First, the sad news: Vestry member Don Pogue died while working in New York Wednesday morning. Don was a stalwart part of our 8 a.m. congregation, serving as a chalice bearer, intercessor and lector; he and Susan had hosted some of you in a HomeGathering a year ago. A Service of Thanksgiving for Don's life is scheduled for Thursday, November 3, at 11 a.m. at Christ Church.
May light perpetual shine upon him.
Our Halloween Howler is this Saturday, October 29, at 4 p.m.! And what a special Howler this will be -- with an 11-piece string ensemble, instrumentalists, singers, scary organ music, and a storyteller, plus the ever-popular "Halloween" song! The latter requires significant audience participation; so whether you are performing or not, please come in costume (I'm planning to dress as an Episcopal priest!) and be ready to share in the fun. Suddenly discovered that you're able to perform after all? Please be in touch with Music Director Mark Sullivan. A reception will follow; feel free to bring a treat to share.
Speaking of treats, if you are out Trick or Treating during "Trunk-or-Treat" on Sunday afternoon, 2-4 p.m., or on Halloween itself, Monday, October 31, before dark, please come by the rectory. I expect to be at the rectory's split front door. The ECW graciously supplied a whole bunch of candy. If you'd like to help give it away; I'd welcome your company.
All Hallows' Eve signals the beginning of our All Saints' observances. We will remember the saints in light as part of our celebrations on All Saints' Sunday, November 6. That will be preceded by our Recollection of the Faithful Departed on Thursday, November 3 at 5:30 p.m. This is an opportunity to gather in the sacred space of the church chancel to share memories of those who have died -- especially those who died within the past year, along with prayers, holy silence, and for a blessing.
As the General Election draws near, I commend to you a brief talk by our Presiding Bishop, +Michael Curry.. Based on Paul's teaching in Romans, he encourages us to vote, and be guided in our voting by the Christian principle, "Does this look like love of neighbor?" You can watch the video by clicking here.
Our own Connecticut Bishops, +Ian Douglas and +Laura Ahrens, have also issued a letter giving thanks for those whose struggles secured and maintain our electoral freedom, plainly describing as "sinful" the incivility and rancor of this campaign season, and calling us to fulfill our duties as citizens. In their letter they join the Bishops of Massachusetts in inviting us to a prayerful vigil for the integrity and safety of the election and for a peaceful transition following it. You can read their letter here. In response, I will offer brief services of Morning Prayer, Noonday Prayer and Evening Prayer on Monday, November 7, at 9:30 a.m., Noon:30, and 5:30 p.m., respectively; on election day November 8, we will have our mostly silent time of Meditation & Prayer at 9:30 a.m. as usual, then Noonday and Evening Prayers as on Monday. Please feel free to join in these services in the church.
Whether in church or at home, I continue to recommend Forward Movement's Prayer Book-derived resource, "A Season of Prayer: For an Election."
In faith and hope,
p.s. Finally, here's the alert: Some of you have received a message from our firstname.lastname@example.org address asking you to download and open a file. Don't do it! That address is connected to our website which is hosted by Weebly. Weebly's security was breached last week. Our passwords have been changed.
Last Sunday's Gospel reading began with Luke telling us that Jesus wanted his followers to persevere in prayer. During the sermon we met a Pastor Wayland who did not think it proper to ask "special favors" of God. ("A Question of Rain" by William Hoffman.) So, he at first resisted the urging of his congregation for a "A Special Day of Prayer for Rain." In addition to prayers of adoration and praise, our Prayer Book is full of prayers of petition and intercession; Prayers that Pastor Wayland might have considered "special favors" for what we and our neighbors need!
Indeed, the Prayer Book has a whole section of "Prayers & Thanksgivings," pp. 810-841. The prayers here are grouped by their focus: ".. for the World, .. for the Church, ... for National Life, .. for the Social Order, ... for the Natural Order, ... for Family and Personal Life," and then Thanksgivings for these same topics. In each of these sections, there are also references regarding where other related prayers can be found in the Prayer Book -- such as Prayers for Healing, pp. 458-461. In my experience, these prayers have been very helpful; they helped me both express my needs, and to step back from my neediness to see my situation, and my neighbors', as the Bible teaches us that God sees them.
So, far from worrying about asking "special favors" of God, the Prayer Book teaches us to be very candid with God about our needs as we understand them. An example would be prayer #29, For Agriculture on page, 824. It begins by reminding us of the Genesis story of God's work in Creation from Genesis "... we thank you for making the earth fruitful, so that it might produce what is needed for life..." Then comes our petition, what we are seeking, "Bless those who work in the fields; give us seasonable weather; and grant that we may all share in the fruits of the earth ..." Note that we are not left off the hook: We are to be part of the answer to our prayer, as we "... all share .."
