The Rector's Blog
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January 1, 2020, 3:00 PM

January 2020 -



I don’t know about you, but after all the things, stretching from St Cecilia right through Christmas and beyond, I think there are very few things I would rather do than just collapse for a couple weeks!  Who’s with me on that?  AND there is flu, so I hope you have all had your shots that can, and get rested and drink lots of fluids so we can all be ready to tackle the New Year with optimism and excitement!

We had a great turnout on Christmas Eve, and on Christmas morning as well.  We sang all our favorite hymns, including more on Sunday the 29th.  We get our last chance for Christmas carols on January 5.

On Christmas morning, we found a gift at the front door of the church, all wrapped up in brown paper, with no label and no name: but this unassuming package contained a beautiful icon of St Martin de Porres (Peru).  Martin (1579-1639) was the child of a freed slave woman who may have been Indigenous and/or African and a Spanish ‘gentleman.’ Abandoned by their father, Martin and his sister were raised by their mother in poverty. He early developed the habit of daily prayer and aspired to become a Dominican monk, but the church would not permit persons of mixed race to be monks.  He worked in an abbey for decades, cleaning and serving as a volunteer.  He learned barber/surgical skills and used them to help the sick.  Eventually, one of the abbots permitted him to profess as a Third Order Dominican — a move not sanctioned by law, and decried by some of the other monks.  Yet he continued to serve and to pray.  He is the patron saint of barber-surgeons, public health workers, innkeepers, and people of mixed race.

I am deeply moved by this gift, and I dare to hope it was occasioned by a sense that Christ Church, with our practices of hospitality and the many ministries and community groups we support, is in some way living out the call that Martin of Porres exemplified, that our light is shining in our community, and that we God’s grace here is being felt by those around us. 

God is good, my friends, God is good.  Let us give thanks!

 




November 8, 2019, 9:00 AM

Rector's Pledge Letter



 

“You are the light of the world!
You are the light of the world!
But if that light is under a bushel,
It's lost something kind of crucial
You've got to stay bright to be the light of the world.”
                                                — Godspell

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

 These words, adapted from Matthew 5:14, remind us in a fun way that, although our light may be shining, “something kind of crucial” is lost if we don’t bring the light we have out into the world, for all to see, for the glory of our generous God and the building of the kingdom.

 This past year, I have seen that light demonstrated joyfully in our own parish: in our worship, learning programs, care for our facilities, and in our service to the wider community.

 You know the stories as well as I: new ministries, such as the Ladies Lunch Bunch Fun-Raisers and the Prayer Quilts, have taken root, while others, such as the St Cecilia Festival and the Annual Blessing of the Animals, have continued to grow to involve more members of our larger community, such that we not only offer grace and hospitality, we also receive it. The active roles you take on in the liturgy, the caring you bring to one another, the prayers we offer, and the blessings we share are all signs of the love of God let loose in our lives!

 I am, quite simply, overjoyed at the generosity of the people of Christ Church, because when we

bring our light out into the world, we express our gratitude, confidence, and willingness to take risks as agents of Jesus remaking the world. In making our light visible, we keep our salt flavorful, as Jesus puts it in these words from
The Message:

 “Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill.”

 Indeed, our work, our prayers and our giving are all about making God’s flavors, colors, and love visible and available to all in our lives. And they are about our willingness to accept the challenge to stretch and grow, into our individual purpose, and into the mission of our church.

 I ask all of you to reflect on the gifts you have received, and to consider how God is calling you to risk “flavoring” the world with your time, talents and treasure. I pray that we will join together to give abundantly to bring light into our lives and the world around us. 

Faithfully,

      Evelyn+

 




October 1, 2019, 12:00 AM

The Holy Spirit and Sacred Renewal


Like St. Paul, I find myself beginning more and more of my writing with thanks for the work that God is doing in our midst, and for the faithful witness that you are providing in our church, in our neighborhoods and in the world. You bring many gifts, and more importantly, you bring your hearts to this journey we walk together.

