Street preacher and his hecklers

Today I watched a stubborn street evangelist and his hecklers when I got off the bus at Seattle Central Community College. The preacher had a megaphone and a big banner that said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.” He was in his twenties, tall with a beard, and was staunchly quoting from the Gospel of John while two young guys cavorted around him like jackanapes, poking fun at his rigid, judgmental attitude. A big crowd had gathered to watch the spectacle.

I couldn’t decide if I was more saddened by the caricature of the Gospel that the preacher represented, or the meanness and emptiness of his tormenters.

I felt some empathy for the preacher, being a preacher myself, knowing that he was doing his best to fulfill the charge Paul solemnly gives Timothy in this Sunday’s Epistle, “Proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage.” On the other hand, I don’t think his interpretation of the Gospel is accurate or helpful.

As I watched the spectators – mostly college students – I wondered what they got out of it. Entertainment, I suppose. I wonder if any of them saw the preacher and thought, “At least he believes what he’s preaching.” And I wonder, were any hearts or minds changed? Is God at work here? Or is God just shaking his head in frustration? What do you think?

In my life

In My Life

It’s strange to think how many people I have known in my life that I’ve lost touch with. Good friends have come and gone, and I regret now that I didn’t keep up with them better. I guess I was always moving on to the next big thing in my life.

I got a message today that a friend of mine from 1976 died two years ago. I completely lost touch with her ages ago, and now I find that she’s gone.

Mary shared an old wooden house with Nolan Thornberry and me in the summer of 1976, when we all worked for the Forest Service in Bonners Ferry, Idaho. I remember her as a short young woman with long brown hair, usually wearing a peasant blouse and overalls. I guess that was pretty typical back then.

She was quiet and gentle and quick with a smile, but intense when defending her opinions. I picture her putting flowers in a vase on the table and warning me not to knock them over. She was proud of her Irish name and you could see her firm Irish Catholic upbringing.

I always wondered what happened to her. Her obituary says she went to law school and became a fierce advocate for the rights of children and the disabled. That sounds right, just like her. She got married, had a daughter, and lived a rich life. I discovered all that at the same time I heard she had died. How could the years have flown by like that? In my mind she’s still twenty-one.

Rest in peace, my friend. I’m glad I knew you.

In My Life by the Beatles

There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I’ve loved them all

mary-gallagher

Five days in Olympic National Park

Vicar’s Voice
September 2016

Last week I spent five days backpacking up the Hoh River in Olympic National Park. The scenery was magnificent: enormous towering trees, the broad sweeping river, vast glaciated valleys, jewel-like alpine lakes, abundant wildlife, trails created by geniuses, and the looming presence of Mt. Olympus and its mantle of glaciers whenever you’re high enough to see it.

When I go up into Olympic National Park, I find it a source of refreshment and renewal. My soul is revived because I’m surrounded by the wonders of God’s creation. It’s just natural to slip into prayer as you’re walking along, because God’s presence is everywhere. “This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears, all nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.”

Everyone needs spiritual renewal, and the beauty of the parks is one of the best ways I know to find renewal. When Henry David Thoreau said, “In wildness is the salvation of the world,” I think what he meant was that our souls need the quietness of the natural world and the mystery and wonder that we find in solitude. It returns us to our original source of peace, the peace of God.

This year is the 100th anniversary of the National Park system, a true national treasure. Our ancestors had the foresight to set aside pristine areas for the enjoyment of future generations, and I’m thankful they did. Our national parks are available for everyone to visit and learn from, and millions take advantage of this privilege every year.

The parks remind us of the bounty we enjoy, the vast wealth of natural resources and beauty that we’ve been given stewardship over. Our national park system is severely underfunded with a huge backlog of deferred maintenance. I hope that Congress will see fit to restore the funding needed to preserve our parks and make them accessible for future generations. And I hope that you will have a chance to enjoy our national treasures this fall and find God’s glory in them.

Bill

Letter to the Editor of the Kitsap Sun

Published July 27, 2016

To the Editor:

Rutted trails. Crumbling buildings. Washed-out bridges that aren’t replaced. Leaning signposts. When I hike into the wilderness at Olympic National Park, I’ m dismayed to witness the continual deterioration of the trail system. Although trail crews cut out most of the logs that have blown down on the trails, little more is done to repair the ravages of nature. Trails need maintenance!

These trails were built long ago when there was a vision for every American to have access to the renewing power of wilderness, but lack of funding by Congress has left our National Park system starved for ordinary maintenance and upkeep. The National Parks are truly our national treasure, the crown jewels of our bountiful environment, and the remaining islands of our legacy of wilderness.

So I was relieved to read in the Kitsap Sun that REI and Mike and Sue Raney have combined to donate $3 million to help restore the trail system in Olympic and Rainier National Parks (Link to article). Not only will the donations help rebuild washed-out trails, the work will be done by young people working in a service corps. As one who worked on trail crews many years ago, I can testify to the character-building effects of this kind of work.

The crews in Olympic National Park will help restore damage to the trail to Enchanted Valley, one of the premier destinations for hikers in the park. Thanks, REI and the Raneys. May our trails never end!

Bill Fulton

Sale of our current property – Vicar’s Voice, May 2016

We recently passed a significant milestone in our journey to building a new church: we sold our current church building and property. Although this is only one step on the journey, it’s a big step with many implications.

