The Rector's Blog
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February 28, 2019, 12:00 AM

Busy Busy!


First, I want to thank the members of the Liturgy Committee:  Aaron Lynch, Karen Scroggin, Peggy Hans, and Starla Raley, for their ideas and assistance in planning for our worship services in Lent and Holy Week.   We’ll be issuing a brochure soon with service times.  Please note it's not too late to sign up to assist with the extra services, including Ash Wednesday (March 6).  We need readers for the Passion Gospel on Palm Sunday with the Bishop (April 14, 9 AM).   (Else you may find yourself handed a script when you come to church that morning, whether you signed up or not!)

Then, I would like to thank Starla and the members of the Christ Church Choir, who are working on some outstanding music for Sundays and Wednesdays Evensong in Lent:  Allen Watson, Ann Farnsley, Bert Fitzgerald Camille Fife, Dave Sloan,  Deb Wickham, Lisa Rosenberger, Mike Raley, Tabitha Tolbert, Tammy Moore, and Richard Dickie (and of course, Starla). 

We will have new and familiar mass settings: a Kyrie written by Terry Fullam, which is an oldie-but-goodie that some of you may remember from years past, and a Sanctus to the tune of Land of Rest, and if you know the hymns "I come with joy to meet my Lord," or "Jerusalem my happy home," that's the tune.  We also have new settings for the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis for Evensong, where our musical choices are intended to be meditative and contemplative (and slightly medieval in tone).

Next, my thanks to Allen Watson, Aaron Lynch, and Sarah Vosmeier for leading the class on Race in America., and for all the many people who came - we had amazing turnout for this class!  Don't forget to come this Sunday to hear from the Hanover Students about their trip and their learning. And thank you to everyone who provided an abundance of snack and healthy food for their travels!

If you are interesting in further discussion or learning about the topic of Race in America, there are several options available.  First, Bishop Jennifer is offering a book study ("One Book One Diocese") during Lent, with a web-based discussion of Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God, by The Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas.  For details, see page 7 of the E-Pistle for February 28-March 27.

A second option is a web-based series called Sacred Ground, featuring films, videos, and readings: it's particularly well-suited to small group settings (but is a greater time commitment that our usual Sunday between the services framework).  Find out more here.   Sign up here.  This program is free; just send in your email address and download the material!

Switching gears, we are offering a class on the Historical Jesus for the first five weeks of Lent, around five questions:  who was Jesus (what had been written in and outside of the gospels); where was Jesus (what was it like in Palestine in those years?); when was Jesus (his life before the destruction of the Temple and how the gospels reflected that setting); and why was Jesus seen as the Messiah and how does that reflect the church's interpretation in the present day.  Many thanks to Aaron Lynch for pulling this together!

And, finally, we will be distributing copies of Living Well Through Lent: Practicing Forgiveness with all your Heart, Soul, Strength, and Mind¸ from Living Compass.  In prior years we have used books from this series for Sunday Christian Ed.  If you are interested in a group discussion, using this book we will need to find another time that works for folks.

Much love and many blessings to you all!

Faithfully,  Evelyn+




February 7, 2019, 12:56 PM

Race in America and other items of interest


In my continuing effort to bring to Christ Church the things I learned about at General Convention last summer in Texas, this spring my "main focus" is on race: specifically, race relations, racial reconciliation, the history of racism in America, and such like. 

I find it to be fascinating and disturbing at the same time.  For example, I never knew that before the year 1800, the largest number of immigrants to North America came from Africa, not Europe or other locations!  The fact that most of them came in chains indicates the extent to which our country's very beginnings were based on the exploitation of people of color - not just the indigenous peoples, but also those who were bought or captured thousands of miles away and then brought here and sold, treated under the law as property and not as human beings.

Now we all know that slavery as such ended in the 19th Century, but if we listen, we can still hear the voices of people of color saying that the ending of slavery, and the Civil Rights movement have not resolved the situation as much as might be hoped.  Just because you and I might not see or feel it, there are still echoes of racial animus and barriers in our current time.

So, if you've ever wondered why we hear those voices; if you've ever wondered why people march in the streets whenever another African-American dies during a traffic stop; or if you've ever wondered what we can do about the continuing inequities in earnings, college graduation rates, and incarceration rates, then I invite you to join in to explore these at Christian Ed between the Services, or in your own reading. 