I am thrilled to see new people coming, as well. Let’s not keep it a secret, what brings us here: it is the friendship and welcome, as much as it is the liturgy, that encourages and enheartens all of us. It is the love of God that we share with one another, through Word and in Sacrament, in coffee and song, in caring and sharing and holding in prayer. It is in our patience and tolerance and trust with and in each other as we work through the challenges life throws our way.

Thank you for all this. Thank you for allowing the Holy Spirit to work here at Christ Church!

As we wind up our sermon series on the Baptismal Vows, we can see how closely linked they are to the Gospel. But did you know that most of the prayers, including the Eucharistic Prayers, are sourced in the Bible? If there is one good reason to amend the Book of Common Prayer, it will be to start listing the Scriptural references that lie hidden now. But there is another place we can look to see God’s Word and Work: in the World. Jesus himself points the way:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” (Mt 6:25-26)

And he’s not the only one: See Psalm 104, Job 12:7-10, and Wisdom 11:24-12:1, just for starters. 

Many find spiritual renewal more easily in nature than in church. Spending time outdoors is good for the body and good for the soul. After all, we, too, are of the earth, which God created for the joy and “good” of it.

 




August 29, 2019, 2:33 PM

Computers and other Glitches


Thank you, I had a brilliant vacation!  HOWEVER, once I got back I discovered that my google account has been hacked, and oh my, have I been struggling to update things and get squared away properly. It’s still an uphill battle. I know I didn’t log in from Moscow, Russia, so that’s a big clue right there!  Fortunately by Wednesday afternoon, all is cleared out, but now I have to put new passwords on all my accounts. 

While I was stressing about this, I attended the latest meeting of local clergy (The “Greater Madison Ministerial Association”) and asked their prayers (we all have prayer requests to pass along), and while we were in prayer, I felt that all would be well. I can’t explain it, but after that, my stress levels dropped, and I was able to just get on with the work that needed doing.

Prayer is a funny thing: we never really know what’s likely to happen in those moments when we offer something up to God, or in the time that follows. Sometimes we get what feels like an answer; other times, nothing seems to come through at all. Is it silence, or are we deaf? Is it God, or is it wishful thinking?

The best clue I can offer is this: if it brings peace, if it brings joy or release or love, then it’s likely from God, but if not, then not.  But we all know that Jesus wasn’t all sweetness and light, and the prophets make it pretty clear that God has frequently sent hard words to the people, so sometimes the Word of God is unwelcome and uncomfortable. That said, I think it’s safe to say that God will never tell us we are unlovable or unloved. God’s love never ceases; beyond that, we must remain open to hear all the words, and weigh them in our hearts, in our prayers and in our actions.

 




August 1, 2019, 12:00 AM

Keeping Sabbath


I’ve been reading a book by a friend of mine that I found at Village Lights.  It’s called Mudhouse Sabbath: An Invitation to a Life of Spiritual Discipline, by Lauren Winner.  Lauren converted from Judaism, and remembers many of the rituals of Jewish life as formative of her life as a Christian as well. 

In the book of Exodus, God tells the people to remember the Sabbath, but in Deuteronomy, God says to observe the Sabbath.  Lauren writes that “one story the rabbis tell about the difference … has to do with ordering time.”  So on Sunday-Tuesday, one remembers the previous Sabbath, and on Wednesday-Friday one prepares for the next.  She says that we know from Paul, that observing Jewish customs and rituals is not required for salvation, but setting aside some particular time as holy/sacred when no work is to be done can still be a powerful spiritual discipline, because, as the rabbi Moishe Konigsberg says, “when we cease interfering in the world we are acknowledging that it is God’s world.”  (emphasis added)

For Christians, of course Sabbath is not just about rest, but also about Resurrection.  It is about renewal as well as refreshment.  It is about starting over, and not just taking a breather. It is about dying, and then rising to new life.  And it is, just as with Judaism, a time to acknowledge that it is God’s world, and our lives are God’s, and our choices are important, and our decisions matter, and our attention should be drawn to things eternal, to things outside ourselves, to God’s desires, to the needs of others, and to all the things that are not just about us/ourselves.

Sometimes it is a good thing to simply stop doing, and to focus on being

 


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