Monday, December 20, 2010

It's the little things

It started out as a typical appointment. I went to see Bro. Antony Miller at St. Barnabas in Pasadena. I came into the very neat and organized church office to find two volunteers stuffing Christmas letters to go out that day. Bro. Antony gave me a tour of this beautiful church, and then we hopped in his car to go to lunch.

That's when it happened.

You know when you see homeless people standing on the side of the road with a sign saying, "please help" -- so many people pass them by. I know I do when I'm driving. If I'm walking, I'll give them the change in my pocket. If I'm driving, I never stop.

Antony stopped.

He knew the homeless person by name. He rolled down his window and gave him a dollar. The man said that someone stole his sleeping bag. I could see the wheels in Antony's brain moving -- that man was going to get a new sleeping bag pronto.

Antony is very involved in homeless ministry in Pasadena. Everything from a new feeding program once per week at the parish to helping out at another church's bible study and feeding program (pizza) in the park every week -- rain or shine. He shared stories with me over lunch about the people he has met. The more he spoke, the more his face shone with God-love. This is a powerful ministry this young man is doing to the glory of God in Pasadena. He is opening the parish one day per week to feed the homeless -- Thursdays. The parish is getting behind this ministry and, I believe, will be energized by it. You can't help but feel energized as Antony talks about this ministry.

I wonder what the Spirit will do next at St. Barnabas. I may have to wander over there one of these Thursdays to see.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Going "Home"

Yesterday was NOT going to be your run-of-the-mill-Bishop-visitations. Maybe I'll find as I continue to wander around the Diocese that there is no such thing as a typical visitation. However, yesterday I KNEW would be different. Why? Because I went "home" for the first time.

"Home" is the Church of the Messiah in Santa Ana. It was there that I was assigned as a Ministry Study Year student back in the early 1990's before I began seminary. The Rector, Brad Karelius, was a wonderful mentor for me. When I finished seminary, Brad hired me to be the Associate Rector. Two years later, I was called to be Rector at St. Clement's in San Clemente.

Going "home" felt WONDERFUL! There were so many people that are still there -- and so many new faces. I had the opportunity to speak with the vestry. As always, there is a LOT going on at Messiah. The parish is growing, even with the announcement of the Rector's retirement later in 2011. The parish is also involved in a great amount of outreach into the community, and is looking to do more. Mission and ministry is important there -- it has been for many years.
There were 44 confirmations/receptions -- including one of my favorite people from my time there. We looked at each other and started to cry -- all the years she had attended Messiah, she had never been received into this part of the Body of Christ. She decided it was time, and I laid my hands on her head.

As I stood behind the altar and started to pray the Eucharist, I was taken back in time to the FIRST Eucharist I ever said -- which was behind the same altar. I started to tear up as I thought about the privilege of serving there so many years ago, and of going back now as their Area Bishop. Wow.

Last but not least, the Mariachi were there, playing their hearts out. After the service, when I was finally done with picture taking (there were all those confirmands who wanted their picture taken with the bishop!), I went down to the parish hall where the Mariachi were playing. I asked Freddie Espinoza (the head Mariachi) if they had played Guadalajara yet. They were waiting for me. They started, and I got some of the women who knew me from years gone by to get up and dance -- we did, and it was great, great fun.

I wonder what it will be like for me the next time I go there -- well, after all, there's no place like home!