Thursday, April 24, 2014

Friendship Palms

Readers of this blog may remember the re-post of Fr. David Marshall's reflection on distributing ashes in a local mall in Chula Vista CA on Ash Wednesday. This is a sequel about palms on Palm Sunday 2014.

“Like this palm, God’s love is free,” read the tags on hundreds of palms designed for a free give-away on Palm Sunday. The idea for the give-away started on Ash Wednesday. When the “Ashes on the Go” team was shut down by mall security, a passer-by said not to give up and instead give away our extra palms on Palm Sunday. I thought it was a remarkably good idea.

Palm Sunday is the day on which we remember Jesus’ march into Jerusalem. Throngs of people cut down branches for him to walk over. Others were waving branches in the air. The crowd shouted, “Hosanna in the highest!” as he went by. There is no 21st century equivalent of this event for me. We see tickertape parades when a sports team wins a national championship. But that’s simply not the same. Jesus was about to sacrifice his life on the cross; there were no parades after his death or resurrection.

In a personal sense, a palm branch can be seen as a 21st century friendship bracelet. As the hymn goes, “What a friend we have in Jesus,” a palm is one outward sign of our friendship. So, on Palm Sunday, we passed out free friendship bracelets. Something caught me by surprise during our palm give-away. Crowds did not clamor to get them. Many passed by without much thought of what one of our Saint John’s kids was trying to give them. I was stunned at how easy it is for some people to walk by a cute kid, wearing their Sunday best, enthusiastically holding yard-long palms. Yet, some understood. They saw the palms and walked over for them.


The ultimate friendship bracelet is God’s grace. Like a palm that is given away by a smiling child, God’s grace is found everywhere, even in a mall. The free gift of Grace is that – a gift. One has a choice to receive it or not.

On the original Palm Sunday, not all passers-by chose to worship God by shouting “Hosanna!” when Jesus walked by. The choice of Grace was theirs then as it is ours today.

- Fr. Marshall

A few things that are interesting to me this morning:

A customer explained her purchase stating that she had worn out her Book of Common Prayer. I replied with admiration. Wearing it out takes years of prayerful dedication, in my humble opinion.

A publisher listed their top selling titles. The first title listed is a book that has not yet been released. How do they do that and maintain integrity?

A fellow was so impressed with our service that he sent us a Hallmark card that arrived in this morning’s mail with a full page of description about his church and spiritual life and his thanks to us.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Easter bulletin covers

We received a request yesterday, and another one today (Wednesday in Holy Week) for bulletin covers with an Easter theme.
We stopped carrying bulletin covers some years ago when there were not enough sales to justify having several styles in stock.
The gentleman today who wanted Easter bulletin covers concluded with the question, “What has happened that I can’t find any in Seattle?”
I think that there are two main contributors to this lack of local availability, the Internet and more secularization of our society. Twice this week I’ve been asked, “Is Easter this weekend?”

Monday, April 14, 2014

A special relationship with an Episcopal Church Service Cross

Here is a description of a faithful serviceman's relationship to an Episcopal Church Service Cross as related to us by his wife.

My husband was a Methodist when we first married but soon was attending Episcopal services with me.  Before he went to Vietnam the first time, 1970, he told me he wanted to become an Episcopalian.  We were in Pittsburgh with my family and he would be leaving for Vietnam Nam from there.  My mother called Trinity Cathedral and asked if this was possible with only a few days before his departure and they quickly made the arrangements.  The Canon of the church confirmed him and gave him the Episcopal Service Cross.  He put it on then and never took it off.  Years later we were stationed in Italy.  He had always said that he wished the cross was in gold.  I took it to gold smith and he made a mold of the cross and then he made a gold cross.  It is beautiful!  Again my husband never took it off.  On October 3, 2013 he passed away.  He told me that he wanted it to go to our oldest grandchild.  Emilia was confirmed April 6, 2014.  I gave her the cross that she had played with as a small child around her Grandaddy's neck.  I don't think we could have given her anything that she values more.  If you only knew where that cross has been you would be amazed.