Tuesday, October 20 2020
Not long ago I lit a candle for Ben Louden in the rear of the sanctuary, a small act of ritual observance, but enough to help focus my thoughts and evoke lots of memories. I'd met Ben some thirty years ago, and though I hadn't seen him for a while I knew this last year had been challenging. Even though his passing was expected the news came as a jolt.
It's that old impermanence, slapping me upside the head again. I want to believe that things will stay as they are, that everything will be okay, but things don't necessarily stay the same and sometimes curve balls come our way. Either we accept the realities of life and death or live in denial--except that denial doesn't work very well. One way or another grief is inevitable, descending upon us like heavy weather; though the intensity of our sadness diminishes over time, it returns with anniversaries and birthdays and other sentimental seasons.
His passing brings to mind the help he gave to others, his love of reading, the wonderful cookies he baked, and the stories he told--particularly one about a boyhood misadventure back in his native Ohio. Though it was hilarious in the telling, I'm sure it couldn't have been very funny when it happened.
He and his brother had acquired an old wreck of a car and were thoroughly pleased with their good fortune--that is, until they began to tow it home and discovered it was full of bees who didn't care for travel--you can imagine the complications. I can picture him telling the story, so tickled he kept interrupting himself with laughter.
Lighting the candle brought so much to mind--memories of him saying and doing things "for the right reasons," organizing meetings, mentoring other men, and more. There was a constancy to Ben that marked him as a man worth knowing, and I am truly blessed to have known him.
Tuesday, October 20 2020
With the coming of autumn, elements of the Part I renovation project are falling into place. (We could all use a bad pun about now, right?) With God’s help, we continue to move steadily through this long, slow process, despite the pandemic, economic downturn, and much uncertainty. Here’s the latest:
We have our building permit! It expires March 31, 2021, so by not later than mid-March we will write a letter to the city’s Planning Department to request a one-time extension, as previously planned, to carry us into the warm weather construction season.
Asbestos-Containing Materials (ACM) Abatement
You’ll recall from previous reports that we found a considerable amount of ACM in the Sanctuary’s interior wall texture, as well as in the roof tar seams (but not the roof shingles). The ACM must be removed before Part I re-roofing and seismic upgrades can begin. Contracting for ACM abatement directly, rather than as part of the larger Part I construction contract, will save us money.
We have invited three asbestos contractors – Rhine Demolition and Dickson Company of Tacoma, and Advance Environmental of Olympia – to bid on removal of ACM from the roof tar and interior walls. We will ask them for three price quotes:
Our plan is to conduct a site walk-through for the interested contractors this week or next, with a firm due date for bids in early November. After evaluating the bids, the Renovation Committee will forward them with an award recommendation to the Vestry as early as its November meeting for consideration. Of course, the decision to contractually commit to this work will depend on funding and require Vestry approval. The actual work can be completed in about one-two weeks’ time.
Contract for Pre-Construction Services
We have begun talks with FORMA Construction about engaging them contractually as our general contractor for Part I construction. Initially, we can contract only for pre-construction services – preparatory things, like more accurate pricing based on approved permit plans, current economic conditions, and most efficient means and methods of construction – for a fixed price. Then, if the capital campaign raises the necessary funds and the Vestry approves, we can add the Part I scope of work and its dollar cost to the same contract. FORMA often structures contracts this way to reduce the risk exposure for both contracting parties. It’s a prudent way to best position ourselves for a successful construction project.
Please let me know if you have any questions on these topics, or other questions related to the renovation.
Chair, Renovation Committee
Tuesday, October 20 2020
St. John’s Episcopal Church
Treasurer’s Report for The Chronicle
October 19, 2020
The regular monthly meeting of the Finance Committee was held on October 15. Joining me were members R.C. Laird, Gerry Apple, Christian MacMillan, and Ric Weatherman. We reviewed our current financial condition and progress on the upcoming annual campaign.
