May 31, 2019
Yesterday was the feast ot the Ascension; today is the feast of the Visitation. These are both "red-letter" days in the life of the Church. On Ascension Day, we recall that 40 days after his Resurrection Jesus' was exalted into heaven to be "at the right hand of the Father," as we say in the Nicene Creed. On the Feast of the Visitation, we remember the story of the newly pregnant Mary traveling to visit her relation Elizabeth who was also "with child"; their visit is the occasion for the "Song of Mary, also known as the Magnificat, and the first two lines of the "Hail Mary, full of grace, ...".
For a bunch of Middle Schoolers, their mentor Page Pelphrey and me, today begins an overnight at Camp Incarnation. On Sunday you can ask us about the food, the animals (llamas, goats, chickens, etc.), the lake, and if we made s'mores.
In addition to her ministry with our middle-school youngsters, Page also helps lead youth from Connecticut who offer a Vacation Bible School in the Dominican Republic. Page wrote the following letter about her involvement in this project; I commend it to you!
I'm a Pentecost person. I have red hair, I speak three languages, and I love a good fire pit. If I delve into the liturgical seasons, I seem to thrive in the ordinary times. I've never considered myself a leader or someone extraordinary. I don't want to be in the spotlight or what others may call "in charge." I'm ordinary. Most of my friends from camp became priests, youth ministers, and music directors. I went into the world to teach languages to children and volunteer my time on Sunday mornings. I use my gifts to make that ordinary time extraordinary.
While Christmas may be exciting, every day is a day to use your gifts. It's all about the daily movement of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost winds us down as a parish, but I'm just getting started. Four years ago, God called me to merge my gifts. My personal trinity -- speak Spanish, lead Sunday School lessons, and work with teenagers -- became a ten-day trip to chaperone a Vacation Bible School in the Dominican Republic. Our diocese has always had a special relationship with the parish of Santa Margarita in Santo Domingo. This past summer, we had enough volunteers to add two more vacation bible schools and serve two more churches.
What keeps me an Episcopalian is the life of the church. I live for the Ashes, the Palms, and the Acolyte candles. My children and I make an Advent wreath and chalk the door at Epiphany. Vacation Bible School is part of that Episcopal life. I went to VBS every summer of my childhood. I started volunteering when I was too old to be a participant. Our diocese gives less fortunate Episcopal churches the opportunity to have an event like any other Episcopal church. It is how we grow Episcopalians during the ordinary times.
Is an Episcopal church still a church without a bible school? Absolutely! Is it something each little Episcopalian should experience, like the Nativity pageant and wearing a Palm Sunday cross? If we can make it happen, then, yes. The Diocese of the Dominican Republic consists of 76 parishes. Of the 76, 11 had a VBS with the help of American parishes. This summer we are going to be able to lead four vacation bible school sessions, and we will need supplies for 400 children. Sunday June 2, I will be hosting the coffee hour. Please consider bringing supplies from the needs list or making a donation.
Ordinary can be extraordinary!
faithfully, Page Pelphrey
Here's the list of items needed for the DR Vacation Bible School:
Children's scissors Sticker name tags Glue-sticks Frisbees
Index cards Gallon zip-lock bags Construction paper
Feathers Beads Cupcake liners Bubbles and bubble wands
During Coffee Hour, after you've visited with Page about Vacation Bible School in the Dominican Republic, have a look at the photographs from an exhibit about the Sanctuary Movement. Jennifer Huebner arranged for us to see these photographs and has the latest information about a family here in Connecticut.
Please remember that we are collecting funds for a purse for our, now former, Parish Administrator Pat Wakefield. Those funds may be mailed, dropped by the parish office, or placed in the offering basin. "Thanks & Farewell" envelopes for Pat are available on the Ushers' Table; and envelopes for Laurie Varley, our now former Sunday School Director, are still available. Please make your checks out to Christ Church with "Thanks Pat!" and/or 'Thanks Laurie!' on the memo line.
