SEPTEMBER 2019 • Volume 21, Number 5
Habakkuk - Raging at God: 3 Complaining or Thankful?: 8 Living our Faith: 9 Talking ‘bout my generation: 13
The Message this month: Contents:
Christ Church Staff: The Rev. Patrick Gahan, Rector
From Our Rector ..............................3
The Rev. Scott Kitayama, Associate Rector
Music Ministry ................................7 Youth Ministry..................................9
The Rev. Brien Koehler, Associate Rector for Mission and Formation
Family Ministry .............................10
The Rev. Justin Lindstrom, Associate Rector for Community Formation
Our Church Life .............................11
Carol Miller, Pastoral Care Administrator
Halleta Heinrich, Director of Family Ministry
Lily Fenton, Nursery Director Amy Case, Youth Minister
Susan Lindstrom, Director of College Ministry JOSH BENNINGER
Front Cover photo: Amy Case Back Cover photo: Gretchen Duggan Editor: Gretchen Duggan
Joshua Benninger, Music Minister & Organist Charissa Fenton, Director of Childrenâ€™s Music & Receptionist Robert Hanley, Director of Campus Operations Darla Nelson, Office Manager
Donna Franco, Financial Manager
Gretchen Comuzzi Duggan, Director of Communications
7:30 a.m. Holy Eucharist, Rite 1
Monica Elliott, Executive Assistant to the Rector
9:00 a.m. Family-friendly Communion Service with Music
Elizabeth Martinez, Kitchen Manager HALLETA HEINRICH
Robert Vallejo, Facilities Manager
10:00 a.m. Christian Education for Children, Youth, and Adults
Rudy Segovia, Hospitality Manager
11:00 a.m. Choral Eucharist, Rite 2
6:00 p.m. Holy Eucharist, Rite 2
Joe Garcia, Sexton
Darrell Jones, Senior Warden Matt Markette, Junior Warden
Visit us on-line at www.cecsa.org
by Patrick Gahan
Author’s Note: This is the fifth essay in a series I offer on the Twelve Minor Hebrew Prophets. Throughout the series, I will use The Message version of the Scriptures, in honor of its masterful and artistic translator, Eugene Peterson, who died October 22 of last year. Kay asked me to write this series, and, as she is both my muse and editor, I dedicate every line to her.
My fists pumped straight up into the air, not as a sign of success or victory of any sort, but as a show of anger. If I could have slugged God, I would have taken my shot. The parishioners of the church I served would have been horrified that their young associate wanted to belt the Creator in the upper lip. My eldest son’s asthma fueled my anger. While still in the cool alpine air of Sewanee, TN, we had been able to control Clay’s respiratory ailment. Certainly, he had flare ups of wheezing, coughing, and the occasional infections, but the move to more tropical East Texas had been disastrous for his health. Ten years old and eager to sign up for a different sport every season, as well as dash about feverishly with his new cadre of Texan friends, his asthma suddenly became a ball and chain.
At first, I considered it good fortune that Kay was home during that time. My wife is the consummate medical professional, and I was grateful that she never panicked during those precarious, harrowing days when Clay was gasping for breath or agitated and overwrought due to the potent medications prescribed to open his airways. What I did not realize was that Kay, while unquestionably able to run the household, raise three children, and deal with the succession of medical emergencies, was feeling increasingly isolated. Each morning while I was racing off to learn how to be a pastor and spend the day with a procession of colorful personalities, she felt imprisoned in a lonely life she did not choose. Kay, throughout most all of our almost 44 years of marriage, has maintained her nursing
practice, which I concede as being every bit as important as my pastoral vocation. The inevitable landslide hurtled into our house in the suburbs on the summer afternoon I arrived home to find Clay – not outside playing – but sitting in a chair with a blanket pulled all the way to his neck. His ragged breathing told the tale. When I sought out Kay in the laundry room, her eyes told me a bigger story. Transferring wet clothes from the washer to the dryer, she did not have to say a single word to communicate her icy queries, “What are we doing here? Is this fair to the children? Do you think I can live this way?” I walked away from the laundry, took one more look a Clay’s puffy, tortured face, and escaped to our bedroom. No sooner did I close the door than I pumped my fists into the air above my head. My fury at God erupted, and I would have screamed a stream of curse words if it would not have accelerated Clay’s misery. Instead, I pummeled the air and irately whispered, “How could You lead me here for this? Is this what following You entails? Why aren’t You picking on me instead of those I love?” God did not answer, at least not in the way I wanted or expected. Truth and clarity come in retrospect. The pain was too raw at the time for me to see what was going on in our lives. Certainly, the climate was doing Clay no favors and John, his younger brother by eight years, would grapple with respiratory challenges next, yet both boys would eventually prevail and earn twelve varsity letters apiece during their high school years.
The Prophet Habakkuk, Donatello, 1423-25, Museo Dell’Opera del Duomo, Florence
Prophet Motive: Habakkuk
Clay went on to play some college football and basketball and John competed in a grueling season of rugby at Sewanee. Kay, too, would find her footing amidst an Education for Ministry (EFM) community at the parish and as a part-time ICU nurse at the medical center. At the time, however, I did not see how we could persist with such disordered, discontented lives. I perceive now that we were living through a necessary transition – one where I was being changed from a layman to a priest and, at the same time, our brood of five was being refashioned into a pastor’s family. Looking back, I cannot minimize the significance of this transition. In the months leading up to our move to Tyler, TX, I exhausted every opportunity to remain in Sewanee. Kay, the children, and I had built a comfortable, predictable life on that paradisaical Appalachian plateau, yet one by one the doors to each opportunity in that area we loved slammed shut on us. In the end, the choice was made for us to accept Bishop Ben Benitez’s invitation to come to Texas. I see now 3
From Our Rector... that God was not only foisting us out of the snug nest we had made for ourselves, but protecting us as that same time. The priest with whom I wanted to work in Sewanee was, in due course, convicted of serious child sexual abuse. His demise may have claimed me as collateral damage. Furthermore, I have learned over these three decades that I was fashioned to lead congregations, and that opportunity was not coming my way in Tennessee or my native Alabama. I did not yet know any of those things on that afternoon when I retreated to my bedroom to silently box with God. I would have left my new job and emerging priestly identity in Texas without a moment’s regret. But that door had closed, and I was living in the new reality, one over which I despaired and did not hesitate to accuse God.
