Volume 6, Issue 7
February 12, 2021
THIS SUNDAY: February 14, 2021
Last Sunday after the Epiphany


Muriel Jackson (EM)*
John Hanaoka (U)
Lorna Nishi (AG)
Mark Cain (DM)

Dileep Bal (EM)
Linda Crocker (U)
Rachel Secretario (LR)
David Crocker (AG)
Mabel Antonio, Nelson Secretario (HP)
Carolyn Morinishi (DM)

Ash Wednesday: February 17, 2021

David Crocker (EM)
Judy Saronitman (U)

Mario Antonio (EM)
Mary Margaret Smith (U)

Live Stream
9:00AM on our home page, YouTube, or Facebook accounts

* EM - Eucharistic Minister; U - Usher; LR - Lay Reader; AG - Altar Guild; HP - Healing Prayers; DM - Digital Ministry

8:00AM and 9:30AM

Aloha Hour
Every Sunday 
10:45AM - 12:00PM

Friday/Monday Crew
Every Friday/Monday
Church Office

Ash Wednesday
Wednesday, February 17th
8:00AM and 6:00PM
*No "Ashes to Go" due to COVID restrictions

Adult Formation Series
Revive Lent
Feb. 23, Session 1: Discovering your spiritual story
March 2, Session 2: Telling your spiritual story
March 9, Session 3: What is prayer and how do we pray?
March 16, Session 4: Making space and praying the Lectio and Visio Divina
March 23, Session 5: Praying through the hurt
March 30, Session 6: Death and dying, and praying with Jesus in the garden
T5:00PM - 6:00PM
Call the church office or email Kahu at rector@allsaintskauai.org to enroll.

For the aged and infirm, for the widowed and orphans, and for the sick and the suffering, especially Glen, Suzanne, AJ, Rosalind, Kellie, Mike, the Fulford 'Ohana and those we name silently or aloud, let us pray to the Lord. ​Lord, have mercy. 

For all who have died, especially Linda, Milfred, Millie, and those affected by the COVID-19 virus, and those we name silently or aloud, in the hope of the resurrection, and for all the departed, let us pray to the Lord. ​Lord, have mercy. Amen.
Reflections from Kahu Kawika
Saved to Serve

Epiphany 5B
Mark 1:29-39
Isaiah 40:21-31
All Saints’ Kapaʻa
7 February 2021

As you may remember, the readings that we get each Sunday from our lectionary are on a three-year cycle. When this set of readings last appeared in 2018, they also happened to fall right on Super Bowl Sunday, when the Philadelphia Eagles were going to play the New England Patriots. At the time I was a school chaplain in Charlotte, NC, but was supplying on Sundays at St. George Episcpal Church in Anderson, SC. I opened the sermon that SuperBowl morning by saying tongue-in-cheek that the Scriptures evidently had a vested interest in who’s playing in the SuperBowl – indeed, our first reading from Isaiah 40 gives us a clue as to what the outcome of the match might be, when the prophet writes in verse 31, “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength: they will soar on wings like eagles ...” I thus asked the congregation jokingly, “Can we have a prediction here of the unlikely win of the Philadelphia Eagles over the mighty New England Patriots? We will see ...” Of course, later that day, the Philadelphia Eables did accomplish what seemed impossible only a few hours previously! When we had church the following week, I opened that sermon by simply saying, “You never know how Scripture can speak to us today ...”

So what may our Scripture passages be implying for today’s match between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? I don’t really know, but it is interesting that in today’s Gospel reading from Mark 1, we find Jesus at no less place than Capernaum, Peter’s home town on the Sea of Galilee and thus a city on the bay – therefore a win for Tampa Bay today? Let’s see what happens. If I get this right then it will be two out of two!

Remeber in last week’s Gospel reading earlier in Mark 1, Jesus had just taught on the Sabbath morning in the synagogue in Capernaum “as one with authority, and not as the scribes” (Mark 1:22), then he proceeded to drive out an evil spirit from someone in the congregation. Now it is later that same day, and Jesus with his disciples go to Peter’s home, also in the seaside town of Capernaum – maybe for some down time, since it is still the Sabbath day of rest. 