I know there's been a lot of rain this week; the grass is growing, and the weeds are thriving! Please consider helping with Junior Warden Alicia Bacon's wish-list for garden clean-up tasks. Alicia is inviting us, at a time convenient to our schedules, to come and do a little weeding, or a little pruning, or maybe a little weeding and a little pruning. The goal is to have the garden looking especially lovely for our June 9th Thanks & Farewell picnic honoring Pat Wakefield.
A heads-up regarding the Parish Office this week. I'll be attending Yale Divinity School's Summer Study during the mornings this week, Monday-Friday, June 3-7. So, email messages will be returned either before 8:30a.m. or in the afternoon; telephone calls will be returned in the afternoon. If you need access to our buildings in the morning, please coordinate with Mark Sullivan. After this week, I'll have all sorts of new insights on Paul's letters to the Corinthians.
In the meantime, please pray that our Camp Incarnation adventure is fun, inspiring, and safe!
With Easter faith, hope, and love,
p.s. It's not too late for Middle and High School Youth to confirm their participation in our field trip to Temple Beth Tikvah on Friday, June 7. We'll gather at Christ Church at 5:30p.m. for a quick orientation, before traveling to the synagogue's First Friday 6p.m. service. I need to let them know the size of our group. Just respond to this message
May 24, 2019
It's a bittersweet day in the Rectory today. Pat Wakefield is finishing up, tidying up and cleaning out her desk, concluding 21 years of ministry with Christ Church as our Parish Administrator. This week I've been asking where to find stuff, or how to do this, that, and the other. Pat is one of the keepers of the parish's institutional memory, has been one of the steady anchors for our parish's life, and she will be dearly missed, We will officially express our gratitude and farewells to Pat on Sunday, June 9, at our Annual Parish Picnic.
So that we can send Pat & Curtiss off with a taste of the South, our InReach folks are encouraging us to look through our recipes for southern side dishes and desserts, e.g. southern cole slaw, southern potato salad, chess pie, etc. They're asking us to sign-up! There'll also be southern fried chicken, sweet tea, plus the usual hamburgers and hot dogs.
There's a gift in the works for Pat to remember us by, but we're also collecting funds for a purse. Those funds may be mailed, dropped by the parish office, or placed in the offering basin. "Thanks & Farewell" envelopes for Pat will be available on the Ushers' Table; and envelopes for Laurie are still available. Please make your checks out to Christ Church with "Pat" and/or 'Laurie' on the memo line.
Since this is Memorial Day Weekend, our Sunday School will not meet this Sunday, May 26. That's why we held our official "Thank-you & Good-bye" to Miss Laurie last Sunday. The children had created their own farewell and thank-you cards which they presented during the 10a.m. service. I presented her with a card on behalf of the whole parish that contained two lovely ECW gift-card holders containing heftily charged-up gift cards. Sunday School parents, teachers and Faith Formation leaders hosted a tasty reception so we could say our personal good-byes and thank-yous. Thanks to all of you who have contributed to our expressions of gratitude to, and prayers and best wishes for Laurie and daughter Stevie's next adventure in their home state of North Carolina.
Laurie will be with us on Sunday watching over the Nursery one last time; so there's still an opportunity to go downstairs and express your farewells.
In Sunday's bulletin, you'll find a wish-list from Junior Warden Alicia Bacon about garden clean-up tasks. Alicia is inviting us, at a time convenient to our schedules, to come and do a little weeding, or a little pruning, or maybe a little weeding and a little pruning. The goal is to have the garden looking especially lovely for the June 9th picnic. Alicia has been here several days last week and again this week getting the beds in front of the Parish House looking sharp. Please consider her invitation to help out at a time that works for you!
On Sunday, as part of our observance of Memorial Day, we'll be singing of "heroes proved in liberating strife, who more than self their country loved and mercy more than life!" To conclude Sunday's Prayers of the People, I'll get to offer one of the Prayer Book's gems -- Thanksgivings "For Heroic Service."(p.839). In that prayer, we remember before God "the men and women of our country who in day of decision" served and sacrificed to preserve our nation.
