Senior Warden Sylvia Sepulveda
Gale-snapped branchesevergreen promise
hooped with sepia-tinged blooms –
pine paean to Peace..
One of our family’s Christmas day traditions is to watch holiday movies together. While my choices invariably include Hugh Grant and/or Emma Thompson (Love, Actually) and the kids’ are some comedy or rom-com variant of A Christmas Vacation (Sinjin) or The Holiday (Sara,) Scott’s is unfailingly, singly, Mister Magoo’s Christmas Carol. Barbara Chain’s adaptation is actually pretty loyal to Dickens’ telling, if you can look past the severely near-sighted bumbling of the lead “actor,” memorably voiced by Jim Backus in this play-within-a-play version. I’ve watched these same 53 minutes in every one of our twenty-eight years of marriage – graduating from VHS to DVD to Blu-ray (not that this latest technology might improve the 1962 animation, we just need to ensure we’re keeping up with our hardware!)
Maybe because I’ve been revisiting this story so regularly, I hadn’t felt the need to re-read Charles Dickens’ original. It was while I was recently dividing the book into the twenty-five sections for the Christ Church Community Advent Celebration presentation that I felt again the incredible genius and timelessness of this work.
Besides the Bible, the one book most foundational to my spiritual formation has been Henri Nouwen’s, The Return of the Prodigal Son, A Story of Homecoming. The book is a culmination of a years-long meditation that started with an encounter of Rembrandt’s painting, The Return of the Prodigal Son. Nouwen came to feel that the painting contained all that God wanted to tell him, but also all that Nouwen wanted to tell God and God’s people.
“I have been led to an inner place where I had not been before. It is the place within me where God has chosen to dwell. It is the place where I am held safe in the embrace of an all-loving Father who calls me by name and says, ‘You are my beloved son, on you my favor rests.’ It is the place where I can taste the joy and the peace that are not of this world.”henry nouwen
Nouwen is initially drawn to the parallels between his own life and that of the younger, prodigal son, seeing the many ways he sought unconditional love where it could not be found, as if trying to prove that he didn’t need the home where he’s “called a child of God, the Beloved of my Father.” The blessing is there from the beginning and the Father is always looking to receive us with love and joy. It’s up to us to receive God’s forgiveness, to reclaim our dignity by surrendering “so absolutely to God’s love that a new person emerges.”
The sentimentality of this reunion bounces off the cold rigidness of the elder son who, stewing in his own resentment, is as lost as the prodigal. Outwardly he was faultless says Nouwen, but “joy and resentment cannot coexist.” The elder brother’s judgment and bitterness kept him rooted to his ego, looking for unconditional love through validation of his virtue. Having one son back is not enough for the forgiving Father, says Nouwen. He must have both. There is room for all of us in God’s embrace Nouwen insists.
“God is urging me to come home, to enter into his light, and to discover there that, in God, all people are uniquely and completely loved. In the light of God I can finally see my neighbor as my brother, as the one who belongs as much to God as I do.”henry nouwen
Finally, Nouwen concludes, whether we’re the younger son or the elder, we’re all heirs of God and destined to become successors. “The great conversion called for by Jesus is to move from belonging to the world to belonging to God.” Our own fear of God’s power limits the love we receive and offer, “this paralyzing fear of God is one of the great human tragedies.”
The White Nationalist administration of the last four years, led by a US President who said my mother comes from a ****hole country and Mexicans are rapists and criminals, really raised the hackles of my inner-elder. As I’ve mentioned to my EfM classmates several times over these years, the depth of antipathy I feel toward this group has been almost as disconcerting as their wanton destruction of our republic. The votes of over eighty-five million people for a new president have, for the time-being, quelled much of my concern about the safety of our democracy, but what about the profound disdain and distrust for the brethren I’m so eager to see leave government employment?
