A Meditation

June 17, 2021

So I know we have ended the daily meditations but this act of kindness was just too wonderful to go unnoticed.

My husband, David, our dog, Sherlock, and I were heading off island to visit a friend in Maine we have not seen in over a year.

We could not take our car due to the hacking debacle with the ferries.

We also had to take a 40×50 wooden crate to a friend who was meeting us in Woods Hole.

A longtime friend, who knows we never do anything easy, gave us a ride to the boat and helped us get the crate to the luggage cart and then get our 3 bags.

We settled into the boat ride trying to figure out how to get all our items to the terminal when we arrived…

When we got to the luggage cart we got the bags off and David and I struggled to get the crate off the cart. It was clear Sherlock was going to be no help….

Then the husband of a young couple with 2 children asked if he could help. Which left me with Sherlock and 3 bags, till he got back. Then the mother asked, “Do you want some help?” She had her own hands full with luggage and children, but she had one of her daughters pull one bag and she pulled one. That left Sherlock pulling me and the last bag. Sherlock has one speed, full steam ahead.

I thanked them profusely and had no idea if they were trying to make a bus or where they might be going.  But it left me with such a wonderful feeling that they were willing to help us. A couple with an energetic dog who clearly overestimated their abilities of what they could or should carry!

So I spent the rest of last weekend reciprocating, with small acts of kindness whenever I could. It is so easy and doesn’t take long and makes people feel so grateful, especially me!

As summer approaches, we are already feeling harried and annoyed, and it’s only June. Take a minute and let that car go through the intersection, or help someone struggling with a bag or directions.

Take a deep breath and enjoy.

“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you….”

Mathew 7:12

With love,

Palmer Marrin

Our Daily Meditations during the Pandemic 2020-2021

May 27, 2021

Can it really be, 12 months of weekly meditations?

As much as this has been a personal journey in writing, it has also been a discovery of other writings and faith. Looking a little deeper into all faiths, people and God. And a debt of gratitude to Heather Anne for cleaning up my writing blunders.

I love the structure of this practice. I have loved the small groups and Zoom that have also led to connectedness and knowing people more deeply. It takes commitment and time to meet with someone to get to know them better; coffee, tea, lunch or dinner. So the virtual world enabled me to know more people and know them better, but I long to see them in person, without a mask.

So what do I look forward to most when we are finally together again?

Personal touch, even just squeezing an arm; I would rather hug than shake a hand.

Seeing people smile.  As much as we try to smile at each other with our eyes, it is not the same.  I want to see their smiling face.

Continuing with small groups but in person, because this is how we discover each other more deeply regardless of our differences. We need to know that we are all children of God and can exist working together. Different points of view are the spice of life. We need to break out of our stanchions to see there is a middle ground; it is what keeps us balanced.

Being back in God’s house.

I admit I have been a bit casual on Sundays which have become Mondays, or sometimes I miss the YouTube service one Sunday and end up watching two services in a row the following week. YouTube gives me an excuse to miss a service.  I look forward to the commitment and routine of in-person worship.

Sitting in Church allows for contemplation and no distractions, such as my dog Sherlock, wanting in and out! He will now have his own contemplation time while we have ours.

I am an 8 o’clock service person, but will have to drop into the 10 o’clock, as I want to see everyone and hear the music!

So I must now try harder to keep connected, in person.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

I Peter 2:9

With love,

Palmer Marrin

May 21, 2021

GREAT NEWS!  We Can Now Break Bread TOGETHER!

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

WE HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS DAY FOR MORE THAN A YEAR! 

OUR BELOVED CHURCH WILL BE OPEN AGAIN FOR (GOD’S) BUSINESS ON SUNDAY, MAY 30, FOR OUR USUAL 8:00 AND 10:00 AM SERVICES.

Please join us as you are able and comfortable to do so.

SECOND, OUR PENTECOST CELEBRATION WILL TAKE PLACE THIS SUNDAY, MAY 23 AT 5:00 PM AT THE TABERNACLE IN OAK BLUFFS!

PLEASE join us, wear red, and bring your family and friends!

Finally, our last “Zoom” Coffee and Chat Hour will take place THIS SUNDAY at 10:00 am—hope to see all your bright shiny faces!

I always thank God for you!

Faithfully yours,

Chip+

PS:  Our final, weekly pre-recorded worship will be up and running this Sunday, so check out the sweet and invigorating Pentecost Day message!

May 20, 2021

Highlights in Readings:

From Forward Day by Day: Monday May 17, 2021)

“The world we live in is a sea, and our humanity crests and crashes within it. God does not give us the power to control everything in our lives but rather stillness and calm to aid us when we encounter the unpredictable and uncontrollable.”

Thurgood Marshall

You rule the raging of the sea and still the surging of its waves.

Psalm 89:9

 From Richard Rohr’s Meditation: May 17, 2021

“The sad truth of the matter is that most evil is done by people who never made up their minds to be or do either evil or good.” 

Hannah Arendt The Life of the Mind, vol.1: Thinking

From Richard Rohr’s Meditation: May 18, 2021

“I love people so terribly, because in every human being I love something of You [God]. . . .” 

Etty Hillesum  An Interrupted Life: The Diaries, 1941-1943

With Love

Palmer Marrin

May 17, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector:  “Spiritual but not Religious” 

I really haven’t been keeping up with the new names that get ascribed to those who refer to themselves as “Spiritual but Not Religious,” but one name that has been used for some time now is the term, “Nones.”

(I think that’s sort of funny, since if you and I were sitting together and I told you that someone we both knew considered herself a “None,” that would actually sound like I was describing a “Nun”—a VERY religious person!)

Anyway, I think most folks seem to know now that the number of “Nones” is increasing, at least according to research and polls and data, and the number of those of us who attend church ‘regularly’ (or even us Christmas-and-Easter folk), is on the wane.  (In case you’re wondering about the term, “Nones,” I think it comes from those forms we’ve all had to fill out (like on censuses, or at hospitals, you name it), that ask us to give them our “Religious Affiliation.”  The last box allows for the option, “None.”)

Now we’ve heard all sorts of rejoinders to that (“There aren’t any atheists in foxholes” comes to mind), but I think most all of us can at least agree that we, as human animals, come with a certain mental framework that NATURALLY INCLUDES something very amazing, very interesting, and potentially VERY POWERFUL: 

We are spiritual beings!  And we are curious about that!  And when we allow ourselves to “go there,” we realize just how HUNGRY we are in that whole area.  Hungry for spiritual nourishment, and thirsty for, well, the ‘waters of life.’

The other day I came across a little tidbit from a small book on my shelf called Questions on the Way:  A Catechism Based on the Book of Common Prayer (rev 2006),  which kinda sorta picks up where our Prayer Book Catechism leaves off (once again I recommend y’all check out pages 845—862 in our BCP to find what I half-jokingly refer to as the “Answer Key” to all our questions about God and Us). 

To pick up the thread I began in my last meditation (Friday, May 14), once we make the first choice that “there IS a God,”  the whole game changes.  And the first lines in that book talk about the things I myself might say to someone who considers themselves a “None” (which, by the way, could include not only an atheist, but an agnostic—feel free to Google that last term to zero in on the true meaning).

Think about how you think about these questions:

Q:  Do we need faith to live by?

“A:  Yes. Life requires us to make decisions, and faith enables us to decide.  We all believe something, and we all depend on implicit assumptions—our senses, our reason, the tools we use, science, the state, a world spirit, God.  When we make these implicit assumptions explicit to our consciousness and act upon them we have “faith.”  Religion is faith with its influence on our thoughts and actions.

“Q:  Granted that there are many faiths, does it matter what we believe?

“A:  Yes, because what we believe determines who we are, what we do, and the purpose for which we live.”  

Think of it:  “What we believe determines who we are…”

I think I’d rather be a Nun than a None.

Faithfully yours,

Father Chip+  

May 14, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector

I wrote these words yesterday (Thursday), and I just have to say my spirit is EXULTANT!  I’ve got the doors and windows to my office and the church open, the sun is warm and bright, and the banging of the carpenter’s hammers across the street, the sound of lawn mowers, and the constant chatter of bird-speak unite in a cacophony of joyous, springtime music. 

Simply sublime, sweet grace!

+             +             +

Where might we ‘put’ this feeling of ‘grace’, or the idea of things ‘given’ us by God?  Is there really anything to that notion of love for us by our God?

Maybe if we are talking to a perfect stranger about how ‘beautiful’ the weather is, we might simply say, in answer to that question, “who knows?”  (To be honest, that would be a truthful response!)

But if we are together with others who call themselves Christians, things are different.  Somehow our hearts, our spirits, KNOW, even if it’s a different sense of ‘knowledge’ than scientific data or logical proofs. 

And why wouldn’t we at least WONDER why we seem to KNOW that?

+             +             +

Always, at some point, we just need to ‘go with it,’ no matter what decision needs to be made.

The idea of living in GOD’S world might be an important one to set apart and concentrate on. 

And as I’ve said, over and over (and, honestly, over and over and over!), once we make that choice, that decision to ‘roll with it’ (God!)…

EVERYTHING FOLLOWS FROM THAT ONE, SEEMINGLY SIMPLE, PERHAPS AMBIGUOUS, PREMISE.

Everything IN our life, everything ABOUT our life, and even…

Our VERY LIVES.

For we are new creations in Christ.

May we experience the exhilaration and JOY that comes with our knowledge of that.

And see each other, and our God, as God sees us.

In faithful fascination,

Father Chip+

PS:  Stay tuned—we’re trying to get the church open for worship SOON!  

May 13, 2021

Each week something comes to mind that I share with you.  This week Father Chip sent me a note that today is Ascension Day.  Would I want to write about it or not?  Well, it would have just slid right by had I not gotten his note.

I know what Ascension Day is and have studied enough art history to have seen it depicted by many famous Italian artists. But did I really know why and when until today? I am not a cradle Episcopalian, so it has not been ingrained in me.  Does that make me an ignorant Episcopalian?  Perhaps. But I would like to think of it as perhaps having been a non-inquisitive Episcopalian that has now become inquisitive. St. Andrew’s has ignited that fire/desire for deeper understanding.

So here is what I discovered.

Ascension Day is celebrated on the 40th Day after Easter Day and commemorates Jesus’s ascension into heaven before his apostles.  It is meaningful to Christians as it signifies the end of his work here on Earth.

So, what did he do for those 40 days?

According to the New Testament, he appeared and preached to his disciples to instruct them how to carry out his teachings. He then guided them to the Mount of Olives, where they watched him as he ascended to heaven.

So now that I have the sequence of events, I will never forget Ascension Day.

Should Christ have come back again, or perhaps just never left us?  I think not. As much as we love to have a teacher to rely on, we will never grow or explore unless we are on our own.

Do we need to remember his teachings?  Always.

What we are left to do now is to share the good works of the Lord, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Respectfully,

Palmer Marrin

May 12, 2021

“But God is the Judge; he puts down one and exalts another.”  (Psalm 75:7 (KJV))

Have we made God a god of polarity?  Someone who would judge us based on our notions of good and evil?  What if his judgment is simply the love and healing of telling us the truth?

“Putting down one”… maybe, it’s correcting our thoughts, words and deeds that are in error.  Actions that harm us or others, that create separation from God and his desire for us.  Aren’t his commandments a loving guide to keep us healthy, happy and whole?  Our souls unencumbered?  “Exalting”… well, maybe it’s God’s acknowledgment, or reinforcement of a choice we made to live righteously.

As I think about what we’re experiencing in the world, and the days to come, I think about God’s judgment and reflect on memories from my childhood.  The times when my mother complimented me when I did something selfless.  On several occasions, I recall my face flushing with embarrassment because when I acted, I was not aware of myself as a being separate from God.  I remember feeling pure love and feeling more than just a little exposed that she was a witness to my time in spirit.  In her acknowledgment of my behavior, she gave me an identity, and I remember becoming aware of myself, my human form.  Now, did my mother interrupt a moment with spirit, a moment with God?  Yes.  It may be my love for her, but I think she was in spirit, exercising God’s judgment by helping me know when I am walking with Christ.  As I became older, like most people, I often overlayed my actions with evaluations of good or bad.  Looking for emotional gratification.  I now know, remember, the very act of judging myself as good or bad blocks my connection with spirit, my ability to be selfless.  Lately, I’m humbly reminded that in the great I AM, good and evil, as we’ve cast it, cannot exist.  There is only the way, the truth and the life.

During this time of rapid change, when the line between our common understanding of what is good and bad is blurry at best, how do you experience/perceive God’s judgment?  Is it something active, something you experience in daily life?  Do you believe his judgment is based on our common understanding of good and evil?  Is it something we should fear?  Do you think God reserves judgment until it’s our time to transition into larger life?  Perhaps your understanding is a hybrid: judgment now and later?

Whatever your spiritual understanding, I hope and pray it keeps you in his love and in union with Christ. 

In faith,

Andrea Bolling   

May 10, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector:  The Purpose of Religion

In recent weeks, our Sunday texts have drawn from the Gospel of John, and have focused on the concept of staying connected with God, like the smaller branches on a much larger vine. Some thoughts from Richard Rohr’s small book, “Just This” (2017):

“The access point to deeper spiritual wisdom is consciously, trustfully, and lovingly remaining on “the Vine” (see John 15:1), which means remaining connected to your Ultimate Source.  You too are both human and divine, as Jesus came to reveal and model for us.  To hold these two seemingly contraries together is to be ‘saved.’  Yes, you are fully human, but you are also one with God.  Even your body and God are “One Spirit,” as Paul says so daringly.

.               .               .

“Your True Self is who you objectively are from the moment of your creation in the mind and heart of God, “the face you had before you were born,” as the Zen masters put it.  It’s who you were before you did anything right or anything wrong, or made any decisions for good or ill.  It is your Substantial Self, your Absolute Identity, your Anchored Self, which can neither be gained nor lost by any technique, group affiliation, morality, or formula whatsoever.

“The only and single purpose of religion is to lead you to a regular experience of this True Self.  Every sacrament, every Bible, every church service, every song, every bit of ministry or ceremony or liturgy is for on purpose:  to allow you to experience your True Self—who you are in God and who God is in you (see John 14-17).  If it fails to do this, it is junk religion.

“Only healthy and mature religion is prepared to point you beyond the merely psychological self to the cosmic, universal, and God Self.  Only great religion is prepared to realign, re-heal, reconnect, and reposition you inside the family of all things.  That is why I cannot give up on religion, as unhealthy as it often is.  It is still the full conveyor belt that includes all stages and can even forgive and include the mistakes of every stage.”  

In Christ,

Father Chip+

May 6, 2021

During Covid, we all became obsessive in something (and still are in some instances). Some of us watched many series on TV and Netflix – some historical, some fictional- with sprinklings of comedy, which we all needed.

But as of late, when reflecting on the fictional programs, I see that most were laced with dark and violent segments. Why do they think violence and darkness is a necessity in selling a program?  Is it the same reason people rubberneck on a highway after an accident, hoping to get a glimpse of disaster?

We have all been drawn into so much violence and death, that we need a few good news stories:  people who look after people in neighborhoods, people who step up to the plate to aid someone. Perhaps if we saw more of this in the news or on programs people might remember that that is the way children of God are supposed to act. With love, kindness and respect, whether you are a politician, a law officer or just a plain old citizen!

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:21

Respectfully,

Palmer Marrin


May 5, 2021

India: funeral pyres…… bodies of people who died from an aggressive wave of COVID 19.  As deaths in India escalate, and I watch images on news channels, my mind flashes to images of 2020 “hotspots” in America.  New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta and yes, parts of Massachusetts. Cities, towns grossly impacted with higher rates of COVID deaths as a result of the sheer density of living and working conditions in areas of poverty.

Delhi, Pune, and Mumbai: Are residents to blame for current conditions?  I think not.  Like plagues of the past, there is a correlation between class and the likelihood of contracting and dying from the disease.  The wealthy can escape cities, more densely populated regions.  They can afford black market oxygen tanks if a loved one falls ill.

God bless our government that we sent resources to domestic “hot spots”; the places resources were needed. To my knowledge, there was no delay sending support once the severity and potential scope of the disease was acknowledged. In fact, people came together, provided resources, to make sure fellow citizens received what they needed. Celebrities, sports figures, the government rallied to get oxygen, PPE, food etc. to affected communities.  It is very American, and it’s one of the things I love about this country. I pray the Indian government and the international community will do the same for affected areas in their nation.

India is not our neighbor geographically but, it is a sister nation in spirit.  It is a nation that strives to live by democratic principles and advocates international peace.  It is also a nation steeped in bureaucracy and deep divisions in class. Fertile ground for COVID devastation.

On Friday May 7th @ 10:00 am, please take a few minutes and Let your heart and spirit lead your words. Pray for India. 

In Faith, Andrea Bolling

May 3, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector

In yesterday’s (Sunday, May 2) Gospel reading, Jesus told his disciples that, unless they abided in him, they would bear no fruit and wither and die.

This from CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity:

“God has designed the human machine to run on Himself.  He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on.  There is no other.  That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy without bothering about religion.  God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there.  There is no such thing.”

Faithfully yours, in Christ,

Father Chip+

April 30, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector:  Our Work as Church

This is my final meditation in a series in which I’ve offered short excerpts (and some personal thoughts) from Bishop Steven Charleston’s 2014 book, “Good News:  A Scriptural Path to Reconciliation.”  I believe, as do some other parishioners working together as part of a “Reconciliation Team,”  that there are some important insights in this book that might benefit all of us as we go about working to remain united as a community of faith, Christ’s body in this world, as well as suggesting ways we may choose to be healers and unifiers in—and perhaps even of—society.

Continuing from the Introduction:

“We are not alone in having suffered.  Around the world today, billions of people live with the daily threat of sectarian violence, prejudice, hatred, and a seemingly endless cycle of human pain.  Like us, they are heirs to a long history of conflict.  If they see the Christian family tear itself apart, what hope do we give them?  fi they hear calls to join this faction or the other in order to be right, what example do we set for them?  And if, in the end, our church becomes just another casualty in the long, sad story of religious intolerance, what faith have we shared with them?

“As people of God, we are people of a deep spiritual contradiction.  We are ‘of the world,’ but we are also ‘not of the world.’  Basically, we are very much a part of our time, place, and history, but we also embody an alternative to business as usual in history.  We can, if we choose, operate out of a different context.  That context is the gospel. It is a sense of community that is grounded, not in our always agreeing with one another, not in our always trying to win every issue, but rather in our love for one another.  This option is the way of Jesus.  It is the path to reconciliation. 

At the end of his Introduction, Bishop Charleston sets forth a simple process for reconciliation he calls “The Path to Peace”, based on four Gospel principles:

  • We can find common ground in Christ Jesus.
  • We can search for truth together.
  • We can live in peace with one another.
  • We can learn to be a community.

[My question for you today:   Charleston writes that ‘we can learn to be community.’  How do you feel about that assertion?]   

May we all share the in the great joys of our common Resurrection life,

Father Chip+  

April 29, 2021

While we are on the reconciliation topic, there was a wonderful piece in Forward Day by Day on April 14th.

It was during the height of a conflict in the Anglican Communion a few years back, and there was a church meeting with people from around the world.  While at a bus stop, two men struck up a friendly conversation, despite the fact that the national church of one of the men was in public conflict with the church of the other. 

At one point one man asked the other, “Is it difficult to be at a meeting like this among people with whom you disagree on important issues?”

His answer was unexpected. “We are Anglicans, a global family. When you have a family disagreement, you cannot cut off your own blood. You love them. Our love is deeper that our conflict.”

How right is that statement. Love conquers all. Love thy neighbor, love thy enemy.

There is no room for hate in God’s house.

The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one.

John 17:22

Palmer Marrin

April 28, 2021

ISAIAH 28:17-18 NKJV (God’s creation of a firm foundation for humankind)

I will make justice the measuring line. And righteousness the plummet; The hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies. And the waters will overflow the hiding place.  Your covenant with death will be annulled.

The verdict: retributive justice yes, healing……?  As I waited to hear the verdict in the Chauvin case I prayed for right action and peaceful public response.  Like many people who watched, I hoped and prayed the jury would do the right thing.  When they announced the verdict, in my mind I said, yes, this is the right thing, but, in my heart, I knew it was not enough.  When Mr. Chauvin left the courtroom after sentencing, my eyes filled with tears. I found myself praying for him.  It was as if two souls were lost, George Floyd and Derek Chauvin.  As I became aware of my response I was surprised and questioned my understanding of what happened and what was at stake. After all, with past incidents of racial misconduct and the killing of George Floyd, Derek Chauvin epitomized police brutality and systemic racism.  With the help of a few deep breaths, I realized I was perceiving the verdict and Mr. Chauvin from a deep concern about the soul.  His soul, the soul of Black people, and the soul of the nation. 

Today, still thinking about the verdict, I asked spirit to show me what reconciliation would look like, true healing.  During my morning contemplation I turned the page in my bible and found a chart in the book of psalms that describes the journey to forgiveness.  The process: recognition of sin, confession of sin, receiving forgiveness. The result:  joy and relief.

In so many instances of racial wrongdoing, the sin is rarely acknowledged by the perpetrator and confession, well….you know the rest.  So, we were blessed with a judge and jury that did their jobs and attended to retributive justice and the need for punishment, but the stuff of healing – atonement and restorative justice that comes with confession – hasn’t happened. 

Acknowledgment of wrongdoing is a righteous act. It allows us to dissect a transgression and take the power away from the forces that created it. Within 24 hours of the verdict there were six cases of police shootings.  Five of the six were people of color. The wound is still open; each incident is salt added, pain felt.

I long for the day when we decide not to live in our humanity.  To see each other through the eyes of Christ.  Until then, restorative justice……racial reconciliation is what will heal our hearts, what our souls yearn for.   

PRAYER: Dear God, guide us in our need for true honor and relief from the pain we have created in our perceived separation from you. Forgive us, our ignorance, for not embracing your cornerstone (Jesus). Please, bless us with your grace and mercy.  Amen

Always in Faith and Love, Andrea Bolling

April 26. 2021

A Meditation from the Rector:  Our Work as Church 

For my next two meditations, I’ll continue to offer short excerpts (and some personal thoughts) from Bishop Steven Charleston’s 2014 book, “Good News:  A Scriptural Path to Reconciliation.”  I believe, as do some other parishioners working together as part of a “Reconciliation Team,”  that there are some important insights in this book that might benefit all of us as we go about working to remain united as a community of faith, Christ’s body in this world, as well as suggesting ways we may choose to be healers and unifiers in—and perhaps even of—society.

Continuing from the Introduction:

“To show the world they were right and pure, countless Christians have followed the strategy of separation.  Rather than taking the risk that Christ took, they settled for the safe bunker of conformity.  Rather than accept the reality of conflict, they made conflict even more real by institutionalizing it. 

“Is separation from one another, the vilification of one another, the best we can do as Christians when we disagree?  Is that the only option we show the world when we confront conflict? 

“No, we can do better than that.  The Jesus option is still there.  It is always available to us, if only we have the faith and courage to use it, not to do as the world expects us, but to do what God expects of us. 

“In the gospel, Jesus told us that there would be times of great turmoil, dissension, and even persecution.  During those times, he warned us of the temptation to retreat to an exclusive community where things seemed safe.  He encouraged us not to take that easy path but to hold fast to the kind of love he showed us.  He called us to remain faithful to being community, in love, with one another.  He told us to rely on the Holy Spirit and never be discouraged.

“What will the world see if we truly follow the example of Christ?  What will the world think of us?  

[My question for you today:  Do you believe that if the church community took more seriously our call to confront conflict, we might learn and grow, as individuals and as a body?  If so, does that frighten or excite you?]  

May we all share the in the great joys of our common Resurrection life,

Father Chip+  

April 23, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector:  Our Work as Church 

For my next three meditations, I’ll continue to offer short excerpts (and some personal thoughts) from Bishop Steven Charleston’s 2014 book, “Good News:  A Scriptural Path to Reconciliation.”  I believe, as do some other parishioners working together as part of a “Reconciliation Team,”  that there are some important insights in this book that might benefit all of us as we go about working to remain united as a community of faith, Christ’s body in this world, as well as suggesting ways we may choose to be healers and unifiers in—and perhaps even of—society.

Continuing from the Introduction:

“If we strive to fulfill the commandment to love one another as [Jesus] loved us, then we must accept the fact that separating from one another, condemning one another, or hurting one another is not an option for us.  No matter how painful the disagreements may be, we must remain in relationship. 

“And if we remain together, what witness will we make to the world?”

[My question for you today:  In what ways do we find ourselves ‘separating’ from one another?  Are we aware of our critical judgments, large or small, we make of others?  Would it be helpful to reflect more frequently on how each of us may be separating from others?]

May we all share the in the great joys of our common Resurrection life,

Father Chip+  

April 22, 2021

During Lent I wrote a note to a friend of long ago asking for forgiveness. I had not been kind and it sat like a burr under my saddle.

To my surprise I got an answer back. Thanking me for my gracious note and acknowledging how hard it must have been to write it. She was sorry that I had carried that guilt for so many years. She had let it go long ago and didn’t really remember anything specific about it, believing it was better to make room for the good. She forgave me and said she hoped that she was forgiven for any wrongs she had done to others.

She ended saying;

“We are all just trying to make our way through a, sometimes, difficult life.”

How true these words are!

So do I feel better? Yes. Should I have written the note sooner or perhaps been kinder then? Yes.

It is easy to say you are sorry, or to ask for forgiveness.  Even if it is not accepted, at least you have acknowledged that you have done wrong.

“The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one;

and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’

The second is this,

‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

There is no other greater commandment greater than these.”

Mark 29-31

Palmer Marrin

April 21, 2021

Questions

PSALM 88:12 NKJV

Shall Your wonders be known in the dark and Your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?

               Is righteousness might? A power filled force?

               Can it be truth so clear, that it leaves us speechless?

               Is it comforting, like a gentle breeze or a soft blanket?

               Perhaps, righteousness is subtle, like the presence of spirit?

I guess, what I’m asking is, will we know when we’ve been blessed with a righteous act or guided to behave in a righteous way?

                     I pray, we will.

PSALM 11:7 NKJV

For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness; His countenance beholds the upright.

In Faith, Andrea Bolling

April 19, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector:  Our Work as Church 

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be offering short excerpts (and some personal thoughts) from Bishop Steven Charleston’s 2014 book, “Good News:  A Scriptural Path to Reconciliation.”  I believe, as do some other parishioners working together as part of a “Reconciliation Team,”  that there are some important insights in this book that might benefit all of us as we go about working to remain united as a community of faith, Christ’s body in this world, as well as suggesting ways we may choose to be healers and unifiers in—and perhaps even of—society.

Continuing from the Introduction:

“The love Jesus calls us to has nothing to do with a right of judgment on our part.  He tells us point blank:  judge not.  As the Lord, Jesus reserves judgment to God.  God alone will weigh our sins and decide who among us has sinned more grievously than another.  Since we are all in that same boat together, it is hypocritical for us to withdraw from another.  In fact, it is contrary to the command of Jesus who told us to love one another as he loved us.  And Jesus loved us all without ever putting us in a pecking order of sin.

“In the end, Jesus is clear that God values love over rightness, compassion over judgment.  This leads us with the fundamental question:  how do we love one another as Jesus loved us when we disagree?  We follow his example.  We imitate Christ.”

[My questions for you today:  Do you agree with Charleston that it is hypocritical for us to withdraw from one another when we disagree?  That it is contrary to Jesus’ command that we love one another as he loved us?]  

May we all share the in the great joys of our common Resurrection life,

Father Chip+

April 16, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector:  Our Work as Church

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be offering short excerpts (and some personal thoughts) from Bishop Steven Charleston’s 2014 book, “Good News:  A Scriptural Path to Reconciliation.”  I believe, as do some other parishioners working together as part of a “Reconciliation Team,”  that there are some important insights in this book that might benefit all of us as we go about working to remain united as a community of faith, Christ’s body in this world, as well as suggesting ways we may choose to be healers and unifiers in—and perhaps even of—society.

Continuing from the Introduction:

“One of the shorthand phrases that is often popular when Christians disagree about human behavior is ‘hate the sin, love the sinner.’  While on the surface, this phrase seems like a charitable expression, it masks a deeper, implied judgment.  The phrase begins on the assumption that we can judge what is sinful.  In that way, it gives us the right to judge others and still claim to love them.

“But isn’t sin real?  Don’t we believe that some human behaviors are sinful and contrary to the will of God?

“Absolutely.  In fact, people engage in behaviors that are sins.  Some seem very clear to us (lying, cheating, murdering) while others are contentious among us (abortion, homosexuality, ‘just war’).  The fracture lines in communities of faith begin to form when people either do not agree about whether a particular behavior is sinful, or when they seek to elevate one particular sin as being of special, more sinful, importance.

“Reconciliation does not mean that we stop believing in sin.  It says, that we must stop pretending that another person’s sin is different from our own.  Reconciliation calls us to stop setting ourselves apart and acting as the judge and jury for sinners.”

[My questions for you today:   Charleston writes that “we must stop pretending that another person’s sin is different from our own.”   Is it indeed possible to learn to put our differences aside in order to establish, or restore, a meaningful relationship with someone?  Is it worth it?]

May we all share the in the great joys of our common Resurrection life,

Father Chip+  

April 15, 2021

It’s Monday through Saturday…

where do you turn to feel connected?

The good words and the good music hold us and lift us on Sunday…

but where do we find our hope after?

IF you’re like me, you’ve decided that sacred connections

can be found everywhere…

if you look… if you quiet your busy brain long enough to hear.

What you need is an open mind (HA), the curiosity of a child,

and the willingness to see with your heart…

hear with your soul. 

(…and books…)

I’m sharing some that through this last crummy,

lonely year, have become friends.

“God got a dog” 

          Cynthia Rylant & Marla Frazee

“To Hear the Angels Sing”

          Dorothy Maclean

“Meditations with cows”

          Shreve Stockton

“The Elephant Whisperer”

          Lawrence Anthony

“The Spirit Animal Oracle”

          Colette Baron Brown

“All Creation Waits – Advent Mystery of

  New Beginnings”

          Gayle Boss

“The Boy, the mole, the fox and the horse”

          Charlie Mackesy

Love, friendship and kindness pour out of these

books for me.

Perhaps for you too!

Smiles,

Cheryl DeWitt

April 14, 2021

So, I have had a week of splendor and exhaustion.

Being with my granddaughters, 18 months and 4 years old, in the beautiful mountains of Park City, Utah. Such beautiful, inquisitive minds. The older one who is loquacious and articulate. The younger one who has about 5 words in her vocabulary and knows exactly what you are saying to her but prefers to answer in grunts.

Who will they become?

So many options. Watching the evolution of these small people is so amazing.

Watching the evolution of our church is also exciting. Small groups seem to be the core of our church during these Covid times and perhaps into the future as we work together to connect everyone.

“We are all one in love. . . . When I look at myself as an individual, I see that I am nothing. It is only in unity with my fellow spiritual seekers that I am anything at all. It is this foundation of unity that will save humanity.”

Julian of Norwich Chapter 9 of the Long Text 

Palmer Marrin

April 13, 2021

The tension of spring is upon us.  The gravity of the moments before, 

the release of pollen and tourists, 

the culminating effects of a vaccine to put COVID behind us.  

Even after Easter, 

there is still an expectation in the air.  

Unsettled.  

The grass is growing the bulbs are forcing 

a return to summer.

But first 

Spring. 

What to make of this time

before?

-Laura Noonan

April 12, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector:  Our Work as Church

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be offering short excerpts (and some personal thoughts) from Bishop Steven Charleston’s 2014 book, “Good News:  A Scriptural Path to Reconciliation.”  I believe, as do some other parishioners working together as part of a “Reconciliation Team,”  that there are some important insights in this book that might benefit all of us as we go about working to remain united as a community of faith, Christ’s body in this world, as well as suggesting ways we may choose to be healers and unifiers in—and perhaps even of—society.

Continuing from the Introduction:

“As Christians who identify ourselves as conservative or liberal, traditional or progressive, we may believe we have nothing in common, but this much we share:  we all believe we are right.  And we can find biblical resources to sanction our opinions.  We can find charismatic leaders to give voice to that opinion.  We can claim to embody the Christian tradition.  We can point to other Christian communities around the world who support us.  We can say that we are the Church.  In short, if we have learned anything, it is that being righteous is much easier than being reconciled.

“But have we also learned that to love is to reconcile?

“Love is not about being right.  It is about being in relationship.  The priority of the gospel is love.  Jesus called us to be in love with God.  He called us to be in love with one another. “

[My question for you today:   Charleston writes that “love is not about being right.  It is about being in relationship.”   Can you think of a valuable relationship you’ve lost because one or both of you insisted on being “right”?  What would you do to get that relationship back?    

May we all share the in the great joys of our Resurrection life,

Father Chip+  

April 9, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector:  Our Work as Church 

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be offering short excerpts (and some personal thoughts) from Bishop Steven Charleston’s 2014 book, “Good News:  A Scriptural Path to Reconciliation.”  I believe, as do some other parishioners working together as part of a “Reconciliation Team,” that there are some important insights in this book that might benefit all of us as we go about working to remain united as a community of faith, Christ’s body in this world, as well as suggesting ways we may choose to be healers and unifiers in—and perhaps even of—society.

From the Introduction:

“In his letter to the Ephesians, Saint Paul presents Jesus Christ as the source for reconciliation. … Paul tells us that the teaching of Jesus breaks down barriers and removes hostility.  But how?  How can we live into what Paul says and use the gospel message of Jesus to build these bridges of unity, respect, and understanding?

“This workbook offers an answer…it is a path…built on the stepping stones of the words of Jesus.  It calls us as disciples to take Jesus’ words to heart, especially when we feel estranged from one another by any issue that confronts our community.

“Reconciliation is not the same thing as resolution.  [This] process will not ‘settle the argument.’  [   ]  Conflict is to be anticipated—but not accepted as irreconcilable.  The challenge for Christians is to work through conflict in a way that ultimately strengthens community. 

“And the way to reconciliation is the way of Christ Jesus.”

[My question for you today:   Charleston writes that “the challenge for Christians is to work through conflict in a way that ultimately strengthens community.”   What conditions would need to be in place for that to happen?

May we all share the joys of the Resurrection life,

Father Chip+  

April 8, 2021

Thin Spaces and Love

I have just finished 7 weeks on a pilgrimage with three compadres. Father Chip calls it “Our Camino Boots”. We read and shared the treasures from a book by Christopher H. Martin called With Gladness: Answering God’s Call in Our Everyday Lives.

During our journey, there were many revelations and it has given me a new perspective on life and my relationship with God.

One of the concepts is: Thin Space.  Thin Spaces transport us to a better plane.  They enable us to see the joyfulness of life, rather than the hatred. The radiance and grace of places, and people, rather than the dark side. What is our Thin Space? The space where we feel most at home, comforted, and at one with God or closest to him? A place that gives us joy and peace.

For me it has always been the mountains. High with spectacular views, no buildings, just nature and peace. The walking to get there allows time for reflection and mindfulness. It gives me the time to think of the things that I love.

Family, friends, and simplicity.

We flew through Thin Space to visit with my daughter and family in Utah.

My son-in-law remarked how thankful he was that we had come to visit, as they had not seen family in such a long time and facetime just doesn’t cut it when it comes to family. Love of family.

How grateful are we that we could cautiously and safely travel for a visit.

Sabbath Prayer

O God, in your light we see light; help me reflect on the week that has passed, that I may remember in truth and on the week to come, that I may be ready to do all such great works as thou hast prepared for me to walk in, in the name of Jesus, the light of the world. Amen (Christopher H Martin)

Palmer Marrin

April 7, 2021

2 CORINTHIANS 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. NKJV

Eureka! I found it! Yes, I struck gold and love it.  For three or more years I’ve been searching for the right bible for this phase of my faith journey. Looking at several different versions, I finally settled on Thomas Nelson’s NKJV Women’s Study Bible.  I was a little hesitant purchasing a women’s study bible for fear it would be like some of the women’s bibles I remember from my youth. Bibles annotated by male clergy with a little assistance from women.  As I recall they tended to stress the need for female obedience, provided guidance to help guard us against our more “sinful nature”, and emphasized scripture to help us be “good” wives, mothers, daughters……you know the rest.

With some trepidation, I made the decision to order the study bible and prayed it would not reinforce racial and gender prejudice. I found the right bible and could not be happier.  It is so life affirming. I read it daily, often tears fill my eyes as I realize how much my soul needs affirmation that we, women, have a place of honor in Hebraic and Christian theology and scripture. The tears, well, some are joyous and some are sorrowful.  I do feel the deep pain of all the years of living with the omission, denigration, and diminution of women in biblical lore.                   

Many times, I heard people, clergy and non-clergy, use scripture to reinforce gender roles and suppress women from speaking and challenging social norms. I remember the shame I felt at age 7 for being a girl, a member of the gender who “led” Adam astray. No matter how much my Mother tried to reeducate us regarding prevailing biblical interpretations, the seed of unworthiness took root. Here I am, in this tumultuous season of Eastertide 2021, so many years later, and I’ve found what I’ve been looking for.  I can be myself, a woman, love Christianity and know Jesus loves me because, in this case, the bible truly tells me so!  I am not a mistake, an afterthought or in need of correction. Alleluia!

Thank you, God, for the most wonderful Easter gift. You know my heart and soul.

In faith and love, Andrea Bolling

April 6, 2021

Recently, Dr. Samuel J. Redman, UMass History professor, shared with his twitter followers; “Today in my Craft of History course, we are exploring how historians have thought about smell, taste, and touch in their work.”  This prompted me to think about the descriptions of the death and resurrection of Jesus re-told and acclaimed over the past week.  Each description of the smell, taste and touch of the interactions deepen our connection to the life of Jesus in the moment and enliven our ability to re-experience the reality of these events in our own life today.

In John 12: 1-3, 7-8

Then Jesus six days before the Passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him.  Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment. Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.  For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.

In Mark 15 36-37

Then someone ran and filled a sponge full of sour wine, put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink, saying, “Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to take Him down.” And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last.

And finally in John 20: 25- 27 and Luke 24: 40-43

25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands, and put my finger where the nails have been, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe.” 26 Eight days later, His disciples were once again inside with the doors locked, and Thomas was with them. Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then Jesus said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and look at My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Luke: 40 – 43 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 41 But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” 42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish [k]and some honeycomb. 43 And He took it and ate in their presence.

The miracle of the life, death and resurrection is told in the descriptions of the smells, taste and touch experienced during the very divine life of Jesus retold by the humans around him who recognized the important life they were witnessing.  During Sunday’s Easter Service at the Tabernacle, we were so blessed to be together and again experience the senses of this holiday, including the real presence of Jesus in the Bread of Christ.  We never walk alone.  Blessings of Easter to everyone.  Alleluia!  He is risen!

Laura Noonan 

April 5, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector:  A Scriptural Path to Reconciliation 

I got finished with recording my Easter sermon (this past (Maundy) Thursday, believe it or not), and told Heather Anne, in order for me and Colleen to prepare to take a vacation in the next week or so, I’d need to come up with something like seven meditations, in order to stay on our ‘pandemic’ schedule.  (Oy!)

She said maybe I should consider doing a series.  (Bingo!)

If you’ve endured my Easter sermon already, you’ll know that I talked a lot about Steven Charleston’s itty-bitty workbook, Good News:  A Scriptural Path to Reconciliation.  There are definitely enough good things in there to throw your way.  So, I’ll be sharing some ideas from that book with you over the next number of meditations.  Please feel free to let us hear from you if you’d like to offer up comments or suggestions.  (By the way, I think it’s definitely worth ordering.  You can get on Kindle cheap, or go to Forward Movement Publishing, and get your own paperback for less than $5.00.)

Before I begin to go over some of those concepts, however, I thought I’d mention a few things.

First, can anyone confidently deny that reconciliation is one thing our entire world could use right now?  To say that “things have gotten nasty” in the way we speak to (or ‘ghost’) each other, treat (or mistreat) each other, argue and contend with, label, categorize, humiliate, and denigrate (the list seems to be endless) each other seems, in my lifetime, to have gotten so low, it’d be ‘off the charts’, as they say, were indeed any such charts kept. To take just one example:  did anyone notice in the last presidential election, that BOTH sides (often rather heatedly) claimed that their particular candidate was the only one who could save the nation?  I get that these presidential elections engender lots of heat, but I’m not sure I’ve ever heard such extreme claims, arguing a vote for the ‘loser’ candidate is basically a death knell for this republic.  And since the election, have we allowed ourselves to retreat more quietly into two different ‘camps,’ never allowing ourselves to move out of our shadows and actually join with the ‘others’ in order to at least attempt to reconcile?  Where does this acrimony—and the refusal to name it, address it and confront it, in order to foster caring relationships—get us?

We have to agree there must be a better way.

Second, a small number of us here at St Andrew’s have been, for a few months now, discussing Charleston’s book, along with some broader concepts of what ‘reconciliation’ means.  One meaning I liked, when we began our conversations about perhaps finding a way the Christian church might play a leading role in helping our community (or communities) reconcile, or heal, had to do with the ‘reestablishment of friendly relations,’ and the ‘end of estrangement.’  How might we work to bring about an atmosphere, an environment, where everyone in the community feels perfectly comfortable with each other, trusts each other, enough to be themselves, and say how they feel?  Is that indeed a realistic hope, or goal?  Is that something we’d like to see occur at St Andrew’s?

I, for one, have to believe so.  (I can’t speak for the others in the dialogue group, but I’m guessing they’re all on the same page.)

And if THAT is the case, how should we begin?

One message that has come up quite a few times is, in my view, critically important:  Essential to who we are as a faith community.  Critical to what it takes to BE (or become) a  church that has INTEGRITY.  One that promotes and encourages growth and healing, and spiritual depth and maturity.

That it’s important that any church employs a methodology that allows those who have been disaffected in some way, or didn’t feel their point of view was welcome, or have felt that the “church they once knew” no longer existed, to once again feel valued, and given the opportunity to just come and be themselves—and the chance to say what’s on their minds—together with everyone else, of course.  (The familiar Pauline image of ‘the eye of the body can’t say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you,’ and the like, is entirely accurate and on point here.)  We are not only interrelated, but WE NEED EACH OTHER!

To my mind, here’s the long and the short of it:  The Church is for everyone.  And I truly believe the Episcopal part of the great and enduring body of Christ has a lot going for it. 

Maybe one of those things is the willingness and fortitude to remake itself, cast the nets of faith widely, and invite everyone in, or perhaps even back.

Jesus is worth it.