Thanks to the Evening ECW for the terrific soup, bread and desserts they served up last Saturday. I've heard that the Library's Paperback Book Sale was a tremendous success. I hope that the EECW's efforts were crowned with glory, as well. Fortunately for some of us, leftovers were available for take-out on Sunday morning; after another donation, I was set for a couple more delicious meals. Thanks again!
We wound up our Tuesday evening conversations about Joan Chittester's book The Gift of Years this past week, but will continue at this Sunday's Rectory Forum. Quite apart from the interesting conversation, a special treat for our last Tuesday gathering was the marvelous salad and amazing desserts. Many thanks to the Rev. Lynda Tyson for introducing us to Sr. Joan!
On Thursday we concluded our Spring season of Thursday morning Bible Study on the Book of Revelation with a stirring "new song" that Handel would include in Messiah.(see chapter 11) We will return to Revelation again in the fall.
In the meantime, perhaps I'll see you at the parade, or at the Keeping Society picnic, or even for worship! Wherever your Memorial Day plans take you, please be careful, have fun, and give thanks for those "who ventured much for the freedoms we now enjoy,"
With Easter faith, hope, and love,
May 17, 2019
If there's a Book Sale at the Guilford Free Library, there's an event at Christ Church. That seems to be the pattern. Our Evening ECW will be hosting a lunch of Soup, bread, fruit and dessert this Saturday, May 18, in the Christ Church Parish Hall. The ladies of the EECW bring crockpots of their own gourmet soup to share. Run into friends and neighbors at the Library's Paperback Book Sale? Be sure to invite them to Christ Church for lunch 11a.m.-2p.m.. They'll surely thank you!
This Sunday we'll be saying "Thank-you & Good-bye" to our Sunday School Director Laurie Varley. Since she began with our Vacation Bible School in the summer of 2016, Miss Laurie has cared for our Sunday School children, worked with our Sunday School teachers, coordinated with mentors of our Middle and High School programs, and led the program of Nursery care for our youngest children. We have all enjoyed our children telling the Nativity Story every December, and their chancel dramas in the spring -- either the Story of the Good Shepherd , as in this year, or The Story of Pentecost, as in last year. While Mark Sullivan taught and directed the music, Laurie did the behind-the-scenes organizing. She has been the chief organizer for the Sunday School's "Helping Hands for Haiti" each March -- cooking many of the pancakes herself! Along the way, our youngsters have learned about God's love revealed in Jesus, and found that love mirrored in Miss Laurie's care for each and every one of them. In addition to being grateful for Laurie's dependable and faithful leadership, I have admired her calm and easy skill with what the professionals call "classroom management."
Although Laurie will be with us Memorial Day weekend, watching over the Nursery as usual, Sunday School won't be meeting then; so this Sunday is our official chance to say, "We're grateful to you! We're going to miss you and Stevie! and, We pray God's blessings on your next adventures back in your home state of North Carolina!"
(Don't tell her this, but we will be presenting Laurie a 'purse' of two heftily charged-up gift cards in two lovely ECW gift-card holders this Sunday. If you would like to help with this, please place your gift in a 'Laurie' envelope and put it in Sunday's plate; please make your check out to Christ Church with 'Laurie' on the memo line.)
Speaking of Good Shepherd Sunday, sincere thanks to our Sunday School Children, middle school readers and acolytes and high school intercessor and ushers, plus one. It was really something special. The children's singing of Mark Sullivan's setting of the 23rd Psalm just about did me in. Thanks to Miss Laurie and the Sunday School parents for all the coaching, organizing, and help with rehearsals and remembering lines!
Thanks to every one who responded to the ECW's "Roses for Mother's Day" and "Roses for Mommy" appeals. The bouquets of roses on just about every horizontal surface in the church were a sight to behold and a beautiful way to honor and express our gratitude to -- and for -- the important women in our lives. Special thanks go to chief organizer Diane Link, and her helpers.