In the way I’ve known prayer to work, these thoughts were only peripherally in mind as I began the job of partitioning A Christmas Carol. Early in the first stave/chapter, on Christmas Eve, Ebenezer Scrooge is approached by a couple of gentlemen asking for a donation to help the poor and destitute, that they might have some food and warmth rather than go to poorhouses where they’re likely to die. “If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.” Oh my God, I thought, who does that sound like? If paper towels existed at the time, he’d have tossed them a roll.
Spoiler Alert! Well into stave two, Scrooge’s betrothed breaks his heart. She, who would’ve been the love of his life if he hadn’t lost his sense chasing fortune’s skirts. Ouch! I had to admit, that’s pretty harsh when a nineteenth-century woman breaks an engagement with an upwardly-mobile young gent. That had to hurt. Poor Scrooge tried hard to tamp out that little light of Christmas Past but it wouldn’t die! Hm. Mister Magoo hadn’t portrayed this detail with to such impressive effect. I won’t provide a stave-by-stave report here – you’ll have to read the book yourself, or better yet, watch our presentation! Suffice it to say, by the end, Scrooge’s joy at buying a turkey literally brought me to tears.
Henri Nouwen points out that a joyful banquet is often at the center of Jesus’ description of God’s Kingdom.
“Just as in the parable of the prodigal son, Jesus expresses here the great desire of his Father to offer his children a banquet and his eagerness to get it going even when those who are invited refuse to come. This invitation to a meal is an invitation to intimacy with God.”henry nouwen
I had been pushing myself away from God’s table. As much as I knew that to be true, and as much as it troubled me, I couldn’t help myself. Dickens’ genius brought me to tears of joy – not only for Ebenezer, that he was finally able to embrace the light within himself, but that I could rejoice for and with someone who had been so thoroughly hateful. That long-ago vocabulary word, catharsis, had heaved a heavy darkness from my soul, leaving me wet-cheeked and stunned as the cursor blinked on my screen. Preparation, indeed.
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.”isaiah 9:2
Advent & Christmas 2020
All Advent & Christmas services & events will be held via Zoom.
The First Sunday of Advent
Sunday, November 29
The Second Sunday of Advent & Celebratory Coffee Hour
Sunday, December 6
Morning Prayer at 10:30 am
Guest Preacher: The Rt. Reverend Sanford Hampton
Coffee Hour Celebration of the ministries of Rev. Carol Rodin
& Mr. Dale Ramerman
Celebration of the 130th Anniversary of the founding of Christ Church
Advent Taize Service
Wednesday, December 9
The Third Sunday of Advent
Sunday, December 13
Thursday, December 17
Featuring Lynne Berg
The Fourth Sunday of Advent
Sunday, December 20
Thursday, December 24
Evening Prayer with hymns & carols, readings, & Godly Play
The service will also be available on our website for viewing later in the evening.
Special Advent Offering for the Diocese of Jerusalem
Please be generous. The needs are very great. Make checks payable to Christ Church, with memo to Diocese of Jerusalem. Place in maildrop or mail to the church office by December 20.
The following is an excerpt from The Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem website.
…The Diocese of Jerusalem covers five countries and is home to almost thirty parishes. Our healthcare and education ministries are active and growing across the region with the provision of hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centres, and schools. Alongside these ministries the Diocesan Peace and Reconciliation department continues to work at strengthening the interfaith dialogue with our fellow Jews and Muslims. Our Kids4Peace programme in turn strives to educate the next generation in a language of tolerance and acceptance.
These ministries serve to sustain and strengthen our Christian presence as we teach respect and concern for all people, bringing hope to many, regardless of faith, where the light of hope is often dim. With a dwindling church membership due to emigration caused by local strife and economic hardship, the ministry here has more than the usual challenges. The maintenance of the historic Arab Christian presence, the ‘Living Stones,’ is vital therefore to the future stability of the region as we put our faith into action ‘loving our neighbours as ourselves.
As part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, the Diocese of Jerusalem welcomes the support and prayers of all. Come and visit us, become Ambassadors for peace, tell others in your church communities about our work, and remember us in your prayers. If peace is possible in Jerusalem, peace will be possible across the world.
