Pentecost: Please Wear Red or Orange! Thanks & Farewell to Pat W at Parish Picnic; Sunday School Year Ending
June 8, 2019
Yesterday evening I accompanied a group of our youngsters, and chaperones, to a Shabbat (Sabbath) service at Temple Beth Tikvah in Madison. We were welcomed very graciously to their pre-service "Oneg" (reception) that featured sung blessings of bread and wine by a young woman whose Bat Mitzvah is today. Near the close of the service, Rabbi Stacy Offner explained that they were nearing the end of an important "counting season:" they were counting the 50 days between Passover and Shavuot -- the meal that protected ancient Israel from the destroyer, leading to their freedom from Pharaoh's bonds, and the Israelite's arrival at the foot of Mt. Sinai and receiving the Torah (first five books of the Bible).
I hope the connections to the Christian feasts of Easter and Pentecost are ringing in your minds. During Passover, "Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us" on Good Friday and then raised on Easter to new life, freeing us from the bonds of sin and death. We have also been counting the days and weeks of Eastertide; this Sunday will be the 50th day, i.e. Pentecost in Greek. Pentecost gained new meaning for Christians with the gift of the Holy Spirit that, just as Jesus had promised, came upon his friends, sending them into the streets to boldly proclaim God's love for peoples of "every language, tribe, and nation."
Because the Holy Spirit came in a form "something like" wind and flame, it has become something of a tradition for us to wear red or orange on Pentecost. Of course, wearing orange has also taken on the added meaning of working to prevent gun violence -- seems like an activity of the Holy Spirit to me!
Our Pentecost celebration will send us spilling out into the parish's backyard for our Annual Parish Picnic and to celebrate Pat Wakefield's 21 years of faithful ministry with us. As with all of our picnics, there will be the usual hot dogs and hamburgers, but also -- to honor Pat & Curtiss's new home in South Carolina -- there will be southern fried chicken and a potluck of southern side dishes and desserts that you all provide. This is my excuse to get out a favorite squash casserole recipe that I haven't made since I left Chattanooga
In addition to eating well and enjoying each other's company, we will take a few moments to thank Pat for her pivotal role supporting the worship, witness and fellowship of Christ Church over all these years. She has been our in-house institutional memory, and the always cheerful voice answering the phone. There will also be a few gifts to present including a generous "purse" which we are funding together. Additional donations have been arriving all week, and the "Thanks & Farewell" envelopes for Pat are still available on the Ushers' Table; Please make your checks out to Christ Church with "Thanks Pat!" on the memo line.
This Sunday will also be the final sessions for our Sunday's 2018-19 academic year. Special thanks to our teachers, mentors and subs Donna LaFata, Becky Patino, Stephanie Hutchinson, Melissa Perez and Page Pelphrey! You've provided a wonderful year of welcome, community and learning to support our children's growth in the love and knowledge of our Lord!
Although Sunday School is concluding its season, Vacation Bible School isn't that far off! June 24-28 There'll be Bible stories and related crafts, songs, playtime, and of course, snacks! The code words for the week are Faith, Boldness, Kindness, Thankfulness & Hope with some fun facts about Mars to share as well! Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to register.
In addition to her ministry with our middle-school youngsters, Page Pelphrey also helps lead youth from Connecticut in offering Vacation Bible School in the Dominican Republic. Here's the list of items needed for the DR Vacation Bible School:
Children's scissors Sticker name tags Glue-sticks Frizbees
Index cards Gallon zip-lock bags Construction paper
Feathers Beads Cupcake liners Bubbles and bubble wands
Thanks to our Synagogue chaperones Donna & Anthony LaFata, Page Pelphrey, and Rebecca Evans.
A heads-up regarding the Parish Office June 10-20. I'll be participating in the Holy Land Pilgrimage of the Episcopal Church in CT, and Jack-the-dog will be at his doggie resort. Mark Sullivan and other volunteers will be checking voice mail and email messages. Please coordinate access to the building with Mark Sullivan (MarkCEC@snet.net). Please welcome the Rev. Mary Anne Osborn as your celebrant and preacher on June 16. Thanks in advance for your patience and understanding during my absence.