Stay tuned…and keep the faith.

Yours in Christ,

Father Chip+               

April 2, 2021

I, Judas

John 13:38 NKJV

(Jesus to Peter) Will you lay down your life for my sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times.

Perhaps, it’s COVID. This year, I cannot hide in self-righteousness or indignation when I read and contemplate the betrayal and crucifixion of Christ.  In years past, I would tell myself, “no way would I betray Jesus.” Not this year, not this time. Whether I like it or not, my life is before me and I realize that I am like Judas, Peter, James and all the disciples; I betray Jesus pretty much every single day.

When I know someone is hurting and I withhold contact and love, I betray Christ and I, Thomas.  When I remain quiet, choose silence in the face of blatant suppression, I, Judas Iscariot.  When I am in meetings and racism and sexism rear their heads and I don’t speak or minimize the impact out of fear of being ostracized then I, Matthew. 

You see, I know many people, including myself, are teetering on thresholds from the intensity of racism and sexism, when I don’t speak, I, Simon.  When I deny that I can’t breathe when I think about the murder of George Floyd, my head swimming with images of trophy lynchings of brown, black and Asian people, I, John.  I turn away because facing the images, the gross loss of life, is too painful and I do not want to feel angry and vulnerable in a nation that has such little regard for our lives……I, Judas.

It may seem like I am being harsh on myself, but I have asked for this. I choose to walk in Christ, accept, Jesus is the way the path the life and light.  My choices and what drives them are laid bare.  I’m owning my fallibility which leaves so much more space for me to live differently, in greater integrity and compassion.

Forgive me, God, for I have betrayed you, your son and the holy trinity  in thought, word and deed by what I have done and what I have left undone…I surrender and I humbly repent.

Thank you, Father, for this tumultuous season of Lent.  I am ready, I welcome this time of revelation, this time for new life.

Wishing everyone a Happy Easter.

In Faith, Andrea Bolling

April 1, 2021

During this Lenten time I have read and reflected on Jesus and his healing, his doubters and his life for us. Doubt is a big issue, even today in everything. Doubting the election, the virus, the vaccine, and even our faith.

I just read a wonderful book, “This Tender Land” by William Kent Krueger

It is a book of faith and hope and healing, but this particular section resonated with me.

Sister Eve is a proposed healer with a traveling Healing Crusade.

At one point the young boy, Odie, confronts her and calls her a fake.

“I never claimed to heal anyone Odie. I have always said it is God who heals, not me.

“Sometimes Odie,” Sister Eve went on, “in order for people to reach up and embrace their most profound belief in God they need to stand on the shoulders of others.”

I think we have used Jesus’s shoulders to find that deeper belief in God.

“God gave his only begotten Son so that we may believe…”

Happy Easter,

Palmer

March 31, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector: 

What Discipleship Looks Like

Another worthwhile story to share from the book some of us are reading and sharing our thoughts about for our Lenten “Episcopal 411” class:

“She spoke in detail about her addiction to drugs.  At a low point in her life, she found a piece of paper on which her mother had written the telephone number of a Christian counselor.  She hadn’t spoken with her mother for some five years.

She dialed the number at 2:00 am.  She heard the rustling of bedclothes and the turning down of a radio as a man said hello.

She told him about the note with his number and said she hoped he could help her.   He replied gently…and listened, listened, and listened.  Until the sun came up.

“You’ve been so kind and have helped me a lot,” she said after four hours. “I’ve been expecting that you would say some prayers or give me a few Bible verses,” she said, “and I want you to know that I am quite willing to hear them.  After all, that is part of your profession, and you have already helped me so much.”

The man said he wanted to tell her something and asked that she not hang up after he did.

“You dialed the wrong number,” he said.”

(from Gamber and Lewellis, Your Faith, Your Life:  an Invitation to the Episcopal Church (2017))  

Grace and peace,

Father Chip+

March 30, 2021

Learning to Pray

This week’s Palm Sunday reading from Mark retells the Passion of Jesus and inside of this story recounts the words Jesus cries out in prayer to God the Father. In Aramaic, the language of Jesus, even Jesus was doubting what was going on in his life and spoke to God, a question:

Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani (Ἠλί, Ἠλί, λιμὰ σαβαχθανί)  My God, My God why have you abandoned me?

This question to me implies that even Jesus doubted God’s presence and purpose for him in his own life.  

Sit with that for a minute.  

When we talk about the disciple Thomas later in a few weeks, asking to see the wounds that pierced Jesus’ hands and feet, we are helpfully reminded by Jesus: 

Because you have seen me, you have believedBlessed are those who have not seen, and have believed.

These words of Jesus implied in the scripture written by VERY holy men who were closer to the time of these events then we are now, give proof that we are not born with belief, we must earn belief.  Question and pray on it as God and Jesus have given example.  

Fr. James Martin, SJ Jesuit priest, has a new book Learning to Pray where he describes the many ways we can be in communication with God.  The book itself is both insightful and personal, as he shares examples where he feels “deep recognizing deep”, but he also shares some of the disciplines of prayer.  Not every time you think you “hear God’s voice” is that true, but it is always an opportunity to communicate with the One and discern, sometimes alone, sometimes with others, what God is communicating to you in your life.  

Mostly God is asking us to be grateful.  “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, that will be enough.” -Meister Eckhart  

I am thankful to God, for faith and the beauty of the shared human experience of questions and staying open to the answers.  

Prayerfully submitted, 

Laura Noonan

March 29, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector:  Resuming LIFE  

One of my clergy colleagues in the Diocese of Massachusetts, the Rev Hall Kirkham, shared the following poem. 

What promises might we make to ourselves, to others, and to God, as our lives begin to take on a more ‘normal’ tone?    

Pandemic       

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.

And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love-
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

Thanks be to God.

(Ann Burack Weiss)

March 26, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector:  What Dream Does God Tell You? 

“God says to you, ‘I have a dream.  Please help me to realize it.  It is a dream of a world whose ugliness and squalor and poverty, its war and hostility, its greed and harsh competitiveness, its alienation and disharmony are changed into their glorious counterparts.”  (Desmond Tutu)

What are those ‘counterparts’? 

What dream does God tell you?

Faithfully yours,

Father Chip+   

March 25, 2021

Listen and be reflective.

How often have I jumped into a conversation or, shall I say, interrupted my husband, thinking I knew what he was going to say?

Or perhaps I believe that I have the answer to a problem or question that hasn’t even been fully asked.

Do I make snap judgments about people based on how they look or perhaps what comes out of their mouths?

What does it take to listen and reflect for just a minute more?

Do we really want to see the other side, or have compassion for what we see? Do we care enough about either?

Jesus did. He challenged the norms.

He welcomed outcasts; he listened, accepted and forgave.

He reconciled differences.

Can we?

His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.”

John 9:2-3

Reflectively,

Palmer Marrin

March 24, 2021

A TREMENDOUS GIFT OF WISDOM

JOHN 3:5-6 NKJV (Jesus to Nicodemus)

That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the spirit is spirit.

Every time I read this excerpt from the bible, I feel like Jesus can see my soul. Perhaps, it’s the sheer power and truth entrusted in this single message; it feels ancient, beyond time.  It’s taken a while, but I know now, inside, the flesh means so much more than the physical body, it’s how we think when we engage life mass to mass. It’s repeating the past and having preconceived ideas of the future. It’s our humanity when we’ve forgotten God. When I engage a person or a problem out of emotional need or want, I engage from the flesh.  My attachment to the flesh leaves little room for God, spirit or discovery.  I truly know I cannot leave my spirit at the back door, or tucked away in a drawer, or let my personality lead and have life loving experiences.

With all the conflict in the world, I’ve been asking myself, what is an impasse, when is something irreconcilable?  Contemplating the discourse between Jesus and Nicodemus, I know an impasse is spiritual misalignment and nothing is irreconcilable in spirit. If we could all know, in the moment, when we are creating/leading from the flesh and when we allow spirit, many of our “conflicts” would fade away.  The gifts of the holy spirit: clear vision, love, compassion, and gifts we aren’t aware of, would grace our thoughts and actions.

PRAYER

Oh, heavenly father please bless me with discernment that I know when I leave your presence. Guide my thought, words and deeds. Help me surrender and allow the holy spirit to lead the flesh of my humanity. Amen

In love and faith, Andrea Bolling

March 22, 2021

From the Rector’s Desk:  Re-Opening Information about St Andrew’s! 

With the sunnier and (somewhat) warmer days of spring now upon us, I certainly sense our collective mood becoming sunnier and warmer, too!

The good news, of course, is that our island, commonwealth, and nation are blessed to be able to use the incredible benefits of our collective scientific and technological wisdom—the new vaccines, truly a marvel of modern science—to help us all get through this. 

Perhaps not as good news, is that all this will take a bit more time to ‘do it right.’  (I’ve half-jokingly taken to saying our church is not in the business of “killing the people coming to get saved.”!)

Right now, there are Commonwealth restrictions, and (a tad more restrictive set of) restrictions from our Diocese.  Overall, they seem to favor congregations who have HUGE buildings in which they can “space” folks in the pews.  Doing some quick math for our little worship space, however, I don’t think we’d be able to get more than about two dozen in our pews at one time, for worship.  And, in addition to that, there is still no congregational singing,  no prayers books or hymnals, among other prohibitions and restrictions. From the perspective our your church leadership, the Vestry, it’s simply not time yet—but we know we’re getting closer, and we’ll get back up and running as soon as we know it’s safe and feasible.   (My personal hope is that we can get the church open and operating on all cylinders by June 1, so stay tuned…)

IN THE MEANTIME, please continue to ‘stick with us’!  HERE ARE SOME THINGS YOU MAY LIKE TO KNOW:

  1. Worship-wise, we’ve ‘booked’ the Tabernacle for physically-together Holy Eucharist for EASTER DAY, APRIL 4 AT 2:30 PM.  Griffin McMahon will be there a ‘smilin’ and raising the roof with his music, and our own beloved choir has been rehearsing hymns to provide for our celebration (together with hymns for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday!)  PLEASE COME AND INVITE YOUR FRIENDS!  (And, by the way, we’ve invited The Rev Stephen Harding and our good friends and Episcopal counterparts at Grace Church, Vineyard Haven, to join us, so the celebration will be even greater!)  One other thing:  for those of you who can’t join us on Easter Day at the Tabernacle, you can still be with us for Easter worship online, on our YouTube Channel, as we’ve been providing every Sunday for the last year…)   
  • Continuing with the good news, ‘worship-wise,’ please make it a point to get online and see our worship for Holy Week, beginning with our PALM SUNDAY WORSHIP THIS COMING SUNDAY, MARCH 28 (in case you didn’t know this, Palm Sunday has become the single biggest ‘draw’ for attendance at St Andrew’s over the last few years, and I’ve heard it said is the case at other churches, too! (We‘re pretty sure that’s because lots of the parishioners travel for Easter to be with family elsewhere)).  Many of our beloved congregation members will be doing the dramatic reading of the Passion Gospel, so tune in to see our own stars!  Then please make it a point to join us also on MAUNDY THURSDAY, APRIL 1, and GOOD FRIDAY, APRIL 2, both of which will be available for viewing in the morning of those days (and for days afterward).  These are both deeply meaningful, traditional services, and if you haven’t been able to be with us for either or both of these recently, this may be the perfect year to check them out.  (I’m sure you’ll find your Great Fifty Days of Easter will shine ever more brightly having experienced those two liturgies!)
  • Until further notice, we’ll continue with our weekly, recorded worship, and daily (weekday) meditations from lay leaders and from me.  I do hope you’re finding time to stay connected to us, and seize the opportunities to remain closer to God through our offerings.

Finally, you might like to know our Vestry will be meeting with a helpful and friendly Diocesan Consultant this weekend, to do some ‘team-building’ (getting to know each other better!), and to begin to put together some initiatives for our concerted work and mission for 2021, as we begin to ‘re-open’ and function more normally. 

In light of all the wonderful work so many of you have done with and for us (our reVision process, and all the various ministries, and indeed for your good stewardship, too!), I remain not only optimistic about our immediate future as a dynamic and caring community of faith, but confident that God continues to lead us and guide us in our call to be a sanctuary of love, faith, hope and nourishment for us all, and those who need to experience God’s overpowering, merciful love, and an engine for change and transformation for all of us, our neighbors, and our world.

And for that, I am just so thankful.

Indeed, I always thank God for YOU.

Sending prayers from the heart for health, love, peace, and joy,

Father Chip+        

March 19, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector: 

Our Love of Our Selves 

To pick up further from Palmer’s meditation about self-love from yesterday…

Another thought for those of us who mine the depths of sacrifice and self-denial during Lent:  it’s all about our relationship with God.  Which is always tied to our relationship with others.

Both of which have to do with how we treat our selves.  

In his meditation of March 17, 2021, Richard Rohr quoted Presiding Bishop Michael Curry about what it means to love your self (from his book, Love is the Way:  Holding on to Hope in Troubling Times (2020):

“There is a Jewish proverb, ‘Before every person there marches an angel proclaiming, “Behold, the image of God.”’  Unselfish, sacrificial living isn’t about ignoring or denying or destroying yourself.  It’s about discovering your true self—the self that looks like God—and living life from that grounding.  Many people are familiar with a part of Jesus’ summary of the law of Moses:  You shall love your neighbor as you love yourself.  Yourself.  Loving the self is the required balance.  If we fail in that, we fail our neighbor, too.  To love your neighbor is to relate to them as someone made in the image of God.  And it is to relate to yourself as someone made in the image of God.   

“The ability to love  yourself is intimately related to your capacity to love others.  The challenge is creating a life that allows you to fulfill both needs.”  (italics mine.)

Peace and grace,

Father Chip+

March 18, 2021

So we go from resisting multitasking to Reflection, another word I want to keep close.

I will share two writings this week that have jumped out at me.

Lent is a time of reflection, prayer and love.

In Richard Rohr’s Loving the “True You” daily meditation, Rohr quotes from a discussion he had with Bishop Michael Curry who reflected:

“Sometimes we can only recognize God’s love for us through the love we receive from another person (whom God has loved well). The important part is that the flow of love gets started.

“The ability to love yourself is intimately related to your capacity to love others. The challenge is creating a life that allows you to fulfill both needs…”

Love we receive from others is always warm and welcoming. It is definitely something to reflect upon. Today is our 43rd wedding anniversary and I have definitely felt the love that has flowed between us especially in these Covid times.

So I offer this Sabbath Prayer from “With Gladness” Answering God’s Call in Our Everyday Lives by Christopher H. Martin:

O God, in your light we see light;

help me reflect on the week that has passed,

that I may remember in truth, and on the week to come,

that I may be ready to do all such good works

as thou hast prepared for me to walk in,

in the name of Jesus, the light of the world. Amen

God is Love,

Palmer Marrin

March 17, 2021

DELIVERANCE: The act of being rescued or set free.

PSALM 119:97-100 NKJV

O, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.

You through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; for they are ever with me.

I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation.

I understand more than the ancients, Because I keep Your precepts.

May we continue to love the word with all our heart and soul.  In Christ’s light, with God’s love, we can walk in confidence, fear no man, do no wrong thing.

In peace and faith, Andrea Bolling

March 15, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector: 

What it means to be Righteous 

I’ve received a number of positive comments about my meditations highlighting thoughts from Barbara Brown Taylor’s book, Speaking of Sin:  The Lost Language of Salvation, so I thought I’d go back to that well once again.  In her chapter “Redeeming Righteousness,” she tells the story of how a Jewish friend of hers, after a long, personal conversation with her, said that he could tell that she was a ‘righteous’ person:

“I spent days with the word after that, trying to figure out why mainline Christianity had abandoned it.  The root word in Hebrew is sadiq, or justice. A righteous person is a just person, who reflects God’s own righteousness by following God’s commands.  Since those commands are all about how to live in right relationship with God and one another, a righteous person’s energies are directed entirely outward, toward others.  Righteousness is relational. In every possible relationship, a righteous person lives as God wants—or means to live as God wants.  Biblically speaking, the active desire for righteousness is as honorable as the fulfillment of it.  The point is to seek God and the kind of life God intends.

.               .               .

“I want this word back in my vocabulary…. One of the Hebrew words for a righteous person suggests ‘one whose aim is true.’  Set beside the word that defines sin as ‘missing the mark,’ [chatah], this gives me an image of righteousness as target practice.  Whether my arrow finds its mark or falls a hundred feet away, the daily practice of right relationship is how I improve my aim.  I will continue to sin, no doubt about it, but that is not my aim.  My true aim is to live as God wants me to live and—as Thomas Merton once wrote—I believe that the wish to please God does in fact please God.”

Grace and peace,

Father Chip+  

March 12, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector:  Remembering Barbara C. Harris 

Tomorrow, March 13, will be the first anniversary of the death of the first woman bishop in the Episcopal Church, Barbara Clementine Harris.

I’m not sure how this “pride” thing works, but I have to say I feel a sense of pride that Barbara was elected right here in the Diocese of Massachusetts.  Thinking about it a little more deeply, I realize my pride stems from the understanding that all institutions—and yes, religious ones, too—bear some sort of the character, or flavor, or identity in some indefinite way, of those who comprise the institution.  Barbara preceded me (and many other lay ministers, bishops, priests and deacons, all called to do the mission and ministry of Christ here in this place), so I feel a kinship with her I would not have felt serving elsewhere.  And I am aware how grateful I am to be a part of this Diocese that took the (then) audacious step of consecrating Barbara bishop. 

This institutional identity, this ‘corporate / group DNA’ notion, us good Christians know, especially applies to the church.  We call it the ‘communion of saints’, that ‘great cloud of witnesses’ that lived out their years of a great dialogue with God and God’s children, heirs through Christ, in a certain time, and a certain place, in which each saint tells her story to the faithful, faith-filled, vital, and vibrant, generations that follow.  It shapes us as we shape how the Word is expressed to our children.  How we tell the story of God and of God’s amazing love.   

In a letter dated February 11, 2021 (on the occasion of the 32nd anniversary of Barbara’s consecration in 1989), our Bishops, Alan Gates and Gayle Harris, wrote that “it has been nearly a year since the death of the Rt Rev Barbara C. Harris.  Throughout the church Bishop Harris was a courageous pioneer, an outspoken prophet, and an indefatigable champion of God’s justice and witness to God’s grace.  In the Diocese of Massachusetts she was for us also a wise counselor and faithful companion.  For three decades our diocesan gatherings were enlivened by her keen wit, consummate storytelling, and impromptu musical accompaniment.“         

Know this:  Barbara was not only the first woman bishop.  She also happened to be a woman of color.  And indeed, she was quite the storyteller. 

Here’s one from her 2018 book, Hallelujah, Anyhow, in which she is interviewed by her biographer, Kelly Brown Douglas:

“As I listened to Barbara talk about her mother all I could think of was Alice Walker’s definition of ‘womanist.’  In this four-part definition, Walker tells us that a womanist is outrageous, audacious, courageous and prone to willful behavior.  Barbara’s womanist character has been evident throughout her journey, and there was little doubt where it came from.  However, the ‘womanist’ DNA ran deep in Barbara.  To search Barbara’s womanist DNA is to discover other women in her life who were just as outrageous, audacious, courageous and willful.  These were women that I had never heard Barbara speak of, but a mutual friend of ours, the Rev Nan Peete, told me that there were amazing women in Barbara’s life; I should be sure to ask her about them.  And so I did.

Douglas:     Now clearly, you get that, what then they called feistiness, from your mother.  Were all the women of your family so feisty or what we might call today, ‘womanish’?

Harris:      I think some of my feistiness comes from my great-grandmother.  She had been a slave on the Brauner plantation in Maryland.  We called her Mom Sem; Sem was the short version of her married name, Sembley.  She used to tell the wonderful story about her encounter on the plantation with General [Ulysses] Grant.  He came onto the plantation one day and asked her for a drink of water.  So she pumped a dipper for him.  He rinsed it out, threw it aside, and asked her to pump another.  She said, “You didn’t need to rinse that out.  It was clean.”  He replied, “People around here have been trying to poison people like us.  I’ve been South fighting for little boys like you.”  My great-grandmother wore her hair close-cropped, even more so than I do mine, so she said to Grant, “I don’t need anybody to fight for me.  I can fight for myself and I’m not a little boy.”  I think she was about twelve years old.

In thanksgiving for the love, wisdom and work of our first ‘womanist’ bishop, let us now pray:

Ever living God, in every generation you cause fresh winds to renew, refresh, and refine your people, and in your Word summon us to live courageously as Easter people in an often Good Friday world:  Defend us in our own day to make no peace with oppression; and, that boldly following the example of your servant Barbara Clementine Harris, chosen bishop in your church, we may strive not for ease or fame, but gladly toil and walk with you all along our pilgrim journey; through Jesus Christ our Savior.  Amen.

Your brother in Christ,

Father Chip+   

March 11, 2021

Release the temptation to multi-task.

During this Lenten season generally we are asked to give something up.

I said I was going to add something. But then comes the dilemma, especially during Covid time: to be busy. If we are not working or seeing people, let us fill the time with busyness.

Lent is a time for reflection, contemplation, prayer and singleness.

So here is another word to add to my collection: “singleness”.

I am guilty of trying to fit too much into a day. Through all my reading during Lent I have tried to be more mindful of words and people.  Trying to answer a text and drive doesn’t work. Talking to someone while doing another task only diminishes the time spent on both tasks.

In his essay on purity of heart, Danish philosopher and theologian Soren Kierkegaard names four virtues that diminish when we are consumed with busyness. These are “faith, hope, love, and willing the good.”

Be mindful of each task and truly engage in conversation; hear what the other person has to say before offering a response. Enjoy the task at hand without thinking of all the things you have to do before the end of the day.

“A decrease in busyness and an increase of conviction leaves space for serenity.”

With Gladness By Christopher H. Martin

“O God, send me this day to do the work you have given me to do, to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart. Amen.”

The Book of Common Prayer, Rite II

With singleness of heart,

Palmer Marrin

March 10, 2021

Righteousness: acting in accord with divine or moral law: free from guilt or sin

Over and over, particularly in the book of psalms, the righteousness of God is mentioned.  Sometimes, examples of his righteousness are accompanied with descriptions of God sending fire and avenging angels, often annihilating enemies.

On my first read, of what I would call punishment scripture J, I imagine a force, born of moral imperative, vanquishing all that is unlike God.  When I allow the images to run their course, I hear a sweet voice of knowing that reminds me….”true righteousness is not about raw power, the use of might, it’s the living Christ.”  It can be a quiet murmur or as glaring as truth in the midst of lies and deceit.  Christ overturning tables on the Sabbath in front of the temple, well, that was a wake up call.  A warning that human kind was in pursuit of a path that would leave us wanting in body and spirit. To my knowledge, there’s no record of anyone being hurt by his actions.  I’m learning that righteousness is ego-less, as pure as being, unchallengeable in its correctness.  It is the right use of power, the right use of the holy spirit.  In Black communities, like the one I grew up in, when someone was living a life directed by spirit, they were called a “righteous” man or woman.  They were usually community truth tellers, guides, comforters. They carried light and hope and created a spirit-led path to equality.  They were our models and the righteousness they embodied was something we aspired to know.

So, how am I doing trying to walk in a righteous path? Sometimes, I have to undo my understanding of power before I can access the holy spirit in order to follow.  No matter what I’ve learned, like some of our wonderful psalmists, I tend to conflate righteousness with physical and political power.  What spirit is teaching me is that true power is a way of being.  It’s what emerges when we’re aligned in mind, body and spirit.  It is who we are when we are in alignment that allows us to be righteous in what we do.  Every time I speak against oppression, I’m being righteous.  When I choose love, particularly when there’s no personal benefit, I’m being righteous.  When I choose truth and say no to violence, I’m following the holy spirit.  When I consciously choose to refrain from judgement and listen to people who have divergent interests, I allow.  Saying no to egregious behavior and blatant inequality are righteous acts and as powerful as turning over tables. It does take courage.  I know, I often feel my relationships are fragile in my walk with Christ, but I am always happy with the choice.  Sometimes, I feel relief for living in integrity and on other occasions, sheer joy for knowing I said or did the right thing.

May we all be blessed with the ability and willingness to hear that sweet voice and walk in righteousness with ease and comfort.

PSALM 11:7

For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.

In faith, Andrea Bolling

March 9, 2021

Yesterday was International Women’s Day, and I’d just like to take a moment of gratitude for all of the incredible women of St. Andrew’s Church, past, present, and future. So many of you that I have been blessed to know in my relatively short time here, have made such an impact upon my and my family’s life, and I am so grateful. I look forward to the future, all the good work that will continue to be done, and what it holds for our church and greater community.

Blessings,

Sara Barrington

March 8, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector: 

A Community That Supports Us Penitents 

Continuing some Lent-appropriate thoughts from Barbara Brown Taylor, in her Speaking of Sin:  The Lost Language of Salvation:

“The reality of [ ] new life and the promise that it is reachable are both contained in the word salvation.  The root word is salus, or health, which [appears to connote] a medical paradigm, except that this health plan is truly comprehensive.  Physical health cannot be separated from mental and spiritual health, nor individual health from the health of the whole—the whole community, the whole race, the whole earth.  In Hebrew scripture, salvation comes as the gift of shalom from Yawheh, who intends to heal the whole creation.  In Christianity, salvation comes in the person of Jesus Christ, who intends the same thing. 

.               .               .

“One question worth asking is what moves us to seek salvation.  What moves us to repent?  There are as many answers to that question as there are readers of this book, but I do believe that each age has its own peculiar hell.  The things that frighten us now are no the things that frightened our forebears, and the fears of Chinese Christians are different from the fears of Christians living in Kenya.  The gospel may remain the same wherever it is proclaimed, but the people who hear it are not the same.  Our ears are conditioned by the cultures in which we have learned to speak, hear, live, and make sense of our lives.

“Douglas John Hall is a Canadian theologian who has spent his life thinking about what Christianity means in the North American context.  Focusing specifically on the Christianity of the United States and Canada, Hall suggests that we are not motivated by the same fears other Christians are, nor even the same fears our ancestor were.  Death, for instance, does not scare us as much as it did a thousand years ago, when life expectancy hovered around forty and the only social safety net was the family.  Nor does the threat of damnation work as well as it did even a hundred years ago, when Christendom still had clout.  Instead, Hall suggests, what eats away at us is the gnawing suspicion that we may be superfluous—an accidental species with no real purpose on earth.

When people feel superfluous, Hall says—when we are deprived of meaningful work, meaningful relationships, meaningful goals—when we cannot find a purpose big enough for our capabilities, then we frequently become destructive.  Our destructiveness may be focused outward, resulting in crime or violence, or it may be focused inward, resulting in depression and addiction.  Either way the threat of meaninglessness is our primary motive for repentance, and salvation comes as we discover (or re-discover) purpose for our lives. 

To use Hall’s language, the church exists so that God has a community in which to save people from meaninglessness, by reminding them who they are and what they are for.  The church exists so that God has a place to point people toward a purpose as big as their capabilities, and to help them identify all the ways they flee from that high call.  The church exists so that people have a community in which they may confess their sin—their own turning away from life, whatever form that destructiveness may take for them—as well as a community that will support them to turn back again.  The church exists so that people have a place where they may repent of their fear, their hardness of heart, their isolation and loss of vision, and where—having repented—they may be restored to fullness of life.”

As we move more deeply into Lent, and toward the cross of Good Friday, we might ask ourselves the same questions posed here.  What moves us to seek salvation (rescue, healing, health, wholeness)?  What moves us to repent? 

And why does the church exist, for you?

I always thank God for you.

In Christ,

Father Chip+

March 5, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector: 

Sin is our Only Hope 

In her book, “Speaking of Sin:  The Lost Language of Salvation,” popular Episcopal author, priest and professor Barbara Brown Taylor writes:

“Contrary to the legal model [of punishment for crimes], sin is not simply a set of behaviors to be avoided.  Much more fundamentally, it is a way of life to be exposed and changed, and no one is innocent.  But that fact need not paralyze anyone with fear, since the proper response to sin is not punishment but penance.  The point is that the essence of sin is not the violation of laws but the violation of relationships.  Punishment is not paramount.  Restoration of relationship is paramount, which means that the focus is not on paying debts but on recovering fullness of life.

“Christian theology is neither no-fault nor full-fault.  We do wrong, but we do not do wrong all alone.  We live in a web of creation that binds us to all other living beings.  If we want to be saved, then we had better figure out how to do it together, since none of us can resign from this web of relationship.

“Meanwhile, sin is our only hope, because the recognition that something is wrong is the first step toward setting it right again.  There is no help for those who admit no need of help.  There is no repair for those who insist that nothing is broken, and there is no hope of transformation for a world whose inhabitants accept that it is sadly but irreversibly wrecked.”

May the Spirit continue to lead us and guide us in our observance of a holy Lent.

Faithfully yours,

Father Chip+                 

March 4, 2021

Forgiveness

So, following themes for Lent, this week’s is: Forgiveness with the spiritual practice of prayer.

There is much writing in the Bible about forgiveness.

I have watched a family member struggle with a wrong done to them and over the years it took so much energy to keep that grudge.  It festered like a sore. Altering family gatherings and causing cousins discomfort.  Until finally they met and talked it out. Their bond has been stronger now more than ever.

Swallowing one’s pride and looking at the larger picture often allows us to see what is really important.

“Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy seven times.'”

Matthew 18:21-22

______________________

Grateful,

Palmer Marrin

March 2, 2021

A Letter to 2021

It might be bold to post my “Dear 2021” message as a daily meditation because this year is extremely hard to write about!   I feel encouraged by Fr. Chip and the St. Andrew’s community to write about my experiences of 2020 and my hopes for this year, 2021. My letter to 2021 is so much more a reflection of what happened in 2020 than a plan for what’s to come.  Because… we don’t know, but we can hope that 2021 is full of all the things we have learned and not full of new and unexpected challenges, but it might be.  And so we put our trust in God.  Be hopeful all who read this!  With God there is always Good News.

-L

Dear 2021, 

In the world we recognize there are some who have experienced this last year as a windfall and for others it was as if the world suddenly pulled the drain on the reality of their dreams and lives. Only one of us got to be Jeff Bezos this year, while others experienced the pandemic as nurses or teachers or grocery store clerks or single mothers on unemployment homeschooling their children.  There were families who, like us, experienced the fireworks over the Magic Kingdom in Disneyworld- three nights in a row at the end of February 2020 and thought- this is never going away.  “I am standing here with thousands of other travelers, shoulder to shoulder experiencing the magic of a staged fireworks show for the third time this week at the happiest place on earth. This is incredible. And if I come back tomorrow or the days after that they’ll be doing the same thing.”  No one thought they could sink the Titanic either.  Not that Disney is going anywhere, or church or school or anything that, previous to the pandemic, was open 365 days a year and a staple of the human experience.  This is an awareness that time before the pandemic could be defined as “social opulence.” We could do anything, with anyone, any time we wanted.  No one had any idea that we were about to experience months of restrictions and loss, except God.  And not one person’s experience of the past year is the same. 

The recovery process from more than 500,000 deaths in this country – nearly one every minute over the last year – cannot be fathomed simply.  511,839 people is the number we’ve reached today, more than a thousand new deaths since I began writing this letter. There will be more tomorrow. How many more only God knows.  500 candles, each representing 1,000 lives stood sentinel on the steps of the White House to mark this grim milestone, more than the loss of life during any single war America has ever fought.  The candles, the church bells, the moments of silence, each a momentary memorial, and not a distraction to the work that is still ongoing.  Every day is full of prayers that this virus is done and the toll is paid.  The vaccine is here and we’ll soon have more time to support each other as other health risks, like those from cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and depression get our full attention again.  But for now, we are stuck with this war being won by wearing masks and staying home. Staying in small groups and socially distanced,based out of our homes indefinitely, hosting virtual meetings to be together. 

There were major steps this year in the fight for social justice and cleaning the palate of confederate propaganda in this country.  In 2020, 160 confederate plaques and statues were removed from public spaces. There was more awareness of racial inequality since the Civil Rights Bill of 1964 and more was disclosed about current and past policies which propagated racism in this country and around the world.  As a result of the Black Lives Matter movement there was more centering of black voices and real sense that the world is not only listening but enacting real policies against discrimination.  Unfortunately, because of discriminatory practices previous to the pandemic, some of the hardest hit areas, the places who have seen the most loss, are places with the greatest demographic with people of color. If it wasn’t a result of health care disadvantages, the jobs lost and the lack of educational opportunities felt across this country were felt most strongly by people living in areas that were not economically well off before, regardless of racial identity.  The present and future costs of our necessity to meet online came, for some, with increased risks of abuse and neglect.  Even the effects of a more sedentary lifestyle adding the COVID “19” pounds or inches will have its ramifications.  Since the shutdown stopped our kids seasonal sport activities like soccer and T-ball, we hooked our children on more and more screen time, whether for education or fun.  Certainly what is true for the youngest who went a year without play groups and the oldest, especially those living in nursing homes, who went a year without group memory care programs and regular visits from their family.  What does it look like to get back these offline visits that are vital to our wellbeing? 

Just like the beginning of this pandemic- we were not equipped with a manual.  Like parenthood- we wonder, “Boy, this would be easier if I knew what to expect or how to respond, WHERE is the manual for this?” Similarly there will be no manual for how we will “resume normal”.  How can we support our fellow Americans to find the strength to continue mask wearing even when they have been vaccinated, even when they are on vacation? There are real in-person gatherings that have been missed and we need to return to in earnest, like church and school and community meals, not to mention the birthday parties and in-person check-ups with the doctor we’ve been putting off or the haircut or the trips to the gym.  How about “cleaning my house” because guests are coming over?  I have inherited the philosophy from my mother that a clean house is the sign of a life misspent. So I can thankfully say that by that philosophy, my life has been rich!  But when I look at pictures of my house from a year ago I think, “My goodness! Was my house ever that clean?”  I am spending my time uncluttering this year but because I want to and I recognize that in the world I am going back to, I will likely never have to wear high heels again!  How freeing.  

I recognize that this year, the same one-inch zoom cubes that are instant video portals to connect safely with the loved ones in my life are the same virtual windows that some families use to say final goodbyes to their family stricken with COVID-19. Most of this technology has seemed a novelty, much like fireworks over the Magic Kingdom, but these tools of technology teleport us to moments of very real and lasting connection with our friends and family.  Luckily for most – these interactions are fun and happy.  We are face to face and together again.  Without masks.  The simultaneous sounds of laughter and conversation– minus singing.  That would be something great to figure out for 2021 – how to phase audio for simultaneous- multi-track singing.  Whenever that arrives, I hope we’ll be singing in person much, much sooner.  

I have experienced more love in 2020 and pray 2021 will continue that trend, infinitely for the rest of my life. I always want to know, “Love lives here.” I am very lucky to have the support of my husband and that our kids are young enough that they have had the opportunity for in-person school since October.  I have found humans to be capable of customizing experiences to fit the conditions we’re under because we were “wonderfully made” and as long as we are living, should expect no less from what is possible in this world.  That with God’s grace we, sinful creatures, who take things for granted, can be “adaptable and rugged” when forced to change our plans and “let go and let God.”  And it is with a grateful heart that another year is in the books where there is Good News still to be found here, there, and everywhere, on earth as it is in heaven. Even on-line! And without realizing it, or meaning to, my “Dear 2021 letter” has been more of a testament to all the challenges and what we overcame in 2020.   Tomorrow will be what it is, but for followers of Jesus it is possible to feel full of hope; whatever tomorrow brings, we will be strengthened for it.  Even if it is more “time in the desert”.   Today we remember tomorrow.  

This excerpt is from Your Life, Your Faith: an Invitation to the Episcopal Church written by Jenifer Gamber and Bill Lewellisthe required reading in the Episcopal 411 faith group lead by Fr. Chip on Wednesday evenings this month. Jenifer and Bill sum up their own “Aha” moment about God’s covenant with his people.  

“God challenges us to dream.  To pray is to dream, to hope, to expect, to trust, to imagine… Only the pray-er knows that the really real is God breaking into human history– breaking through our prejudices and preferred notions with questions about poor and powerless persons, about justice and peace, about personal and systemic transformation so we might break out with new God-given hearts to pursue God’s heart’s desires.  Allow God to transform you… Today we remember tomorrow.”  

The year 2020 was the “really real”.  God transformed us through the “wonder”, the “mystery” and the call to “break through our prejudices and preferred notions”.  Overcoming personal challenges is nothing anyone “wants” to have in their life, but it is a necessary part of life, no matter what year it is.  I feel confident in tomorrow because God equips us with so many tools we can be grateful for, including and especially prayer!  In a post-traumatic, post-COVID world that hopefully comes in 2021, let us pray that we’ve learned what we needed to so that we can be better to ourselves and to each other as God desires of his people in his kingdom on earth.  And that all our tomorrows can be filled with lasting, meaningful and positive change to do the good work God envisions for each of us. 

Prayerfully Submitted, 

Laura Noonan

Mom and Family Faith Kit Coordinator

March 1, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector: 

A Really Old (But Good) Prayer for Lent

It’s been more than twelve years now since I became rector of St Andrew’s, but I still remember the day when I entered my little office for the first time, and finding some things left behind from previous rectors and interim clergy.  In an old shoe box, I found an old ‘tract rack’ publication from Forward Movement Publications (the same Episcopal publisher of the popular “Forward Day-by Day” daily meditation booklets), called “Prayers for All Occasions.”

Somehow, after all these years, that little book survived any number of chances for its demise, maybe because I’d deemed it potentially useful enough (and small enough) to tuck into the back of one of my desk drawers.  Up until the other day, I hadn’t looked at it once, let alone remember it was even there.

But there it was, with its charming, old-style font lettering, when I had to shuffle through the drawer for something.  At the top right hand corner of the cover, someone had neatly penciled in the number 15, which I took to be the price, another sign the book was pretty old.  I sat for a moment and leafed through it, looking for any old gems that might be worthwhile to use, or to share.  It took me a while to find it, but buried right there on one of the initial pages, was the publication date:  1961.  Exactly 60 years old.

And although the syntax seems a little dated (and remembering I just turned 60 myself…), I found one, near-perfect prayer, that has captured me in some way, in my Lenten journey.  Perhaps you might enjoy it, too:

FOR THE LENTEN SEASON

Blessed Lord, help me to go into the wilderness of quiet and meditation with thee during these forty days.  Give me grace to examine myself honestly, and to put away everything that has been keeping me from following thee faithfully.

Almighty God, who hast said that man shall not live by bread alone but by thee, enable me to still all earthly desires, and to long only for those things which truly satisfy the soul.

O Holy Spirit, by whose aid alone we can be masters of ourselves, abide in me and give me self-control.  Strengthen me to keep my tongue from angry and unkind words, and my body always as a temple meet for thee.

Heavenly Father, whose Blessed Son taught us to be perfect in love as thou art, help me to love my neighbors as myself.  May the compassionate heart of Jesus ever be my inspiration and example, that thy love may be glorified by mine.

Lord Jesus, who didst demand of thy disciples that they should take up the Cross and follow thee, let me not falter in my self-denial before this stern discipline.  Whatever sacrifice thou wouldst have me make for thee, give me grace to make it with a willing and joyful  heart.   

All this we pray in the Name of God:  Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Yours in faith, hope and love,

Father Chip+

February 26, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector

Remembering 500,000 loved ones

This week marked an awful milestone in this grim pandemic saga:  more than 500,000 Americans have now lost their lives to the novel coronavirus. 

That’s a really, really big number.  Almost too hard to get our minds around.  Take, for example, every year-round resident on the Vineyard (about 17,000 persons), and think about every one of those lives wiped out from our lives, and the lives of those who loved them. 

Then multiply those 17,000 persons thirty times.

Many of us have experienced directly the loss of friends, or loved ones, from the virus, or have ourselves had to survive it—and perhaps even have long-lasting, “long hauler” symptoms, that may never completely heal.   

We might be asking ourselves, “How can we be true to God and to others and duly honor those who have died?”  What does God ask of us in these times? 

We must find ways to be compassionate—literally, ‘suffer with’ others.

In my Lenten disciplines, one recent suggested daily practice is to pay attention to actually seeing the faces of all we encounter during our days.  (I know, it sounds ridiculously simple, but I’ve become aware how frequently I DON’T bother to SEE others in my days of ‘busy-ness,’ and even less frequently do I seek out their faces, even when I do consider myself ‘present’ with them.)  The point of the practice: to truly encounter someone’s uniqueness and being, by gazing upon their face (what the philosopher Wittgenstein cazlled ‘the soul of the body’).

Which brings me to the larger point:  in order for us to become more fully human ourselves, we need to pay attention to the ways we can SEE all others as humans, too (as compared to the infinite ways we seem to know how to DE-humanize others).

And that goes for all whom we have lost.  We must lament

While I was watching a television program yesterday, they showed a segment about a young mother who had died from the virus, and included all sorts of photographs of her, smiling, with her loving husband and family.  I think she was 43 when she was tested positive with the virus.  Only two days later she was placed on a ventilator, and shortly thereafter she died.  They talked about all she did for her family and her work in the community, and how much she was loved by all sorts of people who benefitted from her loving work among them.  I have to wonder if her husband had even gotten over the shock of the sudden diagnosis before she died.  Her loss impacted so many people.  The word “tragic” doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Think of it:  that one life, times 500,000.  Half a million lives snuffed out, and many, many more who have to suffer through it, and carry on without them. 

We are called to pray, and to suffer with all of them.  Ask for God’s help, for God’s healing, for God’s holy peace.

Today, St Andrew’s Church will join with many other churches on the island and in the nation, by ringing out our bells to honor and remember (re-member) those among us taken too soon by the virus.    

Perhaps you’d like to join us sometime during this day, or at 5:00 pm, and say together with us, the following prayer from John O’Donohue (from “On the death of the beloved”, in Benedictus:  A Book of Blessings), and remember real people, with real faces:

Though your days here were brief,

Your spirit was alive, awake, complete.

We look towards each other no longer

From the old distance of our names;

Now you dwell inside the rhythm of breath,

As close to us as we are to ourselves.   

Though we cannot see you with outward eyes,

We know our soul’s gaze is upon your face,

Smiling back at us from within everything

To which we bring our best refinement.

Let us not look for you only in memory,

Where we would grow lonely without you.

You would want us to find you in presence,

Beside us when beauty brightens,

When kindness glows

And music echoes eternal tones.

When orchids brighten the earth,

Darkest winter has turned to spring;

May this dark grief flower with hope

In every heart that loves you.

May you continue to inspire us:

To enter each day with a generous heart.

