The Guilford Performing Arts Festival opens today, Thursday, October 12! There'll be all sorts of performances all over Town! At 7 p.m. this evening, Christ Church will host the Guilford High School Voices and the Jazz Ensemble. The Voices are always amazing (be sure to look for familiar, Christ Church, faces), and, in my experience, even folks who are indifferent to jazz, are delighted by the Jazz Ensemble.
If you're in the mood for something more macabre at 7 p.m. this evening, our own Julie Harris will be singing about fall, ghosts and goblins with selections from the American song book, accompanied by Stephen Roane, in The Marketplace at the Guilford Food Center.
On Saturday, "Another Octave," an ensemble drawn from the Connecticut Women's Chorus will perform choral standards from Broadway to Gospel, from jazz to pop, at 4 p.m. in the Christ Church nave.
Our Sunday Formation programs for all ages resume Sunday, October 15, following last Sunday's break.
The Rectory Forum continues to discuss The Misunderstood Jew: The Church & the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus, after the 8 a.m. service in the rectory over coffee and tea.
Children's Chapel Time with Sunday School Director Laurie Varley begins at 9:30 a.m. at the foot of the Sunday School steps.
Sunday School for Kindergarten through 5th grade begins at 10 a.m. and concludes with Music Time with Music Director Mark Sullivan; the Sunday School then joins the 10 a.m. congregation at the Peace.
The Middle School Group meets at 10 a.m. with Page Pelphrey in their own space (the former Nursery);
The HIgh School Group is moving to the former Middle School Room to meet at 10 a.m. with our seminary-intern Graham Marsh; High Schoolers can even "sneak in" through the back yard gates and the back door! (But you didn't hear it from me!)
Middle and High School Groups also join the 10 a.m. congregation at the Peace.
Consecration Sunday is approaching! Please plan to participate in worship on Sunday, October 22, to hear a special Consecration Sunday message from our guest leader, the Rev. Patricia Hames, and to join in the Celebration luncheon following the 10 a.m. service. This is a catered lunch for parishioners of all ages; so please help the organizers, by letting them know for how many adults and children they need to prepare. You can do that -- and avoid a telephone call -- by returning a reservation card.
Our Sunday morning and Tuesday evening discussions of The Misunderstood Jew, have moved through a long introduction and two chapters-- with more detail than some of us thought necessary -- to make two important points:
1) Jesus was a Jew, born to Jewish parents and circumcised on the eighth day, Jesus spoke like a Jew, ate like a Jew, dressed like a Jew ("fringes of his garment" being mistranslated as "hem), told parables like a Jew (admittedly taking this storytelling method to new heights), and prayed like a Jew (the Lord's Prayer is a thoroughly Jewish prayer). This may come as a bit of a shock to those of us who worship in front of stained glass window depicting Jesus as thoroughly northern European in dress and appearance.
2) In the generation following Pentecost, three Jewish men led the transition of a Jewish sect into the early Christian community composed mostly of non-Jewish people, i.e. Gentiles -- people of the (other) nations. Those men were Peter, Paul and James: Peter led the proclamation of the Gospel among Jews -- many of whom took the Gospel with them to synagogues throughout the Roman Empire. Paul led the mission to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles -- people of the other nations, taking the Gospel far beyond Judea to Asia Minor (Turkey), Macedonia, Greece and to Rome. James the Just, the brother of our Lord and leader of the followers of Jesus in Jerusalem and Judea, chaired the council that decided that Gentiles were not required to become Jews. i.e. to obey all that was expected of pious observant Jews, to become members of the community that followed Jesus.
When we read the Bible, it is important to remember that, "we are reading someone else's mail." We are reading literature in translation across languages and cultures. Although the New Testament may appear to be anti-Jewish, these passages actually invite us to read more deeply and thoughtfully. And that's what we'll be investigating in Chapter Three.
May God's love and mystery continue to enfold us all,
Hope, Prayers, Hiking & Communion: All appropriate responses to the sorrow of this past week. Prayer undergirds all that we do. Here's a Prayer for us and for Las Vegas, courtesy of Washington National Cathedral:
Almighty God, whose days are without end, and whose mercies cannot be numbered: Make us, we pray, deeply aware of the shortness and uncertainty of human life; comfort the injured and all whose lives have been forever changed by the tragic shooting in Las Vegas. Grant to the slain, eternal rest with you, and may all who mourn know the consolation of your love.