Apparently, Peter’s mother-in-law must have suddenly developed a terrible fever and is laying up in bed. No doubt this could be a life-threatening situation, especially if it is indeed a sudden serious spike in fever. In light of the urgency, Jesus chooses not to wait until the Sabbath day is done, and instead comes to her bedside, takes her, and raises her up – resulting in the immediate lifting of her fever.

Now, here comes something that I find rather startling – immediately upon her healing from her fever, Peter’s mother-in-law starts serving lunch to Jesus and his friends! She could be forgiven for wanting to take some time to rest up some more and recover, especially since this is the Sabbath day of rest. If I were her, I might well have wanted to stay in bed at least a little longer. But I wonder if, instead, she is so joyful at being healed and even of her life being saved, that out of her enthusiasm and gratitude, she excitedly waits on Jesus, Peter, and the rest.

The title of my talk is “Saved to Serve.” This unnamed woman, known only as Peter’s mother-in-law, shows us a mighty model of being a follower of Christ. When touched by her Lord, she rises up and forgetting about herself, goes on to serve those around her. She knows the goodness of God, and is eager to pass on that goodness to others with her.

News gets out fast, and by sundown, after the Sabbath day is pau, people from the town bring their friends and relatives for Jesus to heal them. These people “catch” what Peter’s mother-in-law does – they see the goodness of God and want to serve their friends and family members who are afflicted with physical, spiritual, and social oppressive forces in their lives.

Finally, towards the end of our Gospel story, we see Jesus waking up when it is still dark and going off to get recharged with solo time in prayer with God. He knows he is also “Saved to Serve,” in the sense that God in Heaven ministers to him and, in turn, continues that day to serve people in other nearby villages by healing folks there. We see him do this over and over, even until he offers himself as a faithful witness to God’s love for us, unto death on the cross.

Now, none of these people – Peter’s mother-in-law, the people who bring their friends and family for healing, or even Jesus himself – simply sit on the blessings God has given them. They are each eager to see others get their lives blessed by God as well, and thereby to have others’ lives significantly transformed for the better. However, I must confess that sometimes when I have experienced a blessing from God – healing from an illness, a sudden windfall of finances, a favor of kindness someone extends to me – I have just enjoyed the blessing at that moment and forgotten to “pay it forward” to other people. What I find key in this Gospel story, though, is that our heroes in it don’t see helping others as any kind of reluctant obligation – they are eager to do it as a natural response to God’s acts of kindness and mercy for them.

So, here is something I try to ask myself daily: What are the acts of kindness from God and other people I need to take note of, and how can I allow them to motivate me toward enthusiastic planned and random acts of kindness around me?

The Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 9:7 that “God loves a cheerful giver,” and the motivation is not one of reluctance but of sheer joyful abandonment: “You will be enriched in every way, so that you canbe generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” (2 Corinthians 9:12). While Paul’s immediate concern is in urging the Corinthian church to help out other poorer churches in the area, certainly we can broaden the application of this to include any and all the gifts, abilities, and resources with which God has blessed us either individually or together, that knowing God’s open hands and heart, we should follow in God’s footsteps by also having open hands and hearts.

Let’s rejoice that God shines on our lives and saves us not only from sin and the long-lasting effects of death but also from a sense of perpetual anxiety, hopelessness, and lack of purpose. And in turn, let our joy fuel our gratitude such that we want the same for people around us. We have been “saved to serve.” Amen.
Bishop’s Reflection on Ash Wednesday During a Time of a Pandemic