Last Sunday, I also quoted prayer #43, "For Rain," on Prayer Book page 828. One of the phrases that grabs me in this prayer is the recognition that we need God's help -- "... in this time of need .." Often we would be willing to do almost anything rather than acknowledge that we need help. Here we are being clear that we need God's help. As I write this, we are receiving gentle showers. However, our need is significantly greater, as indicated by the "U.S. Drought Monitor" which scores our predicament as "Severe Drought."
Now that we are down to less than three weeks before the General Election on November 8, we might also be moved to pray for both the election and for our county. Forward Movement, the folks who publish the "Day By Day" devotional guide usually available in the narthex, have come to our aid. They have chosen a prayer from the Prayer Book for each day up through November 9, "whatever the election results." They call it, "A Season of Prayer: For an Election." I commend it to you; look for it here.
Don't have a Prayer Book? Can't find the prayers mentioned above? You can find The [Online] Prayer Book here. Just click on the part of the Prayer Book of particular interest to you, and keep clicking till you get to the page with the prayers for which you are looking.
The Howler is approaching! Our annual costumed talent show will be next Saturday, October 29, at 4 p.m. All musicians, dancers, comics and singers -- all witches, princesses, ghosts and super heroes -- are encouraged to sign-up on the clipboard on the ushers' table, and/or to be in touch with Music Director Mark Sullivan. Mr. Sullivan can accompany whatever it is you'd like to perform!
In faith and hope,
p.s. If you are out after dark, you might want to see what the front of our church building looks like all lit up. Eversource recently sent us a letter asking whether we wanted to pay the monthly fee for the spotlights mounted on the two telephone poles in front of the church. I responded that the lights had not worked during my tenure. So, now they are on again. They are quite bright; more for safety than architectural illumination. Nonetheless, the Tower does really show up against the night sky. Here's the kicker: the fee is not trivial -- $504/year. Drive by and have a look. What do you think?
Our Sunday mornings return to their usual full schedule this Sunday, October 16. In the Parish House, three groups gather at 9:30 a.m.: the children's Chapel Time with Laurie Varley meets in the 4-5th grade classroom; the Middle School group gathers with Page Pelphrey for fun and games in their classroom; and the high schoolers' Young Adult Program with Alex Diana begins in the Guild Room. At 10 a.m., as the worship service starts in the nave, the Sunday School and Middle School classes also get started.
The Rectory Forum's reading and discussion of Andrew Doss's play begins when folks sit down with their coffee and tea following the 9 a.m. service. For folks who want to catch up on reading and discussing a "Song of a Man Coming Through," the Forum is still in Act One, while the Tuesday Supper Discussion is ready to begin Act Two on the 18th. There's room for you!
Hurricane Matthew's aftereffects continue to plague the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida and the Caribbean. And Episcopal Relief & Development is engaged to deal with the catastrophic flooding and wind damage. In a message to the Episcopal Church, our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry wrote:
Prayer matters. All who because of Hurricane Matthew have lost their lives, who have lost their loved ones, their homes, or who have been hurt need our prayers now. They also need our help in other ways. ...
God, please be with those who have been harmed by this hurricane. And help us to help them, our brothers and sisters.
To be the answer to your prayer, please join YFNR in supporting the work of Episcopal Relief & Development by going here to make a secure on-line donation.
Speaking of the PB, +Michael Curry was recently in Rome to help celebrate the relationship between the Vatican and the Anglican Communion. Fifty years ago, a meeting between Pope Paul VI and Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey led to establishing the Anglican Centre in Rome; that was the first public meeting between the holders of these two offices since the Reformation, and it began a new diplomatic relationship between the two communions. For the 2016 celebration included Anglicans and Roman Catholics praying together in a service led by Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. Further details are available here.
The Howler is coming! Our annual costumed talent show will be on Saturday, October 29, at 4 p.m. All musicians, dancers, comics and singers -- all witches, princesses, ghosts and super heroes -- are encouraged to sign-up on the clipboard on the ushers' table, and/or to be in touch with Music Director Mark Sullivan.
In faith and hope,
p.s. Ushers, please remember we have a meeting following Sunday's 10 a.m. service.
There's a new canine resident in the Rectory; her name is Cassie, and she's a two-year old, pit bull-boxer mix with a brindle coat. We adopted each other at a rescue fair at the Guilford Fairgrounds on October 9.
Saturday, October 8 is the day to bring your pets -- of whatever species -- to our annual Blessing of the Animals in Honor of St. Francis, at 11 a.m., on the Green. We share the Blessing with our St. George RC Church and First Congregational Church neighbors. Usually, a few dog walkers happen upon the Blessing and wonder if their canine friend can also receive a blessing. Of course! So, please invite your friends and neighbors to join you for this brief service.
