Sigh, sob, gasp! Downton Abbey will not appear on Sunday evening, February 28! To fill the Downton Void, come to a Downton Potluck Supper at 5:30p.m. in the Parish Hall. Feel free to dress as your favorite character, and to bring your sterling and crystal, or not! Do bring appetizers, salads, entrees and/or desserts to share; also any adult beverage you would care to offer your table. Macaroni and cheese, plus childcare, will be available for children, and punch, coffee and tea for all --using the silver service, of course!
Yes, the Dowager Lady Grantham would be appalled -- if she comes. Will she or won't she? We'll talk about our favorite characters, prognosticate on possible conclusions for the series on March 6, and along the way, wonder together about possible parallels between Downton Abbey and Christ Abbey -- er, uh -- Church! Please join the foolishness, and plan to have great fun!
I don't typically give theater reviews in this space, but"Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years" is not your typical play. Bessie and Sadie Delany's book by the same title was published 1993, and it's as if we have come to visit their home in Mount Vernon, NY two years later. First they invite us to stay for tea, and later for a dinner of all their father's favorite foods. Over tea and while preparing dinner, they tell us remarkable stories of their family, their own amazing lives, and of many African-Americans in the late 19th and the 20th centuries. Bessie, full of vinegar (her word), trained at Columbia to become a dentist, and from her dental office helped organize protests during the Civil Rights movement of the '50's and '60's. Both agree Sadie is more sweetly tempered. She tried to get along with everyone, also received a graduate degree from Columbia, and cleverly contrived, on the strength of her credentials alone, to be assigned to teach in a New York high school where no African-American had previously taught (and to be paid what no African-American teacher had previously been paid.)
Their father, the Rt. Rev. Henry B. Delany, was born a slave in Georgia, sent to school by an Episcopal priest, and later became one of the first African-American bishops in the Episcopal Church. They are just as proud of their mother, Nanny Logan Delany: They explain to us her identity as an "issue-free Negro," and the singular devotion their white grandfather had for their black grandmother. It was against the law for couples like their grandparents to marry in Virginia until 1967.
"Having Our Say" is now on-stage at the Long Wharf Theatre through March 13. A co-production with the Hartford Stage, it will be presented there March 31-April 24. Olivia Cole and Brenda Pressley convinced me they were 103 and 101 years of age, and their home, i.e. the set, appeared to be lifted right out of the early 1960's when the sisters bought their "harvest gold" kitchen appliances. Details are available here for New Haven and here for Hartford.
None of the Delanys figure in this year's Lent Madness, but Bishop Delaney is on the Episcopal calendar of Holy Women, Holy Men for April 14. However, the Lent Madness "Supreme Executive Committee" does welcome nominations. I will be suggesting them for consideration! You can learn about other interesting saintly characters at www.LentMadness.org, and in “The Definitive Guide to Lent Madness” The Definitive Guide also includes some inspired recipes and a mash-up of prayer cards and baseball cards for those who obtained the “Golden Halo” in previous years. Copies are available in the back of the church; $2 each, while they last!
I look forward to seeing you, as we continue our Lenten journey this week!
In faith and hope,
p.s. Huge thanks to the crew who cleaned out the Parish Hall attic last Saturday: James Austin-Small, Noah Elmaleki, Shem Elmaleki, Joe Ferrall, Evelyn Ferrall, Sheward Hagerty, Megan McNamara, Mark McNamara, Cindy McNamara, Mark Sullivan and Jane Ferrall who wrote, "a huge giant thank you and bouquet of roses to Gene Bishop for not only helping with the cleanup but donating the use of his dump truck!" It was a dusty, dirty, mildewed truckload. Perhaps now we can see to making the attic a clean and dry storeroom.
p.s. #2: Thanks for all the kind and thoughtful expressions of condolence and sympathy following Boone's death last week. It helped to know that I'm not alone in missing him.
"Preparing with joy for the Paschal Feast," is a Prayer Book description for the tasks of Lent -- turning and living "no longer for ourselves, but for him who died for us, and rose again ..." If we're going to live for Jesus, then we pray for the grace to live more faithfully for those whom Jesus call us to serve -- those dearest to us, and our neighbors near and far. We're not alone in this Lenten journey!
Stephen Douglas is leading "A Closer Walk with God"on Sunday mornings and Tuesday evenings. Stephen is presenting ways we can grow closer to God through forms of prayer and through prayerful awareness of God's presence in every moment of the day. Come and explore with Stephen and fellow parishioners during the Rectory Forum at 9a.m. Sundays or the Soup Suppers at 6p.m. Tuesdays.
Some folks do their praying in very hands-on and practical ways. Service on the Altar Guild is one of those hands-on and practical ways that also touches the transcendent elements in our worship. Katherine Frydenborg will offer an introduction to the ministry of the Altar Guild beginning at 10a.m. on Saturday, February 20, and following the 10a.m. service on Sunday February 21. Have questions about what that thingamabob is, or what that whatchamacallit is called? Katherine has the answers for you!