Aloha my dear Siblings in Christ Jesus,

Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, February 17, 2021. Though we may feel like 2020 and the first months of 2021 have been one long penitential season, Ash Wednesday and Lent are not canceled. Ash Wednesday is one of the two major “Fast Days” in the calendar of the Episcopal Church (the other being Good Friday) and is “observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial” (see The Book of Common Prayer, page 17).  
In light of the pandemic, what does this mean for the imposition of ashes? Personally and practically, I do not think imposition of ashes with marking of a cross on the forehead by the Minister is prudent during the COVID-19 pandemic. I have asked that the clergy and congregations of the Diocese forgo the practice altogether this year. 
As you will find on page 265 of The Book of Common Prayer, it is an entirely optional element of the current Ash Wednesday liturgy (“If ashes are imposed….”). The line to the left of the rubric marks it as an optional practice. From the time of the Reformation until the mid-Twentieth century, the vast majority of Anglicans/Episcopalians did not practice the imposition of ashes. The current Episcopal Book of Common Prayer (1979) is the first authorized Episcopal Prayer Book to include the practice (though it was certainly practiced in many Episcopal churches during the years before the current Prayer Book was authorized). Even with no ashes in the liturgy, however, the day was still historically designated as “The First Day of Lent, commonly called Ash Wednesday” in Anglican/Episcopal Prayer Books for centuries. While it is for many a helpful pious act, the imposition of ashes is not a sacramental act and is certainly not essential to the liturgy of Ash Wednesday. This year, I recommend just not having ashes at all. Please understand, this is a recommendation and not a directive.

My directive is to not impose ashes directly on the forehead making a cross. Then what else might be done? Another option might be for the person administering the ashes to sprinkle the ashes over the faithful. Since ordination to the priesthood, I have practiced this form of administration of the ashes for myself and offered it to God’s people as an option. I have also annually reminded people that receiving the ashes is entirely optional and a personal choice. 

I have done so for three reasons: (1) Sprinkling is the oldest historic method of administering ashes on God’s people, (2) It better reflects the action and theology of Baptism, and (3) It seems to fit better with the Gospel lesson for Ash Wednesday (see Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21). Regarding the third reason, I have also given God’s people towelettes to clean the ashes off immediately after the liturgy should they wish. Personally, I would like to see the sprinkling of ashes become the normative practice in the Church every year. It could only happen with extensive teaching. I also realize that the ash cross on the forehead is a valued practice for many Episcopalians.

In 2021, however, I still think it best to limit physical contact. I expect congregations to forgo imposition of ashes with the Minister touching the faithful’s forehead making the sign of the cross. I recommend that the “ash” element of the liturgy not be used at all this year. If ashes are imposed, however, I expect that there be no physical contact between the Minister distributing the ashes and the faithful (perhaps by sprinkling or some other means). One might consider the blessing of the ashes without the follow-up personal contact required for imposition. Perhaps the ashes could then be cast into the wind (that could be effective for an outdoor liturgy) or solemnly spread onto the ground. There may be other creative ways to have ashes as part of the liturgy without the Minister touching the faithful. Other images might be shared and practices engaged as we consider again the penitential nature of the Lent and live into the reality of the pandemic.

Each of us individually will need to decide how best to live into this season of Lent with special acts of discipline and self-denial. My Ash Wednesday at the Cathedral will not include ashes in 2021. If you are in church for Ash Wednesday, you may faithfully decide not to go forward for the sprinkling of ashes even if it is offered. Likewise, one may decide with equal faithfulness to do so. If no ashes are offered or available, please engage the words of penitence, and reflect deeply on the Scripture lessons and the prayers in the liturgy (in-person or online). Be open to God in this unusual moment. It is a time to remember our humanity as the pandemic has repeatedly reminded us over the past year, and to find God in our finitude and broken reality.

Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Yours faithfully,


The Right Reverend Robert L. Fitzpatrick
Bishop Diocesan
The Episcopal Diocese of Hawai'i

The Episcopal Church in Micronesia
Given the Bishop's advisory, there will be two services on Ash Wednesday, February 17th at 8:00AM and 6:00PM where ashes will be blessed and individually distributed for self-application. 