Our three congregations offer the Blessing of the Animals together to honor the life and witness of St. Francis of Assisi. It was Francis who preached to the birds, reconciled a wolf and the town of Rubio, and saw all of Creation as capable of expressing the Creator's Divine Love.
Hurricane Matthew confounds all storm records. Already in the Caribbean, Episcopal Relief & Development's "... networks in Haiti, Cuba and the Dominican Republic [are working] to provide urgently needed food, water and shelter supplies. In Haiti alone, 1.1 million people were affected and 350,000 are now in need of humanitarian assistance, ...." (from an Episcopal Relief & Development Press Release). The Episcopal News Service reported that parishioners in one hard-hit area survived, “but the hurricane took their clothes, books, phones, crops, livestock… everything.”
And now the Hurricane's path of destruction continues up the Florida and Carolina coasts. What to do? Pray first:
A Prayer for Preparedness & Response
O God, our times are in your hand, in the midst of uncertainty lead us by your never-failing grace as we seek to be agents of healing and hope. Walk with us through difficult times, watch over us in danger, and give to us a spirit of love and compassion for those who suffer and mourn. And finally remind us that you have promised never to leave us -- so that even in the valley of the shadow of death your love may be felt, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
-- courtesy of the Rev. Lyndon Harris, former Vicar of St. Paul's Chapel, NYC
Second: Support the work of Episcopal Relief and Development by going here to join YFNR in making an on-line donation.
Our Sunday School, Middle School and Y.A.P. (High School)classes and Chapel Time will not meet this Sunday, October 9, because of Monday's Columbus Day holiday. However, the Rectory Forum will meet with Andrew Doss at its usual 9 a.m. time and place. Please join the conversation then or at the Tuesday Supper.
In faith and hope,
p.s. A profound bow of gratitude to all of Christ Church's walkers and donors in last Sunday's CROP Walk! We were among 250 walkers who made a difference for those without enough to eat locally and internationally. And I was personally challenged to forgo the short-cut and walk the entire 4 mile route. So it was a win-win. Special thanks to our Christ Church organizers, Rose & Chris Robinson !
Greetings from Tennessee! I returned to Sewanee this week to hear former Archbishop of Canterbury +Rowan William's lectures at the School of Theology. More about this below, but first ...
The CROP Walk is this Sunday! And there are several ways to participate. You'll be helping relieve the food insecurity of local neighbors, and supporting grassroots development efforts throughout the world:
I hope all of you Tag Sale leaders, workers, and donors were able to put your feet up this week!. And pat yourselves on the back! By last Saturday morning, you had turned the Parish Hall, Driveway and Garage into welcoming and well-organized show rooms. You helped folks purchase all sorts of useful and decorative things; and an amazing portion of your donations did indeed find new homes! The remainder went to Goodwill, and the IRIS warehouse to set up new homes for refugee families. Your efforts were a win-win for the parish and our neighbors! Congratulations!
And where was I during the Tag Sale? At a "command performance" meeting in Hartford that I think will actually turn out to be useful for our Planning Process. One fun exercise on that lovely fall day, was for groups of us to fan out in different directions and "walk the neighborhood" around the meeting site (St. John's Church in [just barely] West Hartford); we were to try to see with the "eyes of God," and discern what "God is already up to." That might be one "next step" for our Planning Team to consider as they consolidate the insights of our Phase Two HomeGatherings.
Our seminary-intern Andrew Doss travels to a wedding this weekend; so, the Rectory Forum, for Sunday, October 2, will be a return of "Stump the Rector." Bring your questions and wonderings about the Church's teaching, worship and shared life. If you'd care to give me a "head's up," in a reply to this message, I might have a more prepared response.
If folks are interested, I will have my notes from former Archbishop of Canterbury, +Rowan Williams' lectures on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, "From Theology to Politics." But maybe you have a prior question, "What is an Archbishop?" If you watch royal weddings, Archbishop Williams officiated at the wedding of Prince William and Duchess Katherine, and at the blessing of the marriage of Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla.
Andrew will be back in time for the Tuesday Supper, and next Sunday's reading and discussion of scenes from his play, Song of a Man Coming Through.
I do highly recommend two on-line videos to you::
In faith and hope,
p.s. For more about Sewanee: The University of the South, click here. Currently there is a link on this page to Archbishop Williams' lectures. Oh, and as a local bumper sticker puts it: "Sewanee Is NOT a River." Sewanee is "The Domain," the 13,000 acre home for The University of the South, on the Cumberland Plateau near Chattanooga, TN. The University is a ministry of 33 Episcopal dioceses in the southeastern United States.
We feature various authors from around our parish, commenting on topics of interest to our community. Enjoy! Comment if you are so moved!