To serve the call of courage and love

Until we see your beautiful face again

In that land where there is no more separation,

Where all the tears will be wiped from our mind,

And where we will never lose you again.

Your brother in faith,

Father Chip+

February 25, 2021

Abide

In one of the many books I am reading for Lent, “A Spring in the Desert”, by Frank & Victoria Logue, there is an outline for each week. This week’s theme is: Humility with the spiritual practice of prayer.

In another book, “With Gladness” by Christopher H. Martin, I am trying to incorporate daily prayer into my frenetic life for 20 minutes a day.

And then, in my reading “Forward Day by Day” on February 24th, I hit the jackpot!

I have a new word, abide, to add to my collection. It means to accept or act in accordance with (a rule, decision, or recommendation).  It can also mean to live or stay or remain. 

“How can we can remain in Christ’s love?

One simple approach is to sit comfortably, close your eyes, and slowly and prayerfully repeat these works from Psalm 46:10 like this:

Be still and know that I am God

Be still and know that I am

Be still and know

Be still

Be

If you pray in this way, you will find you have created space to abide in love. The peace you feel can remain with you throughout your day.”

As I mentioned last week, I am adding things for Lent, so I am going to give this a try – also because it is part of the discipline which I agreed to abide by during this Lenten season.  I have been a T.M. meditator since the 70’s, and spiritual meditation also takes discipline.

Like a mantra, Psalm 46 is the perfect way to clear your mind and get you into whatever prayer you can be still with and be at one with God.

So, I will give it a try. Will you give it a try, too?

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.

John 15:9

Thankful,

Palmer Marrin

February 24, 2021

The Feast of St Matthias the Apostle

Dear brothers and sisters in faith,                                      

It was last March 15, 2020, when we had our last “in person,” communal worship at St Andrew’s.  It seems so long ago now since we’ve been able to worship together.  What a loss!  At this stage, I’m hopeful and optimistic that, with the days now lengthening and the prospect of being able to get outdoors more often, together with more and more of us getting vaccinated, things will change and our “normal” lives will begin to take hold, sooner than later. 

And I can’t wait for that first Holy Eucharist, together again, whenever that time is right—and safe.

In the meantime, our dear clergy friend Cynthia Hubbard has come up with a great idea:

Why not invite everyone to “write a letter to 2021” and say what you want to say?   We could, with permission, circulate these in some way, or place them in a “St Andrew’s Church Pandemic Book 2021”, or use them in some way that allows us to get off what’s on our chests, and even ‘testify’ if that’s what we’re doing.  Indeed, there’s no ‘right or wrong’ way to do this, and there are a number of ways we can be creative about our endeavor. 

For example, we could address our letter in any number of ways, such as “Dear God,” or “Dear 2021,” or “Dear friends of St Andrew’s Church,” just to name a few.

And we could include deep thoughts about our mourning and losses (“I lost my close friend of 63 years, and couldn’t say goodbye in the hospital”), or things we’ve been surprisingly thankful for (“I began to take long walks outdoors again, and re-established a connection and fondness for nature,” or, “thank God for my dear sister in Colorado for staying in touch by phone every week and keeping me sane!”).  We might talk about how this past year has changed us, or made us aware of things about ourselves we hadn’t known, or had been ignoring. 

Another thing we might do is say what our loss of being together at St Andrew’s has meant to us, and what it is we’re looking forward to when we ‘re-open.’  Or even, “one of the things I hope we can work on together at St Andrew’s is establishing creative ways to stay connected with each other,” or some other thing you’d like to see happen in our sweet and vital parish.

Please know we are happy to keep your ideas, thoughts, and expressed concerns confidential, in trust, unless and until you let us know we have your permission to share them, in whichever way we think may be helpful and meaningful to all of us here at St Andrew’s.

Like I said, really, this is a chance for you to take a few minutes and reflect, and “write that letter” that allows you to name things and to journey on—and to share it with the rest of us, brothers and sisters in faith, children of our living God of love and life, in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If you are up for it, please feel free to email us with your letter, or send it by regular mail.  It would seem a lovely thing to do for Lent, so perhaps anytime between now and Palm Sunday (March 28) would be best.  

I so look forward to seeing you, I hope, sometime soon.  May God hold you in the palm of God’s hand, and bring you peace, comfort, health, and joy—and a strong and enduring faith.

Your brother in Christ,

Father Chip+

PS:  You can email your letters, notes, thoughts, in whatever form, to office@standrewsmv.org, or mail them to us at the church to PO Box 1287, Edgartown, 02539.          

February 23, 2021

Tuesday night, as my little family gathered around our own pancake supper (dreaming of better days at St. Andrews!), I tried to explain Lent to our little boys. They both declared they wanted to give something up for Lent. It has not really lasted of course, but I was still pleased with their sentiment. Edward’s was nonsensical at age 2, but William, age 4, offered to give up “always trying to play with his brother’s truck” that he desperately covets. This was a big deal, as it’s the cause of many disagreements in our home lately. I was so touched by his heart. Well, his heart is still sweet, but when Ash Wednesday rolled around the next morning, he asked me when I was taking Edward’s truck away. Apparently part of the fast was watching his brother fast from this beloved toy as well! It reminded me of gleefully sharing as a child that I’d be giving up broccoli (a former least favorite) for Lent. My parents laughed and laughed, but were not fooled by my tricks.

When it came to my turn around the table, I still had not decided my own fast. For weeks, I have been pondering what I could do to bring myself closer to God on my Lenten journey. I used to always give up some food or food group that would benefit me physically. In recent years, I’ve tried adding things such as practicing gratitude, or fasting from negative thoughts. After the year we have had, I felt like it should be something really “important”, but couldn’t put my finger on precisely what it should be. But before I realized what I was saying, I suddenly blurted out, “I’m giving up yelling for Lent.” Talk about the Spirit moving through me!

I almost didn’t share this meditation with you all because I’m frankly embarrassed that I raise my voice these days far more than I ever thought I would as a parent. Far more than I ever have in my life! It’s not something that has ever come naturally to me, so it’s been a little mind boggling to me that when things are out of control with my 2 older children, which is often, my volume goes up. My background is in early childhood development; I KNOW better. If anything, shouting just escalates the undesired behavior. So why do I not do better with my own children whom I love more than anything?! It’s something I’ve been working on for the past several months, but I wouldn’t say I’ve had great success. My mother tells me to give myself grace, that the last thing I need on top of parenting 3 children age 4 and under in a pandemic is more guilt. She’s right, and is just trying to show me love from miles away, but it still plagues me. It’s at the top of my own nightly prayer list, so maybe it’s high time I really REALLY bring it to Jesus. When I’m feeling out of control, I’m trying to turn to Him.

And as for my shame in sharing? I realize that my shame in admitting this weakness here is precisely why I should share.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Blessings to you on your Lenten journey,

❤️Sara Barrington

February 22. 2021

A Meditation from the Rector:  Finding Freedom  

One of my regular joys during my life in the Time of Covid is recording worship with Poli Wilson, our film director-in-residence.  (If you haven’t had the opportunity to meet her, I highly recommend you put it on your bucket list.  She’s about as positive a person as I’ve ever encountered.  (I would submit folks like Poli are in short supply these days, and in particularly in high-demand in the Time of Covid.))

Anyway, we finished recording worship this past Thursday, the First Sunday in Lent, and I was concerned my sermon was too unstructured / unfocused / a real chocolate mess.  “Was that OK, Poli?  Do you think that’ll work?” I said to her, hoping she’d stopped recording.  She laughed, thinking I was worried it would make my questions onto our YouTube service, and then spent about ten minutes talking with me about some of the theological concepts I’d touched upon during the sermon.  (Not only is Poli remarkably upbeat, but she’s a deep thinker, and has an obvious knack for theology.  (Trust me:  I’m sure there’s no mistake in that she boasts the two attributes together!))

Anyway, Poli had the idea that, when you really pare things down, thinking about our human tendency to foul things up, ‘sin’ as they say, we really aren’t at ‘liberty’ to do what we want when it comes to following the Christ, seeking to meld our wills with God’s.  More specifically, Poli was getting at something I’ve thought about a quite a bit over the years.  Ever think about the meaning of the word, ‘deliberate’?  We can think of it as, ‘de-liberate.’  Something’s got a hold of us such that we must work through whatever it is we must work through, and so we are not ‘free’ or ‘liberated’ to just go our own ways.  There are conventions for ‘normal’ behaviors, and hopefully we must make right and good and healthful choices along the way that don’t merely serve us, but also serve the ‘common good,’ but I’ve come to conclude there’s something else.    

Being a Christian takes our choice options—and our ‘deliberation’—to a whole other level.

We must compare our decisions against God’s hopes for us.  Sometimes those decisions are not obvious, or clear, or simple.  Sometimes we must be satisfied, for the time being, knowing it may not be something we can know, or resolve, or act upon, right away, but will require more time, thought, and—get this—prayer.  Discernment

And it’s also occurred to me that some of the things God might be inviting me to discern, or deliberate, are things I’ve chosen to ignore, or conveniently forget.  Funny thing is, as I’ve learned all too many times, it is only when I take those things up, consider them deeply, pray for guidance, truly discern, that I begin to sense I’m on the right track—and perhaps even feel lighter, better.  And if I’m lucky, I’ll reach a holy place with all that.  Where I end up on the given matter may seem strange and surprising, but even if it’s exactly what I’d hoped for, there is a catharsis.   Something that had been seeking to come out, be expressed, be given effect, life even, has been born.  For the bigger things (one example I’ll never forget for myself was my own discernment to seek ordination to the priesthood), we even might experience tears.  Real, crying joy.  And that’s about the best indication I’ve ever known to tell me my will comports with God’s. 

And I always recognize it when I see it:  we can be as free as God, really. 

Free to love, fully

For me, that’s perfect freedom. 

Liberation.   

Yours in Christ,

Father Chip+

February 19, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector:  Our Lenten Challenge

It’s Thursday, I just finished recording worship for Sunday, February 21 with our stellar Poli Wilson behind the camera, and I feel great!

I seem to be in the “Lenten mode” now, which I understand can be a little difficult to get ‘into,’ especially during these days when it’s (a) cold (b) gray  (c) snowy and icy (d) we’re in a pandemic, for God’s sake (e) vaccinations are taking too long  (f) life’s been a bit anxious for so many of us, due to (see a—e, and also) [you fill in the blanks here:____________].  Which, to my mind, is not what you might think:  it’s a cool place to ‘be.’

Let’s face it:  who wants to go all Debbie Downer and admit our faults?  Consider our excesses?  And maybe even worse:  say I’m sorry…      

Well, friends in faith, I’ve got some news for you, and hopefully it’ll lift you up a tad.  With a little work, you can feel better almost right away.  HOW, you might ask?

Taking five minutes—alone—no phones, TV, music, just SILENCE—and being.  Being with God. 

Seriously. 

So, maybe it’s worth it to try it out.  (Is this another “Father Chip getting all weird on us” again? you might be asking yourself suspiciously…)   

In your eternal life, dear brother or sister in Christ, what’s five minutes?  Maybe even go crazy and make it ten?

Here’s your Lenten Challenge (maybe for right now, or just today, or maybe each day during  Lent (or maybe just a couple or three of them):

Read the GREAT LITANY, below.  And actually think about what’s being said / prayed.

And then, when it’s all over, stop for a couple or three minutes and reflect on some of the things that may have struck you. 

You, my lucky Episcopal brother or sister in Christ, consistently reap the benefits of carefully-worded and poetic liturgy, and this Great Litany is one of them. 

If you think about it, it pretty much covers the whole landscape of things we could be better at. 

And just reading through them, I’m reminded that when I confront my failures and fears, in the presence of God, that a great weight shifts from within me and lifts off my shoulders, somehow, but it really does, and it’s a mystery.

Thank you, God.  Only in Christ can I be saved.  Rescued.  And find abundant life.

[By the way, please check out the Anglican chanting of the Great Litany (you can hold up your own scorecard with this email and follow along) and participate in Rite I worship this Sunday on YouTube…you’ll be so glad you did!  And a bonus:  you’ll find out what the “Two Boots” for your soul are, on your spiritual journey on The Way!—and maybe even get another clue or two about what  your next Lenten Challenges might be!]              

The Great Litany

To be said or sung, kneeling, standing, or in procession; before the
Eucharist or after the Collects of Morning or Evening Prayer; or
separately; especially in Lent and on Rogation days.

O God the Father, Creator of heaven and earth,
Have mercy upon us.

O God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy upon us.

O God the Holy Spirit, Sanctifier of the faithful,
Have mercy upon us.

O holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity, one God,
Have mercy upon us.

Remember not, Lord Christ, our offenses, nor the offenses
of our forefathers; neither reward us according to our sins.
Spare us, good Lord, spare thy people, whom thou hast
redeemed with thy most precious blood, and by thy mercy
preserve us, for ever.
Spare us, good Lord.

From all evil and wickedness; from sin; from the crafts
and assaults of the devil; and from everlasting damnation,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From all blindness of heart; from pride, vainglory,
and hypocrisy; from envy, hatred, and malice; and from all want
of charity,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From all inordinate and sinful affections; and from all the
deceits of the world, the flesh, and the devil,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From all false doctrine, heresy, and schism; from hardness
of heart, and contempt of thy Word and commandment,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From lightning and tempest; from earthquake, fire, and
flood; from plague, pestilence, and famine,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From all oppression, conspiracy, and rebellion; from
violence, battle, and murder; and from dying suddenly and
unprepared,
Good Lord, deliver us.

By the mystery of thy holy Incarnation; by thy holy Nativity
and submission to the Law; by thy Baptism, Fasting, and
Temptation,
Good Lord, deliver us.

By thine Agony and Bloody Sweat; by thy Cross and Passion;
by thy precious Death and Burial; by thy glorious Resurrection
and Ascension; and by the Coming of the Holy Ghost,
Good Lord, deliver us.

In all time of our tribulation; in all time of our prosperity; in
the hour of death, and in the day of judgment,
Good Lord, deliver us.

We sinners do beseech thee to hear us, O Lord God; and that
it may please thee to rule and govern thy holy Church
Universal in the right way,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to illumine all bishops, priests, and
deacons, with true knowledge and understanding of thy
Word; and that both by their preaching and living, they may
set it forth, and show it accordingly,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to bless and keep all thy people,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to send forth laborers into thy
harvest, and to draw all mankind into thy kingdom,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to give to all people increase of grace
to hear and receive thy Word, and to bring forth the fruits of
the Spirit,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to bring into the way of truth all such
as have erred, and are deceived,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to give us a heart to love and fear
thee, and diligently to live after thy commandments,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee so to rule the hearts of thy servants,
the President of the United States (or of this nation), and all
others in authority, that they may do justice, and love mercy,
and walk in the ways of truth,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to make wars to cease in all the world;
to give to all nations unity, peace, and concord; and to
bestow freedom upon all peoples,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to show thy pity upon all prisoners
and captives, the homeless and the hungry, and all who are
desolate and oppressed,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to give and preserve to our use the
bountiful fruits of the earth, so that in due time all may enjoy
them,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to inspire us, in our several callings,
to do the work which thou givest us to do with singleness of
heart as thy servants, and for the common good,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to preserve all who are in danger by
reason of their labor or their travel,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to preserve, and provide for, all
women in childbirth, young children and orphans, the
widowed, and all whose homes are broken or torn by strife,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to visit the lonely; to strengthen all
who suffer in mind, body, and spirit; and to comfort with thy
presence those who are failing and infirm,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to support, help, and comfort all who
are in danger, necessity, and tribulation,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to have mercy upon all mankind,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to give us true repentance; to forgive
us all our sins, negligences, and ignorances; and to endue
us with the grace of thy Holy Spirit to amend our lives
according to thy holy Word,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to forgive our enemies, persecutors,
and slanderers, and to turn their hearts,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to strengthen such as do stand; to
comfort and help the weak-hearted; to raise up those who
fall; and finally to beat down Satan under our feet,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to grant to all the faithful departed
eternal life and peace,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to grant that, in the fellowship of
[__________ and] all the saints, we may attain to thy
heavenly kingdom,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

Son of God, we beseech thee to hear us.
Son of God, we beseech thee to hear us.

O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy upon us.

O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy upon us.

O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world,
Grant us thy peace.

O Christ, hear us.
O Christ, hear us.

Lord, have mercy upon us.Kyrie eleison.
Christ, have mercy upon us.orChriste eleison.
Lord, have mercy upon us.Kyrie eleison.

February 18, 2021

So this Lent, are we going to give something up or dive in and add something?

Deprivation has never really worked for me.

So I have decided to dive in. During Covid, for almost a year now, I have had a thirst for knowledge in my faith and my community.

So I am diving in.

Reading every day and quiet contemplation and, of course, Zooming to pertinent meetings.

What a perfect time to dig deeper into that quiet place of our souls to see what’s there? But I can’t have distractions, radio, the dog, food. Just quiet.

So let’s see how it goes.

I must be mindful, discerning and perhaps reconcile my walls that I come up against.

O God, you are my God; eagerly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you,

my flesh faints for you, as in a barren and dry land where there is no water.

Psalm 63:1

Faithfully yours,

Palmer Marrin

February 17, 2021

Time for a new thing

Mark 11: 26-33 NKJV

Jesus: “The baptism of John, was it from heaven or men? Answer me.”

Priests, Scribes and Elders: “We do not know”.

This excerpt from scripture is eerily relevant.  How many times in our humanity have we chosen ignorance over honesty for fear of what’s on the other side of truth?  We like to hover….live in indecision, a kind of middle ground where we don’t have to get our feet wet, veer from the past, choose a different direction.

How many times did Christ provide a mirror?  Allow us to see our very human choices?  When he saw his audience of priests, scribes and elders were less interested in truth and more interested in protecting themselves, he responded, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”   For the first time, reading this excerpt from scripture, I truly understood: Jesus provided a mirror, and honored God’s gift of free will.  He let his audience reap what they sowed.  What they sowed was doubt and confusion that prolonged the human experience of separation from Christ and God.

In some ways, it seems like we live this biblical exchange, the behavior of it, over and over.  Personally, I know I have with my family when I wanted to avoid facing a difficult issue.  I’ve also experienced it working with groups.  Executives, managers and teams choosing to hold on to beliefs and behaviors that ignore current conditions that inevitably lead to repetitious decisions and disastrous outcomes.  I see it on the national and world stage, countries afraid of acknowledging truths scientists and spiritual leaders have beseeched the world to address such as climate change, the migration of people, drug and gun violence.  Even when we know something is not aligned with the greater good, we continue because acknowledging our error impacts our position or forces us to do something that hasn’t been done before.

Sometimes, underneath indecisiveness is fear, lies and distortions that often lead to chaos.  We need the chaos, so we don’t have to address what’s underneath. If our personal lives are a microcosm of dynamics in the greater world, I’m encouraged by my experience. I assure you, whenever I’ve faced the unfaceable, the outcome was better than anything I imagined.  It was my fear that turned the condition into a monster.

What if we break the cycle of indecision and ambiguity and choose courage?  Do the right things motivated by desire to make the crooked places straight and let love and light lead.  What would it look like? What would it feel like?

What if we choose not to see ourselves separate from God and each other? Wouldn’t we behave differently?

What if we admitted our fallibility? Wouldn’t reconciliation, the opportunity to make rational, common good, decisions be available to us?

Listening, honesty, appropriately asking for and extending forgiveness and mercy, letting spirit guide, are ways of being that break the cycle of repetition and cancel the culture of chaos.  If we embrace God’s omniscience and omnipresence, the storm (chaos) recedes and his love guides.  Sometimes, to a place we haven’t been before.

Isaiah 43:19 NKJV

Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert”.

Dear God, I surrender.  I am listening. I am watching. I am ready, for a new thing.

In Faith and Peace, Andrea Bolling

February 16, 2021

Today is Shrove Tuesday, “Fat Tuesday”, or, as the Louisianans call it, “Mardi Gras”.  An actual day to indulge, be it pancakes or King Cake, before we firm up our Lenten plans for sacrifice and fasting during the next 40 days, or 46 if you’re counting.  We are sorry not to have a communal pancake meal with Bonnie Deitz and crew.  Hopefully we can resume that tradition next year!  If you need a reason to cook your own pancake dinner this year look no further!  It is a delicious and simple meal with any number of special ingredients and gallons of syrup.

As fun as Mardi Gras is, Lent for me is definitely marked more by what I’m “giving up” for the next 6 weeks.  Always, since I was a little girl, I would give up ice cream.  This is a simple but challenging thing to give up for me.  I don’t eat ice cream every day but when I give it up for Lent it’s likely there will be more than a few instances where I have to remind myself before I buy it at the grocery store or take myself to the Dairy Queen (when, on occasion, it opens before Easter). Giving up ice cream becomes my fail safe because the second thing I give up is something harder, a big challenge– something I do every day that I would really like to stop doing. Once it was biting my nails (that worked- I don’t bite my nails anymore), I have tried to give up all candy (which has never worked out), and this year it is going to be “no TV” for me.   TV watching, for me, is a behavior I think keeps me from drawing closer to the people around me and the absence of it will give us more time and incentive to play a game or read a book. Plus more time to spend in conversation with each other and with Jesus in prayer.  I will definitely use the time wisely and keep you posted on how it’s going.

Additionally, a tradition in my house growing up was the use of a daily calendar with activities to do during Lent.  I have found two really good examples and share them with you here.  These calendars are written from a Christian perspective from Devyn and Tally Designs and are available for purchase on Etsy.  I share them here with you- but if you’d like to support their small business, look them up on Etsy and purchase the calendar of your choosing or both.

The 2021 Kids Lenten Calendar is part of the February Faith Kits which come with a journal and color markers to respond to some of the prompts on the calendar.  While this calendar is written for kids with example activities like “Chat with someone in school you wouldn’t normally talk to”, most of the activities are good behaviors for any of us, regardless of age, and can be applied to all regardless of situation.  The other calendar, the 2021 Carbon Fast Lenten Calendar, prompts us to consider behaviors that are impacting climate change and energy consumption.  The very first prompt, “Remove one light bulb in your house and live without it for 40 days”, is a fitting reminder that all of our behaviors have an impact, whether we literally see those impacts or not. 

Whatever we do or don’t do this Lent, let your journey bring new life to your life by taking this opportunity to know Jesus more deeply. 

Is not this the fast that I choose:

To loose the bonds of injustice,

to undo the thongs of the yoke,

to let the oppressed go free,

and to break every yoke? (Isaiah 58:6)

Blessings to all on your Lenten journey.

Sincerely,

Laura Noonan

Mom and Family Faith Kit Coordinator

February 15, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector:  Reconnecting with the Light 

God willing, Colleen and I will be able to depart for the tiny, mystical island of Iona, Scotland, as part of my long-awaited sabbatical, beginning in August.  I will be involved in something termed a “pilgrimage” for one week there, studying with The Rev Dr John Philip Newell.  One of his more recent books is The Rebirthing of God:  Christianity’s Struggle for New Beginnings, and it’s simply wonderful. 

I think his third chapter, “Reconnecting with the Light,” is especially pertinent to this season, as we move from winter and begin to look ahead to spring.  We are moving, slowly but ever-so-surely, as we do each year, from our wintertime cocoons of cold and darkness, to a metamorphosis, being the same person but decidedly not just the same person, as we grow.  Newell thinks that light itself is worthy enough to pay attention to, and that it tells us something valuable about how God ordered things and cares for us.  “Chapter 3,” he writes, “explores the important discipline of looking for light at the heart of all life.  The light of God is not simply a feature of the universe.  It is the essence of the universe.  If this light were somehow extracted from the body of the cosmos, everything would cease to exist.  This, says the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver, is why we ‘have come into the world…to be filled with light, and to shine.’  The Sacred will be reborn within us and among us when we remember, again and again, the light, naming it at the heart of one another and knowing that we carry it for another.”

And within the body of Chapter 3, Newell reprints this wondrous poem from Mary Oliver:

Have you ever seen

anything

in your life

more wonderful

than the way the sun,

every evening,

relaxed and easy,

floats towards the horizon

and in the clouds or the hills,

or the rumpled sea,

and is gone—

and how it slides again

out of the blackness,

every morning,

on the other side of the world,

like a red flower

streaming upward on its heavenly oils,

say, on a morning in the early summer,

at its perfect imperial distance—

and have you ever felt for anything

such wild love—

do you think there is anywhere, in any language,

a word billowing enough

for the pleasure

that fills you,

as the sun

reaches out,

as it warms you

as you stand there,

empty-handed—

or have you too

turned from this world—

or have you too

gone crazy

for power,

for things?

Mary Oliver, “The Sun,” in New and Selected Poems, vol. 1 (Boston:  Beacon Press,, 1992), 50-51.  

Yours in Christ,

Father Chip+            

February 12, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector: Finding Peace in a Violent World

Spoiler Alert!  This coming Sunday’s (Feb 14) sermon is about the Transfiguration of Jesus (as it always is on the last Sunday before Lent, wrapping up the season of Epiphany), so you might check out the worship on YouTube then.  It’ll add to the thoughts here…

So we have Jesus go up this mountain with some friends, and all of a sudden his clothes become ‘dazzling white.’  I think back and remember a science experiment in the lab in my seventh-grade class when Mr Lux (Long Lots Junior High, Westport, Connecticut, for you inquiring minds) ignited some element (was it magnesium or manganese?) and it was SO WHITE AND DAZZLING it almost hurt to look at it!  Way beyond yellow light.  I felt like I needed a pair of shades!

Anyway, that’s the image I have when I think of Jesus’ transfiguration.  But then what happens? 

He goes down that mountain.  He follows his heart.  It’s in accordance with what God has in store for him.  It’s what he really wants, too, although he’s probably not sure he’s going to like what happens when he keeps on.  (We all know how THAT story ended…ouch!  But then again, there was that ‘third day’!)

And I always think to myself, Thank God I’m not Jesus!  And thank God I’m not supposed to be, either!  (Asking myself over and over “What Would Jesus Do” only goes so far…)

Now here’s the thing:  Jesus became quite acquainted with who he himself really was, and that in and of itself brought about an inner peace and resolve only to BE peaceful in order to bring about GOD’S peace.  And knowing the full power of God (way beyond us), and knowing God was putting that full power behind Jesus, Jesus was able to head down that mountain toward Jerusalem with GREAT POWER that could bring PEACE.

“Listen to him,” God says up there on that mountain.  Obey him.

It is clear to me our work in this world will never really end:  our work to bring about peace, share love, work together for justice, bind wounds, heal all we can.  But as Jesus seemed to encounter, once we plateau on a certain level, another challenge may present itself to us, call to us, claim us. 

And we must go.

As Jesus found out early, before he was able to fulfill his ultimate purpose, he needed to take deep, deep stock of—and care for—himself, inside.  Giving that self over to God in prayer allowed him to find inner peace.  And God rewarded him with Godly strength, the very power, and spirit, of God.

John Dear writes, in The Nonviolent Life (2013):

“Nonviolence, when all is said and done, is a specific way of life, a conscious path…[and] I invite you, dear reader, to pause and choose with me to live at peace with ourselves and the God of peace, from now on, come what may.

“From this day forward, let’s consciously choose to be nonviolent to ourselves so that we can become more nonviolent to everyone.  Let’s claim our identities as the beloved sons and daughters of the God of peace, plumb the inner, mystical depths of peace, and radiate personally the peace we seek politically and publicly for everyone.

“Let’s promise ourselves that we will no longer nurse violence within us or contribute to the world’s violence, but spend the short time we have left on earth becoming the loving people of nonviolence we were created to be, and consciously spreading the way and wisdom of nonviolence in the hope that one day the world will become more and more a place of nonviolence, justice and peace.

.               .               .

“This is a choice worth making, a path worth walking, a promise worth keeping, a good way to spend the rest of our lives.”

To whom do we listen?

Faithfully yours,

Father Chip+

February 11, 2021

My favorite word in 2019-2020 was “Discernment.” Which came up during our small groups for the reVision at St. Andrew’s. It keeps coming up in everything and still does. How I look at my faith and my life, more deeply.

Now for 2020-2021, “Reconciliation” is the word, not to replace discernment, but to be added to the list of meaningful words. Through discernment comes reconciliation, but only if we listen.

To listen, not to be listened to. We have to stop, take a breath.

It has always been important, but in this present crisis of life, now more than ever.

I was talking to my sister whose small Episcopal church is looking for a minister. They have only had interim ministers.  She said they are interviewing a new minister, but said how much she missed the connectedness of having a church with a solid foundation, therein lies the minister and the congregation.

She happened to be on the Vineyard when we had our one in-person service at the Tabernacle. Then she was here for a Zoom coffee hour, and she hasn’t stopped talking about how wonderful it was to “see” people. So I had just finished watching Father Chip’s service this past Sunday and told her to watch it.

It is everything we are talking about and should be talking about.

There is so much more going on in church if you just look. As easy as it would be to opt out of church these days – after all, why bother if we can’t see everyone?

But through all this I have found more connections to my fellow congregants and God. It is easy to go to church and say ok, I can check that box. But as much as I miss all the people, I think I know them better because I make an effort to be part of all the activities that the church has to offer.

If we are going to heal the world, we will all have to start listening to reconcile our differences.  Not to change people to our way of thinking, but to understand where they are coming from and what really matters.

Restore us, O God of hosts; show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

Psalm 80:3

Grateful,

Palmer Marrin

February 10, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector: 

Some Light for Lent–One more good idea to consider!  

Ash Wednesday is only ONE WEEK from today!

What to do to make the most of it?

  1. Join us on YouTube for Ash Wednesday worship, February 17…(and come by the church to pick up your own envelope of ashes for the service!)
  • Join our Small Group for Lent (in which we’ll do some awesome practices laid out in “With Gladness:  Answering God’s Call in Our Everyday Lives” (you might check out my meditation from yesterday, Feb 8 for more about that opportunity—what a RESPONSE we’ve had!);  and/or
  • Stop by the church and pick up your personal copy of “A Spring in the “Desert,” which is a wonderful, more traditional, do-it-yourself set of daily meditations that’ll be sure to make your Lenten pilgrimage worthwhile and meaningful!

More about A Spring in the Desert:

Short, daily meditations are patterned each week during Lent according to the following Christian virtues:

The week of Ash Wednesday:confession    

The first week in Lent:humility

The second week:forgiveness

The third week:generosity

The fourth week:constancy

The fifth week:moderation

Holy Week:loving-kindness

“Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent:  Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.”  (Collect for Ash Wednesday, BCP 264)

Fifteen copies of A Spring in the Desert will be left out on the Information Table in the Parish Hall beginning today.  (Need us to drive one out to you?  Just reply to this email and ask, or call the Church office at 508-627-5330!)

Faithfully yours,

Father Chip+

February 9, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector: 

A Gentle Invitation to a New Small Group, for Lent 

One of my favorite things to do is to take long walks on a very familiar beach in Florida that Colleen and I have grown to love over the years.  It goes on seemingly forever, visually, and it’s flat and the sand is packed down just right for a long walk.  The breezes and winds and breaking waves lull me into feeling something greater is always going on, something of which I am very much a part of, and the occasional greetings of passersby and the encounters with the various ocean-edge birds and beached wildlife complete the sunny, vibrant picture of the vital and teeming life constantly there, washing up and flowing out, over and over again, like an unseen ticking clock that never needs winding.  It is bigness and smallness all at once.  Expansive, and liminal.  Always sublime, harshly real, and suggestive of sweet and enduring grace.

And perhaps one of my favorite things to do while I’m doing one of my favorite things to do (walking the beach), is to look down while I walk, and open my eye to catch whatever shines to me.   It is unfathomable to consider all the varieties of shells, whole and broken, mixed with millennia of sands and crunching surf, that have somehow made their appearance on the surface of this span of water’s edge, each one, I always remember to think, representing the remnant of a life lived in some way, maybe a year ago, or maybe even a thousand years ago. 

And I look for the ones that somehow “shine” to me.  Maybe the light hits them just right, often when they are wet from the salty brine, or I like the shape or size, or the hue, or even the texture. I never know exactly why I choose the few shells I stop to pick up and admire on my walks.  Catching up to Colleen, I’ll hand them to her to take in, too, and smile when she says, “Oh, that’s a GOOD one,” and adds something I’ve found special about it, too:  “I like the shade of red in that one—like raspberry,” or “it’s so tiny and cute and perfect.” We go on, and I try not to fill too quickly the small pocket sewn into my swimsuit, lest it begin to chafe my thigh along the way.  “Free treasures,” I’ll say. 

Free treasures.  And I just found another one yesterday morning. 

It’s called, With Gladness:  Answering God’s Call in Our Everyday Lives, and it’s one of those short and sweet books offered each year during Lent many of us pick up each year around this time.  I’ve been able to find something that shines in all of the small Lenten meditation books we’ve offered over the years, and some have hit me more than others, but this one seems to be CALLING to me, shining in a way that begs me to enter in, invites me gently to work with the simple format it sets forth.

And I’d like to form a Small Group for Lent to share the free treasures this book offers, one that won’t take much at all of our time to be together, just once a week (via Zoom or phone) for as long or as little as we like (maybe twenty minutes, or half an hour, just to check in and connect). 

Would you consider joining me? 

A little more about the book from the author, Episcopal priest Christopher H. Martin.  “This book offers a path for you to identify and answer God’s call in your everyday life.  In these pages, I share with you a daily prayer and seven gentle practices to help embrace a new and ancient way of being a Christian in the world, body and soul….I’m seeking a style of writing where, in one [very short] sitting, you can read through the chapter and get going on the practice for that week.  At the same time, each chapter, with the help of scripture and some profound Christian voices, has enough density that, throughout the week, as you implement prayer and gentle practice, you can return to the chapter and chew a bit more on what’s there.

“The process is ideal for use during Lent.  If you read the first chapter on Ash Wednesday, you will end up reading the last chapter on the Wednesday of Holy Week, just before entering into the great days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter.” 

One thing that’s occurred to me over the 16 years of my ordained ministry (not to mention probably another good 20 years of stick-with-it (and joyously, I might add) lay ministry), is that so many of us touched by the ‘free treasure’ of faith, offer up to others those things that shine to us (much like those shells I share with Colleen on our sacred beach walks), simply to express our own joy in the experience, but also perhaps to invite others to revel in the glow, even for one, holy, shining instant. 

This one is shining with promise to me now. 

Would you consider joining me?

Somehow, I seem to recall hearing those words before, somewhere…

Your companion on The Way,

Father Chip+  

PS:  If you’d like to be a part of this, or would simply like to get a copy of the book, please reply to this email as soon as possible (TODAY is good))! And if you have any questions, please call me directly at 774-563-9716. 

PPS:  Once we determine who will be with us, we can discuss meeting times…

PPPS:  I plan to keep the group(s) small (no more than six), to encourage sharing…  

PPPPS: Remember:  no matter who you are and where you are during our Life in the Time of Covid, you can be with us!      

February 8, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector:  Living by Bread Alone

It has to be at least twenty years ago, when Tom Hanks starred in that motion picture in which his character ended up being stranded, alone, on a deserted island (“Castaway”).  He was alone for a LONG time.  If you saw the film, there were long stretches of time where there were no voices, only the sounds of him going about his business staying alive, and the sounds of the surf and storms and the like.  But no voices.

Except his own.  And if you remember, one of his chosen survival mechanisms was to paint a face on a volleyball, of all things, that had washed up on the shore following the plane crash, and begin to treat the volleyball as his companion.  He named the ball “Wilson,” (which, by the way, was the name of the ball’s manufacturer stamped right on the ball), and they seemed to have a jolly old time together.  It kept Tom Hanks’ character sane.

I know none of us is in the same boat as that film character during this pandemic, but it sure is getting long, isn’t it?  I get into these clergy Zoom meetings, and the questions seems to be getting asked frequently these days:  “What have you LOST?  What losses are you grieving?”

And my heart always goes to this:  I simply miss, deeply, the planned, and chanced, interactions and banter with EVERYONE.  And I realize how much I’ve taken all that for granted.  RELATIONSHIPS, whether family, friends, acquaintances, or even ‘strangers.’

The holiness in just BEING WITH others.  (Not to mention hugs, meals, parties, well, I could go on and on…)

So I was thinking of that when I came across this short piece by Frederick Buechner, in his “Beyond Words:  Daily Readings in the ABCs of Faith (2004)):

“We don’t live by bread alone, but we also don’t live long without it.  To eat is to acknowledge our dependence—both on food and each other.  It also reminds us of other kinds of emptiness that not even the blue-plate special can touch.”

To that I say: 

Thank God we have the mind of Christ.

Faithfully yours,

Father Chip+         

February 5, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector:  Notes about Ash Wednesday

It’s somewhat hard to believe (although I think I could believe anything these days, given all that’s been happening), but next Sunday, February 14, is The Last Sunday after the Epiphany.

That means:  Ash Wednesday (and Lent) is just around the corner—on Wednesday, February 17, to be more specific. 

And we very much hope you will join us for our recorded Ash Wednesday service that day (on YouTube, as our Sunday services).  The video will be available online beginning in the morning of that day, so you can view it when you like.

Now, you might be asking yourself:  what about ashes?  (Or at least I hope you are…)   And I have the answer:

You can come by church and pick up your own envelope of ashes to place on your own forehead, when it’s time, during the worship service (whenever you view it).

The envelopes will be placed in the Parish Hall (which will be open every weekday from 9 am to 3 pm) and should have enough ashes for TWO of you (so please take only one envelope if that’s enough for you).  They have been pre-consecrated for the purpose, so please care for them respectfully.  (Anything left over can be disposed of any way you choose.)  Also, if you would like someone from St Andrew’s (probably me or Heather Anne) to bring you your ashes, just let us know.  We’re happy to help!    

This from our own Bishops Gates and Harris: 

“We approach Lent once again with a determination to observe this season as a time for self-examination, repentance, and the renewal of our relationships with one another and with the God who yearns for our deepest love and most authentic service.

“For many of us, the ashes of Ash Wednesday are a tangible sign of our mortality and penitence, and a powerful sign of our entry into the spirit of Lent.  We know, however, the ashes merely point toward the deeper signs of repentance, renewal, and reconciliation.  These yield the fruits of the Spirit in our life:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. 

“May we find this Lenten season a time to bend the knee of our hearts, praying with the psalmist:  ‘Give me the joy of your saving help again, and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit.’”  (Ps 51:13)

Finally, look out for information coming your way about some offerings we have in store for everyone during the Lenten season.

Yours in Christ,

Father Chip+

February 4, 2021

Following on a Fisherman’s theme I came across an old poem.

Fisherman

MILES SOUTH AND OUT OF GAY HEAD

WEST PAST MENEMSHA BRIGHT

WASQUE SILVER CHANNELS EAST

RIFFS NORTH AND ICY SOUND

THROUGH TURNER’S RADIANT SEA HAZE

VERMEER’S LATE DELFT BLUE LIGHT

ON CHARCOAL BAY OR BLEACHED LAGOON

OR MERCURY~MIRRORED POND

A LONE BOAT’S CASTING, TROLLING,

RIDING ANCHOR, SILENT, SKILLED-

LUCK’S WARRIOR, ISLAND FISHERMAN

BEHOLDEN NOW TO NONE

THUS HERO TO US MORTALS, THRALLS

TO SKY AND SHORES WE’VE WILLED.

HIS MYSTERY: WORK,

ADVENTURE, LOVE ARE ONE.

By Rose Styron, 1995

Gratefully,

Palmer Marrin

February 3, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector:  Life as an Episcopalian

One of my clergy colleague friends (from my ‘previous life’ as a priest in Northeast Florida), the Rev Kurt Dunkle, once told me something that’s stuck with me.  While discussing the ins and outs of trying to interest more “Nones” (that is, folks who might consider themselves “spiritual but not religious,” or would otherwise check off a box asking them to indicate their denomination as “None”) to join our respective churches, he said, “You know, Chip, not everyone wants to become, or should be, an Episcopalian.  Episcopal church members constitute about 1.5% of the population.  I want that 1.5% in my church.”

It’s fun to do some math with all that every once in a while, but beyond “numbers,” Kurt’s point is a good one:  the Episcopal Church is not for everyone.  (I mean, of course, our doors are indeed open to everyone, but not everyone will feel that this is the right place for them.  Makes sense.

Now, here’s one thing I tell folks who happen to darken my office door and tell me they are in fact “seeking” God, people who don’t really have any sort of basis of understanding this incredibly deep ocean of being we call “living a life of faith”: start off with an open mind, and a willingness to try something for a while.  For example, I suggest they try regular attendance at one worship venue / faith community no less than six times before they “decide” whether it’s a match for them or not.  But I do tell them one more thing:  whatever it is their hearts connect with, remain open, and discipline yourself enough to stick with it, learn, and go deeper.  THAT’S where real meaning happens, where conversion most likely occurs (and more often)—and one has the best chance of real and enduring growth.  Inner growth that manifests itself on our outer actions and conduct.  (Or, as the popular author of The Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster wrote:  “The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.”  (italics mine.))

As we find ourselves in a winter of a pandemic, we might find we have the desire (and some time) to read, reflect, and ‘be together’ in some amazing conversations about what it means to be an Episcopalian.   I invite you, therefore, to consider joining some of us to read, reflect and join us in our discussions about the book, “Your Faith, Your Life,” which I believe will serve both as a worthy and practical introduction to the Christian faith and the Episcopal faith tradition for many, as well as an excellent (and meaty enough) ‘refresher’ for many more.

Please check out the details below, and prayerfully consider joining our Small Group!

Faithfully yours,

Father Chip+

INTRODUCING…

A FOUR-PART SERIES ON BEING CHRISTIAN AND AN EPISCOPALIAN**

(BEGINNING THE WEEK OF FEBRUARY 14)

**WANT TO KNOW MORE?

  • Father Chip will be facilitating FOUR “Zoom” sessions covering the material in this book.
  • Great way to learn more about our faith (Christian) and our faith tradition (Episcopal). 
  • Great way to have some good dialogue and conversations about our deepest beliefs.
  • Great way to stay connected with others during our winter of social distancing.
  • Great way to realize some important epiphanies—and perhaps experience real conversion.
  • Open to ANYONE who gets this email / would like to participate in this class (wherever you are)! 

HERE’S ALL YOU NEED TO DO: 

  • Email your RSVP back to us TODAY (cutoff date:  Sun Feb 14)
  • Questions?  Email us back TODAY!  

February 2, 2021

Groundhog Day     

This morning Punxsutawney Phil made his way out of bed to stake claim to his meteorological forecast for the rest of winter – whether he saw his shadow (signaling 6 more weeks of winter), or not (ushering in an early spring).  Either way, we certainly have something to celebrate today, just like every day.  If you are familiar with the film Groundhog Day, where a narcissistic weatherman goes to Punxsutawney to report on the forecast of Phil, but for this weatherman, played by Bill Murray, his life is irrevocably unchanged.  Every day he wakes up in Punxsutawney, every day it’s Groundhog Day all over again.  

