Volume 5, Issue 40
October 9, 2020
THIS SUNDAY: October 11, 2020
Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

ON-SITE CHURCH SERVICES
with COMMUNION

8:00AM
Linda Crocker (EM)*
John Hanaoka (U)
Diane Sato (AG)
Muriel Jackson (PP)

9:30AM
David Crocker (EM)
Mario Antonio (U)
Nelson Secretario (LR)
Faith Shiramizu (AG)
Nelson Secretario, Vikki Secretario (HP)
Carolyn Morinishi (DM)

* EM - Eucharistic Minister; U - Usher; LR - Lay Reader; AG - Altar Guild; HP - Healing Prayers; DM - Digital Ministry
UPCOMING EVENTS
ON-SITE CHURCH SERVICES WITH COMMUNION
8:00AM and 9:30AM
Sanctuary and Side Lanai

Aloha Hour
Every Sunday
10:45AM - 12:00PM
Side Lanai and Tent

Monday Crew
Every Monday
8:00AM
Church Office

ADULT FORMATION SERIES:
"The Book of Common Prayer for All It's Worth"
Tuesday, October 13th
"The Collects, Prayers, and Thanksgivings of the BCP"
6:30 - 8:00PM
Zoom meeting
Those who are interested in the Adult Formation Class may contact Cami at Cami@allsaintskauai.org for login information.

Youth Group Zoom Meeting
Wednesday, October 14th
5:00PM
Zoom Meeting
Those who are interested in the Youth Group Meeting may contact Cami at Cami@allsaintskauai.org for login information.

Online Communication Workshop
Saturday, October 17th
and
Saturday, November 14th
8:30AM - 12:30PM
Church

Youth Group Meetings
Sunday, October 18th
Ke Akua
11:00AM
EAM
12:00PM
Zoom
Those who are interested in the Youth Group Meetings may contact Cami at Cami@allsaintskauai.org for login information.
RECURRING EVENTS
ALL RECURRING EVENTS SUSPENDED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
Sunday School
Every Sunday, 9:30 - 10:15AM
Memorial Hall

Laundry Love
1st & 3rd Wednesday, 5:00PM
Kapa`a Laundromat
McMaster Slack Key Guitar and Ukulele Concert
Every Wednesday, 6:00PM
Church

Choir Practice
Every Thursday, 6:00PM
Choir Room
For the aged and infirm, for the widowed and orphans, and for the sick and the suffering, especially Brad, Ruth, Ron, and those we name silently or aloud, let us pray to the Lord. ​Lord, have mercy. 

For all who have died, especially those affected by the COVID-19 virus, and those we name silently or aloud, in the hope of the resurrection, and for all the departed, let us pray to the Lord. ​Lord, have mercy. Amen.
Reflections from Kahu Kawika
The Most Important Choice
Philippians 3:4b-14
Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20
4 October 2020
All Saints’ Kapaa

As I’ve mentioned in a previous sermon, I’ve only run one marathon in my life so far – the Honolulu Marathon in 2011. The route in East O‘ahu went right past my condo at the time, around mile mark 16 – believe me, it was tempting for me to just chuck it all in and to go up to my condo and take a long good soak in a hot bath! But thankfully God gave me the wherewithal to continue, and I kept envisioning crossing the finish line – “just complete the race, that’s it!”

To get ready for a marathon, it takes a lot of conditioning and the building up of stamina, as well as paying attention to one’s running technique and to get to know one’s own body. However, when I consulted the various books and articles on how to run a marathon, there was a tacit and unspoken assumption – namely, that you will want to run the marathon in a forward direction.

So, imagine my surprise to come upon an article about a man whose goal was to run a marathon backwards! His name was Loren Zitomersky, a Disney production lawyer who made the news in 2018 when he declared that he would run the Boston Marathon running backwards all the way. He said the hardest part about preparing to do that was all the cricks in his neck he kept on getting, so his neck also had to get into shape! He achieved his goal of raising $300,000 for the Epilepsy Foundation. His other goal was to beat the previous world record for running a marathon backwards, set by Xu Zhenjun of Beijing, China, in 2004 at the time of 3 hours, 43 minutes, and 39 seconds – Loren didn’t break that time, but nevertheless he received well-deserved notoriety for adding even more difficulty to the achievement of running a marathon.