alliance with Egypt. With this Egyptian pact, the short-sighted king forfeited a century-old peaceful and even productive relationship with Babylon (Chaldea). However, when Babylon crushed Egypt at the famous battle of Carchemish in 605 BC, Judah, no longer a friend, ended up in Chaldea’s battle sights. Jehoiachim led a foolhardy and ominously short revolt against Babylon in 598, resulting in the king’s death. His heir, eighteen-yearold Jehoiachin (yes, just one consonant different from his dad’s name), and other leading citizens of Judah were rounded up and sent to Babylon in the first exile of 597 BC. This is Habakkuk’s portentous world, for his prophetic career runs right through the worst of this history, extending through the years 609-597 BC. From all appearances, he had every reason to pump his fists at God!
‘God, how long do I have to cry out for help before you listen? How many times do I have to yell, “Help! Murder! Police!” before you come to the rescue? Why do you force me to look at evil, stare trouble in the face day after day? Anarchy and violence break out, quarrels and fights all over the place. Law and order fall to pieces. Justice is a joke. The wicked have the righteous hamstrung and stand justice on its head’. 1:2-4 Message
Hoping for a comforting response from God, Habakkuk instead receives a far worse picture from God than the prophet painted for Him. In order to rectify Judah’s apostasy and foul actions, the Lord plans to ‘rouse’ the Babylonians to strike Revisiting that painful transition in my life terror amongst Jerusalem marks my common ground with and her surrounding hamlets. the obscure prophet Habakkuk. The prophet irately complains to the Lord and The prophet was looking for Amongst the assorted cast of a divine nudge. Instead he is personalities who make up the receives His answer lickety-split – but it’s not the promised a hellish Chaldean Twelve Minor Prophets of the answer Habakkuk desires. stampede: Old Testament, Habakkuk alone bellows at God in unguarded ‘Look around at the godless nations. protest. He, too, is caught in a Look long and hard. Brace yourself for a shock. A Tortured Prophet transition, one much more consequential Something’s about to take place than ours in Tyler thirty-one years ago. and you’re going to find it hard to believe. Not since Job, who appears seventeen Nevertheless, the prophet is angry, and he I’m about to raise up Babylonians to punish books before Habakkuk, has a Bible lays the onus of his nation’s anguish at the you, personage so furtively harangued the feet of the Creator. Babylonians, fierce and ferocious— Almighty. Unlike Job, however, the World-conquering Babylon, prophet Habakkuk does not have to wait A Tortured Past grabbing up nations right and left, thirty chapters for God to answer. No, A dreadful and terrible people, the prophet irately complains to the Lord The prophet’s aggrieved anger roils up making up its own rules as it goes. and receives His answer lickety-split – but from the painful history in which he and Their horses run like the wind, it’s not the answer Habakkuk desires. his native Judah are captive. Recall that attack like bloodthirsty wolves. the northern part of Israel was confusingly Theologians term the prophet’s complaint A stampede of galloping horses theodicy, which is a cry for God to justify termed the nation of Israel after the north thunders out of nowhere.’ 1:5b-8 Message Himself as being good at a time in history and south split at the end of Solomon’s when evil not only exists but flourishes. reign in 931 BC. Two hundred years later, Lest Yahweh be accused of a double In Chapter 1 through the beginning that northern kingdom was defeated and standard, in that the Babylonians diffuse verses of Chapter 2, Habakkuk slugs two essentially obliterated by the Assyrians violence in a scale well beyond that of line-drives directly at Yahweh, which God in 722 BC. After that conquest, Assyria tiny Judah, God nimbly adds his own deftly fields and hurls right back at the began to cast its eyes on the next trophy clarification: The Babylonians sweep by like prophet. As expected, the prophet comes – Judah, the southern kingdom. We will the wind; they transgress and become guilty; their out of the dugout swinging. He inveighs hear much more about those tense years own might is their god!(1:11) The fearsome against God for the state of the society when we study the prophet Micah. To Chaldeans worship their military might. circumvent Assyria’s colonizing ambitions, around him, replete with viciousness, lack Their idolatry has sown the seeds of of justice, absence of leadership, and Judah’s king Jehoiachim (609-598), their coming destruction, just as Judah’s disregard for God’s Law, the Torah: entered into an ill-advised and ill-fated 4
From Our Rector... apostasy has ensured their demise.
answer is that He will use violent, repellent nations to do His work, but He does not absolve their evil. The faithful in Judah must wait as the Lord works His purposes out in human history. Here Habakkuk offers the most important line from his book of prophecy – one used for Abraham in Genesis and repeated by Paul, James, and the anonymous author of Hebrews – ‘the righteous shall live by their faith’ (2:4). Eugene Peterson’s translation more clearly illuminates this timeless foundational statement, which appears both in the Old Testament and the New: But the person in right standing before God through loyal and steady believing is fully alive, really alive.’ God enjoins Habakkuk and all of us through the ages who seek to live in concert with the Lord to wait with a posture of absolute trust in His plan, provision, and love. Yes, Judah is a mess; so is America. Yes, evil is prolific; but not nearly as inexhaustible as grace. Yes, the enemies of faith are clever, treacherous, and intent on ameliorating us; but they are but pawns on the tableau of history compared to the One who created all that is and Who loves us completely. The ‘righteous shall live by faith in the One who is entirely faithful.’