Join us in our mission.
You will always be welcome.
The Most Revd Suheil S. Dawani, Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem
Community Advent Celebration
As you read this, our inaugural Community Advent Celebration is underway! It’s been so much fun getting this project started, it’s hard to believe we won’t be doing it again every year.
One of the most difficult separations during COVID-19 physical-distancing has been from the children and young families of our congregation. We miss seeing our young friends and it’s been difficult not being able to help out in the usual ways. To let them know we’re thinking about them, we sent ten Christ Church families/fifteen children Community Advent Celebration boxes containing a variety of materials, including: an Advent wreath with candles, a family prayers booklet, blank cards/envelopes to make Christmas cards, colored paper for making tree chains, patterns and supplies to make St. Lucia crowns or Star Boy hats and wands, Chrismon patterns to cut out or to needlepoint for the older kids, colored tissue paper to make flowers as we celebrate Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe, and bags and candles to make luminaria to accompany the liturgy for Las Posadas.
The Community part continues with daily blog posts that contain prayers, links to liturgies, and suggestions of activities that we can all do at home, in fellowship if not in-person. (We haven’t gone as far as scheduling Advent Activity Zoom meetings, but I’d be glad to join if someone would like to do that.) The blog posts start on the website homepage on the first Sunday of Advent, November 29, and will continue through Christmas. After one day, each blog post will move to the permanent Community Advent Celebration page. The highlight of each blog post is the day-by-day presentation of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, read by a variety of Christ Church community members. Dickens’ portrayal of a lost soul transformed by the Spirit of Christmas is an entertaining and surprisingly current tale of compassion and redemption. All this we do in preparation for the great gift of incarnation that we celebrate at Christmas.
A hearty thanks is owed to Jerlyn Caba, Judith Render, and Maggie Collinge for planning, buying, cutting, sorting, emailing, etc. (Next year, we can get the activity boxes together in the parish hall, singing carols, eating cookies, and drinking mulled wine!)
The 130th Anniversary of the Founding of Christ Church
A few people gathered in a storage room at the old Anacortes Post Office on December 1, 1890 to hold their first worship service at what would be named Christ Church. The building was located on R Avenue, between 3rd and 4th Streets, later known as the Edgewater Apartment Building, before it burned down in 1959. That location was about a block north of the Great Northern Rail depot, now known as the Depot Arts Center.
Notice the rustic setting: steam engine train coming down the tracks, unpaved roads, horse and buggies waiting to ferry train passengers wearing suits and hats, and the Methodist Episcopal Church seen in the background. This was the look of Anacortes in 1890. (Anacortes wasn’t officially named until 1891.)
The Rev, W. H. Platt, freshly arrived from California, became the first resident priest, and working with an energized congregation and two lots of land at M and 7th Street, donated by the Oregon Improvement Company, was able to see a church built within less than a year. A M. Gibbs of San Francisco, contributed $200. towards a building and with other contributions, parishioners were able to build the church sanctuary for around $1200.
The first service in the new debt-free sanctuary was held on October 27, 1891. The furnishings included an Estey organ, wicker spindle chairs, a canopied chancel, and ornamented rafters. The general effect was considered very beautiful, according to an article in the Anacortes American. Records show that Amos Bowman and his wife, Annie Curtis Bowman, for whom Anacortes was named, attended Christ Church.
The furnishings of Chris Church are rich in tradition and history. The beautiful altar, stately in its Gothic design, was shipped in 1897 from New York City, traveling around Cape Horn and up to the west coast of the United States. The baptismal font, pews and lectionary, (no longer present), were installed in the sanctuary in 1897.
The vicarage was built in 1915 and was used as such for 64 years, holding many social gatherings by the priest in residence with his parishioners, but when the need no loner existed, it was decided to raise the house and construct a basement for Sunday School classes as well as a clerical office and a meeting room. The former vicarage space could then be used as a gathering room, with a kitchen, suitable for Sunday morning coffee hours, as well as large meetings and potluck meals. There is also an office for the Church Office Administrator.