In our second reading from Philippians 3, Paul uses the imagery of running a race to describe the life of faith. In the last paragraph, he writes about running forward to pursue the goal of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus:

It’s not that I have already reached this goal or have already been perfected, but I pursue it, so that I may grab hold of it because Christ grabbed hold of me for just this purpose. Brothers and sisters, I myself don’t think I’ve reached it already, but I do this one thing: I forget about the things behind me and reach out for the things ahead of me. The goal I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus.

Paul’s focus is so intently forward-focused that he even regards his considerable achievements as a leader in Judaism (a Pharisee, having studied under the famous theologian Gamaliel) as “sewer trash” (Philippians 3:8), which in the original Greek language is a much more colorful term!

This is what I refer to as “the Most Important Choice.” Paul chooses to lay aside his boast in personal achievements, in order to lay down his life to be like Jesus and to bless those around him. It is, in fact, not just one choice, but a determination to live out a series of choices – to choose, in fact, to live more into the “House of Hope” than in “the House of Fear.” Many recent psychologists affirm that our emotions all stem from these two poles – fear and hope. By looking forward and not backward, Paul in fact sets out to live into the House of Hope.

Paul then goes on to describe his three-fold goal to help him “cross the finish line” of his faith. He says his goal (which he admits he achieves imperfectly) is to know three things:
  1. the Person of Jesus;
  2. the Power of His Resurrection
  3. the Participation in His Sufferings
Let’s take a look at each of these in turn for ourselves.

The first is to know the Person of Jesus. Certainly, on Sunday mornings we get to hear a different Gospel reading each week, and thus we catch glimpses of Jesus in action – serving those around him, welcoming all, and especially reaching out to “the last, the least, and the lost.” And he manages to do so without getting caught up in the political intrigue of his day – he interacts with folks from the four main political parties of his time (the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Zealots who wanted a violent overthrow of the Roman Empire, and the Essenes who were desert survivalists waiting for the victory of light over darkness); rather than getting caught up in their partisanship, he instructs them on the coming of the Kingdom of God in people’s hearts – a kingdom governed by love, acceptance, and a sense of belonging.

So we get to learn a lot about Jesus when he walked this earth nearly 2,000 years ago. But, Paul says something else about his goal – it isn’t so much in knowing about Jesus, it is rather in knowing Jesus himself directly! He wants to know Jesus so intimately that Jesus’ character is innately alive within his own words and actions. He wants so much of Jesus within his own life and character that personal human achievements pale in significance in comparison.

How much are we putting Jesus first in our own lives? Paul writes about this later on in this same chapter that “our citizenship is in Heaven, and we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:20-21). He seems to be saying that we must realize that we are citizens of Heaven first, then citizens of our own country second. In an era of hyper political partisanship, it is easy for us in the church to lose sight of putting Jesus first as the focus of our ultimate love above all things, and thus to seek unity centered around Christ more than scoring political points.

The second thing Paul says we are to know is the Power of Jesus’ Resurrection. This is not just a future event at the end of our earthly lives and the end of earthly time – we should open our eyes and recognize moments of God’s resurrection power each and every day. These moments when we see God at work are down-payments of the larger reward awaiting us as we put Jesus first in our lives. They are also snapshots of the glorious reality that is to come and that awaits all those who are lovers of God.

However, we often write off such occurrences as coincidences, or worse we may not even pay much attention to them. The times when we get a much-needed check in the mail when facing a looming financial crisis, the ability to offer an apt word of consolation to someone else in a difficult situation, the awe-inspiring vision of a sunset or a flowing waterfall – these are signs of Jesus’ resurrection power that defy the tendency of the things of this world to fall into decay and disrepair.

To see these moments requires us to pray that we can be on the lookout for them, as well as to have hearts full of gratitude for the gracious generosity of God that overflows in our lives. However, if we harbor grudges and bitterness of spirit, then we crowd out our hearts and minds from seeing God’s power around us.

