By Robin GOLDSWORTHY
It was a festive mood as the Episcopalians poured into St. Luke’s of the Mountains Episcopal Church on Sunday, Oct. 18, afternoon.
The faithful gathered to celebrate a service of reconciliation and renewal, to acknowledge the end of a three year battle to keep a property that to many is more than a place to meet and worship, but is an historical icon in the foothill community.
Prior to the procession of the celebrants – The Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, Bishop Diocesan, The Rt. Rev. Chester L. Talton, Bishop Suffragan and The Rt. Rev. Sergio Carranza, Bishop Assistant – the parishoners greeted each other warmly, some embracing, most with smiles spread across their face.
The service actually began before the bishops entered the church with the exterior of the church being blessed with holy water. Once the blessing was completed, they made their way inside, outfitted in robes of cream and gold. They carried holy water sprinklers and incense dispensers, anointing the congregants.
Both the readings, from the book of Ecclesiasticus and from 2 Timothy, carried messages of healing while offering encouragement to the evangelists. The gospel reading was from the book of Luke.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
After the gospel reading, The Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno stood and addressed the congregation, reminding them why they were together.
“We are gathered as a people of reconciliation and healing,” he said, then touched on the past three years of trial that ended with the court’s decision to return the St. Luke’s property to the Los Angeles Episcopal Diocese. “We have come back home.”
Bruno’s sermon acknowledged that some attending the service were doing so not because of religious faith, but to show respect for the history of the building, a history that stretches back to 1924. However, it was important to him to display a welcoming attitude, inviting those back who may have left the church three years ago while extending an invitation to the community as a whole. “[We want] to move forward in a fertile field to grow the love of Christ,” he said, adding that Christian faith is about reaching out, not pushing anyone aside.
Part of that forward movement was the introduction of St. Luke’s new vicar, The Rev. Bryan Jones, Bruno saying that Jones was there to start a new place without leaving the old congregation behind.
As the service ended, spontaneous applause filled the sanctuary, ushering out the celebrants and the congregation while ushering in a sense of renewal and rejoicing.