The Rector's Blog
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May 30, 2019, 2:18 PM

The World's Deep Hunger


Sometimes I feel as if I live in some kind of bubble.  I am rapidly feeling silenced by more and more outrageous events to which I can only respond with a gaping mouth and a breaking heart.  Gay couples should not have their cars set on fire, or be shot at, by their neighbors.  Refugees and asylum seekers should not be dying in the desert or in custody.  Our country should not be subjected to election interference by Russia or any other nation.  Children should not be shamed at school because their parents did not pay the lunch fees.  Oklahoma should not be drowning, and the Arctic should not be melting.  But all these things are happening, and there is no obvious end in sight. 

I preach about loving God and loving our neighbor because I firmly believe that this is the best way to follow Jesus.  But I also am afraid that  the damage we see around us will not be resolved any time soon, and to resolve it will take much more effort and much more hardship than most of us have any idea is needed, or desire to undertake.  What  then shall we do? 

Let us remember that God is with us, present among us, making Godself known to us in ways that we don’t expect and can’t predict.  How has Jesus, in the forty days since his Resurrection, presented himself alive to us, to you?  God is ready to show us our next steps; can we wait for God to do that?  We live in a world in such deep need, even in our own need—what has God given us that we can offer in this hour?

Frederick Buechner has defined each person’s calling as  “the place where [one’s] deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet. ”

What is your deep gladness?  What world’s hunger does it meet?

 

 




March 28, 2019, 11:41 AM

Away for Easter?


I know many of you will not be in church during Holy Week and/or Easter.  Some will be traveling, others will be spending time with unchurched family members; others maybe will have to work, or are busy, or are tired, or are ill, or even may just be discouraged, or wonder why, if we are saved by grace, this particular commemoration even matters to them.

If you will be traveling, I want to invite you to attend Holy Week and/or Easter services where you are.   Even if it's not an Episcopal Church!  Even if (or especially if) the language is not English!  Steep yourself in the experience of difference.  Pray.  Listen to the music and the silences.  Do a visual survey of who is present.  Watch how the presiders conduct the worship.  Notice what strikes you as new and wondrous or grating.  Write down your reflections; what feelings did the experience evoke?  What did you particularly like?  How did that speak to you?  What was difficult?  Was there an "aha" moment or a moment that made you uncomfortable - how so?

Families - if they don't go to church, ask why.  What pushed them out the door?  What brings you back?  Do you ask about their faith journeys? Do you tell them about yours?

Have we so normalized the Good News in our lives that it no longer excites us?   Or are we "done with church"?  How do we know the difference?  If our Sunday attendance is less regular, is it because we don't feel the need for worshiping together in community?  Is it because worship is boring?  Is it because we get our spiritual sustenance elsewhere, and if so, where and what does that look like?

The questions are important, but the answers - those are the things that will tell us something useful.  The answers tell us we are not immune to the larger cultural context in which we find ourselves.  Until we talk about the answers in community, we will not be able to figure out our common way forward.  If we're going to continue to be church, we'll need to figure out what Christ Church is when worshiping the way we always have, inside our lovely, beloved, historic building, isn't working.

Here's an example:  an adaptation that I must make:  We had only one person sign up to help at the Great Vigil of Easter!  So, after discussing this with Bp Jennifer and Starla, we will hold the service in the Great Hall.  Historical attendance is fairly low; and with suitable decoration, the Great Hall will be a more intimate space for this.  How will we do it?  You'd best come and see!  But there is a whisper about champagne….

Much love and many blessings to you all!




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+


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