It may be an uncomfortable learning, but I truly believe it is worth it because, at least in some part, it will help us to fulfill our baptismal vow to "respect the dignity of every human being."

~~~~~

On another topic - last year at this time, we were only a couple weeks away from the beginning of Lent - it seemed the whole first quarter of the year was some kind of mad dash through the Christian calendar.  This year, we still have over three weeks until Ash Wednesday!  It feels like a reprieve!  I plan on sending out another E-Pistle at the end of the month to cover Lent, so I won't spend much time on the subject, except to ask you to please sign up for helping out during the months of March - June, including Ash Wednesday (March 6 - 2 services).  Thanks!

Have you had an epiphany?  The word means that you have come to a realization about your life, or about the Church, or about GOD, that is new, or different than what you had thought before.  I've been talking from time to time about God turning things upside down (God does that a lot!).  And it's not just about expanding the Covenant with the Jews to non-Jews.  It's also about our own spiritual understanding about our place not just in the kingdom of God but also in the kingdoms of this earth.  The Gospel is not limited to some kind of heavenly reward for good behavior - it is about the need for making sure that the kingdom of God is known in our lives and lifetimes, on the earth  That's our job.  That's the epiphany we are offered today.

Much love and many blessings to you all!

Faithfully,  Evelyn




January 10, 2019, 1:00 PM

It's a New Year! Lots on the Horizon


Who wants to serve on Vestry?  We only meet once a month!  But in that time, we work hard to address issues and questions and even problems that our whole church community, and even at times our neighborhoods, may be facing and raising.  It's an important job, yet one you may find intriguing, fulfilling, and even fun!  PLUS, you'll be working with great people who love God and our church! 

The qualifications are set forth in our bylaws: you must have been a member for 2 years or more; and most but not all vestry members must be confirmed.  That's it! 

If you have ideas to help make Christ Church even better than it is already, the Vestry is one great place to bring them to fruition!

Meanwhile I cannot express my thanks enough to those who have volunteered to serve on Vestry up till now.  Your dedication, team spirit, and perseverance, and your willingness to think outside the box, help make Christ Church the special place it is, and brighten our common future.

And, here we are. Christmas is behind us, the Wise Men are headed home by "another road," the altar cloths will change back to green in another week (following the celebration of Christ's Baptism this Sunday), and the fuss and flurry of the holidays will quieten.  Now is the perfect time to stop and take a deep breath (yes, yet another one!) and consider the ways in which God is made manifest in our daily lives. 

This year, Epiphany is a long season - we don't enter Lent until March 6 (Ash Wednesday) - so we have time to relax and enjoy God made manifest, not only in the birth of the Christ child, but in the work of Christ - and ourselves - in the world.

As we prepare for our Annual Meeting on February 3, I would also like to ask you to plan on attending our Christian Ed classes that run from February 10 to March 3, 9:10-9:45 AM.  We will be offering a review and discussion opportunity on Race in America - never an easy topic to tackle!  Aaron Lynch and I are designing a program that we hope will be as much reconciling as challenging, and help us all understand better the perspectives of People of Color, and our own assumptions and hopes.

In that vein, I ask you to seriously consider signing up for a workshop on Implicit Bias, being offered by St. Paul's Church, New Albany, on Saturday, February 2.  (For information on this program, see page 6, below.)  You can register online at parishoffice@stpaulna.org, call their church at (812) 944-0413, or just let me know you would like to attend.  The cost is $10/person, and the workshop runs from 9:00 AM to Noon.  Carpooling is recommended.

Finally, you will find on the next page a chart for you to fill out and return to the office by Sunday, February 10.  This chart will help us complete the annual Parochial Report, which now requires data on our ministry and outreach activities.  I know so many of you are involved in important ways to help members of our wider community; let's be sure and share that good news with the Church! 

Much love and many blessings to you all!

Faithfully,  Evelyn+




December 20, 2018, 11:41 AM

Christmas is [Almost] Here!


Christmas is [almost] here!  We've been inundated with commercials and ads for everything from cat socks to Lamborghinis, and with appeals for funds from local, national, and even international organizations.  The seasonal email subscriptions are churning up our inboxes, the greeting cards are flooding into our mailboxes, and the radio is playing non-stop Christmas songs and rehashing the "controversy" over "Baby, It's Cold Outside." 

We also are being assailed by the news - less about Christmas, more about the economy, politics, immigration, hunger, and a looming partial government shutdown.  In other words, the world can get to feeling like everything is spinning out of control, and it all seems really unmanageable and, to say the least, upsetting.