If you are looking for easy reads of an historical/theological nature during Lent, I would recommend the new "Church's Teaching Series for a Changing World" published by Church Publishing, better known as the publisher of our Prayer Books and Hymnals. I read the first volume on the flight west last month, and the second volume on the flight back home. In the first volume The Episcopal Way, the authors make a persuasive case that the Episcopal Church offers the world an angle on "The Way" of Jesus, as Christianity was first known, that is faithful to scripture, to the Church's historic traditions, and to our collective effort to respond thoughtuflly and faithfully to the circumstances of our time and place. The second volume, The Episcopal Story: Birth & Rebirth, summarizes Christian, Anglican and Episcopal Church history in 112 pages; it makes history a real page-turner! For those interested in further reading, bibliographies are provided. Future volumes will address Holy Scripture, Theology, Ethics, God's Mission in Contemporary Society, Worship, and the Practice of Ministry. You can find both printed and digital versions through www.churchpublishing.org.
Lent Madness continues to introduce us to some amazing characters. Had you ever heard of St. Roch, aka Rocco and Rocque? Me neither. But I was glad to learn about the patron saint of dog-people. You can learn about him and all the rest of this years 32 saints at www.LentMadness.org, and in “The Definitive Guide to Lent Madness” The Definitive Guide also includes some inspired recipes and a mash-up of prayer cards and baseball cards for those who obtained the “Golden Halo” in previous years. Copies are available in the back of the church; $2 each, while they last!
Now this may seem a stretch, but there are striking parallels between the life of the Church and the life of Downton Abbey. As you know, the series finale will be broadcast on March 6, but there’ll be no episode shown on Sunday, February 28. So, to fill the Downton Void, come to a Downton Potluck Supper as a form of Lenten preparation. Yes, we know the senior Lady Grantham would be appalled, but that’s her problem. You can dress as your favorite character, if you like, and bring lace tablecloths and your polished silver candelabra, or not! Do bring an appetizer, salad, entrée or dessert to share. We’ll have some fun, prognosticate on the conclusion of the Downton Series, and along the way, wonder together if there are parallels between Downton Abbey and Christ Abbey – er, uh – Church!
I look forward to seeing you, as we continue our Lenten preparations, on Saturday and Sunday morning!
In faith and hope,
p.s. On a personal note, it is with a heavy heart that I tell you that my dog Boone died on Thursday. Although he had not shown any signs of illness, it seems he had a tumor in his abdomen that had spread to his brain. Boone had been his usual bouncy self during our walk at dusk on Wednesday; but after the Vestry meeting he seemed strangely fatigued. After a seizure during Bible Study Thursday morning, we went to his veterinarian. Just three hours later he was gone. And he is missed. Boone and I were good for each other, and you all were very kind to him. For Boone and for you, I am so very grateful!
For most of our culture this will be "Super Bowl Sunday." Some will focus their attention on watching millionaires play in the dirt; others will focus on the entertainment; and others will focus on the advertising around the game and the entertainment. It'll be quite the spectacle! The Church will focus on a different spectacle this Sunday: The story of the Transfiguration -- the revelation of Jesus as God's Son to Peter, James and John on a mountaintop -- his face "changed," his clothes becoming "dazzling white" This is the last of the series of epiphanies (showings or revelations) of Jesus' divine nature and authority, before he goes down the mountain for the journey to Jerusalem, the cross and the tomb.
You may be relieved -- or disappointed -- to learn that no spectacles are expected to accompany our Annual Parish Meeting. Instead of special effects, reports have been printed, charts prepared, and the tables all set. Comfort food will be ready following the 10 a.m. service: chicken pot pie and macaroni & cheese right out of the oven, bread & butter, fruit, orange juice, milk, coffee and tea. Then, the meeting will proceed with dispatch. We'll thank those who have served the parish, elect their successors, and take counsel together about our common life. In addition to considering a Proposed Amended Version of our Parish Bylaws*, new business will include a report on our "God's Call to Us -- Now & Into the Future" planning process, an explanation of the extra pews now stored in the Parish Hall, and an introduction to some enhancements for that space proposed by the Evening ECW.
The meeting will adjourn early enough for you to get home, have a nap, and still have lots of time to get ready for the evening's game!
Since February 7 is the Last Sunday After the Epiphany, Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday will immediately follow. The forecasts for Shrove Tuesday, February 9, now include the possibility of snow at some point in the day. At this point, we still hope to renew the Christ Church tradition of a Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper. However, if snow falls and the Guilford Schools cancel evening activities in school buildings, we'll cancel the Pancake Supper for 2016, just as we did in 2015!
Weather permitting, we will start serving shortly after 5 p.m. and continue until shortly before 7 p.m. At about 6 p.m., those so inclined will gather by a window or in the driveway, to watch as the palms from last Palm Sunday are ignited to become the ashes for Ash Wednesday. If you have a dried up palm leaf gathering dust, please bring it with you for the conflagration!
