July Rector’s Study

July Rector's Study


Tavernacle! That’s what I am going to do! In my seminary days, I often enjoyed playing fantasy church over drinks with my classmates about future ministry. Each of us had some unique vision about our future ministry, such as various chaplaincy, parish ministry, academia, or even purple fever (those who aspire to be a bishop). Tavernacle (a play on the word Tabernacle) was a vision for my future ministry. The concept of Tavercnacle is much like the ones commonly known today as Theology-on-Tap or Pub Theology, where pastors go out to a local bar with a group of people and have down-to-earth conversations about God, faith, and life; however, mine is much more like my parents’ soba noodle and karaoke restaurant/tavern, annex to my teenage home. I watched my dad getting up before sunrise every day to make soba noodles from scratch, my mom consoling staff and customers on all the drama, listening to their confessions, and occasionally giving wise advice like an oracle in her deep, raspy voice with a lit skinny menthol cigarette hanging out the side of her mouth. I’ve watched them mediating many barfights and teaching customers to make up and shake hands.

When a customer had a terrible day, they let him stay overnight, like a bed and breakfast. People who were lonely during holidays came and hung out with us. When neighbors showed up at the back door reluctantly asking for food assistance, they fed them and offered some groceries without making a big deal. Oh, and the state-of-the-art karaoke machine certainly entertained the crowd. Many poured their hearts and souls into their songs. Some were so into themselves and did not want to let go of their mic. Some were shy, and we could barely hear them, so we cheered them up to boost confidence. And there were those cluelessly tone-deaf but drunk and merry. I remember a line from an old movie, “There is nothing sadder than an old drunk Japanese businessman singing solo at a karaoke bar without a captive audience!!” That sentiment is true! The karaoke music filled the nights with happy, sad, new, and old songs–one after another. Although neighbors used to complain about all the noise, they eventually got tired of whining and became our regular karaoke fanatics. They brought fresh vegetables from their garden so that they could enjoy karaoke as an exchange. As crazy as all these things may sound, my parents’ tavern certainly left me with a profound lesson–everyone needs a place to belong where they feel safe, brave, heard, and appreciated for their authentic selves. My idea of the church–Tavernacle–was heavily influenced (no pun intended) by how my parents served their people. Comparing my vision to other classmates’ makes me wonder what shaped their ideas of priesthood, faith, and God. Realizing how our surroundings shape our faith, love, and hope is incredible. Who was instrumental in shaping your belief systems, learning how to love, not to mention being loved by God? 

Speaking of being instrumental, I am excited to share the launching of the Journey of Blessings (J.O.B) Preschool Scholarship. The JOB scholarship helps a family with our love, prayers, and one-year full tuition. The scholarship is a two-fold covenant to God between the recipient and us to strengthen our mutual understanding of stewardship. It asks all the applicants to prayerfully consider and Accept their purpose in the world and propose goals about their time, talent, and treasure, to Believe in their ability to achieve the goals, and to Commit to their promises made to God in good faith. We, in turn, Accept their promises with love, Believe in them without judgment, and Commit to supporting them through love, prayers, and tuition without hidden motives. The recipient family is asked to write Ember Day letters to the church quarterly about their progress and challenges so that we can learn more about the family and lift them in our prayers. The Ember Day letter traditionally refers to the quarterly correspondence between an aspirant to holy orders and their bishop. Fr. Roger, Dcns. Pete, Barbara, Jan, and I all did it during the ordination process. 

Thanks to your generous participation, we started collecting donations last Christmas. Jason Solan, our professional JCPS videographer and a middler vestry member, created an excellent promotional video that went live to reach parents through the preschool social network. Our Preschool Director, Erin Dykes, and her right arm, Pam Harp, and I worked on developing the application form following our philosophy. We are now waiting for the application submissions. The preschool board, Vestry, and I will diligently review every application and decide to extend a call to the recipient’s family on July 15. 

The JOB scholarship allows us to self-examine our attitude toward Christian stewardship and develop faithful–not transactional–relationships that follow Jesus’s teaching of love and charity. Our learning and demonstration of acceptance, belief, and commitment will leave a footprint that will shape the children of our future. It is said that it takes a village to raise a child. Our dedicated teachers already offer a sound, safe, brave, and fun learning environment. We are joining them to create an anchoring village of faithful love in Jesus’ name. Faith is about such an act of love and charity. We grow together in good faith like this, and young families learn about God’s love through us. 

With God’s help, walking the spiritual journey of faith, we will be and lead others to be committed followers of Jesus Christ.

Love in Christ, 

Fr. Andrew