18 August 2018
First of all, thanks to all who made last weekend's celebrations so powerful!
Don't wash your car this week! Let the Acolytes, and their friends and helpers, wash your car on Saturday, August 25 by the Red Barn at Bishops' Orchard Farm Market. Bring your car for a thorough washing between 10a.m. and 1p.m.; the "charge" is a free-will donation.
You may remember that our Annual Parish Meeting in February 2017 came within days of the 25th anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood. Some current and former Wardens and Vestry Members presented me -- to my surprise and delight -- the book about the Broadway musical "Hamilton" with instructions to order a ticket as a gift from them on behalf of the parish. Well, I thought the book was a lovely gift and procrastinated ordering tickets (they're outrageously expensive!). This winter former Senior Warden Pat Daunic said, "here's a check; we're serious; buy a ticket: so, I did as I was told and got serious about finding a good seat at a price that wasn't too overly outrageous. Finally, I found one, and last evening I sat riveted by the performance! Wow! I mean wow! I know the music and, thanks to the book, had read a good bit of the text. But nothing prepared me for just how amazing the music, choreography, set and lighting design all are, or how they all work together so brilliantly. Thanks so much to all of you who participated in making this experience possible! I am so very grateful!
Early in the musical, we meet the Rev. Samuel Seabury who is portrayed as a simpering stooge, blindly loyal to King George III. That's the same Samuel Seabury who would later be consecrated by the Episcopal Church in Scotland to become the first bishop of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut. Hamilton's creator, Lin Manuel Miranda, used his creative license to adapt historic events for his narrative and comic purposes. As it happens, Samuel Seabury was nobody's stooge, but like the majority of folks in New York City and Westchester County, where he served before the revolution, a loyal subject of King George. Ordained deacon and priest in England, Seabury had vowed loyalty to the King as head of the Church "in all things termporal."
In the days before Instagram and Twitter, people conducted debates in pamphlets; pamphlets that people actually bought! Seabury and Hamilton wrote a series of well-received pamphlets arguing against and for the revolutionary cause. For his, Seabury, then the well-established rector of St. Peter's Church, Westchester, adopted the pen-name "A. W. Farmer" for "A Westchester Farmer." Hamilton was an undergraduate at King's College (today's Columbia University). Both wrote plainly, forcefully and to great effect for their side of the debate about the Continental Congress. After the war, Seabury moved to Connecticut and supported the new country. As a native of the British West Indies, Hamilton was a lifelong Anglican -- becoming an Episcopalian as American parishes of the Church of England became part of a new Episcopal Church.
Guilford resident and friend of Christ Church, the Rev. Mary Anne Osborn, will preach and celebrate on Sundays August 19 and 26. Were I in town, I'd want to gather with you all and hear how Mary Anne continues Bishop Seabury's work of bringing the Bible to bear on the challenges of our lives and times. I'll be thinking of, and praying with, you from a crowded pew in the Church of St. Mary of the Harbor, Provincetown. The harbor is quite literally out the backdoors of the parish buildings, and this is still their busy season.
In the meantime, I'll look forward to joining you for our preparations for Chapel on Green, on Saturday, September 1.
In faith, hope and love,
Sanctifying life, and the stages of life, are among the goals of our worship. If you look at the part of the Prayer Book for "Pastoral Offices," you will find liturgies arranged in life order from birth to death. We will be offering occasions all along that spectrum this weekend.
On Sunday morning, we plan to baptize little Fiona Elizabeth Jones, daughter of Chris & Katie, granddaughter of Kathleen & David. That will be an occasion of great joy.
Also Sunday morning, we expect to celebrate Jeanette Koncz's 100th birthday. We will offer the Birthday Prayer for Jeanette, recalling her baptism nearly 100 years ago.
I understand that the celebration of Fiona's baptism and Jeanette's birthday will continue in the Parish Hall.
Now for the sad news: Dennis Marden died on June 30: James Sheppard died on August 5; and Georgia Whitney died on August 8. Death came as a friend to Dennis and James; they died with family members at their side. Georgia's death was unexpected; she died in the midst of her Wednesday errands.