For questions and clarification, please contact Kahu at rector@allsaintskauai.org


Dominique Cami Baldovino
Church Admin & Youth Minister
All Saints’ Episcopal Church and Preschool
Join the All Saints' 'Ohana Workplaces List
Patronize Our 'Ohana Businesses
Ohana workplaces jar
The pandemic has taken quite a toll on Kaua`i residents, including many of our church `Ohana. In the spirit of “Shop Local” we would like to compile a list of stores, restaurants, and services for whom All Saints’ parishioners and their families work. Grocery stores, plumbing companies, landscapers, resume writing…whatever you do. With this list we can support our `Ohana and Kaua`i by patronizing these businesses. Please consider contributing your work/workplace to our list. You can include your name or submit the listing anonymously. Drop your business card or written description in the `Ohana Workplaces jar outside the sanctuary on Sunday or email your submission to news@allsaintskauai.org
Below is a summary of the minutes vestry meeting on Jan. 26th
  • In response to a prompting from the Holy Spirit and in thanks for the ministry of All Saints' Church, an anonymous donor blessed the church with a gift of $500,000 at the end of 2020; the Vestry decided to put it in a restricted fund [Ed. note: not for use in operational expenses] until further thought, prayer and spiritual direction guide the Vestry to determine the most appropriate use for these funds.

  • Environmental Stewardship Solar Initiative: Total project includes a new roof and solar panels. The expected cost is between $225k and $250k. Bill and CeCe Caldwell have generously committed to fully funding the entire cost of the solar panels and their installation. To fund the replacement of the worn out roof on Sloggett Hall we will invite church members and the Sloggett Fund to join in as donor/partners for the new roof.

  • Sanctuary Monitor Screens: For now both will stay up, and Vestry will continue to invite further feedback in the coming weeks and months.

  • Mālama Matters: Kahu sent out appreciation letters to those who pledged for 2021 to acknowledge their pledges of time-talent and treasure. 2021 financial pledges total $192,143.80 out of a goal of $175,000. 

  • Ash Wednesday Services on 17 February: The Bishop has requested no direct imposition of ashes for this year due to the pandemic, so we will not have "Ashes to Go" outside. However, we will have two church services -- 8:00AM and 6:00PM -- and Kahu will do a modified form of the imposition of ashes in which attenders can come up like for communion and pick up their own paper cup of blessed ashes for self-imposition.

  • Bishop's Visitation: Set for Sunday,16 May. We have 11 candidates for either baptism, confirmation, or reception. The Bishop also intends to consecrate the new Organ.

  • Lenten Series: Kahu will lead a Lenten Adult Formation from the "Revive" curriculum, the goal of which is to revive our love for God through spiritual practices.

  • Organ Update: Second crew expected to come by the beginning of March, to complete the voicing of the organ pipes.
All Saints' Icon Mounted in the Queens' Chapel
Gifted by the family of the late Rev. Malcom Chun
Framed icon
In March of 2019 a group of All Saints’ parishioners went to Oahu to Renewal 2019 with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry as keynote speaker. At this weekend of education and inspiration the family of the late Rev. Malcom Chun offered his collection of religious icons to any congregations interested in acquiring one. The All Saints’ group chose a beautiful bronze/brass and enamel Russian Orthodox crucifix icon from the collection. 

All Saints’ parishioner Sarah Rogers engaged Steve Arnett, a local woodworking friend of hers, to design and construct a shadow box in which to display the icon. The wood is from limbs trimmed from the false kamani tree on the All Saints’ campus. Steve fashioned the box and enlisted a glass artist friend to create the glass front to the shadow box. Steve and Sarah installed the boxed icon in the Queens’ Chapel on the north east wall last week. 

Many thanks to Sarah Rogers who took on the task of enlisting artists to build and hang the shadow box for our icon.

Please take the time to view the icon as you pass through the Queens’ Chapel after communion.

If you are interested in the history of our icon, go to the All Saints’ website and find articles in The Epistle archives for 7/26/2019 and 8/9/2019.
Daughters of the King
An All Saints' Women's Prayer and Study Group
Daughters of the King (DOK) is a group of All Saints' women who meet twice a month, currently on Zoom. We are the Mana'olana Chapter of the Hawai'i, Province VIII, and National DOK organizations. Our meetings include fellowship, discussion, study (currently studying the 2020 DOK National Study Guide) and prayer. Here is a screenshot of our most recent Zoom meeting. If you would like more information about our group, please contact president Mabel Antonio or the church office.

