We are pleased to welcome Rev. Landon Bogan, who has joined us as a Parish Associate to St. John’s. He and our other Parish Associate, Rev Deb McGuire, with approval of our session and the Presbytery, connect with us in order to be supported spiritually and also find different avenues to express their gifts, perhaps untapped in their other professional responsibilities. The position of Parish Associate is not a “called” position to a church, but is a minister who serves in some validated ministry other than the local parish, or is a member-at-large, or is retired, who wishes to maintain a relationship with a particular church in keeping with ordination as a teaching elder in ministry. This relation is established, upon nomination by the pastor, between the parish associate, the session, and the presbytery and is responsible to the pastor, as head of staff, on an ‘as needed, as available’ basis and without remuneration.
As a Supervisor in the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc. and ordained minister (PCUSA), Landon teaches spiritual care at an academic medical center where he provides specialized training for clergy and laypeople from all faiths. Landon and his wife Amy have lived in San Francisco since 2003, where they have had three children. He enjoys nature hikes and city walks, and is grateful to join the community of St. John’s.
When asked about his intent, interest or hopes for St. John’s, Landon said “Coming to St. John’s was not my own decision, it was a family decision. We were first drawn to the way children were intentionally welcomed and engaged in all aspects of community life at St. John’s, including and probably especially in worship. We saw that this was a place where our children could creatively explore the life of faith in community. We have already formed meaningful relationships at St. John’s and I have hopes of continuing to discover what it means to live into this family. I also recognize that as a minister it is a rare opportunity to attend church as a family, worshipping together on Sundays and serving together as members of the faith community. I see this as a precious gift at this time in our lives and cherish it very much.”
Welcome Tradition at Christmas
Our culture suddenly becomes quite traditional at this time of year. Memories come flooding back. Carols remind us of times and places, evoking pleasure and pain, comfort and grief. Many would love the “feeling” to last for ever, while others would prefer it to be over as quickly as possible.
Tradition can mean slowing down our pace of life to appreciate the values we say we all hold accessible, sharing them with our co-workers and children. Our most radical thoughts turn to jelly when we hear carols, our resistance to anything spiritual crumbles with lights and decorations. We suddenly soften to everything sentimental. We are brought to our knees by a God in diapers. We no longer quibble with the possibility of harmony and peace with those with whom we normally scorn.
So is tradition a kind of temporary insanity, a lack of rationality or a mind-numbing drug? Or can tradition be a guide to something that lies at the core of us, something we long for, some place where we can abide where we can rest, no longer question, no further feel defeated. I have mixed feelings about tradition. I don’t want to be dumbed down; I want all my critical faculties intact. And yet I want to be at home with the one who knows what my core is all about and with others who I know at that same core, share the same longing for joy as I.
Tradition invites us to take our spiritual temperatures. For those who prefer to be spiritual on their own, rather than have an affiliation with others who wish also to be faithful, Christmas is a chance to stick one’s toe in without jumping into the ocean. The fear of spiritually drowning is a powerfully motivating force that discourages many from like-minded participation.
We carry on without ever thinking of what tradition is all about or questioning its senseless perpetuation. It can be mindless repetition or an approach to remember the significant. You, who find this a time that makes sense and resonates throughout your year and life, are a present to those who find tradition an eccentricity or conundrum. You are the ongoing peace for them as they find that at its heart, tradition speaks of an intangible reality. It is part of you, underneath the tinsel, flash and rush for all who choose, to see.