For Sunday, May 24th - The Seventh Sunday of Easter
A message from Fr. Lorenzo
In my sermon for May 24, the Seventh Sunday of Easter, I make a reference to a passage from a book. I wanted to share that passage and a little more. The book is The Solace of Fierce Landscapes: Exploring Desert and Mountain Spirituality by Benton Lane. Lane’s context is his experience of his mother’s long illness and eventual death. But it is incredibly relevant to all of us today. I commend it to your hearts, prayers and lamentations. Here it is:
In the beginning you weep. This is what the teachers of the spiritual life insist. In the first canto of Dante’s Inferno, the pilgrim is lost in a gran diserto. It’s the same desert through which the children of Israel passed on their way from Egypt to the Promised Land. It’s a place of brokenness, a desert through which we’ve all passed (or will pass) in our journey from bondage toward hope. There Dante meets Virgil, the one who’ll guide him through the corridors of hell and up the slopes of Mount Purgatory, where he’ll meet yet another guide – the sweet Beatrice – who carries him on to Paradise. The road to Paradise always begins with tears.
This threefold pattern of the spiritual life, from mourning to insight to glory, came to be described early in the church’s history, following the apostle Paul’s distinctions of spiritual childhood, adolescence and maturity.
Gregory of Nyssa characterized growth in faith as entry into a moonlit desert, the movement to a fog-covered mountain, and, finally, into the impenetrable darkness of a thick cloud. The more darkness faith could embrace, he thought, the greater light it gave. Bernard of Clairvaux preferred the imagery of three kisses given to one’s beloved. The penitent’s kiss on the feet is followed by the seeker’s kiss on the hand and subsequently the lover’s kiss on the mouth. This movement from one stage (or one kiss) to the next – from desert to mountain to cloud – was never seen as fixed, nor even guaranteed. Elements of each stage might be present along the way. Threat and promise could recur at every level. It was understood that we grow, to our chagrin, by fits and starts throughout our lives.
Increasingly, my own experience was one of being called to this erratic kind of growth, stumbling slowly with a dying parent along the desert’s purgative way. After the immediate threat of death had lessened and it became apparent that my mother and I were in for a longer haul than first expected, a sabbatical semester made it possible for me to satisfy my increasing need for wilderness, for a sprawling geography of emptiness. I made a month-long trip to Israel and Egypt, going for the first time in my life to the Holy Land. It was a pilgrimage that echoed my mother’s own long journey into relinquishment and loss. The desert of the Sinai is a perfect place for confronting deep fears and feelings of abandonment. Loneliness there is a constant companion, one who insists on being honored if not also loved.
The most important excursion I took was an eight-day hiking trip into the Sinai wilderness. In that austere landscape, I realized more than ever before the healing capacity of that fierce terrain. The desert did for me what the nursing home had begun to do for my mother at home. It invited me out of myself, out of my fears and need for control, out of a self-absorption wary of opening itself to intimacy. The way of purgation involves an entry into what is unnerving, even grotesque in our lives, into what quickly reveals our limits. It seems at first, like most beginnings in the spiritual life, a mistake, a false start, an imperfection in God’s planning, a regression in our own growth. Only through hindsight do we recognize it for the unexpected gift that it is.
May God bless you and keep you.
THE DAY OF PENTECOST: WHITSUNDAY
MAY 31, 2020
Next Sunday the church celebrates the Day of Pentecost, 50 days after Easter Day. The word “Pentecost” comes from the Greek word Pentekoste, which means “the 50th day.”
In the Old Testament, “Pentecost” refers to the Feast of Weeks, a seven-week agricultural event that focused on the harvesting of first crops. Josephus, a first-century Jewish historian, also used the word “Pentecost” to refer to the 50th day after the first day of Passover.
In the New Testament, “Pentecost” refers to the coming of the Spirit shortly after Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension: “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each” (Acts 2:1-6, NRSV).
Christians came to understand the meaning of Pentecost in terms of the gift of the Spirit, and the Pentecost event as the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise concerning the return of the Holy Spirit. On the Day of Pentecost, the clergy wear RED vestments to signify the work of the Spirit.
Speaking in tongues, a manifestation of receiving the Spirit, is interpreted by some to symbolize the church’s worldwide mission, and the Day of Pentecost is thought to be the origin of sending the church out into the world. The Day of Pentecost is identified by the Book of Common Prayer as one of the feast days “especially appropriate” for baptism (Book of Common Prayer, p. 312). Because of this, Pentecost is also known as “Whitsun” or “Whitsunday” (“White Sunday”), a term used to describe the white baptismal garments worn by those who were baptized at the Vigil of Pentecost and then worn to church on the Day of Pentecost. (Due to restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, we will not be celebrating the sacrament of baptism in congregational worship on The Day of Pentecost 2020.)
Book Club is Zooming!
The Book Club will meet on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, at 1:00 PM via Zoom. Meeting details will follow later.
The selection for June is The Last Days of Night: A Novel by Graham Moore. For more information contact Alan Zimmerman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Weekly Bible Sharing
With the Rev. Canon Eric H. F. Law
Thursday, May 28th
Join via Zoom: Click here to join meeting.
Or, join by phone: (408) 638-0968
Meeting ID: 101-690-960#
May 22, 2020
The Parish Profile Team of the Transition Committee is calling for photos of church events and parishioner groups at services and other occasions for possible inclusion in our Parish Profile. Here is the link to upload photos into our folder: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1ckEFdJaSmJ_8NNkl-JRC0wkTpjPDNrzc. Deadline for submissions is June 30. Once photos are uploaded, please send an email to Mary Mann to identify which are yours.