Ash Wednesday signals the beginning of Lent, and with it comes a pivot in the life of the Church. We are invited to a holy observance, "by self-examination and repentance (i.e. change of course); by prayer, fasting and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's Holy Word."(BCP, p.265) The ashes of Ash Wednesday signify our accepting this invitation. Please notice that the Church does not ask usto become dour or depressed!
Lent Madness, which I introduced here last week, is one way to respond to the Church's invitation that will bring a smile to your face! Considering how God moved through the lives of some 32 saints, will lead to some self-examination and possible change of our own courses. The thing about the saints is that they paid attention to God, and God's call to them.
The process of paying attention to God is called "prayer." During Lent 2016, Stephen Douglas will lead the Rectory Forum and Tuesday Soup Supper in conversations about the prayer lives of the saints. Ignatius of Loyola developed a sequence of prayers known as "Spiritual Exercises;" although Ignatius is not included in this year's Lent Madness Roster, Stephen will use Ignatius' prayerful exercises to frame the conversations about forms of prayer. Join the conversations which will begin on Sunday, February 14, and Tuesday, February 16.
I hope this finds you safe and warm, with heat and power, and I look forward to sharing this week's journey with you!
In faith and hope,
*A marked-up version of the Parish Bylaws showing all the changes, plus the Proposed Amended Version of the Parish Bylaws are available on-line (click here)
For the seventh year running, people worldwide are gearing up for Lent Madness, the “saintly smackdown” in which thirty-two saints do battle to win the coveted Golden Halo.
Yes, the world’s most popular online Lenten devotion is back for another round of saintly thrills and spills. With its unique blend of cut-throat competition, learning, and humor, Lent Madness is really about being inspired by the ways in which God has worked through the lives of saintly souls across the generations.
Based loosely on the NCAA basketball tournament, this unique competition pits saints against one another in a single-elimination bracket as voters choose their favorites throughout the penitential season of Lent.
Lent Madness began in 2010 as the brainchild of the Rev. Tim Schenck, an Episcopal priest and rector of St. John’s Church in Hingham, Massachusetts. In seeking a fun, engaging way for people to learn about the men and women who make up the church’s calendar of saints, Schenck came up with this unique Lenten devotion. Combining his love of sports with his passion for the lives of the saints, Lent Madness was born.
Starting in 2012, Schenck partnered with Forward Movement (the same folks that publish Forward Day by Day) executive director Scott Gunn, to bring Lent Madness to the masses. Schenck and Gunn form the self-appointed Supreme Executive Committee, a more-or-less benevolent dictatorship that runs the entire operation. The formula has worked as this online devotional has been featured in media outlets all over the country including national television, the Washington Post, NPR, USAToday, and even Sports Illustrated (seriously).
Here’s how to participate: on the weekdays of Lent, information is posted at www.lentmadness.org about two different saints. Each pairing remains open for 24 hours as participants read about and then vote to determine which saint moves on to the next round. Sixteen saints make it to the Round of the Saintly Sixteen; eight advance to the Round of the Elate Eight; four make it to the Faithful Four; two to the Championship; and the winner is awarded the coveted Golden Halo.
The first round consists of basic biographical information about each of the 32 saints. Things get a bit more interesting in the subsequent rounds as we offer quotes and quirks, explore legends, and even move into the area of saintly kitsch.
This year Lent Madness features an intriguing slate of saints ancient and modern, Biblical and ecclesiastical. The 2016 heavyweights include Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Clare of Assisi, Julian of Norwich, Sojourner Truth, Joseph, and Albert Schweitzer. The full bracket is online at the Lent Madness website.
This all kicks off on “Ash Thursday,” February 11. To participate, visit the Lent Madness website, where you can also print out a bracket to see how you fare or “compete” against friends and family members. Like that other March tournament, there will be drama and intrigue, upsets and thrashings, last-minute victories and Cinderellas.
Eleven “celebrity bloggers” from across the country have been tapped to write for the project: the Rev. Amber Belldene of San Francisco, CA; the Rev. Laurie Brock of Lexington, KY; Anna Fitch Courie of Ft. Leavenworth, KS; Dr. David Creech of Morehead, MN; the Rev. Megan Castellan of Kansas City, MO; Neva Rae Fox of Somerville, NJ; the Rev. David Hansen of Woodlands, TX; Beth Lewis of Minneapolis, MN; Hugo Olaiz of Cincinnati, OH; Dr. Derek Olsen of Baltimore, MD; and the Rev. David Sibley of Manhasset, NY. Information about each of the celebrity bloggers and the rest of the team is available on the Lent Madness website.
If you’re looking for a Lenten discipline that is fun, educational, occasionally goofy, and always joyful, join the Lent Madness journey. Lent needn’t be all doom and gloom. After all, what could be more joyful than a season specifically set aside to get closer to Jesus Christ?
We feature various authors from around our parish, commenting on topics of interest to our community. Enjoy! Comment if you are so moved!