This summer Bill introduced his film Groundhog Day at the MV Film Festival Drive-In.  Bill prefaces the film by saying, “It’s Groundhog Day. I guess it’s kind of funny that that’s become a term that people have used about this period that we’ve gone through…  That we’re not as big a jerk as we were in February, that by seeing how difficult life can be, that we get a chance to start again everyday.”  Like Bill’s character in Groundhog Day, we have each had the chance with “life on pause” to operate each day, the same, but filled with new opportunities to know ourselves better and maybe like the people around us a little more.  

Whatever the holiday, season, or weather come winter or spring, we can all be grateful for the gift of a new day.  

With prayers and thanksgiving, 

Laura Noonan

February 1, 2021

For a year now, a Carrie Underwood song, “The Bullet” has been floating around in my head. I hear the melody, the core message: a plea to pay attention, know the impact of gun violence in real time, on real lives.  When I listen to the lyrics, I’m changed…humanized, not able to separate myself from the people and families impacted.  What I read and see in the news starts to have dimension.  A statistic becomes a person, and I know the loss of life affects us all.

Usually, when I listen to “The Bullet” I think about Columbine, Sandy Hook, gun deaths in the neighborhood I grew up in, the Las Vegas Massacre, the loss of life from terrorism and war.  Now, I think of Parkland, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and victims of the Minneapolis shootings and US Capitol Attack.  As stress-induced gun violence escalates, the lyrics Line of limousines leaves one by one, the prayers been prayed, the hymns been sung.  Mamas ain’t supposed to bury their sons (daughters) but the bullet keeps on going…” have more significance than ever.

 Last week, I was listening to Carrie again, and I saw an image of the “bullet” in the form of COVID 19.  Finally, I understood why I’m so distraught about the lack of consistency and unity in addressing the virus.  We’ve been approaching COVID in the same way we approach gun violence.  The death toll continues, the nation divided on the “urgency” of a comprehensive national response, and we blame each other, missing the opportunity to meet the condition with the care that’s needed.  Listening to Carrie, the verse “Till every heart that’s left to break is broken. The bullet keeps on going…” I wonder why human beings, we, would rather wait until tragedy is on our doorstep before acknowledging a problem is “real”.

Now, I’m not immune to numbing out.  Many times I’ve chosen not to pay attention to COVID stats, turned my head when a news reporter shares a profile of someone who died. Trying to trick myself into thinking, if I don’t look, don’t hear… it will go away.  In my heart of hearts, as I’ve mentioned in other contemplations, I know the only way to move forward, is to take stock of where we are.  And yes, it means feeling….not until we’re overwhelmed, but to the point we understand the depth and breadth of what’s at stake.  I’m making a decision to face what’s happening.  Not as an observer, but as a participant. I’m taking my blinders off.  Listening, even when uncomfortable, choosing to be vigilant.

Vaccinations, safe hygiene, distancing practices, and limiting group interactions are known ways to stop the COVID bullet. Perhaps, with God’s grace, we’ll gain insight from our experience to help address underlying causes from the other “bullets” confronting us, domestic terrorism and gun violence.  

We don’t have to go to the depths of the abyss to see the light.  The light is always here, always present.  Ours, is to listen, and see, and follow.

JAMES 1:12

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

In love and faith, Andrea Bolling

Link: “The Bullet” Carrie Underwood

January 29, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector:  Summing up 2020, with an Invitation

To my dear brothers and sisters in Christ:

Today I ask you to do just two things:

  • Put aside just twenty (20) minutes and read, sometime between now and Sunday morning, the attached 2020 Annual Report of St Andrew’s Parish; and
  • Plan to be with us, via Zoom, for our Annual Meeting this coming Sunday at 10:00 am.

I think I can guarantee you two things, if you do those first two:

  • You will find, most surprisingly, how many things are going on here at St Andrew’s, as the result of the work and efforts of so many faithful hearts, even in this time of pandemic; and
  •  You will enjoy connecting with so many familiar faces at our Annual Meeting on Sunday, and know that the presence of the Holy One, “wherever two or three are gathered together in His Name,” cannot be limited by our physical distance.

Beloved of the Lord, you are loved.

Please read, digest, and be with us on Sunday, so that we may share God’s love, together.

In the Name of Christ,

Father Chip+

PS:  Not sure how to get on Zoom?  You don’t need an account!  Just click on the link below, and follow the instructions.  It’s that easy!  (Looking for a little reassurance?  Call Heather Anne at the office at 508-627-5330 on Friday, or email her at office@standrewsmv.org before Sunday, and she’ll fix you up!)         

January 28, 2021

So, this week I saw a quote that then followed the theme through the readings and Father Chip’s sermon. Funny how things just jump out at you and then connect. Kind of curious or spiritual?

“The single biggest thing I learned was from an indigenous elder of Cherokee descent, Stan Rushworth, who reminded me of the difference between a Western settler mindset of “I have rights” and an indigenous mindset of “I have obligations.” Instead of thinking that I am born with rights, I choose to think that I am born with obligations to serve past, present, and future generations, and the planet herself.”

Quoted from @decolonizemyself

So, we jump even further back to Jesus’ time. Jesus had an obligation to God to help show his people the way.  Now we have all strayed so far from Christianity that we are not grounded. We search for a religion that will give us the answers, but we must find the answers within ourselves. In the wilderness, with time to reflect, with time to listen more deeply to break down the barriers of hate and indifference.

Jesus said “Follow me and I will make you become fishers of people.”

Mark 1:17

The wilderness of Covid has brought me more connections through small groups and reaching out to know people in a way that perhaps I might never have known.

After we are all free to embrace all our people and activities, I hope we do not lose our connectedness.

“He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold, so that I shall not be shaken.”

Psalm 62:7

God is love,

Palmer Marrin

January 25, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector:  On Being a Disciple Part II 

Continuing something I began in my meditation from this past Friday, I draw from Rowan Williams (2016) book, “Being Disciples:  Essentials of the Christian Life”:

“The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God!’  The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.  When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, ‘What are you looking for?’  They said to him, ‘Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), ‘where are you staying?’  He said to them, ‘Come and see.’  They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day.  It was about four o’clock in the afternoon.”  (John 1: 36—39)   

“Discipleship, as the title of this book indicates, is a state of being.  Discipleship is about how we live; not just the things we believe, but a state of being.  It’s very telling that, at the very beginning of John’s gospel, when the two disciples of John the Baptist come to Jesus they say, ‘Rabbi, where are you staying?’  Jesus says, ‘Come and see,’ and they stay with him for the rest of the day.  The Gospel teaches us that the bottom line in thinking about discipleship has something to do with this staying.  Later on in the same Gospel the same language of ‘staying’ or ‘abiding,’ as it is often translated, is used again to describe the ideal relation of the disciple to Jesus:  ‘Abide in me,’ he says, ‘abide in my love.’

“In other words, what makes you a disciple is not turning up from time to time.  Discipleship may literally mean ‘being a student,’ in the strict Greek sense of the word, but it doesn’t mean turning up once a week for a course (or even a sermon).  It’s not an intermittent state; it’s a relationship that continues.  The truth is that, in the ancient world, being a ‘student’ was rather more like that than it is these days.  If you said to a modern prospective student that the essence of being a student was to hang on your teacher’s every word, to follow in his or her steps, to sleep outside their door in order not to miss any pearls of wisdom falling from the their lips, to watch how they conduct themselves at the  table, how they conduct themselves in the street, you might not get a very warm response.  But in the ancient world, it was rather more like that.  To be the student of a teacher was to commit yourself to living in the same atmosphere and breathing the same air; there was nothing intermittent about it. 

“Being a disciple, a learner, in that sense is a state of being in which you are looking and listening without interruption. …You are hanging around; you are watching; you are absorbing a way of being that you are starting to share.  You learn by sharing life; you learn by looking and listening.

“So that little exchange at the beginning of John’s Gospel…is quite a good beginning for thinking about discipleship.  It’s no accident that John puts it right at the beginning of his Gospel.  If we’re going to understand what he has to say to us about discipleship, we have to understand about abiding and sharing, this ‘non-intermittent’ quality in being a disciple.”  

Your brother in Christ,

Father Chip+  

January 22, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector:  On Being a Disciple, Part I 

In this season of Epiphany (the ‘manifestation’ of the Christ) we now come to the time Jesus calls to some fishermen (read: common and good folk like me and you), and simply commands them to join up with him and FOLLOW him.  Somehow, he ‘touches’ them in such a way they can’t possibly refuse.  Indeed, they seemingly attach to him like a paper clip clicking rapidly onto a very strong magnet.  (Truth has a way of doing that.)

Of course, we are always being invited into a deeper relationship with God.  Sometimes we lose our way.  Change and fear of change can steer us awry.  How might we view “discipleship” to help us remember who we are—and how to accept God’s warm and loving invitation time and again?

In his little book, “Being Disciples:  Essentials of the Christian Life,” (2016), Rowan Williams (Archbishop of Canterbury, 2002-2012), deeply explored what it means to be a disciple of Christ.  In the introduction he writes:

“We discover what’s involved in our Christian commitment not (of course!) by reading books about it but by the daily effort to live in a way that allows Jesus Christ to come through in our lives; we are caught up in the task of showing that what we say is credible.   And at the same time, it is this daily effort to be ‘transparent’ to Christ that teaches us all over again what it means to say that we are Christians. 

“ So ‘being disciples’ means at least two things:  It means very simply going on asking whether what we do, how we think and speak and act, is open to Christ and Christ’s Spirit; developing the skills of asking ourselves the difficult questions about our consistency and honesty, about how seriously we take what we say.  And it is also about how we as a Church go on being a learning community, how we grow in depth of relation with each other and God.”

As we move more deeply into this new year, I pray that we, as persons called by God to be together here at St Andrew’s Church, might also feel called to explore ways in which we, as followers of the Christ, may indeed “grow in depth of relation with each other and God,” as part of this learning community.

I just know in my heart that deep and abiding joys await.

Yours in faith,

Father Chip+    

January 21, 2021

This is such an important week of events.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday.

Inauguration Day on Wednesday.

So much division, so much anger, and so many questions. Where do we go from here?

I think Jesus’ teachings, followed by Martin Luther’s, show us the way to peace and reconciliation is through Love. So here are some thoughts.

They built their lives on love. Therefore, to change the world, love has to be extended to everyone–even our enemies.

“The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important.

Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.

Discover the element of good in your enemy. And as you seek to hate him, find the center of goodness and place your attention there and you will take a new attitude.”

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh, he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.”

Ephesians 2:13-14

God is love,

Palmer Marrin

January 20, 2021

Psalm 37:11 KJV

But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

MEEK: Definitions

a) Humbly patient or quiet in nature. Long suffering, willing to accept gospel teachings

b) Enduring injury with patience and without resentment

c) Deficient in spirit and courage…..submissive

I struggle with the concept of meekness, the state of being Jesus said we must model to inherit the earth, to live in peace.  In my experience, meek as a description of attitude and presence is used as a compliment and insult.  When I read references in scripture encouraging meekness, sometimes I cringe….oh I don’t want to be meek, people will step all over me! For women and people of color it can be dangerous not to take a stand in this world where invisibility is the norm. I read biblical verses with the word meek in them over and over until I can take the sting off the interpretation in popular culture (deficient in spirit and courage).

When I take the sting off, and invest in the biblical intention of meekness, I know it’s OK to be part of a group destined to inherit the earth. I know underneath meekness is loving God and humankind. It’s putting a greater good ahead of personal aggrandizement, appreciating the planet and God’s creation.

So where am I in this biblical interpretation? Hmm, I may not be as meek as I thought. Let’s see, long suffering…truth is, I’m tired of pain, oppression and cruelty and say so pretty much daily.  Enduring injury without resentment…not there yet…there’s still a part of me that wants people to pay for their actions.  Wow, the only part of meekness that is a constant in my life is acceptance of gospel teaching.  Dear God, I pray it’s enough!

I wonder, has the power of Satan moved into our language and understanding of true inheritors so much, that meekness looks like weakness and strength, force?  Or that discipleship, as Father Chip mentioned in Sunday’s service, is not as much about converting people to Christianity rather than it is living in a state of invitation, being the consciousness Christ taught and is.  Maybe, we need to shift our focus from the people who are long-suffering and spot-light the folks, conditions and thinking that create the experience.  Wait a minute, Isn’t that what Black Lives Matter is doing? What the women’s movement is about?

Maybe I need to contemplate this thing called meekness again.  Not from the framework of popular culture or definitions in Miriam Webster.  Contemplate, through the truth of the Bible and Holy Spirit.

In faith and humility, Andrea Bolling

 

 

January 19, 2021

Strictly No Elephants

I had aspirations to write something poignant and eloquent the day after we honored Martin Luther King, Jr. as a nation. But I must admit that words are hard for me to knit together these days due to a little bit of sleep deprivation. Then I was reading a book to William and Edward that they received for Christmas, and felt compelled to share its simple but powerful message. (The illustrations are lovely as well, so it’s a wonderful book to give a little one if you are ever looking.)

Strictly No Elephants

By Lisa Mantchev

The trouble with having a tiny elephant for a pet is that you never quite fit in.

No one else has an elephant.

Every day I take my elephant for a walk. His is a very thoughtful sort of walk.

He doesn’t like the cracks in the sidewalk much.

I always go back and help him over. That’s what friends do: lift each other over the cracks.

Today I’m walking my tiny elephant to Number 17. It’s Pet Club Day and everyone will be there.

“Come along. There’s a good boy.”

I coax him the last few feet. “It’ll be fine.”

When I look up, there’s a sign on the door.

STRICTLY NO ELEPHANTS

My tiny elephant leads me back to the sidewalk, never minding the cracks.

That’s what friends do: brave the scary things for you.

“Did you try to go to the Pet Club meeting too?” the girl asks.

“Yes,” I say. “But they don’t allow elephants.”

“The sign didn’t mention skunks,” the girl says, “but they don’t want us to play with them either.”

“They don’t know any better,” I tell her.

“He doesn’t stink,” the girl adds.

“No, he doesn’t,” I agree.

“What if we start our own club?”

“Come along,” I say, making certain that my tiny elephant follows me.

Because that’s what friends do: never leave anyone behind.

“We can play here,” one of our new friends says. “ALL of us.”

So we paint our own sign.

ALL ARE WELCOME

My tiny elephant will give you directions if you need them.

(The End)

I feel blessed that a similar sign is on our own beloved church’s door, and I cannot wait to be able to join there together again someday.

Blessings and peace to you all,

Sara Barrington

January 18, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector: 

Martin Luther King, Jr.  (January 15, 1929–April 4, 1968)

From the Episcopal liturgical resource, A Great Cloud of Witnesses (2016):

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Civil Rights Leader and Martyr,  1968

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January  15, 1929,  in Atlanta.  As the son and grandson of Baptist preachers,  he was steeped in the Black Church tradition. Following graduation from Morehouse College (Atlanta, Georgia) in 1948,  King entered Crozer Theological Seminary (Chester, Pennsylvania),  having been ordained the previous year into the ministry of the National Baptist Church.  He graduated from Crozer in 1951 and received his doctorate in theology from Boston University in 1955.

In 1954,  King became pastor  of a church in Montgomery, Alabama. There, Black indignation at inhumane treatment on segregated buses culminated in December,  1955,  in the arrest  of Rosa Parks for refusing to give up her seat to a white man. King was catapulted into national prominence as the leader of the Montgomery bus boycott.  He became increasingly the articulate  prophet, who could not only rally the Black masses, but could also move the consciences of Whites.

King founded  the Southern  Christian Leadership  Conference  to spearhead non-violent mass demonstrations against racism. Many confrontations followed,  most notably  in Birmingham  and Selma, Alabama,  and in Chicago.  King’s campaigns  were instrumental to the passage of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964,  1965,  and 1968.  King then turned  his attention to economic empowerment of the poor and opposition to the Vietnam War, contending that racism, poverty,  and militarism  were interrelated. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for his commitment to non-violent social change.

King lived in constant danger: his home was dynamited, he was almost fatally stabbed,  and he was harassed  by death threats.  He was even jailed 30 times; but through it all he was sustained  by his deep faith. In 1957,  he received, late at night, a vicious telephone  threat. Alone in his kitchen he wept and prayed. He relates that he heard the Lord speaking to him and saying, “Martin Luther,  stand up for righteousness, stand up for justice,”  and promising  never to leave him alone—“No, never alone.”  King refers to his vision as his “Mountain-top Experience.”

After preaching  at Washington Cathedral on March  31, 1968,  King went to Memphis  in support of sanitation workers  in their struggle for better wages. There, he proclaimed that he had been “to the mountain-top” and had seen “the Promised Land,” and that he knew that one day he and his people would be “free at last.”  On the following day, April 4, he was cut down  by an assassin’s bullet.

Let us pray:

Almighty God, by the hand of Moses your servant you led your people out of slavery, and made them free at last: Grant  that your Church,  following the example of your prophet Martin Luther King, may resist oppression in the name of your love, and may strive to secure for all your children the blessed liberty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Faithfully yours,

Father Chip+

January 15, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector:  Getting to Know You  

So there I was:  it was the week before Christmas, and things were quiet as a mouse.  Too quiet.  Since our fabulous film director Poli Wilson would be returning to her Brazil home for almost a month before Christmas, I had already recorded our Christmas Eve/Christmas day service, as well as our Sunday after Christmas, AND the Second Sunday after Christmas worship, and I was DONE.  Nothing from December 18 through January 7 would be required of me, in the way of sermon/worship preparation.  And there would be no crowds of parishioners together reveling in Christ’s love and the wondrous Christmas story and season.  After a brief period of exhilaration, there I was, alone in my office down here at our (beautifully renovated and as yet unused) church, wondering what was bothering me.  It’s Christmas!  Sure, there’s always plenty to do (I always love the questions I sometimes get, from those who are perhaps uninitiated in the ways of Episcopal priests, such as, “other than write a sermon and preach every week, just what do you DO in there every day?”), but I seemed to be pushing paper and shuffling through the hours (to be honest, there’s always a TON of administrative things to do!).  No prospects to be with family, or see the grandkids.  Indeed, I was finding it hard not to wonder about my own identity in life, my purpose. 

And then something happened.  It wasn’t anything I’d have expected to be anything special, I can assure you.  One of our beloved members and a vestry member, called to ask if I could help deliver Christmas gifts she’d lovingly made, purchased, and wrapped, for the other vestry members.  Of course!  And that’s where the miracle happened (or really, another in an infinite, continuing STRING of miracles):  I kinda/sorta began to feel like Santa Claus.  What JOY I experienced!  Bringing gifts!  IT WAS SO GOOD TO SEE PEOPLE!  AND NOT ON ZOOM!  At Christmas!  People I’ve come to know and love!  PARISHIONERS!  And I’m sure they felt that same deep, inner feeling of connection in those brief moments.  It took me a fair amount of time to drive the gifts around, but that became part of the joy, too.  There was time to put on some great Christmas music in the car, kick back, think about the persons I was driving to see, and deliver special gifts lovingly made and chosen for them.   It made all the difference for me at Christmas. 

God was there, in our meetings, and in our joys.  God IS here.  And God lives IN and THROUGH us.  In our connections with each other, and in the love and the caring ways we help and touch each other.

In this new season of Epiphany (the “manifestation” of our God), I’ll be looking to SEE God, HEAR God, in the many (and often surprising ways) God connects with us and invites us into deeper relation.

And remember a very unusual—and unusually joyful—Christmas.  

In Faith, Chip+          

January 14, 2021

“Continue”

Into a world which needed you
My wish for you
Is that you continue

Continue

To be who and how you are
To astonish a mean world
With your acts of kindness

Continue

To allow humor to lighten the burden
of your tender heart

Continue

In a society dark with cruelty
To let the people hear the grandeur
Of God in the peals of your laughter

Continue

To let your eloquence
Elevate the people to heights
They had only imagined

Continue

To remind the people that
Each is as good as the other
And that no one is beneath
Nor above you

Continue

To remember your own young years
And look with favor upon the lost
And the least and the lonely

Continue

To put the mantel of your protection
Around the bodies of
The young and defenseless

Continue

To take the hand of the despised
And diseased and walk proudly with them
In the high street
Some might see you and
Be encouraged to do likewise

Continue

To plant a public kiss of concern
On the cheek of the sick
And the aged and infirm
And count that as a
Natural action to be expected

Continue

To let gratitude be the pillow
Upon which you kneel to
Say your nightly prayer
And let faith be the bridge
You build to overcome evil
And welcome good

Continue

To ignore no vision
Which comes to enlarge your range
And increase your spirit

Continue

To dare to love deeply
And risk everything
For the good thing

Continue

To float
Happily in the sea of infinite substance
Which set aside riches for you
Before you had a name

Continue

And by doing so
You and your work
Will be able to continue
Eternally

by Maya Angelou

Peacefully,

Palmer Marrin

January 13, 2021

 “Abiding in Jesus means God and Christ come first.  It’s understanding my fallibility and the fallibility of humankind.  It means being truthful is more important than fear.  Setting boundaries more important than a feeling, maintaining a false reality. “  Forward Day by Day; 1.5.21

The last 6-8 months I’ve been bombarded with text and email messages all claiming urgency, to respond to an offer for a prize, an incredible deal etc.  I have also received pornographic solicitations which often leave me feeling angry and vulnerable. As I shared last week, I was involved with a few investment scams that have left me suspect of “offers”, “opportunities” and “alerts”. Yesterday, I received a text alerting me a pretty hefty charge was made to my account. The alert came from an independent fraud protection company and it took me about 5 minutes to figure out whether I should respond. Empowering myself, I contacted the company and asked the agent about their business and relationship to my bank.  I called my bank immediately after speaking with the agent and confirmed they work with the company.  My bank blocked the charge and issued a new card.

As I move deeper in Christ, I find that, sometimes, I feel vulnerable not with God, but with people who care less about their impact.  Unkindness in speech and deed seem to have greater effect on my body and well-being than when I was less committed to truth, the way and the life.  Reading the meditation from Forward Day by Day, I realized even though I am committed to Christ, I’m not fully abiding in his way.  I think I need to be more consciously aware, accepting, of human fallibility and vigilant in practicing spiritual discernment. Perhaps, the vulnerability I feel is an indication I’m becoming more human, letting my guard down, feeling life and needing to allow the experience to run its course to know God’s strength.  I have experienced the sweet spot of abiding in Christ and being fully aware of my environment working with clients, but with solicitations, I find I don’t know what to believe or how to proceed.  What I do know is that taking 5 minutes to determine whether I should respond to a text alert is too long.  Doing it over, I would have taken a deep breath, let spirit lead and contacted my bank first.  I let fear and obligation to respond to the text quide my actions.  So, why am I sharing this with you? It’s the other side of the coin. Last week I truly experienced compassion for a woman who steals money through credit card scams. This week, I’m learning to have compassion for myself. I don’t want to be afraid of a text, email or phone message.  In Sunday’s sermon, Father Chip mentioned Rita, an educator in Amsterdam, who validates her students by telling them she believes in them.  She told a student, “I trust you & you, can trust yourself”. When I heard her words of encouragement I realized, when we’re exploited, it’s a violation and an unfortunate result is we often lose trust in ourselves.  Self-recrimination and vulnerability can leave people (us) feeling fractured and questioning our capabilities.  Abiding in Christ and exercising spiritual discernment helps us put life in perspective.  Embracing human fallibility leaves less space for recrimination.  In our surrender, we have the opportunity to know God is with us. Always.

With Faith In Christ, Andrea M. Bolling

January 12, 2021

Who knew we’d be living through one of the most challenging years in modern history and we’re only 12 days into it? This week was a roller-coaster and the particular days of January 6th, into the morning of the 7th, will certainly live in perpetuity for its emotional highs and lows.  I am forever grateful to have experienced it within the framework of the Sacred Ground group work.   For me, I am forever changed by this work and grateful to have this small group to share ideas, information, and feelings with.  I am additionally so impressed with the material chosen for the lessons which do not shy away from the difficult truth of racism in America in politics and religion identifying the hypocrisy and amoral actions that were condoned and enforced by both church and state.  By opening our hearts, our minds and our eyes to these realities and not sweeping truth under the rug, we can be hopeful that we are building a future where the truths we share bring us closer as a community with the possibility of becoming a beloved community.

Next Monday, Martin Luther King Day, our Sacred Ground Group meets for the last “official” time to discuss the final lesson in the Sacred Ground material.  We are planning to come to the meeting with ideas for reconciliation and restorative justice in heart and mind.  As, it seems, our President Elect Joe Biden is approaching this moment in history.  To honor Martin Luther King, and the healing needed in our country, the President-Elect has asked that 1/18/2021, Martin Luther King Day, be a “National Day of Service”.

“President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris are empathetic leaders who know the crisis millions of American families are facing,” Tony Allen, CEO of the inaugural committee, said. “And like Dr. King, they know that we must have a shared commitment — in word and in deed — to bring the nation together in service to others.”

If there is a group on the Island that we might be able to identify a shared effort or ones that we can perform individually, email ideas and suggestions to me at lala1228@aol.com

In Faith, 

Laura Noonan

January 11, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector:  Some New Year Hopes II

This past Friday, January 8, I began this two-part meditation about SIX hopes I’ve set forth for myself for this coming new (calendar) year, and talked about three of them: Humility, Openness and Listening, and Gratitude.  Here are my final three:

  • KINDNESS.          To be honest, one thing I know about myself is that I’m an introvert (and that’s perfectly OK!), and that I can sometimes get a little “self-involved” (not so good).  I’m guessing everyone has their own levels of introspection and self-awareness, but focusing on myself too much deprives me of the opportunity to be present with others—and to listen and find out about them, and enjoy them for who they are.  Not only that, I end up missing the chance to share life and experiences with them, not to mention opportunities to be just plain kind.  In order to be better at being kind to others on a consistent basis, I know I’ll need to actively practice being kind.  (The saying, “Be a friend to make a friend” comes to mind.)  Ever notice those special people who do things (whether big or little) for others, just because?  Or maybe remember back to a time when we found ourselves acting selflessly, out of sheer kindness, for others, and how we experienced that?

I’m hoping in this coming year, I’ll find ways to work to become more kind, more accepting, more gracious, to others, and then seek to build on my efforts as I journey on.  “For it is in giving that we receive,” says the famous prayer attributed to St Francis.  

  • COURAGE.          Yesterday’s sermon (which you may find on YouTube for St Andrew’s Church—Edgartown), has to do with just what happened to Jesus when he got baptized.  One take on it is that that was the very moment that Jesus embraced his very own IDENTITY.  And after that, well, we know the story.  Amazing.  Powerful.  Game changer for the whole world!  And what he was able to accomplish was in spite of  any fears any ‘normal’ person might have had moving forward filled with Spirit of God.  And the reason, I said:  God affirmed him in his true personhood, his identity, and told him, “I love you…you belong to me, you are mine, and like a good and loving parent, I’ll be with you every step of the way.”   

My faith tells me God feels the same way about me, both the real me (as opposed to the false construct of my ‘self’ I think I am or should be) AND that part of me I allow to exist simply because I’m afraid.  This is exactly what we try to get our little ones to believe at a young age, so they may have it to hold onto throughout their entire lives:  God LOVES YOU!  And that includes our fallible humanness, and our human divineness

So, if I’m not competing, separating, comparing, excluding, judging, criticizing, and can find a way to act in union with God (in humility and grace) toward others, what would I have to fear?  It’s OK to risk in love, and it’s OK to be vulnerable. 

Which brings me to my final hope for 2021—one what certainly might seem better situated as #1 on the list, I might add: 

  • DISCIPLINE.        (This one, I’m sure, is not ANYONE’S favorite word!)  Maybe it’s a cop-out, but just looking at this word makes me think of “discipleship,” and I’ve read the root for that comes from the word for “learner.”  I know I’m not really a slacker (at least I hope not!), but I also know I could try harder sometimes, and maybe ‘work smarter.’  Maybe I’ll find a good way to schedule time for prayer and contemplation each day, or at least a number of times a week, which I know will be life-changing.  Keeping a more accurate list of books and articles I want to read.  Maybe finding a spiritual director.  If there’s one thing I’ve heard over and over again, if you want to change your habits, you have to do it over and over for 90 days.  Of course, I’m aware that doesn’t necessarily ‘fit’ for all the things I want to make a habitual lifestyle choice, but it’s a good guide:  in order for something to become a part of my life, I’ll need to keep doing it, over and over again. 

Thinking about the prospects of all this, one thing occurs to me I think is important:  I must pray to enlist God’s help in order for me to have any chance of ‘success’ in these things.

So please know this:  I always thank God for you.  In our community of faith, I experience God’s love and mercy much like the warm and secure embrace of a parent, by the power of the Spirit working through us.  And I pray you do, too.   

May your new year be filled with the joy and wonder of life in the mystery of God, and the love, light and companionship we’ve been so abundantly given…

Faithfully yours,

Father Chip+                    

January 8, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector:  Some New Year Hopes I

Recently, I read somewhere something that’s occurred to me quite a few times before I came across that very thought in print:  it’s a whole lot easier to preach ten sermons than it is to live according to just one of them!  And to that, I’d add this: my own “success” in keeping with anything I myself might “preach” (maybe a better word for someone like me, since I don’t consider myself all that “preachy,” is an invitation), is that such success seems to come and go.  And come.  And go.  (Anyone on a ‘new year’s diet’ knows the feeling, I’m sure!)

So, with that wimpy disclaimer in mind, I thought I’d set forth (for myself, really, but maybe someone out there might like to think about them, too) SIX points I’d like to try to live by in 2021.  (Today, I’ll take up the first three, and on Monday, I’ll finish with three more.)

  1. LIVE HUMBLY, WITH HUMILITY.    One of my favorite ideas is that we all, to some degree, go through life thinking we know much more than we do!   Of course, we can never have ‘perfect’ knowledge about anything other than provable, mathematical or scientific certainty, but even in those esteemed disciplines, there is incredible mystery and fuzziness when it comes to the “why” questions, or the ”how” questions, that underlie it all.  (On that last note, I think of Mary at the time of the annunciation, who basically only says, “HOW can this be?” (and not, “NO WAY!”)) 

In the new year, perhaps I can try to be better about approaching things and others, with humility.  The word itself comes from the root word for earth, “humus.”  We’re all made from the same stuff.  “Knowledge” itself includes intuition and complex thinking—and something else, perhaps even ‘supernatural’, we might call “heart knowledge”—as in the aphorism (was it Augustine?) that says, “the heart has its reasons the mind cannot know.”  It’s OK not to know it all, not to have to control things, and allow myself to be vulnerable.  Which brings me to my next hope:

  • BE OPEN, AND LISTEN.    Considering how “polarized” our American electorate is right now, it makes complete sense to me to look at the facts:  just about half of the voting public voted for one candidate/slate/party, and the other half voted for the “other side.”  What if we decided we weren’t going to play into that competition game anymore, and choose instead to see what all this noise is about, and find out MORE about what the “other side” wants to say?  People need and want to be HEARD.  I’m guessing we all might be able to agree that the way things are currently going, there’s not that much (or enough) space and time being created to allow folks to dial down the anxiety and frustration and mistrust and anger enough in order to be heard and to listen.  (It might be a good idea to keep hope #!, above, in mind on this point, too!)  And this goes, of course, not only for political discourse, but in all other important areas for debate and consideration. 

How might my conduct and approach to others, and situations, begin to look if I try to commit to this hope?  To this, I’ll add one important thing from the “religious” point of view, something I’ve been talking about for some years now:  I need to be better about seeing my world and others from a “unitive” (that is, not binary or dualistic) perspective.  There’s really not all that much in life that’s simply “this and not that,” or plain “black and white thinking.”  The important questions of life, and people, are complex.   They deserve our respect and space for us to take them all in. 

So, in the new year, maybe I can work on my persistent insistence to be heard, and to be “right,” and look instead to honor and value others by giving them my attention and the space to express themselves.  (I’m thinking of the aphorism I saw the other day on TV that said, “Nobody ever learned anything new by listening to themselves talk…”)

  • BE GRATEFUL.   Another catchy idea I read the other day has to do with the distinction between those who “get what they want” and those who “want what they get.”  I suppose we all (understandably) draw upon both categories through life, but the older I get, the more I realize how much I’ve been ‘given,’—and how much of all  that is not ‘things.’  The deep love of family and a few abiding friends.  Enjoying life on this beautiful island.  Even the challenges I must endure.  Last evening’s sublime sunset.  The love I am aware of, that suffuses this universe, and gives us all life and purpose.

Perhaps, especially in these ‘interesting’ times (to be somewhat diplomatic about it!), I might find ways to enhance my methods of looking for—and seeing—the grace of God (mostly, to be sure, which can be found through the kindness and caring of others), and allow it to change me, even if only for a given day or moment. 

And then serve that love up for others to share.   

Blessings—and peace—to you and to yours, in this new year.  Stay healthy!

Your brother in Christ,

Father Chip+                

January 7, 2021

While reading the NY Times on Dec. 27th, a few things jumped out at me in an article called Manage Expectations for the Arrival of 2021.

Dr. Mitch Abrams asks his patients, “How can you nurture your relationship with yourself, so that you can then do the same for your relationships with others?”  After working in prisons for years, he realized that humans are incredibly resilient and adaptable, and that happiness comes from within. “The more you are able to appreciate what you have, the better off you’ll be,” he said.

How simple and difficult. We must feed our own body and soul and only then will it flow to others. Isn’t that what we find in church, the teachings of Jesus?

There was also mention of feeling that our lives have been taken hostage to the pandemic. One way we can overcome it is to take control of a routine in our life. Reading, exercise, small rituals; anything that makes us feel in control.

Also, while reading Forward Day by Day on Dec 27th, the theme continues.

“God’s love gives voice to the voiceless, builds bridges instead of walls, and pushes us always to be creative. God’s love made flesh in Jesus teaches us to defend the defenseless, frees us to ask for forgiveness, and encourages us to accept others for who they are.

“While all humans bear the image of God, the incarnation of Jesus draws us into that gift in fundamental ways we cannot entirely grasp. Jesus wants us to walk with him in truth.”

One thing this pandemic has taught me is new and different ways to feed my soul. Contemplation is a good practice.

Faithfully,

Palmer Marrin

January 6, 2021

Recently I was watching a documentary on credit card scamming.  The filmmakers interviewed a group of people who perpetuate internet and telephone scams.  Scammers interviewed said they target the lonely, desperate and elderly. Through conversation, they can quickly discern areas of vulnerability in their victims and entice them to invest in bogus opportunities.  One woman interviewed said she scammed people because she had a financial need; she prayed and God didn’t respond.  She felt betrayed, cursed God and Christianity and discarded conventional ideas about right and wrong.  She went as far as to say her victims deserved to be scammed for believing her.

Wow, I was one of those victims. I didn’t lose a lot of money, but what I lost in self-esteem and safety had a much greater impact than the dollars spent. As I listened to the scammers trying to justify their choices, my emotions went from anger (it happened to me and it’s pretty messed up to take advantage of people), to compassion.  I know what it’s like to need physical relief from a condition, not experience a change and assume God didn’t hear.  I too gave up on God at a point in my life.  I can tell you the world was a lot less joyous not being consciously connected.  When I renewed my relationship with God through Christ, my perspective of their role in our human drama changed dramatically. I realized so much of the injustices we experience have nothing to do with God and everything to do with humankind’s disconnection with the divine.  Whatever our condition, in Christ’s light we are less likely to make choices that hurt ourselves and other people.

 If the spirit moves you, and you know compassion for the people who take advantage of the weak and vulnerable, please join me in prayer.  Pray God blesses them with truth, love and light. When the walls of justification fall down, perpetrators will have the opportunity to know the truth about their choices.  In God’s grace and mercy, there’s always a way out.

In faith, Andrea M. Bolling

January 5, 2021

Hi All, 

Happy New Year! I really hope for amazing and wonderful new beginnings ahead of us.  

One of the things I would like to try in the New Year with our Family Ministry is family activities around a “Prayer Bear”.  Each child will receive a bear with a pocket to hold written prayers.  The children can add their own prayers in the pocket.  In non-Covid times, the concept of the “Prayer Bear” is to instill family connections through the community.  In this activity, the bear should only be shared between family members. So, to make this happen, I am looking for a few good seamstresses or misters who sew who are willing to follow a simple bear pattern and craft up a few of these bears for families in the parish.  For the folks who would like to participate, this is the pattern I think we could use. https://www.shinyhappyworld.com/2014/04/warren-charity-bear-free-teddy-bear-pattern.html  I am not an expert sewer but am planning to give it a try, even if it requires a little hot glue, we’ll get there.  

The goal of this activity is to instill opportunities for children to interact in communication with God.  The hope is that they will articulate their prayers for their family and community with things they’re grateful for to God and also things they worry about.   To learn more about the Episcopal Church’s examples of praying with children, this is a great article written in 2004 with many good examples. https://episcopalchurch.org/library/article/praying-children

Be well everyone.  Please email me if you are interested in sewing a “Prayer Bear”!

Laura 

January 4, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector:

Surrendering to Become Free (Part 2)

(Or: Our journey from Christmas to Easter)

We now move from our beholding the Christ child at Christmas, toward Christ’s baptism (in which he is physically, manifestly imbued fully with the God’s (holy) Spirit); to his spiritual growth and maturation; to his identifying his ministry and role on this earth; to his very public and focused ministry of teaching, healing, and reconciling all peoples; and ultimately, to his death—and then resurrection and new life once again, in an entirely different way.

The life and times of Christ not only shows us our pattern, our own roles here during our lifetimes, but invites us into a new way of seeing, a new way of thinking.  We, too, must provide for our own death, in a way, in order to behold life in an entirely different way.  And our life’s little resurrections, along the way, gently remind and show us of the deeply sacred meaning of Life itself (“Your life is not about you; you are about Life….”).

What would our lives looked like if we were able to live each moment having the mind of Christ?  Within the mind of Christ?

Some easy but intentional discipline, believe it or not, can help us to get there.  It’s called contemplation, or some call it meditation, or better yet, as many of us know it, “centering” prayer

As I’ve suggested before many times, we might consider our ultimate goal, as our friend Father Richard Rohr maintains, to become “finally free”:

“God’s goal is always to provide union, which is very different from any private perfection (which is merely a goal of the small ego).

“Life lived fully and honestly inevitably involves both joy and suffering, a path of descent, doubt, and lots of little deaths that teach us to let go of our artificially created self and to live in the simple joy of divine union—and voila, the True Self stands revealed, fully present and accounted for.

“Our carefully constructed ego container must gradually crack open (see John 12:24), as we realize that we are not separate from God, from others, or from our true selves.  We see that we have an eternal soul.  Our ego slowly learns to become the servant of the soul instead of its master, and is even willing to die, for the sake of its reunion with Spirit, just as Jesus did on the cross (see Luke 23:46).

“But there is indeed a lot of in-between.  We are never perfectly whole, but the acceptance of that lack of wholeness is precisely what we mean by holiness, or accepting the “whole” of reality.  When we are capable of non-dualistic thinking (contemplation), we can even forgive and accept our imperfections and those of all the world.  I now really wonder if that is not the main point.

“Divine perfection is precisely the ability to include and forgive all imperfection.”   (from “just this” (2017))

Embrace the Christ. 

Embrace your journey…

Faithfully yours,

Chip+

January 1, 2021

A Meditation from the Rector:

Surrendering to Become Free (Part 1)

Merry Christmas, everyone!  And prayers for a brilliant new year!

You may have had the opportunity to read my two meditations about the meaning of Mary (Friday, December 18 and Monday, December 21).  What she showed us was that we must recognize the awe we experience when we are touched by God, and be humble and vulnerable enough to surrender to that mystery.  Only then is it possible for us to be open to receive God, or love, and to be transformed by God.

Given that notion, now that we are still in Christmas, I’d like to complete the other side of the Mary equation, with some thoughts about the significance of Christ’s birth (once again drawing from Richard Rohr’s thoughtful little book, “just this” (2017). 

Like Mary, he writes, we are all “undergoing god”:

“Your life is not about you; you are about Life.  You are an instance of a universal, and even eternal, pattern.  The One Life that many of us call “God” is living itself in you, and through you, and as you!   

“This realization is an earthquake in the brain, a hurricane in the heart, a Copernican revolution in the mind, and a monumental shift in consciousness.  Yet most of us do not seem interested in it.  it is too big to imagine and can only be revealed slowly:  You have never been separate from God except in your mind.  

“You gradually recognize that the myriad forms of life in the universe are completely diverse and utterly one at the same time—just like the Trinity, which might be called “Diversity in perfect love with itself,” which creates Oneness.

“We are all ‘undergoing God,’ whose supreme job is the “oneing” of all reality.  Oneing is a lovely word I borrow from Lady Julian of Norwich’s Middle English to describe the process of overcoming dualisms and divisions artificially created by the ego and the mind.

“This should be an enormous weight off your back.  All you can really do is agree to joyously participate!  Life in the Spirit will feel like being caught much more than being taught about any particular doctrine.

“Henceforth, your very motivation and momentum for the journey toward holiness and wholeness is simply immense gratitude—for already being there!”  

+             +             +

Perhaps, on this first day of the year, we might resolve to explore new ways we might “joyously participate” in Life.

Might our gratitude lead us to a renewed willingness to learn, share, reach out, and exult?  

Sing, choirs of angels…sing in exultation!

O Come, let us adore him, Christ, the Lord.

In Christ,

Father Chip+

December 31, 2020

So, as we near the time for making resolutions, I am going to cite my high points of 2020.  Some are big and some small but they all matter.

Lord knows there have been many low points, but who wants to dwell on those, especially when 2021 is knocking at the door…

Ringing in the new year with our daughter and family in Utah.

Being part of St. Andrew’s and the Revision small groups.

Visiting a friend in Maine.

Seeing an old friend in Brooklyn and her husband just before he died.

Picking up our puppy Sherlock, just as the outbreak of the Virus was starting.

Puzzles.

Loving being with my husband even more than before.

Walking with the dog, and walking with friends.

Outdoor sports.

Cooking and eating outside with all my family.

Having my son and his family living here on the island.

Having my daughter and family here for 5 weeks this summer.

Helping my mother- in-law, at 99, get back to her home in France.

Being part of Sacred Ground.

Volunteering at the Food Pantry.

Getting to know so many people in our parish, thru phone and Zoom conversations.

