Beautiful Image
“Cosmic Christ,” Annett Hanrahan

The “Cosmic Christ”

While not a “monarchist,” strictly speaking, I was nonetheless deeply moved by the death of Queen Elizabeth II and touched by the burial liturgies we were able to watch via television or live stream over the last few days. The liturgies included one of my top five favorite hymns, which brought me to tears at the final phrases: “changed from glory into glory, / till in heaven we take our place, / till we cast our crowns before thee, / lost in wonder, love, and praise.”

That hymn is, of course, “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” (The Hymnal 1982, #657), and it always evokes for me the profound juxtaposition of divine glory and human frailty, of what in old-fashioned language would have been called the “condescension of divine love.” But there’s nothing condescending whatsoever about the pining of the Lover for the Beloved. The great exaltation of love in that hymn makes the Gospel perfectly plain in that regard: the unimaginable love of Heaven comes to Earth, not as a gesture of noblesse oblige, but, well, for love.

Here’s what love does: it bridges gaps, crosses chasms, removes barriers, welcomes all. This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and we will hear it in some lofty language on Sunday morning. On the Fourth Sunday of the Season of Creation the theme is ridiculously broad—“universe.” Or, we might say, everything in cosmic scope. And so, we will hear from the classic opening chapter of the Letter to the Colossians in which Christ is lauded as the “head of the body,” the “firstborn of the dead,” the “firstborn of all creation.” The text lauds, in other words, what came to be known as the “Cosmic Christ.”

I worry that such lofty language for the Cosmic Christ obscures the Earthy Jesus. Even more worrisome, that such language removes Christ from our daily patterns and rhythms as ordinary human beings. Ironically, I suppose, that same letter to the Colossians tries to fix this “problem” by insisting that in Christ “all things in heaven and on earth were created,” and that in Christ God was “pleased to reconcile all things, whether on earth or in heaven.”

I take that passage as a vital reminder that in the Universe of God’s astounding creative work, there is no “up” or “down,” there is no “lofty” or “abased,” there is no “divinely spiritual” or “humanly physical.” All of these are united, reconciled, joined inseparably, seamlessly stitched together into an unimaginable fabric of light, and love, and life; Heaven and Earth are one. That’s the character of the “Universe” we will celebrate on Sunday. And I firmly believe that Elizabeth Windsor is, even now, with tears streaming down her face, singing praises to that God of unimaginable love as she casts her many crowns before the heavenly throne…

Crossroads of Healing—Fertile Futures: A key component of our educational and outreach efforts as a parish is the “Crossroads of Healing” initiative, occasional gatherings and events devoted to the visual arts and spirituality for building a world of social justice. We are once again privileged to collaborate this fall with the Saugatuck Center for the Arts as they launch their fall exhibit, “Fertile Futures.” Artist Molly Costello (pronouns, they and them) is committed to imagining and building a world of thriving for all beyond the violence of racism and greed and toward collective wellness, accountability, and abundance. The exhibit is rooted and framed with agriculture, bold colors, and images that invite deep connections between and among us and all others.

As All Saints’ parishioners, we have two special opportunities to see this exhibit and interact with Molly Costello.

  • The first opportunity is on Wednesday evening, October 19, which is a preview and chat with the artist before the exhibit officially opens. Please let me know if you are interested and I will reserve tickets for us so we can go together as a parish group!
  • The second opportunity is a facilitated “talking circle” with Molly on Saturday afternoon, November 5, at 1:00pm. Registration is required for this event to keep the size of the conversation manageable. Click HERE for more information on that circle and to register.

Faithful and Equipped: Worship and education intertwine at the heart of Christian community as they continually shape and reshape us as the Body of Christ and equip us for our Gospel-witness in the world. The challenges of today’s world now urge us to pay particular and deliberate attention to how the key issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality all intersect and are framed by our ecological crisis. Beginning with this fall’s “Crossroads of Healing” events (see the notice above) a full slate of educational opportunities are planned from now through June, all of which are designed to form us more deeply in Christian traditions and equip us more effectively for our shared ministries in the wider community around us. On Sunday, November 20 (Christ the King Sunday), I’ll outline some of the key themes and topics for this range of programs during a Rector’s Forum at 9:00 a.m.

Click HERE for a draft version of the schedule and to start thinking about how you will want to participate in these opportunities with a variety of presenters, formats, and locations (ranging from indigenous insights concerning the land to classical Christian commentaries on the lectionary, and from the history of race and racism in the United States to the urgent call for more effective environmental action.)Most of these activities would be wonderful opportunities to involve friends and neighbors!

