Dear Friends,

There is a Christian magazine called Sojourners which is filled with stories and reflections on how we put out faith in Christ into action for social justice. I feel "social justice" has become a bit loaded as a term these days. But as a group of people whose Teacher, Lord and Savior taught us "Blessed are the poor," I believe we're called to continually reclaim the meaning and hope of social justice.

Sojourners recently ran an article about a ten year-old transgender boy who is a member of All Souls Episcopal Parish in Berkeley, CA. It was written by his mother, Dani Gabriel. These are all people I know and love, because I worshiped and served with them for nearly 3 years. In the heart of the story was this question that Samson asked his priest, the Rev. Liz Tichenor, as he was transitioning publicly. "Can I be baptized again?"

Samson wanted to know if he was really fully a part of the church. Liz responded, "No, we baptized you already, and that stuck. But we can do something special." And so it was that a while later, after much conversation and prayer and support from liturgists and their bishop, All Souls Parish welcomed Samson again, and deeper, into the church with a rite of renaming.

In our peculiarly Episcopal way, this rite took deliberation and broad support, and because of that Samson also knew that he wasn't supported just by his own church or own pastor, but by the whole Church. One, holy, catholic and apostolic, with a full blessing for Samson.

And in the middle of all that, here's the image that most caught me: Just before the worship began that morning, Tripp Hudgins, a 45 year-old, straight, white, ordained, man from Virginia, with all the cultural privilege in the world, knelt down in front of Samson, and helped Samson straighten his bowtie.

     That image is the Church.

With all our authority, power, beauty, history, privilege and learnedness, we are called to kneel at the foot of our smallest neighbor, who is asking "Can I be baptized again? Am I really part of the church?", in order to help them boldly take their next step closer to God.

This week St. Andrew's held its sixth year of Marking Your Mark Art Camp. The theme has been "We are the Village." And what kind of Village? The Village of God. The Church. Twenty-four 3rd-5th graders have been loved, taught and emboldened by over 50 different adults who have taken all their power and authority and come into our church and knelt at the children's' feet. We have welcomed these children from diverse parts of our community. We have given them guidance and then asked them what response (in art, play, music, words) is in their hearts. And then we have borne witness.

We have been present to hear them speak, in their own ways, their recommitment to Love, to their true Selves, and to Community.

This is the Church.

This is what I signed up to be a part of. This is social justice. This is the Village that gathers to praise and emulate the God who knelt down among us as Jesus. Who came down from the heavens to straighten our bowtie, and get us ready for Love.

In Hope,

Reed

Dear Friends,

In an echo of the heavenly "banquet prepared from the foundation of the world" and the praise always ringing in God's courts, we will follow up our Celebration Sunday festivities of last week with a shared worship this week with our sisters and brothers in Christ from First Church.

They will be graciously coming across the street to share worship in our space, at 10AM. The Rev. Gordon Crouch will preach and I will preside, and both our choirs will be lifting up their voices together!

Afterwards we'll stream up to the Great Hall for a celebration particularly of our shared organists, Mary and Eric Dolch, and with blessings for their expected child.

We share with these neighbors of ours in the ministries of Family Promise, Got Lunch, the Food Pantry, and more. To praise God together is a rare treat, though. It's one of those places churches often get themselves tied up in knots. I am fully of gratitude to Rev. Gordon for inviting this collaborative worship, and to Bishop Rob for encouraging such gatherings, and to the Holy Spirit for stirring hearts to come together. In a season when so many are visibly divided, there is real power in our coming together.

I'll see you at the Table!

In Peace,
Reed

Dear Friends,

"Celebration Sunday" has had a few different faces at St. Andrew's. This year we will take time to Bless and Celebrate the ministries and ministers for whom the end of the school year marks time. Every Sunday is the full-on feast of the Resurrection, but this Sunday we lift up some of the particular ways we Walk Together, Recognize Jesus, and Practice Resurrection as St. Andrew's Episcopal Church. 

With thanks and love we will hold in prayer the Choir, our Christian Formation leaders, and our High School and College Graduates. (So if you are one of those ministers, please come!)

Our celebration also includes a Cookout Picnic following the 10am Worship Service. Special thanks to Ed Fairfield for heading up the cooking, and to Paul Carey and George Schell for leading our setup and cleanup. Everyone else is invited to bring a contribution based on your last name.

Last Names A-G: Salads!

H-M: Desserts! 

N-Z: Sides!

In Peace,
Reed

Dear Friends,

All this year our 9AM Adult Christian Formation group has explored a complex, ancient, perplexing document which we pray each week in worship: the Nicene Creed. If just seeing the name "Nicene Creed" makes you want to zone out, well, I get it, but also, the conversations that grew out of the morning group's faithful conversations were both provocative and transforming.

In the center of the exploration was the fleshing out of what it means to say "We believe..." And breaking open the meaning inside these words we pray. "Who is Jesus to you?" "What do you mean, you believe?" "What would it mean to be a church that is one? Holy? " "If God created all, what does that mean for your daily life?"

While the Creed can sometimes roll from our lips while our minds wander elsewhere, it's some pretty powerful stuff we are expressing in it. With that power in mind, and with the support of the group that has walked so closely with the Nicene Creed all this year, I write to share with you that we'll be changing the version of the Nicene Creed we use in worship, beginning June 24th. At heart, this change is about deeper faithfulness to our tradition, and deeper unity with Christians around the world.

Like so many of our worship texts, the Nicene Creed was originally in another language (Greek), and has been passed down over centuries, and has some slightly different versions around. Since the printing of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer and the Creed version we currently use in worship, the Episcopal Church has supported the use of an ecumenically revised translation. This "new" version may be said to be "more conservative" in that it seeks to render the original Greek more accurately in English, and also "more liberal" in that it responds to the contemporary hunger for worship language that encompasses the diversity and fullness of the church's experience.

For exhaustive detail on the "new" version (in use now for 30 years!), you can check out this document, particularly the introduction, and pages 17-21. Or, to experience the change for yourself, simply come to worship on the 24th or afterwards!  

Two changes in particular may stand out. One is the phrase "was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became truly human", which both renders the Greek more faithfully and lifts up the centrality of Jesus' "humanness", rather than his birth into a particular male body, which, while powerful, is already noted elsewhere. The second is the omission of "and the Son" when speaking of where the Holy Spirit proceeds from (now we'll just say ("who proceeds from the Father"). This change takes us back to the most unified version of the Creed from AD 481, and reunites us in prayer with the version our Orthodox sisters and brothers still use. More on that here if you like.

I hope that whether you've been loving on the Creed specially all year, or simply praying it in worship, that this new text is an occasion for you to love it anew. I hope you'll let me know how you experience it.

In Peace,
Reed