Thirdly, Paul writes that he wants to know the Participation in Christ’s sufferings. Now this seems a rather odd thing to write – I can get my head around wanting to know Jesus himself as well as the power of his resurrection in my daily life, but also wanting to know Jesus’ sufferings? Besides, Jesus already paid the ultimate price in sacrificing himself on the hard wood of the cross to save us – so what can I add in participating in any way with Christ’s sufferings?

I think what Paul means is that, like how Jesus repeatedly practiced in his earthly life, we should look for ways to put limits on ourselves in order to serve others and this world. We live in a society that puts “me first” and even prizes “the rugged individual” who looks out for himself or herself only. Jesus, though, cared for those around him, especially for those who could not adequately care for themselves.

We have this model from our first reading, the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20. God wants Moses to impart these rules for living to his people who had just been freed from Egyptian slavery and who were about to form a holy community as a witness to the love and power of their God. The Ten Commandments (the first four concerning our life with God, the last six our life with each other) are guidelines for living that are not meant to stifle individual rights, but rather to curb the excesses of selfish living that would otherwise harm others in the community and go on to break down the social order. They limit what individuals can and should do, so that life together as a society would be enhanced, a blessing to each other and a holy witness to God for other cultures to emulate.

This means having a willingness to limit our own short-term gains in order to see others blessed and thriving. When we put into practice Jesus’ own words to “die to self,” (John 12:24-25), that is when we discover a higher and more blessed way of living. In fact, like getting ready for a marathon, we are putting to practice Jesus’ way of living to get ready to run the race to our goal of citizenship in Heaven.

I wish to close with a quote from a theologian to whom I have referred before, Henri Nouwen, who lived in Toronto, Canada, and was an activist for the lives of those with mental, emotional, and physical disabilities. This quote is also called “The Most Important Choice”:

If I die with much anger and bitterness, I will leave my family and friends behind in confusion, guilt, shame, or weakness. When I felt my death approaching, I suddenly realized how much I could influence the hearts of those whom I would leave behind. If I could truly say that I was grateful for what I had lived, eager to forgive and be forgiven, full of hope that those who loved me would continue their lives of joy and peace, and confident that Jesus who calls me would guide all who somehow belonged to my life—if I could do that—I would, in the hour of my death, reveal more true spiritual freedom than I had been able to reveal during all the years of my life. I realize on a very deep level that dying is the most important act of living. It involves a choice to bind others with guilt or to set them free with gratitude.

Choose life, choose the House of Hope. Know Jesus, the Power of his Resurrection, and the Participation in his Sufferings: This is how we make ourselves fit for the race that is set before us. Amen.
They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.

1 Timothy 6:18-19

Taking “hold of the life that really is life” is something to which we all can aspire. That is a life filled with generosity based on our faith in a God who is generous in all things.

We are all called upon to be “generous and ready to share” so that our futures are secure and our lives are worth living. Eugene Peterson writes it this way in The Message:

“Tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage — to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous. If they do that, they’ll build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is truly life.”
October 11, 2020

Living into new ways of being Church
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I shall fear no evil; for you are with me. – Psalm 23 
By The Rev. Melanie S. Donahoe

The comforting words of Psalm 23 have taken on new meaning as together we have walked through the “valley of the shadow of death” created by the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. 

It has not been an easy time, yet God’s “goodness and mercy” have been abundantly reflected as God’s people have faithfully cared for strangers and for one another. 

You have reached out to help bear the pain of those who have lost loved ones. Through simple acts of kindness — picking up groceries for elderly neighbors, regularly calling those who live alone in fearful isolation, sewing masks, serving in food pantries — God’s Holy Spirit has inspired you to be Christ’s daily loving, healing presence in the world. Our physical church doors may have necessarily been shuttered, but “the Church” has never been closed.
And God has never been absent. God has shepherded us, leading and guiding us along us pathways we could not have imagined a year ago. Perhaps it is in the hardest times when we most clearly recognize how God continues, always, always to sustain us. 

Even when we could not gather together for Holy Communion, God continued to feed us — with God’s Holy Word, with live-streamed services and “virtual” coffee hours. 

And now as some of us slowly, carefully begin to gather again inside our churches, we will learn new ways of including those who still need to “shelter in place” — and innovative ways of welcoming those who have never been “inside’ our church buildings, but joyfully discovered Church on the internet in a time of pandemic. 