We will give thanks for the life of Dennis Marden on Saturday, August 11 at 10a.m., and for the life of Georgia Whitney on Monday, August 13 at 11a.m. Yes, the Saturday service is at 10a.m., and the Monday service is at 11a.m. We will give thanks for the life of James Sheppard on the afternoon of September 8. Dennis, Georgia and James all "continue in the risen life of Jesus Christ" which began for them at their baptisms.(BCP, p.307)
Following up on the positive experience of our first "Rhythms-of-Grace" service in July, we will again offer Rhythms-of-Grace as the worship portion of a Beach Communion & Potluck on Sunday, August 12, at 5p.m. Please consider joining in worship that involves movement, engages the senses, and invites shared prayers. As Jennifer Huebner says, if it's designed for those with special needs, it's gonna be great for all of us. Please also consider bringing an entree, salad or dessert to share; beverages and paper goods will be provided. We'll gather under a Jacob's Beach Pavilion at 5p.m.
Following this second venture with Rhythms-of-Grace, I expect that the Outreach Committee will consider whether to recommend adding a monthly Rhythms-of-Grace service to our schedule of worship. So, your participation will be helpful in this discernment.
Congratulations to the adults for rising to the implicit Mission Challenge posed by our Vacation Bible School. The north window sills almost match the south ones with donations of fruit cups, peanut butter crackers, cereal and granola bars, and other easy-to-manage snacks or meals for the Guilford Food Bank. This will be the last Sunday for the Challenge; all these kid-friendly food items will be delivered to the Food Bank this week to meet summer-time needs.
Jack-the-dog and I returned to the rectory on Wednesday evening to find the rectory's wood floors (first floor) beautifully refinished. Even more amazing however, was how the Parish Office had reclaimed its space, and how all the furniture, art, books and plants had been returned to their places!. A profound Sarum bow of gratitude to Junior Warden Sue Shackford for spearheading this undertaking! Thanks also to those of you who helped!
Although I plan to be present for worship this Sunday, I am so grateful to our stalwart friend-of-the-parish, the Rev. Kent Smith, for presiding and preaching during Sunday's services. I look forward to any insights that come from Kent's years as a professor of Chinese history, as the rector of Christ Church, Redding, and his current participation with Margaret in the life and witness of Christ Church, New Haven.
I look forward to sharing with you in all our celebrations sanctifying life's challenging journey in the days ahead.
In faith, hope and love,
p.s. You may have heard that our Presiding Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Michael B. Curry, had surgery to deal with prostate cancer on July 25th. A member of his immediate staff reported (at a meeting I attended on Wednesday) that the surgery went well, Bishop Michael's recovery continues as expected, and that he is grateful for the prayers which continue to buoy and sustain him.
One generous act inspires another: During Vacation Bible School, many of you kindly provided the children's mid-morning snacks. That inspired the children (and their families) to take up a collection of child-friendly foods for the Guildford Food Bank. Their donations now stretch down one side of the nave. There's an implicit Mission Challenge here to the rest of us: Could we adults, maybe, fill the window sills on the other side of the nave? Donations of fruit cups, peanut butter crackers, cereal and granola bars, and other easy-to-manage snacks or meals would help the Guilford Food Bank meet summer-time needs.
On Sunday, July 15, the Outreach team rolled out our first "Rhythms-of-Grace" service as the worship portion of a Beach Communion & Potluck. We began by tossing around a beach ball and sharing prayers, heard a story about the Lord's Prayer with color-coded props, participated in three different sit-down activities before learning stand-up motions to offer the Lord's Prayer with our bodies. We sang a song, shared communion and sang "Yes, Jesus loves me" complete with the ASL signs.
As we had been told to expect, the adults became just as engaged in the activities as the youngsters. And then the potluck supper was another delight for all ages! Thanks to all who participated in our first at-the-beach Rhythms service; thanks to our Outreach team leaders; and thanks to all who participated in the delicious potluck supper! We will use what we learned for our next Rhythms service and potluck on Sunday, August 12.
We are trying on something else that's new this summer: "An Open Door Policy." Specifically, Music Directory Mark Sullivan will open the southside front door during his organ practice sessions. And yes, an open door means folks are invited to come inside to sit and listen. This came in response to requests from passersby; please alert your friends who are walkers.