Reaching out more to people and looking for the small things in life.

Continuing outdoor sports, when they should be indoors!

Writing weekly meditations since the virus started.

Having an isolated Christmas makes one see what is truly important,

the actual Birth of Christ.

So, now as we wait for the wise men to bring their gifts to the Newborn King,

Let us take our new knowledge and gifts of the past year into the next. Not just to get back to normal but to start fresh.

Be kinder, loving, inquisitive and bold.

” The discovery that peace, happiness and love are ever-present within our own being and completely available at every moment of experience under all conditions, is the single most important discovery that one can make.”

“Presence” The Art of Peace and Happiness, Volume 1 by Rupert Spira

“Get busy with life’s purpose, toss aside empty hopes, get active in your own rescue— if you care for yourself at all—and do it while you can.”

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 3.14

“Choose the great adventure of being brave and afraid at the exact same time.”

Brene Brown

Happy New Year,

Palmer Marrin

December 30, 2020

Merry Christmas! 

I had a dream this year, a dream for this season of Advent, a dream for relief from the stress and pain of wildfires, floods and pandemics.  It’s a dream that incorporates the promise of a path/direction through the incarnation of God, Jesus the Christ, and the blessings of St. Nick. 

In my dream, we, an inspired, spirit-driven band of ecumenical helpers provide gifts, items desired or needed to island children and adults.  This dream was inspired by a childhood memory of a particularly difficult Christmas.  Our washing machine and clothes dryer broke and our parents couldn’t afford to replace them.  We used our Aunt’s appliances or the laundry mart four blocks from home.  A family of 14, we had a lot of clothes that needed cleaning and made trips to the laundry at least twice a week.  We absolutely dreaded asking our Aunt and Uncle if we could use their washer and dryer and dreaded the drudgery of carting bags of laundry to the mart even more.  About two weeks before Christmas, a washing machine and dryer was delivered from Santa.  All of us, child and adult, understood the importance of the gift.  I think the spirit of Santa and knowledge of Christ moved through my Uncle Samuel, but it doesn’t really matter.  What matters is someone, in the realm of spirit, heard our prayer, understood our need and responded.

     Christmas Day has passed, the season of Advent waning, but we still live in the grace of Christ’s presence. I didn’t experience my dream in the way I envisioned, but I received gifts that were much greater than anything I could imagine.  I received a deeper realization that I am my brother/sister’s keeper and experienced a selfless awareness of the gift of Christ and spirit of Santa.  The great union.

     I pray, in the upcoming year, I find my band of kindred spirits and we’re able to hear and respond to the needs and dreams of our families, our church, and island community.

May you know peace, love and joy throughout the New Year, Andrea Bolling

December 28, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector

The Third Day of Christmas

“On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…”

Everybody probably knows the answer to the popular carol that reminds us there are TWELVE days of Christmas:  “a partridge in a pear tree!”

(What’s today?  The third day of Christmas…hmmnnn…maybe three French hens?

REVEL AWAY, YE CHRISTIANS!  IT’S CHRISTMAS!

Some thoughts about the mystery of that Christ child…

Theism:  the belief there is a God.

Pantheism:  the belief that the universe as a whole IS God.

PanENtheism:  the belief that all the particles of the universe are infused with the substance of God; God both interpenetrates the universe and is greater than all that is.  (from Rohr’s Meditation for Wednesday, December 23)

As Christians, we are theists, and panentheists.  Pantheists, however, we are not.

More thoughts from Father Richard about the great mystery of Christmas:

“For all practical purposes, the dualistic mind is not able to accept the orthodox teaching that Jesus is both fully human and fully divine at the same time.  Our dualistic minds need to choose one or the other, with the result that they understand Jesus as only divine and humans as only human, despite all scriptural and mystical affirmations to the contrary.  The overcoming of this divide was the whole point of the incarnation in Christ, and precisely what we celebrate on Christmas (italics mine).  

“In practice, most Christians have been guilty of thinking of Jesus as having only a divine nature, which misses and avoids the major point he came to bring.  We have not been able to balance humanity and divinity in Jesus, which probably reflects why we are unable to put it together in ourselves.  We did not have the proper software for the task.  Jesus is the archetypal model for all of us.

“Theism believes there is a God.  Christianity believes that God and humanity truly coexist in the same body, in the same place!  These are two utterly different proclamations about the nature of the universe.  In my experience, most Christians are very good theists who just happen to have named their god Jesus.

“With dualistic minds it is always one or the other—it can never be both.  The result is that we still think of ourselves as mere humans trying desperately to become “spiritual.”  The Christian revelation was precisely that we are already spiritual (“in God”), and our difficult but necessary task is to learn how to become human.  Jesus came to model the full integration for us (see 1 Corinthians 15:47-49).  He told us, in effect, that divinity looked just like him—while he looked ordinarily human to everybody!

It is the contemplative, nondual mind that allows us to say yes to the infinite mystery of Jesus and the infinite mystery that we are to ourselves.  They are finally the same mystery.” (from Rohr’s Meditation for Tuesday, December 22)

Christmas joy!

Father Chip+  

Christmas Day 2020

Silent… 

Holy…

All is calm…

All is bright…

Holy infant, so tender and mild…

Sleep in heavenly peace—

Sleep…

in heavenly peace.

*             *             *

The new baby, born to a world teeming with life, raging, brimming with brilliance and darkness, together.

But there’s nothing like the newness and hope and promise of a newborn.  What power.  What grace.  How vulnerable.

And that peace when they sleep…safe and secure in the womb of God.

*             *             *

Today, of all days, we might simply take a few moments and let ourselves be taken by the mystical beauty and grace of the holy One come to us in power and might, and in a way we would never expect it.

The One that sustains us, guides us, reminds us who we are and whose we are, and affirms us in our humanity, in our joys, and in our suffering.

The One that shows us we can, as that very baby did, journey through life true to ourselves and to God, identifying ourselves to be of God, and born to love, born to heal, born to reconcile everyone and everything, to God and to each other.

For there is clearly divinity within us humans.

*             *             *

Let us behold who we are.

And may we become what we receive.

May the love of Christmas fill you and guide you now, and in the new year.

Father Chip+

December 24, 2020

JOY

The Fourth Sunday of Advent has passed. We have made it past the Winter Solstice. Good news:  we will gain a minute of sunlight every day now.

So, what are my Joys this season?

Seeing Father Chip in his office at St. Andrew’s.

Seeing our beautiful little church decorated so beautifully with Poinsettias. You all must stop by and look inside to see the wonder, and don’t forget to say hello to Father Chip back in his office, with a mask of course.

Joy in seeing Mother Christmas, Andrea Bolling, and packing all her presents in my tiny red sleigh (actually my red Fiat 500, but it is a convertible, so it kind of looks like a sleigh, especially after I stuffed in all of the presents for delivery!).

Joy in seeing Chris Buchholz, doing so well and so thankful for all the people surrounding him with love and prayers.

Joy in seeing Sara Barrington, and her beautiful baby Jane, who is a true blessing.

Joy in seeing Laura Noonan and reading with her at St Andrew’s.

Joy in seeing Poli Wilson with all her wonderful technology talents and her endless positive attitude.

Joy in picking up my grandchildren from school for a 10-minute (masked) ride to take them home.

Joy in walking Sherlock and seeing the wonder of lit trees in the woods. Twinkling lights in windows, a pair of swans on the pond and small birds feeding.

Joy in finding baked goodies hung on our door.

Joy in leaving a bag of goodies to our neighbors with twins, who are celebrating their first Christmas on the Island.

Joy in sharing Joy, in this time when we should be all together, but cannot, thank you facetime and Zoom.

Joy in facetiming with my 99-year-old Mother-in-law in France and our family whom we cannot see.

Joy in dropping off food to someone not expecting it.

Joy in being part of this wonderful Parish.

Joy in knowing Heather Anne has my back for editing and grammatical errors, of which I am sure are many, and her sense of humor.

Finding Joy when you think there is none to be found….

“I mean simply to say that ultimately our greatest joy is when we seek to do good for others.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu from The Book of Joy

“Joy to the world! The Lord is come…”

The Hymnal 1982

Joyfully,

Palmer Marrin

December 23, 2020

To our family and friends of our beloved St Andrew’s community:

For those of you who are here on the island, we’d like to make a SPECIAL, personal invitation for you to COME SEE our church, all decked out for the Feast of the Incarnation (Christmas Day)!

Heather Anne and I will be leaving the church doors open during the daytime hours through Saturday, December 26, so come on by, sit for a few minutes, maybe say a prayer or two, and drink in the exquisite beauty.

It is said that we “adorn what we love…”

Let us love and praise the One who is, at once, both fully human, and fully divine!

Merry Christmas!

In Christ Jesus,

Father Chip+

December 22, 2020

“’All is Bright’ is not merely a yearning for a post-virus world. It is an acknowledgement that much of our current condition is worth embracing. There is light midst the darkness. We notice blessings previously unseen in the glare of 21st century living. As our pupils contract, a simple glow becomes significant. Our incessant searching, shuttered by our present circumstance, can now focus on details of the less. Here we find meaning in silence, connection in relationships, purpose in helping others. The light we seek comes from the most unusual places, like a manger.”

I came upon these words accompanying a video performance of Silent Night by the Millikan University School of Music. If you have a minute to view this rendition (YouTube link below), it’s worth a viewing.

Even this year, as we countdown to Christmas, I have found myself still needing, and very much appreciating, these little reminders to scale back and adjust my self-imposed expectations, to remember what this season is all about. To focus on what’s really important- the “details of the less”, and the light and hope coming from that holy, simple little manger.

Love and hope to you all, this Christmas and every day,

Sara Barrington

(Silent Night was composed in 1818 by Franz Xaver Gruber to lyrics by Joseph Mohr.  This well−known text is set to new music by composer Michael John Trotta. The theme for this year’s Vespers at Millikin University School of Music is All is Bright.)

December 21, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector:  The Meaning of Mary (Part 2)

Greetings!  Question of the day:  Are we careening toward “Christmas,” or are we letting Christ come to us?” 

Today I finish some thoughts about Mary, which I began in my Meditation from this past Friday, December 18 (you might want to go back and read that, or read it again, if you have the time to help create some holy time for this…(kairos, not chronos!))…

To continue with the thoughts of Father Richard Rohr, in his outstanding small book, “just this”:

“If you watch your mind, you will see you live most of your life in the past or in the future.  The present always seems boring and not enough.  So, to get yourself engaged, you will often “create a problem” to resolve, and then another, and another.  The only way many people know how to motivate themselves is to create problems or to need to “fix” something.

“If you can’t be positively present right now, without creating a problem, nothing new is ever going to happen to you.  You will only experience what you already agree with and what does not threaten you—and you will never experience the unexpected depth and contentment that is always being offered to you.

the mary mind

“To be present to something is to allow the moment, the person, the idea, or the situation to influence us and even change us. Our word for that is vulnerability.  Could that be why we are afraid of such a stance?  We give the event control over us, and none of us like that.

“Jesus’ mother, Mary, is a succinct model of such vulnerability.  Her “yes” is an assent that comes from the deep well of self.  It does not come through logic or reasoning but through profound vulnerability—the opposite of egocentricity.  It risks being wrong or being taken advantage of, and allows and forgives reality for being what it is.

“Mary is able to calmly, wonderfully trust that Someone Else is in charge.  She asks only one simple, clarifying question—not if, but how—and then she trusts the how even though it would all seem quite unlikely.  Whenever God is conceived in the soul, it is always an allowing, never an accomplishment.

“Mary’s foundational “yes” is pure and simple in its motivation, open-ended in intent, and calm in confidence.  The Mary Mind knows by being present, by participating fully, by “treasuring all these things in her heart,” where things always expand and never constrict.  As even the Beatles recognized, her words of wisdom are “Let it Be.””

Wishing you all myriad moments of the gift of the present, and of presence…

In Christ,

Father Chip+

December 18, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector:  The Meaning of Mary (Part 1) 

We’re coming to the end of Advent (this Sunday is the fourth and final Sunday of Advent), so before I rush (even more) headlong into “Christmas,” I thought it’d be a good idea to think more deeply about Mary.

Do you have a minute?  (This is a formal invitation!)

In his precious little book, “just this,” Richard Rohr gets down to the nitty-gritty about what it takes to have an authentic inner dialogue with God.  The centerpiece of that, he states, is contemplation.  “Contemplation allows us to see the truth of things in their wholeness.  It is a mental discipline and gift that detaches us, even neurologically, from our addiction to our habitual way of thinking and from our left brain, which likes to think it is in control.  We stop believing our little binary mind (which strips things down to two choices and then usually identifies with one of them) and begin to recognize the inadequacy of that limited way of knowing reality.  In fact, a binary mind is a recipe for superficiality, if not silliness.  Only the contemplative, or the deeply intuitive, can start venturing out into much broader and more open-ended horizons.  This is probably why Einstein said that “Imagination is more important than knowledge.  Knowledge is limited.  Imagination encircles the world.”

(Are you still with me?  Go ahead, still yourself, and read that last paragraph again…)

Father Richard continues:

“The spiritual journey is a constant interplay between moments of awe followed by a general process of surrender to that moment. We must first allow ourselves to be captured by the goodness, truth, or beauty of something beyond and outside ourselves.  Then we universalize from that moment to the goodness, truth, and beauty of the rest of reality, until our realization eventually ricochets back to include ourselves!  This is the great inner dialogue we call prayer.  Yet we humans resist both the awe, while the will resists the surrender.  The ego resists the awe, while the will resists the surrender.  But both [awe and surrender] are vital and necessary.”

Thinking about Mary, we can see that her graceful and passionate response to God typified this pattern of awe, and then surrender, that Father Richard talks about. 

Perhaps we, too, might reflect in our season of waiting-in-watchfulness, the times in our lives when we, like Mary, have been captured by the goodness, truth, or beauty that has come to us, as a gift, by Someone Else.

Did we allow it? 

Prayers for Advent grace and truth,

Chip+         

December 17, 2020

LOVE

December 14, 2012 was the horrible shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. No one will ever forget that day.

Five years later, Brene Brown went to Newtown to speak at a fund-raiser for the Resiliency Center of Newtown. She sat with parents of children who were killed at Sandy Hook and cried with them. Her observation was that we don’t know how to sit with people in grief. After that moving day she said, ” I started to believe that crying with strangers could save the world.”

Today there is a sign that welcomes you to Newtown:

WE ARE SANDY HOOK.  WE CHOOSE LOVE.

Let us keep them in our prayers.

In the wonderful book The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy, there are some lovely quotes.

“Life is difficult – but you are loved.”

“So you know all about me?” asked the boy.

“Yes,” said the horse.

“And you still love me?”

“We love you all the more.”

“When the big things feel out of control… focus on what you love right under your nose.”

So, during this thoughtful season of Advent when things are so dark, I think we are all searching for light. The light of the Lord perhaps?

Love and Joy that comes with the season of giving.

Love is something we must give with our heart, sincerely.

This is such a strange time to be alone when it is the season to be together.

So, as we quietly wait for our savior to be born, let’s remember to love.

“We have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people.”

Colossians 1: 3-4

With love,

Palmer Marrin

December 15, 2020

Seven years ago this week the world lost a truly great man who personifies the many sides of the struggle for social justice, keeping hope and finding healing after generations of oppression, and leading a nation of people with dignity through adversity. That man was South African President Nelson Mandela. 

Prior to Mandela’s arrest in 1962, he gave up believing that nonviolent change was a possible avenue to ending apartheid in South Africa and that the only means that could end apartheid would have to come by force.  In his despair, he was right, but it would be a force of a different nature that would ultimately lead to the emancipation he sought for himself and his countrymen.  While Mandela was imprisoned, his life became a testament to facing the oppressor without using the tools of oppression.  Mandela’s own courage to keep hope and faith, and to encourage beloved countrymen on the outside of prison working towards the end of apartheid set into motion a shared awakening and the liberation they all sought. 

Mandela also knew that once that goal was achieved, he could not bring the hatred and bitterness of apartheid with him.  He expressed this in a well-known quote about the time apartheid was outlawed and he was physically released: ‘As I walked out the doors to the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew that if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.’  Additionally, four years later when Nelson Mandela cast his first vote in his lifetime in an election where he would go on to become the first black president of South Africa after apartheid, he had a plan to “close the chasm” and went on to lead his country towards reconciliation.

‘Reconciliation was not an afterthought or an add-on of our struggle and our eventual triumph. It was always imbedded in our struggle.

Reconciliation was a means of struggle as much as it was the end goal of our struggle.’ (Nelson Mandela speaking at a Conference of the International Women’s Forum, Tokyo, Japan, 30 January 2003)

It is my hope that, although the United States has sought some level of reconciliation after outlawing the state sanctioned enslavement of millions of African Americans and the generations of systemic racism that followed, America will find yet new opportunities to speak and hear the truth.

In Faith,

Laura Noonan

December 14, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector:  The Hush Before an Extraordinary Event

One of the things I’m acutely aware of each year is how wonderful it is that we have a season before Christmas, our Advent time.  Imagine if out of nowhere, Christmas just came, with no build-up, no preparation, no anticipation?  Sometimes I think the anticipation about the glorious things in our lives is the best part!

This from our popular writer friend, Frederick Buechner:

“ADVENT”

The house lights go off and the footlights come on.  Even the chattiest stop chattering as they wait in darkness for the curtain to rise.  In the orchestra pit, the violin bows are poised.  The conductor has raised the baton.

In the silence of a midwinter dusk there is far off in the deeps of it somewhere a sound so faint that for all you can tell it may be only the sound of the silence itself.  You hold your breath to listen.

You walk up the steps to the front door.   The empty windows at either side of it tell you nothing, or almost nothing.  For a second you catch a whiff in the air of some fragrance that reminds you of a place you’ve never been and a time you have no words for.  You are aware of the beating of your heart.

The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just before it happens.  Advent is the name of that moment.

The Salvation Army Santa Clause clangs his bell.  The sidewalks are so crowded you can hardly move.  Exhaust fumes are the chief fragrance in the air, and everybody is as bundled up against any sense of what all the fuss is really about as they are bundled up against the windchill factor. 

But if you concentrate just for an instant, far off in the deeps of yourself somewhere you can feel the beating of your heart.  For all its madness and lostness, not to mention your own, you can hear the world itself holding its breath.”

(from Beyond Words:  Daily Readings in the ABC’s of Faith (2004).

Your brother in faith,

Father Chip+

December 11, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector:  Sing out your Joy! 

Not a spoiler alert:  this Sunday, December 13, for the Third Sunday of Advent, we’ll spend some major time talking about Mary’s Song, “The Magnificat,” which begins, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior…”

It’s all about JOY!  Make sure to check us out on YouTube!

One of the daily devotional materials (still) available is our trusty Forward Day by Day.  The scripture entry for today, December 11, is from 2 Thessalonians:  “So, then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter.”

And the author wrote the following entry:

“When my sister Becca was thirteen, she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, which can cause chronic gastrointestinal issues. Despite her limitations and chronic physical pain, she graduated from college and majored in music.  Becca went on to adopt six very active and beloved children.

“Becca has a passion for helping those in need.  She puts other people’s pain first, even when her suffering can be unbearable.  God gave Becca a beautiful voice, and she praises God through her singing.  Through song, God works in Becca’s heart and mind, helping her see and do what’s right.  Hearing her sing helps me do that, too.

“Becca, who has had pain and multiple surgeries, clings to the truth that God is good—to her and all of us.  God is faithful, and so Becca is faithful.  She uses her voice and her faithfulness to help others hold onto theirs.  For me, she is Paul’s image of what it means to stand firm in our faith.”

And at the very bottom of the entry page, this question:  “Who are the ones who help you hear God’s voice?  Whose song enables you to experience love?  Thank those folks today.”

And don’t you know it:  just two or three days ago, our beloved Music Director, Griffin McMahon, texted me a ‘screen shot’ of a group of familiar faces on a Zoom call they were having together—and you know who they were?

OUR CHOIR!  They have begun singing together via Zoom, and boy did they look happy!  And boy did their smiling faces bring a big smile of joy to me, too!

I miss our chorister brothers and sisters in Christ, as I miss being with all of you.  And I REALLY miss the lovely music they bring to us in worship with their lovely voices and musical harmonies. 

They help me to hear God’s voice; their songs enable me to experience God’s love—by standing firm in the traditions that were taught us.

So I say this with JOY as we approach our newborn savior together:  Thank you, Mary.  And thank you, beloved choristers! 

And to us all:  Sing out your JOY!       

Faithfully yours,

Father Chip+

December 10, 2020

Peace

As I worked in the house today, outside the storm was raging. The wind shook the house, at times up to 50 mph, at one point I couldn’t open the door. It was raining horizontally and when I went out to look at the ocean’s fury, I could not open my eyes, for the rain was so strong it was like daggers.

Then it stopped raining and I could see the ocean waves crashing on the rocks and see the mainland again, but the view was brief, as it all started again.

Mother Nature’s or God’s fury reminding us that we are not in control of everything we think.

After these storms there is calm, quiet, peace, and it makes me think of all that I am grateful for.

We often have to go through violent storms to see what we have, and what we need to do, and why we should be thankful.

“I will listen to what the Lord God is saying,

for he is speaking peace to his faithful people

and to those who turn their hearts to him.

Mercy and truth have met together;

righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

Truth shall spring up from the earth,

and righteousness shall look down from heaven.

Righteousness shall go before him,

and peace shall be a pathway for his feet.”

Psalm 85: 8, 10-11,13

Peace,

Palmer Marrin

December 9, 2020

PSALM 85: 12-13

     Yea the Lord shall give that which is good; and our land shall yield her increase. Righteousness shall go before him; and shall set us in the way of his steps.

Ah….redemption, faith, salvation, and the promise of the kingdom of heaven on earth.  Psalm 85, a psalm that celebrates the consistency of God’s message and constancy of Christ’s presence. 

In the spirit of this wonderful psalm I can’t help but believe, through all the chaos and longing we’re experiencing in the world, that what will emerge is a greater good.  A re-alignment of interests that are spirit–driven and life sustaining.

I am thankful for this blessed season of Advent, the opportunity to welcome and commune with Christ.

And I am grateful for this time to love Jesus more fervently, to love, and to be even more aware of, all the little children that honor us with their presence, to embrace the gift of hope and goodwill. 

Happy Advent.

In love and peace,

Andrea Bolling

December 8, 2020

J-O-Y Exclamation Point!  

My now nearly 3-year-old nephew was reading a Sandra Boynton book about Christmas with his Mom, and she was explaining to him what an exclamation point is. 

“When you see an exclamation point you read it with enthusiasm,” she told him.

At the point in the story where each of the animal characters in the book express their Joy! for Christmas, Desmond read, “J-O-Y EXCLAMATION POINT!” 

Both Father Chip and I are using examples from Children’s books to illustrate the emotions of this holiday season, and the very real words and excitement expressed by my nephew are cues for every one of us to Contemplate the J-O-Y Exclamation Point! that the spirit of Christmas gives each of us as a gift.  

“For you shall go out with joy,
And be led out with peace;
The mountains and the hills
Shall break forth into singing before you,
And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
  Isaiah 55:12

I pray that we all go out and find our J-O-Y! this Christmas and always.

With Warmest Wishes,  

Laura Noonan

Desmond and JOY!

December 7, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector:  Born to Wait

In What Are You Waiting For? (2016), author Christine McSpadden talks about our task as Christians, during Advent, indeed, beyond, to wait, but in a certain way:  thoughtfully, with a watching eye.  Really, just the opposite of passive waiting.

And she suggests just the way to do that best:

“In Waiting, a children’s book and winner of the Caldecott Medal, author Kevin Henkes writes about five toys sitting on a windowsill expectantly.  The owl looks out the window longing for the moon.  The pig waits for the rain.  The bear, for the wind.  The puppy, for the snow.  And the rabbit?  The rabbit just looks out the window because he likes to wait!  And he’s glad enough to be in the company of the others.

“This simple book tells a profound truth:  If we have to wait, there’s no greater way to pass the time than waiting in the presence of love.  The practice of waiting in the presence of love is called contemplation.

“As traditionally understood, Christian contemplation, or theoria, means “the gaze of faith.”  German theologian, philosopher, and mystic Meister Eckhart describes the gaze of faith in this way:  “The eye through which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one sight, one knowledge, and one love.”  Contemplation, then, involves receiving the divine gaze and returning it—“love returning love,” as Saint Francis of Assisi says.”

Perhaps we may decide that this Advent is unlike any other, and find that we have the time to sit and practice meditating, contemplating, for twenty minutes a day, and to make it a habit.  “Practice the presence of God,” it’s also called. 

We will experience joy, and peace, and wholeness, generating from within us when we do.

And bear love.

“We love because he first loved us.”  (1 John 4:19).

Wishing you Advent light and peace,

Father Chip+ 

December 4, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector:  Our Advent Hero

Well, he’s coming around again, this John the Baptist character.  The truth-teller who breaks into the world of ho-hum and patterns of same old, same old, “this is how we do it.”  Even when it’s not working, even when it’s wrong-headed, or unthinking, or corrupt, or uncaring.  

There’s a whole new way.

So John stood out there, outside in the wilderness, away from the hard stones of the temple, away from the principalities and the powers, and became a star.  A rock star Baptizer to throngs. 

But he really didn’t care about fame, or fortune.

He let all that go. 

From Richard Rohr:

“John the Baptizer is the strangest combination of conviction and humility, morality and mysticism, radical prophecy and living in the present.  This son of the priestly temple class does his own thing down by the riverside; he is a man born into privilege who dresses like a hippie; he is a superstar who is willing to let go of everything, creating his own water baptism and then saying that what really matters is the baptism of “Spirit and fire”!  He is a living paradox, as even Jesus says of him:  “There is no man greater than John…but he is also the last” in the new reality that I am bringing about (Matthew 11:11).  John both gets it and does not get it at all, which is why he has to exit stage right early in the drama.  He has played his single and important part, and he knows it.  His is brilliantly a spirituality of descent, not ascent.  “He must grow bigger, I must grow smaller” (John  3:30). “  (from Preparing for Christmas:  Daily Meditations for Advent, pp 24-25 (2008))

Are we too full of ourselves?  If so, how can we make room for God?

How is your spirituality one of ascent or descent?

Light and peace,

Father Chip+

December 3, 2020

Hope.

Our Sacred Ground group is about to finish its 10th and final session.

It has been an amazing, eye opening, and wonderfully fulfilling journey. I hope I can take the knowledge and subtleties of my white privilege and reach out with my eyes open to make a difference, listen and share, with others.

Is not this the fast that I choose: to lose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?  Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?  Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.  Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.  The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bone strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water; whose waters never fail.  Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of street to live in.

Isaiah 58:6-12

With hope and acknowledgment,

Palmer Marrin

December 1, 2020

We have no shortage of advent calendars in our home this year.  One on the fridge, one in the living room and two in the kid’s room.  We are counting down the days.  The “for what” is no different this year than in any other year.  We are preparing to celebrate the birth of Christ.  That is the same as it’s been, but the means of that celebration might look a bit different.

Not for lack of trying or presents or good food to eat, but because we’ve already decided to cancel plans to visit with my in-laws.  We haven’t yet told the kids, especially because their Thanksgiving was less memorable than they expected it to be. In fact, yesterday I got a call from the school nurse asking why we weren’t quarantining after visiting Buddy and Laura’s Nana and Pop-Pop in Maine.  I assured her that the family stayed on Island this Thanksgiving, but Buddy evidently took a trip that the rest of us didn’t get to take; at least in his heart and imagination, he was in another state with his grandparents.

This year we are very thankful- for our health and our family, the same 4 people we have seen every day since mid-March and the extended ones we see on video chat.  It’s a very similar way that we see Jesus in our lives.  The Book of Luke reminds us that as we prepare for Christmas, there is a presence in our hearts that,

“Shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; to give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” 

Luke 1: 76-79

Jesus is both present and expectant in our lives.  And we wait and we watch and Jesus is already here.  We light the first Advent candle, we open the next box on the Advent calendar and Jesus is here.  Pray for our St. Andrew’s families, together and apart.  Pray that we can hope for a time when we’re actually, really together again, the love of Jesus in our hearts, the joy of recognizing our blessings, and the peace that comes when we realize that we’re already blessed. We are the people who walk in darkness who have seen a great light, let your light shine and grow today and always.

The St. Andrew’s Family Ministry has made about six 10″ advent wreaths that fit the white candles used for the Candlelight Services of past Christmases.  They will be available at the St. Andrew’s Parish Hall this Friday; please take one as you would like and we can always make more.  Light one candle each Sunday and remember that Christ is the light. 

With love and Faith,

Laura Noonan

November 30, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector:  An Advent of Trying, Just a little…

So here we are, another Advent, the first season in a new church year:

We always Begin Again.

A fresh start.

Maybe we plan to “build on our past,” maybe not.

Who are we to become?

Here’s an idea:

Fill your heart with good things.

Maybe:  One, just one, Prayer-A-Day?  

Can you do it?  Will you?

Maybe ask God to help. 

Pick one, or alternate them, one each morning, or noon, or night:

  1. (Short):

Sing the praises of the Lord, for he has done great things, *

and this is known in all the world.

Cry aloud, inhabitants of Zion, ring out your joy, *

for the great one in the midst of you is the Holy One of Israel.   (BCP, p 86)

  • (Almost as short):

Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation,

that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us

a mansion prepared for himself;

who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.  Amen.    (BCP, p 212)

  • (Simply Magnificat):

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,

my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; *

for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.

From this day all generations will call me blessed: *

the Almighty has done great things for me,

and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him *

in every generation.

He has shown the strength of his arm, *

he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, *

and has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things, *

and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel, *

for he has remembered the promise of his mercy,

The promise he made to our fathers, *

to Abraham and his children for ever.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *

as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever.  Amen.  (BCP 119)

Who are we to become? 

Maybe, just maybe, if we try to open our hearts wide to take in our God, our God-with-us, and ask God to work in us, we will find out.

And find our Hope (Week One), our Peace (2), our Love (3), and our Joy (4). 

A new birth…

OURS.

Yours in faith,

Father Chip+

PS:  For those of you who’d like to mark your days with other good things, we have, in the Church Office, Forward Day by Day, and some new Advent Booklets, for the taking.  PLEASE EMAIL OR CALL HEATHER ANNE AT 508-627-5330 and we’ll get them to you!

Also:  There are some great deals to be had for e-books starting at $2.99:  just go to Church Publishing at

churchpublishing@reply.cpg.org

November 27, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector: In Thanksgiving for our Indigenous Brothers and Sisters

To my dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I pray you have been able to enjoy the fruits of the labors of many, and the harvests of abundance we’ve been given, at your tables of Thanksgiving grace.

And I ask you to please remember those among us, often silent, who are not so fortunate during these times, or continue to live on the margins and are oppressed, and to reach out to them in love.

Many of you may know Liz Villard, a very active member of our island community (Island Historian, Chappy Ferry Boat Captain, St Andrew’s Winter Community Supper Captain), and supporter of St Andrew’s Church. 

Teaming with our friend David Vanderhoop, an Aquinnah Wampanoag Elder, Liz and David (with the help of our beloved Poli Wilson on camera), have put together something I believe to be very, very meaningful, and very, very powerful.

I hope you take the time view the video they’ve provided sometime today, or perhaps over the next few days, and consider again what Thanksgiving means to you.

And may we all reap the benefits of truth spoken in love.

Thank you, Liz, David, and Poli!

Faithfully yours,

Father Chip+

Wamsutta’s Speech

https://youtu.be/GGx98rjQyRk

November 25. 2020

“CONVICTION OF THE HEART” Kenny Loggins

     I overheard a Zoom conversation my brother had with colleagues from a Board he’s on and they were talking about technology, COVID 19 and developing new platforms for communication in response to current health and social crises.

     I thought about what I heard, both worried and agitated given what was circulating in the media.  Fearful of the way we use current platforms, and concerned new ones would further stress communications, I went to my room for daily prayer and meditation and found the following:

     “Father forgive me for the times when temptation has won in my life.  Help me always to run to you for forgiveness and to seek the forgiveness of others when needed.”

     Immediately, I started to wonder if our current use of social media and other platforms help us with our need to forgive and be forgiven.  Yes, Christ has forgiven us our sins but it’s the things we do in haste, anger and fear that weigh on the soul that I’m most concerned about; when we misuse our power through dismissive tweets, Facebook comments, or viral videos where we attack first and worry about impact later. Our on-line behavior is now part of our off-line lives, as many of us find it increasingly more difficult to have meaningful conversation when we are able to be together.  Aggression in social and traditional media platforms is now commonplace.  When person-to-person contact was the norm, we had the benefit of someone bringing aggressive behavior to our attention or seeing the effect of our words on someone’s face.  As we become more socially distant, the opportunity for healing and learning through understanding context and non-verbal communications diminishes. It’s difficult to apologize when you don’t understand your impact or haven’t developed an internal self-censuring mechanism.  A disciplined compass, that allows us to interact with spiritual discernment. Confessing sin, asking God, nature, and people for forgiveness, releases toxic thoughts, behaviors and chemistry that hurt us and the world we interact with.  I know COVID 19 has made dialogue and true whole-body learning more difficult, but the truth is that fracturing and isolation were becoming social issues from the beginning of the millennium.  Do our platforms provide us with the opportunity to course correct, own our ignorance and admit our fallibility without retribution?  We’ve given power to the tweet, and this may be the question we need to answer.

     I pray, as we tweak and create new communication and learning methods, we find ways to healthfully balance the needs of the human soul and spirit with our growing dependence on technology for maintaining human connections.

In Love & Peace, Andrea Bolling

(Link to “CONVICTION OF THE HEART” Kenny Loggins)

November 25, 2020

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite Holiday because it involves family and food and friends. No presents, just a reconnecting with relatives or friends who might be alone, over a meal. We share, each bringing a dish so the burden of cooking doesn’t all lay on the host. It does help that I love to cook, but this meal is traditions of dishes passed down through generations.

So, this year being a Thanksgiving of two, striving to be safe, makes me think.

What am I Thankful for?

I am Thankful for our Native Americans here on Noepe, Capawoc, or Turtle Island, as the Wampanoag call their Island, which we call Martha’s Vineyard.

They showed us their ways, and spirit, and through great suffering from the colonists have survived on their Island and Cape Cod.

I am Thankful to know their truths and hardships, and the importance of caring for their land and traditions, and their spirit which remains so strong through their ancestors.

I am Thankful to be learning more about people, who are not like me.

I am Thankful for my family and friends and our puppy Sherlock.

I am Thankful for St. Andrew’s, Father Chip and the wonderful caring people and the work they do in the community.

Thank you, Lord,

Palmer Marrin

November 24, 2020

Little Miracles

I thought I’d share our most recent little miracle and miracles for today’s daily meditation.

Our daughter, Jane Elisabeth Barrington, was born at Mass General on 11.12.20. Despite a relatively healthy pregnancy, I was urged by my doctor to go to Mass General for her birth. My husband was a little annoyed, as he really wanted another “island baby”. I remember saying to him, “I’m not going to question the doctors. What if there is some reason we need to be at Mass General? I would never forgive myself if something happened and she couldn’t get the care she needed.” Well, at 24 hours old, a healthy Jane surprised us all and began experiencing respiratory distress and was rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. She received immediate, life saving care, including an echocardiogram at 3:00 in the morning(!), which thankfully ruled out any cardiac issues. It turned out she had aspirated on some amniotic fluid, which quickly turned into pneumonia. We caught it extremely early, and the recovery they warned me could take 3 weeks, ended up taking only a week.

All the nurses that knew of her story, or were there the night she become ill, made a point to come and tell me what good intuition I had to catch her symptoms so early. But I know it wasn’t me, I know it was God. And maybe some special guardian angels too. We were literally COVERED in prayer by so many, near and far. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so certain of the power of prayer.

The night Jane became ill, her night nurse was checking her vitals and thought she seemed a little warm. She contacted the pediatrician on rounds, who said the temp was not a fever and not to worry. I was not alarmed, but ended up holding her a little longer and calling my mother back instead of going right to bed as planned. I eventually got off the phone because she started feeling a little warm to me too. I called for the nurse, and as I was waiting, I noticed she started to slightly pant, almost like a little puppy. It was very subtle, and the nurse wasn’t really concerned, but called for a second opinion to be safe. The nurses then checked her oxygen, and again, it was fine, but decided to bring her into the nursery to observe her more closely. “Just to be safe”. Not even 20 minutes later, I was told, apparently her oxygen levels dramatically dropped and she struggled to breathe. She was immediately rushed to the NiCU and put on oxygen support. It was a whirlwind, but I feel blessed beyond measure to say she is now home and well and healthy.

I shudder to think what would have happened if I had just put her to bed and gone to sleep as planned. If I had not held her a little longer, would I have noticed? At the very least, the nurses told me it was good I didn’t see her in full distress because it can be very scary for a parent to witness. I thank God for being there at every single turn, protecting her and keeping her safe.

2020 has been a difficult year in more ways than one, but I left the hospital with a renewed, more powerful faith in God, in humanity, and our future. Being surrounded by SO many nurses and doctors and hospital staff for 10 days, whose life work is devoted to helping others in need, reminded me of how much good there is in the world. We still have much to be thankful for.

Blessings to you all and wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving!

Sara Barrington

November 23, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector:  Thankfulness

As we approach Thanksgiving Day, those of us who are blessed enough to put together a sumptuous meal of turkey and “all the fixin’s” may find ourselves pausing, from time to time, to think about what exactly we are—or should be—grateful for.  Following the long summer season of sowing and growing, we can certainly be thankful for the time of reaping, of harvest, and the great bounty of all we’ve been given to eat.  And for those of us who remain attuned to the themes and stories of our God, we might also see that the food and nourishment we’ve been abundantly given may also be seen as something representing something greater, even more broad in meaning:  mystical, transcendent. 

God’s unbounded, and undying, love for us.  Yes, us.  Love perhaps unearned but, we are assured, nonetheless merited.  Unconditionally so.

So, we might take some time this season and consider just what it is we are indeed most thankful for.  All of it is termed “grace” in our lexicon of faith.  Where can we even begin?

I like Frederick Buechner’s description of “Grace” (from his clever and thoughtful, “Beyond Words:  Daily Readings in the ABC’s of Faith” (2004):

                GRACE    

“After centuries of handling and mishandling, most religious words have become so shopworn nobody’s much interested anymore.  Not so with grace, for some reason. Mysteriously, even derivatives like gracious and graceful still have some of the bloom left.

“Grace is something you can never get but can only be given.  There’s no way to earn it or deserve it or bring it about any more than you can deserve the taste of raspberries and cream or earn good looks or bring about your own birth.

“A good sleep is grace and so are good dreams.  Most tears are grace. The smell of rain is grace.  Somebody loving you is grace.  Loving somebody is grace.  Have you ever tried to love somebody?

“A crucial eccentricity of the Christian faith is the assertion that people are saved by grace.  There’s nothing you have to do.  There’s nothing you have to do.  There’s nothing you have to do.

“The grace of God means something like:  “Here is your life.  You might never have been, but you are, because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you.  Here is the world.  Beautiful and terrible things will happen.  Don’t be afraid.  I am with you.  Nothing can ever separate us.  It’s for you I created the universe.  I love you.”

“There’s only one catch.  Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you’ll reach out and take it.

“Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too.”

Faithfully,

Father Chip+

PS:  I always thank God for you.

November 20, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector:  Finding Our Inner Peace

It’s time again to marvel at all the early Christmas ads on TV, and wonder what it all means for everybody these days.   (Christmas, that is—I know exactly why we’re getting the ads!)

Every year my spiritual ‘clock’ gets a little confused.  “WAIT: Aren’t we supposed to get through Thanksgiving, and then Christ the King Sunday (the last Sunday after Pentecost), and THEN get to ADVENT—before we move into Christmas”?    

If you’ve noticed (for those of you watching our weekly worship recordings), I always announce at the beginning, both the date on that Sunday, AND the church calendar’s appointed date for that Sunday.  (This Sunday, indeed, is both Christ the King Sunday, the last Sunday before we begin Advent, as well as our annual celebration remembering our very own Patronal Saint, Andrew—so don’t miss it!). 

My wife Colleen recently asked, “Why do you always announce what day it is on the church calendar?”  And I guess my answer is this:  our secular calendars mark OUR time.  The church calendar marks GOD’S time.  (And just so you know, that calendar is the REAL calendar that marks the eternal moments of our lives!)

And of course, with this COVID thing turning a bunch of aspects of our lives upside down, I’m noticing I’m feeling a little jumbled up inside about the approaching “holidays.”  It’s just not the same this year!

I know I need to take a moment or two, and “dial it down,” as they say, and find my inner peace.  Even in the face of life’s frustrations, confusion and anxiousness, this ALWAYS works for me.  I invite you to try it, too. 

In his book, The Nonviolent Life (2013), John Dear makes it clear that our anger and divisiveness are actually the products of violence within ourselves.  And like so many wise women and men, both of the church and outside it, have shown and reminded us, beginning in ancient times, the way to sort through our inner strife and battles, is to sit.

That’s it. 

Sit. 

With a certain attitude, an openness, to be in the presence of the holy other. 

Indeed, it is a habit—and I would claim perhaps the single most important habit I can think of—that can be formed, quite quickly, actually, and has the power to transform us unlike any other habit. 

It brings PEACE.  And once you’ve been able to allow God to bring within you the sort of peace that makes you feel like “no, you’re not going crazy, and yes, I’ve GOT this!”:

You can now bring that inner peace to your outer world.  And remember that we are not separate from each other, or God.

Dear writes:

“I recommend sitting alone in quiet contemplative peace with the God of peace for at least thirty minutes a day for the rest of our lives.  Our personal relationship with the God of peace, with the One who calls you, “My beloved son, my beloved daughter,” requires such quality time, as any intimate relationship does.  In a marriage, if one partner speaks words of love yet the other partner never listens and never takes quality time to be in that loving relationship, after several years, the marriage will likely die.  The same is true with our relationship with God. If we don’t take time to get to know God and be with God, how can we know God and be with God?  Soon we give up on God and say we don’t know God, that God is never with us.  But God never gives up on us.  God waits patiently to love us, to be with us.

“Here, we discover how human God is.  God wants to love us, be with us, and stay with us.  All we have to do is show up and let God love us.  God does the rest.  The good news is that this feels good.  It’s better than sitting in pain, anger, hatred, bitterness, resentment, despair or violence.  Every feeling, every emotion, every experience is transformed in the prayerful encounter with the God of peace.  Like the crying child who runs to his loving mother’s arm, we are welcomed with a loving embrace and feel comforted.  We come away consoled, loved, strengthened, and ready for the next step.  That’s what happens in [contemplative] prayer.  That’s how to live a nonviolent life.”