In the meantime, I look forward to joining with you tomorrow to celebrate Pentecost and to express our gratitude and farewells to Pat Wakefield!
With the Spirit's faith, hope, and love,
p.s. Last Sunday, my sermon included a quotation from Martin Luther King Jr.s' "Letter from Birmingham Jail." I nailed it at 8a.m., but fumbled it at 10a.m. Here it is,"Injustice anywhere threatens justice everywhere."
May 31, 2019
Yesterday was the feast ot the Ascension; today is the feast of the Visitation. These are both "red-letter" days in the life of the Church. On Ascension Day, we recall that 40 days after his Resurrection Jesus' was exalted into heaven to be "at the right hand of the Father," as we say in the Nicene Creed. On the Feast of the Visitation, we remember the story of the newly pregnant Mary traveling to visit her relation Elizabeth who was also "with child"; their visit is the occasion for the "Song of Mary, also known as the Magnificat, and the first two lines of the "Hail Mary, full of grace, ...".
For a bunch of Middle Schoolers, their mentor Page Pelphrey and me, today begins an overnight at Camp Incarnation. On Sunday you can ask us about the food, the animals (llamas, goats, chickens, etc.), the lake, and if we made s'mores.
In addition to her ministry with our middle-school youngsters, Page also helps lead youth from Connecticut who offer a Vacation Bible School in the Dominican Republic. Page wrote the following letter about her involvement in this project; I commend it to you!
I'm a Pentecost person. I have red hair, I speak three languages, and I love a good fire pit. If I delve into the liturgical seasons, I seem to thrive in the ordinary times. I've never considered myself a leader or someone extraordinary. I don't want to be in the spotlight or what others may call "in charge." I'm ordinary. Most of my friends from camp became priests, youth ministers, and music directors. I went into the world to teach languages to children and volunteer my time on Sunday mornings. I use my gifts to make that ordinary time extraordinary.
While Christmas may be exciting, every day is a day to use your gifts. It's all about the daily movement of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost winds us down as a parish, but I'm just getting started. Four years ago, God called me to merge my gifts. My personal trinity -- speak Spanish, lead Sunday School lessons, and work with teenagers -- became a ten-day trip to chaperone a Vacation Bible School in the Dominican Republic. Our diocese has always had a special relationship with the parish of Santa Margarita in Santo Domingo. This past summer, we had enough volunteers to add two more vacation bible schools and serve two more churches.
What keeps me an Episcopalian is the life of the church. I live for the Ashes, the Palms, and the Acolyte candles. My children and I make an Advent wreath and chalk the door at Epiphany. Vacation Bible School is part of that Episcopal life. I went to VBS every summer of my childhood. I started volunteering when I was too old to be a participant. Our diocese gives less fortunate Episcopal churches the opportunity to have an event like any other Episcopal church. It is how we grow Episcopalians during the ordinary times.
Is an Episcopal church still a church without a bible school? Absolutely! Is it something each little Episcopalian should experience, like the Nativity pageant and wearing a Palm Sunday cross? If we can make it happen, then, yes. The Diocese of the Dominican Republic consists of 76 parishes. Of the 76, 11 had a VBS with the help of American parishes. This summer we are going to be able to lead four vacation bible school sessions, and we will need supplies for 400 children. Sunday June 2, I will be hosting the coffee hour. Please consider bringing supplies from the needs list or making a donation.
Ordinary can be extraordinary!
faithfully, Page Pelphrey
Here's the list of items needed for the DR Vacation Bible School:
Children's scissors Sticker name tags Glue-sticks Frisbees
Index cards Gallon zip-lock bags Construction paper
Feathers Beads Cupcake liners Bubbles and bubble wands
During Coffee Hour, after you've visited with Page about Vacation Bible School in the Dominican Republic, have a look at the photographs from an exhibit about the Sanctuary Movement. Jennifer Huebner arranged for us to see these photographs and has the latest information about a family here in Connecticut.
Please remember that we are collecting funds for a purse for our, now former, Parish Administrator Pat Wakefield. Those funds may be mailed, dropped by the parish office, or placed in the offering basin. "Thanks & Farewell" envelopes for Pat are available on the Ushers' Table; and envelopes for Laurie Varley, our now former Sunday School Director, are still available. Please make your checks out to Christ Church with "Thanks Pat!" and/or 'Thanks Laurie!' on the memo line.
