Letting Go – Beginning Again

At Holy Comforter we have experienced two deaths in our parish family over the last several days. Joe Pilch, a much loved and longtime member of the parish reached the final days of his battle with cancer and died peacefully with his family surrounding him on Tuesday morning.

Later that afternoon, I was called to Fairfax Hospital where Bill Parrish, who with his wife Marianna, transferred to Holy Comforter just over a year ago, died from complications due to cardiac arrest. The loss of these two wonderful, gifted, and unique men, and the sorrow of those who loved them, left me with a fresh awareness of the impermanence of human life.

As Christians, we know that we have come from God and that we will also return to God. We must not only face our inevitable deaths, but willingly allow for the deaths of those we know and love and live with. If you think about it, our lives are constantly marked by the transitions and experiences of letting go of people we love.  We leave the safe body of our own mother’s body when we are ready to breathe on our own.  We leave home to attend college or establish our own vocation.  We leave our parents when we are ready to marry.  We eventually retire and some of us leave our beloved parish communities to do so.  Life seems to be made up of many experiences of letting go and beginning again.

We have seen many people depart from our lives and we will continue to experience these departures as we grow older. We loved them because they could not be replaced. We loved them precisely because they were human. It is why we can love God revealed in the humanity of Jesus.  Easter proclaims his mortality was not fatal but the way to a whole new quality of existence. Death may end a physical life but it cannot end a relationship.

Because of Easter, we now see that death is not the end of life, but a letting go into a fuller dimension of life. Joe Pilch and Bill Parrish “tasted” that life in all the wonders of this world, in their accomplishments, in their love of family and friends, and even in their tested faith and disappointments.  Now they will know life in full measure even as we await the day when Christ brings us to the joy of his eternal kingdom.

Be of good courage and cherish the gift of another day to live, to learn, to love, and to serve.

Bishop Greg Rickel on Revitalizing the Mission of the Episcopal Church

Greg Gilbert/The Seattle Times

Bishop Greg Rickel of the Diocese of Olympia is someone I’ve been watching over the last year.  I’ve been impressed by his commitment to help the clergy and parishes of his Diocese engage the new “missional era” we find ourselves in by focusing on the development of authentic faith and seeking new creative ways to connect with those seeking spirituality but who are skeptical of the traditional church.

The Seattle Times featured a report on Bishop Rickel over the weekend:

In this season of baptisms, and given that he’s a bishop, it seems strange to hear the Rt. Rev. Greg Rickel speak proudly of the time he talked some parents out of baptizing their child. He was convinced the parents were doing it only because other family members insisted. And that, says Rickel, who is preaching this Easter Sunday at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle, is dumbing down the faith.

“My goal is not to baptize as many people (as I can) so I can count them up as Episcopalians,” he said. “My goal is to have an authentic faith that people can really articulate and understand.”

That approach might seem counterintuitive, given the decline in the numbers of Episcopalians — and other mainline Protestants — over the past decades, both locally and nationally. But it’s characteristic of Rickel, 46, who arrived 2 ½ years ago as head of the Episcopal Church in Western Washington.

Read the full article here.

Hi-lar-i-ter!

From Hymn 211 in the Hymnal 1982.

The whole bright world rejoices now, Hilariter, hilariter!
The birds do sing on every bough, Alleluia, alleluia!

Then shout beneath the racing skies, Hilariter, hilariter!
To him who rose that we might rise, Alleluia, alleluia!

And all you living things make praise, Hilariter, hilariter!
He guideth you on all your ways, Alleluia, alleluia!

To Father, Son, and Holy Ghost Hilariter, hilariter!
Our God most high, our joy and boast. Allelluia, alleluia!

Listen to a recording from St. John’s Ottawa:

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Hilariter is latin for joyfully and is pronounced “hi-lair-i-tair.”