The Great Depression of the 1930’s was a particularly hard time for Christ Church. In sifting through historical articles, there is mention of the church on the verge of closing, but for the generosity of three parishioners, who literally gave near all of their money to keep the doors open. With mills and canneries closing, the congregation dramatically dwindled.
Here are a few photos of folks you may remember.
At far right is the October 11, 1947 wedding of Maxine and Stan Mondhan, the grandparents of Washington State Senator Liz Lovelett. Next to them are daughters Donna and Joan Mondhan, taken on Easter 1957.
At left is a photo of Fr. Fitzroy Richards, taken for the March 17, 1993 edition of the Anacortes American. Several of the parishioners thought of Fr. Richards as “the singing priest” because he would spontaneously break into song during the service to make a point. In the background of the photo are hand-carved double wooden sanctuary doors. When the doors are closed the carvings form a Celtic cross; the four stained glass portals depict the Seal of the Episcopal Church. (Artists Charles Williams, Clarence Steel and Robert Miller designed and made the doors.)
The much- admired sanctuary stained glass windows were designed and made by John Perry of Issaquah and dedicated in a service on September 28, 1988, presided over by The Rt. Rev. Bishop Robert H. Cochrane. Acknowledgements are as follows:
- Jesus in the Temple (Gift of Morley and Lou Bingham)
- The Sermon on the Mount (In memory of Christian and Ann Johansen and their children: Maren, Anna, Alfreda, Elmer and Edward)
- Calming of the waters (In memory of Charles and Vivian Bush)
- The Last Supper (Gift of Arthur and Betty Mae Brooks)
- The Crucifixion of Christ (Gift of Arthur and Betty Mae Brooks)
- The Nativity of Our Lord (In memory of Rachel and Gordon McLachlan)
- The Baptism of Jesus (Gift of Morley and Lois Bingham)
Over the past few years several significant changes have occurred at Christ Church. We’ve had two calls to Total Common Ministry, (non-stipendiary positions), changed by the vote of the congregation, to a Ministry Support Circle, rather than following the traditional model of hiring a priest, beginning in 2010. We are beginning the process for the third call. The Red Door Thrift Shop, once known as The Mouse House, has expanded its service to online sales. The mortgage for our Gentry House property was paid off in 2019 and a new narthex was added to the sanctuary in 2017. We’ve also invested time, talent and treasure into several missions: the soon to be built infant-childcare facility in Anacortes, a world-wide effort called “Seeds of Hope,” started locally with Fr. Dale Johnson, Deacon Eric Johnson and Dale Ramerman, Anacortes Cold Weather Shelter, and support of Gentry House as well as numerous financial donations to worthwhile organizations through the Red Door revenues.
Although the pandemic has decidedly changed our worship and meetings to virtual on Zoom, we have found creative ways to make the best of a challenging year. HAPPY 130th ANNIVERSARY!
Christ Church’s Stained Glass Windows
The Last Supper
Reverend Deacon Eric Johnson
The sixth of a series of eight articles on the stained glass windows in Christ Church.
This depiction of Jesus and the disciples at the Last Supper, surrounded by the symbols of bread, grapes and wine, reminds us that this is the climax of all the feeding stories in the New Testament. Jesus provided food and drink at the miracle at the wedding feast at Cana and the feeding of the 5,000. Here he gives himself, sharing himself in the symbolism of the most basic of food. As Jesus holds up the chalice before the disciples, we are reminded of what St. Augustine wrote about the Eucharist: “Behold what you are; become what you receive.”
The disciples are clothed in colorful robes, all except for the disciple in black/cobalt blue, the disciple I suspect to be Judas Iscariot. Judas’ presence at the table reminds us that the value of the gift that Jesus offers does not depend on how much that gift is appreciated. How often do we feel slighted when we feel unappreciated for a gift or service given? How often do we fail to thank God for the gifts given us? On the other hand, Jesus offers his body to imperfect humans, and that is our saving grace.