I know there's been a lot of rain this week; the grass is growing, and the weeds are thriving! Please consider helping with Junior Warden Alicia Bacon's wish-list for garden clean-up tasks. Alicia is inviting us, at a time convenient to our schedules, to come and do a little weeding, or a little pruning, or maybe a little weeding and a little pruning. The goal is to have the garden looking especially lovely for our June 9th Thanks & Farewell picnic honoring Pat Wakefield.
A heads-up regarding the Parish Office this week. I'll be attending Yale Divinity School's Summer Study during the mornings this week, Monday-Friday, June 3-7. So, email messages will be returned either before 8:30a.m. or in the afternoon; telephone calls will be returned in the afternoon. If you need access to our buildings in the morning, please coordinate with Mark Sullivan. After this week, I'll have all sorts of new insights on Paul's letters to the Corinthians.
In the meantime, please pray that our Camp Incarnation adventure is fun, inspiring, and safe!
With Easter faith, hope, and love,
p.s. It's not too late for Middle and High School Youth to confirm their participation in our field trip to Temple Beth Tikvah on Friday, June 7. We'll gather at Christ Church at 5:30p.m. for a quick orientation, before traveling to the synagogue's First Friday 6p.m. service. I need to let them know the size of our group. Just respond to this message
May 24, 2019
It's a bittersweet day in the Rectory today. Pat Wakefield is finishing up, tidying up and cleaning out her desk, concluding 21 years of ministry with Christ Church as our Parish Administrator. This week I've been asking where to find stuff, or how to do this, that, and the other. Pat is one of the keepers of the parish's institutional memory, has been one of the steady anchors for our parish's life, and she will be dearly missed, We will officially express our gratitude and farewells to Pat on Sunday, June 9, at our Annual Parish Picnic.
So that we can send Pat & Curtiss off with a taste of the South, our InReach folks are encouraging us to look through our recipes for southern side dishes and desserts, e.g. southern cole slaw, southern potato salad, chess pie, etc. They're asking us to sign-up! There'll also be southern fried chicken, sweet tea, plus the usual hamburgers and hot dogs.
There's a gift in the works for Pat to remember us by, but we're also collecting funds for a purse. Those funds may be mailed, dropped by the parish office, or placed in the offering basin. "Thanks & Farewell" envelopes for Pat will be available on the Ushers' Table; and envelopes for Laurie are still available. Please make your checks out to Christ Church with "Pat" and/or 'Laurie' on the memo line.
Since this is Memorial Day Weekend, our Sunday School will not meet this Sunday, May 26. That's why we held our official "Thank-you & Good-bye" to Miss Laurie last Sunday. The children had created their own farewell and thank-you cards which they presented during the 10a.m. service. I presented her with a card on behalf of the whole parish that contained two lovely ECW gift-card holders containing heftily charged-up gift cards. Sunday School parents, teachers and Faith Formation leaders hosted a tasty reception so we could say our personal good-byes and thank-yous. Thanks to all of you who have contributed to our expressions of gratitude to, and prayers and best wishes for Laurie and daughter Stevie's next adventure in their home state of North Carolina.
Laurie will be with us on Sunday watching over the Nursery one last time; so there's still an opportunity to go downstairs and express your farewells.
In Sunday's bulletin, you'll find a wish-list from Junior Warden Alicia Bacon about garden clean-up tasks. Alicia is inviting us, at a time convenient to our schedules, to come and do a little weeding, or a little pruning, or maybe a little weeding and a little pruning. The goal is to have the garden looking especially lovely for the June 9th picnic. Alicia has been here several days last week and again this week getting the beds in front of the Parish House looking sharp. Please consider her invitation to help out at a time that works for you!
On Sunday, as part of our observance of Memorial Day, we'll be singing of "heroes proved in liberating strife, who more than self their country loved and mercy more than life!" To conclude Sunday's Prayers of the People, I'll get to offer one of the Prayer Book's gems -- Thanksgivings "For Heroic Service."(p.839). In that prayer, we remember before God "the men and women of our country who in day of decision" served and sacrificed to preserve our nation.