Our Current Financial Condition
Our Budget Report for September 2020 has been posted to the Vestry's page on our parish website. Or, click here to read the report. As of September 30, 2020, our year-to-date operating deficit was -$62,638.30.
At current levels of giving and personnel costs, we are barely generating sufficient revenue to meet payroll and have little left to apply to other expenses. We have two additional sources of funds: the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) we received in July and our endowment account at with the Diocese of Olympia Master Trust.
One of the conditions for Diocesan approval of our acceptance of the EIDL loan is we would not spend any of the proceeds until completion of an independent audit, currently planned for some time in January 2021. The EIDL money is currently being held in a segregated account at Commencement Bank pending our investment of some or all the funds in an Investment Advisory Account with Edward Jones until such time as they may be needed to apply to certain operating expenses.
As of September 30, 2020, the balance in our General (Unrestricted) Account with the Diocese of Olympia Master Trust was $208,299.14. The Vestry approved the withdrawal of $60,000.00 from this account to apply to anticipated expenses in excess of projected revenue for the remainder of the calendar year and beyond.
…Bob Le Roy, Treasurer
Tuesday, October 20 2020
Fall is probably the season I like most. That crisp feeling in the air you notice when you take a walk, the way the sunlight seems to make everything glow, the smell of Lin making apple cider doughnuts or enjoying a cup of the hot cider itself. All these mark the season to me. We know a change is in the air, we can literally feel it. It's time to transition from summer to winter. That's fall. Let's enjoy the beauty of this blessing, especially during this time.
Your Vestry met last night to continue the work we have been called to do. I'd like to share some key points from last night's meeting with you.
We welcomed Fr. R.C. back from his Vacation/Sabbatical. Fr. again expressed his gratitude for being able to have some reenergizing time away from his duties at St. John's | San Juan. I know he found the time busy, yet rejuvenating and productive. Welcome Home, Fr.! It's nice to see you back!
As mentioned in his The Messenger notes for Sunday, October 18, Fr. R.C. commented on our desire to return to in-person worship. This was also a topic of discussion at last night's meeting. There are many things to consider before safely reopening, and I think Fr. did a wonderful job explaining all the things that have to be taken into consideration before we resume in-person services. Please CLICK HERE to read his The Messenger article, if you missed it.
The Olympia Community School has informed us they will be moving into a permanent facility at the end of the calendar year and will no longer need to rent space from us. While we are happy to see they have found the building that can better meet their needs, it does mean a loss of monthly income to us at a difficult time; however, it does mean we will not have to make a significant, financial investment in a sprinkler system that is required for schools. Jr. Warden Ric Weatherman has told us that system would cost somewhere in the $70,000 range, if my memory is correct.
Ric also let us know he is still working on getting bids to repair our crumbling sidewalks. The work will need to be done professionally to be in compliance with city ordinances.
Annual Pledge Campaign Chairperson Sarah Clifthorne provided an update on the progress of the campaign. The campaign will run for nine weeks with an end date of November 29, 2020. She reported pledges are beginning to be returned and expressed her "Thanks!" to those who have pledged their financial support of St. John's | San Juan.
I would also like to thank those folks and would encourage others to prayerfully consider supporting us financially. I understand this has been a difficult year for a variety of reasons, but would hope you can find it possible to maintain or increase your level of support and return your pledge as soon as possible. If you did not receive a pledge card, please contact the church office.
Our Renovation Committee Chairperson, Lou MacMillan, let us know we have a building permit ready to be picked up! Progress is being made on the project. I know you are as excited as I am to see work begin on the plan to replace the roof! Lou is also working on bids to address the mold abatement process needed to rectify that issue. To read Lou's complete report, please CLICK HERE.
Wearing two hats, Capital Campaign Chair and Tresaurer Bob LeRoy brought us news of where we were regarding both. The Capital Campaign will be officially launched in January. With the beginning of a new year, we trust we will begin a new chapter in the story of St. John's | San Juan with a successful and highly anticipated campaign!