As we live into new, exciting (yes, exciting!) ways of being Church, God will continue to reveal opportunities for us to welcome everyone so that, together, we may “dwell in the house of the Lord our whole lives long.”

Melanie S. Donahoe is the rector of The Episcopal Church of the Epiphany in San Carlos, California.
Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another
with whatever gift each of you has received. – 1 Peter 4:10

This year has reminded us in so many ways of the strength and closeness of our community. Even in the months in which we were physically distant and unable to gather in person, the Spirit kept us together, connecting us. Many in the media or in our society kept referring to our churches as “closed,” but we were never closed — we continued following the Gospel call to live in love with our neighbors, finding ever new ways to seek and serve Christ in all people. 

As we look to the year to come, we are more committed than ever to the ministry and love we share with our community and our neighbors. Our ministry is funded through the gifts of its members — your generous offerings given in grace and love. This year we are asking for every member to take part in our stewardship campaign by making a pledge.

We will be hearing messages of Faith-Filled Generosity as we move through the month of October. Members of the All Saints' `Ohana have volunteered to share their own personal Stewardship stories and the Gospel is rich with examples of how our faith kindles our love for each other and our Christian responsibility to share our love with the world. Please take this month to consider how your generous response to God’s call has been shaped by this community and the friends who gather with you. Thank you for being a part of All Saints' and for your faithful, faith-filled pledge.
An old Episcopal grandmother finally decided to read the Bible. She purchased a large-print edition and read it cover-to-cover. When she finished, she pulled the rector aside at coffee hour and confided, “I really enjoyed reading the Bible, but I was surprised how much it quotes the Book of Common Prayer!”
New Adult Formation Opportunity
The Book of Common Prayer for All It's Worth
The Book of Common Prayer for All It's Worth

In addition to the Bible, our Book of Common Prayer (BCP) is the basis for our faith and practice as Episcopalians and Anglicans. Our usual exposure to it is going straight to our service of Holy Communion on Sundays, with occasional forays into other parts of the BCP on certain holidays or special occasions. However, there are many parts of the BCP designed for personal use as individuals or households. We will look at those parts of the BCP that we can use to strengthen our own individual or family faith and practice, on the first three Tuesday evenings of October from 6:30PM:

Tuesday, October 13th: The Collects, Prayers, and Thanksgivings of the BCP
Tuesday, October 20th: An Outline of the Faith, or Catechism

We have copies of the BCP if you wish to borrow one -- just let Kahu or Cami Baldovino, our Church Office Administrator, know.

Blessings,
-Kahu Kawika+
Stewardship
Stewardship is our personal response to God's generosity in the way we share our resources of time, talent, and money. Stewardship reflects our commitment to making God's love known through the realities of human life and our use of all that God has given us. It is also our service to God's world and our care of creation. Parish members are encouraged to make an annual stewardship pledge. This pledge represents their specific Christian commitment to "work, pray, and give for the spread of the kingdom of God" (BCP, p. 856)

An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, https://episcopalchurch.org/library/glossary/stewardship
My Dear Siblings in Christ,

We live in anxious times. I have received emails from folk that I do not know, about the upcoming election. Frankly, I have replied to all that I do not personally know and explicitly asked them to not send their personal opinions to me regardless of their perspective or position on issues or candidates. One person responded with ire and vitriolic castigation for depriving him of his right to free speech. He noted that in all the churches and denominations that he had sent his missive, I was the first to ask to be removed from his mailing list. I suspect that others just ignored him. He did agree to remove my name with a summary judgement of my soul and my Diocese. To be honest, I just don’t want to hear from outside my Diocese or the Episcopal Church. I did, however, say a prayer for the gentleman.  

Now, I am hearing from clergy and lay members of the Diocese. Some are upset with President Trump and the way he has handled the COVID-19 crisis in the nation and most recently in the White House itself. Others are fearful to say that they support the President because of the response from their fellow Episcopalians. Many of us are fatigued by the words of anger and lack of respect. There is worry about the future. Life is weighed down by “stay at home orders,” wearing masks, social distancing, illness, and fear of the pandemic and its consequences both physically and economically.  

