Thanks to All the Helping-Hands-for Haiti! Youth Pizza & Planning Lunch; Habitat-for-Humanity Build in New Haven
March 30, 2019
Thanks for being Helping-Hands-for-Haiti! Thanks to all who participated in last Sunday's Benefit Pancake Breakfast for St. Luke's School & Church in Martel, Haiti! Our Sunday School served a delicious meal, and we were honored to hear from the founder of the New York Haiti Project, the Rev. Sam Owen, about their project with the community of Martel. Fr. Sam preached at our 10a.m. service and showed a video and slides about the people of Martel, their commitment to education, and the challenges they face.
You can ask those who enjoyed the breakfast how to find Martel, about the handsomely finished three-room schoolhouse which opens into one room for Sunday worship; how impressed folks were with the children's uniforms made by local seamstresses, and the joy the children appear to have in their school and in playing soccer!
I think we were all a bit dumbfounded that the School can provide an education for 75 children through the fifth grade for $2100 a month! Our Sunday School's breakfast received gifts of just over half that -- enough to cover just over two weeks of the school's expenses. When asked, Fr. Sam reported that the demand and interest in adding additional grades, and buildings, to St. Luke's is certainly there; local folks have given more adjacent land for expansion, and the children's families, mostly subsistence farmers, do contribute toward the cost of education. That said, the ten participating parishes in the New York Haiti Project, cover most of the school's operating expenses. We are one of those parishes.
Thanks to all who responded when our children passed the basket for the children of Martel! It's not too late to participate. Please make your check out to Christ Church, with "Haiti" in the memo line, or put cash in an envelope marked for Haiti and with your name so your gift may be recorded.
Special thanks go to our Sunday School for hosting such a splendid breakfast! The pancakes and sausage were done to perfection; the children were delightful servers, and the tables were set with beautiful pansies and clever Helping-Hands! Please join me in thanking Sunday School Director Laurie Varley, our teachers and their helpers for supporting our children, and all of us, in making a truly helpful difference in the lives of 75 Haitian children.
This Sunday, March 31, our Faith Formation team invites our Middle and High School Youth for a lunch of Pizza & Planning. Besides having fun together, our goal is to brainstorm about events for the spring and summer, and maybe to even think big about longer term goals! Please gather in the Rectory after the 10a.m. service. Jack-the-dog will be happy to greet you!
Next weekend has two hands-on events of interest to youth and adults:
Christ Church folks will gather with folks from St. Andrew's (Madison) for a Raise-the-Roof Habitat-for-Humanity build in New Haven on Saturday, April 6, 9a.m. to 3p.m. See Senior Warden Rose Robinson for details (yes, bring your own lunch!) and to sign-up. There's always something constructive for folks of every skill level to do!
On the next day, Sunday, April 7, there will be a celebration and demonstration about "Beating Guns Into Garden Tools," at 6p.m. at the United Church UCC on the New Haven Green (corner of Temple & Elm). When Bishop Jim Curry spoke to us several weeks ago about "beating swords in ploughshares, and spears into pruning hooks," he showed us a garden tool made from a rifle barrel, a decorative leaf made from a rifle bolt, and a heart made from the cross-section of a shotgun barrel. National leaders of this movement will speak, and participants will be able to try their hand at the forge!
Sunday March 31 closes out early registration for Spring Training, a day of workshops and fellowship for the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, on Saturday, April 27th this year, in Berlin, CT. Between 9a.m. and 4p.m., there will be opportunities for prayer, snacks, three workshops (from 18 pages of options!) and lunch. You can find the catalog here. Registration and more information are available here. Early registration for $15 ends March 31st. We can carpool to Berlin High School, about 50 minutes away.
But first, I look forward to worship, a calmer day for our Sunday School, Coffee Hour, "The Way of Love," Pizza and Planning this Sunday morning.
In faith, hope, and love,
March 23, 2019
Ten years ago, in response to the devastating earthquake in Haiti, the Christ Church Sunday School held its first benefit for Haiti. the children painted bird houses that were then sold at auction. That was the spring before I arrived, and everyone I met connected to Christ Church was talking about what a great experience this had been. I've seen the photos: those were some amazing bird houses! That started a tradition of a Sunday School fundraiser for Haiti in March each year.
