Monday, October 25, 2010

A Day of Firsts

Yes, it was quite the day! I started out at St. Gabriel's in Monterey Park where I preached and celebrated for the first time solely in Mandarin. Thanks to the good work of both Fr. Peter Lo and Fr. Thomas Ni, I was able to have the service (which included confirmations) put into a bilingual booklet with "pinyin" and Chinese characters. I was able to read a good deal of the characters, but having the pinyin there helped me with the service. Comments included, "you speak so clearly", and "I understood everything you said." Whew! It was also Fr. Peter's birthday, so we were able to sing to him and share cake. The food at this event was amazing -- a delicious fish PLUS a whole roasted pig! Wow! The picture above is of the sanctuary before it burned early this summer. We met and celebrated in 1/2 of the parish hall, which actually years ago WAS the church.

Got home in time to put my feet up for about an hour then changed my clothes and went to the Sixth Day Service at St. Stephen's in Whittier. This is a truly innovative service which started with a group of people at the parish looking around to see who was around the church -- located in a residential area, lots of people walk their dogs outside the church. A "doggie water station" and "clean up bags" were installed outside the parish office. Then the brainstorm -- what about a service for people seeking God -- and their pets! Voila! Brilliant -- it is meeting the needs of people in the neighborhood. Two people, not members of the parish, have attended almost every service. There were over a dozen people and their dogs at this service, which started just a few weeks ago. My own Nigel Bruce (yes, really, that's his name) accompanied me. I was given the privilege of celebrating at this event, and Mary Trainor held Nigel for me. A light dinner followed -- people stayed for fellowship. We sang Happy Birthday to Chris Potter! It was truly a magical time. All the dogs got along very well -- Nigel included (you can see Nigel's picture from a few years ago above). Nigel is doing pretty well for 16!

I wonder how many people will start coming to the Sixth Day Service as word continues to get out about it in the neighborhood. I heard one of the women that has been attending this service with her two dogs say as she was leaving, "next week I'm bringing my neighbor -- she wanted to come today but had a prior commitment." THAT'S evangelism!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

For the past 24 hours I had the great joy of spending time in prayer and reflection with men and women in this diocese, lay (but on the ordination track) and ordained who have one thing in common: working in Chinese ministry here in the Diocese of Los Angeles.

We spent time together, not talking about work, not planning programs, not looking at calendars -- but praying, resting, and reflecting. We started out with evening prayer late yesterday afternoon followed by dinner. Then it was laps around the edge of Echo Park Lake. Compline, followed by the Vicar of Dibley was a nice end to our evening together. No no no no no no no no yes! -- if you are a fan of the Vicar of Dibley, you'll understand this reference!

This morning we prayed morning prayer together in the beautiful Lazarus Chapel here at the Cathedral Center in Los Angeles. Breakfast, another walk, and a time of rest rounded out the morning. Noonday prayer, lunch, and yet another few laps around the lake gave us time to talk and to be centered. We ended the day with Evening Prayer and warm goodbyes, including plans for next year's same 24 hour event. I will be repeating this offering with other groups I work with as Multicultural Minister in the Diocese of Los Angeles.

What I realized a long time ago, being an Anglo doing ministry in Spanish for 12 years, is that sometimes this ministry and work can overwhelm you -- the demands are great, and resources are scarce. While all clergy have challenges and work very hard, the work of ethnic clergy is even more stressful (I do not like that way of putting this (ethnic clergy), but I have yet to find a better description - if you can help me I'd appreciate suggestions!).

My goal is to spend time (24 hours) once per year with each group here at the Cathedral Center to do nothing but rest, reflect and pray. A number of those gathered for this 24 hour period spent the bulk of the time in their rooms at the Diocesan Retreat Center resting -- many taking long naps along with time for meditation and reflection. I, too, spent time in prayer -- although I was fielding some phone calls and writing a bit. Yet, just knowing that people were here resting and praying made my heart happy and my soul rejoice!

All I can say regarding this experience is that I can't wait for the next group (those working with ministry in Spanish here in the Diocese of Los Angeles), and for NEXT year with the Chinese clergy!

By the way, I was happily surprised to find that today is the feast day of Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky. I hadn't looked at lesser feasts and fasts when I picked the dates for this gathering -- but I think the Holy Spirit must have been moving fast and furious! (In case you didn't know, Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky was a convert to Christianity and became an Episcopalian, later a priest. He was sent by the the Episcopal Church to China, where he devoted himself from 1862 to 1875 to translating the Bible into Mandarin Chinese. In 1877 he was elected Bishop of Shanghai, where he founded St. John's University, and began his translation of the Bible into Wenli --classical Chinese.)