As always, Bob keeps us apprised of how we are doing financially. He noted an increase in giving, which is typical for this time of year, and he is working on the budget for the coming year. We will be getting that information out to you as soon as possible. To get a better picture of our financial status, please CLICK HERE to access Bob's report.
We also learned Vestry member George Guthrie will be leaving us to move to Portland to reconnect with family and friends. Thanks, George, for your commitment and support of St. John's | San Juan! We wish you and Cathy well as you begin a new adventure, even though you'll be returning to a city with which you are familiar.
Our Communications Director, Evie Fagergren, will be leaving us as well. Evie has been with us for about two years. During her time with us, Evie has proven to be a much appreciated staff member. We will certainly miss her dedication and contributions as she pursues working with her family in the shellfish business. The best to you in all your future endeavors!
Talking about folks leaving is never a pleasant thing, but it does remind me of the need to offer a sincere "Thank You!" to all the people who have become so dear and important to us at St. John's | San Juan. Thanks to all the Staff, Vestry, various Chairpersons and their Committee members and all our church family for all you do!
Until next month, stay safe and well!
Wednesday, September 23 2020
For many of us it seems as if our lives have been turned upside down. Casual contact with people has become a thing of the past and a sense of loss pervades our lives as we do without many of the simple pleasures we once took for granted. Even the outdoors, the one safe place where we could socialize at a distance, was made impossible by the smoke for a time. To be pushed back indoors while the last bit of summer played out seemed a cruel a trick, but it's just more of life in all its inconvenient complexity.
Adapting hasn't been easy for most of us. I tend to rely on routines to propel me through the day, and while the upheavals of the spring and summer have forced changes to the routines I'd established, it helps me to remember that just a year ago I was learning the ropes at St. John's and everything was new to me. The current challenges may be different than what we've faced in the past, but for me the biggest one remains focusing on the here and now, the place where I can be useful.
These troubles will eventually pass, I trust, but in the meantime I want to live as fully as I can while taking care of myself and others around me. That means I'll soon be getting a flu shot and will continue practicing masking, handwashing, and social distancing, along with whatever else that will help. My goal is to do it as joyfully as I can, because getting all bent out of shape is no way to live.
Wednesday, September 23 2020
St. John’s Episcopal Church
Treasurer’s Report for The Chronicle
September 21, 2020
The regular monthly meeting of the Finance Committee was held on September 16. Joining me were members Gerry Apple, Christian MacMillan, and Ric Weatherman, along with Rev. Michael. We reviewed our current financial condition and progress on the upcoming annual campaign.
Our Current Financial Condition
Our bank balances at Commencement Bank as of this morning are:
◦ PPP Loan = $106.43
◦ Operations = $8,835.46
◦ Designated = $6,200.43
◦ Capital = $8,783.60
◦ Memorial = $7,718.92
◦ EIDL = $149,900.00
Our Budget Report for August 2020 is not yet complete. We will post it to our website as soon as it is available.
We have received the $70,000.00 withdrawal from our General (Unrestricted) Account with the Diocese of Olympia Master Trust. We have applied these funds to the following payables, totaling $61,418.05.
◦ Betschart Electric Co* = $1,667.07 (Electrical work on the second floor)
◦ Church Insurance Agency Group = $5,008.08 (Insurance for buildings and grounds)
◦ Church Pension Fund = $2,742.44 (Pensions for staff)
◦ Clint Pehrson* = $3,650.00 (Consultant’s fees for work with architects)
◦ Crystal Springs = $42.07
◦ Diocese of Olympia = $5,000.00 (Monthly Assessment)
◦ Episcopal Church Clergy Benefit = $6,739.00 (Health insurance for staff)
◦ FireTek Design & Installation* = $16,357.49 (Fire alarms on the second floor)
◦ Jerry Campbell* = $1,400.00 (Consultant’s fees for work on annual and capital campaigns)
◦ KMB Architects* = $18,411.40 (Architect’s fees for planning for roof replacement, structural and related repairs to the sanctuary)
We are completing the paperwork necessary to open our new Advisory Solutions Account with Edward Jones and should be able to fund it with the balance of our Commencement Bank EIDL Account next week.
