Conversations with Dean Evelyn
From me to you …
In a world that seems so hostile right now, I must be crazy. But I AM EXTRAORDINARILY GRATEFUL! I know it, and I don’t mind telling you how much I revel in being here in this place at this time … how much I marvel at the beauty of the view from where I am sitting right now … how much I ponder with love about the people I see and work with and pray with each and every day and occasionally three times on Sundays … I am just so grateful!
I have not always been as grateful as I am now. There were times when I didn’t even notice that I was blessed beyond belief with love, laughter, family and all the trappings of life. Except, that even then somehow I knew everything I was and everything I had came because I was loved by God. I think I’ve always known that—you see, like many of you, I went to Sunday school as a child and learned that God is good and gracious and gives us everything.
That, my friends, is just the beginning of the story. My story. Your story. Our story. For the next two Sundays at the 9:15 a.m. Adult Formation time, let’s you and I talk about what it means to be grateful … to be blessed with love … to be given so much in our lives … and then what we can do about that … what we’re called to do. We’re beginning our Annual Giving Campaign, hoping to conclude in a few weeks with an outpouring of generosity that only God can imagine! You’ll respond as you always do, I will, too. But let’s also talk a bit about why we find generosity to be so compelling, why we give for the sake of the Gospel. Not a lot of talk, but SOME talk, some stories that might open our hearts to each other a little bit more.
I promise not to talk about your pledge, your giving to our beloved Cathedral, if you’ll promise to share your stories of the things in your lives that make you stop and wonder about how lucky you are—and how God has blessed you. I promise! Will you?
It’s 9:15 a.m. in the Common Room for the next two Sundays. See you there!!!
A profound sadness has fallen over our land. A wound that was beginning to heal from previous disasters and tragedies has reopened and poured forth with a ferocity—and at the same time, a numbness—that we haven’t felt for a long time. Somehow those of us who believe in a world that God means to be good, have trouble understanding why we keep rebelling against the One Who made us for His pleasure. I have no answers, and yet I continue to hope that our better angels will ultimately prevail, that the Good News of Christ will be called up from our sorrows, that we will heed the words of Micah and of Jesus to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with the Lord. I read some wisdom in a letter this week from the bishop of Arkansas, The Rt. Rev. Larry Benfield. Bishop Benfield speaks of justice and mercy in a way that speaks volumes not only of his own faith, but of his understanding of the Christian condition. Please click the following link and ponder it’s truth and then continue to pray.
Meanwhile, let’s pray together, celebrate our baptisms together, and honor Marco’s ordination together on Sunday. See you there.
I read this in a daily blog feed I receive and thought you might find it inspirational. Frederick Buechner is the author.
“In Beauty and the Beast, it is only when the Beast discovers that Beauty really loves him in all his ugliness that he himself becomes beautiful. In the experience of Saint Paul, it is only when we discover that God really loves us in all our unloveliness that we ourselves start to become godlike. Paul’s word for this gradual transformation of a sow’s ear into a silk purse is sanctification, and he sees it as the second stage in the process of salvation. Being sanctified is a long and painful stage because with part of themselves, sinners prefer their sin, just as with part of himself the Beast prefers his glistening snout and curved tusks. Many drop out with the job hardly more than begun, and among those who stay with it, there are few if any who don’t drag their feet most of the way. But little by little—less by taking pains than by taking it easy—the forgiven person starts to become a forgiving person, the healed person to become a healing person, the loved person to become a loving person. God does most of it. The end of the process, Paul says, is eternal life.”
See you in church Sunday.
In a world where a man can be tortured, dismembered and killed and no leader who should be, is outraged; in a world where people can go hungry everyday and no leader who should be, is disgusted; in a world where personal entitlement and selfishness is rampant and no leader who should be, is willing to stand up and say “No more!” let each of us remember the God Who is outraged, is disgusted and calls out our sin, is ever-present with us. Crying over our separation from him as we continue defiling the world He made for our care and enjoyment. Let each of us recall our contribution to the world we live in, both our sins and our holiness … and drop to our knees and ask for forgiveness for our daily sins and then, offer our thanksgivings for God’s free gift of grace. A gift we can never earn, and yet a gift that is freely given.