We also pray for an end to gun violence in our land that our homes, schools and neighborhoods may become places of safety for all. All this we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.
There's been quite a bit of talk about the expression, "... our thoughts and prayers are with you." Here's what I believe. I believe that Archbishop William Temple was speaking the truth when he said, "prayer adds to the sum total of love in the world." I also believe the truth of the Church's ancient maxim, that "praying shapes believing," and that what we believe shapes how we live and what we do. Authentic prayer leads to steadfast concern for the well-being of others, which leads to caring action.
In this light, I see the daytime ECW's sponsored workshop, "Bottles of Hope," as enacted prayer. The workshop will be Saturday, October 7, from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Parish Hall. Workshop participants will have the opportunity to make two polymer clay bottles -- one to keep and one to send to a cancer patient with a message of hope. There is no charge, but check with Diane Link about availability.
Also on Saturday, two of our neighboring congregations, St. George Church and the Shoreline Vineyard Church (they meet on Sundays in the Greene Community Center), will be offering Healing Prayers on the Green, between Noon and 2 p.m. If you would like a couple of people to pray with you for healing of a wound you bear (physical, emotional, spiritual ...), there'll be several kind people available to do so.
Our Worship on Sunday will begin a bit differently. For "... times of national anxiety, or ... of disaster," the Prayer Book provides "The Supplication" p. 154. These are surely such times; so, after a silent procession, we will pray The Supplication together. Then, instead of an upbeat Hymn of Praise, we will continue with a more somber Kyrie, "Lord, have mercy," at 10 a.m., and the full traditional text of Psalm 95, the Venite, at 8 a.m. Elsewhere, the Prayer Book counsels us to pray, "Give us grace to lay seriously to heart, the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions." I hope our prayers will help us do that.
On Monday, we are invited to join a South Central Region Walking Eucharist in East Rock Park. With parking in the Eli Whitney Museum lot, the walk and worship will begin at the covered bridge at 3 p.m., and continue on moderate-easy trails. The hike and Eucharist will be led by our South Central Region Missionary Rachel Field+, and Zion Church's (North Branford) Lucy LaRocca+
On Thursday, I was honored to attend the New Haven premiere of "The Sultan & the Saint," a documentary about a little known, weeks-long encounter between the Sultan of Egypt and St. Francis of Assisi. The Sultan's papers have only recently been translated into English, and by one of the documentaries sources; so, we now have access to his appreciation of St. Francis. Franciscan historians show how this encounter also shaped Francis's writings on prayer and the order which bears his name. Unfortunately, St. Francis died five years later, convinced his efforts ended in failure, but the encounter actually contributed to ending the Crusades.
The Sultan & the Saint will be shown on PBS on December 26 (Don't worry, I'll remind you!) The producers encourage viewing parties. Perhaps we could have one here? To see the trailer, and learn more, please click here. Seeing this documentary was a hopeful moment for me in a somber week.
May God's love and mystery continue to enfold us all,
p.s. The sad plight of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands remained in the news this week. The latest updates from Episcopal Relief and Development can be found here. Please consider contributing to relief efforts here.
Looks like we will have perfect weather for the annual Blessing of the Animals in Honor of St. Francis, Saturday, September 30! Please bring the creatures who bless your lives to the Green with you on leash, in crate, or in photo-form. We will again gather with our neighbors from First Congregational Church and St. George Church and all their friendly creatures at 10 a.m. Please note the time change: we'll gather at 10 a.m.! I think St. Francis would be pleased that we gather as fellow creatures to give thanks for the wonder of Creation.
The CROP Walk is this Sunday! We'll meet on The Green at 1:30 p.m. There are several ways to participate -- by walking, by contributing, or both! However you choose to participate, you'll be helping to end hunger "one step at a time." Funds go to relieve the food insecurity of local neighbors, and to support projects to enable basic agriculture throughout the world:
Sign-up to do the walk on Guilford sidewalks by going to the Shoreline CT page and click on "Register" on the right side of the page;
You can support our marchers by making an on-line donation; go to our Christ Church Team page, and click on "Donate."
Or, you can sign-up and/or make a donation, Sunday, on The Green. Lower tech, but just as effective!