…Bob Le Roy, Treasurer
Wednesday, September 23 2020
SERMON FOR SEPT 20, 2020
by The Rev. Terri Lolcama
Theme: My vocation as a deacon in this life is not about money; it is about God’s love and compassion extended to all people through me.
The last sentence of the parable of the Rich Man in Matthew Chap19:v30, reads, “Many who are first will be last; and many who are last will be first.” It is also the last sentence in today’s parable of the vineyard owner.
It must have been important. For Jesus would not have said it to his disciples and the early Christians at least these two times – perhaps even more times.
In Palestine, the market place was equivalent to the labor exchange – or unions as we call them today.
The parable shows that on any given day in the market-place of a Jewish village; there would be men looking for work as the rains would soon come and the crops would be ruined. Landowners would be hiring many workers at all times of the day – even at the last hour of the day. Landowners had the right to hire anyone they wanted.
The first men hired that day agreed upon their pay of a denarius. This was a very small amount because it would barely support a family for one day.
Throughout the day, even up to the last hour, the owner hired men who were standing idle; just waiting to be asked.
As the day went on the idle workers became desperate for fear they would not be hired. This would be a disaster for them as going even one day without pay would mean their family would go without food. The last men hired were simply sent out to work – nothing more. There was no agreed upon amount for their work. The parable goes on to say; all workers received the same pay no matter if they were hired early or late in the day.
The first hired workers were very unhappy and angry; and they let the owner know it! They wanted to know if he considered them as equals. The owner indicated it had nothing to do with being equal. He said, “You got paid the wages we agreed upon.” The last hired men received what the owner determined to be a fair wage.
The vineyard owner was angry and said, “…Don’t I have the right to do what I want with what belongs to me?” It was not a matter of justice and equality of pay; it was a matter of generosity. The vineyard owner asked if they were unhappy because he was generous. Evidently they were.
In stooping for others we become great in God’s Kingdom. We wrongly assume the harder we work the greater the reward. It is our responsiveness to Christ’s words that counts. The reward given was based on the owner’s generosity, not by measuring how much each worker accomplished.
How we serve or work is not how much we do or God calls us to do, but on how faithfully we respond to His will. God’s reward is not based on how much we have done nor earned; but is a gift that demonstrates His generosity and His Grace. We owe God everything.
Those who waited all day were labeled as idle. They were idle waiting for work – they were not – lazy. They waited all day because they were desperate to make a living.
How does this translate in our world today? Do we have more workers than work? Perhaps Yes! Perhaps No!
I am of the opinion that almost all people are eager to work for a living. Begging and handouts can be demeaning to those receiving them. These are just a few of the questions concerning our cities and the nation at this time. We may not ever get a chance to talk with those on our streets. How they feel about their situation is unknown to us. Do we label them with our first reactions? What is their truth? What is our truth?
The question for me is, “if I were in their situation how would I define myself? How would I feel?
We might ask ourselves what side of this problem we sit. As Christians do we look with an “evil eye” at those with less than we have.
Do we stand idle in our churches; judging others. Or are we out there trying to solve the problems that exist in practically every city in our country.
At the time this parable was written; idle men were not connected to a group or family. Slaves and servants were connected to a family – day laborers were not. Being unemployed then and today is a disaster. Day laborers may be connected to a group called the homeless. Although not a desirable group, it is a group.
It must be a terrible feeling to have no one to reply on when times get tough from loss of a job or home. Who might you rely on in the event of a disaster?
COVID 19 and terrible natural disasters are happening right now. Thousands are being affected and some will be left with nothing. No home, car, furniture, no food -- perhaps no family.
My concern is that thousands of people every day have no one to help them. They may rely entirely on non-profits or government agencies. There just does not seem to be enough support – probably because there are so many in need.
We too may find ourselves left with nothing and may ultimately end up standing idle on the streets and doorways. Who needs the compassion then?
