You Never Know

This past Sunday we celebrated Homecoming Sunday with a single 10am service followed by a barbecue potluck, jazz music from the band, ice cream and bounce house for the kids afterwards. Kind of demarcation of the end of summer, the season of fall upon us, school back in and Advent not far behind.

Father Paul Edwards attended the service on Sunday. In 1963 Father Paul started his call at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Fullerton. Emmanuel is what it is, a Holy Spirit infused place of love, belonging and healing, because of his vision, ministry, and energy. He was rector at Emmanuel until he retired in 1994. The anointing of the Holy Spirit on his life and ministry, he says, is what enabled him to rest in the loving presence of God, when, in his life, he was faced with difficult and trying times. He was a visionary, kept his parishioners on their toes, never letting them get comfortable with the way things were, always changing up the liturgy, throwing in a new song at the last minute, always preaching on the grace of God and holding communion every chance he got.

He didn’t know it back then, just like none of us really know now, that what we might do in the present can impact the life of a person in the future. He certainly affected my life. I’m not the most traditional Episcopal priest there ever was. I needed a special place, with special people, who were cut on the bias. A place that was authentic, real, welcoming, and imperfect. The place people wore tie die and sandals, and dressed up in their Sunday best and put on their high heels and lipstick. Because of Father Paul’s energy, vision, and ministry, because he was infused with the Holy Spirit, because Emmanuel was the weird Episcopal church in the 70’s where people were falling over in the Spirit and speaking in tongues, there was a place for me in The Episcopal Church. So, you just never know how you touch people’s lives. How something you’ve done will pave the way for someone else. You just never know.

Susan Cardone