Every once in a while, I like to send out the church’s weekly email updates to the wider Redeemer Community, which includes the families of Redeemer Preschool. It is important for the church and preschool to remember how interconnected we are and how much our success depends on one another. For those who don’t know, my name is Daniel London and I have been the Priest-in-Charge at Church of the Redeemer since October 2016. I generally go by “Father Daniel.” Over the last several months, I have been visiting with the preschool classes (especially the Pre-K) and teaching the children about Christianity and the Church, mostly by playing interactive games and teaching songs on the guitar. I plan to start visiting with them on a monthly basis. Many of the children know me as “Father Daniel” and understand that I am the priest who works at the church “where people pray.” They are absolutely right! More specifically, we at Church of the Redeemer seek to embody the love of God in San Rafael and the world and strive to provide a welcoming place where all can deepen their understanding and experience of God’s liberating love through prayer, worship and service.
Although we always strive to make our Sunday morning worship services welcoming to children of all ages, we have a few Sundays each year that are specifically family-focused. The two big upcoming family-focused Sundays are Back-to-School Sunday (Sept 10) when the Bishop and I will bless students’ backpacks and then the Feast Day of St. Francis (Oct 8) when we bless our beloved pets. So remember to bring your backpacks on Sept 10 and your pets on Oct 8 to church on Sunday at 10 AM. Check out our other church activities and events by visiting our website, liking our Facebook page and scrolling through the rest of this email. Also, if you ever want to meet or chat in person, you can visit me at my office hours (3 PM to 7 PM on Wednesdays and Thursdays) and, of course, on Sunday mornings.
“Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away…the winter is past…the time of singing has come!” (Song of Songs 2:10-12)
Tomorrow, Ashley and I leave for Virginia, where we will commence our Honeymoon Road Trip through Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York. We will be visiting friends and family in the area as well as St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Whitemarsh PA, where I will be guest preaching. I love the fact that the lectionary readings for this Sunday include a portion of the great love poem, the Song of Songs, the same portion that was read at our wedding more than a year ago. I was initially hoping to preach on this biblical love poem myself, but when I realized that I would be away, I asked the Rev. Dr. Arthur Holder to preach in my stead. He has taught graduate-level courses and translated ancient commentaries on this mystical text, so you are all in for a real treat. The biblical poem has been a major source of inspiration for artists and mystics over the centuries, including my favorite artist Marc Chagall, who painted a series of pieces on the Song of Songs (including the one above). I encourage you to read it before Sunday – it’s only 8 short chapters. Perhaps the Song of Songs will inspire you to create something new, holy and beautiful.
As a sacred space for sharing diverse views, it makes sense for Redeemer to routinely host guest speakers and preachers; and summer is a perfect time for this! Mark your calendars so that you don’t miss the following brilliant guests!
The Rev. Elizabeth DeRuff
On Sunday June 25, Elizabeth will be our guest preacher. She is the President and Chair of Honoré Farm and Mill, a public charity focused on restoring vitality to wheat and the land upon which it grows. She also works as an Agricultural Chaplain, launching The Farm to Altar Table Project and Staff of Life Flour. If you are interested in baking Communion Bread and/or in growing wheat for Communion Bread (perhaps even at Redeemer), then come hear her preach and get to know her!
The Rev. Dr. Arthur Holder
On Sunday July 9, Arthur Holder will preside and preach on the world’s first great love poem: the Song of Songs. Dr. Holder served on the faculty at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific and then served as the Dean of the Graduate Theological Union. He is a medieval scholar, a professor of Christian Spirituality, and one of my favorite priests. My only regret is that I won’t be here to hear him preach, so I’m hoping someone can record him.
Br. Jude Hill
On Sunday July 16, Franciscan friar Jude Hill will preside and preach. Br. Jude is a Jungian Analyst who also works for the San Francisco Night Ministry as a Night Minister on the streets from 10pm – 4am. He is also an associate priest at the Church of the Advent of Christ the King in San Francisco and in his spare time repairs and restores old clocks. When I asked him to visit, he said, “I’d love to come. Probably a few of us will. We travel as a pack! One of us will preach and I’m happy to celebrate. Love the people at Redeemer.”