It was strangely quiet on Park Street today. None of the hubub of preparations for The Tag Sale, or of the opening day of the Friends of the Library Book Sale. Hats off to all who labored at one or both ends of Park Street last week! Y'all definitely "bore the burden of the day and the scorching heat!" Even so, every shopper was greeted with a smile and warm welcome. So, a profound Sarum Bow to all Tag Sale helpers! Well done, good and faithful servants!
The daytime ECW will sponsor a "Bottles of Hope" Workshop, on Saturday, October 7, from 2 to 4 p.m. Think you're too old to play with clay? Think again! Workshop participants will have the opportunity to make two polymer clay bottles -- one to keep and one to send to a cancer patient with a message of hope. There is no charge, but signing up is necessary. Please sign-up in the Parish Hall, and direct your questions to Diane Link.
While Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands may be territories of the United States, they are full-fledged dioceses of The Episcopal Church! So, the catastrophic devastation from Hurricanes Irma and Maria impacts The Church just as much as what they did in Florida and what Harvey did in Texas and Louisiana. Indeed, the badly hit British Virgin Islands are also included in the Episcopal Diocese of the Virgin Islands. The latest news from Episcopal Relief and Development can be found here. Please consider contributing to relief efforts here.
May God's love and mystery continue to enfold us all,
p.s. The work of Episcopal Migration Ministries -- and local agencies like I.R.I.S --. is/are directly affected by the administration's proposed further reduction in the number of refugees who will be permitted to enter the country in the 2018 fiscal year which begins on October 1. Here's EMM's statement.
As I write this, I can hear folks happily arranging Tag Sale treasures in the driveway. The consensus clearly indicates -- and a visit to the Parish Hall confirms -- this is a really big Tag Sale! Perhaps the biggest yet! Thanks for all the lovely things y'all have donated and lifted about. There appear to be some especially fine treasures among the decor and furniture items. And I spied a princess/ballerina outfit that will delight some young lady. So, on Saturday, September 23, please plan to include the Tag Sale on your route; you'll also want to visit the Library's Booksale, and the Guilford Civic Women's Harvest Festival on the Green. A profound Sarum Bow to all Tag Sale helpers!
As a Thank-you for the use of Christ Church's Parish Hall and kitchen, the Civic Women are giving us their delicious Apple Crisp for Sunday's Coffee Hour!
Stories of a New America, a performance of vignettes about refugees starting over in the U.S., premiered in New Haven last spring to rave reviews. It’s coming to Guilford this Wednesday, September 27! The evening begins at 6 p.m. with a reception featuring international cuisine catered by refugees. The performance follows at 7 p.m., with a post-performance discussion led by Chris George, executive director of I.R.I.S. (Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services).
Tickets are $25 for adults; $10 for children 8 years and older; those under 8 years old are admitted for free. Tickets are available at www.eventbite.com; then search for Stories New America.
The lead sponsors for the evening are First Congregational Church of Guilford and Temple Beth Tikvah, Madison; they formed a partnership call SHIRR – Shoreline Interfaith Refugee Resettlement.
Two Saturday's ago, twelve Christ Church folks participated in the Syrian Dinner sponsored by "Saints on the Shoreline, (SOS)" at St. Andrew's Church, Madison. Syrian refugee women had supplied all the recipes the SOS volunteers used to prepare the meal; and everything was delicious! One male refugee, only in the US for nine months, spoke very movingly about his experience. So, I'm truly looking forward to both the reception and the performance this Wednesday at First Church.
Speaking of (former) refugees, Noah and Shem Elemeleki recently became U.S. citizens!
Following the massive Tag Sale Clean-up, Saturday afternoon, Sunday's Children's Chapel Time will return to the 4th/5th grade classroom, and Sunday School classes will meet in their usual and customary places.
The Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers will meet together again this Sunday in the Youth Room (former Nursery); their new "re:form" agenda prompts conversation with a short and witty video clip. Next week it will be back to usual places for them as well..
Next Saturday, September 30, please plan to return to the Green for our annual Blessing of the Animals in Honor of St. Francis. Please bring the creatures who dwell with you on leash, in crate, or in photo-form. We will again gather with our neighbors from First Church and St. George Church and all their friendly creatures at 10 a.m. Please note this time change: we'll gather at 10 a.m.