All Saints' Virtual Choir Returns
A Message from our Music Director
The All Saints’ Virtual Choir will return for Lent 1 on February 21. We will be presenting a beautiful virtual choir arrangement of “Jesus walked this lonesome valley”. This beautiful American folk hymn calls us to walk with Jesus as we begin the season of Lent and our journey on the road to Holy Week. Ron Morinishi is assisting by coordinating the distribution of materials for those participating in the virtual choir. Thank you ALL for your continued support of our Music Ministry. God’s blessing of peace be with you all.

-Hank Curtis
 Music Director
Chicken Disposal Team Rides Again
Please Don't Feed the Chickens!
The All Saints' Chicken Disposal Team has been humanly trapping and releasing (far away from All Saints' or houses) chickens since shortly before Christmas. A tally sheet shows that to date 82 chickens and nine eggs have been removed from the rectory yard/columbarium area. The last trapping round netted only 48 chickens last spring. The chickens are disruptive and create a tripping hazard by scratching holes in the All Saints' campus. Please help keep the All Saints' campus safer and quieter by not encouraging the chickens by feeding them.

-CeCe Caldwell
Chicken Disposal Team
Lenten Adult Formation Series
The past year has been a very challenging time for all of us. As we make our way through the disruption and turmoil, we will be confronted with questions about how we want to rebuild our lives anew. As Christians, we know that we do not face the future alone or ill-equipped. Jesus promises always to be with us and has gifted the community with the power of the Spirit as a guide, advocate and comforter.

This Lent, I would like to invite you to participate in a six-week small group process called Revive Lent, published by Forward Movement (who also produce the daily devotional guide “Forward Day by Day”). Revive Lent will provide an opportunity to become grounded in foundational spiritual practices that will equip you for a deeper spiritual journey. In this time of uncertainty, Revive Lent helps us to talk with one another, build a deeper relationship with God and prepare to journey with Jesus through Holy Week.

Revive Lent comprises 6 sessions:
Feb. 23, Session 1: Discovering your spiritual story
March 2, Session 2: Telling your spiritual story
March 9, Session 3: What is prayer and how do we pray?
March 16, Session 4: Making space and praying the Lectio and Visio Divina
March 23, Session 5: Praying through the hurt
March 30, Session 6: Death and dying, and praying with Jesus in the garden

Our sessions will be via Zoom on Tuesdays 5:00PM - 6:00PM, starting on February 23rd and concluding on March 30th. In order to enroll, please either speak with me directly, call the church office, or email me at rector@allsaintskauai.org. I will then send you the Zoom link you will need for each of our sessions.

May God richly bless us as we grow in faith to serve God’s world,
Kahu Kawika+

All Saints' Youth Kick-Off 2021 Relay for Life Virtual Relay
Plans and Sign Up Begin for Events
Welcome to 2021! Relay for Life is starting up again and we have plans to hold another Virtual Relay.

A Team Page has been created for us to start preparing for the event and gathering donations. Join the team! Register by 2/16/21: http://main.acsevents.org/goto/keakuayouthgroup.

All Youth Group members will need to ask their parents for permission. Once granted, you will need to create/login to your relay for life personal page to join the team. As soon as you register you can start collecting.
Last year we exceeded our goal of $1,000. I have no doubt we can double it this year again.
Note for special donation kick-off prizes:

  • Donate $21.00 by 2/16/21 and you will be entered to win Relay for Life blankets and online gift cards
  • Donate $100.00 by 2/16/21 and you will receive a Relay for Life T-shirt

Saturday, September 11th - Relay for Life Kaua`i Virtual event

Note: All Saints’ will probably be a satellite site again, same as last year.

If you have any questions or are interested in joining these events, please let me know.