The landowner of the vineyard was well aware of the need and showed compassion for the workers. This was social justice at its best. The landowner chose to do the right thing at the right time. No judge, no jury.
It was the other workers who took exception to receiving the same pay as those who only worked a few hours. They became the judge and jury. Many stories Jesus told were a “first taste” of social justice and compassion shown to the people of that time.
In Jonah’s story today we learned that he confronted and condemned the social injustices that developed with prosperity. Jonah’s work for God was his work of loving & caring for people. God’s love was revealed to Jonah through the repentance of the sailors. God’s love for us will be revealed to each of us through our repentance and as we move closer and closer to loving and caring for the people. God’s divine compassion is to preserve all mankind. God takes no pleasure in bringing death to the evil.
Many in that era, especially the gentiles, were not treated with any respect. The Israelites believed the gentiles were not worthy because they did not follow the laws of the Jewish faith that had been taught and preached for centuries. They did not want them in the churches.
Theologians have studied this parable and their understanding has changed throughout the years. We are blessed to have those who offer us new and varied ways of thinking and interpreting what we read in the Bible.
CG Montefiore was the founder of Anglo-Liberal Judaism and a scholar of the Hebrew Bible and New Testament. He was of the belief this parable application is or was the heart of the Christian religion. He calls this parable “one of the greatest and most glorious of all.” Discussions have long occurred about the fact that earlier Christians were more precious and valuable to God. Some in the early churches were not as willing to encourage new members – with new ideas; a new generation of believers with new policies.
We must realize being a long time member does not mean a place of honor. It was a long held belief that the Jews were “the chosen.” They looked down on Gentiles being able to come into the church. In God’s world there is no such thing as a most favored nation. No master race! We are all considered equal in the eyes of God. All are welcome into the Kingdom of God no matter when they arrive.
My understanding is that our United States Constitution was written to follow this “equal for all” principle. And yet today– there are those in our country in very high places of leadership who definitely believe that all are NOT equal. Our country and our church have much to learn about equality. I truly believe all people are valuable and precious in the eyes of God. Let us make no mistake- this belief is not held by everyone.
I cannot write this sermon without taking a moment to honor the life of one of our finest Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She gained the respect of men and women for her work of equality for all.
As we read this parable many centuries later since its original writing; we read more into it. SURLEY, in it there is the comfort of God. Which means no matter when a person chooses to come into the Kingdom of God; no matter what race, color, ethnicity; early or late in life – it does not matter. Everyone is precious and loved by God. That may be our only comfort.
Compassion shows forth in the way the vineyard master paid his workers. There is an element of human kindness or tenderness in this parable. The infinite compassion of God is expressed so well.
When we make judgments and perceptions of others we really don’t know - “Perhaps we haven’t arrived yet.” There is no racism in God’s world and yet, each of us show a face of racism at times in our life –“Perhaps we haven’t arrived yet.” In our huddles of life and the church, we say we are accepting. “Perhaps we haven’t arrived yet.”
Accepting everyone into the life of the church is the goal. 1 - Perhaps we have arrived when we can do it without judgment. 2 - Perhaps we have arrived when we show God’s compassion to everyone. 3 - Perhaps we have arrived when we have figured out how to accept and care for those who enter our doors.
We must not let anyone stand idle at the door. The doors must be open for all to enter and have a home to practice their faith. The church is our home away from home. It may be the only “home” for some.
Two questions we might ask ourselves – HOW? And WHEN? How best can we get this done? Do we have a plan? What is our challenge and where do we begin? COVID 19, death of many black men and women, and all the horrible fires have had a lasting effect on us and how much we can accomplish. We find it more difficult to bring social justice into our community.
Currently our church doors have been closed, even to us. The sanctuary is empty except for a few service participants each Sunday. Many services are still recorded and many are streamed live. I pray this will be enough to sustain us. The Palestine men stood idle each day; waiting to work. We are waiting to serve and yet find ourselves standing idle. Sharing the Gospel with others is primarily done via online programs. Better that way than nothing at all. Moving forward can be a challenge.
