While on the Cape, I heard a comic explain that every week in town had a theme -- Carnival Week, Regatta Week, etc., -- but that was "Grief Week" for the end of the summer! Hope this does not find you downcast about summer's end. For Christ Church, this week brings opportunities to welcome one another home, and return to well-loved activities -- like worship with our Choir in the balcony, back to Sunday School and Youth activities, and fellowship around shared meals!
On Welcome Back Sunday, September 10, we will:
Worship God at 8 and 10 a.m., with special prayers for those cleaning up after Harvey, contending with the ravages of Irma, awaiting the arrival of Katia and Jose', dealing with the aftermath of the Mexican earthquake and fighting the western forest fires;
For starts, here's a prayer from the Rev. James Martin, S.J.:
Creator God, we ask you to calm the wind and the waves of the approaching hurricane,
and spare those in its path from harm.
Help those who are in its way to reach safety.
Open our hearts in generosity to all who need help in the coming days.
In all things and at all times, help us to remember
that even when life seems dark and stormy,
you are in the boat with us, guiding us to safety. Amen.
Our Choir will return to the balcony to help us all set forth God's glory in hymns of praise and to ready our hearts for the Great Thanksgiving with their offertory anthem;
Children's Chapel will gather beginning at 9:30 a.m. in the 2nd & 3rd grade classroom, with Sunday School Director Laurie Varley to craft Peace Mandalas;
Sunday School will meet together at 10 a.m. with this year's lead teachers Becky Patino, Gabriele La Torre, Marybeth Clarke and Richard Marvin, and helpers Stephanie Hutchison and Donna Lafata, before meeting with Music Director Mark Sullivan for their weekly Music Time;
Middle and High School students will meet together this Sunday with Page Pelphrey for the introduction of a new video-prompted conversation about how the Bible and the Church's Tradition speak to the questions that young people raise;
Following the 10 a.m. service, we'll re-gather in the Parish Hall backyard for our now-traditional Welcome Back Picnic featuring the Marketplace's Pulled BBQ Pork sandwiches and cole slaw along with the side dishes and desserts that you share; paper goods and beverages will be provided;
During the picnic, we can catch up with one another, hear about summer adventures, and get further acquainted with our new Seminary-intern Graham Marsh; Graham comes to us from the Diocese of New Jersey, via Princeton Seminary, for a year of Anglican Studies at Yale's Berkeley Divinity School.
Please check the calendar as other fellowship and learning opportunities ramp-up this week:
Bible Study over coffee and tea returns at 9:30 a.m. Thursday morning in the Rectory Dining Room; you don't even have to bring your own Bible to join this wide-ranging conversation prompted by the week's Scriptures and events;
ECW -- our Episcopal Church Women's daytime gatherings will resume with a planning meeting at 11 a.m. on Thursday, September 14, followed by a "carry-in" lunch, and conversation;
Rectory Forum -- will return on Sunday, September 17 at 9 a.m. in the Rectory living room for a review of the summer, and looking ahead to the coming year; and
Tuesday evening's Casserole Conversations will return on September 19 at 6 p.m. More details next week.
Jack-the-dog and I returned from the Cape late Labor Day Monday, (Yes, Jack loves the beach, and all the dogs and people he met there!), and then I left early Tuesday for a Clergy Day at Camp Washington -- which Bishop Douglas calls, "Our Place in Morris.". The topics of the day were in the "important," but neither exciting nor urgent categories. The drive was gorgeous, the company fun, and the food amazingly good. What made the day truly worthwhile, however, was the report of the Rev. Peter Stebinger (not really retired from Christ Church, Bethany), and the witness of the Rev. Susan Davidson, of All Saints', Wolcott:
Peter+ serves as chaplain for the Connecticut Disaster Response Team, and was deployed with them to Texas to set up a field hospital during the worst of Harvey -- which was mind-boggingly awful. He spoke highly of all the good work being done by the American Red Cross and other first responders, but reserved special praise for Episcopal Relief & Development(ERD) which was on the ground and will remain beyond the initial crisis until the work of restoration is done.
Susan+ served a parish in New Orleans during Katrina, and underscored Peter's testimony about ERD's effectiveness and faithfulness. She reported that ERD had only just closed out its New Orleans efforts -- just in time for Harvey.
The demands on Episcopal Relief & Development will continue with the coming disasters. So, please consider a gift to support this important witness to Christ's love and compassion. The latest updates are available here.
May God's love and mystery continue to enfold us all,
We feature various authors from around our parish, commenting on topics of interest to our community. Enjoy! Comment if you are so moved!