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,
April 5, 2019
We will gather on Saturday, April 6 at 11a.m., to give thanks to God for the life of George Richard Whitney, and to commend him to God's mercy and love. Richard is the "55 year-old man" who died on the train tracks in Guilford on Monday. This is another death for the Whitney family, following those of his parents Georgia & Dick Whitney in August and February. Our prayers and support for Richard's siblings, Amy, Jim, Bill and David, and the extended Whitney clan, will be appreciated.
In the service of Tenebrae, we take seriously the darkness gathering around Jesus and his proclamation of God's Kingdom. However, we do so in a meditative and poetic way, through song and chant, readings and prayers. Unlike Advent, when we light candles against the darkness, during Tenebrae, candles are extinguished in recognition that darkness is overtaking the light of Christ -- at least temporarily.
Because this service is typically led for us by our middle and high school youth, and Guilford Schools' Spring Break coincides with Holy Week this year, our annual Tenebrae service will be on Wednesday, April 10, at 7p.m.
She's done it again! Parishioner, Lector and Vestry Member Juliana Harris has written another book! Julie will talk about her new book at the ECW's General Meeting and Carry-In Lunch this Thursday, beginning at 11a.m.
Continued thanks for being Helping-Hands-for-Haiti! Additional donations for St. Luke's School & Church in Martel, arrived with last Sunday's offering. Thanks to all who have responded to our Sunday School's effort 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.
This 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 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.
Shane Claiborne and Michael Martin are leaders of this Beating Guns movement; they have written a book by that name which they've subtitled, Hope for People Who are Weary of Violence. They will speak at Sunday's event, and demonstrate beating guns into garden tools. Participants will be able to try their own hands at the forge!
But first, we will care for the Whitney family and one another, offer Sunday's worship, discuss "Blessings" as part of "The Way of Love," the Sunday School will prepare for Palm Sunday, InReach will meet, and Newcomers will gather for a welcoming brunch in the Rectory.
In faith, hope, and love,
We feature various authors from around our parish, commenting on topics of interest to our community. Enjoy! Comment if you are so moved!