liberty already won, but the one that desires “a zeal for justice and the strength of forbearance.”
This election year, on the eve of our Independence Day, we read in Luke’s Gospel about Jesus’ commissioning of the disciples for their first steps in enacting God’s Mission, ushering in the first Harvest that is the Reign of God. (Well, actually, the twelve disciples have already been commissioned in Chapter 6. Now, in Chapter 10, seventy others are being commissioned to join them and given instructions on how they are to proceed.) So how do we hear this passage, as we ponder our efforts to be a nation of liberty for all?
This commissioning for mission is couched in terms of nothing less than a battle with Satan in which the disciples are given authority over evil, over “all the power of the enemy.” But unlike a conventional battle, in which the soldiers arrive armed, ready to dominate and coerce those they encounter, the disciples are told to come “in peace,” with graciousness, unpretentiously and without resources, defenseless and vulnerable, “remaining in the same house,” “eating and drinking what is set before them,” at the mercy of the table fellowship extended to them. As the disciples make their way in the contentious atmosphere that greets them, they are “to model and nurture the kind of community Jesus was forming among them, a community gathered not only around dramatic healing and proclamation, but also around a welcoming table…” and around the service of everyone’s well being. [Karl Allen Kuhn, New Proclamation Year C 2010]
Jesus’ commissioning is full of warnings: the disciples are “lambs amid wolves.” The people they encounter may “share in their peace,” or they may not. They may welcome the travelers, or they may not. They may listen, or they may reject what the disciples have to offer.
In this way, embodied – incarnate - in these meek, non-combative bearers of its gifts, accepted or rejected, the Kingdom of God comes near. God’s reign does not come near in the traditional terms of power, “winning all.” It does not come near insisting on its own way. Instead, the approach of God’s reign in these seventy is strikingly gentle and humble, conscious of the limits of its power, conscious that it can only bring peace to those ready to receive it, can only impart gifts of healing and reconciliation when the gifts are welcomed. Jesus’ way of making God’s reign manifest in the midst of conflict was neither a way of domination nor a way of withdrawal but a way of engagement, with mercy and peace. A Way of the Cross. As Paul tells the Galatians in our Second Reading for today, “May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.”
The seventy find their first mission so successful that they return with joy, testifying that even demons submit to them. At once, Jesus’ response is, “Do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
So, as you prepare to celebrate our Independence Day tomorrow, and as you contemplate your participation in the coming Presidential election, consider this firm reminder of Jesus’, that the power to force others to submit is not the power that ushers in God’s Reign. God’s Reign approaches couched in our freedom to accept it or reject it. As Paul told the Galatians in an earlier passage, “For freedom Christ has set you free!” Jesus does not give us power over the enemy in order that we may be winners, belittling others and contending that they are “losers.” Jesus gives us power in order that “whenever we have an opportunity,” as Paul tells the Galatians, we will “work for the good of all.”
Luke’s upending of the disciples’ own expectations – expectations infused into their cultural understanding – is what bible scholars call the technique of “reversal.” Here, Luke’s Jesus reverses the expectation of the disciples that they have been given power in order to be powerful, and instead invites them to see their power as a power of service, a power to serve the flourishing of others, to bring the gift of new life. They only partially grasp what he is trying to teach. They won’t understand this reversal – truly understand it – until they have seen Jesus all the way to the Cross – the truly profound “reversal” of their expectations of political and military triumph – and have been witnesses to Jesus’ own willingness to give up all power if that, indeed, is what will bring God’s Reign nearer still to present reality.
The longer I serve in congregational ministry, the more convinced I am that here, in the midst of our congregation, is precisely our “laboratory” to try out Jesus’ teachings. It is here in our congregation that we practice encountering one another – exactly those who show up, not the ones we WISH would show up – with the gift of peace. It is here in our congregation that we learn to leave others free to accept our peace or not, as they choose. We arrive in our greatest possible simplicity, simply human beings among other human beings, not because we dressed a certain way or met a certain level of intellectual participation or a certain moral standard. We arrive as people needy in all the ways we humans are needy, longing for comfort, for safety, for validation, for a sense of purpose, for a set of values that will help us determine our choices in a complex world. Longing to be known and loved, whatever our mistakes.