Speaking of hospitality, please consider signing up to offer "Lemonade Under the Balcony" following the 10a.m. service. Iced tea works just as well as lemonade, and a plate of simple store-bought cookies also fit the bill. There's ice in the refrigerator; cups and napkins are set out.
While Jack-the-dog and I are away, the rectory's wood floors (first floor) are being refinished. Thanks to Junior Warden Sue Shackford for organizing this undertaking! Thanks also to helpers Pat Daunic, LIz & Dirck Goss, Susan Leonard, Gene Bishop, David Oshana and Sexton Sheward Hagerty for the heavy lifting, and to Parish Administrator Pat Wakefield and Bookkeeper Melissa Lamoreaux for relocating their operations. While this process is underway, and the renewed finishes are setting up, you'll find the Parish Office temporarily relocated to the Guild Room.
In the event of a pastoral emergency, local clergy are on call. If I weren't on vacation, I would want to hear the Rev. Lynda Tyson preach at Christ Church the next three Sundays. Lynda+ directs the Annand Spiritual Formation program of Berkley Divinity School, the Episcopal seminary nested within Yale Divinity School. Therefore, to her preaching Lynda brings experience, insights and expertise, which are not mine. If you are in town, I hope you will take advantage of this opportunity! If, like me, you are traveling, I hope you have fair winds, plenty of sunshine, and low humidity!
This message comes to you from Alexandria, Virginia, where I'm visiting friends; the kids are returning from the pool and the dogs' naps are over. So, it's time to bring this letter to a close. Next week, I'm heading for Oregon.
In faith, hope and love,
No need to make breakfast at home this Sunday, July 1! Bring your breakfast appetite to worship with you on Sunday morning! Our InReach Committee is hosting another of their terrific French toast, sausage and bacon, fruit and juice breakfasts between Sunday's services. So, if you are an 8 o'clocker plan to stay after, and if you're a 10 o'clocker plan to come early. You'll be able to get caught up with friends from the other service.
Our Sunday worship will include the Collect for Independence Day in anticipation of July 4th. The two versions are in the Prayer Book on pages 190 and 242. Here's the latter:
Lord God Almighty, in whose name
the founders of this country won liberty
for themselves and for us,
and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn:
Grant that we and all of the people of this land
may have grace to maintain our liberties
in righteousness and peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Wherever, and however, you celebrate the 4th, I hope your day will include such a prayer of gratitude for, and commitment to, our nation's founding principles.
The situation of migrating parents and their children, and unaccompanied children, fleeing violence in their home countries and seeking refuge on the southern border of the United States, continues to command public attention. Given reports that family separation may be continuing in some places, here's a joint statement from our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and other Catholic and Protestant leaders. Our own bishops, +Ian Douglas and +Laura Ahrens issued their own letter on family immigration; you can find it here.
The Episcopal Church’s General Convention will gather in Austin Texas July 5-13 to organize for the Church’s witness, ministry, and common life. Like our own Annual Parish Meeting, or own Annual Diocesan Convention, General Convention includes elections, budgets, policy-making and setting the rules (i.e. canons or bylaws) that govern the life we share, and the worship and witness we offer as a Church. One key difference is that General Convention does not meet annually, but once every three years; good thing, since it lasts for nine days!
The General Convention sits in two houses – the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies, drawn from each of the Church’s 100 dioceses within the United States, plus the dozen or more dioceses in other countries (e.g. Haiti, Ecuador, Taiwan, etc.). Dioceses may send as many as four deputies, plus as many alternates, equally divided between clergy and laity.
One never knows what kind of coverage General Convention will receive in the popular press. Although the Church’s media office provides reporters with ample guides to help them understand the Episcopal Church, reporting is sometimes less than thorough. For example, in reports on the recent royal wedding, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry was often reported as being a bishop from Chicago; while he was born outside Chicago, Bishop Curry grew up and was sponsored for ordination in western New York; he served parishes in North Carolina, Ohio and Maryland prior to becoming Bishop of North Carolina. He was elected Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church in 2015. All that information was readily available to the press, but it was easier to report that he was a bishop from Chicago. So, if you read or hear a report that sounds odd, it may well be wrong.