grave swallows those who have swallowed others. Second, the Lord denounces the Habakkuk is a little slow on the draw route some have taken to accumulate here, because his next complaint is their wealth – extortion. ‘Who do you think one of abject consternation. “How you are— getting rich by stealing and extortion. can God make use of evil means like How long do you think you can get away with the bloodthirsty Babylonians?” These this?’ Indeed, how long before your victims wake Chaldeans, Habakkuk laments, are like up, stand up and make you the victim’ (2:6sport fishermen who catch far more than 7)? While this may sound outdated for they can eat, but just keep hauling in the most of us, we may consider how many catch for the giddy sensation of killing. are gaining their wealth by catastrophic The prophet is really pumping his fists exploitation of the earth. In a quantifiable at the air now as he awaits word from way, they extort wealth from generations unpredictable Yahweh. to come. Self-serving leadership is cited by God as the third crime. The irony ‘God, you chose Babylonians for your judgment is that the expedient measures leaders work? glibly facilitate in the short term actually Rock-Solid God, you gave them the job of engineers their long-term ruin: ‘You’ve discipline? engineered the ruin of your own house. In ruining But you can’t be serious! others you’ve ruined yourself. You’ve undermined You can’t condone evil!’ your foundations, rotted out your own soul. The bricks of your house will speak up and accuse ‘What’s God going to say to my questions? I’m you. The woodwork will step forward with braced for the worst. evidence’ (2:10-11). The myopic attacks I’ll climb to the lookout tower and scan the and actions by our governmental leaders horizon. in both parties come to mind as I read I’ll wait to see what God says, these ancient words penned by Habakkuk. how he’ll answer my complaint.’ 1:12-13 & For short-term, gossamer thin gains, our 2:1 Message leaders destroy one another, without realizing they are tearing down their own Suddenly, standing there on a house by destroying the people’s watchtower in Jerusalem, Habakkuk in them. Fourth, The God enjoins Habakkuk and all of us through confidence gets his answer from Yahweh, and Lord voices His abhorrence at the the ages who seek to live in concert with the it becomes his “Job moment.” violence in the cities: ‘Who do you Recall that God, speaking from a Lord to wait with a posture of absolute trust think you are—building a town by murder, whirlwind no less, finally answers a city with crime’ (2:12)? This, again, in His plan, provision, and love. Yes, Judah is a hits close to home. Encamped Job’s indictments against him: ‘Gird up your loins like a man, Job. Why do you mess; so is America. Yes, evil is prolific; but not in our two hardened bunkers of dare speak when you don’t have knowledge Gun Rights and Gun Control, we nearly as inexhaustible as grace. the size of a pinto bean? Now shut your miss the point that Americans are endless prattle and I will do the talking’ killing one another. All the while, (Job 38:3 My paraphrase…obviously). Then As Now the innocent cry out from their graves. In Habakkuk’s case, Yahweh takes pretty Finally, and most importantly, Yahweh much the same tact: ‘Write this. Write what In the remainder of Chapter 2, God decries humanity’s idolatry: ‘What’s the use you see. Write it out in big block letters so that issues a poetic soliloquy on the fate of evil of a carved god so skillfully carved by its sculptor? it can be read on the run’ (2:2). Yahweh’s nations and the malevolent, rapacious What good is a fancy cast god when all it tells is patience seems to have grown thin, people who fill them. Yahweh enumerates lies’ (2:18)? The crime of idolatry sounds especially with His whining prophet. He five woes, five crimes of the wicked. First, quaint until we admit that our modern wants no misunderstanding in this case. God condemns unjust economics, those “carved gods” are gluttony, entertainment, Thus, Habakkuk is ordered to get out his who seek financial gain at the expense of ignoring the Sabbath, and so on. What notebook and his #2 pencil. others’ demise: ‘Money deceives. The arrogant is more alarming is how we justify these rich don’t last. They are hungrier for wealth activities, thereby relegating the Biblical Trust Me than the grave is for cadavers’ (2:5). Yahweh stance as quaint and anachronistic. God shrewdly parallels the quest for riches at issues a final word on them, ‘There’s nothing The thrust (pun intended) of God’s second all cost to a death wish. In every age, the to them but surface. There’s nothing on the inside’ 5
From our Rector... (2:19). We will end up as hollow on the inside as the empty pursuits we worship. Something quite unexpected occurs at the end of Yahweh’s monologue, silence. The hearer expects the Great Judge’s gavel to strike the dais, a trumpet from the heavenly hosts to sound, or the people to wail in fear. Instead silence captures the moment in the second most quoted line of Habakkuk: ‘The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him!’ 2:20 NRSV Here, I eschewed Peterson’s Message for a more traditional translation because this line, among other things, is one of the most familiar opening salutations for Morning Prayer in the Book of Common Prayer. In fact, I prefer it above the rest. I do so for the very reason it was first rendered to the prophet. When the Lord wishes to communicate with His people, it is serious business – the most serious business. Like Elijah stepping out from the cleft of the rock to hear the ‘sound of sheer silence’ (I Kings 19:12), or the apocalyptic silence that embraces the universe as the Lamb opens the seventh seal of the sacred scroll (Revelation 8:1), we stand in awe before the One who deems us worthy to hear the inner-mind of the Trinity. Silence is the posture of the righteous one who lives by faith. Following the serene silence, knowing now he is in the presence of the Lord of Hosts, Habakkuk offers his final prayer in Chapter 3. Reflecting on the Lord’s mighty deeds of rescue and redemption, the prophet asks Him to act again in his lifetime. Habakkuk is careful, however, to beg that mercy accompany God’s righteous judgment: ‘God, I’ve heard what our ancestors say about you, and I’m stopped in my tracks, down on my knees. Do among us what you did among them. Work among us as you worked among them. And as you bring judgment, as you surely must, remember mercy.’ 3:1-2 Message 6
One More Time, God!
faith’ (2:4). He will wait on the One who is eternally faithful rather than watch his days descend into regret and lament.