Thanks to the Evening ECW for the terrific soup, bread and desserts they served up last Saturday. I've heard that the Library's Paperback Book Sale was a tremendous success. I hope that the EECW's efforts were crowned with glory, as well. Fortunately for some of us, leftovers were available for take-out on Sunday morning; after another donation, I was set for a couple more delicious meals. Thanks again!
We wound up our Tuesday evening conversations about Joan Chittester's book The Gift of Years this past week, but will continue at this Sunday's Rectory Forum. Quite apart from the interesting conversation, a special treat for our last Tuesday gathering was the marvelous salad and amazing desserts. Many thanks to the Rev. Lynda Tyson for introducing us to Sr. Joan!
On Thursday we concluded our Spring season of Thursday morning Bible Study on the Book of Revelation with a stirring "new song" that Handel would include in Messiah.(see chapter 11) We will return to Revelation again in the fall.
In the meantime, perhaps I'll see you at the parade, or at the Keeping Society picnic, or even for worship! Wherever your Memorial Day plans take you, please be careful, have fun, and give thanks for those "who ventured much for the freedoms we now enjoy,"
With Easter faith, hope, and love,
May 17, 2019
If there's a Book Sale at the Guilford Free Library, there's an event at Christ Church. That seems to be the pattern. Our Evening ECW will be hosting a lunch of Soup, bread, fruit and dessert this Saturday, May 18, in the Christ Church Parish Hall. The ladies of the EECW bring crockpots of their own gourmet soup to share. Run into friends and neighbors at the Library's Paperback Book Sale? Be sure to invite them to Christ Church for lunch 11a.m.-2p.m.. They'll surely thank you!
This Sunday we'll be saying "Thank-you & Good-bye" to our Sunday School Director Laurie Varley. Since she began with our Vacation Bible School in the summer of 2016, Miss Laurie has cared for our Sunday School children, worked with our Sunday School teachers, coordinated with mentors of our Middle and High School programs, and led the program of Nursery care for our youngest children. We have all enjoyed our children telling the Nativity Story every December, and their chancel dramas in the spring -- either the Story of the Good Shepherd , as in this year, or The Story of Pentecost, as in last year. While Mark Sullivan taught and directed the music, Laurie did the behind-the-scenes organizing. She has been the chief organizer for the Sunday School's "Helping Hands for Haiti" each March -- cooking many of the pancakes herself! Along the way, our youngsters have learned about God's love revealed in Jesus, and found that love mirrored in Miss Laurie's care for each and every one of them. In addition to being grateful for Laurie's dependable and faithful leadership, I have admired her calm and easy skill with what the professionals call "classroom management."
Although Laurie will be with us Memorial Day weekend, watching over the Nursery as usual, Sunday School won't be meeting then; so this Sunday is our official chance to say, "We're grateful to you! We're going to miss you and Stevie! and, We pray God's blessings on your next adventures back in your home state of North Carolina!"
(Don't tell her this, but we will be presenting Laurie a 'purse' of two heftily charged-up gift cards in two lovely ECW gift-card holders this Sunday. If you would like to help with this, please place your gift in a 'Laurie' envelope and put it in Sunday's plate; please make your check out to Christ Church with 'Laurie' on the memo line.)
Speaking of Good Shepherd Sunday, sincere thanks to our Sunday School Children, middle school readers and acolytes and high school intercessor and ushers, plus one. It was really something special. The children's singing of Mark Sullivan's setting of the 23rd Psalm just about did me in. Thanks to Miss Laurie and the Sunday School parents for all the coaching, organizing, and help with rehearsals and remembering lines!
Thanks to every one who responded to the ECW's "Roses for Mother's Day" and "Roses for Mommy" appeals. The bouquets of roses on just about every horizontal surface in the church were a sight to behold and a beautiful way to honor and express our gratitude to -- and for -- the important women in our lives. Special thanks go to chief organizer Diane Link, and her helpers.