Although Storm Jose continues to hang around, we have been so fortunate compared to the devastations of Maria, Irma and Harvey! And then with another horrible earthquake in Mexico and the continuing threat of wildfires in the far west, Episcopal Relief & Development, and its Anglican Alliance partners, are on the ground all over! And they need our support as resources are stretched to address the needs. So, please consider another gift to support this important witness to Christ's love and compassion. To make a gift for Hurricane Relief please go here. The latest updates are available here for hurricanes and here for Mexico.
May God's love and mystery continue to enfold us all,
p.s. Thanks to the In-Reach Committee, especially leader Susan Leonard, who organized Ministry Sundae Sunday, and no, that's not redundant. Thanks also to all the ministry leaders who provided such delicious toppings for the sundaes. Blessings!!
Thanks also to all who participated in Thursday's U.N. Day of Peace observance on the Green! It was a special occasion to support one another in the quest for peace in our homes, among our neighbors, and throughout "this fragile planet, our island home." Our Sunday School's Peace Mandalas were displayed across the stage with each student's prayer, and they are very special indeed.
Following Sunday's 10 a.m. service, you can build your own Ministry Sunday Sundae! Folks involved in all sorts of Christ Church ministries will be ready to talk to you at tables in the Parish Hall; as you check out what they are up to, they'll offer you a topping for your sundae. So move around the room, talk about what Christ Church folks are up to, and add your favorite fruits, nuts, sprinkles, candies and/or whipped toppings. Along the way, you just might discover God calling you to try on a new-to-you aspect of our life together.
Children's Chapel and Sunday School got off to a fine start last week. Children's Chapel will again meet in the 2nd & 3rd grade class room; while the other classes move to their usual classrooms for Sunday School, the 4th & 5th graders will meet at the end of the hall this week.
The Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers will again begin together in the Youth Room (former Nursery); their new "re:form" agenda prompts conversation with a short and witty video clip. Page Pelphrey and our seminary-intern Graham Marsh will then lead the discussion.
And now, the offerings for adults will get underway:
Thursday morning Bible Study has chosen to focus on the Epistle readings for the coming nine weeks. Over coffee and tea, we'll discuss Paul's short letter to the Philippians for four weeks, and his (perhaps earliest) letter to the Thessalonians for five weeks; we gather at 9:30 a.m. Thursday mornings in the Rectory Dining Room;
Rectory Forum -- returns this Sunday, September 17 at 9 a.m. in the Rectory living room for a review of the summer, and looking ahead to the coming year -- including an introduction to The Misunderstood Jew (see more below);
Tuesday evening's Casserole Conversations return on this Tuesday, September 19 at 6 p.m. (However, instead of a casserole, we'll begin with pulled pork sandwiches and cole slaw). Our conversations will center on, The Misunderstood Jew: The Church & the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus." With great wit and outstanding scholarship, Southern Jewish New Testament Professor Amy-Jill Levine carefully unravels some past misunderstandings that sadly support intolerance towards our Jewish neighbors. Copies of the book are on order; it's also available on Kindle and Nook.
Please join friends and neighbors of all ages for a Town-wide celebration of "Respect, Safety and Dignity for All" to mark the U.N.'s International Day of Peace this Thursday at 4 p.m. on the Green. Houses of Worship, Youth & Family Services and Guilford Schools are all coming together for this event. Church bells will ring, YFNR will offer a prayer, our Sunday School's Peace Mandalas (artwork and prayers) and Vacation Bible School's "Peace Pallet" will be on display, and we'll break into familiar songs for peace under the leadership of our own Mark Sullivan and First Church's Bill Speed.
All that, and it's Prep Week for The Tag Sale! Tag Sale "Staging" will happen on Thursday from noon to 5 p.m. Tag Sale Set-up will happen on Friday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m (or until we're done). And, The Tag Sale itself will open at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 23. Be sure to invite your friends and neighbors!
Now that Harvey and Irma have done their worst, Episcopal Relief & Development has geared up to work through Episcopal and Anglican partners throughout Texas, Louisiana, Florida and the Caribbean. Yes, all those devastated islands are in the embrace of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. So, please consider a gift to support this important witness to Christ's love and compassion. To make a gift for Hurricane Relief please go here. The latest updates are available here for Harvey, and here for Irma.
May God's love and mystery continue to enfold us all,
p.s. Thanks to everyone who made Welcome Back Sunday so special! To the Choir, Sunday School Teachers and Youth Mentors, who returned to their important leadership roles, and to everyone who helped with the Welcome Back Picnic, providing delicious sides and desserts, who cleaned-up, and to Senior Warden Rose Robinson and Seminary-Intern Graham Marsh who did more than they probably planned! Blessings!!