No sooner does the prophet beseech the Lord to answer his prayers, than He appears to Habakkuk. God’s entrance, if Coming to the conclusion of the obscure only in the prophet’s stream of meditation, prophet’s tale, my mind shifts to another is anything but soothing. Harkening back harrowed sojourner, Santiago, the to Yahweh’s descent on Mt. Sinai before protagonist of Ernest Hemingway’s the conferring of the Ten Commandments Cuban classic, The Old Man and the Sea. (Exodus 19:16-19), the scene is not The novel sits on a promontory of my merely unsettling but altogether terrifying. imagination, for my mother kept her first ‘God stops. He shakes Earth. He looks around. edition of the book alongside her equally Nations tremble. The age-old mountains fall to prized first edition of the Revised Standard pieces; ancient hills collapse like a spent balloon’ Version of the Bible. Hemingway’s slim (3:6). Because the approach of Yahweh is baby blue volume and the rust colored reminiscent of his appearances to those RSV Bible remained with our nomadic He delivered from Egypt, Habakkuk’s family throughout our ceaseless series of abiding hope is that God will orchestrate a unplanned journeys, narrow escapes, and new Exodus near evictions. In this future Exodus, God will vanquish evil, I know now for Judah. In this future that Mother bring justice, and rescue the oppressed... Exodus, needed the God will procession vanquish evil, bring justice, and rescue of strugglers to step off the pages of the the oppressed, just as He once ‘pierced the Bible to accompany her, just as she needed head of Israel’s attackers with their own arrows’ the hapless fisherman, Santiago, to sail (3:13-14). from the chaos of the sea into the chaos of her life. They reminded her that she After all of the earth-trembling, was not alone on the precarious waters mountain crumbling, and head-piercing she traversed while raising and fiercely – Habakkuk’s prayer ends with a burst of protecting four children. Not surprisingly, bucolic imagery. The prophet professes the RSV remains my preferred translation in the last lines of his supplication that an of the Scripture and The Old Man and onslaught of reversals will not diminish the Sea, my favorite Hemingway saga – his faith in the Lord. His fidelity rests on even above A Farewell to Arms, which is higher ground than personal good fortune: no small thing. ‘Though the cherry trees don’t blossom and the strawberries don’t ripen, Though the apples are worm-eaten and the wheat fields stunted, Though the sheep pens are sheepless and the cattle barns empty, I’m singing joyful praise to God.’ 3:17-18 Message And then the prayer and the book abruptly end with the prophet dreamily envisioning himself as a deer leaping along the mountain heights (3:19), a far cry from the man who began by angrily pumping his fists and accusing God of turning a deaf ear to him and to Judah (1:2). What has transpired? The prophet has finally taken to heart that ‘the righteous shall live by
I am drawn to tormented Santiago for the same reasons the tortured Habakkuk calls to me. Both transparently wrangle with their lives for the benefit of those of us making our own perilous journeys. The prophet has gone years without seeing God’s hand at work in his apostate homeland. Santiago, for his part, has endured eighty-four days without catching a single fish. The aged Cuban angler is ridiculed by his neighbors and excluded from the other fishermen’s company in Havana, for he is considered “unlucky.” Even his protégé, the young Manolin, Santiago’s greatest joy, is kept from him by the boy’s parents. Then, on the eighty-fifth day, when
From our Rector... Santiago sails far out past the shallows of Havana Harbor and into the deep blue water, he hooks a mighty Marlin. Even though the fish remains at 150 fathoms (900 feet) beneath his tiny skiff, seasoned Santiago knows this will be the greatest catch in his hometown’s history. Awash with Biblical imagery, Santiago wrestles three days and nights with the unseen fish buried beneath him. The old man has no sleep in those three days and his hands, arms, and back sear with pain. When he finally draws the mighty fish alongside his dory, he realizes his self-consumed, simpleminded neighbors are not worthy to consume such a noble creature. And they
won’t, for the sharks strip the Marlin to the bone before Santiago arrives back in port. Yet even the bony carcass tells the story of the greatest catch in the aquatic mythology of the town. Santiago, once ashore, can only struggle to his shack and fall into his bed. The boy Manolin sees the skeleton of the great fish and goes directly to Santiago. His master, however, is asleep, adrift in his recurrent dream of great lions sunning on a distant African shore. When the new day dawns the two will speak of the “great DiMaggio,” who was still in the midst of his unequaled fifty-six game hitting streak.
Santiago’s mighty lions and Habakkuk’s leaping deer draw the reader into the bedrock silence of honest prayer, where words are not necessary to lead us to the One who is faithful and draw us into the promise of a new day and the possibility of a yet another miracle.