We were called to the congregation of St. James’s not because it is the perfect combination of all that we religious consumers desire in a congregation, but because it is the house we entered, by whatever mystery of the Spirit’s call to this particular place, this particular mixture of people, and we are “to remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever is provided… not moving about from house to house,” congregation to congregation, seeking the perfect setting for our spiritual flourishing.
This too can be called a “cultural reversal.” We live in such a consumer culture that we are convinced we must move from house to house until we find just the community that suits us, rather than bringing God’s peace and well-being to the community in which we find ourselves. Belonging – real deep belonging – to a congregation involves all kinds of sacrifices, all kinds and levels of “ways of the Cross.” Can I get an “AMEN!” to that? Yet if we come in our simplicity and listen to each other – deeply listen – for the presence of Christ in each other, and if we serve each other’s well-being first, before we seek our own, the reign of God truly can come near.
As I often am, I’m brought back to my experience of 12-step groups, people who assemble because through addiction – their own or their loved ones – they have reached their wits’ end, and they can no longer pretend that they are “winners,” with “authority to tread on snakes and scorpions,” but rather in great “time of trial,” they have realized they need to “receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” [Hebrews 4:16] That makes the company of people assembled in the 12-step rooms one truly made up of every possible kind of person from every possible background at every possible level of capacity and competency. No one “better than” anyone else. And it is often the most unexpected, unpredictable folks who speak up at any given 12-step meeting with exactly the word you need to hear, the word of healing, the word of cure. (In fact, my rule of thumb at a 12-step meeting is, it will MOST likely be the person I first assume can have NO word for me that WILL have the word I need!)
What if we approached our congregational life – dare I say it, what if we approached our NATIONAL life – as if we were there in this particular group because God put us there, not because it suited our tastes or our self-image or even our ideology; as if we were here because THIS was the place we would experience God’s grace and healing, and would COMMUNICATE God’s grace and healing to others. What if we approached it with peace – with openness and hopefulness and interest in what others have to offer that we DIDN’T expect? What if we approached it with a sense of our own POWERLESSNESS instead of our power? What if we came to LISTEN far more than to SPEAK?
I can tell you from my own experience in 12-step groups that if we succeed in doing these things, setting aside our sense of our own power and being far more interested in the power of others – indeed, LONGING for the power of others to bless us! – we can experience nothing less than the Reign of God. We can know that the name of every soul in the room – no matter how tried, how vulnerable, how embattled – is written in heaven. And it is a joyful thing. May God bless America, and every other nation under heaven. AMEN.
Proper 8 Year C 6-26-16
©Holly Lyman Antolini
Lections: 2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14; Ps. 77:1-2, 11-20, Gal. 5:1,13-25, Luke 9:51-62
“We will cry aloud to God; we will cry aloud, and you will hear us… We will meditate on all your acts and ponder your mighty deeds… You are the God who works wonders and have declared your power among the peoples.” You are faithful, and we will walk in your Way. AMEN. [Adapted from Psalm 77]
“When the days drew near for Jesus to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” Today our Gospel opens with a journey. As we enter summer – that season of journeys – our reading in Luke’s Gospel has leapt from Chapter 8 to the end of the very eventful Chapter 9. Eliding easily over the commissioning of the disciples for ministry, the feeding of the Five Thousand, the Transfiguration, Peter’s naming of Jesus as Messiah, the fight between the disciples over who was the greatest, and not one but two of Jesus’ predictions of his impending suffering and crucifixion – all of which and more Luke packs into Chapter 9 – today we land twice – two repetitions in one opening paragraph – on the fact that Jesus has “set his face to go to Jerusalem.”
To “set your face.” What a firm and evocative image. When I set my face, I am determined. Anyone can see it. I look like Mount Rushmore. The muscles of my jaw tighten and my brow furrows. My expression is no-nonsense. I “set my face” when I expect opposition. Everything about my demeanor telegraphs, “Don’t mess with me!” “Don’t even try it!” Nothing is going to get in my way.