I really hope to see YOU in church Sunday.
Jesus promises to bind up the wounds of our broken bodies and inner hearts. In a world of such chaos, such hatred, such entrenchment, let us each remember that our brokenness as his followers can be healed if we but stop our talking, calm our anxieties, reach out for each other and begin to listen to what God-in-Christ is trying to say to us.
See you in church!
Now that the Vestry has appointed the Dean Search Committee and plans and preparations for their work are in place, let’s turn our attention to the Conversations that are being held in various locations throughout the city—gatherings of parishioners to talk about GHTC and the traditions and history that are important to us. If you haven’t signed up to attend one, please do so Sunday in Founders’ Hall or go online right now, bit.ly/GHTC-Conversations, before you forget. This is a really important part of the way the Search Committee will present us to potential candidates … and only YOU can do it. So please, get involved, go, talk about how wonderful we are and what your dreams are for us and for our new dean.
This is your time. Make the most of it!
See you in church Sunday!
Things are moving forward! Signups for the Cathedral Conversations have begun (be sure to sign up during coffee hour or online at bit.ly/GHTC-Conversations to make sure you get the day and time you want) and the Vestry has been working hard to finalize the members of the search committee. We still have a few details to iron out, but rest assured, the committee will be finalized, and installed, this Sunday! Keep everyone involved in your prayers as they undertake this important work.
See you in church Sunday!
A friend asked me one day last week how my prayer life was going. He knows me well, so I knew I couldn’t get away with a breezy “Great!”, I really had to tell him. So, I admitted it was a little sketchy these days, that somehow I just didn’t think God cared very much about my needs, especially given much He was needed elsewhere, that I’d get by. (See how foolish I am!)
“Did you notice the rainbow yesterday after it rained?” he asked me. “Oh, wasn’t it beautiful!” I remarked, thinking the subject had changed. And then, he said, “You just did it.” “Did what?” “You just prayed.”
And so I was called up short … of course I know that I pray, we all do, whether we think of it that way or not. The odd silence we fall into when something beautiful happens, or something very good or very bad. The “Ah-h-h-h” that sometimes floats up out of us when fireworks burst over water. The stammer of commiseration over someone’s pain. Or their joy. Whatever words or sounds we use for sighing over our own lives. These are all prayers in their way. They are all offered spontaneously not just to ourselves, but to something or Someone even more familiar than ourselves and even more strange than the world.
Jesus said that the most important thing about praying is to keep at it. Don’t give up. Be persistent. Not because we have to beat a path to God’s door to get His attention, but because until we beat that path (I mean, keep doing it), maybe there’s no way to really be in relationship with God.
Prayer is talking, in all the myriad ways we communicate – words, certainly; touch, thought, spontaneous sounds of delight or sorrow, so many ways. And even if we don’t believe anyone’s listening, or cares, believe Someone is and does. Just keep on beating a path to God’s door, because, even with halting and unthinking prayer, the God Who’s listening will finally come. The door will open – still again. It always does.
See you in church Sunday!
As we move farther into the fall here at the Cathedral, our lives and activities pick up and seem newer, brighter, better than ever. Perhaps that is so about some of our things. But I suspect it’s because God has reminded us that resurrection lives among us, that “all things bright and beautiful,” to call up a favorite hymn, also is about our renewed understanding of who Jesus is in our lives with a reminder that each day is an opportunity to be newer, brighter, better than ever—simply by recognizing our place in God’s economy. That we carry with us and in us the light that lightens all burdens. That we have the gift of freshness in relationships with one another that opens hearts and minds. That we can and do acknowledge who we are and Whose we are.
We are truly All Things Bright and Beautiful, every one of us. Even me! Even you!