CEC Music Ministry by Josh Benninger
Did you complain today? I know I
did. Without giving it much thought I’m confident, at a minimum, I complained about something or someone within the last 24 hours. I bet I sprinkled on some selfpity too––just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Prior to this summer, I’ve been seeking to enter into a deeper relationship with God––one that is less focused on complaint. So, I found it providential when Patrick invited me to help teach a class on prayer using the book Teach Us to Pray, by Gordon T. Smith. This book came at the right time. For, when I read
through chapter 2, I noticed a series of repeated words and phrases that shared a common bond. Here they are listed in order of appearance: Constantly complaining; Wringing their hands in despair; Christian values are no longer affirmed; Constantly judging; Complaint; Judgmental spirit; Distracted; Shortcomings of others; Overcome; Weakness; Fragmented world; Complaint; Wrong and lacking; Judgmentalism; Spiritual pride; Overwhelmed
Did you notice the common theme of complaint? I did. These words are a reflection of my daily routine. But, Smith points out that, “Truth can be found in them; we are living in and seeking to pray in a society that is increasing secular––we live in a time where the Christian voice is no longer privileged––religious identity and values are consistently discounted.” I agree with Smith. However, how much does it help to continue complaining? When I rant to my wife, her sarcastic response is, “Well, what are you going to do about it?” Smith saves the day by offering an alternative. He writes, “Rather than constantly complaining about what we think the church has lost, we should be cont’d on page 8
Give Thanks – cont’d alert to the diverse and perhaps subtle it––instead it is learned. We are tempted ways in which God is very much active.” to look at the shortcomings of others. We And here’s my favorite part, “Perhaps we wallow in the troubles of this world with should let it go.” Smith declares we should a sense of helplessness. But, if we allow direct our it, the Spirit will efforts humble us. We ... we should be asking God for what away from start to pray in the fighting this Spirit by slowing opportunities are available for us in change. down and quieting this secular driven world. In short, give Instead, we our minds. In 1 thanks for what God is doing in our lives. Kings 19, “Elijah should be asking God learned that the for what Lord was not in the opportunities are available for us in this earthquake, the wind, or the fire, but in secular driven world. In short, give thanks the sound of still silence.” We must silence for what God is doing in our lives. ourselves to hear the prompting of the Spirit. Listen more, speak less. Sounds great! But, how do we do it? How do we learn to pray in such a way Smith provides a helpful prayer that I now that avoids a judgmental spirit? We often use: are tempted to say we can do this on our own, but deep down we know we I choose to turn from complaint, from can’t. Why? Because we get derailed so seeing all that is wrong and lacking, and to easily––distracted by everything wrong acknowledge––even more, oh Spirit of God, to in the world. Smith says, “We become celebrate how you are at work in our work, in overwhelmed by all that needs to be done our church, in our lives. to make things right, according to us.” Thankfully, there is hope. Smith points out the good news in Paul’s letter to the Romans:
This is not natural; we are not born with 8
All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord; and all your faithful shall bless you. 11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom, and tell of your power, 12 to make known to all people your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. 13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. 10
Through the Psalms we understand the kingdom matters more than anything else. The Psalms provide the structure needed for humble prayers filled with thanksgiving and praise. Smith says, “They are not merely personal prayers; they are prayers of the church. When we pray them, we pray not just for ourselves but for the entire church.” We avoid drowning in a solitary faith––a faith that does not produce fruit for the kingdom. By spending time with each other–– going to church and joining with others at the Lord’s Table, the Spirit draws us together for worship. Smith says, “We are not in fellowship with the Spirit, in our prayers or in any respect, if we are not in fellowship with the church.”
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27) Prayer is something we do in the Spirit. As Smith puts it, “We must lean into the Spirit––ask for the prompting and guidance of the Spirit in our prayers.” Ephesians 6:18 instructs us to “pray in the Spirit at all times.” He continues, “Prayer is not so much asking things of God as responding to the ways that the Spirit is inviting and leading us to pray ‘thy kingdom come.’” And, in Paul’s words, “to live by the Spirit is to be always praying in the Spirit.”
The Psalms. He says, “We learn to pray by praying the Psalms.” Praying the Psalms = aligning ourselves with Christ. For example, here is an excerpt from Psalm 145:
King David, Luttrell Psalter, 1325-40, British Library, Add. MS 42130
How do we start? Smith believes our prayers need to be grounded in the prayer book of the Bible:
By praying in the Spirit, we learn to be humble. We begin to see all things and our lives through a new reality––the reign of Christ. We are (I am) not the center of the universe. Praying in the Spirit means having the freedom to, as Smith puts it, “let God be God: to find deep joy in not presuming or desiring to be God.” Or as Patrick often reminds us, “We didn’t get that job. It’s already taken.”
Faith Lived Out
CEC Youth Ministry by Amy Case
This fall in the Carriage House we will
be studying the book of James. The idea came from one of our own youth, Cooper Lindstrom, who is starting her senior year at TMI. Cooper and a few other Christ Church youth studied James as volunteers at Laity Lodge Youth Camp over the summer. Cooper was very encouraged by the scripture, wanted to share the lessons she learned with the rest of our youth group, and also felt like our senior high youth could serve as teachers and mentors during Sunday Christian Formation in the Carriage House! This love and leadership demonstrated by Cooper is truly the Gospel message lived out!
Christ Church Vacation Bible School in June. Teens have many options for summer activities these days, not the least of which is to just sleep in each morning, but these kids from our church and others chose to wake up early and serve children ages 4 years – 5th grade at our VBS. They played games, sang, taught Bible stories, worked on craft projects and spent loving, quality time with our youngest members. They served as role models and friends and the children were overjoyed with their enthusiastic presence. Trials – James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
The themes of James are applicable to all stages and seasons of life and were certainly on display by our youth this summer! Doers of the Word – James 1:22-25 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it— they will be blessed in what they do.
This summer over 20 of our junior and senior high youth served as leaders at our
For the 19 youth and adults who attended our Port Aransas mission trip in July, this scripture will ring true. The project given to our youth by the City of Port Aransas was to clean up a resident’s yard which had remained untouched since Hurricane Harvey two years ago. The resident of the home was under-insured and had yet to re-occupy the home. Our group soon realized a lawn mower would be totally inadequate, so after some brainstorming, weed eaters, loppers, rakes, shovels and a lot of bug spray was secured to get the job done. The heat was stifling and the work was incredibly difficult, but everyone was determined to leave the home in a condition which would make the home owner proud. Perseverance prevailed and our youth felt great joy in what they accomplished.
Faith in Action – James 2:22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. This summer our youth group had an opportunity to spend an afternoon with the teens who live at the St. Jude’s Ranch for Children. St. Jude’s serves as a temporary home for children and families who have been affected by trauma, abuse and neglect. The teens from Christ Church and St. Jude’s immediately hit it off and enjoyed a tennis lesson led by the excellent tennis professionals at San Antonio Country Club. Everyone learned, laughed, and helped each other. There were some excellent players among both groups, and those who lacked skill certainly made up for it in effort and enthusiasm. Afterward, the group ate lunch together and agreed, this was one of their favorite activities of the summer. The lessons of James encourage us to live out our faith and share it with others. Join us in the Carriage House this fall as we dig deeper into the scripture, share in each other’s joys and struggles, serve others, and enjoy laughter and fellowship – living out our faith together.