Over the years, the initial goal of supporting relief efforts gave way to supporting children's education, and auctioning the children's craft handiwork gave way to a free-will offering for a pancake breakfast. Several years ago, a group of us were intrigued when we met the Rev. Sam Owen of the New York Haiti Project(NYHP) at an Annual Meeting of the Episcopal Church Women of Connecticut. Fr. Sam had founded this project to work with the people of the little village of Martel to realize their goal -- a school and church for the village. After conversation with him, and sharing the NYHP story with our Sunday School leadership, we joined this effort. Over the past four years, the school has opened, built a three-classroom building which also opens for Sunday worship, took the name St. Luke's School & Church, and also built a granary as an income-source for the School.
This Sunday, March 24, we will be honored to welcome the Rev. Sam Owen as our preacher for the 10a.m. service and speaker at the breakfast. Fr. Sam is bringing a photo presentation to illustrate his talk about St. Luke's current offerings and growth, as well as the challenges facing the people of Haiti. Under the leadership of director Laurie Varley, our Sunday School will be serving Kodiak Flapjacks and turkey sausage, with milk, orange juice, as well as coffee and tea. A tall green vase will again welcome your generous donations!
Last Saturday morning, we awoke to the horrible news about the hateful shootings at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch. Such a mass-shooting is by definition a sacrilege - a violation of God's image and likeness. But for it to happen in a city which bears the name of "Christ's Assembly" just compounds the desecration. My clergy colleagues in Guildford and Madison have responded with one voice. You can find our joint statement here.
Spring Training is one of the great offerings of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut. On a Spring Saturday, April 27th this year, Episcopalians from across Connecticut gather for workshops on an amazing range of topics. Because we're Episcopalians, we begin and end in prayer and song, 9a.m.-4p.m. This year's categories include Christian Formation, Communication, Parish governance, planning and operations, Pastoral Care, Social Justice & Racial Reconciliation, Spiritual Practices, and Worship; you can find the catalog here. Choose as many as three. Registration and more information are available here. Early registration for $15 ends March 31st and includes lunch! We can carpool to Berlin High School, about 50 minutes away.
But first, I look forward to worship, pancakes, sausage, and learning the latest about St. Luke's from Fr. Sam this Sunday morning.
In faith, hope, and love,
This past Saturday, we awoke to the all-too-familiar image of a community devastated by an act of senseless violence: Fifty members of the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Center in Christchurch, New Zealand had been shot dead in their houses of worship, robbed of the promise of life, torn from the lives of family members and loved ones. Dozens of others suffer physical wounds that will require months and years to heal. Both mosque communities will carry the spiritual scars of this event for the rest of their lives. And Muslim communities throughout the world have been robbed of the very peace most of us take for granted when gathering in our own communities of worship.
Those of us who stand outside the circle of grief offer what prayers we can, acknowledging a depth of sorrow beyond our own experience for those mourning lives cut short by an act motivated by hatred alone, by evil spawned by an incapacity to see difference of race, history, identity and religion as a blessing of God and not a threat to an imagined privilege of place.
As the undersigned clergy of Guilford and Madison, we acknowledge and celebrate our respective faith traditions’ common heritage with the Islamic community. We are all children of Abraham, all created in the image and form of God, all bound by a love of neighbor and a deep commitment to practice peace.
So while we stand in solidarity with those to whom we seek to be as sisters and brothers, the members of Muslim communities and mosques throughout Connecticut, we condemn at the same time, in the strongest possible terms all forms of racism, all actions and language that seek to diminish and harm those created in God’s own form and image. And we call once again upon those responsible for the provision of public security and well-being to ensure that all communities of faith in our state enjoy the right and privilege of worshipping peacefully and without threat of violence.
Rev. Ricardo E. Borja, St. George Roman Catholic Church, Guilford
The Rev. Dr. Ginger Brasher-Cunningham, First Congregational Church, Guilford.