While on the Cape, I heard a comic explain that every week in town had a theme -- Carnival Week, Regatta Week, etc., -- but that was "Grief Week" for the end of the summer! Hope this does not find you downcast about summer's end. For Christ Church, this week brings opportunities to welcome one another home, and return to well-loved activities -- like worship with our Choir in the balcony, back to Sunday School and Youth activities, and fellowship around shared meals!
On Welcome Back Sunday, September 10, we will:
Worship God at 8 and 10 a.m., with special prayers for those cleaning up after Harvey, contending with the ravages of Irma, awaiting the arrival of Katia and Jose', dealing with the aftermath of the Mexican earthquake and fighting the western forest fires;
For starts, here's a prayer from the Rev. James Martin, S.J.:
Creator God, we ask you to calm the wind and the waves of the approaching hurricane,
and spare those in its path from harm.
Help those who are in its way to reach safety.
Open our hearts in generosity to all who need help in the coming days.
In all things and at all times, help us to remember
that even when life seems dark and stormy,
you are in the boat with us, guiding us to safety. Amen.
Our Choir will return to the balcony to help us all set forth God's glory in hymns of praise and to ready our hearts for the Great Thanksgiving with their offertory anthem;
Children's Chapel will gather beginning at 9:30 a.m. in the 2nd & 3rd grade classroom, with Sunday School Director Laurie Varley to craft Peace Mandalas;
Sunday School will meet together at 10 a.m. with this year's lead teachers Becky Patino, Gabriele La Torre, Marybeth Clarke and Richard Marvin, and helpers Stephanie Hutchison and Donna Lafata, before meeting with Music Director Mark Sullivan for their weekly Music Time;
Middle and High School students will meet together this Sunday with Page Pelphrey for the introduction of a new video-prompted conversation about how the Bible and the Church's Tradition speak to the questions that young people raise;
Following the 10 a.m. service, we'll re-gather in the Parish Hall backyard for our now-traditional Welcome Back Picnic featuring the Marketplace's Pulled BBQ Pork sandwiches and cole slaw along with the side dishes and desserts that you share; paper goods and beverages will be provided;
During the picnic, we can catch up with one another, hear about summer adventures, and get further acquainted with our new Seminary-intern Graham Marsh; Graham comes to us from the Diocese of New Jersey, via Princeton Seminary, for a year of Anglican Studies at Yale's Berkeley Divinity School.
Please check the calendar as other fellowship and learning opportunities ramp-up this week:
Bible Study over coffee and tea returns at 9:30 a.m. Thursday morning in the Rectory Dining Room; you don't even have to bring your own Bible to join this wide-ranging conversation prompted by the week's Scriptures and events;
ECW -- our Episcopal Church Women's daytime gatherings will resume with a planning meeting at 11 a.m. on Thursday, September 14, followed by a "carry-in" lunch, and conversation;
Rectory Forum -- will return on Sunday, September 17 at 9 a.m. in the Rectory living room for a review of the summer, and looking ahead to the coming year; and
Tuesday evening's Casserole Conversations will return on September 19 at 6 p.m. More details next week.
Jack-the-dog and I returned from the Cape late Labor Day Monday, (Yes, Jack loves the beach, and all the dogs and people he met there!), and then I left early Tuesday for a Clergy Day at Camp Washington -- which Bishop Douglas calls, "Our Place in Morris.". The topics of the day were in the "important," but neither exciting nor urgent categories. The drive was gorgeous, the company fun, and the food amazingly good. What made the day truly worthwhile, however, was the report of the Rev. Peter Stebinger (not really retired from Christ Church, Bethany), and the witness of the Rev. Susan Davidson, of All Saints', Wolcott:
Peter+ serves as chaplain for the Connecticut Disaster Response Team, and was deployed with them to Texas to set up a field hospital during the worst of Harvey -- which was mind-boggingly awful. He spoke highly of all the good work being done by the American Red Cross and other first responders, but reserved special praise for Episcopal Relief & Development(ERD) which was on the ground and will remain beyond the initial crisis until the work of restoration is done.
Susan+ served a parish in New Orleans during Katrina, and underscored Peter's testimony about ERD's effectiveness and faithfulness. She reported that ERD had only just closed out its New Orleans efforts -- just in time for Harvey.