This 79th gathering will likely reflect the issues of our day, as well as concerns for the Church’s own life: Immigration policy and practice, sexual harassment – including the #metoo movement, racial reconciliation -- creating a Beloved Community, care of Creation, and preventing gun violence, all effect how the Church organizes for ministry, how we worship, and how we order our common life as the Church. Karin Hamilton, the Episcopal Church in Connecticut’s (ECCT) canon for mission communication, has already begun to report on General Convention. If you already receive ECCT e-newsletters, you have already received Karin’s two pre-convention reports. If you haven’t and would like to get the straight scoop from the inside, with a special emphasis on things of interest to CT Episcopalians, then you will want to subscribe by clicking here; mark "General Convention 2018" at the bottom of the page.
Let us keep General Convention in our prayers -- for faithfulness in its deliberations, and safety in travel and its gatherings.
Hope to see many of you in morning coolness for Sunday breakfast!
In faith, hope and love,
p.s.: We have at least two -- Mark McNamara and Erik Mastalerz -- returning from a Pilgrimage Fellowship NYC Mission, and three -- Keelyn Ervin, Erik again, and mentor Page Pelphrey -- departing for the ECCT Youth Mission in the Dominican Republic this weekend. Let's give thanks for their commitment to serving our neighbors, and pray for their safe travel.
A Happy Father's Day to all men committed to the nature and care of children! In my family, there were usually "Happy Father's Day" cards not only for my father and grandfathers, but also our two uncles who were very engaged in the life of my generation. They lived nearby and did not have children of their own; so my brother and I got most of their attention and were the envy of our 15 cousins.
Some years after my paternal grandmother's death, my grandfather remarried, and my step-grandmother started organizing our Father's Day celebrations. If the weather was good, we played croquet and lawn darts; Granddad was ruthless at croquet. Inside, we'd play Scrabble and Dominoes; Granddad & Rita were very serious about Dominoes; they had a double-twelve set, and would beat us all handily.
May this Father's Day brings you happy celebrations and warm memories. In Sunday's prayers, we will give thanks for all who have been fathers to us, Sadly, some memories may call on us to forgive others, as we have been forgiven. That's part of our routine ritual of prayer, as well. Another part of our routine, is a lovely coffee hour honoring all our dads.
Thanks to all who made last Sunday's worship and picnic such grand celebrations. On Saturday, a crew did an amazing job of cleaning up our backyards. Thanks to all who turned out, and a special thanks to Ryan from LaFata Excavations who made many trips, hauling off mounds of yard debris.
On Sunday, the Choir invited us to participate in the final chorus of their offertory anthem, and Mark Rehnstrom taught us the refrain to his communion anthem. The rafters barely stayed in place!
We honored and thanked our Sunday School teachers and mentors, and gave thanks for the children in their care. Just as they all brighten our lives; so they received plants with bright red flowers.
The ECW honored Katherine Frydenborg and Elliot Wilcox with their "Pearl of Great Price" Award -- recognizing their many years of service to the life of our parish and our larger community.
After worship, we adjourned to the backyard for a totally splendid Parish Picnic. Thanks to all who helped with set-up, serving and clean-up; and thanks to all who provided such an amazing array of side dishes, salads and desserts! Special thanks go to InReach Chair Susan Leonard and her chief sidekick Tony Leonard! (They made multiple trips to the store to be sure we had everything we might need!) Special thanks also to grillmasters Richard Marvin and David Oshana.
We have a lot to celebrate again this coming Sunday; I hope to see you in worship!