The central symbol of this picture is at the bottom right: a Trinitarian sheaf of wheat surmounted by the bunch of grapes and grape leaves, a common symbol of the Eucharist. Wheat is the basic food of many cultures and is often viewed as a gift from heaven; in Christian iconography wheat represents the body of Christ. The spreading grape leaves represent Jesus’ statement that “I am the vine; you are the branches.” The grapevine represents the people of God, with its spreading tendrils reaching out to all corners of the earth. This the only window in the series that contains any written word: “Do this in remembrance of me.” “Do this” is Jesus’ command for us to act, to perform this action, despite our inability to fully understand the meaning of it.
Even the Book of Common Prayer doesn’t give us a complete understanding of the Eucharist; it provides us with three different appreciations in three different Eucharistic prayers. This helps us to remember that having a perfect knowledge of Christ is not the ultimate goal of faith. Our knowledge, however imperfect, must inform our life’s actions. “Blessed rather are those,” Jesus says, “who hear the word of God and obey it.” Or as John wrote in his first epistle, “Let us not live with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:18)
Christ Church’s Virtual Red Kettle for the Salvation Army
The Reverend Deacon Eric Johnson
I’m avoiding supermarkets during this time of pandemic, so most of the meals at Casa Johnson are delivered from Simply Fresh and Blue Apron (not that there aren’t other delivery services). This also means that I don’t have many opportunities to put spare change in the Salvation Army kettles, and, because of the age of most of the volunteers in Anacortes, the number of bellringers is down, as well.
However, we at Christ Episcopal Church can contribute (from the safety of our own homes) to our own Virtual Red Kettle. You can find our Christ Episcopal Church kettle at
(All the funds we donate stay in Anacortes!) You can be a virtual bellringer for our kettle, as well. You’ll see little icons on our fundraising page, where, with one click you can invite your friends via email, Facebook or Twitter and ask them to contribute. We’re part of a larger Anacortes campaign, with its two largest donors being us and the individual members of the Kiwanis Club.
(We’re behind, but that won’t last, I’m sure…)
I didn’t realize, until I joined the Anacortes Corps board of advisors, that the majority of the donations made to the Anacortes Corps of The Salvation Army comes from holiday-season bellringing. (Who would have thought?) Although Captain Susan Cassin at the Anacortes Corps fears that donations will be down, we already know that the need for assistance has never been higher. Because of the tenuous employment situation, more families have come to the food bank and sought assistance to cover utility bills and rent. Any donation amount, large or small, would certainly be welcome and would support the work of the volunteers and staff at Anacortes.SalvationArmy.org
A New Call to Total Common Ministry (TCM)
June Cook, Pastoral Leader
Christ Church has embraced the TCM model of ministry since 2013. Since then, in two separate calls, eight congregants have been commissioned into the Ministry Support Circle, four into ordained ministry, four to lay ministry. Betty Anne McCoy stepped back from the Circle several years ago, and Rev Brian Lennstrom, because of full-time work obligations, is limiting his role as sacramentalist only.
With Rev Carol Rodin and Dale Ramerman stepping away from the Circle on January 1, the Circle will number four, Rev Diane Ramerman, Rev Deacon Eric Johnson, Diane Canington, and June Cook. It’s time to begin discernment to call new people into this important support and leadership ministry.
In late November you received, via e-mail or the postal service, a list of questions (and answers) you may have about how we will move forward. On December 2, the Circle hosted a Zoom forum to clarify those answers for you and to discuss further the implications of these changes.
Later this month you will receive a booklet of information on the Total Common Ministry model, the call and discernment processes, the spirit-given gifts we all have, the qualities sought in Circle members, and so forth. In late December, look for a forum to discuss and review the Spiritual Gifts Inventory.
Please give the booklet your prayerful attention; this call to Circle ministry will set the tone of support leadership for the future. As you review the information, you may decide to explore ways to share your own gifts in a more intentional way.