“I Felt Like my Happening Self!” Halleta’s great-niece and her friend at Happening
CEC Family Ministry by Halleta Heinrich
Several years ago, my grown daughter
was telling me about an event that occurred in which she stated, “I felt like my ‘Happening’ self.” She knew I knew what that meant. She felt loved and accepted for who she really is. She had happened during her sophomore year of high school at a time in which she had been broken hearted and in a pressure cooker of competition with her peers. We moved heaven and earth to get her into a “Happening” which had been maxed out with girls but needed adult and guy Happeners. She could “happen” only if her big brother and I came along, and we did. My daughter’s Happening experience was life-changing for her. She realized for the first time on her own who she was and who’s she was – God’s precious child. She shared her witness of faith at the closing 10
with all the other Happeners. Her brother and I were amazed. Even though she had attended Sunday School and Children’s Chapel faithfully, and had been brought up by parents whose lifeline was their faith and hope in Christ, she had to come to this knowledge herself. Happening was the catalyst for this most important revelation. Through my own experience, I must insist that all of our kids at Christ Church Happen as soon as they can, which is their sophomore year of high school. The sooner they happen, the more they can be involved in the leadership of these phenomenal youth led retreats. Forget about starring in the school play, quarterbacking for the football team, leading the cheering squad, or studying for the SAT. What they gain at Happening is much more vital. Make it work! I was reminded of the true value of Happening last week when I attended the closing of the Happening #143 which was held here at Christ Church. What joy! I knew it would be that kind of experience. That’s why I came. I needed that
reminder, and I participated in that joy. Now, I am Director of Children’s Ministry at Christ Church, so what does Happening have to do with the ministry to younger children? I want every Sunday with our children to be a Happening – a time where each child knows they are loved unconditionally by God, their peers, and teachers. I want Christ Church to be a place where we can be who we are and accepted as who and where we are, a place where we are not competing, and a place to escape from the pressure cooker life can be. What a gift that would be in the lives of our children, and youth, and adults, too. It would be a respite from the world and a hint of Heaven. That’s Happening! I pray that we could all feel like our Happening selves all the time! Let’s make it happen, Christ Church! Jesus said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is in the midst of you.” (Luke 17:21) Let’s live into it! Love in Christ, Halleta
G E N E R AT I O N T H E O R Y C H A R T GENERATION
YEARS AGES 1901-1924 95+ 1925-1942 77-94
GenZ Digital Natives
NICKNAME CYCLE DESCRIPTION
WORSHIP MUSIC PREACHING
Greatest Civic Heroes
Deferred Pleasure Teamwork Patriotism
Maintain Traditional Propositional
Traditional Adaptive Artists
Group Orientation Overprotected Dedicated Hard Working
Modernize Variety in Hymns Relational
Me Idealist Prophets
Instant Gratification Young Crusaders Idealistic with no Action Prosperity
Differences Personal Growth
Revolutionize Contemporary and Instrumental Experiential
Self-Reliant Reactive Nomads
Individualism Unprotected Spiritual Balance
Sacred Systems Diversity
Rooted/Sacred/Ancient Instrumental but use Hymns and current Entertaining/Informative/Practical
Peer-Oriented Civic New Heroes
Relational Transparent Outreach Confidence
Real Connection Civic Duty Value
Deeply Spiritual/Liturgical Authentic to Community Connect to Reality
Tech-Oriented Adaptive Artists
Highly Connected Extremely Diverse Media Technology
Connection Communication Pluralistic
To Be Determined
Generational Difference and Ministry by Justin Lindstrom
Adapted from writings by Strauss and Howe: Generations, 13th Generation, and The 4th Turning
People are living longer, healthier lives,
for the most part, and there are more people living on the face of the earth now than at any other time in history. The world is changing rapidly, information floods the airwaves, and we are adapting, or trying to. There are more generations living now than at any other time. What does this mean? In church, for instance, on a Sunday morning there could be six or more generations worshipping at the same time, all with different notions of who God is, how to worship God, what worship should be, and what is desired in a sermon. Twenty years ago, there would have only been five. Forty years ago, four. It was easier to serve people when there were fewer generations, yet while the diversity of today’s parishes makes ministry a challenge, it can also engender fruitfulness. I am sure you have heard that churches are shrinking, denominations are losing members, and that the younger generations are spiritual but not religious, or what is called the “nones.” This cultural change is happening not because of the people in the generations but, I believe, because the church still ministers to a set group of generations and has not expanded and broadened its depth of understanding, ministry, and creativity. We basically have church structures and
ministry of the 1950’s and 1960’s, with language of the 1980’s and 1990’s… and we wonder why church attendance is diminishing, and why younger people are not connected to churches at the same volume as previous generations. We are not speaking their language and doing what matters to them.
all generational lines and boundaries, we would discover unity rather than discord, peace rather than unrest, love rather than fear. Ministry would have many things we love and cherished over the years, but church would look different than what we currently see today, or have come to expect from yesterday and before.
The generational chart above can give you some insight into what the generation age groups are, what they are interested in, and what their desires are when it comes to life and ministry, worship, and faith. These are generalizations and stereotypes adapted from writings by William Strauss and Neil Howe, the foremost experts on generations. Not everyone will fit exactly into these ideas, but the characteristics can help us understand where each generation is coming from, their way of understanding life, and why they do what they do. It can also help us try to relate to others and see things from their perspective.
The exciting thing, from my perspective, is that Christ Church is doing much of what is needed to speak across the generations. There will always be work to do, and conversations to be had, prayers to be said, and creativity ministry to be tried. Each and every step we take though, we can look at how we think the ministry meets the desires and needs of the generation we are trying to serve.
