Before launching into the "headline" topics, I want to express my thanks to all of you who participated so graciously in bidding farewell to our seminarian-internStephen Douglas last Sunday. You took time to express your gratitude to him personally during the Coffee Hour hosted by participants in the Rectory Forum and Tuesday Suppers. Special thanks to them, and thanks also to all who contributed so generously to a "fare-forward voyager" purse for Stephen! As of yesterday, gifts to the purse covered the $750 amount "guess-timated" for the check we presented on Sunday. Even after this weekend's graduation ceremonies, his upcoming Baltic pilgrimage with the Institute for Sacred Music (his program focused on creative writing) and his upcoming chaplaincy in NYC, we will know where to find him; so any additional gifts will also make their way to Stephen.
Thanks to the great group who responded to Junior Warden Susan Shackford's invitation to continue theSpring Yard Clean-up. You all made the church yard look cared for -- because you do! If you missed out, I'm sure Sue can find a project just for you.
Thanks also to those who prepared cookies and brownies to support Raise-the-Roof's Build-on-the-Green! There may be a few items leftover for Coffee Hour tomorrow. The reverberation of hammers pounding nails has just stopped; and the walls assembled for use in constructing a Habitat-for-Humanity home in New Haven are about to be trucked away.
At this week's Vestry and Planning Team meetings, both groups reviewed all the work from the fall HymnSing, fall and winter Home Gatherings, and our May 1 Fellowship Supper. You can expect to hear soon about next steps in our "God's Call to Us -- Now & Into the Future"planning process. Look for announcements about gatherings to widen the planning circles around areas of challenge and opportunity in service to our "neighborhood," with youth and families with young children, in fund-raising, and fellowship.
You don't have to wait long to continue the conversation about Music with Children & Youth; please join the discussion this Sunday following the10a.m. service. Please grab Coffee Hour refreshments and join Music Director Mark Sullivan and me in the church, to bounce around some ideas. Since it is about them and their music, young people are especially invited!
One of the fun things I get to do each Spring is spend an evening at the MIddle School overnight at Camp Incarnation. This year Page Pelphrey's sixth-eighth grade Middle School group is all female. So this Friday evening I joined ten young women and three chaperone/mothers to look at the story of Hannah and her not-always-supportive peers, to share communion, and grilled hot dogs and hamburgers; also on their agenda -- the ropes course, fun "girl-stuff" about hair and skin-care, etc., and s'mores, of course! Thanks to Page, Lisa Ste. Marie and Danielle Walczyk for making this event possible. All arrived safely back in Guilford as I send this.
It's not too late to send a photo, permission to publish, and current contact information for our new print (and secure on-line) Parish Photo Directory. Don't worry if you have misplaced the form; just send a photo with a note that it may be included in the directory, and your current contact information including email address(es) to CEC.ChurchDirectory@gmail.com. Need a photo? A favorite "selfie," professional photo, or one taken by a friend will do. Junior Warden Sue Shackford is offering to be just that friend!
This Sunday is Trinity Sunday -- a Sunday when visiting clergy and seminarians are often invited to preach! Although that rascal Stephen Douglas is busy graduating and last year's preacher, Susan Flanders, is unavailable, we will get this sorted.
In faith and hope,
p.s. The May/June issue of GTO: Glad Tidings Online is now available by clicking here. It includes details about parish leadership in June and July while I am on study-leave and vacation. Also, Vestry Highlights, lots of news from our Episcopal Church Women, and a buildings and grounds up-date from the Junior Warden. There are pictures and a report from the Connecticut ECW Annual Meeting (fine sermon and great talk about women in the Bible, plus a delicious lunch!), and a link to the renderings for the improvements to the Parish Hall proposed by the Evening ECW.
Yesterday was the Feast of the Ascension, the day when the Church remembers that 40 days after his resurrection, Jesus was "lifted up" from the company of his disciples. Yesterday was also the first Thursday in May and therefore the day of the Connecticut Episcopal Church Women's Annual Meeting. Part of this gathering every year is a Eucharist at which one of our bishops preaches and the other celebrates. So, along with five of our own ECW members, I got to hear Bishop Laura Ahren's preach a wonderful sermon on the Ascension.
In the Book of Acts, we read that the disciples asked Jesus about going back to the "good old days," i.e. "restoring the Kingdom of Israel." Jesus doesn't have the answer they want about a specific day and time; instead he tells them, "...you will be my witnesses..."(1:6-11) Bishop Laura explored this tension in our lives as individuals and as Church. Like the "Kingdom of Israel," there are people, relationships, and the-way-things-used-to-be that we miss, and would love to have restored. And yet, the response from Jesus is, "... you will be my witnesses ..." We are called to be the Body of Christ in our time and place, and to embody Jesus' compassion, healing presence, and hope in whatever our circumstances might be.
It seems to me that during last Sunday's Fellowship Supper, we accepted our call to be witnesses for Jesus in Guilford. As we reviewed the Hymn Sing and the Home Gathering responses, we identified the top themes and values we seek to embody as Christ Church: they might be summed up as, a hope-filled, forgiving and welcoming community gathered in praise and nurture, service and gratitude for God's love revealed in Creation and in Jesus Christ. Last Sunday's conversation is a milepost on the journey of our "God's Call to Us -- Now & Into the Future" planning process. Last Sunday's work will be posted in the Parish Hall during Coffee Hour for your further consideration.
While the Church is a primary community for experiencing and giving thanks for God's love in our lives, there is another, even more basic, community. If we are fortunate, we can recognize God's love, because we first experienced it unconditionally in our families. This Sunday many of us have answered the ECW's invitation to celebrate our mothers, and other important women in our lives, by providing roses in their names. It's going to be quite a display of thanksgiving!
Another opportunity for thanksgiving at Christ Church is the anniversary of the Evening ECW's first meeting in May 2015. We will celebrate that first anniversary and give thanks for the grace and energy of this fellowship! In their first year, they organized the tag-less Tag Sale, and during Coffee Hour last Sunday, they unveiled designs for enhancements to the Parish Hall. Those designs are still on display in the Parish Hall.
I hope all parish households are helping develop our new print (and secure on-line) Parish Photo Directory. This directory will be an important resource for our efforts to embody Christ's own welcome! This is quite unlike the preparations for past directories: there are no sales pitches for vast arrays of photographs, and your the photos can truly reflect your uniqueness. You can provide a favorite "selfie," professional photo, or ask a friend to take one for you. For example, Junior Warden Sue Shackford is offering to take photos after the 10a.m. service this Sunday. If you've misplaced the directions, please contact the office or reply to this letter.
However you and yours plan to observe Mother's Day, I hope it is filled with grace, gratitude, and fun. Let us give thanks for all those whose sacrificial and steadfast love for us opened our hearts to perceive and accept God's redeeming love revealed in the death and resurrection of Jesus. And so, for the seventh Sunday of Easter, let us proclaim together:
Alleluia, alleluia! Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia, alleluia!
In faith and hope,
p.s. The Rectory Forum invites you to watch, learn and discuss with them the PBS documentary “…. From Christ to Constantine." It’s the story of the followers of Jesus from the days when they were known simply as the followers of “The Way,” through becoming a more widespread fellowship called “Christian,” through times of challenge, persecution and organization, to becoming a legal and eventually the established religion of the Roman Empire under Constantine.
Coffee and tea are available in the rectory, and they begin shortly after 9 am on Sunday mornings.
We feature various authors from around our parish, commenting on topics of interest to our community. Enjoy! Comment if you are so moved!