Verily, verily I say unto you, keep your lamps trimmed. But remember that when you least expect it, the fire marshal may come and put them out.
And so it was on Monday at the Episcopal Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Placentia, where the rector, the Rev. Barrett Van Buren, had organized a beautiful liturgy for blessing the brand new Scully Parish Hall, part of the 65-unit Santa Angelina Apartments, affordable and permanent supportive housing for seniors, opening soon. The parish’s new neighbors will use Scully for their activities as well.
Matthew, our acolyte, had lit the paschal candle and was set to lead Barrett, the Rev. Dominique Nicolette Piper, and me to the new central plaza, where the hardscape cement is still drying. But then the rector learned the fire marshal would arrive at three to inspect Scully. This was the appointed hour of our service as well. So no waving candles around, for goodness sake, nor could we could process inside to bless the kitchen and other areas.
But we still had a wonderful celebration. The dean of our churches in north Orange County, the Very Rev. Kay Sylvester, was aboard. So too a trinity of indispensability, James Rothrock and Sharon Pewtress from Episcopal Communities & Services and Alexa Washburn from our builder, National Community Renaissance.
I also got to thank students in Blessed Sacrament’s famed Children’s Learning Center, who, with their families and teachers, had probably been most inconvenienced by a two-year construction project that utterly transformed their campus. But they are three and four, so by and large they are not complainers. They sang me Happy Birthday, and Blessed Sacrament hosted a delicious mid-afternoon reception, including a delicious birthday cake.
As I sat with folks who had served this faithful church for years, I kept thinking about the leap of faith they’d taken by embarking on an affordable housing project. The suffering people of Israel and Palestine were on everyone’s minds. But the fire marshal notwithstanding, the light of reconciliation was burning locally. You want to know how to make friends, make peace, love your neighbor, and make a better world? Come to Placentia. Come to Blessed Sacrament Episcopal Church, and see what the people of God have done.