Our feelings are real. We can feel overwhelmed. We can become numb. In my prayers this morning, I was reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Writings Selected with an Introduction by Robert Coles (Orbis Books, 1998). On pages 90 and 91, there is his “Advent Letter to the Pastors of the Confessing Church” dated November 29, 1942. Now, we certainly are not suffering under an authoritarian government like the Confessing Church members in Nazi Germany or facing the hardships of years of war, but there can arise a sense of helplessness and sorrow. Bonhoeffer reminds us that as people of faith, we do not need to carry the burden of the whole world.  He writes:
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Some of us suffer a great deal from having our senses dulled in the face of all the sorrows which these war years have brought with them. Someone said to me recently: "I pray every day for my senses not to become dulled." That is certainly a good prayer. And yet we must be careful not to confuse ourselves with Christ. Christ endured all suffering and all human guilt to the full, indeed he was Christ in that he suffered everything alone. But Christ could suffer alongside people because at the same time he was able to redeem them from suffering. He had his power to suffer with people from his love and his power to redeem people. We are not called to burden ourselves with the sorrows of the whole world; in the end, we cannot suffer with people in our own strength because we are unable to redeem. A suppressed desire to suffer with someone in one's own strength must become resignation. We are simply called to look with utter joy on the one who really suffered with people and became their redeemer. We may joyfully believe that there was, there is, a man to whom no human sorrow and no human sin is strange and who in the profoundest love achieved our redemption. Only in such joy toward Christ, the Redeemer, are we saved from having our senses dulled by the pressure of human sorrow, or from becoming resigned under the experience of suffering.
The transitory and finite reality of human life is brought into focus during difficult times. Yes, we must seek the Beloved Community wherein the dignity of every human being is respected. Life does not turn as we hope or in our time. As Christians, we still hold onto the hope and love of God. As Paul writes, “I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers or height or depth, or any other thing that is created.” (Romans 8:38-39)

So, from now to the elections (and, frankly, for many days thereafter), we will need to pray, to share our burdens with one another, and to continue as a people of hope.  

I’m praying for you. Be sure to pray for me. 

Yours faithfully,
Bob+

The Right Reverend Robert L. Fitzpatrick
Bishop Diocesan 
The Episcopal Diocese of Hawai'i

Bishop-in-Charge
The Episcopal Church in Micronesia
Registration Now Open for New Community 2020 Virtual Conference
Registration is now open for the New Community 2020 Virtual Conference, hosted by The Episcopal Church Department of Ethnic Ministries, October 30-31, 2020. The theme is "Weaving Our Diversity and Forming Life-Giving Relationships for the New Reality."

This gathering of Asian, Black, Latino/Hispanic and Indigenous clergy and lay leaders provides a safe place to explore mission in ethnic ministries, share resources and best practices, hopes and dreams, needs and concerns, gifts and ministries, suffering and joy.

The conference will include plenary sessions and workshops addressing current issues as well as ethnic-specific meetings, inter-ethnic and cross-cultural conversations. For more info and to register, click HERE.
Application Process for Episcopal Evangelism Grants is Now Open
The Episcopal Evangelism Grants Program is designed to grow Episcopal ministries, resources and gatherings, - new and established- both local and regional, that energize the Church to boldly and fearlessly share and celebrate the Good News of Jesus Christ. The Grants Committee will consider proposals for up to $2,000 for an individual congregation and up to $8,000 for multi-church, diocesan, provincial, and other regional collaborations.

For more information and to view a 12-minute video on the Episcopal Evangelism Grants Program, visit their webpage HERE.
Arizona Priest Brings Church to People via ‘Pop-Up’ Ministry

By Tony Gutiérrez

Posted Oct 6, 2020
The Rev. Holly Herring, canon precentor at Trinity Cathedral in Phoenix, Arizona, offers spiritual counseling to Jim and Kay Shumaker during an outing of her “Pop-up Pastor” mobile ministry Aug. 30, 2020, in Ahwatukee. Photo: Tony Gutiérrez/ENS

[Episcopal News Service] In the driveway of one of her parishioners, and with a cotton swab in her gloved hand, the Rev. Holly Herring applied holy oil to several Episcopalians, administering the anointing of the sick. For many, it was the first time they’d received any sacrament since COVID-19 forced churches throughout the country and the world to go on lockdown.