Now I ask you this:  WHO wouldn’t WANT what Dear just described?  And I can vouch for it:  whenever I move myself to sit in this simple but devastatingly powerful type of prayerful silence, I come away with exactly that sense that Dear is describing.  No joke.  It’s REAL.

SO:  Perhaps, as we move more deeply into autumn, and seek to sort out all that’s going on, all that is, and all that we can look forward to over the next number of weeks (Christmas Day is just over a month away!), we might give this sort of prayer a try.  (And much better yet, keep on trying, every day for two weeks!) 

I can guarantee you this:  God will be working in all that.  You will be transformed (in both ways seen and unseen!).  And I pray you will find your own inner peace, holy peace. 

Your friend in faith,

Father Chip+

PS:  Our own beloved and wise Susan Kelly, herself a member of the Order of Julian of Norwich, leads a group Centering (Contemplative Prayer) group with others around the island each week via Zoom, Tuesdays at 2:00 pm.  PLEASE contact Heather Anne Slayton at 508-627-5330 to find out how to give it a try!                    

November 19, 2020

So many ups and downs.

Politically, Covid-19 (sadly only up), work, school, food, housing, family, friendship, and faith.

With the election and virus, it seems someone has put us in a bottle and shaken it hard, then thrown us to the wind to see where the chips might fall, (no pun intended).

We cannot see our family, due to many circumstances. We desperately want normalcy, back the way things were, but do we?

Do we need to be shaken up so we can see what is truly important in our lives? Helping us out of our old ruts?

Perhaps now is a time of reflection.

Help us to see need, love and God.

“But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Thessalonians 5:8-9

Faithfully,

Palmer Marrin

November 18, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector:  Where’s the Holy Spirit without “Church”?

In my last Meditation (Monday, November 16), I talked about how the virus pandemic has disconnected us from being together “as church” physically, but that that shouldn’t stop us—and won’t stop the Spirit.

Indeed, as the author NT Wright pointed out, there is no church without the Holy Spirit, even if a whole bunch of well-meaning folks with a constructive goal in mind get together and decide to go whole hog and get it done.

There’s a HOLY aspect to it all—and that comes from our concerted, and shared, experience of the Christ.  “Without God’s Spirit, there is nothing we can do that will count for God’s kingdom.  Without God’s Spirit, the church simply can’t be the church.”

So what about times like these, when we can’t even gather together?  What happens to the Holy Spirit now?

To my mind, the answer lies in how we “see” church.  Do we limit the mystical expanse of God’s passion and aims to life within the walls of a building, or even only work we might do together?

Wright writes (in his book, Simply Christian:  Why Christianity Makes Sense (2006)):

“I know that for many of my readers [the word ‘church’] will carry the overtones of large, dark buildings, pompous religious pronouncements, false solemnity, and rank hypocrisy.  But there is no easy alternative.  I, too, feel the weight of that negative image.  I battle with it professionally all the time.

“But there is another side to it, a side which shows all the signs of the wind and fire, of the bird brooding over the waters and bringing new life.  For many, “church” means just the opposite of that negative image.  It’s a place of welcome and laughter, of healing and hope, of friends and family and justice and new life.  It’s where the homeless drop in for a bowl of soup and the elderly stop by for a chat.  It’s where one group is working to help drug addicts and another is campaigning for global justice.  It’s where you’ll find people learning to pray, coming to faith, struggling with temptation, finding new purpose, and getting in touch with a new power to carry that purpose out.  It’s where people bring their own small faith and discover, in getting together with others to worship the one true God, that the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts.  No church is like this all the time.  But a remarkable number of churches are partly like that for quite a lot of time.”

I love that last paragraph.  It paints a picture of the sort of church many of us know, and indeed, as I spend so much time here at St Andrew’s alone, or with Heather Anne in the next office, both of us quietly going about our work, I still “feel” it, it’s still “here.”

But I think we’ve learned a lot over the last two or three years now, about how being church is by no means limited to the building, or a time for weekly worship. 

And so I’ll leave you with a quotation I’ve published at least once or twice before, perhaps hoping to kindle—even greater—the flame that began among us when we began to convene, time and again, in our “Small Groups”:

“Healthy churches often say that they do only three things:  worship, small groups, and community service….

“When people say, ‘I’m going to church,’ what they almost always mean is that they are going to attend a worship service at which they will be mostly a passive recipient.  Imagine if that phrase came to mean, ‘I’m going to a small group where I can be authentic and intimate and give others grace to do the same, where I can pray and be prayed for, where I can learn and share a little of what I know, where I can care and be cared for, and where I can serve in a way that doesn’t benefit me except to help me find my purpose for living.’  If that was what it meant to ‘go to church’ our churches would be exploding in growth.  What I just described is what every human needs.  Your church can provide a great gift by simply facilitating those kinds of transformational communities.”  (Piazza and Trimble, Liberating Hope, 2011)  

Since I’m the only full-time paid (and ordained) staff person here (a position my friend and previous rector half-jokingly referred to as, “the resident holy person”), I can sure understand it when folks need to go about their lives and livelihoods and rely upon me to put together programs, and in most cases, lead them.  I get it. 

And although I think our congregation was on the verge of undertaking some serious (and seriously GREAT) things, small-group wise, just about the time this pandemic hit in the spring of 2020, I still think there’s no reason why we should let that limit the Holy Spirit working within our hearts, separate and apart as we may be. 

So, as we face another winter of ‘social distancing,’ perhaps we might consider ways to connect with each other, perhaps as small groups with a theme, topic or focus, and let the Holy Spirit do his or her thing. 

And maybe start by asking ourselves, “What are you most passionate about in this world?” 

And “How can we as a faith community help you live into that passion?”

Even just a couple of small steps taken, in reaching out to each other, in my experience, can bring the Holy Spirit’s flame to a roar. 

In joy, and gratitude, and faith,

Father Chip+                 

November 17, 2020

A Prayer for Thanksgiving 

Almighty and gracious Father, we give thee thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us, we beseech thee, faithful stewards of thy great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of thy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen.

This month’s faith kit is now available for pickup at St. Andrew’s Parish House.  It includes everything you need to make two Thanksgiving placemats.  Use the white paper to draw something that you are thankful for and add the leaves to write words of gratitude.  Then use the included Contact Paper to waterproof your place mat.  There are about six faith kits available at the church right now and we can always make more.  For next month’s faith kit we are going to ask that anyone who is interested please sign up for the kit so we have enough time to purchase the materials to make advent wreaths at home.  Email office@standrewsmv.org to sign up. 

Always,

Laura Noonan 

Mom and St. Andrew’s Faith Kit Coordinator

November 16, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector:  God’s Breath of Life 

Another spike in infections, another round of worry.  More losses of life, more losses of living.  Lord, have mercy.  Even the breaths we share might prove deadly.

And yet, there is another breath of fresh air.  So pure and good, it comes to us like a crisp winter Vineyard breeze greeting us powerfully upon opening a new window.

It’s the Spirit.  God’s own Holy spirit.

God’s way of keeping God’s children connected, and full of courage, and full of hope.

In NT Wright’s ninth chapter (“The Breath of Life”), of his book, Simply Christian:  Why Christianity Makes Sense (2006), he reminds us about the task of church, something we might find useful to remember during these days of disconnectedness.

“The Holy Spirit and the task of the church.  The two walk together, hand in hand.  We can’t talk about them apart.  Despite what you might think from some excitement in the previous generation about new spiritual experiences, God doesn’t give people the Holy Spirit in order to let them enjoy the spiritual equivalent of a day at Disneyland.  Of course, if you’re downcast and gloomy, the fresh wind of God’s Spirit can and often does give you a new perspective on everything, and above all grants a sense of God’s presence, love, comfort, and even joy.  But the point of the Spirit is to enable those who follow Jesus to take into all the world the news that he is Lord, that he has won the victory over the forces of evil, that a new world has opened up, and that we are to help make it happen.

“Equally, the task of the church can’t be attempted without the Spirit.  I have sometimes heard Christian people talk as though God, having done what he’s done in Jesus, now wants us to do our part by getting on with things under our own steam.  But that is a tragic misunderstanding.  It leads to arrogance, burnout, or both.  Without God’s Spirit, there is nothing we can do that will count for God’s kingdom.  Without God’s Spirit, the church simply can’t be the church.”   

I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep on saying it:  sometimes I feel a little sheepish about the great joys and blessings that come from serving in my role as an ordained minister.  I get to see—and hear from so many—about how the Spirit is working in them, especially as we are together as members of our beloved community, St Andrew’s Church.  Sometimes it is so clear, and powerfully so, to witness the work of God here in this place, among us, BY us, for each other, and for God. 

So invite all of you reading this to perhaps pick up a phone, or hop on the computer, and reach out to your friends, your brothers and sisters in faith, and re-connect.  Just say “Hello! I haven’t seen you for far too long!”—and let the Spirit take you places.  (If you need a phone number or email address, just call Heather Anne at the church at 508-627-5330).  I know you will be so glad you did!

For the Kingdom of Heaven is within you.

All of us, together, in fact.   

In Christ Jesus,

Chip+    

November 13, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector:  The Goodness (and Promise) of the Church

I can’t remember if it was last summer or two summers ago, but on one of those stellar, bright and bouncy Vineyard sunny days, I received a surprise visit to my office by a friend I’d known from my days in Florida.  His name is Kurt Dunkle, and I thought of him just this morning when I read an article about him in The Living Church, one of the periodicals serving The Episcopal Church. 

In the article, Kurt was interviewed following his recent announcement that he will be stepping down as Dean and President of General Theological Seminary in New York City, after serving there seven years.   I first got to know Kurt during my application process to serve as one of the five (usually only three) priests on staff at the 6,000 member Christ Episcopal Church in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, following my ordination from Yale Divinity School.  At that time, Kurt was the Canon to the Ordinary, serving the Bishop of Florida and his staff at the Diocese of Florida, and one of his duties was to oversee clergy coming and going to the diocese. 

Interestingly (actually, quite curiously), it turned out that Kurt and I had a lot in common.  I think Kurt is about a year younger than me.  In his “previous” life, he was an attorney, and only preceded me into the ordained ministry by about four or five years.  Then, after serving as Canon to the Ordinary for a few years, the Bishop of Florida asked him, as he did me at the same time, to become newly-appointed rectors at two larger churches in Jacksonville, which had had significant differences with The Episcopal Church, even to the point of suing the Diocese of Florida to leave the church but keep their buildings—suits they ultimately lost in the courts.  And then, we both did something similar yet again:  we stayed a couple years or so where we were planted (each of our congregations being renewed in vitality and number by the gifts of the Holy Spirit), and headed off in new directions: Kurt, becoming the 13th dean of GTS (he had been a student there only a small number of years before), and me, to this beloved and blessed island, and this parish of great grace and love, St Andrew’s.

So it was a delightful and refreshing surprise to see Kurt in my office and reminisce, and see each other, in our current roles.  And I realize, having read the article in The Living Church, that what we have in common is more than some similar (and eerily contemporaneous) life choices.

We seem to be very much on the same page about the future of The Episcopal Church, and what our roles as leaders in this day and age are, and—and this is important but somehow too often seems to get lost—what the roles of our beloved members are, to our world.

So please take a moment to let me share some points in the Living Church article I find I am in COMPLETE agreement with (and perhaps ask yourself, do you agree, too?):

(The Living Church):           “It hasn’t been a really good time for the Episcopal Church in the last few decades, in terms of shrinking membership and attendance, and there’s been some shakeout in the world of seminaries as well. Do you see that process continuing, do you think there’s some hope of turning it around?

(Dean Dunkle):          “There’s absolutely hope to turn it around. The members of the Church – the big body of Christ, the million or two million people in our Church – their job is to do the ministry of Jesus. To go out and change lives. Their job is to go out and protest injustice, to lobby Congress, to begin feeding programs, to talk about and do something about racial injustice. All those things.

“The clergy of the Church of course are to support that. But they have an even narrower job. It’s three things, and if they can do the three things, then they can do the fourth thing.

“The first is to make sure that they know, and know about, God. It’s about learning the stories. Jesus constantly used stories. The writers of the Pentateuch, the writers of all the books of the Old Testament, the Pauline letters – everything revolves around story. So, knowing and knowing about God is learning those stories, and learning them so well that they in fact become your story.

“The second thing is, the priests in our Church need to fall in love with Jesus, again and again and again. That is largely an emotive decision. Jesus is so magnetic, so life-changing, so life-enhancing, that to live life outside of the body of Christ wouldn’t be worth living.

“And the third thing is, we have to recognize and respond to the movement of the Holy Spirit.  That’s the way God gets us going in life. In the creeds, we say ‘we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life.’

“If our seminary students, the future leaders of the Church, can do those three things, then they can do the fourth thing. And that’s to teach people how to do that for themselves, and then to send them out into the world to do all the ministry that God has imagined, and change the face of the earth.

“But if what we’re doing is training clergy to be sort of hyper-active parishioners, then who is there to actually teach people how to be hyper-active parishioners? It’s not that one is better than the other, it’s simply the job definition.  This is my standard speech for years at General.

“How do we stem the decline in the Episcopal Church? We go back to that fundamental basic. I’ll use commercial terms. The only product that we sell is life in the kingdom of the Triune God. If what we’re selling is [good works], then we’re selling the wrong thing, because everybody else is, too. They’re just selling a different twist on it.

“If we give up our primary job of selling life in the kingdom, and therefore giving people the fuel to go out and change the world, then nobody else is going to do it. I think that is the primary reason the Episcopal Church has been shrinking.

“Bishop [Michael] Curry’s message is the Jesus Movement, and it’s spot on. That is the antidote for decline in the Episcopal Church. It’s not further social action. Social action is what comes out of the Jesus Movement. The clergy have a very clear job, to make sure there are enough people out there to have a movement.”

To all that I say:  thank you for your courageous witness, brother Kurt.  It’s all about living life in the Kingdom, and imparting that hope, that vision, to others, simply by doing that—and inviting everyone to the great and enduring feast.

Faithfully yours,

Father Chip+

November 12, 2020

This is a quote my daughter found online for the non-profit organization she started with 2 other women, for new mothers and families called “The Hive Collective”.

Thoughtfully,

Palmer

November 11, 2020

LUKE 10:19 KJV 

Behold, I give you the power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.

Power. How do you experience it?  Is it an aphrodisiac, consciousness and chemistry that fills your chest…..allows you to experience greatness?  Do you see power as a distant, nebulous thing, something you have, but don’t know you have?  Maybe, for you, power is something to be ashamed of… to keep secret for fear of misuse, or covet, so you know there’s something you control.

As we move through the aftermath of a contentious election, how will you exercise your power? Will you gloat…find vindication?  Perhaps you’ll be motivated to retaliate or blame. The big question is whether you’ll choose to walk in the power of God…love creatures great and small, winners and losers, democrats and republicans over any emotional need.  Perhaps, treading on serpents, scorpions and the enemy means dismantling the beliefs that hold them as the “other”.  Something to be feared, reviled and conquered.  I like to think what Jesus intended when he gave the 70  power is more about blessing them with a state of mind; a state of being that he and other masters demonstrated when they walked on water, across snake pits and through fire walls – without drowning, getting bitten or burned. They knew the power of one, a harmony with God and environment that allowed them to move in the right direction at the right pace.  In coherence, a unified field, that is both transcendent and physical. 

Whether we like it or not, we are being called to address our human condition and our relationship with the natural world. I know it’s a tall order, but I think it’s time to claim our inheritance in our walk with Christ. Not in dominance and brute force but in spiritual knowing, discipleship. I know we, as members of political parties, have different world views; compassion and the right use of power will help us find the places where true harmony exists.  Allowing the transcendent to merge with the physical.

Jesus Said:

LUKE 10:20 KJV

Notwithstanding in this (the gift of power and dominion) rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.

Please take a few minutes, a few deep breaths, and ask spirit, how am I using my power? Be the observer, let the images unfold. Now ask, how, at this critical time beloved God, can I allow spirit to create opportunities for healing and find common ground?  When direction unfolds, follow spirit, and be in the power of Christ.  Amen

With love and peace, Andrea Bolling

November 9, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector:  On the passing of my father

Some of you may have heard that my father, Vincent A. Seadale, died just over a week ago, on October 29.  He was 84, and lived a beautiful life, and indeed, HE was beautiful.  A gentle, thoughtful, caring person.  My brother, sister and I were just so blessed he was our Dad.

I am so very thankful to be a part of our St Andrew’s family, and reflect on that all the time.  And I am perhaps most reminded of my gratitude when you all are “there” for me (in body, mind and spirit!), when life’s darker mysteries invade.  Thank you for your prayers and for reaching out in concern.

Being a part of this loving community of faith means I never feel all alone.  Can there be anything more important to us when so many things seem to pull us apart?  Away from each other?  From God?

Integration is healthy.  Dis-integration is not.

I’ve been asked whether Dad had succumbed to the virus.  He did not.  As the good doctor explained to me over the phone, more than a week after my Dad’s intestinal surgery, even though he looked pretty good on the outside for an 84-year old, on the inside, his organs were every bit 84 years old.  They just stopped functioning.  And so Dad made the decision to let it all go.

It came as a bit of a surprise to me to get a call out of the blue  that Thursday afternoon, when I was given to believe that his surgery had gone well, his “vitals” were looking good, and all everyone was anticipating, was that Dad’s intestines would somehow “wake up” and begin functioning again.  Instead, it was the doctor, way down there in South Carolina, who called me on my sister’s cell phone and, without any sort of forewarning, pretty much asked me to say a few words to my Dad, after which my Dad mumbled into the phone, in response, how much he loved me.

I had to put on my pastor’s stole again, metaphorically, and tell my Dad how much I loved him, and try to take care of him, perhaps assure him, too. 

“I love you so much, Dad.  You’ve been just the best Dad anyone could ever have, and I still pray that you might come out of this somehow.  But no matter what, Dad, and I know you know it, the God who made you is the One who loves you most, and will always take care of you. “

And then I added:  “You have nothing to worry about.  God’s got you…”

And that was it.

In the days since, I’ve wondered about my farewell words to my Dad, expressed on-the-fly, given no warning.  Do I truly believe all that? 

And I recalled it’s really what I remind everyone I have the privilege to be with, when they are in those intimate, intensely personal, final moments, and we are sharing their transformation to new life, in another way. 

It’s what I’ve learned to believe, but it’s also not only what my heart longs for, but what my heart has always, already, known.  Maybe the best “learning” is really just remembering, or being reminded of, the things our heart already knows.

Thank you, Dad.

Thank you, God.

I love you both.

Your brother in Christ,

Chip+   

November 6, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector:  A New Word Being Born 

One of the images I’ve always loved about our future in the hands of our loving and creative, create-ING God, is the idea of all of us, and each of us, in the process of being formed, made, and re-made again.

Once we decide that our ultimate destiny is indeed—and always has been—in the mind and hands of the One who made us to begin with, and that our Creator is generative love itself, we may find our peace, and our patience. 

I came across a wonderful rendering of that hope in an article written by John Buchanan in Feasting on the Word, a commentary I sometimes use in my sermon preparation:

“Rainer Maria Rilke wrote a series of letters to a young military officer who wished to be a poet.  In one of them he responds to the young man’s lament that he had lost his belief in God:

                ‘Why don’t you think of him as the one who is coming, who has been approaching from all eternity?  …What keeps you from projecting his birth into the ages that are coming into

                existence, and living your life as a painful and lovely day in the history of a great pregnancy?’”

Yours in faith,

Father Chip+         

November 5, 2020

“With Malice Toward None”. Abraham Lincoln’s quote, as Father Chip so beautifully wrote in his November 2nd meditation.

Isn’t this what we have been striving for for so long? Our eyes have been closed or the blinders kept us looking in one direction only. But so many causes and movements have forced us to look at our blindness.

Understanding the only way to move forward is by seeing both sides and working together united to make positive changes in all our lives, our environment, and the world.

Seeing the wonder and gifts that each of us brings to God’s table regardless of color, race, nationality, religion, disability, age, sex, gender preferences or political preferences.

When I quoted Marcus Aurelius last week, from the book “The Daily Stoic” by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman; it was a quote for November 4th. I picked it for the content, not the date. But upon looking at the authors’ thoughts on his quote, I will now quote the authors, as it seems relevant on this day.

A quick note: they label each month, and November is Acceptance/ Amor Fati.

“When people say change is good, they’re usually trying to reassure someone (or themselves). Because instinctively we view change as bad— or at least we’re suspicious of it.

The stoics want you to do away with those labels altogether. Change isn’t good. The status quo isn’t bad. They just are.

Remember, events are objective. It’s only our opinion that says something is good or bad (and thus worth fighting against or fighting for). A better attitude? To decide to make the most of everything. But to do that you must first cease fighting.”

Let us move forward with acceptance, understanding, and love. It is the only way we can move forward if we truly want to heal and work together.

God is love,

Palmer Marrin

November 4, 2020

 Well, the die is cast, and we have a pretty good idea which team will guide us through the chaos of 2020. Staying calm and allowing ourselves to hear the voice of spirit, see God in Christ move through and amongst us, may be our greatest imperative for the remaining quarter of the 21st century.  Daily, I choose to know spirit, carve out a little time to read scripture, surrender, incorporate some way of living in a more enlightened way.  It’s the only way for me to make sense of life, without making sense of life. 😏 Recently, I came across a prayer, from the BCP, pg. 824; I found it fitting given our current social climate.  As I repeated the prayer I thought about the Pledge of Allegiance, they seemed to be connected, as if they echoed the same intention. 

Prayer & Pledge

O God, you have bound us together in a common life

(One Republic, One World)

Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth,

to confront one another without hatred or bitterness,

(One Nation Under God)

and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect

(Indivisible)

through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen

Prayer and Pledge are helping me visualize and hold, a greater potential for our country and the world. I hope you find comfort in it as well.

In peace we are one. Therefore, Let US, keep the peace.

In Faith, Andrea Bolling

November 3, 2020

Fate is an incredible force. How did I ever get so lucky to agree to prepare a daily meditation for St. Andrew’s every other Tuesday and somehow end up with lucky November 3rd, 2020 to write something uplifting and meditative for our community? God has a plan so I’m going to write from the heart and hope that every testament we make at this unique moment in our nation’s history inches us closer to the unity and equity we believe our country was both founded on and is capable of. 

My first meditation is a quote that I thought I had written.  “If you know better, do better.” The words of my mind and Maya Angelou’s.  In Maya’s more complete and eloquent words, “Do the best you can until you know better.  And when you know better, do better.”  Over the past 4 years I have heard a screaming inner voice inside me yearning to learn more about our nation’s history and apply that knowledge in any area of my life that I am able to.  Professionally, I started my career at the MV Museum three years ago where I work as the assistant to the oral history department and Curator, Linsey Lee. She is the author of the “Vineyard Voices” books and the Island’s oral historian.  Here she is on WCAI talking about Vineyard Voices III, published in 2019 https://www.capeandislands.org/post/vineyard-voices#stream/0   At the Museum I am able to apply my college education in audio and video editing to create new excerpts for exhibits and social media as well as work with the archived collection of over 1700 interviews from Islanders spanning over 40 years of collecting oral histories. 

The course work that I have engaged in by listening to the oral histories in the Museum’s archive is a crash course on the people and events that have shaped this Island’s history and the effects of the nation’s history on the people of the Island.  The oral history collection proves unanimously that Martha’s Vineyard has been home to some incredible activists and a shared awareness of social justice causes amongst the people who live here.  On exhibit at the Museum now through February you can review this history in an exhibit titled “Making Change, Stories of Vineyard Activism 1820-2020” along with a Community Gallery exhibit co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters MV which commemorates the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment which gave 26 million white women the right to vote in this country for the first time.  This is certainly not the centennial we would hope for completely, since the year will be 2065 when we celebrate the rights of all women (and men) to be able to vote in this country for 100 years, but it marks a significant milestone.  Both exhibits remind us what kind of change can occur when we are an advocate for social justice issues. 

We can know better for the future by sharing our own story and witnessing the events and policies that have created change and a more complete vision of human potential for the future.  Additional ways of experiencing the Island’s history outside of the Museum exist at the Aquinnah Cultural Center https://www.aquinnah.org/ , the African American Heritage Trail https://mvafricanamericanheritagetrail.org/ and many wonderful walking tours with local historians like Tom Dresser or read in the pages of published works by fellow parishioner, Tom Dunlop.  

Know too that it has never been easier to record your own history with a smartphone or computer.  There are sites dedicated to recording your own personal story, here’s a list of 5 things you can do to record your family history from the NYTimes.  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/21/technology/personaltech/family-history-record-share.html

I also recommend reaching out to the MV Museum to share and archive your story or recommend a fellow Islander for the collection.  You can look at our YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3M5Jlnwq-3X7nxLbFWc_xw  to get inspiration for the stories you might want to share.

Everyone has a story and everyone’s life is interesting.  As we navigate this unprecedented time in human history it is great comfort to listen and share how we each got to where we are and how we imagine the future.  There will be a tomorrow, how will we remember our past?

Laura Noonan

The MV Museum is a gateway to experiencing the history of this Island, there are certainly ways to do that at specific sites around the island some operated by the Museum, like the lighthouses in Edgartown and East Chop and the reimagined Cooke House Gardens in Edgartown. You can find out more about the exhibits and book a timed ticket for entry to the MV Museum in Vineyard Haven here.  https://mvmuseum.org/

November 2, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector:  Adopting Lincoln’s principle “With Malice Toward None” following our National Election

Dear friends in faith,

One of the online resource links referred to in our Bishops’ Pre-Election Reflection Letter (please refer to your Constant Contact email from St Andrew’s Church from this past Friday, October 30, for the full text of that excellent letter, or click on it here________________________), was to a site called “Braver Angels.”  (I also invite you now to click on that site here:   https://braverangels.org/what-we-do/with-malice-toward-none/

It explains the initiative, “With Malice Toward None” as follows:

With Malice Toward None

“With malice toward none, with charity for all…” – Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865

“With Malice Toward None is an initiative to heal America in the aftermath of a clear 2020 election outcome. Religious congregations, colleges, civic organizations, and small groups of friends and neighbors are invited to organize gatherings (online or in-person) for their members after the election has been decided. In these gatherings, red and blue Americans consider how they want to regard their fellow citizens who voted differently and begin building the capacity of We the People to forge “a more perfect union” moving into 2021.”

And, it asks its viewers to take the following pledge:

Commit to not holding hate against fellow citizens no matter who wins or loses.

“Regardless of how the election turns out, I will not hold hate, disdain, or ridicule for those who voted differently from me. Whether I am pleased or upset about the outcome, I will seek to understand the concerns and aspirations of those who voted differently and will look for opportunities to work with people with whom I disagree.”

“Seek to understand…”

“Look for opportunities to work with people…”

Sounds very “Christian,” don’t you think?

How much have we all been doing that lately? 

Especially now, in this time after our election, I invite all of us to practice—really practice—charity for all.

For as Christ himself showed us, a life lived with a heart for others and giving true, charitable love to others, is no “weakness” at all.

Indeed, there is great power in such “weakness.”

Yours in Christ,

Chip+

October 30, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector:  Our Nation’s Election

To my dear brothers and sisters in Christ:

As Election Day nears, I wanted to give you just a few thoughts, and then ask you to read the wonderful letter from our Bishops, Alan Gates and Gayle Harris, about how we might keep God in all our thoughts, actions, and hopes.

It is time for us to put aside our frequent tendencies to demonize those who disagree with our political views, and then seek to unite.  And do the single most important thing we can do, as a privilege of our American form of democracy:  vote.  As children of God, vote our consciences.

Lord knows, we have much, much more in common with each other, than we have differences.  And our primary work, as followers of the Christ, is to help each other, and our broken world, to reconcile with each other, and with God.

If we so choose, we can cast aside the works of darkness and be the change we wish to see in this world.  With God’s help.

And may God bless us, every one.

Faithfully yours,

Chip+

October 29, 2020

“There is no evil in things changing, just as there is no good in persisting in a new state.”

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 4.42

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

May we move forward with peace and the love of God.

Faithfully,

Palmer Marrin

October 28, 2020

Contemplation

     2 Corinthians 11:30

     If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.

     Wow! How powerful it is to reveal our ignorance, our limitation.  What an opportunity to find sacred ground and allow spirit to lead.  What could be more awesome than that!

     As I was reading this excerpt from scripture, images of animals filled my mind.  I envisioned a puppy approaching a bigger, older dog……all bark, then surrender, lie down before the elder…admitting its youth and allowing guidance.  Cats, exposing their necks, one of the most vulnerable parts of their bodies, as an act of surrender and trust when they don’t want to fight or know they’re outmatched.

     Perhaps, it’s time for us to let go of the illusion that of our own will, we know the path to survive.  Perhaps, it’s time to boast our ignorance, what we don’t know and understand. Time to trust the holy spirit, and the good will of human kind.  Perhaps, like our friends in the animal kingdom, ours is to know humility and surrender our hearts, minds and desire to sustain life.

      In a previous contemplation, I shared a practice, something I do when life becomes too unwieldly.  With your patience, I’ll share it again.  With the preponderance of mixed messaging from media and daily course corrections most of us are forced to make, a practice that creates a pathway for guidance may be helpful.

      The first thing I do in my practice, and perhaps the most important, is acknowledge I’m stuck…can’t see a way forward;  anger, feelings of high stress and repeating myself in conversation or action are some of the ways I know I’m not moving with spirit.  The next thing I do is proclaim loudly enough that I hear myself; Forgive me God, forgive me my ignorance, please forgive me for what I don’t know. I say it several times, while walking, or in the throes of an emotional upheaval.  Always, and I do mean always, my body relaxes, I let go of trying to control the circumstance and often, spirit subtly guides me forward.  It is truly amazing!  When I allow myself to stay calm and let go, easy solutions, sometimes as simple as a change in attitude, start to surface.  When I shared my practice with my sister, she asked me why I petition God for forgiveness.  I told her that I ask for forgiveness because I know whatever condition I’m experiencing is not God’s intention.  God and spirit are always present; I block access and am unaware of their presence when I let my emotional body lead my life.

     Now, I don’t limit boasting to times when I feel overwhelmed, I boast my fear and other emotions, as well.  Out loud, I say, “I’m afraid”.  I take a deep breath and allow myself to feel vulnerability, release the emotion through breath and become the observer. When I do, I am more aware of what I think, say and do, knowing I’m uncertain and afraid.  Owning my limitations, whether they show themselves as ignorance, fear or arrogance, helps me move with integrity.  I don’t have to be “strong”; I don’t have to be anything.  Allowing God is enough.  In spirit, we are always growing, expanding individually and as a collective consciousness.  Every insight, big or small, gleaned from tragedy or a job well done is important.

     On 10/21/20, the reading from Our Daily Bread mentions poet & author G. K. Chesterton’s response to a question the editor of the London Times posed to readers at the turn of the 20th century.  The Times asked, “What’s wrong with the world?”  Chesterton’s response to the query, “Dear Sir, I am.” Wow, he was boastful!  In keeping with the Apostle Paul and Chesterton’s declaration, I would add a 20th century notion that many young people in the 21st century have adopted as an integral component of their world view: “Dear Sir, I am.  In me, lies the problem AND the solution.” Honestly acknowledging where we are, allowing God and the best of the human spirit, is our greatest hope for moving forward.

     Psalm 30:10 ESV

     Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me! O Lord, be my helper.

In love and peace, Andrea Bolling

October 27, 2020

Jesus Loves Me, this I know.  And everyone else, too.

As a parent of a chatty 4 year old, I field a LOT of questions these days. I am amazed at how someone so small can leave me stumped for a response almost daily. Jesus and God and Heaven are just a few of our topics covered, and while it makes my heart swell that things are starting to “sink in”, those are also the questions that can be most difficult to answer.

The other night, William, age 4, asked me, “Mommy, Jesus loves everyone, except the bad guys, right?”

My answer: “Actually, he loves them too. He loves EVERYONE. No matter what. He doesn’t stop loving them. Maybe he hopes they will make better choices, but he still loves them, all the time.”

It sure sounds good, explaining it to an innocent child. It has provided my own soul much welcomed peace over the years. But in practice, it can be kind of hard to fathom. While I firmly believe it’s important to stand up for what is good and right and just, I am also trying to remember that powerful lesson that I too was taught as a curious young child, that Jesus loves us all. No matter what. Not just the ones making all the “right” decisions. All of us. We are all worthy and deserving in His eyes.

On a funny note, William got into trouble the other day for trying to sneak and take something off limits, and when I asked him why he tried to take something he knew he wasn’t supposed to have, he answered,

“I don’t know, Mom. It’s just the way God made me!”

Wishing you all peace, hope and love-

Sara Barrington

October 26, 2020

10-26-20

A Meditation from the Rector: Belonging

I think one of my deepest beliefs is that none of us is ever truly alone. I call that ‘other’ the Holy Other, and I see the Christ as the perfect image of that Holy Other, someone who serves to show us that image in human form, when he was among us here on this earth, and now resides among us, within us, in another way, as part of our “Triune God,” as Spirit. To me, there is no question that ‘Spirit’ is real, real as love, real as God’s love, and that our God is, indeed, Spirit.

I wonder how many people feel as I do—that we are never alone.

This from John O’Donohue (from Benedictus, 2007):

          For Belonging

          May you listen to your longing to be free.

          May the frames of your belonging be generous enough for your dreams.

          May you arise each day with a voice of blessing whispering in your heart.

          May you find a harmony between your soul and your life.

          May the sanctuary of your soul never become haunted.

          May you know the eternal longing that lives at the heart of time.

          May there be kindness in your gaze when you look within.

          May you never place walls between the light and yourself.

          May you allow the wild beauty of the invisible world to gather

                         you, mind you and embrace you in belonging. 

          Yours in Christ,

          Father Chip+

October 23, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector:  American Christianity

Somewhere around 120 of us on the island are currently reading Jesus and the Disinherited by Howard Thurman, first published in 1949, as part of our Sacred Ground studies.  (Sacred Ground is the name for the Episcopal Church’s series having the byline, “A Film-Based Dialogue Series on Race and Faith.”)

I consider this book nothing less than earth-shattering, because the truth expressed so cogently and urgently therein, just plain hurts.  Hurts so much that space is created for hope.  Real hope.

One of the ideas expressed in the book is Thurman’s notion that there is a disparity between what he calls “the religion of Jesus,” and “American Christianity.”  To me, one of my important tasks as a disciple of Jesus, living in America, is to examine that disparity, and undertake my own self-examination as a participant in the things that cause the two to diverge.  And as I’ve stated, although the truth can be hard to hear, it’s the only way to a liberating spirituality, one that actually frees me.  One that gives hope that I may help others to be freed, too.

In the excellent foreword written by Vincent Harding, for Thurman, “the ultimate issue is…becoming more free than we have ever been, free to engage our fullest powers in the transformative tasks that await us….”

Indeed, as Thurman wrote those words for the disinherited, the underprivileged, I realize they characterize my own goal, too.

Our loves and our lives are not separate. 

Our salvation is in loving each other and learning to live in freedom together.

In Christ,

Father Chip+

October 22, 2020

So today I share two passages that keep coming back to me in my readings.

“Jesus recognized with authentic realism that anyone who permits another to determine the quality of his inner life gives into the hands of the other the keys to his destiny.”

Jesus and the Disinherited by Howard Thurman

“Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering…Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.”

(From Every Day Holy by Melanie Shankle; a message based on Romans 12:1-2)

Mindfully,

Palmer Marrin

October 21, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector:  Giving our Selves to the World

In The Book of Joy (2016), Desmond Tutu, the well-known South African Anglican Archbishop, and the Dalai Lama, spend a couple of weeks together, and the author recounts their many conversations about all things spiritual and religious.   I note this one conversation about giving of oneself in compassion for others:

“The Dalai Lama jumped in to affirm the truth of what the Archbishop was saying.  “Too much self-centered thinking is the source of suffering.  A compassionate concern for others’ well-being is the source of happiness….So as you rightly mentioned, a self-centered attitude is the source of the problem.  We have to take care of ourselves without selfishly taking care of ourselves.  If we don’t take care of ourselves, we cannot survive.  We need to do that.  We should have wise selfishness without foolish selfishness.  Foolish selfishness means you just think only of yourself, don’t care about others, bully others, exploit others.  In fact, taking care of others, helping others, ultimately is the way to discover your own joy and to have a happy life.  So that is what I call wise selfishness.”

“’You are wise,’ the Archbishop said.  ‘I wouldn’t just say wise-selfish.  You are wise.’”

As I get older (and hopefully wiser), I am becoming more and more aware that it is our generosity of spirit toward (all) others that marks us as followers of Jesus.  Can we learn to share our love, GIVE to others, such that our left hand knows not what our right hand is doing?

John Philip Newell writes:  “It is time for Christianity to make our offerings freely to the world.  Not on the basis of whether people become Christian and choose to enter our household, but on the basis of the gifts that we have to offer for the well-being of the world.”  (from The Rebirthing of God, 2015)

Ubi caritas est vera, Deus ibi est.

Where true charity is, God is there.

In Christ,

Father Chip+                   

October 20, 2020

O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches. Ps 104:24

Photo taken at the Grand Canyon where my husband and I traveled on our honeymoon in 2011.  

The Grand Canyon is an incredible place where humans can explore our microscopic place on this planet in awe of God’s wonderful creation.  We certainly can feel that microscopic balcony view when we look out at the ocean all around us on Martha’s Vineyard.  We are, in the word of the Sufi poet Rumi, “…not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.” 

We are part of all that is around us.  We too are wonderfully made. 

Laura

October 19, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector

This from Dennis R. Maynard’s fun book, Those Episkopols (2007):

Can You Believe Anything You Want and Be an Episcopalian?

“There are diverse opinions in the Episcopal Church.  Some Episcopalians prefer Elizabethan language, others contemporary.  Some Episcopalians prefer Bach, others renewal music.  This list of preferences is incredible, ranging from incense to women bishops and priests.  Further, the Episcopal Church allows issues to come before its convention that more conservative churches would never allow on the agenda.  Anglicans value their freedom.  We do not want to be a part of a church that tells us what books we can and cannot read, what questions we can and cannot ask.  There are no imprimaturs, no book bans, go gag orders.  There is freedom , openness, and dialogue.  From time to time this freedom makes us uncomfortable, but we prefer it.  Autocratic rules produce clones.  Freedom produces diversity.  This diversity is housed under one roof.  It is the natural by-product of the way we do our theology and is critical to our pursuit of truth.”

+             +             +

“Here is my description of the Anglican Communion:

“If you’re looking for a church that has

Morality but not moralism,

The Bible but not bibliolatry,

Law but not legalism,

Emotion but not emotionalism,

Piety but not pietism,

Tradition but not sentimentalism,

Then you’re probably in the right place.”

Grace and cheers,

Father Chip+

October 16, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector:  Where is our Church?  

One of the things Heather Anne and I sometimes giggle about is realizing how many folks on the island—and I’m talking about long-time islanders, in many instances—have absolutely no clue where St Andrew’s Church is. (!) (Even more funny is finding out they’ve passed by it a zillion times over the years, whether in a car or on foot!)

Such is the state of affairs in our times.

And many folks these day are asking me how are things going “at church.”  Of course, they’re curious to know how we’re navigating the virus crisis (whether financially or corporately, in worship and fellowship), and, at least for now, I’m happy to say that we’re “holding our own.”  (For a more in-depth depiction of what I believe our financial and spiritual health seems to be right now, please make sure to read carefully the materials I’ve sent out to everyone in the past week or two, accompanying the annual Stewardship Campaign materials.)  

God continues to bless us here at St Andrew’s. And as much I’d like to say it’s because of “numbers” (money, investments, people in the pews, you know, the ‘stats’), it’s really not.  (Although, of course, yes, we are MOST happy for those numbers!)

It’s because of YOU.  A real person, someone just trying to get through this life the best you can, and finding where your joys and supports are.  Every person God has made is INFINITELY valuable and love-able.  You are decidedly that, too.  And you bless every one of us by giving us your faithful presence and abiding support.   

But there’s one other thing I can point to but really not do much justice to, when it comes to putting it into prose.  (Ever hear the word, “ineffable”?  (I think most Episcopalians have!)  That’s what I’m talking about here…)

It’s what happens when a few of us get together.

This past Wednesday, many of you might now know it, but we had “church.”  No, not the sort of church that involves corporate (physical or “virtual, socially-distanced”) worship at an appointed hour for all, but a different kind.  

We had a meeting, out-of-doors, of our beloved “Small Group Leaders” from the reVision program we’ve been working on together for the past two years (+).  We prayed together, we enjoyed the beautiful sunshine, sitting there down at the Old MV Museum site in Edgartown, and we talked about all sorts of things. 

And there, somewhere in, around, between, and through all of us, it occurred to me there was something else.  SomeONE else. 

It was, and is, the Spirit of Christ, the spirit of the Holy One, the Holy Spirit. A REAL thing, although, like I said, the whole thing is unutterable, ineffable.  Our living God. 

And there was God, and there was church. And we all shared that joyous, blessed moment, together.

And what did we talk about most?  Making God increase, making LOVE increase, among us all at St Andrew’s.  And how might we do that?

Simply by ‘making more church!’ :  That is, try to re-create that sense of energy, passion, connection and joy that came through so frequently when we were having our “Small Group” (or Pillar Group) meetings before. 

It is about you, it is about us, it is about that connecting, the relationships, that will help us all to increase our joys, especially now, as we begin to enter some colder months. 

It is my great joy to be with all of you in this church, and I invite you, when called upon, to consider how you might find yourself enjoying any of the small group offerings you will be hearing about over the next few weeks.

And remember:  I always thank God for you.

Grace, and peace, always—

Father Chip+                    

October 15, 2020

There is Ruth, and then there is Ruth.

Sadly, we lost Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a mighty woman of truth and reason.

One of her quotes: “My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your own person, be independent.”

We also lost Ruth Middleton Cheney, but only to France, thankfully.

Ruth is my 99-year-old mother-in-law. She has lived in Provence for the past 40 years. She returned to the United States a year ago in July to recover from a broken leg. Most said, “Well that’s it; she won’t last long.”  But they didn’t know Ruth. She recovered from both the broken leg and spinal stenosis surgery. By the spring she was raring to go back to France, but had sublet her apartment until October 1st. Again, thoughts were, “Something will happen; she will be staying.”  I mean, really, she is 99, and she would have to travel alone with her dog. France will not let people in the country unless you are a citizen or have a residency card, so we would not be able to accompany her.

