On family vacation to Kauai, we were frequently alerted to the dangers of rip-tides while snorkeling the beaches of the Garden Isle, and cross-currents, too, were present in our spiritual lives with concern for many frail parishioners on the mainland, and word of Jim Schlanser’s passing.
Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, in the first Book of Common Prayer, wrote in the Burial Office that “in the midst of life we are in death.” It is a strangely comforting phrase, still present in our Liturgy.
Our mortal frame, by virtue of embodiment, is ever on the brink of death, and we need not be fearful, for we are held in God. “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us…we know the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved.” (Romans 8).
Such strange freedom belongs to Episcopalians amidst the vicissitudes and cross-currents of life, and during the rip-tides which must bear us all away, and to a deeper destination.
At All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Kapa’a we felt so rooted with the community of our shared Faith the two Sundays we worshipped there. Shane Morris Wise, who spent three years building the St. Edmund’s Organ, was in the pew beside us with husband Byron, now residing in Kauai. The priest, Father Ryan, and his wife Dr. Erin, are old friends from the Diocese of Los Angeles, now also there relocated. Mother Shelley Denney and Father David Starr, both of whom are so active in El Salvador and are now transitioning to San Jose, California, sat on the other side of the aisle. The little church was packed with locals and travelers.
The Episcopal Church is a running stream cutting deep in firm canyon. Those Prayer Book words sound round the world hour by hour, day by day, Sunday by Sunday. We are enmeshed in Hope, even amidst a groaning creation, and the Hope with which Christ scores us is life-giving and joy-imparting…even as we relinquish one another to the death in which our lives are lived, understanding that Life prevails over and through the death which we must die.
I began reading “The Face of God” Gifford Lectures assembled by Roger Scruton while in Kauai. I only got through two chapters. It is sometimes a dense read, and helicopters and catamarans left me tired. Add a beer, and I was good for about a paragraph!
But this selection of Gifford Lectures is a good read.
“You might wonder how people can deliberately turn away from a thing that they believe not to exist. But Gos is in intimate relationship even with those who reject him. Like the spouse in a sacramental marriage, God is unavoidable, or avoidable only by creating a void.”
That is the true death…the creation of a void where there need be none; the avoidance of the unavoidable One who is with us in the rip-tides and cross-currents inherent to those blessed with mortal frame, with the breath from the Breath.
I’m going to read a few more of those Gifford lectures as vacation segues now to the San Juan Islands.
Inhale the Wind of the Spirit on Whom we ride as you venture these August days.
Peace and Joy and Courage,
CONFIRMATION is September 13th. Make certain, if you so intend, to register with Isabel Roa at IsabelRoa@aol.com
Holy Baptism is next scheduled for the Feast of All Saints’ November 1st. Contact the Rector or Isabel for baptismal applications.