From Father Shin: Spirit of Life
June is the month of deaconate ordinations. As my mailbox gets filled with ordination invitations, I am reminded of my own ordination to the transitional deaconate. I was ordained in the Diocese of Chicago four years ago on the feast of Evelyn Underhill, June 15. So it seems fitting to ponder upon Charism, the gift of the Holy Spirit, around this time of the year, since we have also just celebrated the Day of Pentecost.
Last week I made a round of visitations to the shut-in members of the parish in New Jersey. It rained all day long, which did not surprise me since it always rains whenever I travel. My mother has nicknamed me “rain man.” The drive through the unfamiliar territories of the west-of-Hudson was not easy, to put it mildly. It is confusing enough to navigate through the complex system of the Jersey highways. But the sudden appearances of highway signs allow absolutely no time to prepare to make the necessary turns-- a perfect situation for getting lost. By the time I saw the signs, I was
already passing my exits and entrances. I thought the wonderland was in Kansas. I had never been so lost in my life. But I did eventually find all the homes I needed to visit.
Life is like that. By the time we see the sign of something happening in life, usually it has already happened. Our 20/20 hindsight doesn’t always help our foresight, because the movement of the Spirit of life is dynamic and usually unpredictable. That is the wonderment of the Spirit. Just when we think we have it just right and under control, the Spirit jerks the course of life and takes us off guard. We try to go back and start over. But as on Jersey highways, when we try to go back we find ourselves in a new and unfamiliar place. The Spirit takes us and invites us constantly to something new. Sometimes we like it and other times we don’t. But life is like that because it is the gift of the Spirit.
Along my drive, I heard someone say on the radio, “It is a crisis not to have a mid-life crisis.” I thought to myself, “Forget the mid-life crisis. What about this crisis of being lost in New Jersey?” In Chinese the word, crisis, is a compound character of two words, danger and opportunity. Life in crisis is like that, too. When we find ourselves in danger of losing it-- off the deep end so to speak--an opportunity arises leading us to a new possibility, a new horizon we couldn’t imagine before. We may not want to be there, but we find ourselves faced with the new challenge anyway. Ah, the movement of the Spirit! Wouldn’t it be easier to go in sync with the flow of the Spirit than to try to go against its deft and definite force in our lives? What this has to do with New Jersey I am not sure. But I know that this has everything to do with our ability to discern God’s presence in life and find peace with God.
As the Holy Spirit is constantly in motion, we who are aware of its gift in our lives know that we cannot keep it to ourselves, let alone control its movement. Jerry Seinfeld had an episode called, “Re-gifter.” A re-gifter is one who gives to someone else the present that has been given to him. You know what I mean. Yes, it’s a tacky thing to do and you’ve done it too.
But the gift of the Holy Spirit is different. We are called to be re-gifters of the Spirit, because that’s how it is with the Holy Spirit. There is nothing tacky about being a re-gifter of the Spirit. We cannot help but give away and share this gift because that is the only way the Spirit becomes the living Spirit, the Spirit of Life. Being re-gifters of the Spirit we share in the joys and sorrows of life. We become the living Body of Christ, the Spirit of Christ enfleshed in our life together. Sharing the gift of the Holy Spirit with one another enables us to transcend “organized religion,” for there is nothing organized about the movement of the Spirit. We cannot package the Holy Spirit with the liturgy. Rather, the Holy Spirit moves within the liturgy and helps us transcend our individual selves and our collective consciousness.
I, for one, am thankful for the opportunity of being a re-gifter on that rainy day somewhere west of Hudson, because what I received in turn was the gift of the Spirit of life. For each of our church members in New Jersey, there was a strong rekindling in his or her spiritual connection with this parish community. I could sense Saint Mary’s come alive in their lives, Saint Mary’s enfleshed in who they are. In his final sermon to the Israelites, Moses admonishes his people to “choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:19). The Body of Christ is Spirit-filled. It is not some abstraction called “organized religion.” Choosing life, we move forward with the Spirit of life as we live our religion.
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Jack and Ann who are hospitalized, James, Carol, Olga, Helen, Margaret, Shirley, Hannah, Dawn, Bryn, Mary, Lucille, Frances, André, Edgar, Helen, Beatrice, Timothy, Eleanor, Hendrick, Anjel, Andra, Diana, Elizabeth, Michelle, Andrea and Susan.
GRANT THEM PEACE . . . June 22: 1958 Rachel Reed Todd; 1967 Edith Kellogg Brown; June 24: 1993 William Ray Kirby.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Exodus 3:1-6, Psalm 150, Romans 8:12-17, John 3:1-16 . . . 9:00 AM Celebrant: Father Shin, Preacher: Richard Lawson; 10:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Breidenthal, 11:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Gerth, 5:00 PM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Shin . . . Confessions will be heard on June 17 by Father Garrison. . . . Confessions will be heard on June 24 by Father Shin.
AROUND THE PARISH . . .Ann Sokolowski had surgery this week and is recuperating. She hopes to be home on Saturday . . . The Rectory had an unexpected visitor on Monday in the form of a 1980 Cadillac, which lost control exiting the parking garage on Forty-seventh Street and was stopped only by the iron gate and steps of Saint Mary’s. Amazingly, no one on the street or in the car was hurt. Sirens, horns and alarms notwithstanding, Father Shin continued to celebrate a dignified and reverent Mass at the High Altar . . . Congratulations to the Reverend Mary Haddad, ordained deacon last week. She will be deacon of the Mass on Trinity Sunday . . . Continued thanks to Dale Bonenberger, our guest organist this month at the Solemn Masses . . . A Memorial Service for Dong Kingman will be held at Saint Mary’s this Tuesday, June 20 at 10:30 AM. The ashes will be interred at Saint Mary’s . . . The Board of Trustees will meet on Monday, June 19, at 7:00 PM in Saint Benedict's Study . . . Altar Servers and others who would like to help are reminded of the clean-up day on Saturday, June 24 beginning at 10:00 AM . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 174.
WEDNESDAY EVENING SERIES CONTINUES . . . We meet in Saint Benedict’s Study at 7:00 PM with Fr. Breidenthal, Mr. Richard Lawson and Fr. Shin on the topic: The Darkside of the Bible. This Wednesday, June 21, Fr. Breidenthal’s topic will be “Revelation 20: The Lake of Fire.”
BIBLES FOR SAINT MARY'S . . . We still need eleven more Bibles for our adult education classes. These will be hardbound editions of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible with the Apocrypha, the same edition of the Scriptures which we use in worship. The Bibles cost $35.00 each. One or more may be given as a memorial to the departed ("in Memory of") or to honor a loved one ("in Honor of") and the Bible will be beautifully inscribed. If you would like to give a Bible to the Church (and the Church needs Bibles!) please make your check payable to the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin and mark it for Bibles. If you wish the book to be a memorial please include a note and someone in the parish office will contact you about the wording. Thank you!
This week at Saint Mary’s
7:00 PM The Dark Side of the Bible
Father Breidenthal’s topic will be “Revelation 20: The Lake of Fire.” Please join the discussion.
The Calendar for the Second Week after Pentecost
Thursday Alban, martyr
Friday Weekday & Eve of Saint John’s Day Abstinence
Saturday Nativity of saint John the baptist
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector, The Reverend Allen Shin, curate, The Reverend Thomas Breidenthal, assistant, The Reverend Arthur Wolsoncroft, The Reverend Canon Maurice Garrison, The Reverend Amilcar Figueroa, assisting priests, The Reverend Mary Haddad, assisting deacon, The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.