Adult Youth Group
New Year’s Eve Party!
The Adult Youth Group (seventy and over!)
will gather on ZOOM to celebrate the New Year.
Thursday, December 31
Details to follow.
Adult Faith Formation
The Jesus Fatwah: Love Your (Muslim) Neighbor as Yourself
Sundays, November 8 – December 20
11:45 am – 12:45 pm via Zoom
In The Jesus Fatwah, Islamic and Christian scholars offer reliable information about what Muslims believe, how they live out their faith, and how we all can be about building relationships across the lines of faith. Please join in. All are welcome.
If joining by phone:
Meeting ID 503 653 606 One tap mobile +12532158782,,503653606# US (Tacoma)
Bishop’s Committee Meeting Minutes Summary
Please remember you are always welcome to attend Bishop’s Committee Meetings, which typically occur the second Monday of each month at 6 p.m. The meeting information and Zoom link can be found on the website calendar. If you have trouble finding any of this information, please contact Marcy for assistance.
Summary of November 9, 2020 Bishop’s Committee Meeting
- Sylvia acknowledged that Christ Church sits on the traditional territory of the Coast Salish and Skagit Peoples, with hope that we’ll work as a community to understand, disrupt, and dismantle the impacts of colonialism here.
- Clergy Announcement
- Rev. Carol Rodin will withdraw from the Ministry Support Circle (MSC) and retire as priest of Christ Church.
- Dale Ramerman will withdraw from the MSC.
- Rev. Diane Ramerman will step back from many of her duties, continuing to serve primarily as a sacramentalist.
- All changes to be effective January 1, 2021.
- Maggie moved to accept the resignation of Rev. Carol Rodin as priest of Christ Church, effective January 1, 2021, in honor of her request. Maegan seconded the Motion and it passed unanimously.
- Treasurer’s Report presented by Lorne Render
- For ten months of the year (83% for the year) we are at 90% for income and 59% for expenses. Last year income was 92% and expenses 76%.
- Carleton made a Motion to accept the Treasurer’s Report, Don seconded, and Motion passed unanimously.
- Next BC meeting is December 14, 6:00 pm, via Zoom.
Happy Birthday to…
…Dale Ramerman on December 14
Please send the month & date of your birthday, baptismal date, anniversary, and/or other special occasions so we can help you celebrate your blessings in the Joyful Noise. Please send to People’s Warden Judith Render at email@example.com, 360-982-2770.
6 December 2020 The Second Sunday of Advent 10:30 am Morning Prayer Presider: Rev. Brian Lennstrom Homilist: The Rt. Rev. Sandy Hampton Deacon: Rev. Dn. Eric Johnson Readings Isaiah 40:1-11 Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13 2 Peter 3:8-15a Mark 1:1-8 13 December 2020 The Third Sunday of Advent 10:30 am Holy Eucharist Presider: Rev. Diane Ramerman Homilist: Mr. Dale Ramerman Deacon: Rev. Dn. Eric Johnson Readings Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11 Psalm 126 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 John 1:6-8, 19-28 20 December 2020 The Fourth Sunday of Advent 10:30 am Morning Prayer Presider: Rev. Dn. Eric Johnson Homilist: Mr. John Okerman Readings 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16 Canticle 15 Romans 16:25-27 Luke 1:26-38 24 December 2020 Christmas Eve 4:30 pm Evening Prayer Presider: Rev. Diane Ramerman Homilist: Rev. Carol Rodin Deacon: Rev. Dn. Eric Johnson Readings Isaiah 9:2-7 Psalm 96 Titus 2:11-14 Luke 2:1-20 27 December 2020 The First Sunday after Christmas Day 10:30 am Morning Prayer Presider: Rev. Brian Lennstrom Homilist: Rev. Brian Lennstrom Deacon: Rev. Dn. Eric Johnson Readings Isaiah 61:10-62:3 Psalm 147 Galatians 3:23-25, 4:4-7 John 1:1-18