The vineyard owner’s compassion led him to give the men work at the last hours of the day. His heart was touched by God; he felt compassion for those standing idle and he reached out to them; offering no reward. They were eager just to have the work. During this difficult time as we stand idle; what is our God asking of us?
Will we step forward with generosity to help those who have lost so much – possibly everything they ever owned? Consider where you might give some of your time, talent and treasure. How best can we be generous to those who have lost so much? The generosity of God is real in this parable.
God invites us into many opportunities of service; each ranks the same with God. Here are two lessons to think about:
#1 ---The first lesson is not the amount of work or service given. It is the love in which it is given that matters. If our service is all that we have to give, then it ranks the same with God.
#2 ---The second lesson is even greater---All that God gives is of grace. We cannot earn what God gives us.
In the parable, the master went beyond justice to give all that he had to give. His love radiated to the men who only worked a few hours yet received the same pay for their work.
There are two great truths:
The first is the character of a working man.
The second is the right of every man to have a living wage for his work.
The Kingdom of God extends to everyone by invitation; the opportunity to serve; whether we are equal and deserving or underserving. The reward for everyone is equal. In Matt 5:45 God “sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.”
The Supreme Lesson of this parable is: “…the whole point of work is the spirit in which it is given and the spirit in which it is done.” The last hired were willing to leave the reward to the master.
Compassion for others by a landowner or boss is essential. However, it may not exist in today’s world. As a Christian we work for God, for the joy of serving God. Our reward comes purely from God’s grace and our place in the Kingdom of God does not matter. It is God’s gift to us. The Good News in this passage is that God’s compassion and love are always faithful. It is the paradox of the Christian life that, those who aim at reward lose reward, and those who forget reward find reward.
God promises and delivers but one reward for all---represented by a single denarius (basically enough for one’s “daily bread,” Matt 6:11. In the Lord’s Prayer we say, “…give US our daily bread…” God’s compassion provides equally for all of us! Reminding us, “The first will be last and the last will be first.”
Wednesday, September 23 2020
The Gospel of Luke has been known in Latin American Theology as the gospel showing the Tenderness of God.
Today Luke instructs us, in one of those extraordinary moments when Jesus references the Old Testament, considered by the Jews to be the absolute Law and the only authority for religious life, in answers to concerns about eternal life.
Jesus establishes a fraternal dialogue with a Jewish teacher of law who tries to prove Jesus' knowledge of Israel's tradition and religion.
What must I do to inherit eternal life? or Who is my neighbor? these are questions that we have asked ourselves many times in the past and also in this day.
But Jesus in today's parable gives a master class to the teacher of law. Focusing his response on the well-known and venerated text of the Shema: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself. "
This means that the love of God and love of our neighbor have an inseparable relationship at the moment of understanding our mission as Christians. That is why Jesus' dialogue continues with the teacher of law, because he still did not understand what to do to inherit eternal life.
Who should we love? this is the key question of today's gospel.
Jesus tells us a biblical story, with instruction to love our neighbor. The teacher of the law then asks him: «And who is my neighbor? ». This is the question of one who only cares about fulfilling the religious law of Israel. That is why he is interested in knowing who he should love and whom he can exclude from his love. The teacher of law does not think about the sufferings of others.
On the other hand Jesus, who lives alleviating the suffering of those he meets on his way, breaking the law of the Sabbath or the rules of purity, responds with a story that denounces provocatively all religious legalism that ignores the love of those in need.
The story goes: On the road down from Jerusalem to Jericho, a man has been assaulted by bandits. Assaulted and stripped of everything, he remained on the road half-dead, abandoned to his fate. We do not know who he is. Only that he is a "man." It could be any of us, any human being who suffers from violence, illness, discrimination, misfortune or despair.