In faith, hope and love,
p.s.: About Romans 13 As many of your know, I've been engaged in Yale Divinity School's Summer Study these past two weeks. This week it was "Biblical Values" all morning, and "The Letter to the Romans," all afternoon. So, you might well imagine how intrigued I was when I read an Associated Press on-line report, that the Attorney General of the United States had quoted scripture in a speech about immigration. Was he speaking about the responsibility of the powerful to protect the weak and vulnerable? Ezekiel, for example, condemns the leaders of Israel:
"You have not strengthened the weak, you have not healed the sick, you have not bound up the injured,
you have not brought back the strayed,
you have not sought the lost,
but with force and harshness you have ruled them."(34.4)
Or, since he was speaking about migrating people, perhaps, he had quoted Leviticus:
"The alien who resides with you
shall be to you as the citizen among you;
you shall love the alien as yourself,
for you were aliens in the land of Egypt:
I am the Lord your God."(19:34)
But no, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, offered a paraphrase of the opening verses of Romans 13: "I would cite to you the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order." Not bad as a paraphrase goes, but it certainly fails to explain how the administration's policy to separate migrating children from their parents, in his words, "protect[s] the weak and lawful."
The Attorney General seems to have ignored the rest of the chapter: In verse 10 Paul writes, "Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." In verse 11, Paul sees the coming end of the current age -- and of the Empire, "Besides this, you know what time it is, ... For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first became believers[.]" I find it odd for the Attorney General to equate our country to a doomed empire. Indeed, to my thinking, Romans 13, taken as a whole, offers no defense for the Administration's policy regarding migrating children.
On Saturday, June 9: a Yard clean-up beginning at 9 a.m. Although our sexton Sheward is doing a fine job keeping the grass well-trimmed, the beds could use some attention! As you may recall, the Bible begins and ends in well-tended gardens. Our goal is not biblical perfection, but help clearing away some of the weeds. Come by as you are able, and do what you can; feel free to bring your gloves and favorite weeding tools with you.
Also on Saturday, June 9: Kayla Bryan's Senior Violin Recital, 7 p.m. Kayla and some musician/friends have prepared works for violin, piano and cello by a variety of composers. One of the joys of life at Christ Church is the gift of music from our young virtuosos. There will be a free-will offering for the Cove Center for Grieving Children.
Sunday morning, June 10 will include celebrations and recognitions as our Sunday School concludes its academic year, and our Choir concludes their season in the balcony. The ECW will honor two long-serving parishioners with their "Pearl of Great Price" award. Our latest group of confirmands will be introduced and take some leadership roles in worship. We will give thanks for, and to, the Choir for their inspiring music this season; you won't want to miss what they preparing for this Sunday!
We will also give thanks for our Sunday School teachers and mentors, and for the children in their care. Although this Sunday will conclude their academic year and Sunday morning gatherings until September, Vacation Bible School is on the horizon. "Shipwrecked -- Rescued by Jesus" is the theme for five mornings of fun, Bible stories, songs, and, oh yes, snacks -- July 8-13.
Following the 10 a.m. service, our celebrations will move to the Annual Parish Picnic in our, by then well-tended, backyard. The InReach Committee is seeing to the hamburgers and hot dogs, beverages and paper goods; please bring a side-dish or dessert to share. I'm sure they would also welcome your help with setting up before, serving during, and cleaning up afterwards.
At the picnic we will also get to see the progress Mark and his crew of scouts have made on his Eagle Scout project: New picnic tables and places to put them.
We have a lot to celebrate in the coming days; I hope to see you on Sunday!
In faith, hope and love,
p.s.: A Correction from last week -- "Whitsunday" was the nickname for Pentecost (not Trinity Sunday) from the days when those being confirmed wore white to their confirmations. Sundays were counted from Whitsunday, i.e. Pentecost; now we count them "after Pentecost."
This comes to you following an only slightly dampened Middle School Overnight at Camp Incarnation. Eight of us played, prayed, made s'mores at a campfire, visited the farm, worked together on a Ropes Course, and enjoyed waterfront activities together. We were also the happy beneficiaries of being bumped into a fully-furnished cottage and joining other guests in the dining hall for breakfast and lunch. Delicious!
Middle School leader Page Pelphrey was fully prepared with indoor activities for the soggy-weather forecast, but the thunderstorms didn't arrive there until lunchtime, and for that we were all grateful.
Purple, orange and green are the colors we're seeing in these last days of spring. We supported Project Purple Week again this year with purple flags flying around the parish sign and at the entrance to the driveway. Placing the flags in these high-visibility spots signals the parish's support of freedom from substance abuse. This is one of our baptismal renunciations -- renouncing "evil powers that corrupt and destroy the creatures of God." Those evil powers are cunning and crafty however; so, our baptismal promises include the assurance that whenever we fall under their sway, we can change course, "and return to the Lord."