Reverend Judith Cooke, North Guilford Congregational Church, UCC
Reverend Maureen Lederman, St. John's Episcopal Church, North Guilford
The Rev. Jeanne Lloyd, Shoreline Unitarian Universalist Society
Sr. Kathleen Lynch, SND, St. George Roman Catholic Church, Guilford
Rev. Matthew McCaffrey, Interim Minister, North Madison Congregational Church, United Church of Christ
Rev. Daniel J. McLearen, Saint Margaret Roman Catholic Church, Madison
Deacon Adam J. Michaele, Saint Margaret Roman Catholic Church, Madison
The Rev. Shariya Molegoda, Rector, St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, Madison
Rabbi Stacy Offner, Temple Beth Tikvah, Madison
The Rev. Mary Anne Osborn, Christ Episcopal Church, Guilford
Rev. Stephen M. Sledesky, St. George Roman Catholic Church, Guilford
Cantor Mark Stanton, Temple Beth Tikvah, Madison
Deacon Robert Tartaris, St. George Roman Catholic Church, Guilford
The Rev. Lynda Tyson, Christ Episcopal Church, Guilford
Reverend Todd Vetter, First Congregational Church of Madison, UCC
Reverend Sarah Vetter, First Congregational Church of Madison, UCC
Rev. Dennis J. Vincenzo, St. George Roman Catholic Church, Guilford
The Rev. R. Harrison West, Rector, Christ Episcopal Church, Guilford
March 16, 2019
Has anyone seen the children's "Alleluia Banner"? or heard the "A-word"? Not around here! Not since the beginning of Lent! Instead, we're beginning our worship with The Penitential Order, the crosses are veiled, the vestments are purple, and we're taking seriously how we, individually and corporately, get off-course from the Way of Love, i.e. loving God, and our neighbors as ourselves. Note the assumption, that we love ourselves. For some of us, some of the time, loving ourselves -- choosing to want the best for ourselves -- is the hardest part of the Way of Love.
Sunday morning's Rectory Forum will begin our Lenten journey with the Way of Love by discussing a first recommended step -- "Turn." We'll look at where "Turn" shows in the Bible, and where it shows up in our traditions -- especially in our worship. This will repeat a conversation that we had at our first Tuesday evening Lenten Soup Supper. (Don't tell anyone, but we celebrated a birthday and had some delicious cake!) This coming Tuesday's supper topic will be "Learn."
The Way of Love graphic is on our Sunday bulletin covers, and is briefly described among the announcements. These steps to 'The Way of Love, were introduced by our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry at last summer's General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Austin, Texas.
Our own Bishop James Curry, now retired, called this week to say that he would like to worship with us on Sunday, to hear our Deacon-Intern Felix Rivera's sermon, and would be willing to talk with interested folks about the "Swords into Ploughshares"project at the end of Coffee Hour. This new project turns firearms voluntarily turned over to Police Departments into gardening tools! Yes, it involves some serious blacksmithing, and Bishop Jim can talk to us about that. He will also be inviting us to an event on Sunday, April 7 in New Haven.
It seems to me that "Swords into Ploughshares" offers us one hands-on way to participate in the Way of Love. I see opportunities to live into the first two steps, to "Turn" and "Learn." We'll learn more about "Pray, Worship, Bless, Go and Rest," as Lent proceeds.
Many of us will recall Bishop Jim's visitation with us several years ago when the Sunday School first sponsored a pancake breakfast to raise funds for children's education in Haiti. He shared a powerful Haiti photo presentation with us. This year, our Sunday School's "Helping Hands for Haiti" pancake breakfast-fundraiser will be Sunday, March 24th. We will be honored to welcome the Rev. Sam Owen, founder of the New York Haiti Project, which is working with the people of Martel, Haiti, to build and sustain St. Luke's School and Church. Fr. Sam will bring us up-to-date on the status of the school's development, and the current challenges facing the people of Haiti.
I look forward to seeing how the Spirit moves us to follow "The Way of Love" this Sunday, and in the weeks to come.