Among them was cancer survivor Bill Coleman, a parishioner at Trinity Cathedral in Phoenix, Arizona, where Herring serves as canon precentor. Although it wasn’t the Holy Eucharist, for him, “it’s another form of contact. … That’s the thing I miss the most about going to church.”
The Rev. Holly Herring’s dog, Siena (named for St. Catherine of Siena), tests out the pop-up tent for her person’s “Pop-up Pastor” mobile ministry Sept. 24, 2020. Herring plans to bring her canine companion along with her as the Arizona weather cools down. Photo: Courtesy of Holly Herring

Before receiving the sacrament, Coleman sought one-on-one counseling from Herring as they sat in socially distanced camping chairs placed outside her car. Since many churches are either still closed or limiting participation, Herring started “Pop-up Pastor,” an initiative to bring the church to the people.

“We’ve got a lot of people in our community, and I know a lot of people in the communities of my colleagues, who really are very isolated,” Herring told Episcopal News Service. “Zoom is great; telephone calls are great; emails are great; all of these things that we use as resources to connect with people, they’re wonderful in a time of pandemic, [but] they don’t speak to the need to actually see each other’s faces in real time.”

The ministry’s name derives from the pop-up tent she sets up behind her car and her pastoral role. The visits are not intended to be long-term or limited to Episcopalians; she wants to invite people to reconnect with their communities and faith, whatever tradition that may be, and refer them to those communities.

“I started thinking about how food trucks go into neighborhoods and feed people,” Herring said. “I thought, ‘Why am I waiting for the office to open? I should be out in the neighborhood like a food truck, feeding people in body, mind and spirit.’”

Arizona Bishop Jennifer Reddall appreciates Herring’s ministry.

“I’m excited that she’s trying to find ways of caring for the people of God creatively in the midst of a pandemic and safely. This looks like a really great way to do it because you’re still distant, but you’re nearby,” Reddall told ENS. “We talk a lot about how the church needs to be outside the walls of our building. With the pandemic, nobody’s been able to be in the buildings, and so here’s a way of witnessing the love of Jesus out in the parking lots and in the neighborhoods where she’s been going.”

Click here to read the entire story.

Tony Gutiérrez is a freelance journalist based out of Cave Creek, Arizona.
Hale Ho`omalu Accepts Donations
All Saints' Restarts Donation Collection
COVID-19 changed our ability to collect donations since on-site church services were canceled. Now that we are open for on-site worship, our Hale Ho`omalu donations will be collected again for delivery to this worthy program. We are grateful to our wonderful Monday Crew that takes the donations to Hale Ho`omalu each week.

There is an on-going need for travel sized toiletries and canned goods so these items will be accepted every week. As always, monetary donations are gratefully accepted.
canned goods
All Saints’ has had a long relationship with Hale Ho`omalu, a Child and Family Service program that provides families with the tools and resources they need to create meaningful and lasting change in their lives. Over the years, our `Ohana has collected donations specific to requests provided by Hale Ho`omalu.

FROM THE EPISCOPAL CAFÉ

Building a Bigger Table

October 8, 2020


 
This Sunday, we hear Jesus’s parable of the Wedding Banquet. To be frank, I always dread having this story thrown in my face. Too often, the focus ends up on the people who get thrown out of the banquet. I fear that misses the entire point. After all, a banquet doesn’t get to be a banquet if only one person is eating. A banquet, by rights, especially in Jesus’s time, was a community celebration.
 
When we concentrate on the expulsion part of this story, we also get our heads turned around and focus on the wrong things. We forget that gospel values aren’t ever about taking pleasure in the torments of others. We also end up glossing over the images of abundance and welcome that are embedded in this story. We overlook the fact that the king invites EVERYONE in, and that the focus of this parable is a joyous feast where we should hope that everyone welcomes each other, and where everyone invited in is fed and cared for.

In the story of the Golden Calf in Exodus, we see what happens when we make gods for ourselves, and in this gospel we are warned, in a way, against making gods OF ourselves. We don’t get to decide who’s in and who’s out. In this parable, one of the many things Jesus is trying to tell us is that God’s grace is there for everyone—not just those who are just like us. It’s at the table that we learn how to love and care for each other, and the healing power that that love can have for all the wounded, sinful places we all carry within us.
 