One of Laurie Varley's special responsibilities as our Sunday School Director has been to be our designated staff person who makes sure that we follow the Episcopal Church's Safe Churchpolicies and protocols for our youngsters. She has been diligent and helpful in this I spent this past Tuesday morning and afternoon at a "Mandatory Clergy Professional Development Day;" The "mandatory" referred to the Episcopal Church in CT's requirement that clergy learn about the latest iteration of these Safe Church protocols to maintain our "good standing" within the diocese. The topics included safety from abuse for our children, for our elders, and for vulnerable adults, as well as maintaining appropriate boundaries. One of the new wrinkles will be a "universal" on-line basic training that will be available to all, and expected of many. Watch this space for details.
Our conversations about Joan Chittester's book The Gift of Years will continue during this Sunday's Rectory Forum and Tuesday Spring Supper. This will be the final meeting of the Tuesday Supper Discussion; so Tuesday folks, you know that means dessert by Sue!. The Sunday Forum conversation will have at least two more meetings. If you're reading the book, come with a passage to read that particularly spoke to you, or about which you have some questions or concerns.
This Thursday will conclude our Spring season of Thursday morning Bible Study on the Book of Revelation; feel free to bring your issues with or about the text. The group has decided to return to Revelation again in the fall.
In the meantime, I look forward to seeing you over soup on Saturday, and as we bid Laurie Varley "Godspeed" on Sunday.
With Easter faith, hope, and love,
May 4, 2019
Although this coming Sunday, May 5, has its own special features -- preaching by Felix Rivera, more great Easter hymns, and meetings about both InReach and Faith Formation -- there will also be opportunities to prepare for Sunday, May 12:
And yes, more older people than younger ones have chronic illnesses,
but they also have fewer acute illnesses than younger ones.
They have fewer injuries in the home
and also fewer accidents on the highway.
The book is an easy read, and available from your favorite on-line and local sources. But feel free to join the conversation even if you haven't read the first 58 or 111 pages.
Thanks to all the participants in April 28th's Youth Spaghetti Supper! The meal was truly special and abundant! Our young bakers, servers and Parmesan cheese graters seemed to delight in their tasks, and the over-the-top desserts were truly over-the-top. The three clever Raffle baskets -- organized around gardening, bird-watching, and family reading -- by Diane Link, drew wide participation. Special thanks to this year's chef David Jones, to parent helpers, and especially to chief honcho Susan Shackford.
As Bishop Ian Douglas says for himself and Bishop Ahrens, "We always know where we'll be on the first Thursday in May: At the Annual Meeting of the Episcopal Women of Connecticut!" And that's true for me as well. Our connection with the New York Haiti Project began at one of these meetings three years ago. This year's speaker, Sue Heimer from Illinois, spoke memorably about the example of Moses' sister Miriam -- e.g. her gumption in speaking directly to Pharoah's daughter, and her presence of mind to take her tambourine with her on the Israelites flight out of Egypt. Miriam would use that tambourine in singing the oldest song in the Bible.(Exodus 15:21) And I imagine all in attendance will recall Ms. Heimer's sage advice, "If you're riding a 'dead horse,' get off it!"
On Saturday morning, April 27, I was one of four from Christ Church to participate in the Episcopal Church in Connecticut's Spring Training with well over 300 fellow Episcopalians from all across the state at Berlin High School. I think we all found this to be time well-spent. In particular, the workshop on "Ending and Healing the Trauma of Anti-Black Racism" was eye-opening for me.
I left Spring Training early so that I could be back in time for the Eagle Scout Court of Honor for seven young men who grew up together as friends and fellow scouts in Guilford. Four of the seven who became Eagle Scouts that afternoon have a connection with Christ Church: Josh Brause worships with us; Bailey Myers participated in Sunday School here; James Crossley actively participates in parish life and was in our 2017 confirmation group; and Mark McNamara, another active participant and 2017 confirmand, raised the funds for and led the bulding and landscaping of our four new picnic tables as his Eagle Scout project. It was quite a moving experience to hear all seven speak about their projects and thank those who had helped them. That Guilford would raise up these seven, supporting them individually and together, is to our town's credit, and Christ Church's place within it.
I look forward to continuing with you our Easter celebrations this Sunday.
With Easter faith, hope, and love,
We feature various authors from around our parish, commenting on topics of interest to our community. Enjoy! Comment if you are so moved!