See you in church Sunday!
It’s that time! Classes new and interesting for all ages begin this week— lectionary Bible study with Christy and Bob, adult forum and spirituality sessions with Jerry, book group with Jackye Finnie, children’s choir with Linda, Tallis and Trinity choirs with Paul, Trinity Teens Youth Group with Alexandra and Cafe Grazia—good food, a lively book review with the author, a powerful movie and fun singing. All the other things we at the Cathedral do to live into our calling as Christians will go on, too.
On top of that, your applications to serve on the Dean Search Committee are coming in. If you want to be part of this vital ministry having to do with our future, be sure to get your application in to the office by Friday.
Catch all the details in this newsletter, or the Sunday bulletin, or the announcements! You don’t want to miss out on all the great ministries, programs and activities here. As they used to say: “Be there or be square!”
See you in church Sunday!
To be a priest that serves God and his people in this place often brings unexpected surprises of the most delightful kind! Last Sunday afternoon was one of those times—I attended the closing Eucharist for the Happening we hosted and led here. Amanda Colburn, the rector of Happening, delivered the sermon. She had delivered the sermon last spring when we had Youth Sunday, and we all remember how good it was, so I thought I knew what to expect. But was I wrong! Amanda offered words of power and grace that belied her youth. Her meditation was thoughtful and profound, it was joy-filled in a way that made me—and others, I might add—realize that we were in the presence of a holy moment.
I’m sharing it with you, so that you can more fully understand not only the beauty of Amanda’s words of faith, but also realize the depth of understanding which our youth are getting as they participate in Cathedral and Diocesan Youth ministries. Alexandra Connors and Curtis Hamilton are leading these young people on an amazing journey into adulthood, with vision and grace, with love and dedication. Please click the link to hear Amanda’s expression of her journey and her challenge to all of us on ours. You will be blessed many times over—then let her know how much you care about her, the youth, this place, because of who she is.
See you in church!
As we look forward to the holiday to come, let us remember to pray for those who are in any kind of need …. and for all the joys of our lives, big and small. Prayer changes lives, especially the lives of those praying!
See you in church!
I’m on retreat this week—sitting still and listening deeply to God speak to me in his language, that of silence. I am keeping sabbath. It’s very grace-filled and important to do this in the normal cadence of our lives: this holy pausing for a moment, a day, a time. Simply to be. Sabbath time—holy time, the first created sanctuary. I invite you to join me in sabbath-keeping by pausing and simply being. When I return to you next week, I pray that we will together walk into the ways he has in mind for all of us, having stopped and listened to him and not ourselves.
See you in church in a while!
May God’s love be the pattern for our love. May God’s wide embrace, God’s boundless generosity, God’s reckless mercy, God’s steadfast and unfailing love be our rule and guide.
~ David Vryhof, SSJE
See you in church!
You have been on my heart this week … you always are … but never more so than in the last few days. I have been pondering about whether we know each other at all, whether we are willing to know and be known, and whether God knows us. We’re on a journey to a place that’s unknown, and to arrive safely we must admit that we need each other, we need to belong to each other. You and I find ourselves in the midst of our busy lives, standing in the fray and searching for the companionship of others who care … and we forget sometimes the One who is there to love us and sustain us. Always.
As the Holy Spirit would have it, the following words arrived in my computer mail, words about belonging. They reminded me that the holiness of belonging begins and ends with God. One of the monks at the Society of St. John the Evangelist just outside Boston wrote this about belonging:
“Those who belong to God and know themselves to be loved unconditionally by God find great confidence and freedom. There is nothing that God does not know. There is no place where God is not present. There is nothing that can separate us from God’s love. Nothing. Ever.”
Perhaps you were on my heart this week so persistently, because God was being who God is … the lover of souls. Yours. Mine. Ours. And was doing everything possible to make sure I remembered.
See you in church!