The demands on Episcopal Relief & Development will continue with the coming disasters. So, please consider a gift to support this important witness to Christ's love and compassion. The latest updates are available here.
May God's love and mystery continue to enfold us all,
Our Acolytes, with their youth and adult helpers, will be Washing Cars this Saturday! Please bring your cars to the Little Red Barn at Bishop's Orchard Farm Market between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. August 26 for a thorough washing. Our Acolytes will be aided by other youth, some parent volunteers, and all will be under the detail-oriented eye of Acolyte Director Sue Shackford.
The now annual "Acolytes Washing Cars" event supports our Acolytes and other middle and high school youth activities. We are counting down the days to the National Acolyte Festival in Washington, D.C. over the long Columbus Day weekend in October. The funds we raise will help with travel expenses for our Acolytes and their chaperones. So, please tell your friends and neighbors about this great opportunity to get their cars sparkling clean!
Familiar folks will be leading worship on Sundays, August 27 and September 3. On the 27th, please welcome Fr. Kent Smith, our neighbor and friend, for his second Sunday with us this summer. Kent+ brings with him both his academic insights as a professor of Chinese history, and his pastoral experience as the rector of Christ Church in Redding, CT. In retirement, Kent & Margaret have become well-established as active residents of Guilford and regular participants in the life of Christ Church in New Haven. Perhaps someone might offer to lead the Birthday Prayer for Kent+ on Sunday; he recently celebrated a milestone birthday.
On Sunday, September 3, we will have the opportunity for both the Holy Eucharist and Morning Prayer. The Rev. Page Rogers will be our celebrant and preacher for the Holy Eucharist at 8 a.m., and our own Juliana Harris will lead Morning Prayer at 10 a.m. This will harken to a time when participating in Morning Prayer, the Eucharist and then Evening Prayer was fairly standard among Episcopalians. The commandment to "Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy," was thus followed in a more thorough-going way. So, yes, you can, and might want to, experience both the Eucharist and Morning Prayer on the 3rd.
For Christ Church folk, the Rev. Page Rogers' most significant credential may be that our own Suzanne Rogers is Page's mother! However, there is more to her story: Page+ was among the first women ordained in Connecticut; she just celebrated 35 years as a priest on June 10th of this year. Page+ took seriously the priestly charge to take her place in “the councils of the Church;” over the years she served as chairman of the Commission on Ministry, Committee on Constitution & Canons, Executive Council, and the Insurance Board; all that in addition to her principal ministry as a parish priest, including service as rector of St. John’s Church, Niantic, and more recently assisting with St. Ann’s Church, Old Lyme.
Our Christ Church Choir will begin their "fall" rehearsals with a pot luck supper (main course provided) on Wednesday. August. 30, at 6:30 p.m., after which we will preview some of our music for the upcoming ‘year.’ Family, friends, and all other interested parties are welcome! Have you ever wondered about singing with our Choir? This would be a great occasion to check it out!
Welcome Back Sunday will be September 10th! We will welcome one another, and the Sunday School, and the Choir back to their/our usual places and activities, and enjoy our now traditional Welcome Back Sunday Picnic. We will also have a chance to start getting acquainted with Graham Marsh, our new seminary-intern. Makings for pulled pork sandwiches, plus cole slaw, beverages and paper goods will be provided. Please consider bringing a side dish or dessert, and how else you might help with set-up, serving or clean-up.
May God's love and mystery continue to enfold us all,
p.s. Yes, I saw the Eclipse, and it was totally awesome! My uncle's ranch in Eastern Oregon was close to the centerline for Totality. Don't worry, we all had the necessary special glasses to watch as the moon blocked the sun. Although the sky grew dark,and we could hear the hooting of a nearby owl, the ground was illuminated as if by the most intensely focused moonlight. We had to take our "glasses" off to see the corona of light when the eclipse was at 100%, and then the so-called "Diamond Ring" as a bright spot of sunlight appeared on the corona. Even when we had to put our "glasses" back on, we continued sit there in total awe.
Our preachers for the next two Sundays will bring particular and fresh experiences and insights to their preaching. Derek Stefanovsky returned earlier this week from a summer "intensive internship" with a cathedral and related secondary school in Malawi. My hunch is that in Derek's experience "intensive" now has a new meaning! Derek is a rising "middler" second-year (seminarian) at Berkeley Divinity School -- the Episcopal seminary within Yale Divinity School.