One of Laurie Varley's special responsibilities as our Sunday School Director has been to be our designated staff person who makes sure that we follow the Episcopal Church's Safe Churchpolicies and protocols for our youngsters. She has been diligent and helpful in this I spent this past Tuesday morning and afternoon at a "Mandatory Clergy Professional Development Day;" The "mandatory" referred to the Episcopal Church in CT's requirement that clergy learn about the latest iteration of these Safe Church protocols to maintain our "good standing" within the diocese. The topics included safety from abuse for our children, for our elders, and for vulnerable adults, as well as maintaining appropriate boundaries. One of the new wrinkles will be a "universal" on-line basic training that will be available to all, and expected of many. Watch this space for details.
Our conversations about Joan Chittester's book The Gift of Years will continue during this Sunday's Rectory Forum and Tuesday Spring Supper. This will be the final meeting of the Tuesday Supper Discussion; so Tuesday folks, you know that means dessert by Sue!. The Sunday Forum conversation will have at least two more meetings. If you're reading the book, come with a passage to read that particularly spoke to you, or about which you have some questions or concerns.
This Thursday will conclude our Spring season of Thursday morning Bible Study on the Book of Revelation; feel free to bring your issues with or about the text. The group has decided to return to Revelation again in the fall.
In the meantime, I look forward to seeing you over soup on Saturday, and as we bid Laurie Varley "Godspeed" on Sunday.
With Easter faith, hope, and love,
May 4, 2019
Although this coming Sunday, May 5, has its own special features -- preaching by Felix Rivera, more great Easter hymns, and meetings about both InReach and Faith Formation -- there will also be opportunities to prepare for Sunday, May 12:
And yes, more older people than younger ones have chronic illnesses,
but they also have fewer acute illnesses than younger ones.
They have fewer injuries in the home
and also fewer accidents on the highway.
The book is an easy read, and available from your favorite on-line and local sources. But feel free to join the conversation even if you haven't read the first 58 or 111 pages.
Thanks to all the participants in April 28th's Youth Spaghetti Supper! The meal was truly special and abundant! Our young bakers, servers and Parmesan cheese graters seemed to delight in their tasks, and the over-the-top desserts were truly over-the-top. The three clever Raffle baskets -- organized around gardening, bird-watching, and family reading -- by Diane Link, drew wide participation. Special thanks to this year's chef David Jones, to parent helpers, and especially to chief honcho Susan Shackford.
As Bishop Ian Douglas says for himself and Bishop Ahrens, "We always know where we'll be on the first Thursday in May: At the Annual Meeting of the Episcopal Women of Connecticut!" And that's true for me as well. Our connection with the New York Haiti Project began at one of these meetings three years ago. This year's speaker, Sue Heimer from Illinois, spoke memorably about the example of Moses' sister Miriam -- e.g. her gumption in speaking directly to Pharoah's daughter, and her presence of mind to take her tambourine with her on the Israelites flight out of Egypt. Miriam would use that tambourine in singing the oldest song in the Bible.(Exodus 15:21) And I imagine all in attendance will recall Ms. Heimer's sage advice, "If you're riding a 'dead horse,' get off it!"
On Saturday morning, April 27, I was one of four from Christ Church to participate in the Episcopal Church in Connecticut's Spring Training with well over 300 fellow Episcopalians from all across the state at Berlin High School. I think we all found this to be time well-spent. In particular, the workshop on "Ending and Healing the Trauma of Anti-Black Racism" was eye-opening for me.
I left Spring Training early so that I could be back in time for the Eagle Scout Court of Honor for seven young men who grew up together as friends and fellow scouts in Guilford. Four of the seven who became Eagle Scouts that afternoon have a connection with Christ Church: Josh Brause worships with us; Bailey Myers participated in Sunday School here; James Crossley actively participates in parish life and was in our 2017 confirmation group; and Mark McNamara, another active participant and 2017 confirmand, raised the funds for and led the bulding and landscaping of our four new picnic tables as his Eagle Scout project. It was quite a moving experience to hear all seven speak about their projects and thank those who had helped them. That Guilford would raise up these seven, supporting them individually and together, is to our town's credit, and Christ Church's place within it.
I look forward to continuing with you our Easter celebrations this Sunday.
