Actually the Prayer Book calls this, the "Last Sunday after the Epiphany." More about that shortly. It will also be a Sunday for us to celebrate our new parish Cookbook. Contributors to the Cookbook are invited to prepare a "tasting" of a recipe they contributed to the book, and share it during the Coffee Hour following Sunday's 10 a.m. service. This should make for a particularly splendid occasion!
David Moore will be on hand to autograph the reproduction of his watercolor of Christ Church which graces the book's cover; so remember to bring your copies with you. Additional copies will be available for sale.
Returning to the Prayer Book's theme of the day: It has been one epiphany, one revelation after another, since the Epiphany itself -- the revelation of Jesus to the wise eastern watchers of the stars. At his baptism, Jesus was revealed as God's Son, and since then we have heard John the Baptist's story of the Spirit revealing Jesus' identity to him, and then we heard Jesus reveal Good News of the Kingdom of Heaven, by the Sea of Galilee and in the Sermon on the Mount.
This Sunday, the last after the Epiphany, we will hear again words first heard at Jesus' baptism -- a heavenly voice proclaiming, "This is my Son, the Beloved..." Instead of hearing them beside the River Jordan, we will hear them on the mount of the Transfiguration. These words bracket Jesus' ministry in Galilee. From there, Jesus and the disciples will head toward confrontations with the religious and governmental powers of the day. And because we will be confronting what separates us from the love of God that Jesus reveals, we won't feel like singing or saying "Alleluia" for awhile So, we will say, "Farewell," to alleluias, this Sunday.
On Tuesday, we'll get ready for our Lenten journey without alleluias, by gathering to eat some pancakes and sausage, and by burning the dried-up palms leftover from last Palm Sunday. We renewed these Shrove Tuesday traditions last year, and it was a great time together. The pancakes were terrific, and the conflagration of the palms was a blast! Pancakes will be ready beginning at 5:30p.m.; the burning of the palms at dark, about 6:15 p.m.
Please feel free to contribute your old palms to the "burn pile." And if you would like to help with set-up, pancake/sausage/bacon prep, or clean-up, please sign-up this Sunday.
By burning, the palms are reduced to the grey ashes that give Ash Wednesday its name. And on Ash Wednesday, Lent begins as we say we are sorry for the ways we have hurt God, one another, and ourselves. Ashes on the forehead are a sign of that sorrow. Services will be offered at 7 a.m., Noon, and 7 p.m. -- the latter with Choir, organ and hymns. A brief, child-friendly service will be offered at 5:15 p.m.
However, Lent is not all sackcloth and ashes; it's also the season for Lent Madness! A tongue-in-cheek takeoff on March Madness playoffs, Lent Madness puts Saints-in-light into mock competition. These folks are already in full possession of their halos; so it is madness to think that they would compete for a "Golden Halo." But that's the idea. And along the way, we get better acquainted with them, how they glorified God, and served their neighbors. "Saintly Scorecards" are available for $2 each. To participate fully, you subscribe on-line at www.lentmadness.org. The madness begins on "Ash Thursday."
In faith and hope,
p.s. The Guilford Free Library's meeting room was packed Thursday with folks, including many from Christ Church, who were interested in hearing Chris George explain how refugee resettlement works. Chris knows the process well; for twelve years he has directed I.R.I.S. (Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services), a New Haven-based agency with long ties to the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, including Christ Church. My hunch is that this will be a topic at Monday's Outreach Committee meeting.
Those who want to learn more, may want to attend the Companions in Mission Conference on Saturday, March 4. Chris will speak on a panel with Bishop Ian Douglas and Allison Duvall, from Episcopal Migration Ministries -- one of the national agencies with which the State Department coordinates the resettlement of refugees. More information about this conference can be found here. I am registered; if you want to carpool to West Hartford, let me know.
One of the curious dimensions to the vocation of the Episcopal Church is the relative ease we have regarding Church and State issues. We are not the State Church, but we descend from a State Church, the Church of England. L'Enfant's plan for Washington, D.C. called for a "great church for National purposes," and that church is an Episcopal cathedral. Our Prayer Book Calendar includes Independence Day and Thanksgiving Day as major Holy Days, and also provides prayers and readings appropriate for Memorial Day and Labor Day (BCP, pp.17, 292, 839).
Perhaps because the third Monday in February did not become known as "Presidents' Day" until well after the completion of the revisions for the 1979 version, our Prayer Book does not have specific provisions for it. Still called "Washington's Birthday" in the "Uniform Monday Holidays Act," Presidents' Day is an occasion to give thanks for the legacy of such great presidents as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Nonetheless, the holiday also reminds me to pray for President Trump:
O Lord our Governor, whose glory is in all the world: We commend this nation to thy merciful care, that, being guided by thy Providence, we may dwell secure in thy peace. Grant to the President of the United Sates, the Governor of this State, and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do thy will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness, and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in thy fear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.