But she was determined, so we packed her up. Armed with dog papers, a negative Covid19 test, her residency card and all her artwork she had created during her stay – because she wants to have an art exhibition when she returns! We picked her up in New Hampshire and drove her to JFK for the flight to Paris.

As we were getting out of the car, there was a beautiful rainbow in the distance. Surely a sign from God that this was meant to be.  I was able to be with her all the way to the gate, and then let fate take its course.

Things went like clockwork and without delay Ruth was back in her village eating at her favorite cafe and then listening to a concert on her favorite channel, Arte. The next morning she was back at her easel, painting.

Indeed she is happy and where she should be. Ruth has always been an independent woman and we can never keep those women down.

So cheers to both Ruths.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows his handiwork. Psalm 19:1

In awe,

Palmer Marrin

October 14, 2020

CUSTOMIZE: To modify or build according to individual or personal specifications, preference or need.

     A year or so ago I was reading the BCP, searching for words of support, and came across a morning prayer, on page 461.  For about a month I read the prayer but wasn’t totally “feeling it.” I realized that I needed to tweak it, change a word, so I could more easily surrender to the intention.  So, instead of asking God to help me stand bravely, I ask God to help me stand in integrity.  This is the morning prayer I now read with a little tweaking.

     This is another day, O Lord. I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord for whatever it may be.  If I am to stand up, help me to stand in integrity. If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly.  If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently.

     And if I am to do nothing, let me do it with grace. Make these words more than words, and give me the spirit of Christ. Amen

     When I decided to change the prayer, I experienced a myriad of emotions from a sense of freedom, to guilt and unworthiness.  I’m not a member of the clergy, I had no authority within the church or diocese but I knew, through spirit, that I needed to customize this wonderful prayer to experience the full benefit.  Right or wrong, the image I had of standing bravely was of a man, a white man, strongly facing the day ahead.  I am neither white nor male.  I often don’t feel brave, but I choose to live as truthfully as possible.  Frequently, I feel vulnerable, angry, and in need of healing.  All of these states of being, I surrender to God and allow spirit to guide me.  Please know, it is not the word “bravely” in and of itself that is problematic; it’s the social consciousness about who embodies the word that is part of the history of our church and nation that, for me, makes the prayer in its original form less inviting.

     To some of you, this may seem like a silly thing of little consequence but many women and people of color, well, we customize life.  We have to find ways to shed images of ideals that invalidate our personage, so we too can feel valued and included.  What I know, what I’ve learned through Christ, is God did not intend for us to experience separation.

     Customizing for inclusion is freeing.  I invite anyone who may feel disconnected from prayer or scripture to give yourself permission to know God’s love. Is there a piece of scripture, a prayer, that with a little tweaking will help strengthen your spirit and bring you closer to God?  If so, love yourself, seize the day, claim your inheritance, find the words to customize the prayer or scripture so you have greater union with God.

In Peace and Love, Andrea Bolling

October 13, 2020

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”

Matthew 5:7

A high school classmate shared this quote the other day:

“Forgiveness feels like losing until you understand that you’re losing if you DON’T forgive. There’s a blessing in showing mercy.”

Words on forgiveness mean a lot to me. In some ways, finding the ability to forgive, with God’s help, is what heightened and solidified my faith and closeness with God as an adult. That’s a story for another day, but I will never not be in awe of the power of prayer, mercy, and what it can do for your heart. When I was younger, I would have read the above scripture from Matthew and thought that I should be merciful so that I could receive it in return. Win win, right? Be good so others (or God) will be good to you. But now I find mercy to be so much more profound than that. Or maybe I just see the gift more clearly now.

The people I admire most in life possess this quality of mercy and grace that seems unfathomable, in light of what they have experienced. While I generally don’t tend to harbor grudges or resentment super easily (at least I think I don’t, but maybe don’t ask my husband), there have been times when I’ve really struggled to forgive people for their toxic words, choices or actions. Often those choices might not have harmed me directly, but someone I care about, or even humankind in general. But the irony is, my harboring resentment is so toxic and harmful to ME. It’s pervasive and soul-sucking and can be downright consuming. It can keep me from being my best, loving self, and being the good in my little corner of the world, so caught up am I in my anger. It can spark a flame that can smolder and burn and be passed on to others. It’s really quite dangerous, even if its start was righteous. In my darkest moments, it has taken hard work and intense prayer to find the ability to truly forgive. But when I find that merciful place- it’s so freeing. Letting go of anger and resentment, even when, ESPECIALLY when, it’s deserved, is one of the greatest blessings I could ever ask for. I’m so grateful to Jesus and all those that live like him, for showing me this precious gift.

Wishing you all love and peace,

Sara Barrington

October 12, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector: Dealing with Helplessness about the State of the World

Recently, I received an email from Charlie Silberstein, who is a psychiatrist on the island and helping many to find healing.  Many of you may know that Charlie has, for some time now, been writing a periodic column in the MV Times about psychological issues, and he asked me if I might write something he could include in his next column, “Strategies for Pandemic Helplessness.”  I’m not sure how much of my words he will include in his piece, but I thought it might be worthwhile to share my full response with all of you, since we are all caught up in trying to work through this strange, challenging, and often fearful, environment we currently find ourselves in.  And please know this:  if you are feeling helplessness about the state the world is in, please reach out—to me, or friends and loved ones, to share your feelings and worries. 

For as we learn as followers of Christ, in community, God works through all of us who walk with God.  And we heal each other.

Perhaps you might take a few moments and try to picture yourself as the person I describe meeting with, below:

If I were to meet with and counsel someone feeling helpless about the state of the world these days, my first thought would be to make the person feel comfortable with some quiet time, away from the noise and busy-ness—and anxiety—of “the world.”  I think it is clear to most of us clergy that many of us are forgetting about the “simple things” in life that have strong healing qualities.  Taking time to be alone for a period is one of them, and I would talk about that with him or her, finding out about how s/he goes about their life.  Letting our quiet time together sink in, I would hope to model how rich that simple, quiet time, feels.  I would perhaps recommend the person remember that, and begin to try to envision how including quiet time alone might become part of their habitual practices.  (In the Judeo-Christian tradition of which I am a part, this concept might be seen to correlate to the idea of “Sabbath.”)

Next I might try to get the person to think that all of this feeling of dread, anxiety, and perhaps hopelessness, is something actually rather normal for so many of us.  We’re going through some tough times, and we’re all dealing with things in different ways.  Some of those ways are more healthy than others.  This approach helps to get the person to see that their feelings are “normal” and that there are choices they might consider over other choices to move from their despondency.  “It’s OK.  We all go through these times.  We can help each other find our way.”

I would likely then ask if it would be OK for me to pray.  I like to think that “prayer might change God, but it definitely changes us.”   There are various types of prayer (thanking God, asking God, saying we’re sorry, etc.), but many have forgotten how powerful  the simple act of praying can be for one’s spirit.  Those in my tradition have made the choice that there is a God, and that this God is not simply “out there” but lives, in some way, among and through us.  So when we pray, we are simply saying that there is a higher power who created us and made all we know, and is the One who is ultimately in charge of everything.  Not us.  And there is an important, yet subtle dynamic that follows from taking that posture as a pray-er:  If God is in control, and our experience as humans is that God loves us and continues to care about us, then we are NOT the ones in control. 

And that is a very, very powerful posture to take.  At some point, that posture allows us to feel deep gratitude for the things we do have: life itself, people who love us (even if we’ve hurt them), and the possibility of using that relationship we have with our higher power to help us find our way.  We might remember that our God, who made us and loves us, doesn’t abandon us when we fall, and is there, in some way, with us when we seek help.  Like a very good friend, the fact we know someone is there for us, ready to listen and help us to work out our problems, is a very powerful—and empowering—gift.   God seeks our personal health and wholeness—and healing.

It is in that sense, then, that we might realize we’re not “on our own” and “going it alone.”  I might ask the parishioner to begin to think of times when they have faced similar thoughts and concerns, and try to recall how they were able to find freedom, in some way, out of that situation.  The idea is helping the person find the solutions for their healing within themselves—indeed, they have spent their whole lives up to now figuring out ways to take care of themselves, I would say, in the lion’s share of situations.  Perhaps they sought and found the listening ear of friends or loved ones they haven’t kept in touch with.  Perhaps they used to enjoy the company of a faithful pet.  Or, they found their way out by taking up a hobby or exercising.  My hope is to help the person identify how “God may be working in them to bring about health, healing and wholeness,” and to begin to envision their way out.

For ultimately, in our faith tradition, we believe that inside every one of us resides some part of our Maker, an immortal diamond, that is unbreakable and, like our dignity, can never be taken from us.  And that in every instance, God hopes for us, and will be the glad and willing partner as we go about finding our way to wholeness, and inner peace.  

Your faithful servant in Christ,

Father Chip+

October 9, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector:  Loving others into being

When Colleen and I moved to Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida in 2005 for my first position out of divinity school, we soon became aware that, unlike the two of us, who are big-time beach lovers and goers, others in our community NEVER went to the beach. 

Seriously. 

And now, having been on the island for almost 11 years, I’ve become aware that I may well be in the very scant minority of folks who, although we are completely surrounded by abundant and majestic oceans, NEVER goes fishing.  (OK, if someone invites me, I’m happy to go for the adventure and fun.)

Now I’m not sure what that’s about, but it very well may have something to do with empathy for the fish.  Indeed, I remember in our family jaunts to Maine for summer vacations growing up, I’d feel empathy for the WORMS I was supposed to cavalierly lace onto my sharp hooks.  Not to mention watching, in horror, as my Dad would grab a miniature baseball bat and mercilessly crack our witless, flopping catches about the head, putting them out of their suffocating misery.

This coming Sunday, October 11 at 10 am, many of us will gather via Zoom to enjoy one of our twice-monthly “Zoom Coffee Hour Chats.“  I hope you join us, too! 

This time around, we’ll ask our fellow Zoomers to show us their pets, so they might receive a blessing in memory of St Francis. 

I guarantee you, this will be FUN!

And in keeping with the spirit of Francis, who knew how to love all of God’s creatures as holy, as we indeed all are, I’ll share with you a quote from John Philip Newell, that I’ve actually cut out and affixed to the inside of my Prayer Book.  I invite you to take some quiet time and think about each line:

“Do we know that within each one of us is the unspeakably beautiful beat of the Sacred?

“Do we know that we can honor that Sacredness in one another and in everything that has being?

“And do we know that this combination—growing in awareness that we are bearers of Presence, along with a faithful commitment to honor that Presence in one another and in the earth—holds the key to transformation in our world?”

I always thank God for you.

In Christ,

Father Chip+

October 8, 2020

My daughter sent me a book in the mail the other day. She knows I write the Daily Meditation on Thursdays.

The Daily Stoic

366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and The Art of Living

by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman

Although they are not all spiritual, they are thought provoking.

So I will share my first find.

The Color of Your Thoughts

“Your mind will take the shape of what you frequently hold in thought, for the human spirit is colored by such impressions.”

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 5.16

Just think about that statement and your state of mind.

Will we go down the dark rabbit hole or stay in the light of God?

Faithfully,

Palmer Marrin

October 7, 2020

Putting Fear In Its Proper Place

“Nothing should be feared—not human beings and not any other thing….Perfect love drives out servile fear, which is fear that expects punishment before everything else….Christ has no servile fear. 

–Thomas Aquinas

“Psychologist Jerry Jampolsky teaches that fear is the opposite of love.  John’s epistle says that “fear is driven out by perfect love”  (1 John 4:18), and Aquinas offers a similar teaching, urging people to live without fear.  And this includes religious people.  Living our lives without fear is living a Christ-like life.  If fear is the opposite of love and Christ taught love, then clearly a life of fear is not a Christ-like life.

“How much does fear play a role in our lives, individually or collectively?  Do our religions preach a servile fear of God?  Is that not the opposite of preaching love?  Do politicians and the media exploit fear?  Is that not the opposite of building community?

“Courage, having a heart that recognizes fear but does not allow tit take over one’s soul, is one of the surest signs of a truly spiritual person.”

(From Matthew Fox, Christian Mystics:  365 Readings and Meditations, 2011)

To which I ask:

Is it possible to develop Christ-like courage without living in community

And mustn’t communities be built?

What should that community look like?

How should it function?

Yours in Christ,

Father Chip+

October 5, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector:  Who are we as Episcopalians?

I remember in divinity school one professor made it a point to let us students know that there really isn’t a particular Episcopal “theology” written down anywhere.  Of course, there are a number of sources we rely on (for instance, one might take note that the Prayer Book has little “dogma” and instead is VERY scripturally based), and there are definitely some parameters of our faith tradition that are non-negotiable, even if they are always fair game for conversation and even debate.

But can we say there is a certain Episcopal “temperament”?  According to John Westerhoff and Sharon Ely Pearson, writing in A People Called Episcopalians:  A Brief Introduction to Our Way of Life, there IS!  (Who knew?):

“Temperament refers to a tradition’s characteristic ways of thinking and behaving.  For Episcopalians, this is comprehensive, ambiguous, open-minded, intuitive, aesthetic, moderate, naturalistic, historical, and political….

“Comprehensive:  Episcopalians affirm the principle of via media (literally, nothing too much, or the middle way).  This includes the conviction that truth is known and guarded by maintaining the tension between counter-opposite statements concerning truth. 

“Ambiguous:  This is a theological category that makes possible living with what may appear to be irreconcilable differences.

“Open-Minded:  Episcopalians encourage a searching, questioning, reasonable mind always open to new insights and change.

“Intuitive:  While affirming the intellectual way of thinking and knowing, Episcopalians have also affirmed the intuitive way of thinking and knowing.

“Aesthetic:  Truth, goodness, and beauty are related to each other in that the presence of one is judged by the presence of the other two.

 “Moderate:  Episcopalians believe that they are called to live a godly (manifesting the divine image in ourselves), righteous (living in a right relationship to God and neighbor), and sober life.  We are a people of moderation and restraint.

“Naturalistic:  Having a reverence for and taking delight in the earthy rhythms of life, the seasons and their changes, the natural world and all of creation are another of the characteristics of an Episcopalian.

“Historical:  Episcopalians have a great sense of history and a desire to honor tradition.

“Political:  Lastly, our English history has made us a political church. We value the civic virtues and affirm free, peaceful, public debate as a basis for political unity.”

How about you?  Do you think you have a decidedly “Episcopal Temperament”?

Faithfully yours,

Father Chip+          

October 2, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector:  Developing Consensus

About twenty years ago now, when I was discerning my vocation in the ordained ministry, my internal world was not only alight, but on fire.  I was going through a very emotional—and frequently anxious—period in my life.  I felt as though the very ground of my being was shifting.  It was downright exhilarating!  

One of the books the Diocese of Connecticut (I was living with my family in Cheshire at the time) required us “Postulants” to read, was Listening Hearts:  Discerning Call in Community, which is a fantastic little book that draws upon a wide range of Christian traditions to explore the themes of call, discernment, and community as they relate to each other.  Indeed, the book was required reading for the small group assembled in our parish, to work with me to discern, as a community, whether our parish would support me to pursue my discerned vocation.   I would recommend this delightful book to anyone who would like to understand the nature of their own callings, and how they may be worked out practically in the context of parish life.

Some years after Listening Hearts was published, the authors published a companion book called Grounded in God:  Listening Hearts for Group Deliberations.  The first line of the book states:  “Spiritual discernment is a prayerful, informed, and intentional effort to distinguish God’s voice from other voices that influence us.”  What a bold thought:  that we might, together, discern for us what we believe God is saying to us!  To my mind, engaging in such a prayerful, deliberative process in a group setting—in church—opens such glittering possibilities. 

In these days, I think a lot about “consensus.”  No, none of us can have (or expect to have) every decision by groups we are in, always agree with our personal viewpoints.  Give and take is frequently required in order to move forward.  But is “consensus” a dirty word?  Are we finding we are always merely “settling” for a result we don’t think will be helpful for the good of the group, let alone mirror our own preferences?

How about putting all that discernment into a spiritual context?  Now, I think, we can get somewhere with our “consensus” question.  And I find words of Grounded in God so helpful and instructive:

“The process of making group decisions can either divide those involved into factions or can knit them together into a strong community.  The practice of majority rule that dominates our culture tends to create winners and losers.  A majority can easily gloss over the concerns of the minority even when the minority only loses by a vote or two….The people on the losing side may feel ignored, beaten, alienated. 

“Another approach to making community decisions is consensus, which creates neither winners or losers.  Consensus literally means “perceiving together.”  A group that seeks consensus avoids taking votes and instead searches for solutions that satisfy the group as a whole….[It] does not mean unanimity; rather, it suggests that a sense of the group exists and that everyone feels sufficiently heard to be able to go along with the emerging sentiment. 

“For consensus to succeed, every member must remain ever open to seeing things in new ways.  Everyone needs to listen and look for ways to bring things together.  Consensus requires an atmosphere of mutual respect.

“For secular groups and even many church groups, developing consensus is primarily a rational endeavor, achieved through discussion and debate.  Spiritual consensus for Christians is a particular approach to consensus.  While it, too, draws upon our human skill and talent and makes full use of available data, study and discussion, it goes beyond them to wait upon the Spirit for guidance and direction.  In the words of William Temple, what we are looking for is the Spirit’s guidance ‘in its living relationship to the facts confronting it.’”

To my mind, whether we are involved in decision-making for secular or religious groups, as followers of the Christ, we are always called to approach our discernment from a religious perspective—especially when considering the impact our decisions may have on others. 

What is God saying to us?

Yours in Christ,

Father Chip+

October 1, 2020

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.

Zechariah 4:10

So many small beginnings for us all.

Small groups at St. Andrew’s for our reVision program.

Small groups for “Sacred Ground”.

Small safe gatherings outside.

Small bags for our Sunday School.

All of these add up to grounded beginnings to reconnect in new ways in these strange new times.

Who knew that when we began the process of the reVision, that it would be so important to our wellbeing, for both the church and ourselves.

I don’t want to lose these small beginnings and their importance!

Grateful,

Palmer Marrin

September 30, 2020

Contemplation

JEREMIAH 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

  Purging, churning and more purging.  That’s what I see and hear when I turn on the television and read the paper.  My parents and spiritual teachers described this kind of foundational upheaval as the “Dark Night of the Soul”.  A grueling process of de-structuring and restructuring.  When I’ve experienced the Dark Night, it often feels like I’m in the abyss….with no way out.  As a child, witnessing family and friends go through what seemed like a terrible experience, I told my father I didn’t want the dark.  He said, “Andrea, we all go through the Dark Night. Yes, it can be frightening, butthat’s how we grow.  It’s a test and opportunity, God’s way of letting us know there’s something we don’t know about ourselves, our condition, but must face in order to move ahead.”

Like a quickening, if we constrict, fight new information, perspective, identity, we end up prolonging the agony.  What may require simple adjustments in thinking, attitude and action become large and unwieldly.  I remember my parents counseling me to let light prevail and that, sometimes, the process is about knowing who and what we are allowing to “lead” our lives.

Recently, my sister Carolyn sent me a wooden letter A, which I put in our kitchen.  For months I thought, OK, my name begins with an A and this just might remind me to take care of myself.  On a ledge close to the letter A I have a bumper sticker that has a heart shape, in red, white and blue which reads, “Hate Has No Home Here”.  Two days ago, I was blessed with an epiphany.  The A also stands for America.  Our nation and I are one, and there’s no room for hatred in this country, my family, my person. Yes, like me, our nation often constricts and allows anger and fear to bubble-up into resistance toward change.  Like me, our nation makes up stories about how forgiveness, inclusion or doing the right thing would offend the soul.  Perhaps, the Soul of America, through the notions of Liberty and Justice, is taking us through a Dark Night to open our hearts and minds, to re-align to our true identity. 

Before my epiphany, I was watching a documentary on the Statue of Liberty.  I had seen the documentary before but this time, listening to the narrator, I recalled what my father taught me about our nation’s reluctance to accept the gift of Lady Liberty from France.  Now, I would wager most of us couldn’t imagine an America without her.  She has become a touchstone, a compass that lets us know where we stand relative to the ideals of who we want to be.  I remember my Dad saying, “Children, don’t be fooled.  Freedom in America is greater than what many people experience in other parts of the world.”  He said, “We’re blessed…and don’t know it.  Lady Justice is not blind; she reminds us that our deeds have impact and we are accountable.  And like Lady Liberty, that we have a higher calling.”

I believe our ladies, Freedom and Justice, can help guide us through this soul disruption.  We all know, on a personal level, when the “Dark Night” comes, God puts his foot down and we have to face what we’ve been avoiding.  I’m choosing to follow my Father’s advice.  I choose to love America and let spirit guide me so I am better prepared to participate in this next phase of our experience.  May God bless us and allow us to see rays of light and the beauty on the other side.

In love and peace, Andrea Bolling

September 29, 2020

Crossings

I came to the swift, raging river,

And the roar held the echo of fear;

“Oh, Lord, give me wings to fly over,

if You are, as You promised, quite near.” But He said, “Trust the grace I am giving,

All-pervasive, sufficient for you.

Take My hand –  we will face this together;

But My plan is – not over, but through.                                                

 -Lee Weber

 

When I was in college, I was given this poem and it has always provided me such peace. It is helpful to reflect on these sweet words during the trials we face in an ordinary life, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about choices, and how right now, even the most mundane of choices can feel overwhelming and difficult. Hasty decision making is not my strong suit to begin with; I’m the type to weigh over, gather more information, and agonize.  There are times that weighing over a decision, to me, actually does feel like standing on the precipice of a raging river, as I desperately struggle to make the right choice for myself, and for anyone else impacted. I suspect we have all felt this struggle, and even fear, over the past 6 months, when even the most simple decisions could now have very serious outcomes. Currently, our decisions (or those made for us) don’t necessarily make us feel good, no matter the final call. I can only imagine how those charged with making plans for our school children have felt. For me personally, here are a few simple examples: Do I send my child to school? Do we attend a family birthday celebration? Do I go to a long awaited outdoor church service with my 2 impulsive young children who struggle with social distancing?

We are expecting our 3rd child in November, so the answers to the questions above have often been “no”. The safety of my unborn child has in some ways made my decisions in the time of Covid easier, as I consistently choose the path of least risk. Isolation and small children that miss their family and friends, school and church, are very much a reality though, so even when I feel I’ve made the obvious right choice, it doesn’t really feel good. Even the best choices can hurt.

I think while we all have different circumstances right now, we are united by the fact that we face issues and dilemmas that many of us have not experienced in our lifetime. This has been hard for everyone in one way or another. The road has been long, and we are all understandably weary.

Dear Lord,

Thank you for your grace that IS sufficient for me, and for all of us, in guiding us through this uncharted territory. Help us to make the healthiest choices for ourselves and others, and please give us peace in our hearts and minds, empathy towards others, and the patience, strength and hope to see this through.

Amen.

Wishing you all peace and blessings-

Sara Barrington

September 28, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector:  What does our faith mean for us? 

It’s been said, countless times, that those in a loving relationship often experience the other as having become a part of themselves—that the “me” I am now includes, in some intangible way, my beloved, as if grafted into my very being. 

I suppose I feel that way about the gift of faith.  There’s an “otherness” to it, in that it is not of my own thinking or making, and that for some reason, I’ve been given that gift.  And even in hard times, it’s stuck with me, deep inside me, even though I may question it from time to time.  Like deep love, faith has become a part of me.  I cannot now go back and look at my world, perceive and make sense of all that is, the way I used to before I came to faith—or, really, before faith came to me.

Reflecting on this apparent unbreakable, abiding, patient quality of faith, it occurs to me that even just realizing that it is indestructible, and has stuck with me through thick and thin,  helps me better navigate those times when I might come to question it, and begin to lose hope.  Things that may have thrown me into a tizzy or deep sadness before don’t hit me the same way they used to.  And through all the challenges and sadnesses of life, I realize my faith is actually deepening.  Actually becoming even more indestructible.  Like a diamond.

This from Madeleine L’Engle:

“Does enjoying my faith imply protection from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune?  No.  It did not stop my husband from dying prematurely.  It did not stop my husband from dying prematurely.  It did not stop a careless truck driver from going through a red light and nearly killing me.  My faith is not a magic charm, like garlic to chase away vampires.  It is, instead, what sustains me in the midst of all the normal joys and tragedies of the ordinary human life.  It is faith that helps my grief to be creative, not destructive.  It is faith that kept me going through the pain at the very portals of death and pulled me, whether I would or no, back into life and whatever work stills lies ahead.”  (from Glimpses of Grace, 1996)

Yours in Christ,

Father Chip+

September 25, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector:  Honoring Every Person 

At our very baptisms promises get made, either for us, or by us.  And at each baptism thereafter, we renew our vows, as part of The Baptismal Covenant, right there in our Prayer Book. 

To me, the idea of “covenant” is not like something you might find in a written legal agreement, or a contract between parties.  There is a religious sort of covenant, which goes much deeper.  It is the sort of covenant, or promise to live a certain way of life, or to conduct an intimate relationship, we make with God

A promise we make to God, and really, given to us BY God.  The sort of promise we make to God, and to ourselves.  That divine part of us that agrees, and connects, with the holy Other. 

Certainly in these days one of our baptismal covenants should be beckoning to us inside:   “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?”  To which we answer, “I will, with God’s help.”  

One definition of dignity is “the state or quality of being worthy of honor and respect.”   Every human being.

 In her book Dignity:  Its Essential Role in Resolving Conflict (2011), Donna Hicks quoted Goethe:  “Treat people as they want to be and you help them become what they are capable of being.”

And I ask myself this question:  Have I found enough peace within myself to be able to do that regularly, if not always?  Have I worked for that?  Have I asked God to help me do that?

Professor Hicks lists ten essential elements of dignity in her book.  The first one states: 

“Acceptance of Identity—Approach people as neither inferior nor superior to you; give others the freedom to express their authentic selves without fear of being negatively judged; interact without prejudice or bias, accepting how race, religion, gender, class, sexual orientation, age, disability, etc. are at the core of their identities.  Assume they have integrity.”

And another one I like, number eight, states this: 

“Understanding—Believe that what others think matters; give them the chance to explain their perspectives, express their points of view; actively listen in order to understand them.”

Help us always, Lord, to be gentle with ourselves, and with everyone else.         

In Christ,

Chip+

September 24, 2020

While attending a Webinar for “Sacred Ground,” an Episcopal Diocese, sponsored course. They started with this wonderful centering prayer.

Welcome, welcome, welcome.

I welcome everything that comes to me today

because I know it’s for my healing.

I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons,

situations, and conditions.

I let go of my desire for power and control.

I let go of my desire for affection, esteem,

approval and pleasure.

I let go of my desire for survival and security.

I let go of my desire to change any situation,

condition, person or myself.

I open to the love and presence of God and

God’s action within. Amen

 I have been writing daily meditations as a member of the Episcopal Church since the beginning of the Virus. I have been reading many scriptures but have also read healing and inspirational writings from different faiths. I feel to be open to God’s Word that we must open our hearts and minds to people of different faiths, for a deeper understanding of each other and ourselves. To move forward in a peaceful and loving way.

God is Love,

Palmer

September 23, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector:  Handling our Anxiety

Recently Colleen and I returned from a sweet and simple vacation to place we’d never been before, Scarborough, Maine, and enjoyed a few days (less-busy and post-Labor Day) on the wonderful beach there, Higgins Beach.  The sound of the surf and the rhythm of the waves were mesmeric, and I was surprised to see no less than 30 or so surfers at a time out there, waiting for the right wave, paddling out and forgetting time.  Relaxed from our quiet beach reading, we’d walk the block or so to the cottage and make a simple dinner, and revisit our books until bedtime, as the soft light at the end of the day slowly receded.

There was a small TV there, but we really didn’t spend all that much time putting it on. 

There is great power in calm quietness.

When we returned home, it felt somewhat strange to return to old habits, clicking on our much larger TV in the breaks of day to catch up on the riveting and concerning news of the day.  And I reminded myself yet again that if I’m not careful, I might allow myself to crawl into that newsy-world full of busy-ness and too often bitterness, and lose my very sense of self:

The self I know I am, the one only the holy One made.  The self that trusts in God, a living God, who is the only One who can—and does—take care of all things.  Even when they seem dire.  Especially when they seem dire, and hope ebbs.

Recently I came across a brief quote from Etty Hillesum, a young Jewish woman who kept a journal in the Nazi Westerbork concentration camp before she died at the tender age of 29.   In spite of her dreadful plight, her journal entries, which convey bold hope, live to enlighten us to this day.

She wrote:

“There is really a deep well inside me.  And in it dwells God.  Sometimes I am there, too…And that is all we can manage these days and also all that really matters:  that we safeguard that little piece of you, God, in ourselves.”

Wishing us all the courage and wisdom to safeguard that little piece of you, God, in us all.

In Christ,

Chip+      

September 22, 2020

I have been thinking a lot about how the pandemic may be affecting missionaries around the world of all faiths. One of those people on my mind is Amma “The Hugging Saint.”  If you have not heard of her, Amma is an Indian guru who has hugged more than 32 million people, all for the goal of spreading “selfless love and compassion toward all beings.” And who as a result of the pandemic had to cancel her 2020 World tour which has obviously limited her physical interactions with others.  All of this got me thinking, “Can we carry on a mission like this in a new way that supports human interaction and hugging?”  Yes!  Tree-hugging.  

As our planet grows increasingly deforested because of man-made actions and climate change, one of the “elders” in this world are not people at all, but are the trees. Like Amma’s physical connection to others grows appreciation for our human connection, trees and what grows on our planet deserves our love and affection too. There can be infinitely more productive ways of helping humanity than hugging and certainly hugging a tree is not the best way to take care of it. But with the rules of the pandemic and the increasing forest fires across the country, who amongst us or what tree in our world cannot benefit from awareness, appreciation, and physical connection? Can tree-hugging help us grow in gratitude to the Lord for all of God’s creation and the mystery of a self-sustaining planet?  

There is no one way to practice the activity of hugging a tree, maybe there’s a tree in your backyard to start with.  Find a nice comfortable place to get as close to the tree as possible.  Notice the trunk and make sure there are no poisonous plants or stinging bugs.  Then wrap your arms around the trunk and squeeze.  Take a deep breath.  Press your ear against the tree and listen to the sound of the branches moving through the trunk.  Feel the bark.  Look at the roots.  Decide maybe it’s time to mulch or to get the rake out to prepare for the coming fall. And if it’s too stressful to think about raking- don’t think about that at all and just hug or think of this verse from Jerimiah: 

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8

And when you’re done hugging, sit for a second and think of the energy transferred while you were in contact with the tree.  The millions of tiny oxygen atoms it expressed into the atmosphere while you were pressed against its trunk exhaling CO2 and it releasing O2 for all of us to breathe.  Feel the happy endorphins released in your brain from the hug and feel blessed beyond measure.  Pray for the trees and for people, the stewards of the forests. Thank God for the mystery of all that sustains us. 

Blessings,

Laura Noonan

Virtual Sunday School Coordinator, MV Museum Oral History Assistant and Mom to two precious children

September 21, 2020

In these days of social distancing, I’ve had to help a number of those grieving deaths of loved ones, by conducting graveside services, since we are not yet able safely to conduct services indoors.  In each case, I know we’ve all made the best of it, knowing we have each other. 

My friend and clergy colleague, Brian McGurk, rector of St Christopher’s, Chatham, recently shared the following quote, from Henri Nouwen, that reminded me we take those whom we love in life inside us in some way, as part of our inner community, all through life:     

“Those you have deeply loved become part of you. The longer you live, there will always be more people to be loved by you and to become part of your inner community. The wider your inner community becomes, the more easily you will recognize your own brothers and sisters in the strangers around you. . . . The wider the community of your heart, the wider the community around you.”

I always thank God for you.

Father Chip+

September 18, 2020

It is a Moral Universe

This from Archbishop Desmond Tutu:

“It is a moral universe.  We can trust that it is a moral universe because history bears out this assertion.  Yes, each generation has its share of dictators and despots, but each generation also sees the demise of tyrants and the overthrow of autocratic governments that seemed invincible.  We may not see the outcome of the struggles for justice and peace in our lifetime.  The crisis in Darfur, the dictatorship in Burma, and the excesses of the Taliban may continue to be a part of our human story for years to come.  But they will not continue forever.  After all, who would have predicted the end of the Soviet Union, the birth of Namibia, peace in Northern Ireland, or the dawn of democracy in South Africa?  These are changes that have occurred in living memory.  As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. observed, “The arc of the universe is long but it bends toward justice.“

(from made for goodness, and why this makes all the difference, Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu (2010))        

Faithfully yours,

Father Chip+

September 17, 2020

“Buddhism is clear that anger (even when it’s justified) is a poison. It tears us apart from the inside and does little to solve the problem at hand.

“For me, Buddhism has been a saving grace in this regard.  It’s been the practice that has nourished me, sustained me, and protected my mental health in the face of one racist incident after another. It has done this by showing me that the true cause of racism is the illusion of a separate self, which comes from ignorance.  So, as long as ignorance exists in the world, racism will also exist.”

By Alex Kakuyo, author of Perfectly Ordinary: Buddhist Teachings for Everyday Life

Alex is a Buddhist teacher and Breathwork facilitator.  A former Marine, he served in both Iraq and Afghanistan before finding Buddhism through a series of happy accidents.

Peacefully,

Palmer Marrin

September 16, 2020

CHAOS…..CLARITY…..HOPE

     When I was a child learning how to swim, my elder sister, Rhonda, instructed me to be aware of my physical environment, find a place in the ocean that was calm and practice swimming until I knew my own strength/capacity.  When I became stronger, better able to read the currents, then I could venture out farther and swim in choppier conditions.  She also told me the sea is a metaphor.  With skills and respect in our relationship with the ocean, we can navigate the many experiences we encounter in life. If we fight, or enter ill-prepared, the opportunity for tragedy increases tremendously.

     Thinking about our current condition: protests, racial conflict, vigilantism, COVID 19, economic concerns, wildfires, major flooding and a presidential campaign that’s reaching an all-time low, the image of my sister and the lessons she taught me about the sea came to mind.  Her calm instruction to look at the sky, pay attention to the waves, check the tides, watch the current and when I’m ready…and the ocean has become my friend, I’ll know what to do, how far to swim, when to defer to the strength and might of the currents. The most important thing she taught me is the ocean is my friend and will show me how to safely return to shore.

     Several times now I found myself “over my head” in the ocean and life.  I made poor choices and physically swam out of my depth.  In retrospect, I know I did not pay attention to the sky or sea, overestimated my ability or simply ignored my environment for immediate gratification or belief I had about my own power or lack of.  In retrospect, I remember experiencing spirit in every traumatic circumstance and not allowing myself to know God’s presence.  In one particularly grueling instance, spirit gave me a warning that something terrible was going to happen.  I was in such fear I wanted to hurry home and missed the message to change my route.  As I left my school bus to hurry home I was assaulted by a group of boys.  Yes, it was awful and the experience has affected me most of my life.  Many years later, when I was able to let go of the pain and tears, see the incident from the beginning, I could see that God was with me and was guiding me to move in a different direction.  In my 10-year-old mind, I couldn’t get past the ominous feeling I was experiencing to truly hear the guidance.  Perhaps if I had remembered my sister’s advice, ocean as metaphor, Annie, there’s nothing to be afraid of.  If you pay attention to the sky and ocean, you will be safe, I would have heard the guidance I received to take another route.  Instead, I allowed myself to be engulfed in fear and had a hurtful experience.

     Collectively, I think we’re in the ocean; much like my childhood experience, the waves are raging and the current is changing faster than anything imaginable.  We are living the chaos and now we have to find our way out. We don’t have the luxury of time.  We have to respond.  Below are lessons I learned from my sister Rhonda and life.  Hopefully, they’ll help you gain enough clarity to confidently move ahead.

1) Stay calm; in stress and fear you are much more likely to make the wrong decision and miss God’s presence and guidance.

2) Friend the experience, God’s creation is love. Allow yourself to know his love and see opportunity.

3) Know you are safe in God. Hear and allow spirit to guide.  Remember, you may receive guidance in a moment, to do, or not do something.  Sometimes, we have to pivot, to get back on course.

4) Always, follow spirit without hesitation.

     Let’s friend the chaos of 2020, hear spirit, find the openings, and respectfully let go of what needs to be left behind.  Sometimes we may find we need to move ahead with a steady forward stroke, on other occasions it may be best to go underwater, swim with the fish, and bypass surface disruption.  Other times, we may need to float…allow the current to move/inform us.  Or, we may need to pace ourselves in our use of energy with more gentle side or backstrokes.  Whatever the moment calls for, we can do this!  God is love and life and life is our gift.  Emmanuel.

JOB 9:8 NKJV

He alone spreads out the heavens, And treads on the waves of the sea.

In truth and love always, Andrea Bolling

September 15, 2020

The other weekend, my sister asked me to join her long distance for a virtual concert by the Avett Brothers, singer/songwriters that we both love. I was slightly skeptical that it would compare to seeing them live, or be much different than listening to them whenever I wanted, but I joined in any way. Am I ever glad that I did.  Their songs were a balm I didn’t realize my soul needed. 

It would be easy to remember and mourn what we are missing, i.e. being able to actually see my sister and just HUG her, and go to a concert in person, but instead I chose to focus on how very lucky we are. How incredible that we could connect and share in this way, that I could stream a live concert safely from my home , and even rewind and watch a certain performance over and over again if I so desire. How blessed I am to have a big sister that thought of me and wanted to share something she knew I would love.  Silver linings. 

My family has not seen each other since this all began. We are spread miles apart and some are more at risk than others. A while back, we started weekly zoom calls. It has been such a blessing, I think I speak for all of us that we feel even closer now than before, when we were able to gather in person more frequently.  Indeed, the past 6 months have been a challenge, but I can’t deny that certain blessings have come out of the struggle.

Another blessing in my life from this time is the Sacred Ground Race & Faith dialogue group. I fervently prayed for God’s help in showing me the way after George Floyd’s death. I realized that despite all my best intentions, I was clearly missing something, as a white person in this broken world, and I didn’t know what to do or where to begin. God soon answered my prayers. It has been a profound experience so far, to say the least.  I am learning, and it feels like we (the group and myself) are at least moving in the right direction. One of the final songs played by the Avett Brothers the other weekend really spoke to me, and I thought I would share the lyrics here. 

I grew up with reverence for the red white and blue
Spoke of God and liberty reciting the Pledge of allegiance
Learned love of country from my own family
Some shivered and prayed approaching the beaches of Normandy
The flag waves high and that’s how it should be
So many lives given and taken in the name of freedom
But the story’s complicated and hard to read
Pages of the book obscured or torn out completely

I am a son of Uncle Sam
And I struggle to understand
The good and evil
But I’m doing the best I can
In a place built on stolen land
With stolen people

Blood in the soil with the cotton and tobacco
Blood in the soil with the cotton and tobacco
Blood in the soil with the cotton and tobacco

A misnamed people and a kidnapped race
Laws may change but we can’t erase the scares of a nation
Of children devalued and disavowed
Displaced by greed and the arrogance of manifest destiny
Short-sighted to say it was a long time ago
Not even two life times have passed since the days of Lincoln
The sins of Andrew Jackson, the shame of Jim Crow
And time moves slow when the tragedies are beyond description

I am a son of Uncle Sam
And I struggle to understand
The good and evil
But I’m doing the best I can
In a place built on stolen land
With stolen people

We are more than the sum of our parts
All these broken homes and broken hearts
God, will you keep us wherever we go?
Will you forgive us for where we’ve been?
We Americans

Blood on the table with the coffee and the sugar
Blood on the table with the coffee and the sugar
Blood on the table with the coffee and the sugar, mm

I’ve been to every state and seen shore to shore
The still open wounds of the Civil War
Watched blind hatred bounce back and forth
Seen vile prejudice both in the south and the north
And accountability is hard to impose
On ghosts of ancestors haunting the halls of our conscience
But the path of grace and good will is still here
For those of us who may be considered among the living

I am a son of God and man
And I may never understand
The good and evil
But I dearly love this land
Because of and in spite
Of we the people

We are more than the sum of our parts
All these broken bones and broken hearts
God, will you keep us wherever we go?
Can you forgive us for where we’ve been?
We Americans
Mm
We Americans

Love in our hearts with the pain and the memory
Love in our hearts with the pain and the memory
Love in our hearts with the pain and the memory
Love
Love in our hearts with the pain and the memory
Love in our hearts with the pain and the memory
Love in our hearts with the pain and the memory

Blessings and peace to you all,

Sara Barrington

September 14, 2020

A Thought Toward the End of Summer

I woke up in the middle of the night last Monday night, as I frequently do on Mondays (as I seem to try to think of everything in the universe at the outset of every workweek), and tried to remember a line I’d seen before, when folks have quoted Mary Oliver, the popular poet, a line I’d seen quoted many times before, one that holds so much meaning for me.  (Now mind me, I’m not all that much a fan of poetry, and even though I enjoy Mary Oliver’s words when others bring them to my attention, I really haven’t read all that many of her poems.)

I have, however, purchased one volume of my own, some years ago, when I was at Edgartown Book, and spied her book, The Truro Bear and Other Adventures (2008), and in a moment of weakness and desire, laid out for it.  (And unfortunately, like too many shiny shells, this neat little book ended up on my shelf, without having received anywhere near its due.) 

I had not remembered my mid-night thinking the next morning, when I looked to my bookshelf to find something to share in our weekday meditations, but there it was.  Mary Oliver.  And so I picked it up.

In just a few seconds, after looking at two or three other poems, I found one entitled, “The Summer Day.”  A perfect treat to share with others, as our Summer Days are sifting slowly through the hourglass, and autumn approaches.  And so I read.

And then there, at the very end of the poem, was the line I was thinking of.  Feel me:  I never knew it was there, and I never knew which poem the thought belonged to.  I was having a moment.  Sacred, somehow, but hard to put into words.  Ineffable.

A subtle, gentle breeze whispered outside my office window, over the Memorial Garden here, at church, spattered in green and gold by the summer sunlight making its  way through the verdant green leaves of my giant friends, these trees.

How could this be so?

                +                             +                             +

                                The Summer Day  

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean—

the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—

who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?    