With Easter faith, hope, and love,
April 27, 2019
A blessed Easter Week to you! And profound thanks to all who made our Holy Week and Easter worship so beautiful and powerful! The look and sound of the church-assembled mirrored the spiritual and emotional roller coaster ride from Palm Sunday through Holy Week to Easter. There were some real high points from the anthems, palms and red vesture of Palm Sunday through Maundy Thursday. All that gave way to the bleakness and sorrow of Good Friday -- which was followed by the quiet busyness of Holy Saturday. Then the joyous "Christ is risen, indeed!" proclamation of Easter left us humming our Alleluias!
Thanks to the Choir, our String ensemble and Mark Sullivan for the music; thanks to Marsha Brown for creating an Easter garden for our worship; thanks to the Altar Guild for making everything shine; thanks to all whose Easter memorials, thanksgivings and gifts of hospitality underwrote our worship and fellowship; thanks to all the bulletin folders and collators, Easter Egg-fillers and hiders; thanks to all the Acolytes, Chalice Bearers, Intercessors, Lectors, and Ushers who led us through our worship. Fortunately, Easter is not over! Although the Choir gets a Sunday off, the Sunday School will resume, the joyous hymns continue, and the flowers are still beautiful!
Our Youth Spaghetti Supper, with its over-the-top desserts, will be this Sunday, April 28 at 5p.m. The basil-infused spaghetti sauce and amazing meat balls, make this Spaghetti Supper a revelation for those of us raised on Chef Boi-ar-dee! The Parmesan cheese grated to order over each serving also makes this spaghetti truly special. The green salad with its secret dressing, and oh yes, those amazing desserts, also make this a can't miss supper. The Supper and the accompanying raffle raise additional funds for special youth opportunities at Camp Incarnation, Camp Washington, in the Dominican Republic, NYC Pilgrimages, and in service.
The Gift of Years, is Joan Chittester's reflection on Growing Older Gracefully. We'll be taking this up with the guidance of the Rev. Lynda Tyson during Tuesday Supper discussions beginning April 30, and during the Rectory Forum beginning in May. Lynda asks that if we have the book -- available from your favorite local and on-line bookseller and from Libraries -- that we read the Introduction and first 18 pages. We'll put "Fear" and "Regret" behind us, and focus on "Purpose" and "Meaning." This is a four-week series with a helpful gift at its conclusion. Even if you haven't done the reading, you're welcome to join the conversation!
Speaking of Camp Washington, as I was in a previous paragraph, there are two upcoming events of special interest happening there:
I look forward to continuing with you our Easter proclamations and song -- "death is conquered; we are free; Christ has won the victory!"
With Easter faith, hope, and love,
p.s. In the wake of the horrific bombings in Sri Lanka on Easter morning, the Bishops of the Church of Ceylon responded with this statement. Our Presiding Bishop issued this brief statement. Ironically however, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry's Easter message seems to speak directly to this blasphemous carnage; I really encourage you to read or watch it here.
Easter Friday, April 26, 2019
It’s the season for two staff transitions at Christ Church.
As some of you know, our Sunday School Director Laurie Varley will be moving back to North Carolina with her daughter Stevie after school is out. Her last Sunday with us will be May 26, the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend. Under Laurie's faithful, wise and dependable leadership, our Sunday School children have been welcomed to a creative experience of Christian community just for them. On Sunday mornings and during Vacation Bible School, Laurie has supported her team of teachers and helpers in sharing the Good News of God's love for all of us. In addition, Laurie has been a helpful colleague for me, and I will miss her.
As some of you also know, Pat & Curtiss Wakefield put their house on the market two weeks ago. This past weekend, they accepted a purchase offer. On Tuesday Pat gave her notice: she will be leaving her position as our Parish Administrator on Friday, May 24th. Although their schedule is a bit fluid at the moment, they plan to move on or about May 30 to their new home in South Carolina.
For twenty years now as our Parish Administrator, Pat has been the one to keep the "trains running on time." She prepares our worship bulletins and parish-wide mailings, recruits volunteer helpers, keeps the parish calendar, coordinates space-use with parish and community groups, orders office and maintenance supplies, distributes the parish's mail, watches over incoming bills and matches them to invoices, and she does a lot more that I don't now recall. Pat does all this while providing the cheerful voice answering the telephone, responding to email inquiries, and gently doing her best to keep me from doing stupid stuff. Pat helped me get on board this moving train when I arrived, and it's going to be hard to see her leave.