This week so much has swirled around in my life: dinner with friends, appointments for Eucharist, conversations about budgets, plans for campus lockdown, lunches for work talk instead of Royals/Chiefs/whatever talk … it’s been this way for a while. A while too long, too busy, too frantic. Except for one day—there was a conversation about dreams, about hopes, about the holiness of life and laughter, of food and fellowship, of the things that shape us, mold us, and give us meaning as a family of faith.
Then this morning I read a blog post that reminded me of you, me, of us—about a man and his dog, and Jesus. About footprints that leave behind a tale of friendship and the mark that companionship adds to our journeys. And I think I’ll have to preach about it all on Sunday.
It’s a mystery, this journey of faith. We don’t know where we are going, we don’t know what it will look like at the end, it’s an uncomfortable place to be in … we just know we must keep going. And so we do, you and I—together into the future, taking the risk that God’s ultimately in charge, trusting that all will be well. To do otherwise, to stop living as we are called to live, would be unthinkable, wouldn’t it?
Let’s talk about it. See you in church!
Thank you all for your participation in the conversations with the Bishop last weekend about the Dean Search process. The search process timeline can be found at kccathedral.org/meanwhile, and some printed copies are available in the Nave. If you have additional questions about the transition time and search process, I’d love to chat with you about those.
The Vestry met this past week in special session to consider how to fill the seat opened by Bob Carlson’s resignation. During the meeting, I announced that I have appointed Paula Connors to serve as Senior Warden. Paula has been a member of and served at the Cathedral for more than two decades. She is experienced with times of transition, having served on two Dean Search Committees, and will bring all of that caring and experience to bear in the days to come. In addition, Paula is a person of deep prayer and thoughtfulness and her deep spirituality will greatly aid the work of the Vestry. The Vestry elected Sharon Cheers to the serve the remainder of Bob’s term. Sharon will join the Vestry August 1. Sharon has been a long-time member of the Cathedral and loves to serve in this place. The Vestry also began planning for the Cathedral Small Group Conversations to happen this fall and the selection of a Dean Search Committee. Please continue to keep them in your prayers as they lead at the Cathedral.
See you in church!
The Bishop is coming! The Bishop is coming! Yes, he is … this Sunday!
Bishop Martin Field will be at all three worship services this Sunday. After each one, he will hold an informal conversation with us to talk about the search process. You have all received the letter announcing what will take place over the next few months and Sunday he’s inviting our questions and thoughts. Bring the letter with you, so you can ask your questions. There will also be a timeline to add to the letter, which will provide some additional detail—including the selection of the Search Committee. The timeline is available here, and there will be copies available at the conversations Sunday, as well as additional copies of the letter.
Note WHERE these conversations will take place:
After 8 a.m.—in the Nave
After 10:15 a.m.—in Founders Hall
After 5 p.m.—in the Nave
Come one, come all! Get yourselves a cup of coffee and join the Bishop as together we learn more about how we will go about calling our permanent Dean!
See you in church!
Wow! It’s hot! That said, our wonderful life at the Cathedral goes on with joy and purpose. We are a community that serves and cares and worships together, not because we have to, but because we want to … because Jesus calls us into a life that looks into the faces of all others and sees him. When we do that, we know we have found home, the home where all are welcome, all are loved. Even when the temperatures go sky-high!
This Sunday we welcome our own Fr. Larry Ehren as he presides at the 8 a.m. and 10:15 a.m. services before taking up his appointment as Priest-in-Charge at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Belton. The Cathedral walked with Larry on his discernment journey towards ordination, and we have loved and cared for him throughout. It is now time to share in the holiness of the Eucharist as he leads our prayers and offers us the food of salvation. Congratulate Larry with your prayers and presence … and join us all after the late service for a special coffee hour in his honor!