Humans tend to try to force others to see things their way. In scripture, we are called to love our neighbor. I believe this love means that we are to listen more often than speak, seek understanding more often than share our way, and walk in others’ shoes more than expecting others to fit into ours. If this was to happen across
Finally, the importance of The Well (our Young Adult group), College Ministry, Youth Ministry and Children’s Ministry can be seen when we start to dive into generational theory. We can also see the need for all of us to come together in multi-generational and inter-generational moments too. We must be all in…loving and serving one another in ways that help us understand God and one another. Keep it up Christ Church, and let’s dream some more about what could be, and where God is calling us. 11
Preparing for a Good Death... Great Commission Society by Ferne Burney
Most plan for good lives and expect to
die good deaths. One man had followed the rules for maintaining good health, diet and exercise, and took care with most of his financial planning. But, when at age 79, he came up from the basement study to make his morning tea, he suffered a devastating stroke. In the ensuing years, he descended into dementia, near-blindness, and misery. The doctor thoughtlessly inserted a pacemaker two years after his stroke, and his worst years on Earth were prolonged. I can now say with certainty that I have survived the 60s twice. I swim several times a week and maintain a healthy diet, but somewhere beyond the horizon, my death has saddled his horse and is heading my way. I want a better death than many of those Iâ€™ve recently seen. According to a 2017 Kaiser Foundation study, 7 in 10 Americans hope to die at 12
home. At a lecture on death held at the University of Texas Health Science Center several years ago, not one of the health care providers in attendance would opt to die in the hospital. But half of us will die in nursing homes and hospitals, and more than a tenth are shuttled from one to the other in their final days. What can be done? You must have a vision. Decide how you want it to be, write it down, and appoint someone to speak for you when you no longer can. You can be that patient who was transported to the forest for one last look at the trees, or you can allow yourself those afternoons with a glass of wine with your friends when no hope for you remains. Stay in charge. Rather than extensive treatments, prolonging life in a drawn-out process, the patient can opt for a Niagara Falls trajectory. Some choosing this option have found that the life they want allows them to live longer anyway. Length of life may not be your only metric. Know the trajectory of your illness. Frank discussions with your doctors are imperative. Calling on hospice sooner rather than later is a good idea. It wonâ€™t
make you die sooner, but you are more likely to die well, with your family supported and your pain under control. Take command of the space. Surround yourself with meaningful things and people who matter to you. Perhaps turning off the telemetry and televisions will be more soothing. Clean house. Hospice nurses often list five emotional tasks for the end of life: thank you, I love you, please forgive me, I forgive you, and goodbye. You can clear up a lifetime of misunderstanding and create peace. Create a certainty amid uncertainty. We influence our lives, but we donâ€™t control them, and the same goes for how they end. But you do not have to be the passive victim. You can keep shaping your life all the way to its end---as long as you seize the power to imagine, to arrange support, and to plan. And central to that planning is to put all your documents in order and in a place where your heirs will find them.
PAGE TURNERS – From the Rector’s Book Stack On the first page
of The Storm On Our Shores, by Mark Obmascik, an unknown elderly man knocks on Laura Davis’s door, greets her, carries on about cultivating orchids, and then as the mysterious septuagenarian was turning to leave, he declares, “By the way, I’m the one who killed your father.” So begins the raw, chilling chronicle of two men caught up in the worst of WW II. Paul Nabuo Tatsuguchi, an evangelical Christian physician, trained in California, will be conscripted into the Emperor’s Imperial Japanese military. Dick Laird, an Appalachian coal miner from Ohio, who is scarcely educated at all, will enlist in the U.S. Army to merely survive. These two will meet on Attu, an American island 1,000 miles off the coast of Alaska, a terrible, yet largely forgotten, battle of the war. In a last-ditch suicide mission on that frozen rock, Dr. Tatsuguchi will lose his life at the hands of Dick Laird, but Laird will recover the doctor’s carefully scripted diary. The diary would change hands repeatedly over the next decades, often being copied and sometimes inaccurately edited. My friend, Jack Walters, loaned me this book. A page-turner and a gut-wrencher, Paul Tatsuguchi’s diary exposes the piercing pathos of the WW II soldier sent away from those he loves, regardless of the side on which he fought. The Japanese doctor’s ardent Christian faith blurs the line between enemy and brother. Laird, for his part, fights in the gory, bloodstained campaigns for Attu, Kwajalein, Leyete, and Okinawa. In all, he makes five combat beach landings before he is sent home to his wife and children. Laird was awarded the Silver Star, Four Bronze Stars, Philippine Liberation Medal with Two Bronze Stars, and the Presidential Unit Citation Medal. Notwithstanding, debilitating nightmares will attend Dick’s nighttime hours for most of his life, which mainly proceeded from his killing of Paul
Tatsuguchi, Laura Davis’s father, whom she never met. For her part, Laura began to research the Battle for Attu and her father’s place in it. She found, much to her surprise, that an imminent professor of literature at Emory University in Atlanta, GA, Floyd Watkins, had been researching her father and the elusive diary he had penned. Dr. Watkins remarked to her, “Since the time of the American Civil War probably no lover of America has been assigned to such burdensome military service (as your father). He was loyal to two peoples, two cultures, who were warring against one another.” Laura was so moved by Watkin’s words that she sought out Dick Laird – now thirteen years after he had enigmatically appeared on her doorstep. Sitting across from Laura at a restaurant table, the old man confessed, “When I read the diary, I felt like I’d killed a husband, a father, and a Japanese man that had no business where he was at.” Laura forgave him, and for the first night since May 30, 1943, Dick Laird slept through the night. He died at peace in 2005. A few months ago, I read a review in The Economist about a new novel entitled The Wall, by John Lanchester, and I ordered it on the spot. That is not my usual “MO.” As a rule, I add the book to my Amazon Wish List, where it sits with a horde of others ad infinitum. I received Lanchester’s book just as Kay and I were boarding the aircraft to Maine. The book was absorbing. I finished it in about four sittings. The book imagines a dystopian British future, and clearly the title is a nod to “The Wall” we have half-erected in our own Texas backyard. Seas are rising, so that beaches all over the world have disappeared. To protect its neighborhoods
