Pastoral Message – JULY 25, 2021
In this week’s gospel, we hear the well-known miracle story of Jesus multiplying five simple loaves, two fish, and feeding a massive crowd of 5,000. On the surface, this story celebrates the grace and power that God bestows on the generosity of our gifts, skills, and abilities when utilized to improve the human experience of those around us. But on a deeper level, it challenges us to face the uncomfortable, chaotic, and intimidating moments of life, and offer what we have with courageous faith and relentless hope.
I am always impressed with the guts and courage of the boy in today’s gospel. Amidst frustration, uncertainty, and Andrew’s condescending (…or maybe just hangry) remark of “…but what good are these for so many?”, this kid sticks around and holds strong in his optimistic belief in the potential of God’s grace and the power of community. Was he just a foolish, naïve kid, or was he actually paying attention and open to putting forth the simple gifts he had in an otherwise challenging circumstance?
I’m a bit of an eternal optimist, but I like to think that this kid had a depth of faith, hope, and generosity that we can only aspire to reach. In the midst of the chaos, frustration, and the seemingly impossible challenge of today’s gospel scene, we arrive at an incredible outcome of abundance and grace, all because simple gifts were given from a faith-driven soul and a generous heart.
This weekend marks a transition for me as I formally end my time with music ministry. It has been a privilege for me to be a part of this incredible faith community for the past 7 years: to pray and worship with you, to accompany you in song, to celebrate with you, to mourn and grieve with you, to walk alongside you on this journey of faith, and (most importantly) to share and experience your individual gifts, skills, and abilities that collectively make up our Saints Simon & Jude Catholic Community. I have been humbled again and again by the genuine compassion and generosity of this community. You have challenged me to look closer at the skills and abilities I have been gifted, and restlessly improve them (and myself) in order to best serve music ministry and our faith community.
These experiences have stretched, developed, inspired, …and certainly pushed me outside my comfort zone. Yet because of them, I am a more refined musician, a stronger man of faith, and a more empathetic minister. I am deeply grateful to each of you for that.
So what’s next? Well, today’s gospel concludes with a pretty open-ended scene. We receive a snapshot of the miracle encounter, Jesus withdraws to the mountain, and then life moves forward, hopefully having been changed by this encounter. Much in the same way, I have been changed by the encounters I have had with each of you. As I move forward to pursue other (non-musical) career opportunities, I take the experiences of these past 7 years, the moments and encounters that have developed and refined my gifts, abilities, and character, and I move forward to share what I have learned from all of you: charity, generosity, forgiveness, justice, mercy, and faith. My prayer for you is the same. I pray that having been refined and developed with encounters, experiences, and challenges over the past one, seven, …even 50 years, that this faith community moves forward, continuing to offer gifts, skills, and abilities with courageous faith and relentless hope. With these gifts, God’s abundant grace, and the power of community, incredible things await Saints Simon & Jude.
In faith and gratitude,
My brothers and sisters,
As you just read, with a bittersweet mix of emotions, we’re bidding a fare-thee-well to Jamie Ranslow. We’re sad to see him go. We’ll miss his talent, optimism, and can-do attitude. But we’re happy for Jamie’s new career opportunity – (all of his hours playing, planning and organizing here was his 2nd job. His real day job is in health care administration. He’s obviously a multi-talented and accomplished young man).
So that presents us with an opportunity. I could say a void or a challenge, but I’m trying to prefer the word “opportunity”. This opportunity means we can now begin in earnest a search for a Music Director for our parish. The successful candidate will be someone that has the musical talent to play a keyboard, conduct an adult choir, begin a children’s choir program, lead and play in a contemporary band, all while being a person of faith who has a sense of liturgy.
I’ve already been making inquiries at the Diocese, and at choral/sacred music departments of CSUF, CSULB (where our current cantors studied or are studying), Chapman, UCLA and my old Alma Mater, USC. I have gotten a couple of good leads so far. We’ll continue to search for the musical leader that God intends for Sts. Simon &Jude. You’ll see a job search posted very soon if not already.
Finally, please say a prayer for Jamie, giving thanks to God for the time he has shared with us, and blessing him as he slims down to one job in health care. And then please pray for our future music director – that God’s bringing someone along soon. May God raise up for us a leader who will reflect light, leading us in song, beauty, worship and praise.
God bless y’all,