-Cami Baldovino
 Youth Minister
Consecration of New Bishop in Oregon
The Right Reverend Diana Akiyama
When the 11th Bishop of the Diocese of Oregon was ordained on Saturday, January 30, 2021, many in the Diocese of Hawai`i were watching online with hearts full. The Right Reverend Diana Akiyama was consecrated as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland. She continues her remarkable journey that has broken glass ceilings and made history in the Episcopal Church as the first Japanese-American woman to become a priest, and now a bishop.

As the former priest of St. Augustine's on the Big Island, the impact she made in the Diocese and The Episcopal Church will be felt for years to come (See Chronicle article HERE).

Due to COVID-19, the in-person ceremony was limited to participants only, but live-streamed online. Bishop Robert Fitzpatrick was in attendance and served as co-consecrator.

Also in attendance was Mila Polevia, the music director of St. Augustine's who performed a beautiful and deeply stirring number from a prayer written by Bishop Akiyama, that opened with a phrase from Jeremiah 29:11 in Hawaiian and English. He also shared a post-communion song.

You can view the entire ceremony on YouTube HERE. (Polevia's number begins at 1:05:07.) To read the Diocese of Oregon's article of the event, click HERE.
Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Last Sunday after the Epiphany
February 14, 2021
The Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ is the feast that celebrates Jesus’ radical change of appearance while in the presence of Peter, James, and John, on a high mountain (Mt 17:1-8; Mk 9:2-8; Lk 9:28-36). The Gospel of Matthew records that “he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light.” At this moment Moses and Elijah appeared, and they were talking with Jesus. Peter, misunderstanding the meaning of this manifestation, offered to “make three booths” for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. A bright cloud overshadowed them and a voice from the cloud stated, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” The disciples fell on their faces in awe, but Jesus encouraged them to arise and “have no fear.” They saw only Jesus. This event is alluded to in 2 Pt 1:16-18, which records that “we were eyewitnesses of his majesty” and “we were with him on the holy mountain.” The Transfiguration revealed Christ’s glory prior to the crucifixion, and it anticipated his resurrection and ascension. It may have given strength and comfort to his disciples in the difficult times that followed. It also prefigures the glorification of human nature in Christ.

Celebration of the Transfiguration began in the eastern church in the late fourth century. The feast is celebrated on Aug. 6. This was the date of the dedication of the first church built on Mount Tabor, which is traditionally considered to be the “high mountain” of the Transfiguration. Others locate the Transfiguration on Mount Hermon or the Mount of Olives. Celebration of the feast was not common in the western church until the ninth century. It was declared a universal feast of the western church by Pope Callistus III in 1457. The feast was first included in the English Prayer Book as a black letter day in the 1561 revision of the calendar of the church year. It was included as a red letter day with proper collect and readings in the American Prayer Book of 1892. Its inclusion reflects the efforts of William Reed Huntington, who wrote the BCP collect for the Transfiguration. This collect prays, “O God, who on the holy mount revealed to chosen witnesses your well-beloved Son, wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistening: Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may by faith behold the king in his beauty. . . .” (BCP, p. 243). The Transfiguration is listed among the holy days of the church year as a Feast of our Lord. Other provinces of the Anglican Communion followed the lead of the Episcopal Church in celebrating the Transfiguration as a major feast. The Transfiguration gospel is used on the Last Sunday after the Epiphany in all three years of the BCP eucharistic lectionary. As an Epiphany story, the Transfiguration provides one of the most distinctive and dramatic showings of Jesus’ divinity. The Hymnal 1982 provides several hymns for the Transfiguration, including “Christ upon the mountain peak” (Hymns 129-130) and “O wondrous type! O vision fair” (Hymns 136-137).

Created in the Image of God
Bruce Rockwell
“So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27

My early journey of discovery about what stewardship might mean in my life began when a mentor encouraged me to be mindful of this verse from the Book of Genesis that tell us we are created in the image of God.

If I am created in the image of God, who is God? What are the characteristics of God in whose image I have been created?

The first thing I realized is that God is a God of love. God loves humankind, loves us so much that God gave humankind the gift of God’s own son, Jesus. God loves me so much that God has given me all that I am and all that I call mine. So, if God is a God of love, and I am created in that image, I am called to love as God loves. Now I can never love as God loves, but, if I am to be true to who God created me to be, I must strive to be a better lover each and every day. I must strive to love as God loves.