Jesus’ “sets his face to go to Jerusalem.” Going to Jerusalem. We already know without a shadow of a doubt – even without Jesus’ two preliminary predictions of his arrest, torture and execution in that City of God – that just as Jesus’ popularity is growing, Jesus’ opposition is also mounting, building in ferocity, drawing in Herod the King as well as the Temple scribes and authorities. To “set his face to go to Jerusalem” means to head straight into that contention, straight for trouble, straight to the heart of all the fear and anger that his loving actions have generated in those who feel their power base – their status quo of privilege, whatever they’re invested in and whatever they feel defines them – to be threatened. It’s not just a journey; it’s a fearsome journey, this journey Jesus is “setting his face” to make. He knows the consequences. And he’s going to make the journey anyway. Come what may.
We who follow Christ are invited – always and again, over and over – invited to accompany Jesus on his journey. Before we were called “Christians,” we were called “People of the Way.” The Way of Christ is always toward the greatest love, the greatest possibility for the greatest number of God’s children, every one of us human beings, everywhere, always, no matter our faith, no matter our past, no matter our convictions, no matter our capacity. When we commit to follow Jesus, we commit to this journey toward the fullest flourishing for the greatest number, this Way of Love. When we say our baptismal “YES!” to Jesus, we “set our face to go to Jerusalem,” along with him. It would be nice of the Way of Love were also the Way of comfort and peace. This story of Jesus – the One who has no place to lay his head – suggests otherwise. The Way of Love is too often the Way of Contention, the Way of Resistance, the Way of Pushback. Jesus says firmly in Luke’s story for today that we must expect that, if we follow him.
Of course, we, like Jesus, are also “on the Way” to the Resurrection. And beyond: to the Ascension… to Paul’s missionary journeys in the Book of Acts, which is Luke’s sequel to the Gospel we’re reading from today. We’re “on the Way” to our continuing witness to God’s presence and endless imaginative evolution and invention today. And Luke is especially adamant that whatever journey we are embarked upon with Jesus is a journey in the power of the Holy Spirit. Our journey in the power of the Holy Spirit still continues, long past the end of Luke’s Gospel and the Book of Acts, long past the closing of the canon of Scripture, right up to today, always encountering newness, always discovering a deeper plunge into baptismal death in order to find a new, a deeper, a broader and more inclusive love.
This has been a week of journeys for me, beginning with our journey last weekend to the Barbara C Harris Camp in New Hampshire for a radiant Parish Retreat with every age and stage of the St. James’s family represented in that mighty gathering of nearly 90 people. It was a week in which the Vestry voted unanimously to send our Sunday Bible Study leader Olivia Hamilton off to the Commission on Ministry with our approval of her discernment for postulancy to the priesthood, a journey on which Olivia has been traveling for some years now, coming to an important “moment” of public inquiry and (we hope) affirmation. This week held my journey to my niece’s organic farm in upstate New York, where we blessed her embarkation on the long and fruitful journey of marriage to her woman dairy-farmer partner. And it was a week – for better or for worse – of Britain’s (perhaps more accurately, England’s) embarkation on a journey out of the European Union, a fragmenting of a polity that has held many formerly warring nations in the bonds of peace for nearly half a century. Let alone a week in which we as a nation have continued our rocky and lurching journey toward our presidential election, have wrestled on the very floor of the House of Representatives itself on the fraught and contentious journey toward mitigating our ever-increasing dynamic of gun violence… and a week in which we have learned more about the inundation implications of our long journey into global warming for our own city of Boston and many other cities around the globe, our troubled journey of relationship with “this fragile Earth, our island home.”
For not all journeys are journeys like Jesus’, taking place along a road to a physical destination. Our goals, our “Jerusalems” are often not places, but a redressing of conditions, a healing of affliction, a liberation from oppression, or a reconciliation of relationship. But they still require us to “set our faces,” to commit ourselves to reach the destination, to dedicate ourselves with sober calculation of the probable cost and stay dedicated come what may.
What is the Jerusalem toward which you are called, in Christ, to “set your face” on your current journey? Where do you anticipate opposition? Under what conditions might you be tempted, as the disciples are in Luke’s story, to “command fire to come down from heaven and consume” those who oppose you, who stand in your way? (Note that Jesus has no patience with that kind of violence, whatsoever.) What might tempt you to defer your journey, to find excuses, to prioritize other things first? What do you fear about your journey in Christ? What is deflecting your commitment?
