Over 150 strong this week, the people of All Saints by the Sea Episcopal Church in Montecito warmly welcomed Canon Kathy Hannigan O’Connor and me at a festive Trinity Sunday confirmation service.

It felt different than last time, when the saints were recovering from serial crises. Before we got there this week, I reviewed my sermon notes from my prior visitation in November 2021. They read like a wartime dispatch. Stay the course. Put your neighbor first. Wear your mask. Save your bacon grease and old tires. Two years before COVID, the parish had been at the epicenter of deadly mudslides.

This year, All Saints is redolent with recovery, renaissance, and Resurrection. After a highly productive season of interim ministry with the Rev. Canon Hank Mitchel, the tiller is now in the sure hand of the new rector, the Rev. Channing Smith, an experienced, innovative priest who arrived in January with his spouse, Mary, a psychotherapist, and their fourth grade daughter, Olivia, who was an acolyte Sunday. Channing previously served in Ohio, the Bay Area, Saratoga, and Austin. He’s already deepening the parish’s ties with its renowned preschool, planning a youth initiative, and expanding an already generous outreach ministry.

Thanks to a major capital campaign overseen by the prior rector, the Rev. Aimee Eyer-Delevett, who decamped for school chaplaincy in Austin a couple of years before Channing headed west, the saints of All Saints worship in a stately, reconstructed, modernized 110-year-old building that that still looks its age while talking to hearing aids via Bluetooth. It was a glorious service, thanks especially to the choir, under Steve Thomson’s direction, who gave their all on the last Sunday before their summer hiatus. The devoted associate rector and adult formation director for over a decade, the Rev. Victoria Kirk Mouradian, read the gospel. Joe Rawls was my cheerful chaplain, coming with seconds of winning the $500 prize I always say goes to the chaplain who beats the record when assembling III bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles Francis Eric Bloy’s crozier.

I was along to preach and preside. Nine confirmation candidates saw right through my weekly song and dance advising them to steer clear of devoting themselves to God’s glory and God’s people in these selfish, secularizing times. At a delicious lunch in the rectory after church, Channing and his able vestry members, as we were all serenaded by Olivia’s chickens, briefed me on new creation care and contemplative ministry initiatives as well as plans to build up repair and maintenance reserves for the All Saints campus, which comprises a half-dozen structures in all.

Kathy and I were the overnight guests of Geoff and Alison Rusack, son and daughter-in-law of the fourth bishop of Los Angeles, about to celebrate their 39th wedding anniversary. They and some of our fellow dinner guests, including Brooks and Kate Firestone, were in church on Sunday, as was Canon Bob Williams, who introduced me to Debbie Branch Geremia, sister of Barbara Borsch and thus sister-in-law of our bishop number five. It was also a joy to see Will and Sandi Wilson, old friends from St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church Fullerton days.

I even essayed a good, old fashioned Trinity Sunday sermon, since I love the Trinity, reckoning it as the archetype of all happy homes. Because we’re all born into the permanent supportive affordable household of God. Born into a family where we never have to earn our place or struggle for attention or love. Welcomed into a circle where no one in charge is going to say we’re not good or righteousness enough — so if it’s within our power, we had better make sure no one else feel that way.

Gathered around the thanksgiving table each week, we hold hands (sometimes!), say our prayers, and receive grace to make the most of our opportunities and contend as best we can with our setbacks and losses – all with confidence in the power of the Resurrection of Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So the Holy Trinity is where we all belong. With apologies to the band X, the Holy Trinity is the house that we call home.