The next thing I realized is that God is also a God of forgiveness. God loves us so much that God forgives us again and again and again. God loves us so much that God forgives us even when we fall short of the mark. This has been a tremendous discovery or realization for me. Prior to stewardship becoming an important part of my life, I did not understand or realize the forgiving nature of God. I used to be in fear of the judgment day, because I knew I was a sinner and continually fell short of the mark of what God wanted me to do and to be. But, as a result of my discovery about God, I realized that God indeed forgives me. What a liberating discovery that was! And, as one created in the image of God, I am called to forgive as God forgives. Again, I can never be as forgiving as God is, but I can strive to be better each and every day of my life.

Finally, I quickly realized that God is generous. Again, God loves us so much that God gave us the gift of God’s own son, Jesus, who gives us a window into who God is. God is indeed generous. God gives and gives and gives again. God has given me all that I call mine. And I am called to be generous as God is generous. Again, I will never, can never be as generous as God. But I can strive to be more generous each day. Indeed my journey as a steward of creation compels me to strive to be more generous each and every day of my life.

So, my journey of discovery about God had led me to the realization that as a steward of all of God’s good gifts, I am called to love as God loves; I am called to forgive as God forgives; and I am called to be generous as God is generous.

Pulling Back the Veil

February 11, 2021

Leslie Scoopmire
When I was eight, my third-grade teacher suspected that I had something wrong with my vision, and she was right. When I would read out loud, I would skip lines, and sometimes at the end of a long school day, the chalk board would get blurrier, like a gauzy veil was drawn over it. Come to find out, one of my eyes had weaker muscles than the other. So, for a year I went to eye therapy. 

I remember sitting in the waiting room for my appointments, reading old Highlights magazines. After reading all the stories with my new, extra-fragile glass bifocals, I would enjoy the pages filled with visual puzzles, like where you find lists of hidden images in a picture, or a line drawing where you saw a young woman looking over her shoulder, but if you turned the picture upside down suddenly you were looking at an old hag. Or if you looked at the positive space of a drawing you saw one image, but if you concentrated on the negative space you saw something else. Years later I marveled at how that doctor made sure we were working to strengthen our eyes and our perception even in the waiting room.

The eyes work by collecting and focusing light so that it can be interpreted by the brain.

But, unless we have some idea what we are looking for, we will seldom find it, because our brains filter out a majority of the images our eyes take in so that we can make sense of what is in front of our eyes. Our brains perceive what is seen by interpreting, based on context, and by filtering out a great amount of input. We find this in people who have had their sight restored either by surgery or by correction, or in studies of what newborns see. When asked what they see, these people have no way of making sense of the light flooding their eyes. Of those who have the ability to talk, they describe brightness, and later flashes of color. Eventually, their minds learn to interpret the input coming through their eyes. There is even scriptural testimony to this phenomenon: in Mark 8, Jesus heals a blind man from Bethsaida, but only after Jesus attempts the healing a first time and asks what the man sees, he says, “I see people, but they look like trees walking.”

In the reading from 2 Corinthians that we will hear this Sunday, we will hear Paul talk about the things that keep us from seeing the gospel as it really is. Paul points out that if we focus on the “god of this world,” we are unable to perceive to see God in unexpected places, or to see the gospel with clarity. Instead, our perception is “veiled.” Perhaps Paul is too generous to make the “god of this world” singular. Power, status, self-righteousness, money, material possessions, fame, greed, entertainment—all of these things we may worship, as we offer them the priority for our attention, our time, and our striving. There are so many gods we focus upon and elevate that we think will take the place in our hearts that belongs to God.