This week of journeys included, for me, the witness of a very particular journey in Christ, a journey documented in an “Independent Lens” segment called “TRAPPED,” which follows the clinic workers, women, doctors and lawyers on the front lines of the battle to keep abortion a safe and legal option for women. “TRAPPED” documents the journey of Dr. Willie Parker, an African-American ob/gyn doctor in Texas (and Alabama and Louisiana and Mississippi), a devout Baptist Christian, called by God – called through a long engagement in prayer with his congregational community to discern God’s will for him, a long discipline of listening to Scripture and to the voices of many on all sides of the heated debate in that state over the moral implications of abortion, a long deep attention to the needs of women, especially poor women and young women and women of color whose lives are upended by a rape or a pregnancy for which they are unprepared. Dr. Willie Parker, we witness in the documentary, is called in and through all this profound attention and concern to offer abortions in one of the last remaining clinics that provide them over against much anti-abortion protest and legislation. “At fifty-one, having resigned a prestigious job as medical director of Planned Parenthood, he's moved back south and take over a circuit roughly similar—for safety reasons, he won't be more specific—to the one traveled by Dr. David Gunn before an antiabortion fanatic assassinated him in 1993. …His name and home address have been published by an antiabortion Web site with the unmistakable intent of terrorizing doctors like him. …He receives threats that say, ‘You've been warned.’ He refuses to wear a bulletproof vest, because he doesn't want to live in fear—‘if I'm that anxious, they've already taken my life…’" Dr. Parker braves the active daily expression of opprobrium from the protesters gathered routinely outside his clinic. He braves the death threats from a population that has committed murder in the name of their convictions in the past. Every day that Dr. Willie Parker goes to work, he knows might be his last. But he feels that he is called by Jesus Christ to assist the women who need his medical help. Dr. Willie Parker has set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sets his face again and again, day after day, undeterred from his goal. In love. By the power of the Holy Spirit. [http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a23771/abortion-ministry-of-dr-willie-parker-0914/]
Know this about our journeys along The Way of Christ: they are not linear. There are “way stations” along the Way, just as there are “stations” when we do a Procession in church, where we stop our progress and pause to pray. Dr. Willie Parker has had “way stations” when for a period of time he COULD not complete an abortion, as in the case of a 14-year-old girl who had become pregnant as a result of rape, but whose abortion kept being held up by Texas court rulings that interdicted Dr. Parker’s work. You might say we’ve been at a “way station” in our democratic process, a station that lasted most of our history of American democracy, in which a black man or a woman was unimaginable in the Presidency. Now we have moved further along that Way into a fuller appreciation of Jesus’ work in ALL people so that now we can entertain the prospect of a man of color or a woman as President. We had a very long sojourn at a way station at which we thought marriage was for a man and a woman only. Now we are dancing further along the Way to perceive God at work in the loving and faithful relationships of woman & woman like my niece and her partner, and man & man, and people of no professed gender with any of the above, and to bless these in full confidence of God’s delight in these explorations of God’s own fidelity and self-offering. Mind you, Orlando Florida on the early morning of June 12th – a moment when someone DID think he could “call down fire from heaven to consume people” – was undoubtedly a terrible way station of unimaginable violence against those whose brave and faithful sight was so open and embracing as to include all in their loving view.
Such IS the Way to Jerusalem, as Jesus knew well and forewarned his folk. Love begets love, but when it threatens people’s sense of their own identity or power, love can also beget hate and rage. No one, putting their hand to the plow of God’s Kingdom, no one setting their face to go to Jerusalem, can afford to look back. The Way of Love is only forward. And it sometimes travels through death. We can only make this baptismal journey, assured that in Christ the end point is New Life, Resurrection, Reconciliation, God’s great promised shalom. AMEN.
Heavenly Father, you called your servant Bede, while still a child, to devote his life to your service in the disciplines of religion and scholarship; Grant that as he labored in the Spirit to bring riches of your truth to his generation, so we, in our various vocations, may strive to make you known in all the world; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. [Collect for St. Bede, Holy Women, Holy Men, May 25th]
A Homily for St. Bede’s Day, May 25, 2016
at the Convent of the Sisters of St. Anne, Arlington, MA
“I learned both what is secret and what is manifest, for wisdom, the fashioner of all things, taught me. There is in her a spirit that is intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, mobile, clear, unpolluted, distinct, invulnerable, loving the good, keen, irresistible, beneficent, humane, steadfast, sure, free from anxiety, all-powerful, overseeing all, and penetrating through all spirits that are intelligent, pure, and altogether subtle.”