Contact Mary (Parish Profile Co-Chair) at 775.527.8963 or email (email@example.com) to identify your photos, ask questions or if you are having problems with Google Drive.
Thanks, The Parish Profile Team
Prayers of the Church
Sunday is Saint Augustine / Anglican Communion Sunday
Pray for all members of the Anglican Communion around the world; for the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. Justin Welby, and all primates and bishops; for members of the Anglican Consultative Council; for the Secretary General, The Most Rev. Dr. Josiah Idowu-Fearon; for the staff at the Anglican Communion Office in London and the UN Offices in Geneva and New York.
For the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti, The Rt. Rev. Jean Zache Duracin, Bishop.
For the Diocese of San Diego, The Rt. Rev. Susan Brown Snook, Bishop; pray for the Clergy and people of St. Stephen’s, Menifee and for the children and teachers of St. Stephen’s Preschool.
For our Parish in Transition: Almighty God, giver of every good gift: Look graciously on your Church, and so guide the minds of those who shall choose a rector for this parish, that we may receive a faithful pastor, who will care for your people and equip us for our ministries; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen (BCP p. 818)
For those commended to our prayers: Tom Schott, Dorothy Walton, Tony Ellerd, Betty Muhleck, Brian Nealy, Barbara Nussbaum, Norma Westaway, Rose Hernandez, and for all those for whom no prayers have been said.
For those who have died: Alec Kady, Tyrone Allen, Ray Patencio, Jr.
For those with Birthdays: May 24: Woody Wood, Vern Marken; May 25: Maya Scott, Sarah Olson; May 27: Noel Arvizu; May 28: Mason Shefa; May 29: Fred Ross, Richard Wells, Sharon Enger, Rick Nauman; May 30: Helen Amestoy.
For those celebrating their anniversaries: May 24: The Rev. Gaylord Hitchcock & John Whitlock; May 27: Jessica & Marcus Scott.
Send us your Prayer Requests via email — You may request prayers, “For those commended to our prayers” or “For those who have died,” by sending requests to firstname.lastname@example.org
For this Sunday’s Lectionary readings Click Here. From the calendar, select May 24, The Seventh Sunday of Easter.
Newsletter Publishing Changes
The Abundant Life weekly newsletter is now published on Fridays (no longer on Thursdays). The deadline for submission of announcements for publication in the newsletter is now Noon, Wednesday.
Fraud Email Alert
A recurring threat to churches is email-based impersonation scams targeting key personnel. The scheme involves cybercriminals mimicking clergy or other staff through the use of phishing emails. Criminals typically pose as personnel in positions of authority and ask victims to perform money transfers, pay invoices, or to send the attacker sensitive data. Scammers will often manipulate the “from” email address and name so that it appears to be coming from someone you know.
Churches and dioceses across The Episcopal Church and across other denominations have been a target of these email impersonation attacks. Scammers use a free email account (such as Gmail) and register it with an impersonated name. They then send an email to an unsuspecting recipient asking for immediate help in order to get a task done (such as purchasing a gift card or wiring money). Attention to detail can be a lot of help in combating cases of impersonation. Users should check sender details carefully. Any suspicious email message should be investigated before replying. Also, proper attention should be given to the message content, including attachments and URLs.
While there is no way to stop these scams, you can minimize risk by taking these steps:
- Check the return email address. If the address doesn’t match the name of the sender, be wary.
- Never open attachments from unknown sources.
- Be wary of generically addressed emails like “Dear Friend” or Dear Customer.”
- If there are links in the email, hover over them without clicking on them. This will show where the link will actually take you.
- Be wary of email with grammatical or spelling errors in the text.
- Check the address at the bottom of the email. If it says ”Pastor Jim” and Jim never goes by “Pastor,” it’s fake.
Finally, if after all these steps it looks safe and the sender is asking for money or access to secure data, call the person directly to get verification.
Your best defense for this is to simply delete the email; do not click on any links or reply to the sender.
Report clergy misconduct
As part of our ongoing commitment to creating a safe haven for everyone, our diocese trains people in the prevention of misconduct and encourages all to report misconduct. All reported incidences are taken seriously and investigated thoroughly and confidentially. If you believe you have experienced misconduct of any kind, please contact John Seitman, 858-793-4555 or Equilla Luke, 760-583-0485.
Compassionate Care Task Force
Our diocesan task force on compassionate care for victims of clergy sexual misconduct seeks to connect with those who have experienced misconduct. If you have reported clergy sexual misconduct and have information about the reporting or post-reporting experience that could be helpful to their work, please refer to the task force members, all of whom are listed on the diocesan website: Task-Force. Information on how to report misconduct is available here.
Church Office Hours
Office Hours are 9 am – 4:30 pm Tuesday through Friday. The office is closed on Mondays.
Should you call on Monday when we are closed to the public, please leave a message. In case of an emergency, a priest will return your call.
Sunday Worship Childcare
Childcare is available during the 10:30 a.m. service.
Bullying Behavior Not Welcome Here
At St. Paul in the Desert we welcome all worshipers to a place that is free of violence and bullying.
Physical, verbal or emotional violence against others or against oneself is not acceptable because of our understanding of what it means to follow Jesus. Please let Jesus’ command to love your neighbor as yourself be your guide.
“It Gets Better” is a series of video messages to encourage Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or Transgender youth and let them know that they are loved as they are.
“A Blessing for Those Who Are Bullied” was written by the Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston, a Bishop of the Episcopal Church.
It is not enough to say “NO” to bullies. It is important to stand up for people and to provide resources for those who have been the targets.