So, although we can be happy for Laurie and Pat with their new adventures in the Carolinas, this means two major – and wrenching -- transitions for us. At our Vestry meeting Wednesday evening, we began to talk about how we’re going to say thank-you and good-bye, looked at how we might cover these positions on an interim basis, began a review of the position descriptions, and to consider our interview and selection processes. Please be thinking how you might want to help make these transitions gracious and grateful celebrations, and then to faithfully continue the essential and good work that Pat and Laurie have done with us. Dates and more details will be forthcoming.
God's Peace be with you all,
April 18, 2019
A blessed Holy Week to you! This Holy Week has been marked by great sadness for parish families. First we learned of the death of Susan Pogue's brother, David, in England; Susan has flown to be with family. Next that Carmen Rivera's mother, Carmen Hernandes de Rodriguez had died in Puerto Rico; Carmen and Felix have flown there. Later, we learned of the death of Melissa Lamoreaux's father, Pete Majar in Washington State; they'll be heading west. Along the way, we learned that Mark Sullivan's mother, Connie Sullivan, was and remains comatose in New York State; Mark will drive there after Sunday services. This all seems like a lot of loss.
Then there's the fire that destroyed the old forest of oak timbers that formed the supporting structure for the roof and the fleche' atop the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris. Its beautiful setting on the Isle de Cite', its architectural significance, and iconic role in French history and literature make this loss felt far beyond the realm of French Roman Catholics. Closer to home, we have been confronted again by the long, ugly history of racist arson which recently destroyed African American church buildings in Louisiana. These fires, and others, in treasured places hallowed by generations of prayer, are also a lot of loss.
But then, death, loss and hatefulness, are among the realities that Holy Week places before us each year. There is no way around "the valley of the shadow of death." The Good News is that we are not alone as we make our way through these shadows. God is with us. In the person of Jesus, God knows loss, hatefulness and death.
And so, we are not left standing alone in the ashes, or at the foot of the cross. On the third day, the tomb will be found empty. There is new life on the other side of death. For cathedrals damaged by construction-related fires, (or by earthquakes, as with Washington National Cathedral) and for church buildings destroyed by arson, that new life involves repair and reconstruction. For our dear ones who have died, that new life is the Risen Life at the great Messanic Banquet table of God's heavenly kingdom. For us who remain, the Risen Life is also for us to share here and now. We are also invited to the Kingdom's great Banquet Table, and then encouraged to go and participate in God's Way of Love as a blessing to this hurting and broken world.
That's our journey through these three days of the Triduum. Our schedule of services is in the column to the left. I look forward to sharing these Holy Days with you!
In faith, hope, and love,
p.s. Because Anthony LaFata and his helpers Collin and Ryantidied up the backyard on Tuesday, and because Saturday's forecast looks forbidding, the Church Yard Clean-up has been postponed until June.
p.s. #2: As forecast in my previous letter, Lent Madness ended with Martha of Bethany receiving the "Golden Halo." One of the great things about Lent Madness are all the things, from the trivial to the profound, that one learns in the blogs promoting each day's saints. In the blogs for St. Martha, I learned that she was reputed to have developed her gift for hospitality to spread the Gospel of Jesus in Gaul and had healed the sick and defended the faithful against a dragon! Another great thing about Lent Madness this year were the comments that one could read after voting: one contributer provided a limerick about each day's saints, another wrote new words for a hymn, and a third provided new words for a Broadway show tune every day.. The ones celebrating St. Martha receiving the Golden Halo were quite extraordinary. You can find them all at LentMadness.org .
April 13, 2019
On Palm Sunday, our 10a.m. service will actually begin at 9:45a.m. on the Green with our neighbors from First Congregational Church and St. George Roman Catholic Church. Through this long-standing tradition, we begin our Holy Week observances together. If you want to sing "All glory, laud, and honor" to our Redeemer King, and hear the Palm Sunday story, you'll want to be on the Green! Once we make our way into our own building, the focus and mood shift to the day's other name, "The Sunday of the Passion." We'll sing "Ride on, ... in majesty ... In lowly pomp ride on to die..."