This prayer with its two "governor" references, was a favorite of President Wilson, who had previously served as governor of New Jersey. You can find this prayer among other "Prayers for National LIfe" in the Prayer Book on pages 820-23. I commend them all to you.
Mentioning Washington National Cathedral -- as I did in the top paragraph -- reminds me of the touching sermon that columnist, teacher and writer David Brooks preached there last Sunday. He speaks movingly about his personal experience of the Cathedral and how such a structure "builds us" as people of moral virture You can find the sermon here, and his conversation with Cathedral Dean Randolph Hollerith here.
One of the decisions at last Sunday's Youth & Parents Meeting was to plan a pilgrimage for our acolytes (grades 4 and up) to the National Cathedral to participate in the National Acolyte Festival over Columbus Day weekend in October. We also decided to offer participation in Nightwatch at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City in April to our high school students. Details will be forthcoming.
Thanks to the Evening ECW, and Sunday School Director Laurie Varley, for last Saturday's Family Fun Night. The children had fun making valentines for Meals-on-Wheels and dancing with a number of intrepid adults. I'm happy to report that YFNR was a good sport about achieving the lowest score (not a good thing) in a game of Scrabble. Thanks to all for their donations of canned/boxed food for the Food Bank! A good reminder for us all.
In faith and hope,
p.s. Interested in an update about local efforts to support refugees? Then you will want to hear Chris George at the Guilford Free Library this Thursday, February 23, 7-9 p.m. Chris is the Executive Director of I.R.I.S. (Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services), a New Haven-based agency with long ties to the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, including Christ Church.
Chris will also speak on Saturday, March 4, at the Companions in Mission Conference, with Bishop Ian Douglas and Allison Duvall, from Episcopal Migration Ministries -- one of the national agencies with which the State Department coordinates the resettlement of refugees. More information about this conference can be found here. I am registered; if you want to ride together to West Hartford, let me know.
I do hope this finds you all safe and warm! We do have a busy calendar this weekend, but winter weather may intervene. As I write this Saturday morning, the roads and sidewalks around the Green are clear and damp, but you know best the conditions in your neighborhoods. Please do be careful! As a reminder, our schedule of activities follows the Guilford Public Schools: when GPS facilities are open for activities, we typically proceed with ours; when their facilities are closed or opening delayed, our morning programs follow suit. However, Sunday worship always proceeds at 8 and 10 a.m., even if it is just YFNR offering Morning Prayer by himself. At this writing, I fully expect worship and education programs and the following to proceed as scheduled:
Family Fun Night -- an evening of fun, music, dancing and crafts sponsored by the Evening ECW with help from our Sunday School. We received personal invitations during worship on the last two Sundays. Please bring an appetizer or dessert to share and a donation of canned food for the Food Bank. Saturday, February 11, 6-8 p.m.
Youth & Parents' Meeting -- An opportunity for parents and junior and senior high youth, and other interested folk, to talk about our programs for youth. Possible topics: former Nursery a new Youth Room? Upcoming events of possible interest, e.g. dance event on March 5, documentary film showing and conversation on April 23; and about preparing for Confirmation -- goals, expectations and dates. Sunday, February 12, during Coffee Hour. N.B.: Confirmation Conversations begin, Monday, February 13, 7-8 p.m., in the Rectory.
An Imam, a Rabbi & a Minister ... sounds like the set-up for a joke. Actually, these are the panelists for Sunday's discussion, "Muslims, Jews and Christians Living Together in Turbulent Times." The Imam for the Muslim community at Yale, the Rabbi of Temple Beth Tikvah in Madison, and a minister for First Congregational Church of Guilford will lead a community conversation, open to all, at 7 p.m. this Sunday, February 12. Knowing these folks as I do, I'm sure there will be some good humor.
Perhaps you heard evangelist Franklin Graham's defense of the President's Executive Order on immigration and refugee travel; in defending the ban, Graham is quoted as saying, "That's not a Bible Issue." To which Yale Divinity School's Joel Baden, professor of Hebrew Bible, replied, "He could not be more wrong." This, in an opinion piece in Friday's Washington Post, which you can find here, and at greater length in a lecture on January 31st at Yale, which you can watch here. Building on last Sunday's conversation, Graham's statement and Baden's response, will be the subject of Sunday's Rectory Forum.
Thursday's snow storm was something to behold! For much of the day, I sat by a window transfixed by all that surging white-ness. The power flickered once, the phone hardly rang, and all was quiet until the storm finally passed over and our intrepid sexton, Sheward Hagerty, got the snowblower out to clear the sidewalks. Watching with slack-jawed wonder, I was reminded of these lines from the Prayer Book's Canticle, "A Song of Creation:"
"Glorify the Lord, O chill and cold,
drops of dew and flakes of snow.