Dates and Notices:

  • Holy Cow! The CAT Survey was sent out recently to currently active participants in the life of this parish, an important tool for helping the clergy and lay leaders move forward in our shared ministry and in reaching out to the wider community. We’re asking you to complete the survey (which takes roughly 20-25 minutes) before 9:00 a.m. on Monday, September 26. We will have a parish meeting to discuss the results and hear from a Holy Cow consultant on Sunday morning, October 16. (For those without Internet or email access, we are providing hardcopy surveys and instructions.)
  • St. Francis’ Sunday: The Season of Creation concludes with our annual celebration of St. Francis’ Day on Sunday, October 2. The 8:00am liturgy that morning will be for humans only; for the 10:15 service, you are invited to bring well-behaved companion animals with you for worship and a blessing!
  • League of Women Voters Forum: We will host a forum with the candidates of Saugatuck City Council at the parish on Wednesday evening, October 5 at 7:00pm. This will be a facilitated Q & A session moderated by the League of Women Voters. This is a non-partisan event with no candidate endorsements attached. If you live in Saugatuck, do come and bring your neighbors!
  • Harvest Festival: Each year we collect food and household items to help ensure that the migrant workers who pick our fruits and vegetables do not themselves go hungry! We will have an ingathering of these items on Sunday, October 9, and there will be an interfaith worship service that afternoon, with our own Bishop Singh in attendance!

A Red Letter Day: Today we remember St. Matthew the Evangelist on our calendar of commemorations. Many consider Matthew’s account of the Gospel to be the most aligned with the traditions of Judaism, presumably because his audience was mostly Jewish. It’s also an important reminder of Jesus’ own Jewish identity and his religious tradition. We’ll remember Matthew tonight at Evening Prayer. Click HERE for the NEW liturgy leaflet and click HERE for the readings. To join this service on Zoom at 5:30pm (EDT), click HERE, or use meeting I.D. # 828 9666 2141 and passcode # 584221.

Fr. Jay 

Please let us know how we may pray for you—concerns as well as celebrations—and other requests you may have as we strengthen our bonds of care and compassion with each other here in western Michigan and with those around the world in need of prayer.

Notices:

  • Lowell Frederick, Arthur’s brother, was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and will soon have his gall bladder removed; please keep him in your prayers.
  • The biopsy results for Paul Messenger’s brain tumor were not at all encouraging: a grade 4 glioblastoma, an aggressive form of cancer. He will soon undergo both radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Paul and Marcy were legally married while Paul was recently hospitalized and they will enter into the covenant of Holy Matrimony this weekend. Do keep them in your prayers (and follow updates on their blog, www.mandatoryhope.org.)
  • Bill Muzillo’s life partner James Tamblyn died this past Thursday morning, September 15, after struggling with pancreatic cancer for some months. Bill and Jim were together for 41 years and spent their winters in Florida. Please keep Bill in your prayers.
  • The Schock family has been well woven into the life and history of All Saints’ parish for a very long time. Wilma Schock died on September 6 after a long and storied life here along the shoreline. Wilma (a teacher) and her husband Bill, a medical doctor, moved to Saugatuck in 1960; between then and now she was a mother to five children (including Bruce, who is married to Carol Schock, our stalwart Christian Education teacher for children here at the parish), and also enjoyed 13 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren! Rather than a formal memorial service, the family has planned a private gathering to celebrate Wilma’s life; please keep all of them in your prayers.

Prayer Requests 

  • The United States of America, for a renewed commitment to the common good; for an end to systemic racism and violence; for social and economic justice; for a courageous engagement with ecological renewal and healing; and for effective gun safety measures and reduction in gun violence.
  • The people of Ukraine, for an end to violence and the renewal of peace.
  • The mission and shared ministry of this parish, for pastoral insight and ministerial discernment for the clergy and lay leaders, especially the wardens and vestry.
  • Eve Shetterly, John & Cinnie Fulenwider’s daughter.
  • Bob and Leslie Wessman, for strength and resilience.
  • Matt Scott, friend of Paul Messenger, for continued healing.
  • Denise, a friend of Marcy Elder’s, for healing and consolation.
  • Don Olendorf, for strength and resilience as he awaits a lung transplant.
  • Bob Johnson (Janice Williford’s brother) for healing and resilience.
  • Bruce Johnson (Fran Oleson’s brother) for healing and resilience.
  • Paul Messenger, for resilience and healing; Marcy Elder for resilience.
  • Lowell Frederick, Arthur’s brother, for healing and resilience.

Special Occasions in September

Do we have your special occasions on file? Would you like to prayerfully celebrate your baptismal anniversary? Ordination anniversary? Let us know what you would like us to remember with you and we’ll post it! 

