Today is Veterans' Day. The day when we give thanks for those, "... who in the day of decision, ventured much for the liberties we now enjoy."(BCP, p.839) Guilford's homespun observance on the Green, by the World War I memorial, seems to bring out the sunshine. I excused myself from our fall yard clean-up to attend this morning's 30 minute event, and was glad I did. It was quite moving.
This afternoon, members of our ECW are preparing the carnation bouquets for our own remembrance and honoring of veterans on Sunday. Thanks to all who participated in supporting this undertaking. In our worship, we will offer prayers of thanksgiving, and together, we'll sing, "O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife, who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life!" (Hymn 719, v.2)
Among the veterans I remember today (including parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and clergy colleagues) is one of my high school teachers. Mr. M. was hospitalized in Portland's old V.A. Hospital (since replaced by a gleaming state-of-the-art facility), and with several classmates from my all-boys, all-city high school, I was part of a group from all of Portland's high schools, who went there together for a special event. After the program, my classmates and l wanted to find Mr.M., and we were the ones he wanted to see. As a teacher, Mr. M. did not tolerate any of our foolishness, and none of us were particularly close to him, but that day, we gained new respect for all he had been through. And were proud when he told everyone within earshot, "these are my boys."
It saddens me that every veteran doesn't have the supportive care and community that Mr. M. had. The perpetrator of last Sunday's mass shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, was a veteran, and President Trump has stated, the shooter had, "major mental health issues." Why then are there no announcements or public discussion about improving mental health care for our veterans?
Our bishops usually take Mondays as their day off. But again this past Monday, they were working on a response to yet another mass shooting. Perhaps the setting -- a church, and the time -- Sunday morning, inspired the Bishops United Against Gun Violence to remind us about what prayer is and what prayer does. Among the lines I'm committing to memory: "Prayer is not a dodge." And, “One does not offer prayers in lieu of political courage, but in preparation (for such acts).” You can find the letter from our Bishops Ian Douglas and Laura Ahrens here; they include the quoted message from the BUAGV. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry recorded a video message in which he briefly applies the Lord's Prayer to the Texas shooting and invites us to pray with him; you can respond to his invitation here.
Although the ground was frozen when we began, today's gardeners did an amazing job clearing out the old shed, cleaning up leaves, twigs, walnut husks and tidying beds, and spreading mulch. Gene Bishop and Anthony LaFata each took away at least two dump truck loads of debris and yard waste. Thanks to them, and to Austin and Donna LaFata, to Brayden Benben, Rebecca Evans and Keelyn Ervin, Sheward Hagerty, David Kish, Shana Moore, Rose Robinson, and to our organizer Laurie Varley. Junior Warden Sue Shackford provided for snacks in absentia. Thanks to all!
One thing we discovered in cleaning out the shed: The shed's structure has sustained significant damage from rot. We will need to ask some wise folk to put their heads together about our storage needs and the shed's future.
This Sunday, the Sunday School continues to follow the Israelites into the Promised Land. The Middle School group and the High School group will each ponder a question about the three-ness and one-ness of God's trinitarian being. How are they going to get this sorted in one Sunday morning? It took the Church hundreds of years to sort out the Trinity!
I look forward to sharing Veterans' Sunday with you!
In faith and hope,
p.s. Estimate of Giving Cards continue to come into the parish office; and there are some yet to be received. If you have misplaced yours, or otherwise need a fresh one, please reply to this e-letter or leave a voice mail message at 203-453-2279. Many thanks to all of you who have responded to date! In a parish like ours, every Estimate of Giving is important.
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