This is also why we are pleased to host all the 12-Step groups that meet in our Parish House every day of the week but Sunday. It is no secret that Episcopalians were among the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, and that they adapted Anglican/Benedictine spiritual disciplines to frame the steps.
The Orange ribbons on the doors reflect our concern for honoring and "respecting the dignity of every human being," as part of our baptismal promise to "strive for justice and peace among all people..." In particular, Orange is the color of safety vests, including the ones worn by hunters; hunters' vests signal that the creatures wearing them are not to be shot. We seek communities in which all God's children can leave in peace and safety.
Some of our neighbors who feel especially called to the work of preventing gun violence will be hosting a gathering on the Green following worship on Sunday. They would be happy to welcome you. We can thank the Rev. Mary Anne Osborn for our orange ribbons.
The color green is now everywhere outdoors. Indeed, where there was once bare soil and brown twigs, there's now an abundance of green seeking to takeover the backyard! If you would like to help clear away some of those weedy greens, there will be a yard clean-up next Saturday morning beginning at 9 a.m. Come by as you are able, and do what you can.
We haven't seen our green altar hangings and paraments since early February and the beginning of Lent. Now they return for the long season following the red of Pentecost, and the white of Trinity Sunday. The degree of Sunday's heat and humidity will determine whether or not our lovely new green chasuble also makes a return appearance. In any case, the season of steady growth is with us again.
Those of you who want the straight scoop from the Episcopal Church's General Convention -- set for July 5-13 in Austin, TX -- will want to register for the newsletter prepared by the Episcopal Church in CT's own Karin Hamilton, Canon for Mission Communication. You can do that here. Be sure to click on "General Convention 2018' among the available newsletters.
For those who wonder what a "General Convention" is, and also for those who think they do, I heartily recommend a clever illustrated introduction for the 78th General Convention held in Salt Lake City in 2015. You can find it here.
In the meantime, I hope to see you on Sunday!
In faith, hope and love,
On Memorial Day, the Guilford High School Voices will offer a joint choral concert with the select choirs of Ledyard High School at 4 p.m.. Given the excellent acoustics of Christ Church, Voices' director Kevin Buno said our nave was the first choice for this event. Several Christ Church young people are among the Voices, including a graduating senior or two; so this Memorial Day concert is a special opportunity to hear some great ensemble singing.
A profound bow of gratitude to our Sunday School children, youth readers and their directors, Miss Laurie and Mr. Sullivan, on last Sunday's effective telling ot the Pentecost story.. The children sang their parts with spirited conviction; the readers did not balk on the challenges of place names like Cappadocia, Pamphylia and Phrygia, and the congregation sounded off the concerns of those who gathered in Jerusalem on that first day of Pentecost -- "What does this mean?" and, "They are filled with new wine!" -- with the appointed gestures. It was a day to dream dreams and see visions again, just as St. Peter said, all those years ago.
As part of our observance of the Pentecost weekend, Jennifer Huebner and I were honored to present Christ Church's candidates for Confirmation at Camp Washington on Saturday, May 19. As you may recall, it was a damp and foggy day, but all nine of our candidates, and their family members, joined the other 46 candidates and their families from other parishes for the service in Kenyon Hall. In a message to the newly confirmed and their families, I wrote, "You adapted creatively to the situation; a sure sign of letting the Holy Spirit take charge. I hope you’ll hold onto what Bishop Laura had to say about breathing in God’s Spirit, and then breathing it out to share God’s love in tangible ways in your daily lives. Also hope you remember the experience of Bishop Laura’s hands on your heads as she prayed for each of you:
Strengthen, O Lord, your servant, …, with your Holy Spirit,
empower them for your service; and
sustain them all the days of their lives. Amen.
Please join me in thanking Jennifer Huebner for her assistance in leading our Monday evening confirmation discussions, and chaperoning youth participation in Chapel on the Green, The Big Sleep Out, Nightwatch/NYC Overnight, and Dinner with our Bishops! I think Jennifer was as proud of Alex, Hannah, Lauren, Keelyn, Matthew, Megan, Michael, Olivia, and Sabrina as any of the proud parents!