Derek and his new bride left for Malawi in June shortly after their wedding in May. Derek's wife, a medical student, had a research project at a nearby hospital in Malawi. So, they both have stories to tell about the challenges of ministering God's healing love under difficult circumstances. Derek will preach at both services on August 13; parishioner David Jones will officiate (lead) these services of Morning Prayer.
On August 20, the Rev. Lynda Tyson will celebrate and preach. Lynda+ coordinates the Annand Center for Spiritual Formation within the Berkeley Divinity School; the Center seeks to help all YDS students discover, and try on, forms of prayer and other spiritual practices for spiritual growth. Lynda is herself a trained spiritual director and maintains a limited practice from her home in Madison.
Most Sundays Lynda serves as "Associate Clergy" at St. Thomas' Church in New Haven where her husband Charlie, sings in the choir. Within the Episcopal Church in CT, Lynda also serves as a Transition Consultant for parishes preparing to call new clergy. Between all these dimensions of ministry, Lynda gets to see the Holy Spirit at work -- or attempting to work -- in ever-changing ways. Lynda and Charlie joined us for worship on July 23.
Every week Washington National Cathedral holds one of the United States in prayer; this week was Connecticut's turn. As part of the observance. the Cathedral posts images of Connecticut's representation within the building's fabric; you can find that here. The Cathedral also shares ... A Prayer for Connecticut, from former Dean Francis Sayre's 1972 collection of prayers, "For All the States:"
Have in Thy keeping, O God, the strong hills and homely rocks of Connecticut, and the undaunted folk who live among them. As by mighty glacier Thou didst shape and furnish the land, so by grace and labor did Thy servants clear in, meting the bounds with boulders, and measuring themselves against the stern beauty of Thy handiwork. Thus molded to Thy majesty, may Thy people ever rejoice in the bounty of their valleys, the refreshment of the sea, and Thy changing glory at each season of the year. Bless their towns and government; bless their commerce; bless their rest; that in their turn they may endow their progeny with that hard and humble hope which is ever learned of Thee; Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
So, "undaunted folk" carry on in the glory of summer and "humble hope."
May God's love and power continue to enfold us all,
p.s. Thanks for the 20 backpacks, plus other school supplies, donated to Guilford Social Services' Back-to-School Program. They were received with great gratitude! Guilford's children all deserve a good start to the next school year. Thanks for helping make it so!
First of all, a profound Sarum bow to our In-Reach Committee for last Sunday's Meet & Greet breakfast! The French toast, sausages and cup of fresh fruit were delightful! Tables were beautifully set with wildflower bouquets, and most every chair was taken at some point in the morning. Folks -- including South Central Region Missionary Rachel Field+ -- were table-hopping to visit with as many as possible; so, an exact count was impossible. Some of us, who had heard about the breakfasts of years ago, now understand why those breakfasts are recalled so fondly. The Committee assures us that there will be more.
Our Outreach Committee and Vacation Bible School, invite us to help youngsters have what they need for new beginnings. During VBS, the children joined an effort to provide necessary items for newborn babies at St. Raphael's. We learned about this effort through Steve Varley, Laurie's husband, who works at Yale's School of Nursing. Not all of St. R's new moms have all the supplies they need when they take their babies home; our children were invited to help out. And they are inviting us to also help with diapers (newborn to Size 1), baby wipe packages of 75-100, and short-sleeved onesies. Please bring your contribution to the "VBS Mission Project" table in the Parish Hall.
The Outreach Committee's invitation concerns new-beginnings for children who are a bit older -- those starting a new year of school. We can help make sure every child in Guilford has all the supplies they need for the first day of school. It may seem cruel to be talking about School Supplies so far in advance of August 31, but we need to do the shopping now; so that Guilford Social Services can have them ready for children on their first day of school. Supplies most needed are: large backpacks, lunch boxes, composition notebooks, 1 & 3-subject notebooks, 3-ring binders with filler paper, and note cards. Please bring your contributions to the Children's Altar by August 6.