As we prepare to enter into Lent, we are encouraged to expand our perception. We end the season after Epiphany each year with stories of transfiguration to give us the courage to allow our eyes to adjust to the seeing of who Jesus REALLY is in our lives, much like those disciples who witness his transfiguration in our gospel. Too often we seem to expect a bearded man, wearing a loose linen tunic, sandals, gorgeously-tressed hair. We fail to perceive him in other guises: the frazzled dad working three jobs to help put food on the table; the teenager hungry for someone to take her under their wing and counter the story she hears at home about being ugly inside and out; the neighbor with whom we have been feuding for so long we no longer remember why; the panhandler on the corner we sneer at for having a cell phone.

The point of the transfiguration is not to focus on how Jesus has been changed. Rather, what if we looked upon him and realize that the veil has been pulled back: Jesus reveals just a tiny bit of who he really is, and once we perceive that, it is we who have been changed. In a year when even the everyday and commonplace has sometimes become a struggle, we may not perceive the ways in which the Christ-light has been revealed to us, much less within us.

The season of Epiphany is about drawing back the veil and joyfully encouraging us to see God’s presence everywhere and for everyone. Jesus’s transfiguration reminds us to embrace our own, so that we ourselves may perceive that that same glory and light resides within each of us. As Jesus transfigures us, he urges us to leave behind the gods of this world. “Come, follow me. Be the light you need to see within the world.”
The Rev. Leslie Scoopmire is a writer, musician, and a priest in the Diocese of Missouri. She is rector of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Ellisville, MO. She posts daily prayers, meditations, and sermons at her blog Abiding In Hope, and collects spiritual writings and images at Poems, Psalms, and Prayers.
Washington Bishop, National Cathedral Dean Apologize for ‘Mistake’ of Letting Max Lucado Preach

February 11, 2021

David Paulsen
Washington National Cathedral Dean Randy Hollerith speaks during the opening of the cathedral’s Feb. 7 livestreamed worship service.

[Episcopal News Service] Washington Bishop Mariann Budde and Washington National Cathedral Dean Randy Hollerith issued parallel apologies late Feb. 10 for allowing popular evangelical pastor Max Lucado to preach during the cathedral’s Sunday service, despite facing outrage in advance over Lucado’s past statements against homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

Budde and Hollerith both spoke of the pain the decision had caused many members of the LGBTQ community. Budde, in her statement, quoted with permission from a dozen of the people who wrote to her in protest. Hollerith said people had reached out to him as well, and he acknowledged he had erred in not listening to their calls to rescind the invitation to Lucado.

“In my straight privilege I failed to see and fully understand the pain he has caused,” Hollerith said. “I failed to appreciate the depth of injury his words have had on many in the LGBTQ community. I failed to see the pain I was continuing. I was wrong and I am sorry.”

Lucado is a best-selling author of self-help books and the pastor of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas. His 22-minute prerecorded video sermon for the cathedral’s Feb. 7 livestreamed service included no reference to sexuality or same-sex marriage. Outrage over allowing Lucado to preach began late last week over a 2004 article, in which he called homosexuality a “sexual sin” and outlined his belief that God does not condone same-sex marriage, comparing it to legalizing polygamy, bestiality and incest.

ENS reached out several times to Lucado and his church, seeking comment on whether he still holds those views. Church staff members said he was unavailable.

The outrage over the cathedral’s decisions continued to simmer this week, despite retired Bishop Gene Robinson’s prominent defense of the cathedral. Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in The Episcopal Church when he was consecrated in 2003 in New Hampshire, agreed to a request by Hollerith to come to the cathedral on Feb. 7 and preside at the online service that featured Lucado.

Like Hollerith, Budde said she should have heeded the appeals of those who were questioning the cathedral’s decision to invite Lucado as its latest guest preacher.

“In the days since, I have heard from those who were not only wounded by things Max Lucado has said and taught, but equally wounded by the decision to welcome him into the Cathedral’s pulpit,” Budde said. “I didn’t realize how deep those wounds were and how unsafe the world can feel. I should have known better. More than apology, we seek to make amends.”

Budde and Hollerith both announced they are organizing a listening session to provide additional opportunities for people to share their thoughts and experiences with clergy leaders. That session is scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 21.

IN BRIEF . . .

These news briefs were featured in previous issues of "The Epistle"

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