As appropriate for Pentecost, we received an update on what the Holy Spirit is up to in Malawi during Coffee Hour. Seminarian Derek Stefanovsky returned with news about the mission and work of St. Peter's School and Anglican Cathedral on Likoma Island in Lake Malawi, and challenges of providing education, health care and spiritual care in the Anglican Diocese of Northern Malawi. As requested, Derek has developed a secure and accountable means of putting gifts to their appointed use. Please look on the Ushers' Table and in the Parish Hal for the description sheets he provided.
Many conversations this week included favorite moments from last Saturday's Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Megan Markle in St. George's Chapel, Windsor. There were certainly many such for me, but right up there with the look of open-mouthed delight on the face of one of the Mulroney twins at the sound of the herald trumpet, was the sermon by +Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. The Episcopal News Service has provided two ways to watch the sermon, as well as its text here. Bishop Michael's inspiring message about the unselfish, sacrificial "Way of Love" to redeem and transform "this tired old world" seemed to catch many by surprise. Many of us who have heard him preach before were thrilled, but not surprised. He certainly made the rounds of morning television. Here he is on ABC, the View, and NBC. One of the breakout moments in any interview, surely came from +Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, when he threw up his hands to a question about the wedding being unconventional: "There's nothing conventional about Christianity!" replied the Archbishop. That was part of a SKY news interview following the wedding; you can see it here.
Wherever you are this Memorial Day weekend, let us all take time to remember and give thanks "for those who in the day of decision ventured much for the liberties we now enjoy..." (For Heroic Service, BCP, p. 839) On Sunday, we will sing of
"...heroes proved in liberating strife,
who more than self, their country loved,
and mercy more than life!"
In faith, hope and love,
Our Sunday School children and youth will lead our celebration of Pentecost at 10 a.m. So, we've re-ordered the first part of the service to focus on the Pentecost story-telling. The youngsters will use word and song to convey Sunday's reading from Acts -- about the coming of the Holy Spirit upon a fearful crew gathered in an Upper Room, and the startled reaction of folks in Jerusalem from many nations who heard the disciples proclaiming "God's deeds of power" in their own languages.
Sunday School Parents: Although your children have been rehearsing their songs for weeks now, they have an important opportunity to rehearse their presentation in the church at 10 a.m., on Saturday, May 19.
To support the children, and join the Pentecost celebration, please wear red! Actually, any flame color will do; we're recalling the "divided tongues, as of fire" that rested upon those early disciples.
As appropriate for Pentecost, we'll get an update on what the Holy Spirit is up to in Malawi during Coffee Hour. Seminarian Derek Stefanovsky will return with news about the mission and work of St. Peter's School and Anglican Cathedral on Likoma Island in Lake Malawi. As a further enticement, the Outreach Committee will host the Coffee Hour.
On the day before Pentecost, May 19, we will be celebrating the gift of the Holy Spirit among our Youth Confirmation Group. We will join folks from other parishes at Camp Washington in Lakeside, CT, for a Service of Confirmation led by Bishop Laura Ahrens. Please keep our confirmands Alex, Hannah, Lauren, Keelyn, Matthew, Megan, Michael, Olivia, and Sabrina in your prayers; Bishop Laura's prayer for them begins,
"Strengthen, O Lord, your servants with your Holy Spirit;
empower them for your service....
Thank you for your prayers for the Group's May 11-12 travel to NYC for Nightwatch at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and visit to the 9-11 Memorial & Museum. You'll be proud to know that our group won Nightwatch's Scavenger Hunt/Wheel of Fortune game by being the first to identify the biblical quotation: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock." The Museum experience was as powerful as ever; the Memorial, now free of cyclone-fencing, quite moving. The Group readily found the "Survivor Tree."
For those otherwise uninterested in Saturday's Royal Wedding in St. George's Chapel, Windsor, the invited preacher will surely provide sufficient reason to set your alarm (or TV recorder) for the early morning hour. The preacher will be our own Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Rev.. Michael Curry! After expressing his delight in the couple's invitation to Bishop Curry, the Archbishop of Canterbury, +Justin Welby, described him as, "a brilliant pastor, stunning preacher and someone with a great gift for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ."