Do you remember what it means? It is the Greek word that I have referenced in my last three sermons. It is the word and image used by the Cappadocian (Cappa-doh-sh-ian) Fathers of the 4th century to describe the Trinity. It means “Circle Dance.” There is an Episcopal church in San Francisco that actually incorporates a circle dance into the Eucharistic liturgy. Appropriately, this church is named after one of the Cappadocian Fathers: St. Gregory of Nyssa. Perhaps someday we can perform a circle dance together on our outdoor prayer labyrinth. In the mean time, we will continue to form a circle around our indoor altar and participate in the Trinity through the power of the Holy Spirit, who makes us all sons and daughters of the Father. We will continue reflecting on the inexhuastible mystery of the Trinity this Sunday in the last of a series of sermons that I like to call the “Circle Dance Sermons.“
Last Sunday was such a joy! I particularly enjoyed the presence of so many children and even a doggy. I’ve been reading Richard Rohr’s new book on the Trinity and he talks about how naturally children and dogs exhibit what he calls the Trinitarian flow. He writes, “Children and dogs are filled with natural hope and expectation that their smile will be returned. They tend to make direct eye contact, looking right into you, just grinning away. This is pure being. This is uninhibited flow. Surely, this is why Jesus told us to be like children. There is nothing stopping the pure flow in a child or a dog, and that’s why any of us who have an ounce of eros, humanity or love in us are defenseless against such unguarded presence. You can only with great effort resist kissing a wide-eyed baby or petting an earnest dog. You want to pull them to yourself with love because they are, for a moment—forgive me— “God”! (Rohr, The Divine Dance, 81). Learn more about the Trinitarian Flow this Sunday, which is Trinity Sunday.
This Sunday we will celebrate the Feast of Pentecost with baptismal water, balloons, birthday cake, a bounce house and more. Be sure to wear lots of red as we commemorate the generous outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church, which will turn a whopping 1,984 years old! If you want to know what the word “Pentecost” means, scroll down to the bottom of this email. If you want to know what “Pentecost” means for you as a baptized (or soon-to-be baptized) member of the Church, come to Redeemer this Sunday!
What does the word “Pentecost” mean?
On May 30, 31 and June 1, many of our Jewish brothers and sisters celebrated the feast of Shavuot (pronounced “Sha Voo Oht”), a holiday that commemorates the giving of the Torah to the people of Israel, exactly seven weeks after God liberated them from slavery in Egypt. The name “Shavuot” is Hebrew for both “seven” and “week,” referring to the 49 days (the seven weeks) between the Passover and the receiving of the Torah. During Jesus’s day, the Jewish people often referred to the Feast of “Shavuot” by a Greek name that emphasized the Torah being given on the 50th day after the Passover. The Greek name they gave to Shavuot was “Pentecost,” which means “fiftieth day”; and it was while celebrating Shavuot (or Pentecost) that the Jewish disciples of Jesus received the Holy Spirit of God. Just as the people of Israel received divine wisdom in the form of the Torah 50 days after the Passover so too did the Jewish followers of Christ receive divine wisdom in the person of the Holy Spirit 50 days after Christ’s Resurrection (Easter).
In some ways, I’m still flying high from the graduation celebrations last week. It’s an appropriate feeling for me to have since yesterday (May 25) the Episcopal Church celebrated the Feast of the Ascension. If you look carefully, you can see Jesus ascending above Bishop Curry and me in the graduation picture to the left. This Sunday, we will learn about the spiritual meanings and implications of Jesus’s Ascension as we prepare for the powerful Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, which we will celebrate next Sunday (June 4), with fire, water, barbecue, a bounce house, art (see Paula’s message below) and more. And since my graduation robe is red, I think I’ll be wearing my academic regalia as my religious vestments!