Next Sunday July 15, Bishop Field will be at all services for conversation about any questions you may still have about the transition process that is beginning. He will gather with us after each service and share his care and vision for our future. Bring the letter you received, to prompt any questions you may have about our time together. (Read the letter here)
And then, Sunday, July 22, our Cathedral deputies to General Convention in Austin will share the work of GC as they have participated in the governing of the American branch of the Anglican Communion. Or as Bishop Curry says, “The Jesus Movement!” Seven of our youth are there, too, and you’ll want to hear how they are engaged in the mission and ministry of the wider Episcopal Church. Don’t miss this!
Whew! Who says nothing happens at church in the summer!
See you in church!
This Sunday, the Sunday before Independence Day, a day that we so often take for granted, let’s remember the brave men who lived and died that America might come into existence. Let’s remember the words “We the people …” and the promise of liberty and prosperity and freedom for all who come to these beautiful shores. Let’s remember Emma Lazarus’ powerful words etched on Lady Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” And let’s remember the plaintive words of Matthew: “Come unto me, all ye who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” So during this long holiday week, let’s rest, remember and sing out for ourselves and for those promises made in Philadelphia, on the battlefields, on the seashores, and on the borders of this land of hope and promise.
While we’re celebrating our country’s glorious beginnings this week, our Cathedral will welcome the American Guild of Organists into these holy spaces with concerts Tuesday afternoon and Friday afternoon. We’ll make our musical offering of Evensong for our illustrious guests this Sunday at 5 p.m. We’ll discover new ways of being disciples as we join with our musical guests from all over the world in fun, food and fellowship at Bartle Hall Wednesday evening. We will be what we proclaim we are: A Servant Church in the Heart of the City! And how grand that will be, too!
And then to cap off the festivities, Fr. Larry Ehren will be here on Sunday, July 8 at both services, celebrating Holy Eucharist with us before he assumes his position as Priest-in-Charge at St. Mary Magdalene in Belton. Come with joy and thanksgiving, to be with Larry and Christy as we send him out into the world, rejoicing in the power of the Spirit!
I sing with joy for you, each of you! I am blessed by your faithfulness. You strengthen me.
See you in church!
This weekly bit of writing is meant to offer a small pearl of wisdom that might strike a resonant note with you … or at least provoke a question or two for yourself in your faith journey. Sometimes the words come easily, with a clarity that makes so much sense. With a sureness of God’s presence with me and with us. This week, however, has been different.
There are not enough words of hope that I can call out. I cannot fathom where to draw comfort and courage for those children pulled from their mothers’ arms and thrown into wire cages, into a world not of their making, certainly not of their understanding. The devastating stories that fill our newsfeeds, the airwaves, our lives are horrifying and yet, we cannot look away, we cannot turn them off. I doubt that you are any different than I am, and I feel powerless, helpless, overwhelmed by the enormity of the sin that is being perpetrated on the least among us—children—we as Christians know to be the hope of our better selves. Trusting and precious in the sight of God. Politics writ large makes no case for the evil wrought on a six-month old just beginning to crawl, a hungry boy, a girl who has come to believe in the promise of a better life. These children, all 2,700 of them (and who really knows the number?) are innocents, no matter the state of the world they have grown up in. Their parents are simply (or not so simply, I guess) trying to give them a life better than they might have “back home.” What are we coming to?
I am not naïve, I’m really not. I just am having the same heartbreak that you’re having, watching children unable to defend themselves, care for themselves in a world that is confusing and overwhelming. A world filled with fear. Where is God in all of this?
I believe with every fiber of my being that God is with those children, surrounding them with mercy, love and compassion. Guarding them and guiding them through the darkness into the light-to-come. Come to church Sunday … bring your fears, your anger, your hopes and your dreams. Lay everything on the altar of your prayers and praises. Let us together find solace in the holiness. Let us together find the strength to know how to be in an imperfect world. Let us together lift up our lives, our world to the One who sees our tears and hears our cries. Then, let us with joy abundant and faith beyond imagination go out into the world proclaiming the Gospel of Love in all the alleyways and byways.