I hope to see you (in flame colors) on Pentecost!
In faith, hope and love,
p.s. As part of this week's Clergy Conference, the clergy of the Episcopal Church in CT descended upon the Mashantucket Pequot Museum. I'm embarrassed to report this was a first visit for me; after my eye-opening experience, I will certainly be returning.
Although Guilford students will be in class for another seven weeks(!), for our seminary-intern Graham Marsh, classes have concluded and final exams begun at Berkeley Divinity School at Yale. Accordingly, on this Sunday, May 6, Graham will conclude his time with us, During his internship, Graham has been a faithful participant in worship with our 8a.m. congregation, rotating through chalice bearer, intercessor and lector roles, and likewise assisting at 10a.m. as his commitment to our high school youth allowed. Leading high school gathering has been Graham's primary role at 10a.m. Sunday mornings.
Along the way, Graham has preached as his schedule permitted; and, I think we would all agree, he has grown wonderfully as a preacher. All this, while he completed the massive amount of written work required to earn Yale's Master of Sacred Theology degree (S.T.M.). Graham will receive his degree later in May and be ordained a deacon, God willing, on June 9th in Trenton, NJ. Graham is in discernment with the Bishop of New Jersey about opportunities to serve.as a transitional deacon, and in due course, as a priest. If you would like to participate in a "Godspeed" purse for Graham, please put his name on the memo line of a check or envelope to Christ Church. Gifts may be placed in the offering plate or delivered to the parish office.
Later this Sunday, May 6, Christ Church will host an introduction to "Rhythms of Grace," a worship and fellowship experience for the whole family, specifically attuned to children with special needs. Linda Snyder, one of the founders of Rhythms of Grace, will be with us at 4p.m. to lead us through a typical service, discussing the design as she proceeds. Our Outreach Committee encourages interested parishioners to participate in this introduction and in the next-step in discerning whether this might be a service Christ Church could offer to the larger community.
Having participated in one of Linda's Rhythms of Grace services myself, I can attest that this is hands-on worship -- with Sunday School crafts and songs rolled into worship. It occurs to me that a monthly (the typical pattern) Rhythms of Grace service might provide Christ Church with an opportunity for service as well as another opportunity for worship for those whose school or sport commitments keep them away on Sunday mornings.
Eight Christ Church folk attended the Episcopal Churchwomen of Connecticut's Annual Meeting on Thursday. Attendance was up, and I think that was because the Rev, Becca Stevens, was the speaker. No one was disappointed! Becca+ is an author, social entrepreneur, Episcopal priest and the founder of Thistle Farms which "offers women hope and healing through a holistic residential program, employment with one of our social enterprises, and a growing national and global network dedicated to changing a culture that allows human beings to be bought and sold."
Becca+ told the gathering that she learned from Episcopal Church Women what she needed to know to lead a multi-million dollar company, particularly from ECW bazaars! She learned about making products by hand that people enjoy, and selling those handiworks to support good works. Thistle Farms' natural beauty and bath products are made by the women who participate in Thistle Farms' residential program, and the proceeds support that program. Becca introduces Thistle Farms here.
Speaking of the work of the ECW: Last Saturday's fine lunch of delicious homemade soups raised almost $600 to support our Evening ECW's Parish Hall projects. And our daytime ECW's "Roses for Mother" is still receiving names and contributions; look on the Ushers' table for announcements and envelopes to honor and remember women who have been important in your life.
As one of the seven Christ Church folk who participated in The Big Sleep Out last Saturday night and stayed until the rain began early Sunday morning, I learned a lot -- both from the presentations and from the experience of sleeping on the Guilford Green: Homelessness begins with trauma and/or disease; one often leads to the other, as a spiral leads further beyond an individual's control. No one chooses to be homeless; but we can choose to come alongside those who are, and help through agencies like Columbus House.
I hope to see you this Sunday as we bid Graham, Godspeed; and as we learn about Rhythms of Grace.
In 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!