"By chance", continues our story, a priest appears on his way. The text indicates that it is by chance, as if the priest had nothing to do with a human being in need there. Rather, that priest must devote himself to worship and prayers, placing his identity in a religious life that he cannot see beyond the walls of the Temple or the Church. And that, as a result of this, their interpretation of life and society where they live can be really poor when it comes to understanding the relationship between faith, religious life in the temple or the Church and the needs of others. That is why the priest goes along without stopping, because his compassion cannot go beyond the words and the empty prayers recited during the worship in the temple.
But the Levite also come along; just as the priest he also feels identifies only with the needs of the Temple and his inner world. Forgetting that: “Faith is concrete action of what we say”. That is why the Apostle James reminds us in his letter "Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works".
That is why when religion is not centered on God the friend in our life or God the father of those who suffer, we can run the risk of becoming religious without a heart.
Finally, a good Samaritan appears in our story, a foreigner excluded because of his racial identity. And all of us who have carefully read the Bible know that there was intense racial hostility between Jews and Samaritans. The Jews were forbidden to say (Amen) at the end of any prayer presented by a Samaritan. The Samaritans were considered strangers.
But the good Samaritan instructs us in an important lesson for life. It does not matter where we are from or what our nationality or our religious identity is. The most important thing is to be a loving/ caring neighbor for others.
"Neighbor", in the Old Testament, is equivalent to "brother", that is, to any member of God's people, of the same covenant. To be a neighbor of someone is to enter into a friendly or loving companionship with him or her. From a prophetic perspective, "neighbor" means "the other", not just the "brother". That is why Luke does not enter into theoretical controversies; he is more concerned with making the saying: "do the same," and you will live. What matters is the rule of life, and not the dissertation. Hence the exemplary account of the behavior of the good Samaritan.
Jesus shows us that the neighbor is not simply the "next", nor only the brother of blood or of faith: he is also the needy, the helpless, whether patriotic or foreign, friend or enemy. The great commandment of love for God is united in Scripture to the commandment of love of neighbor. This second commandment is a sign and faithful reflection of the first. Neither the Jewish priest (concerned about the cult) nor the Levite (obsessed with the law) discover their neighbor. And they do not understand that what God wants is "acts of mercy."
Whoever fulfills the Christian law of loving his neighbor complies with the whole law, since this universal love is the culmination of Jesus' will and testament. And although in our society the confrontations and antagonisms abound over who is our neighbor today. The Gospel invites us to always prevail in acts of compassion and mercy.
When we practice in our personal lives: compassion, mercy, love, reconciliation and respect for one another we become as or like the good Samaritan.
We have seen for decades throughout the world, that hate produces more hatred, that racism produces more racism, that fanaticism produces more fanaticism. Recall the genocide in Rwanda that ended the lives of between 800,000 and more than one million people injured in 1994, in a racial war between clans. Before the genocide, Rwanda was considered one of the nations with the largest number of Christians in the central African continent. The Roman Catholic Bishop of Rwanda commented, in an interview, that during the genocide, Christian leaders of some denominations, who were in charge of preaching and praying for the churches and the country, were the first to take up arms in response to the violence. Although, it is fair to say that many other Christians lost their lives in a peaceful attempt to stop the violence. This is a sad story that reminds us, to act so that such hurt never again occur.
The Apostle St. John reminds us in his letter that no one can love God unless he loves his brother and his sister first. That is why today the Gospel invites us to a deep reflection, invites us to remember that: those who sow love will reap love. The gospel invites us to remember the words of the Apostle St. Paul when it states: do not be defeated by evil but overcome evil with good.
The invitation for today that we remember the International Day of Peace is to be a Samaritan to others. Be a Samaritan church for others. A church that heals the wounds of those who have been mistreated, a church that gives back hope to those who have lost hope, the church that shares hospitality with strangers and that denounces injustice anywhere in the world.
Finally, I would have liked if St. Luke finish the story in today's Gospel. What would have been the reaction of that Jew to know that a Samaritan had become his neighbor?
"Go and do the same." Jesus tells us today. The whole message of Jesus is synthesized in something so practical and concrete. There are no great concepts or elaborate theories. The message is clear and focused on practice, a loving and compassionate practice.