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
How are you? During this holiday weekend, are you remembering fallen soldiers whom you love and care about? Also remembering other loved ones you see no longer? Remembering is a gift God gives us so that we don’t forget. Remembering gives us the chance to catch our breath and say “thank you” for someone’s presence in our lives, if only for a time. I invite you to stop and remember—and gift yourself and God with a story of joy and happiness this weekend about someone you love. You’ll be glad you did.
See you in church!
Last Sunday at the 10:15 a.m. service, our fabulous youth led us in an inspiring liturgy. They read the lessons, wrote and delivered the prayers, sang and encouraged us to join them in songs we all know from church camp days. The sermon about her experience after a car accident made us all understand not only Amanda Colburn’s faith, not only faith through the eyes of a group of wise-beyond-their-years young people; but Amanda opened our hearts to hear anew our own declarations of trust in the One Who created us and who holds us in his everlasting care. How blessed we were to be together for this powerful witness to all that is holy, all that is true. Thank you, dear youth, for being your wonderful selves and for being strong enough in your faith and in your trust of us to invite us in to your special world. Thank you, too, Alexandra and Curtis, for your love and faithfulness to guide these young people as they grow in wisdom and stature.
Blessings to each of you … and we’ll see you in church this week, wearing something red to celebrate the flames of the Holy Spirit coming down upon us this Pentecost. Oh … there’s the Parish Picnic afterwards! Bring a blanket or chair—we’ll be outside on the north lawn.
Whew! What a rollercoaster we’re on here at the Cathedral. Easter … Peter DeVeau’s retirement … asbestos abatement … staff moving over to Founders’ Hall … all the springtime ministries and activities … so much to take in … so much to ponder. And then, of course, the most important thing, and we have almost lost sight of it: the power of the resurrection to change our lives.
Today I sit at my new space in Founders’ Hall, looking out the window on our beautiful grounds and being almost overwhelmed by the beauty of spring in Kansas City. I’ve loved every place I’ve lived, adored the people I’ve been among, and faithfully worshipped our everloving Lord in the cathedrals and parishes I’ve served. So today’s beauty is both familiar and different–familiar because I see God’s graciousness in creation and in putting me in it; different, because it all feels very new to me.
I’ve been here several months now, but in a different role. To have stepped into the deanship, albeit as your intentional interim for a finite period of time, is a privilege and an honor. You are filled with the love and compassion of God’s grace that you know to be true, real and right. You have the heart for serving God’s people in and from this place and you embrace that wholeheartedly. You worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness, as our beloved prayer book says, and know that without coming together in His name for strength and renewed commitment, all is for naught. How could I–or anyone else, for that matter–not be inspired to do the work I have been called to do?
Part of that work is leading you through this transition time between permanent deans. Different from past experiences, different from what you may be expecting, it is nonetheless an intentional time of reflecting on who we are, how we live into the call to serve God and God’s people, so that we can offer ourselves to whomever is called to walk alongside of you into the next holy time in your common life. It will be interesting for us all. It will be exciting for us all. It will challenge us all to be the people God continually calls us to be.
And it takes time … time to be together, time to be with everything we find out about ourselves, time to simply BE. And it cannot be rushed, nor will it be. Which means we will remind each other that what we are about and what the goal is, is in God’s good graces and time.
This is the vocation God has called me into–helping a parish know itself more fully and guiding you through the many questions and ideas that will enable you to even more completely be the Body of Christ you are called to be. We will walk through this time together, along a path and with a plan that is born out of faith, trust and experience. Soon you will hear about a series of “Conversations with Mtr. Evelyn,” in which we will talk about the time to come, answer each other’s questions and come to understand more about this process. Watch this space, the website, the Sunday bulletins for more information. It’s coming–I promise!
I’ll be writing to you every week about a whole host of things. Let me know what moves you, what inspires you, what intrigues you about these writings I call “From me to you …” I look forward to our burgeoning friendship, people of faith who simply are together walking a journey into the unknown.
See you in church!