In faith, hope and love,
p.s. Members of the Altar Guild and I had breakfast together in the Rectory this morning. We talked about the coming events of Lent, Holy Week and Easter -- a particularly busy time in their year. It's not necessary to have shared in breakfast to help the Altar Guild; just speak to one of the members. This morning I learned about a task that I had never considered before: cleaning out the bell of the candle snuffers. It seems that candle smoke contains candle wax-vapor, and a combination of candle soot and wax-vapor congeals inside the snuffers. If this sooty wax builds up, it will melt and drop onto the altar linens! I'm sure that Hope Sperry would happily share this task if asked.
Transfiguration Sunday; then... Shrove Tuesday Pancakes, andAsh Wednesday Ashes; Thursday Bible Study during Lent
March 2, 2019
"The Last Sunday after the Epiphany" may be the Prayer Book's name for this Sunday, but our Gospel reading is always about the revelation, i.e. the epiphany, that happened when Jesus was transfigured in front of Peter, James and John on the mountaintop. This amazing vision, came complete with special effects: "Then from the cloud came a voice that said, 'This is my Son, my Chosen, listen to him.'"(Luke 9:33) And with this final revelation, our season of epiphanies will conclude, and we will be set up for the journey to Jerusalem, to the Cross and Tomb.
To help celebrate the brightness of Sunday's celebration, the Altar Guild has brought out all of our white and gold hangings; and the Choir will be joined by a Youth String Trio for the Offertory Anthem, "O splendor of God's holy bright," by Monteverdi. Reminder to self: Bring a clean handkerchief!
This is also the last Sunday (until Easter) when the word "Alleluia" will be in our vocabulary. Our Sunday School children have prepared an "Alleluia Banner" that they will carry into the 10a.m. service at the Peace. After singing, their "Alleluia Song," they will invite us to join them in song, and then the banner will disappear! Only the children will know the banner's whereabouts.
To get ready for that journey, we have two special observances during the coming week:
As I write this message, the Weather Service has issued another "Winter Storm Watch" for Sunday afternoon through Monday morning. But right now, the sun is shining, the Green is white with (melting) snow, and the streets and sidewalks around the Green are all bare. So, my advice is to take advantage of Sunday morning as an opportunity to get out for worship, fellowship and formation before the next storm arrives!
The forecasts also offer hope that Bible Study will meet on Thursday morning, March 7. Because of our policy to not meet if Guilford Public School classes are cancelled or delayed due to the weather, we have missed three(!) gatherings; and my winter break led to the cancellation of another two gatherings. The upshot is that there is a lot of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians that we have not discussed. A consensus quickly developed for us to pick up again where we left off, with I Corinthians 13, Paul's "Hymn to Love." All are welcome to join the conversation in the Rectory, Thursday mornings at 9:30a.m.
I look forward to saying "Farewell to Alleluia" with you this Sunday, enjoying pancakes on Tuesday, and then heading towards Jerusalem with you in the days that follow.
In faith, hope and love,
p.s. Last Sunday's Rectory Forum conversation about Presiding Bishop Curry's recollection of non-violent resistance to Jim Crow laws -- in the sermon we discussed from his book, The Power of Love -- brought in Jesus' recommendation of non-violent resistance to Imperial Rome in last Sunday's Gospel reading, i.e. "turn the other cheek." In the midst of this conversation, the question was posed, "What about Pearl Harbor? Were we supposed to turn the other cheek to that?" Those are excellent questions.
Although Jesus never recommends war, he did acknowledge the reality of warfare (e.g. Luke 14:31-32 about a king considering war against another king). The Church has long wrestled with this reality; St. Augustine wrote about wise conduct for a "Just War." His term became the basis for what is called, "Just War Theory." The basic conditions for Just War include: Last Resort -- all other means of resolving the conflict have been exhausted; Just Purpose -- the restoration of a just peace; Just Means -- proportional use of force, without intentional violence against prisoners and non-combatants; Likelihood of a just conclusion -- force sufficient to bring about the end to the violence; and Just Authority -- justly constituted government. In Just War Theory, all five criteria are necessary for a "Just War." By these criteria, I think most moral theologians conclude that the U.S. entry into WWII was justified by the attack on Pearl Harbor.
We feature various authors from around our parish, commenting on topics of interest to our community. Enjoy! Comment if you are so moved!