I know that many of us have strong attachments to our building and property; after all, it’s become a sacred place through our continuing prayers and presence Sunday after Sunday. We have a lot of memories in this place, and it’s not easy to walk away without acknowledging some grief. Many of us have invested a great deal of time and energy in caring for our church and the grounds, so it’s natural that we might feel a loss.

It seems that many steps in our journey have been guided by God, and this sale is one of them. We’re selling to New Fellowship Church, and not only are we happy for them, but it feels good to know that our worship space will continue to be a place of worship to God. The sacred space remains sacred. I’m happy knowing that New Fellowship will be able to grow their church just as we did from the beginning.

An important consideration written into the sale contract is that we have the right to remain in the church with our same schedule for the next year, rent-free. Not only does this save us a lot of money renting elsewhere, it means we don’t have to move twice. There are a number of small items still to be negotiated with New Fellowship Church, such as landscaping, the names on the sign, the cleaning contract, etc.

We received a good amount in the sale, which becomes part of the financial package we’re putting together to build our new church. This sale came along at just the right time, in God’s time as a matter of fact. Other pieces of the financial puzzle include the investments we’ve been building for many years in the Diocesan Investment Fund (DIF), the contributions to our Capital Campaign, a bridge loan from the diocese, and a line of credit we will apply for to cover the complete construction.

May God continue to guide us as we move toward our vision of a new church.

Bill

Author! Author!

Book Signing Events

St. Antony’s is blessed to have many excellent writers in our congregation. Two of them are having book promotion events in the next two weeks: Bill Reeder and Peter Stockwell.

Saturday, April 16
Author Peter Stockwell will join with eleven other local writers for a Local Authors Book Fair at Kitsap Regional Library in Port Orchard, from 11 am to 4 pm. Click here for more information.

Saturday, April 23
Bill Reeder will have a book launch for his new book,Through the Valley; My Captivity in Vietnam, on Saturday, April 23, at 2 pm at Barnes and Noble Bookstore in Silverdale. Click here for a flyer with more information about the book:  Reeder Book Launch Flyer

Why do they call it Good Friday?

Digital graphic illustration of Cross of Jesus Christ composed of textured oil painted background

Good Friday

Why do they call it “Good” Friday? The short answer: because on this day our salvation was won by Jesus on the cross.
There’s much more to it, of course, because the mystery of the cross engages us on many levels and plumbs the depths of our being.
Today we will observe Good Friday with two services. At noon, the hour when Jesus was crucified, we will walk the Stations of the Cross, and at 7 pm we will observe the Good Friday Liturgy.
When we walk with Jesus in his last hours and gaze on the cross, we participate in the mystery and meaning of his death. I hope you’ll join us as we remember our Savior and Lord this day.

Bill

An unforgettable meal

Last Supper

Maundy Thursday

It was an unforgettable meal. The disciples had shared many meals with Jesus, but this meal, Jesus’ last supper, was etched in their memory because of his actions and words.
While they were eating, Jesus got up from the table and went around to each of them, washing their feet. They were shocked at this reversal of roles and they never forgot his words: “I give you a new commandment, to love one another.”
After they had eaten, Jesus took a loaf of bread, blessed and broke it and gave it to them to eat. They were stricken by his words: “This is my body; eat it and remember me.” And he did the same with the cup: “This is my blood; drink it in remembrance of me.”
These powerful actions and words have been passed down through the ages by faithful Christians. They connect us directly to Jesus. When we re-enact the last supper of Jesus, we are transported back to that night 2,000 years ago, and we become the disciples in that room.
I can think of no better way to re-connect with God and renew our faith than to participate in the Maundy Thursday service. I hope you’ll come tomorrow night at 7 pm and experience this meal.

Bill

Holy Mysteries

Holy Week Banner

Holy Mysteries

We’re about to enter the most sacred week of the church year: Holy Week, beginning with Palm Sunday tomorrow.

Holy Week is the time we experience the sacred mysteries of the Christian faith: the suffering, passion, and death of Jesus, and of course his glorious resurrection. By participating in the liturgies of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Day, we accompany Christ in his last days and hours.

It’s an ancient ritual, the time of Holy Week, that clashes with our modern sensibilities. We expect to have everything we need delivered to us instantaneously. The internet promises us instant gratification and virtual perfection. All we have to do for enlightenment or pleasure is to click on the next link.

Holy Week invites to slow down and experience life at its core. We encounter the realities of sin and death, and the intervention of God’s resurrection. These are profound truths to ponder together in the safety of community.

On Palm Sunday we accompany Jesus as he enters the holy city of Jerusalem where he will face suffering and death.

On Maundy Thursday we wash each other’s feet, remembering Jesus’ command to love one another. Is there any imperative more important than this?

On Good Friday we act out the passion and death of Jesus, recalling his humility, his willingness to be the victim to end all victimhood. To accompany Jesus on Good Friday is to face our own death, and to acknowledge the salvation Christ won for us.

Easter Day is the day of resurrection, when we rejoice in the power of life given by God in Jesus Christ. The gift of new life on Easter morning is even more precious when we’ve contemplated the reality of death on Good Friday.

This is our week! I hope you’ll participate in these holy mysteries in the coming days and grow ever deeper in your faith in Christ.

Bill

A Prayer by Thomas Merton

Lenten Prayers

Lent is a time for us to renew our prayer life, and I’d like to share some prayers with you during this Lent. Below is one of my favorite prayers by Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk.

I like this prayer because it is so humble and unassuming. It’s a good prayer to begin with, because it simply asks God for consideration.

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

Thanks,
Bill