While Your Friendly Neighborhood Rector is on vacation, you have the opportunity to hear other voices and learn from other perspectives. On Sunday July 30, I hope you will take advantage of Benjamin Wyatt's preaching and leading of Morning Prayer at 8 and 10 a.m. Ben is a rising senior at Yale Divinity School, and hails from the middle of the “three great states of Tennessee.” A graduate of Nashville’s Vanderbilt University; he is a candidate for Holy Orders in the Diocese of TN. Ben and YNFR met in the course, “Bread & the Bible.” taught by Berkeley Divinity School's Dean McGowan in June.
On the following Sunday, August 6, well-known friend of the parish, the Rev. Kent Smith will celebrate and preach for the Holy Eucharist at 8 and 10a.m. Although Kent and Margaret actively participate in the life of New Haven's Christ Church (across from the Yale Bookstore), they live in Guilford, are active members of the local community, and occasionally worship with us -- most recently on July 23.
Jack-the-dog and I send greetings from Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. The whiz-bang thunderstorms here have kept Jack on alert, and given me the excuse to just sit on the porch and read.
May God's love and power continue to enfold us all,
You don't want to miss Sunday's Organ Recital by Jeremiah Mead. Newly graduated from Madison's Hand High School, Jerry is NYC-bound to continue his education at the Julliard School of Music this fall. Come at 4 p.m. to enjoy this "thank-you" for his rehearsal time here. Jerry regularly practices on the Christ Church pipe organ; and, this spring, with windows open in the church and the rectory, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to him play, from my perch across the driveway. Now the opportunity is available to all! As a bit of a preview, Jerry will also play during Sunday morning's 10 a.m. service.
And don't for a moment think that the Craft Fair on the Green will create a parking problem for us on Sunday. The Fair doesn't open until noon, and will be winding up at 4 p.m. Since the Town Hall lot also belongs to Christ Church, you can always park there, as well as in the Rectory driveway.
You don't even have to go inside to see signs of the great week our children had in Vacation Bible School. Look around the lilac outside the Parish House, and you'll see flowers and helpfully named herbs, that they planted Amidst the plantings you can see mosaic tiles they created. Then there's a large mosaic "Exaltation of the Cross" (that's Art History-speak), and you will be so amazed at the "tiles" used to create it. Another group project started out as a wood pallet (the kind used with a forklift), and it became a celebration of one of the Beatitudes: "Blessed are the Peacemakers ..."
If you ask the kids who participated, my hunch is they might also tell you about Director Laurie Varley's creative telling of Bible stories, or Music Director Mark Sullivan's active, on-your-feet, singing time, or the games, or the snacks you all so generously provided. Special thanks to volunteer helpers Keelyn and Zoe, and Gabriela La Torre, in addition to Miss Laurie and Mr. Sullivan!
Looking ahead to Sunday, July 23, please plan on having breakfast with Christ Church! A tradition of years-ago will return with a Sunday Mid-Morning Breakfast. Organized by our In-Reach Committee, they've listened to your ideas about adding to occasions for fellowship.-- especially with folks who attend the "other" Sunday morning service. As a special, added attraction, you will also have an opportunity to meet the Rev. Rachel Field, the newly appointed Missionary for our South-Central Region of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut. Rachel asked if she could "drop-in" to get acquainted; "come to breakfast"was the Christ Church response! The breakfast will begin around 9a.m.
The story of Eustace in C.S. Lewis's Voyage of the Dawntrader, keeps coming back to me. Bishop Porter Taylor recalls how Eustace, trusting solely in himself, falls into the behavior of dragons, and then actually becomes a dragon. Nonetheless, Aslan, the (Christ-figure) lion, does not give up on Eustace; instead Alsan does what has to be done to restore and reconcile Eustace. Whether it's racist graffiti or other recent occasions of vandalism in Guilford, or the gun violence on Jerusalem's Temple Mount yesterday; or the toxic disrespect for the dignity of persons different from ourselves, that passes for political discourse these days, I keep coming back to Eustace. And, I keep looking for the tipping point. When do we get to the point that we say, this is not how we want to live? We don't want to live in the dragon's lair? When are we willing to accept "Aslan's" help?
May God's love and power enfold us all,
p.s.: Thanks to all who participated in Tuesday's Calendar Planning Meeting. We got a lot sorted between now and Ash Wednesday 2018 (and yes, that'll be Valentine's Day 2018!) If you have a date for the calendar, please get it to Parish Administrator Pat Wakefield in the parish office; email@example.com or 203-453-2279
We feature various authors from around our parish, commenting on topics of interest to our community. Enjoy! Comment if you are so moved!