That is why it is said, with reason, that: “compassion constitutes the test that verifies the authenticity of the spiritual path of any religion in the world”.
To reach God, who is our goal, we need to stand on the path together with our neighbor and become good Samaritans for the needy. Amen.
Wednesday, August 26 2020
In 1983 I began attending a 12 Step group called Happy Hour that met in the Guild Room. The meeting was so popular we often had to break up into two or three different rooms to just give everyone a place to sit. Smoking was still permitted back then and lots of people smoked, so you can imagine the cloud we generated over the course of an hour--it must have looked like the church was on fire when we opened the windows to air the place out!
Eventually Happy Hour moved to another location, and in the intervening years various 12 Step Groups have come and gone. Four were meeting here when the building was closed, and three of them continue as virtual meetings on Zoom. My job came in a roundabout way as a result of my involvement with one of the groups.
I was known to the office from having rented the parish hall for regional 12 Step assemblies over the past few years. Last summer I noticed that there had been a change in the church cleaning routine, and when I returned the key I mentioned that I was available if needed. A few weeks later I got a call asking if I was still interested, and shortly after I met with Fr. RC and was hired on an interim basis.
Now, nearly a year later, I remain grateful for the work and honored by the trust invested in me. The building can be a challenge--it's a blend of the Forties, Fifties, and Eighties, and the complexities of its various incarnations have baffled me from time to time. Fortunately I have an excellent mentor and can get help when I need it.
Alas, by the time I'd gotten into the swing of things everything had changed. The bustling activity slowed as we adjusted to the new reality of the corona virus, but we did adjust, and today services, meetings, and events are shared with the community over the internet through the resourcefulness of the clergy, vestry, volunteers, and staff. I admire those who continue to make it happen under demanding circumstances and give you my thanks.
Of course it's not the same as being together in person. I miss seeing the people who make St. John's such a vital place, the happy noise of the school upstairs, the choir practices and orchestra rehearsals that filled the sanctuary with glorious sound, and so much more, and yet I know the St. John's community is out there, loving and faithful and committed, eager to return when the time is right.
Wednesday, August 26 2020
Our building permit remains under review at the City of Olympia. So far, the city reviewer has not asked questions or requested modifications – a good sign. I expect approval by the end of August. Remaining fee due is $7,727.
I contacted Lonny Mason, project manager at Forma Construction, about our project and the process for engaging them contractually. Initially, we can contract solely for preconstruction services at standard rates, then add the actual bid cost to the contract later, after the results of our capital campaign show what we can afford. Forma often structures contracts in this way to reduce the risk for both parties.
Lonny is sending me a standard AIA contract template for review, along with contact information for reputable asbestos abatement contractors Forma has worked with in the past. He agreed that doing the abatement work as a separate contract would save us money.
Asbestos-Containing Materials (ACM) Abatement
Last month, I reported that KMB had sought clarifications on the hazmat survey recommendations from Advance Environmental (AE) to better understand how ACM abatement would be done and its associated cost. AE has submitted a revised survey report. Its findings are unchanged, but it now provides more useful information for planning and price comparison.
We learned that the ACM does not permeate the entire depth of the plaster on the east, west and south walls of the Sanctuary. It is only present near the surface of the plaster, beneath the visible paint layer. Abatement can be done by wetting the surface with water, then scoring and scraping off the wet outer layer, leaving most of the underlying plaster intact. It is not necessary to remove all the plaster down to the underlying wood furring or bare concrete.
KMB also had AE mark up a plan drawing to show the perimeter of the areas within the Sanctuary where ACM is present and requires abatement. We can now share the revised report and drawing with abatement contractors to obtain three price quotes:
Because abatement work is not weather-dependent, it can be done any time prior to the start of Part I construction. If the church remains closed due to the pandemic, the fall or winter may be the ideal time to schedule this work.
Please let me know if you have any questions or further guidance as we move ahead.
Chair, Renovation Committee