from flooding and to protect the citizens from the “waves” of migrants besieging Britain’s island home, a giant wall now encircles the entire coastline. To repel the onslaught of migrants, known as the “Others,” every young person must spend two years of government service guarding significant sections of The Wall and are designated during that time as “Defenders.” The reader meets Kavanaugh on his first day of this bleak, benumbing service. The monotony is endless until one night Kavanaugh’s section is breached. The unilateral, unappealable sentence for allowing such a breach is that the Defender is stripped of his citizenship, put out to sea, and reclassified as an Other. What kept me engrossed in Lanchester’s novel was not its political implications, but rather the romantic, psychological, theological ones. Questions that gradually rise up in the work include, “What is the content of the good life?” “What does a human being really need above all else?” “How have we truncated interpersonal relationships in our era, and how do we recover what we once had?” “Who becomes the Other for us?” “Will we allow fear to deform us?” In the end, the book became a parable for me. After all, Jesus himself walks out upon the untamed sea and declares, “Do not fear. It is I” (Matthew 14:27 & John 6:20). After complaining that the novel I was two chapters into read like a Hallmark movie screenplay, Kay busied herself amongst the books in the St. Peter’s Rectory bookshelf. In a dark, creased cover, she found this book by an author I did not know. From the first page, I knew that a masterpiece had been shared with me. In 1982, when the book was released, John cont’d on page 14
Book Stack Cont’d.... Updike compared the author, Bruce Chatwin, to Hemingway. This novel, On the Black Hill, reads as lyrically as Papa Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea and A Farewell to Arms. The book follows the life of twin bachelors Lewis and Benjamin Jones, who are mystically attached to one another, such that one can feel the pain of the other. Born at the turn of the 20th century, the twins’ lives intersect the world’s major events of their eighty years, while remaining removed from them on their remote Welsh farm known as “The Vision.” Almost destroyed by the local recriminations incited by World War I, the twins fill their days working the fields and tending their animals in a hardscrabble manner. They only concede to purchasing a tractor after the two are deep into their sixth decade. What is most enchanting about the novel is the parade of peculiar friends who circle around Lewis and Benjamin. While some take advantage of the naïve and good-natured men, most encircle their solitary lives in a dance of love. In the end, the reader discovers that we are all odd fellows, who need one another on our life’s sojourn. I suspect that is what Chatwin was aiming to tell us, for he is best known for his travelogues amongst nomadic people. Not surprisingly, it was Chatwin who popularized the use of Moleskin notebooks, for the one who is determined to squeeze every ounce of the days we are given and take careful notes along the way. Summer has surely arrived, for I am reviewing my third novel in a row, and I am a hundred pages into the next one. With The Ruin, by Dervla McTiernan, I was attempting to get back to my Irish roots and enjoy a rollicking good detective story 14
at the same time. The young novelist does not disappoint the reader with her well-researched understanding of the Irish Gardai (the police force in the Republic of Ireland), and her considerable understanding of human pathologies. Hence, the novel opens with a rookie Gard officer, Cormac Reilly, arriving at a tumbled down house at the outskirts of Galway on a particularly gray Irish afternoon. In the dark home, he finds two abandoned, badly bruised children shivering from cold and their spectral mother in a bed upstairs dead from a heroin overdose. Twenty years later, Reilly will encounter the family again through yet another ghastly death. The purveyors of both crimes hide behind two of the most venerable institutions of Irish society: The Church and the state. Reilly, who begins to discern this unacceptable truth, pursues his leads, while he is hounded as a villain himself. This novel “had me at hello!” On the cover of News of the World, by Paulette Jiles, National Book Award winner Charles Frazier states, “Captain Kidd belongs in the pantheon of great Western characters along with Rooster Cogburn and Lonesome Dove’s Gus and Call. Move this book to the top of your late summer reading stack. The plot centers on Captain Jefferson Kidd, a 71-year-old former soldier and now a widower, who has endured three wars, yet now confronts his greatest challenge in the dark, confusing climate of Reconstruction Texas. Losing his San Antonio printing business after the Civil War, he is forced to support himself by roving from one Texas town after another, reading newspaper accounts from around the world – hence the title. Kidd enthralls
his audiences from Wichita Falls to Nacogdoches to Dallas to Fredericksburg to Bandera and points in-between with news of Britain’s fraying relationship with India, America’s transnational railroad, Chicago’s mechanized slaughter houses, and terrifying, failed expeditions to the North Pole. Along the way, Kidd is given the opportunity to return Johanna Leonberger, a ten-year-old, blond haired girl, to her aunt and uncle in Castroville. Captured four years before by the Kiowas, Johanna has forgotten the entirety of her childhood, with the exception of two or three German words. Johanna wants only to return to the rambling, precarious life of her tribe. Along the meandering road from far north Texas to San Antonio, the two lonely souls develop a deep relationship of understanding, trust, with occasions of hilarity and joy. Even Johanna’s and Kidd’s relationship with their two horses is awash with emotion. If a reader can approach the town limits of Castroville with dry eyes, that person is a stoic of epic proportions! Paulette Giles, the author, lives on a ranch in Utopia, Texas, although she lived in San Antonio with her husband in the years before he died. Her prose depicts the landscapes of a state accurately and beautifully. She will make you love home. What’s most admirable, however, is her ability to inhabit Captain Kidd. Much like Larry McMurtry’s uncanny ease in depicting female characters, Giles actually becomes Kidd. At one point, as Kidd is realizing his own mortality, he silently muses: ‘Maybe life is just carrying the news. Surviving to carry the news. Maybe we just have one message, and it is delivered to us when we are born and we are never sure what it says; it may have nothing to do with us personally but it must be carried by hand through life, all the way, and at the end handed over, sealed.’
Christ Episcopal Church 510 Belknap Place San Antonio, TX 78212 www.cecsa.org
The Message (USPS 471-710) is published bi-monthly by Christ Episcopal Church, 510 Belknap Place, San Antonio, TX 78212. Periodical postage paid in San Antonio, TX. Postmaster: Please send address changes to Christ Episcopal Church, 510 Belknap Place, San Antonio, TX 78212. Volume 21, Number 5.
Children â€œmarching in the light of Godâ€? on Rally Day
Check out our fall edition of The Message.