I was raised by an historian father – my dad taught British history at Stanford – who told entrancing stories about times gone by. He bred in me a deep respect for the past, and made me feel strongly its importance for informing the present, since we humans do tend lamentably to repeat our mistakes, and it’s best to know about them before we stumble over them again! Indeed, he had such an impact on me that I followed in my dad’s footsteps - partway anyway - and got my BA in British history myself. So it is a pleasure to be invited to meditate today on the life and contribution of “the Father of English History,” the Venerable Bede.
Then, too, I was ordained a deacon from St. Bede’s in Menlo Park CA, the church where, some eleven years before, I had been baptized after four years of singing in their church choir. Being a chorister himself, Bede would thoroughly appreciate the fact that I was evangelized by Anglican church music – “Stanford in C” and Anglican chant psalms and Benjamin Britten and Herbert Howells anthems!
And it’s a pleasure to be your preacher today also because though I’ve never been to Jarrow, the site of Bede’s monastery, I’ve always had a deep fondness for County Durham, ever since my parents took me to the immense Norman Romanesque cathedral on the promontory over the River Wear back when I was 13 (and LONG before that baptism at St. Bede’s, or that ordination to the transitional diaconate). Being a child raised in a secular humanist family, I had absolutely no language for spiritual experience. I only knew that the instant I walked into that magisterial holy space, I wished strongly to put my arms around the immense columns of the towering barrel vaults – a physical impossibility but one that compelled me deeply, wordlessly. Once I got to know Jesus Christ and to feel the power of the Holy Spirit, I understood at last that back in that cathedral, I was having perhaps my first palpable encounter with the Divine. I was falling in love with the immensity of God.
So perhaps it shouldn’t surprise me that as I’ve been meditating on Bede in this last week, it hasn’t been his Ecclesiastical History of England that has captured my imagination. Rather, it is his long faithfulness to the quiet discipline of monasticism, up there in that cold country, at a time when it took a long time just to get to York, and when Bede most likely never did get even as far as London, let alone Rome, the navel of the spiritual universe. Within the walls of his monastery, with only a quill pen and vellum to enable his penetrating understanding, Bede wrote some 60 books over his lifetime, interrupting his concentration – as you sisters know better than I! – at regular intervals throughout every day to sing and pray and praise God and “recollect himself” and put himself in “right relation” to God’s creative power. I picture him also out in the northern sunshine in the herb garden, surrounded by the kind of birdsong you hear in your garden right here in Arlington, balancing that choral chant of his with the chant of songsparrows and thrushes, balancing “ora” with “labora,” getting those scribal hands into the dirt so that he wouldn’t forget the simple genesis of God’s goodness in his eagerness to penetrate the subtleties of historical fact and theological analogy.
How rare it is, today, in this day of fast-paced social media, of broad access to worlds apart from our own world and to information crashing at us like Niagara Falls, to create for one’s scholarship the kind of deliberative, iterative spaciousness of prayer and music and quietude in which Bede could pursue his God-given gifts of perspicacity and eloquence. What depths could one plumb if one were not being pulled in a thousand different directions every waking moment – and even some of the moments one should have been turning off the computer and sleeping!
I imagine each of you, living the monastic life as you do – as you have for a long while now – could tell me not to get too sentimental about the quiet of the monastic life. No doubt the computer – and the television – exercise their powerful lures upon you as well. No doubt the vicissitudes of human relationship demand your attention and call upon your spiritual resources, whether within your immediate community or in the wider world. But today I invite you to turn to the Venerable Bede, with his whole long productive life marked out within the Jarrow walls and the rhythm of worship and prayer and chant, close to the earth and the seasonal unfolding, and let him invite you to open yourselves into the space those disciplines provide: a space for wisdom, historical and emotional; connected to the Spirit of Wisdom, “a spirit that is intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, mobile, clear, unpolluted, distinct, invulnerable, loving the good, keen, irresistible, beneficent, humane, steadfast, sure, free from anxiety, all-powerful, overseeing all, and penetrating through all spirits that are intelligent, pure, and altogether subtle.” It’s a Spirit we desperately need, we driven 21st century Americans. It’s a Spirit that can make God known in all the world. AMEN.