Nonetheless, there are some things we can do, especially at times like these.  I'm calling these "rules" in the sense of a "rule of life," such as has been followed by Christ's disciples since the beginning; guidance for living, guidance for loving, guidance for times of turmoil and times of peace. 

Rule No. 1: BREATHE.  Good.  Now breathe again.  And a third time, and let the air out slooooowwwllllyyyy. 

Rule No. 2: Pray.  This one is what I am using: "Come, Holy Spirit.  I am anxious and stressed and even afraid - at least some of the time. Please help me let this all go, so I can be open to your wisdom.  Thank you."

Rule No. 3: Treat yourself kindly.  Again, my go-to is to stop in at the local chocolatier and buy 2 (and only 2) truffles; one for me, and one for a friend.  What's yours? 

Rule No. 4:  Help someone.  Don't just send money to ER-D or other organization (although they welcome donations, of course), but find a friend and share a cup of coffee, or call up that person you've been meaning to call as soon as you found five minutes for a good long talk.  Or send a letter to your Congressional Representatives.  Once you've breathed, and prayed, and relaxed, then what you need to do to help someone else will come to you.  (That's why you pray for the Holy Spirit to come!) 

This isn't "self-help."  This is living the Christian life.  We are called to live in love, attentiveness, and care.  We are called to care for "the least of these," not to earn our way into heaven, but because God cares for them. 

We are called to love our enemies and pray for those who oppress us - not just for their sakes, but also for our own, lest we become oppressive ourselves. 

We are called to proclaim the Gospel (and as St Francis supposedly said, "when necessary, with words"), not to compel others to Christ from fear, but to invite them into Christ in love.

We are called to forgive "those who trespass against us," not only when they are sorry, but because carrying the burden of anger and resentment is bad for our souls, too.

Rule No. 5:  Remember that God's love for Creation, and for us, is boundless, deep, abiding, and renewing.  It is sufficient for all our needs!

[Read Presiding Bishop Curry's Christmas Message here.]

Much love and many blessings to you all!

Faithfully,  Evelyn+




November 29, 2018, 2:51 PM

Advent Again


The Advent Lectionary is filled with apocalyptic visions this year.  What are we as Episcopalians - who are generally not millennialst - to make of these texts?

We are challenged to place the end-of-the-world warnings in contrast with the promise and hope of renewal and rebirth.  It's enough to make our heads spin a bit! 

"There will be signs."  "Prepare the way of the Lord."  "You brood of vipers!"  "…[He] shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has brought forth…."

We'll be asking the question, are the end times coming?  When will the Lord return?  Are these passages designed to scare us?  To warn us?  To inspire us?  To convict us?  To give us hope?  To give us strength?  To give us a job to do?

What does the future hold?  How can we face hard times?  Will God really rescue us from ourselves?

Despite the tough questions, when you come on Sundays this Advent, you will find a peaceful liturgy.  We've tried to minimize bulletin inserts, and to lean on the texts we all know so well from the Book of Common Prayer - so there won't be new Eucharistic Prayers (though knowing me, you should expect that the future may still hold some of those) or new formats for the Prayers of the People.  The hymns we've selected are well-known to most.  There will be no service music beyond the Trisagion (Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One, Have mercy on us.)  We do have a short liturgy when lighting the Advent candles each week, which we have used in prior years. 

Despite the heavy lifting in the lectionary, I hope to be able to provide some guidance for dealing with evil days. 

We still will have a couple bulletin inserts (we just can't seem to get away from them!):  We'll have one set asking for contributions to assist those affected by hurricanes and fires, and another set focusing on Journeying the Way of Love - and it's all about saying "yes" to God's call to birth new life into the world.  Each week, we are offered practices to open us to the voice of God: worship, conversing, learning, praying, blessing, reflecting, and resting.  I would encourage you to take these home with you and use them well!  All these offerings are designed to provide you with hope and strength, and a deeper relationship with our God.

We don't often think about it in this way, but we are constantly living on the edge - we all know that life - and our lives - can change in an instant, even if it doesn't!   Building up our spiritual resources is one of the best ways to ensure that when it does, we will find a way.

Now, if you've gotten this far down in this post, I want to encourage you to come to St Cecilia on Friday (November 30, 7:30 p.m.).   We have some amazing music, some wonderful poetry, and some incredible art - this really is a not-to-be-missed occasion.  And it's our FIFTH annual St. Cecilia Festival!  Every year it's better! 

Much love and many blessings to you all!

 


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