Unlike us, God doesn’t hold grudges, and God’s love extends beyond the hurts we so often inflict in our relationship with our Creator and Sustainer, as we see in our first reading we will hear on Sunday. Because we are also those people who make the Golden Calf, as well as those who are called to the banquet. If grace and mercy are there for us, no matter how many times we stumble, grace and mercy are there for everyone.
 
Too many Christians think that belief in Jesus is all about avoiding hell when you die. But belief is only valuable when it bears the fruit of transformation within our lives. Jesus repeatedly tells us that Christian living is all about avoiding hell in the way we live. The wonder in this parable is comparing life to a banquet. And in the words of Auntie Mame, “Live! Life is a banquet, and most poor fools are starving to death!”
 
Yes, here’s the good news: God calls everyone into God’s kingdom.
And here’s the bad news: God calls EVERYONE into God’s kingdom.

Because “everyone” means everyone: notorious sinners by the standards of Jesus’s time were the people he most hung out with, and when he was questioned about that, he pointed out that doctors don’t go work only among those who are well if they are true to their purpose. God doesn’t just call the godly.

God calls all to the heavenly banquet: prostitutes, con men, drug dealers, thieves, as well as the so-called good and upright folk of the world. They get a place alongside everyone, too. No matter how much that makes US nuts. No matter how much WE want to see these people get thrown into the outer darkness. We want a God who keeps score. Who punishes. Who looses thunderbolts and lightning that are very, very frightening at those we consider to be beneath us.

Having faith in God’s abundance is the first step, even when it shocks us. But this parable also tells us that this banquet brings about transformation on our parts. God expects something from those who accept the invitation: conversion of life to live according to a gospel of abundance. This is hard for most of us, because we live in a world dominated by scarcity—even sometimes, the illusion of scarcity. 
 
If we truly give our lives to Christ, though, we give ourselves over to a different vision for how to live together, a vision not based on selfishness or dominance but on mercy and empathy. And there are some who may reject something that alien to our default way of living. It’s so counter-cultural, so mind-blowing, that most of us have to re-dedicate ourselves every day to Christian living.
 
There’s room at the table for everyone—we may need to set more place settings or maybe add a new leaf. We may need to build a bigger table.
The Rev. Leslie Scoopmire is a writer, musician, and a priest in the Diocese of Missouri. She is rector of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Ellisville, MO. She posts daily prayers, meditations, and sermons at her blog Abiding In Hope, and collects spiritual writings and images at Poems, Psalms, and Prayers.
IN BRIEF . . .

These news briefs were featured in previous issues of "The Epistle"

Please submit your story ideas to the Epistle Staff at news@allsaintskauai.org.
KUPUNA SHOPPING ASSISTANCE MINISTRY
Any of our All Saints' kupuna who need assistance with grocery shopping can contact Carolyn Morinishi at church@allsaintskauai.org to set up a delivery.

ALL SAINTS' VIRTUAL SWAP MEET
If any ministry has an unmet need, reach out to put it in the All Saints' Virtual Swap Meet and it will be published in the Epistle. Contact Bill Caldwell at news@allsaintskauai.org.

PASTORAL CARE CONTACT INFORMATION
Whenever you have a need for support, please call (650) 691-8104 and leave a voice mail. The system will immediately forward the information to the Pastoral Care Committee who will respond to each request. If you prefer, you may send an electronic pastoral care request via email to pastoralcare@allsaintskauai.org.

PRAYER CHAIN MINISTRY
Individuals who want to participate in the Prayer Chain Ministry must re-enroll to continue receiving the email communications. To re-enroll, please visit the newly established Pastoral Care web page or contact the Church Office at (808) 822-4267.

SUBMITTING A PRAYER REQUEST
Prayer requests will now be submitted online or by contacting the Church Office at (808) 822-4267.

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
Names can be added to the Prayers of the People petitions by using the Prayer Chain Request form or by contacting the Church Office at (808) 822-4267. Names will remain in the Prayers of the People for a maximum of four Sundays before a name must be resubmitted.