Because there are no Sundays in Lent, the daytime ECW is holding a Bake Sale and hosting Coffee Hour on Palm Sunday. If the prospect of Holy Week -- or the state of the world -- has you feeling glum, perhaps something homemade will brighten your day. The ECW also has a beautiful array of gift card holders on offer; check out their creativity!
Sunday's Rhythms of Grace service will begin with Palm Sunday and include activities that tell the Holy Week story. We gather at 4p.m. in the Parish Hall on second Sundays for this informal service for children of all ages and abilities.
We anticipated the beginning of Holy Week, this past Wednesday, by moving our service of Tenebrae a week early. Holy Week and Guilford Public Schools' Spring Break coincide this year. By moving a week early, we had a good group of youth leaders and a supportive congregation. As the candles were extinguished, the sunlight waned; the darkness seemed to be winning.
Lent Madness seems to be favoring the little known saints to whom we have been introduced. Three of the (final) Faithful Four were new to me. Gobnait, a medieval abbess whose convent was defended by the honey bees she kept; Pandita Ramabai (1889-1922), an Indian Anglican who championed the education and self-determination of women in India and England; and Zenaida, an early 2nd century physician (among the earliest women healers) in Asia Minor. But if I were going to bet, I'd bet on the fourth finalist, Martha of Bethany. The final voting will be Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week at LentMadness.org .
The times of our Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services are on our homepage. If you want to hear the stories, and sing the hymns, of the Last Supper and John's account of Jesus' trial,execution and burial, try to attend one of these services. The horror of Good Friday is mediated through the Organ Chorales which Music Director Mark Sullivan offers for our meditation and prayer between 1p.m. and 2:45pm on Good Friday.
Because today's Church Yard Clean-up was rained out (water was standing in the rectory backyard!), we will try again on Holy Saturday, April 20, starting at 9a.m.
The purple flags around town, and in our front yard, are not about Lent. (Red is the color of Holy Week.) Instead the color recalls a story of youthful solidarity against bullying and bad choices: When a high school student was ridiculed by bullies for her purple shirt, her friends, and those who wanted to put a stop to such bullying, all wore purple shirts to school. These flags wave a sign of solidarity and support for our young people who choose sobriety and responsible behavior in the face of the immature braggadocio that falsely equates a good time with intoxication.
Continued thanks for being Helping-Hands-for-Haiti! Our Sunday School's effort for the children of Martel have raised $1676 so far! Together with any last-minute gifts, these will help St. Luke's School end the school year well. Thanks so much!
On Saturday, April 6, I stopped by a Raise-the-Roof Habitat-for-Humanity house being finished on New Haven's Peck Street. Rose & Chris Robinson, Joan & Nick Rawlings, Ian Robinson and friend Meghan were busy caulking, sweeping, painting and installing a porch railing with neighbors from St. Andrew's in Madison. On my way home, I routed myself past last year's work site on Lenox in Fair Haven. All finished and occupied, it is a very handsome, and historic anchor for its neighborhood.
On Sunday, April 7, Christ Church was well-represented at the "Beating Guns" event at the United Church UCC on the New Haven Green. You can read about it, and see photos, in this news report. Attendance was easily double the 50 in the report.
The rain has stopped, the Green is drying out, and I look forward to seeing you at one of our Palm Sunday services.
In faith, hope, and love,
p.s.: Following-up on last Sunday's sermon, the Rev. Mary Anne Osborn checked out some Suicide Prevention resources for us. She recommends, if you are having thoughts of suicide, or if you know someone who is, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 (TALK), or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources.
Given this morning's sloppy wet weather, the yard clean-up scheduled for today is postponed to next Saturday, April 20.
Hope we're able to gather on the Green tomorrow for Liturgy of the Palms at 9:45a.m. More later about Palm Sunday and Holy Week in a usual letter
For now, enjoy another cup of coffee,
We feature various authors from around our parish, commenting on topics of interest to our community. Enjoy! Comment if you are so moved!