Birthdays – September

Ivy Reigle 9/6, Steve Williford 9/22, Cheryl Rose 9/23, Laura Godfrey 9/24, Bob Godfrey 9/25, Fran Oleson 9/25, Jay Johnson 9/27, David VanderLaan 9/28, Pat Paris 9/29.

Wedding Anniversaries – September

Rich and Jane Forbes 9/2, Peter and Lexie McGregor 9/9, Bruce and Carol Schock 9/28.

Highway Cleanup – This Saturday!

It’s time to clean up our stretch of highway again. We only do this three times a year, for one hour at a time, so grab your chance while it’s here! You’ve probably seen our sign on the stretch of I-96 between Fennville & Saugatuck. Our next cleanup date is this Saturday, September 24 at 8:30AM. We will to work together on the same side of the highway in crews of 2-3 people and work for one hour only. We need:

  • Trash collectors—one hour of bagging trash in teams of two or three (8:30-9:30)
  • Drivers—dropping off and picking up the trash collectors (8:30-9:30)
  • Refreshment providers—providing snacks and drinks at All Saints’ (9:45-10:30)

Contact Lisa Baker at michigan.bakers@yahoo.com or (630) 461-9686 to sign up. Trash collectors must be trained for safety by watching an adopt-a-highway safety video.

Our All Saints Book Club will meet Sunday October 16, at 3PM at the Saugatuck Yacht Club,15 Park St., Saugatuck. We will be discussing “A Single Thread,” by Tracy Chevalier.

Our libraries can get this book for you.  All are welcome and be ready for a lively discussion!

The Vestry met last Thursday evening, together with the newly formed Faith and Finance Ministry Team (Mary Ryder, who is the parish treasurer, Bob Gamble, and Steve Girod, who is away on a trip), and also with Bobbie Gaunt and Malcolm Tripp (whom Fr. Jay has invited to prayerfully consider working on this year’s Stewardship Campaign). As all Vestry meetings are, this was a public meeting and around half a dozen non-vestry members were in attendance, either in person or via Zoom. The purpose of the gathering was to discuss the latest financial report and our financial position overall. There are some differences of opinion and perspective on how to address the current shortfall in revenue and also concerning how to shape the budget for 2023. Fr. Jay agreed that we have some challenges to address but expressed an overall confidence in the direction of the parish, our shared ministry, and the ongoing growth in new, active participants.

For the August financial summary and narrative, please click HERE.

Fr. Jay has requested that all ministry teams and gatherings be mindful of some “Godly Guidelines” for conversation and group meetings, as well as to keep the Parish Mission Statement and Values in mind when engaging in the work of the ministry teams. Click HERE for the Godly Guidelines and HERE for the All Saints’ Mission and Values Statement.

The vows of our Baptismal Covenant call us to be grounded in Christian traditions and practices for the sake of reaching out into the wider world as we seek to respect the dignity of every living being and strive for justice and peace among all people. All of us as individuals are called to this work, and this parish as a whole is called to it as well, and we undertake that work in various ways. A brief list (which we will regularly update here) includes the following:

  • More than forty years ago, the churches of Saugatuck and Douglas collaborated to created “Christian Neighbors,” now housed at the Community Church in Douglas. This agency serves a wide range of people in need along this shoreline region with clothing, food, financial assistance, and much more! We support them with $200 every month, and a winter coat drive (sometimes boots, too!), and volunteering at Thanksgiving.
  • A small and dedicated team (Dn Francis, Linda McRoy, Margo Bultman, Margie Mason, Jane Underwood, and Laura Godfrey) have been working with Grace Church and St. Francis’ Roman Catholic Church in Holland to help support an incoming refugee family here in Allegan County.
  • Collaborating with the Saugatuck-Douglas Rotary Club, this parish contributed $5,000 to the Boys and Girls Clubs in Holland.
  • We continue to support financially the “Out on the Lakeshore” LGBT Community Center in Holland and co-sponsor the Pride Festival in both Douglas and Holland (with a booth at both).
  • The upcoming Harvest Festival is a great opportunity to make sure the migrant farmworkers who pick our fruits and vegetables can actually eat and support their families. All Saints’ Parish has been the largest contributor of food and household goods to this annual event for the last two years.
  • We continue to look for special projects we can support on an ad-hoc basis, such as the efforts undertaken by Episcopal Relief and Development to help Ukrainian refugees in Europe (we collected $7,000 for this in Lent!).

Father Jay is available by phone as well as email:
616.294.7030
rector@allsaintssaugatuck.org

Please note that Father Jay takes Friday as his day off each week.  If you have a pastoral emergency on a Friday, please contact our Senior Warden, Fran Oleson, at (810) 730-1262.