Frost and cold, ice and sleet, glorify the Lord,
praise him and highly exalt him for ever."
This "Song," drawn from the Apochrypha's "Song of the Three Young Men," is the response of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to their deliverance from Nebuchadnezzar's fiery furnace. We have the young men's invitation to all Creation --including us -- to join them in praising God in both Rite II (BCP, pp.88-90) and Rite I (pp.47-49).
O ye servants of the Lord, bless ye the Lord,
praise him and magnify him for ever.
In faith and hope,
p.s.: Thanks to all who participated in last Sunday's Annual Parish Meeting! It was one of the most well-attended of my seven Annual Meetings with you; and folks seemed to get really engaged in the conversations about the Parish's Financial Vitality, Inreach -- service within the parish, Outreach -- service in the larger community, and Programming for Families with Youth and Young Children. A special Sarum bow to those who helped with the set-up -- Katherine Frydenborg, Kasha Kingsbury and Susan Leonard; those who helped with food preparation and serving -- Pat Daunic, Rose Robinson, Sue Shackford among others; and all those who helped with clean-up -- especially Dennis Burke, Jeff Ohleander, and David Oshana. The Hamilton book and ticket were a total surprise, and I am so very grateful!
Oh yes, this Sunday is also Super Bowl Sunday! Not to worry, there will be plenty of time to get home well before even the pre-pregame shows begin; and the game itself doesn't start until 6:30p.m. Beginning with a light brunch, the Annual Parish Meeting will follow Sunday's 10 a.m. worship service. In addition to elections and reports, this Annual Meeting will include a roll-out of a Parish Mission Statement -- which the planning team distilled from reflections at our Home Gatherings and parish suppers, over the past year. Having received a final tweak by the Vestry this week, the Statement is ready to be presented at Sunday's Annual Parish Meeting.
The Strategic Planning Team also worked with our fearless leader, Pat Daunic, on devising possibilities for a logo or "brand" that could be used on all of our publications. Again, these images reflect what we, as Christ Church today, identified as important signs of our life together in Christ on the Green. They will be available for review and conversation at Sunday's Annual Parish Meeting.
Of course, we will also handle the important tasks for organizing our life together: electing a new class of parish officers, Vestry and Nominating Committee members*, and receiving reports from 2016, including an update from the Evening ECW on their project to enhance the Parish Hall. And what would an Annual Parish Meeting at Christ Church be without an opportunity for conversation together over something to eat?
This year our Parish Meeting treat comes from the pages of the parish's new cookbook, "Our Favorite Recipes:" Nancy Wilcox's "Grandmother's Omelette." Turn to page 80 in the cookbook, and you will discover this is a baked creation. The Wardens and I just finished preparing seven pans of it; we'll all get to enjoy it just out of the oven tomorrow morning! There are options for vegetarians and those with wheat allergies.
Sunday School Director Laurie Varley and Music Director Mark Sullivan have devised a program to keep our younger parishioners happily occupied during the meeting. There will be a great macaroni and cheese lunch for them to eat, music to sing, and craft projects to create. Adults: No fair trying to slip downstairs and join the children! And remember, in the Episcopal Church, voting membership begins at age 16!
As the saying goes, "elections have consequences," and an early consequence of the election of President Trump was his presidential order concerning immigrants and refugees. At least initially, this order conflicts with the long-standing commitments of the Episcopal Church in general, in Connecticut, and this parish -- to ministry with refugees. Our Presiding Bishop, +Michael Curry, and the director of Episcopal Migration Ministries had asked the president to allow the Church's work to continue even before the order was issued. You can read their requests by clicking here. Since the publication of the order, our Connecticut Bishops, +Ian Douglas and +Laura Ahrens, have written two letters; the second expands upon and offers a correction to the first. You can find the Bishops' January 30th letter here, and their February 3rd follow-up letter here. I commend these letters to you. We will "junk the agenda" for Sunday's Rectory Forum to discuss them this Sunday.
In faith and hope,
*And the nominees are: Senior Warden -- Rose Robinson; Junior Warden -- Sue Shackford; Treasurer -- Ted Sands; Clerk -- Diane Kyle; Vestry Class of 2020 -- Rebecca Ervin, Mitra Kish, Bob McNamara; Vestry Class of 2018 -- Katherine Frydenborg; Alternate Delegate to Diocesan Convention -- Susan Pogue; Nominating Committee for the 2018 Annual Parish Meeting -- Holley Claiborn, Jennifer Huebner, Jen McShane, Laura Raymond
We feature various authors from around our parish, commenting on topics of interest to our community. Enjoy! Comment if you are so moved!