Sunrise over vineyard outside of Anthony, New Mexico
From El Paso, Texas to Tucson, Arizona
The Lord lift His countenance upon you, and give you peace.
Week nine of our journey has moved us deeper into the desert wilderness, appropriate for the beginning of Lent. Steven and I were welcomed to a Shrove Tuesday pancake supper at St. Alban’s — El Paso by EPF stalwart Francesca Wigel. After dinner and fellowship, Rev. Dr. Lin Lilley took us into the courtyard for the burning of the palms, a service which I had never been a part of. It was particularly meaningful as I would worship with them again for their noon Ash Wednesday service before Steven and I pulled out of El Paso headed for Tucson. St. Alban’s is deeply committed to welcoming the stranger, and except as they were interrupted by an unexpected need for a pastoral hospital visit, they had been planning to go to the bus station to take provisions and resources for displaced migrants. They do a lot with very few resources — fishes and loaves.
We took our time moving through southern New Mexico and Arizona, camping in vineyards as part of our Harvest Hosts (www.harvesthosts.com) membership and stopping in Sierra Vista, AZ to drop in on St. Stephen’s parish and to see my long-time friend and former work colleague, Melissa Mitchell, and her family.
We arrived in Tucson in time for a quick visit to the Saguaro National Park (highly recommended, especially this time of year when the weather is mild) and were astounded at how other-worldly and full of life a saguaro forest is. On Sunday, I worshipped at Grace-St.Paul’s, where EPF member Rev. Steve Keplinger is rector. Fr. Steve had a remarkable social justice sermon (I’m told that that is a regular thing!) and the liturgy he co-creates is among the most unique and beautiful I have encountered. (See further below for a small sample). His message reminded us of the challenge of Lent: to practice turning the pain of our own lives into a chance to improve the lives of others. Sounds like EPF work to me.
G-SP parishioner Larry Washburn is a long time member of EPF as well, (he was drawn to us by our work in abolition of nuclear weapons some decades ago at All Saints-Pasadena) and Larry is committed to reviving the EPF community in Tucson. Praise be!
On Monday, former EPF National Executive Committee member Ila Abernathy pulled out all the stops and had a multi-parish meeting of those interested in EPF at her home parish, St. Michael and All Angels-Tucson. Thanks to Ila getting our meeting into the local newspaper, we had virtually all of the Episcopal parishes in Tucson represented at our informational meeting, as well as a couple from Appleton, Wisconsin, who want to take our message home with them. Ila is an inspiring and motivated activist, heading up St. Michael’s social action committee and the community’s Guatemala Project. She is active in Tucson Samaritans, a healing presence along the border (www.tucsonsamaritans.org). Read more about St. Michael’s remarkable social activism here: Things to Do in Lent – News from St. Michael’s
Thanks to the energy and vision of EPF members like Ila and Larry, it looks like Tucson will have a multi-parish EPF peace partnership established in short order. Please keep them in your prayers as they organize to empower others to live out their call to serve God’s world.
Sanctuary: St. Alban’s-El Paso
The dust that shapes the journey,
the cross that guides it,
the color that surrounds it,
the light that fades through it,
the word that foretells it,
the wilderness that invites it.
and into its wilderness
God calls us.
Come, sisters and brothers
Jesus is heading for Jerusalem,
and so are we.
(from opening to the liturgy for the First Sunday in Lent,
Grace St. Paul’s – Tucson, AZ)
The beautiful mission style sanctuary of St. Michael and All Angels-Tucson. Interior ceiling is made of saguaro, original adobe walls. Elegant and breathtaking in its simplicity, made more lovely in the
sparseness of Lent.
REGISTRATION FOR COLUMBINE PILGRIMAGE!
Plan to Walk In Love with EPF in April! The weekend after Easter (April 26-28), we will make a pilgrimage to Columbine, Colorado to commemorate the horrible school massacre which happened there twenty years ago, and will rededicate ourselves to eradicating gun violence in America. We will partner with advocates against all forms of gun violence, which includes the daily loss of lives in communities across the country due to domestic violence, gang violence, workplace violence, mass killings, suicide and accidental shootings. Preaching on the Sunday of our commemoration will be Lutheran pastor Don Marxhzausen, who was forced out as pastor of his congregation when he dared eulogize, humanize and preside over the funerals of the young gunmen. I hope if any of you are able, you will join us in Columbine for what we hope will be a transformative remembrance.
Later this week I fly from Phoenix to Chicago for the EPF Palestine Israel Network leadership retreat. Steven and Miranda will spend their Spring Break in Prescott while I am away, and will meet me back at the airport in Phoenix when I return on Monday. Where to after that depends on the weather and the Holy Spirit! I am dreaming of weather warm enough to move back into New Mexico to be with EPF partners in Albequrque and Santa Fe, but still unsure.
If you are in the Phoenix area and want a visit early next week, let me know and we will see what can be arranged! epfactnow.
Finally, in the wish I could be all the places, all the time, category this week: Caroline Stevenson of Little Rock, Arkansas invites us all to join their ecumenical faith and community organization led peace pilgrmage on Sunday, April 28 at 2:00 p.m. : www.pilgrimageforpeace.com
Until next time, power to the peaceful!
"I was thirsty, and you gave me drink."
Water station outside of Grace-St Paul’s, Tucson. Just one icon of many of this socially active parish’s dedication to being Christ’s hands and feet.