Submitted by Father Chip+   

September 11, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector for 9/11

In her fine book, Broken We Kneel:  Reflections on Faith and Citizenship (2004), popular religion author and Episcopalian Diana Butler Bass offered a “set of spiritual reflections, a kind of love-letter / lament on 9/11.”  In one of her reflections, she noted that at countless funerals and services in the weeks and months following the attacks, two hymns were being sung most frequently:  God Bless America, and Amazing Grace.  She wrote that “although I shy away from the idea of a national hymn—after all, what hymn can truly express the faith of an entire nation?—the idea of a hymn that sums up the theology of our uncertain era intrigues me because singing is such a powerful practice of community and wholeness.  If I were to pick such a hymn, my choice would be the much less widely known “All My Hope on God is Founded” [Hymnal 1982, #665]:

All my hope on God is founded;

He doth still my trust renew,

Me through change and chance he guideth,

Only good and only true.

God unknown, he alone,

Calls my heart to be his own.

Mortal pride and earthly glory,

Sword and crown betray our trust;

Though with care and toil we build them,

Tower and temple turn to dust.

But God’s power, hour by hour,

Is my temple and my tower.

God’s great goodness e’endureth,

Deep his wisdom passing thought:

Splendor, light, and life attend him,

Beauty springeth out of nought.

Evermore, from his store,

Newborn worlds rise and adore.

Still from earth to God eternal

Sacrifice of praise be done,

High above all praises praising

For the gift of Christ, his Son.

Christ doth call one and all:

Ye who follow shall not fall.

Bass continued:  “When I sang “All My Hope” in a church service on September 14, I could barely choke out the line ‘Tower and temple turn to dust.’   Here, I thought through my tears, is a hymn that gives voice to the Christian vision of a post-September world.  It expresses both personal and communal humility.  And it recognizes the fundamental nature of being at war with terrorists—everything is chaotic.  “Sword and crown” cannot, no matter how much we hope, save us.  In a capricious universe, God alone is hope and refuge.  And yet in the middle of destruction and human anguish, God still gifts the world with the beauty of new creation.  This hymn holds out the larger hope for a realm of love and justice on earth—and the strength for God’s people to follow the way to that kingdom.”

Faithfully yours,

Father Chip+     

September 10, 2020

Fear Is How We Got Here

“Terrorism is time-released fear. The ultimate goal of both global and domestic terrorism is to conduct strikes that embed fear so deeply in the heart of a community that fear becomes a way of life. This unconscious way of living then fuels so much anger and blame that people start to turn on one another.

 “In a hardwired way, the initial trauma and devastation of violence unites human beings for a relatively short period of time.   If during that initial period of unity we’re allowed to talk openly about our collective grief and fear—if we turn to one another in a vulnerable and loving way, while at the same time seeking justice and accountability—–it can be the start to a very long healing process. If, however, what unites us is a combination of shared hatred and stifled fear that’s eventually expressed as blame, we’re in trouble. If leaders race too quickly to serve up an ideological enemy that we can rally against rather than methodically identifying the actual perpetrator, what we experience is an emotional diversion away from the unraveling that’s really happening in our homes and communities.”

From: Braving the Wilderness The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone  By Brene Brown

Let’s keep the conversation open in a vulnerable and loving way.

Respectably,

Palmer Marrin

September 9, 2020

Job 12:3 NKJV

But I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you.

     I’ve been thinking about “The Talk” – the conversation so many parents have with their black and bi-racial children, warning them to be aware of disparate treatment in a world that views black people as suspect, incompetent and of questionable morality.  Mostly, “The Talk” I hear referenced to in pop culture is the talk black parents have with their sons. Conveying to them, through no fault of their own, they will probably be pulled over by police, stopped for suspicion of stealing in a store and accused of aggressive/frightening behavior because they are black and male. Most parents support their sons by giving them instruction on how to de-escalate racial exchanges. What some of you may not be aware of is that there is another conversation black parents have with their daughters.

     In our family, “The Talk” started around age 3. We were daughters of integration and conversations about race were geared toward preparing us for life in predominately white environments.  Most of the preparation was to help us live in a world that would sexualize, workhorse or invisible us. Below, are some of the words of wisdom they shared, and aspects of racial inequality they tried to address.

1) People aren’t always fair, white people are taught at a very young age they are better because of their race. (internalized superiority)

1) Don’t be hurt if you say hello to a white person and they don’t respond or ignore you. (black invisibility)

2) If a white person cuts in front of you in line, say excuse me sir or ma’am, I was here before you. (white privilege)

3) If you are waiting at a counter and the clerk serves white patrons before you, clear your throat, force them to make eye contact and let them know you are being ignored. (white privilege)

4) No matter how hard you work, how smart you are (white supremacy)

    – you will be overlooked

    – your skills and knowledge will be used and attributed to someone else

    – you will be paid less

    – someone will make sexual comments about you and advances toward you.

    – you may be assigned the least desirable work, and have to “prove” yourself worthy for more responsible tasks.

    – you may be asked to work longer hours than white colleagues.

     In addition to the above, they taught us about the danger of exceptionalization.  It’s a form of tokenism, which would have us believe we are the only people in our race that have the competency/ability to do something well.  Our family, like many other black families, tried to prepare us for life on an unlevel playing field.  To live in a world where we would be confronted with racism and sexism. 

     In 2020, as young people cry out for holism, inclusion and peace, it’s so important we don’t ignore the nuances of difference that white supremacy conveniently overlooks.  No race is monolithic; black women live with the impacts of sexism and racism.  Members of the black LGBTQ community carry the burdens of homophobia and racism. Proportionately, black people with disabilities are more likely to experience extreme poverty and become homeless than white counterparts. To healthfully respond to our current race and health crises, it is incumbent upon us to understand intersectionality/nuances within race so we can join in, and respond to, the outcry.  The young and fatigued who are speaking up about injustice now know they are more than the sum total of any racial construct.

     So, how relevant is “The Talk” in 2020?  Recently, a news station interviewed black players from an NFL team and asked members if they were ever stopped by police without cause.  Every player on the team responded that yes, they had; some of them at least once every 1 to 2 years.  Most of them said they expect it; their parents prepared them for the experience.  Last month, waiting in line at the post office, a white man walked in before me. I said to myself, ok, he’s just checking his box, NBD (no big deal). He came outside looked around, eyes glazed, and went into what I call the white privilege zone and stood in front of me. I quickly told him there was a line. We made eye contact, he knew and I knew it wasn’t a mistake or oversight. He put on his cloak of privilege that invisibles the people and condition around him.  Internalized inferiority and superiority are states of being we learn in youth. Institutions and social systems support our learned concepts of human worth. I believe both the man at the post office and I benefited from the opportunity to unravel racism/sexism. Our eyes met long enough that we both knew it wasn’t OK.  A small step, with big impact. I finally understand why my mother said, “I see I may need the patience of Job,” when she was working with a group of mostly white college students in the 60”s.  They were polite, but underneath, she knew they believed she was inferior.  My mother was black, did not have a college degree, had twelve children, and lived in an economically declining neighborhood.

     Is there someone, a group you’re choosing not to “see” because of something you were taught, beliefs or fear?  If so, and you want to break the shackle that man built, acknowledge where you are, what you believe, and ask Spirit for guidance.  Any request in earnest will be answered.  It’s God’s promise!

     Thank you, God, for loving us enough to show us the way.

In love and truth, Andrea Bolling

September 8, 2020

When I was growing up, inspirational posters were a popular wall decor choice.  They come in many varieties, but most consist of a slogan and a photo and many are so familiar they may blend in to the background of modern life.  An athlete slam dunking a basketball and a slogan written boldly above his head “Just Do It ”. Or the lyrics to a song like John Lennon’s “Imagine” in bold text in a field of flowers.  These are just two examples that come to mind.  For me there are two “motivational posters” that continue to inspire and shape my world view. 

One is a poster of Murphy’s Law written out in two descending columns like Moses’ 10 commandments. This poster was our bathroom reading material and where I learned to read as a child. In the poster was a picture of an old car stuck in the mud, missing a tire, and the words: “What can go wrong, will go wrong.” and “If everything seems to be going well you have obviously overlooked something.” Among other pearls of wisdom from this poster I learned that life is a series of lessons in what human-kind can expect just when you make plans and expect everything to go “according to them.” Over the past 6 months God has responded to our plans with a resounding, “Not so fast!”

The other inspirational poster from my childhood was one that I even took with me to college, much to my roommate’s disbelief. As I hung it on our wall she asked, “Are you seriously putting that up in our room?” This poster is of a rainbow glowing over the ocean and below the rainbow are the words, “God is my rainbow in the storms of life”.  I answered, “Yes, I’m serious.” And I still have the poster.

From these two inspirational fonts of truth, I know that no matter what Murphy’s Law (s) can throw at us, God always gives us symbols of hope, no matter what the struggle.  As a wise friend recently shared, “Don’t give up before the miracle.” These are exact the things I want to teach my kids and provide to families on the Island as we begin St. Andrew’s Family Ministry this week.

Below you will see the link and information to sign up for St. Andrew’s Family Ministry take-home Sunday school bags which will include a monthly themed activity kit with stories to inspire, a song to sing, supplies for a craft and an invitation to share photos of the crafts or the stories you create from the take home bag.  Our first theme is based on my motivational rainbow poster, because what better message for our children is there than to know God is our rainbow?  It is our hope that no matter where we are, together we can reflect God’s light and share sweet signs of hope with our community. 

Sign up for a bag here:

http://tiny.cc/familyministry20-21 

The faith based activity bags are free and available for delivery or pick up at St. Andrew’s Parish House porch on the second Friday of every month from 9-2 pm.

We look forward to sharing this faith journey with you and little ones you care for or know in the community. Contact us today to get an activity kit for your child!

We look forward to sharing this faith journey with you and little ones you care for or know in the community.  Contact us today to get an activity kit for your child!

Blessings,

Laura Noonan

Virtual Sunday School Coordinator, MV Museum Oral History Assistant and Mom to two precious children

September 7, 2020

Three Prayers for Labor Day, or Every Morning

Happy Labor Day to you all!  Take a moment and be thankful…

  • O gracious Father, you open your hand and fill all things living with plenteousness: 

Bless the lands and waters, and multiply the harvests of the world;

Let your Spirit go forth, that it may renew the face of the earth;

Show your loving-kindness, that our land may give her increase;

and save us from selfish use of what you give to us, that men and women everywhere may give you thanks…   

  • Almighty God, in giving us dominion over things on earth, you made us fellow workers in your creation: 

Give us wisdom and reverence so to use the resources of nature,

that no one may suffer from our abuse of them,

and that generations yet to come may continue to praise you for your bounty…

  • O God our Heavenly Father, you have blessed us and given us dominion over all the earth: 

Increase our reverence before the mystery of life;

and give us new insight into your purposes for the human race,

and new wisdom and determination in making provision for its future in accordance with your will.

All this we pray, through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Amen.   

(Adapted from our beloved Book of Common Prayer by Father Chip+)

September 4, 2020

 A Prayer for the Weekend

                          for equilibrium

Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore,

May the relief of laughter rinse through your soul.

As the wind loves to call things to dance,

May your gravity be lightened by grace.

Like the dignity of moonlight restoring the earth,

May your thoughts incline with reverence and respect.

As water takes whatever shape it is in,

So free may you be about who you become.

As silence smiles on the other side of what’s said,

May your sense of irony bring perspective.

As time remains free of all that it frames,

May your mind stay clear of all it names.

May your prayer of listening deepen enough,

To hear in the depths the laughter of God.

(from Benedictus:  A Book of Blessings by John O’Donohue, 2007, p 142)  

Faithfully yours,

Father Chip+     

September 3, 2020

Jesus says, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law of the Prophets.”  Matthew 7:12

When asked what is the greatest commandment, Jesus responded, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matthew 22: 37-40

Rules to live by.

Respectfully,

Palmer Marrin

September 2, 2020

Praying for God’s Help (For Wednesday Sept 2)

Many by now are familiar, perhaps even to the point of viewing the event on television, of the shooting of a young, Black father of four, Jacob Blake—point blank, in the back—by a white police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

As Christians, we are called to work for healing. 

For those of us acquainted with what that means, however, we know that ‘taking up our crosses and following’ Jesus is rarely a ‘straight shot,’ or linear.  It’s hard, it’s challenging, it requires real commitment, patience, but persistence.  We must give, and forgive, as they say, ‘until it hurts.’

And always we must look for God, and allow ourselves to be reminded of our own calling.  And always, to pray. 

Pray. 

I will leave you with two quotes about that. 

                +                             +                             +

”The victim’s family deserves justice.  His mother, Julia Jackson, calls for something else, too.  Two days after the shooting, with her son fighting for his life, she begins her public remarks softly, almost inaudibly, but her own words seem to give her growing strength, and finally a profound resonance.  She says that her son would not be happy with the damage to his community.  “As I have prayed for my son’s healing, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, I have also been praying, even before this, for the healing of our country,” Jackson says.  And she goes on:  “We are the United States.  Have we been united?  Do you understand what’s going to happen when we fall?  Because a house that is against each other cannot stand.  To all the police officers, I’m praying for you and your families.  To all the citizens, my Black and brown sisters and brothers, I’m praying for you.  I believe that you are an intelligent being just like the rest of us. Everybody, let’s use our hearts, our love, and our intelligence to work together to show the rest of the world how humans are supposed to treat each other.  America is great when we behave greatly.”     (from an article in The Atlantic by George Packer, August 28, 2020)    

                +                             +                             +

Heavenly Father, whose heart is selfless love,

take pity on our divided world;

and grant that we may follow in the steps of your Son

In giving ourselves to the service of others

And reaching out to the marginalized and the despised,

That peace and justice may triumph

And your kingdom come on earth.

In Christ’s name we pray.

Amen.

(from Hear My Cry:  Words for When There Are No Words, The British and Foreign Bible Society, 2014, p 33)

Submitted by Father Chip+   

September 1, 2020

The finest workers in stone are not copper or steel tools,

but gentle touches of air and

water working at their leisure

with a liberal allowance of time.

Henry David Thoreau

Submitted by Mardi Moran

August 31, 2020

Working Through Struggles to find Grace and Peace

Maybe the best thing about my faith is that it gives me a blueprint to follow in order to experience God’s grace, love, and holy peace, in spite of all the awful things, the things that gnaw at you and sometimes make you wonder if the idea of hope is just an idea.

His Name is Jesus.  And he invites us into work—real work—to get to that holy place. 

Sometimes it’s too hard to even begin.  But I’ve found, time and time again, that at some point in the struggle, the heavy heart gets a little lighter, and I even sense a light growing inside, carrying me on, just carrying me.

Take this new program many of us on the island have recently begun together, a program styled as “A Film-Based Dialogue Series on Race and Faith,” called Sacred Ground.

What can one middle-aged white guy like me do to bring about reconciliation, restoration, and racial justice in this world?

And I read, for the first Session of the program, an excerpt from an essay by The Rev Dr Rebecca Ann Parker entitled “Not Somewhere Else, But Here,” that gives me the answer.  It’s really good, and worth some time and reflection.  I invite you to read it, too:

“This is my country.  Love calls me beyond denial and disassociation.  It is not enough to think of racism as a problem of “human relations,” to be cured by me and others like me treating everyone fairly, with respect and without prejudice.  Racism is more:  It is a problem of segregated knowledge, mystification of facts, anesthetization of feeling, exploitation of people, and violence against the communion/community of our humanity.

“My commitment to racial justice is both on behalf of the other—my neighbor, whose well-being I desire—and for myself, to whom the gift of life has been given but not yet fully claimed.  I struggle neither as a benevolent act of social concern nor as a repentant act of shame and guilt, but as an act of desire for life, of passion for life, of insistence on life—fueled by both love for life and anger in the face of the violence that divides human flesh.

“The habit of living somewhere else rather than here, in a constructed “reality” that minimizes my country’s history of both violence and beauty and ignores the present facts, keeps me from effectively engaging in the actual world.  I have the sensation of being a disembodied spectator as structures of racism are recreated right before my eyes.  But involvement in the steps of conversion—theological reflection, remedial education, soul work, and engaged action—moves me from enclosure to openness.

“I step out of an insular shell and come into immediate contact with the full texture of our present reality.  I feel the rain on my face and breathe the fresh air.  I wade in the waters that spirit has troubled and stirred.  The water drenching me baptizes me into a new life.  I become a citizen not of somewhere else, but of here.

“The struggle for racial justice in America calls those of us who are white to make this journey.  Our presence is needed.  We have been absent too long.”

There it is:  My “involvement in the steps of conversion—theological reflection, remedial education, soul work, and engaged action—moves me from enclosure to openness.”

Thank you, Jesus.

Yours in Christ,

Father Chip+           

August 28, 2020

A Meditation form the Rector and Sunday’s Sermon Teaser!

As I write this, I have absolutely no idea what Sunday’s sermon will be about!  Indeed, I won’t be preaching it—The Very Reverend Canon Amy McCreath, Dean of the Cathedral Church of St Paul in Boston, will be filling that bill.  (I hope you tune in on YouTube to enjoy it!)

Still, the Scripture texts are compelling.  Last week, we heard the story of Moses’ birth and how he was set out onto a river in a basket, left to the fates.  What a difference a week makes!  This week, our Hebrew Scriptures lesson has him connecting with God, speaking to him out of a burning bush.  And no, they didn’t chat about the weather.  God was telling Moses what he must do.  He was to lead his oppressed people out of slavery.  Into freedom. 

What does God call YOU to do? 

Here’s another bite at that apple:  in our Gospel lesson for this Sunday, Jesus tells his clueless disciples about having to confront things, having to suffer, and then die, only to be given new life.  This is the pattern for us, for living real life.  Living abundantly.  With grace and love to share.  And so he tells them:

“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life?”

So, again:  What does  God call YOU to do?

At the risk of making this meditation/sermon teaser too long, it occurs to me the answer key is written right in the Epistle letter for this Sunday, from Paul’s masterpiece, his letter to the church in Rome.  As usual, it’s the image of who we shall become if we listen to Jesus, and take the steps we need to in order truly to answer his gentle yet insistent call.  HOW we get there is all about our own discipline, and understanding this is not a “self-help” program, but a lifelong journey in which we never, ever, give up on God.  A journey where we practice love until it becomes habit.  Even in those times, and for those people, when it might seem too hard—or even the completely wrong thing to do. Paul writes:

“Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.  Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.  Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.  Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are.  Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.  If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’  No, ‘if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.’  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Blessings in your journey, with us.

Yours in Christ,

Father Chip+           

August 27, 2020

Behold, he who keeps watch over Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep; the Lord himself watches over you; the Lord is our shade at your right hand.

Psalm 121:4-5

So, this is from Forward Day by Day, William Porcher DuBose, 8/18/20

I will quote it directly because it is so good, and it is where I am right now!

“Attention: Beloved Sheep

From Israel

Re: Self care

Fellows of The Flock,

   I’m wrestling with something. Turns out it’s me.

   I don’t always take care of myself the way I should.

Maybe it’s old wiring. These parts are cut and spliced by experience, so I have quite a mess on my hands!

   My system was overloaded for years. I shorted out often. I let my tank run dry more than once. I put oil in my washer fluid reservoir for years before realizing what I was doing.

   I am overhauling my system. I’m learning I don’t have to make decisions or take action as quickly as I once thought I did. I’m learning to give space for God to provide. I have been taking more naps.

   How are you?”

It is funny how things pop up in your readings that are so poignant!

Always grateful,

Palmer Marrin

August 26, 2020

1 PETER 3:9 NKJV

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult.  On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

With the gift of conscience, God has given us the ability to know when we’ve transgressed.

Very early in childhood, I understood the impact of violence.  My Mom taught us violence begets violence. If we’re trying to be heard or show someone another way, that we lose moral ground if our message is clouded in assault. We learned words could feel as hurtful as a push or a punch.  Our response to acts of aggression was to apologize, for doing or saying something that was offensive. It was an invitation for the aggressor to find the true source of their pain and for us to know where we transgressed.  It created an opportunity for dialogue.

My younger sister grew up during escalating violence in our country.  She didn’t have the training my older siblings and I experienced.  Fighting, as a means of resolving conflict in our neighborhood, in movies and on television, was the new normal. Our home was no exception.  Although my sister was younger, she was much taller and when she was angry, she would lash out physically.  I hated fighting, so I would just “take it” or burst into tears.  I wasn’t a victim, I chose not to defend myself physically; I knew fighting wasn’t the right response, my sister couldn’t help lashing out…..she didn’t know another way. One day, my anger got the best of me, I decided I didn’t care anymore and I fought back, I “won” our fight, watched my younger sister “give in” and burst into tears.  Immediately, I started grieving, I knew when I hurt my sister, I lost a part of myself.  My older sister thought I was “a baby” for crying about a fight that I won but I knew there was something greater at stake.

For anyone who thinks violence is contained to a single event, please reflect on the first time you allowed your emotions to take precedent over a weaker being.  Kicking a dog, hurting a cat, or another human being. In the anatomy of the event, I am sure you’ll find some part of yourself you gave up for a sense of power or control.  Not the power of God or the Holy Spirit.  The false power that makes you feel greater/better than something or someone. If you are like me, as I assess the trajectory of my event, the lines between right and wrong became less clear. I couldn’t count on myself not to “fight” back. I can now see the ripple effect from that one event.  I lost respect for myself and belief in a dream that we don’t have to assault one another to be heard or valued.  You see, my sister was physically stronger but I had knowledge and spiritual strength.  I believe she was counting on me not to hurt her.

Accepting violence as a social norm is a slippery slope; it opens doors to all kinds of assaults from name calling and other forms of micro-aggressions to the destruction of personal property and harming of human beings.  When we experience joy in someone else’s demise, we’re on the slope. When we call people names that are intended to assault their character and sense of self, we’re on the slope.

I still haven’t completely forgiven myself for hurting my sister; I still weep when I think about our experience and see the image of her face. Violence hurts everyone.  As the race for President of the US continues, let’s not feed violent discourse.  Let’s say no to unnecessary character assaults and focus on the content, the candidates’ perspective and policy.  Let’s support compassionate listening and truth.  No matter how hardened a candidate may be, they still feel the punches.  And even if they don’t, I guarantee you their families do.  I know, I come from a political family that was both loved and reviled on paper and in person.

I welcome your participation and prayers in “de-violencing” life.  When we choose not to laugh at someone’s embarrassment or find glee in another’s hardship or punishment we are “de-violencing”. The choice to take violence out, allows us to know compassion and see from a different perspective.  Our conclusions may not change but we’ll have the satisfaction of knowing we didn’t destroy someone to get there.

One is not called noble who harms living beings.  By not harming living beings one is called noble. BUDDHA

In peace and love, Andrea Bolling

August 25, 2020

The Morning Paper

      Mary Oliver

Read one newspaper daily (the morning edition

      Is the best   

 For by evening you know that you at least

       Have lived through another day)

And let the disasters, the unbelievable

        Yet approved decisions,

Soak in.

I don’t need to name the countries,

          Ours among them.

What keeps us from falling down, our faces

           To the ground; ashamed, ashamed?

Submitted by Mardi Moran

August 24, 2020

I may have mentioned in a previous meditation that, when I was ordained priest in 2005, I was required to sign, immediately prior to the service of ordination, a Declaration that stated the following:

“I do believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary to salvation; and I do solemnly engage to conform to the Doctrine, Discipline, and Worship of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Unites States of America.”

Give that one some thought.  Would YOU sign that? 

I did, and I most certainly would again today.  In a heartbeat.

In the next number of weeks, we will begin to invite all our members to participate in some of the initiatives our stellar reVision Pillar Group teams came up with following months of prayer, discernment, sharing, and planning.

One of them is a Bible Study (and actually, I’m considering forming two of them), which, of course in these times, we will begin to offer via Zoom meetings. 

Would you join us?  I ask you to pray on that and look out for announcements coming your way very soon.

One of the things Bible Study groups often don’t spend much time talking about, I’ve found, is what the Bible IS in the first place.  Or how we might understand its role, or use, in our personal growth and spiritual formation.

And one of the things I believe (as the author Rob Bell, in his book, What is the Bible? sets forth), is that the Bible is NOT “a book about going to heaven.”  Instead, he writes:

“The action is here.

“The life is here.

“The point is here.

“It’s a library of books about the healing and restoring and reconciling and renewing of this world.

“Our home.

“The only home we’ve ever had.”

Indeed, I’ve always believed Holy Scriptures comprise our stories about God, rather than being God’s stories about us.  

So who’s up for reading among the library of books about the healing and restoring and reconciling and renewing of THIS world?

Count me in. 

I’m ALL in.

Faithfully,

Chip+

August 21, 2020

DEFINITION OF HUMILITY (Wikipedia): Being unselved, a liberation of consciousness that is neither having pride nor indulging in self-deprecation.

     Father Chip’s sermon last Sunday about the Canaanite woman that Jesus first rebuked and then blessed was so impactful I found myself thinking about all the times I’ve closed ranks and spirit forced me to reconsider, to expand my thinking about who I hold in my circle of care.  At one point during the service I started to feel a little unsettled.  As if, there were variables that may be overlooked or minimized. I think it has something to do with listening, being open to the unexpected and humility. As I continued to grapple with the sermon, an experience came to mind, an experience with Thelma.  Thelma is my mother, now deceased, much loved and missed.

    As I’ve mentioned previously, I come from a family of 14.  Twelve children, two parents.  I am the 11th child and was raised amidst tremendous social and political upheaval in the 60s and 70s.  I continue to mention my childhood because events in 2020 are informing the beliefs and behavior of younger people much like what you and I experienced and I think it’s important to remember what it felt like when the world seemed out of control. Back to my Mom. In the 60s, I watched my mother’s social position in the community transition from someone who was respected to a woman whose example was considered to be outdated. You know the story, the old woman who lived in the shoe.  A few years earlier, her reputation for being fair, ability to see the beauty in people from different walks of life and spiritual discernment were appreciated.  What was important, valued, in our community and the country changed. The community decided women like my Mom should not be involved in helping to lead future generations.  Younger people took over ministries and projects she and her peers were intimately involved with.

     Within a few years of the “takeover”, some leaders who had derided my mom returned and asked for advice.  Initially, she chose not to assist.  I remember seeing the hurt on her face when they came to our home.  I imagine she was wondering if their requests were a cover for another motive, whether there would be another barrage of degrading vitriol, whether they would take her ideas and attribute them to someone else.  In time, when she was more certain the requests for assistance were sincere, and realized how much difficulty they were in, she shared her knowledge and used her contacts to assist.

     So, what does this have to do with Jesus and the Canaanite woman? The woman from Canaan acknowledged so much in her response, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs from their master’s table.” NKJV.  I believe she humbled herself by accepting his reproach. She knew scraps from his table were pearls of wisdom whose import was greater than a nation. Perhaps Jesus needed to hear contrition as an element of Faith.  Listening with true spiritual discernment assists us in knowing when it’s time to be present in love. I watched my mother put her “persecution“ aside and respond to a heartfelt request for assistance.  Even as an adult, I am humbled by what I witnessed.

     I believe most of us play the role of the woman from Canaan, the humble or contrite, and the sage Master Teacher at some point in our lives.  We may not know how to instantaneously heal the body but we may have the compassion, advice, resource or ability to forgive that could save someone’s life. It only takes our willingness to listen, discern, act and expand our circle of care.

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” T.S. Eliot

With love, Andrea Bolling

August 20, 2020

“We are what we think.  All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.”

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think.  When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves”

Buddha

Thoughtfully,

Palmer Marrin

August 19, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector Wed 8-19-20

“Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to the senses.”  (C.S. Lewis)

During these days, when we can’t gather regularly for Holy Communion, many of us may be realizing how much we miss gathering to share the body of Christ.  I know I do.

But I also know, during this time of “social distancing,” and, perhaps all too frequently, some unwelcome isolation, that so many of us are also realizing the holiness of being together, and the sacredness of relation.

In my office, I have an artistic rendering of the following (anonymous) quotation, given to me by a close clergy colleague on the occasion of my ordination to the priesthood:

“Rich is not how much you have…

Or where you are going…

Or even what you are.

Rich is who you have beside you.”

Behold this truth.  It is the abundance of life Jesus taught us about, showed us how to nurture and tend, and for which he imbued us with his Holy Spirit, in order to increase, and to magnify, and to enjoy.

“Rich” is who you have beside you.

In faith,

Father Chip+  

August 17, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector–and a Welcome!  to a new Treasurer, Warden, and Vestry Member!

In a previous email notice, I’d announced Wesley Brown’s retirement after a long and very productive term as Treasurer.  Now, another special and capable individual has stepped up to take the reins as our Treasurer, and that has lead to even more good things:

Mardi Moran, already now a Vestry person for one year, and then one of our two Wardens for another year, has offered to serve as our Treasurer.  Thank you, Mardi! 

That means, of course, that we needed to fill her Warden spot, and so we turned to another Vestry member, Barbara Rush, who almost immediately said “YES!”  And we were blessed once again.  Thank you, Barb!

THEN:  we needed to have someone fill Barb’s spot on the Vestry, a term that ends at the January meeting in 2022.  And so we turned to Palmer Marrin, who’d come forward as a ministry leader in our reVision process, has grown more deeply engaged since joining St Andrew’s some years ago with her husband David, and currently writes our Daily Meditations on Thursdays.   Thank you, Palmer!

At our Vestry meeting this past Tuesday night, all three were duly appointed.  My comment was (and always has been):  God continues to bless St Andrew’s by bringing forth good and strong, faithful and capable, hearts.  It is the truth!

In these days of changing societal perspectives about religion, I came across the following quote, from the “Vestry Resource Guide” (the fine manual we give to all new Vestry members), which I think speaks well about where our focus now needs to be in leading and governing Christ’s church:

 “In this time in the life of the Church, when laity and clergy are recognizing the benefits of shared leadership, your call [to vestry service] means working collaboratively with fellow vestry members and the rector to create a vision and plan of action that reflects God’s dream for the congregation.  It means cultivating congregation-wide conversations about where God is calling your faith community.  It means balancing your role in discerning God’s mission and vision with sound stewardship of its property and resources.”

To me, living with balanced tension and ambiguity is the hallmark of life lived in the Spirit, and life lived will within the parameters of what it means to be an Anglican/Episcopalian, our small part in the greatest movement in this world:  The Jesus Movement.  The movement of Love.  Beloved Community.

Thank you, Mardi, Barb, and Palmer, and to our Vestry Members past, present, and future, for keeping our lights shining!

In faith,

Father Chip+  

August 14, 2020

I have always been fascinated by how children grow, and how (and to what extent) their personalities may be formed.

But having worked with 4 and 5 year-olds (literally performing Bible stories as part of their Church Preschool curriculum in Florida), I am convinced of one simple—but incredibly important—thing:

Somewhere along the way, and maybe it’s about the time we move into our elementary school years, we risk losing our sense of WONDER.  Wonder about nature, creation, love, and the amazing intricacies of life.  And the interior universes inside every one of us.

In my experience, embracing my faith has meant giving myself permission to reclaim my life of wonder, and to give myself over to the Great Mystery. 

When I do that, I’m reminded that we all share a great and broad capacity to love, and that life is a process of learning to love.

As Richard Rohr points out (in his meditation for this day): 

“You don’t have to be religious in order to open to wonder.  You only have to reclaim a sliver of what you once knew as a child.  If you remember how to wonder, then you already have what you need to learn how to love.”

In faith,

Father Chip+  

August 13, 2020

As often as I said, “My foot has slipped,” your love, O Lord, upheld me.

Psalm 94:18

One week ago, yesterday, my daughter arrived with her husband and two girls, ages 1 and 3 years old.

Fast track forward, up at 6:30 with the puppy, Sherlock, 6 months old. Feeding him, then the girls, then walking with some or all of them. Oh, wait, the little one and Sherlock go down for their morning nap, because breakfast and a walk are so exhausting. Keeping the dog separated from their toys and shoes and keeping the baby and dog from going upstairs. The dog respects the gate, the baby simply opens it and goes through then carefully closes it behind her. We put up a wooden gate that hooks and she simply crawled up to it and went right under it with no hesitation.

Lunch, more naps except for the 3-year-old, so no rest for the weary.

Why am I going on and on?  Because we are fortunate to have many hands to help. There are many who are single parenting without help or a job, at home with no diversions or extended family.

How can we make a difference? Through small acts of kindness. Taking a moment to help someone with a package or opening a door, or just asking, “Do you need help?”

During this Virus, we are all tired of waiting in lines, at the post office and the grocery store, but we can do things safely with compassion.

“If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see.”

James Baldwin

Always grateful,

Palmer Marrin

August 12, 2020

Proverbs 19:8

He that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul: he that keepeth understanding shall find good. KJV.

     As a child in the sixties I had the pleasure of meeting Nikki Giovanni, African American poet, writer and griot.  Amidst tremendous upheaval, when I felt pressure to “grow up” quickly, Ms. Giovanni made it okay for me to be a child.  She taught me rhymes and created stories and poems from conversations with me and my friends.  Somehow, she seemed to know I was only 6 years old and the world was becoming much too complicated.  Riots, the fear of nuclear bombing, the generation gap were all weighing heavily on my soul.  I could barely understand what a cold war was no matter how many times my father explained.

     This Little Light of Mine was one of the first hymns I learned and I loved the idea that each of us have a light, spirit, we could share with the world.  As the decade progressed, it became more and more difficult to feel the lyrics and believe in the power of the holy spirit. One day, Nikki reiterated something my mother told me, “If you start to not feel good about yourself, take your light, and bring it inside.”  She added, “To love yourself is to love Christ.”  Her comforting words affirmed my mother’s wisdom and I remember thinking, maybe there is a way to manage, to be okay in a changing world. Nikki seemed to know that loving who we are physically and spiritually was important.  It was a way of reclaiming our relationship with God and the beauty he bestows.  She taught us not to be afraid, that self-love leads to greater love, agape. 

       Below is one of Ms. Giovanni’s poems.  For me, it’s aspirational, and provides a snapshot of the short but important time she was in my life. By the way, I forgot Nikki and my mom’s advice; I think I may have let my “light “ hang out there a little too long.  Now, I know it’s time to bring it in, heal, and realign.

POEM

this morning

i looked in the mirror

and for the first time

i didn’t see

my mistakes,

i didn’t see my circumstances,

i didn’t see

the shame i carried

on my shoulders,

i didn’t see the

the fear that once chained me

instead i saw

the most beautiful smile,

i saw a brave heart

and a face full of

inexpressible joy,

and i saw

a soul worth pursuing

a dream worth chasing

a heart worth loving.       -g.c.

Thank you, Nikki, for knowing what I need exactly when I need it.  This time, with God’s grace, I’ll understand and remember.

Peace, Andrea Bolling

August 11, 2020

O Holy One, I ran through the fields and gathered flowers of a

thousand colors-

And now I pour them out at Your feet.

Their beauty and their brightness shout for joy in Your Presence.

You created the flowers of the fields and made each one far more

          lovely

than all the skill of man could design.

Accept my joy along with theirs,

This field of blossoms at Your feet.

Holy One

As the wind blows through these flowers

till they dance in the ecstasy of creation,

send Your Spirit to blow through my being

till I too bloom and dance with the fulness of Your life.

Ishpriya R.S.C.J

Submitted by Mardi Moran

August 10, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector

“Our task is enormous…To look at all that has gone before us, and to recognize that each one of us, however small, has a unique task in co-creation—a unique contribution to make in the world and to humanity.”  (Edwina Gateley)

I always thank God for you—and am thankful we are working out our unique tasks, as co-creators in God’s amazing world, together.

Love and peace be with you always…

Father Chip+   

August 7, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector & Teaser for this Sunday’s Sermon!

OK!  Time to play, “Name the individual who said the following quotes” (answers below) :

(a)  “Though I am gone, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you believe.” 

(b)  “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

Now:  What do the ideas have in common?

Prayers to all of you for the riches of simple blessings and the peace of realized holiness—and in thanksgiving for our brilliant summer joys,

Father Chip+

  •  John Lewis, in his essay, “Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of a Nation,” published July 30, 2020 
  • Jesus of Nazareth, in Luke (9:23)

August 6, 2020

First Happenings

A morning-glory morning with its usual glory,

dawn particularly startling with citrons and

mauves, petunias in the garden flashing their

tender signals of gratitude. The sunflowers

creak in their grass-colored dresses. Cosmos,

the four o’clocks, the sweet alyssum nod to

the roses who so very politely nod back.

And now it is time to go back to work. At my desk

I look out over the fluttering petals, little

fires. Each one fresh and almost but not quite

replicable.

Consider wearing such a satisfying body!

Consider being, with your entire self, such

A quiet prayer.

Mary Oliver

Submitted by Mardi Moran

August 5, 2020

PSALM 34:22 NKJV

The Lord redeems the soul of his servants, and none of those who trust in him shall be condemned.

For years, I’ve been thinking about the role of the soul in faith formation. Briefly, what I’ve gleaned from eastern and new age study is the soul is an essence each of us embodies where the purpose of our lives and spirit connect. The soul guides us to engage specific life experiences for individual and human evolution. In Christianity, the soul is described most frequently as an individual’s life purpose or calling. It requires following spirit and is often described as a source of fulfillment. I was taught that when we engage our soul’s purpose, we are living God’s plan. From what I can see, implicit in Eastern, New Age and Christian descriptions of a soul journey is a presumption that the opportunity for individual expression of purpose is available to all.

For Black people, our collective identity often dictates what our individual experience will be. Soul aligned or not. Frequently, white people see our group identity and all the narratives about who we are and what we’re capable of are in play consciously and unconsciously. We have to navigate, find the safe spaces to show ourselves individually. Perhaps, the reason we haven’t made tremendous progress in alleviating racism is we haven’t connected soul to soul. To share how real the possibility is, I have a friend of 35+ years and she and I have never talked about how race affects our lives and relationship. I raised the subject, my friend seemed reluctant to go further and I quickly conceded, afraid of losing the relationship. She is still my friend but, on a soul level, we hit a wall; we can go no further until we tackle the elephant before us which is racism. We speak less often, our relationship has less depth and honesty. What I’ve learned: there’s always a consequence in avoiding the elephant. To truly connect on a soul level is to operate in freedom and truth, authentically. To see and be seen. To hear and be heard.

In contemplation and journaling, I’ve asked myself: does the soul become larger than life in the face of oppression? I believe it does. I see BLM moving beyond its original scope of addressing biased policing and mass incarceration to a movement that’s unmasking oppression and furthering dialogue about intersectionality with other dimensions of diversity. I believe the BLM movement is revealing the experience of our collective soul. The elephant in the room has turned into a herd waiting for humankind to take notice. To stop, go no further, until we undo the unholy.

For many of us the Soul is where freedom and truth reside. It’s the place where a deeper knowledge of our divinity lies even in the ABSENCE of validating physical experience. It’s where we experience God’s eternal love. What gives us strength to speak when no one wants to listen. Soul music, Hip Hop, Blues, Jazz, expressions like, “you’re not feelin me” or, “I got this” or “I got you” are all ways we connect to what is real and true. Yes, I believe many of us resonate with Eastern and Christian descriptions of the function and beauty of the soul and we also know the ability to have a fulfilling soul experience is impacted by our collective race experience.

What does this have to do with redemption? I know when I surrender/seek redemption, it’s not only from what I’ve done and left undone. What’s related to individual sin, it’s deliverance from my collective experience as a Black female. For me, to be redeemed is also receiving God’s grace in making the crooked places straight. Racism and sexism are crooked.

What does connection with soul as an integral part of faith formation have to do with our future as a church? If you truly want to “connect” with Black congregants and other people of color than you need to be aware of individual and collective identities, what’s informing your beliefs and behavior in any given moment. We need to know; being aware of individual and collective identities and experiences are an integral part of exercising spiritual discernment in relating across race.

Is there a friend, a colleague, family member you avoid having discussion about racism with? The conversation you may be afraid of  may be the very conversation they’ve been waiting for.

 PSALM 130:5 NKJV

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, And in his word I do Hope.

In love and peace, Andrea Bolling

August 4, 2020

PSALM 34:22 NKJV

The Lord redeems the soul of his servants, and none of those who trust in him shall be condemned.

For years, I’ve been thinking about the role of the soul in faith formation. Briefly, what I’ve gleaned from eastern and new age study is the soul is an essence each of us embodies where the purpose of our lives and spirit connect. The soul guides us to engage specific life experiences for individual and human evolution. In Christianity, the soul is described most frequently as an individual’s life purpose or calling. It requires following spirit and is often described as a source of fulfillment. I was taught that when we engage our soul’s purpose, we are living God’s plan. From what I can see, implicit in Eastern, New Age and Christian descriptions of a soul journey is a presumption that the opportunity for individual expression of purpose is available to all.

For Black people, our collective identity often dictates what our individual experience will be. Soul aligned or not. Frequently, white people see our group identity and all the narratives about who we are and what we’re capable of are in play consciously and unconsciously. We have to navigate, find the safe spaces to show ourselves individually. Perhaps, the reason we haven’t made tremendous progress in alleviating racism is we haven’t connected soul to soul. To share how real the possibility is, I have a friend of 35+ years and she and I have never talked about how race affects our lives and relationship. I raised the subject, my friend seemed reluctant to go further and I quickly conceded, afraid of losing the relationship. She is still my friend but, on a soul level, we hit a wall; we can go no further until we tackle the elephant before us which is racism. We speak less often, our relationship has less depth and honesty. What I’ve learned: there’s always a consequence in avoiding the elephant. To truly connect on a soul level is to operate in freedom and truth, authentically. To see and be seen. To hear and be heard.

In contemplation and journaling, I’ve asked myself: does the soul become larger than life in the face of oppression? I believe it does. I see BLM moving beyond its original scope of addressing biased policing and mass incarceration to a movement that’s unmasking oppression and furthering dialogue about intersectionality with other dimensions of diversity. I believe the BLM movement is revealing the experience of our collective soul. The elephant in the room has turned into a herd waiting for humankind to take notice. To stop, go no further, until we undo the unholy.

For many of us the Soul is where freedom and truth reside. It’s the place where a deeper knowledge of our divinity lies even in the ABSENCE of validating physical experience. It’s where we experience God’s eternal love. What gives us strength to speak when no one wants to listen. Soul music, Hip Hop, Blues, Jazz, expressions like, “you’re not feelin me” or, “I got this” or “I got you” are all ways we connect to what is real and true. Yes, I believe many of us resonate with Eastern and Christian descriptions of the function and beauty of the soul and we also know the ability to have a fulfilling soul experience is impacted by our collective race experience.

What does this have to do with redemption? I know when I surrender/seek redemption, it’s not only from what I’ve done and left undone. What’s related to individual sin, it’s deliverance from my collective experience as a Black female. For me, to be redeemed is also receiving God’s grace in making the crooked places straight. Racism and sexism are crooked.

What does connection with soul as an integral part of faith formation have to do with our future as a church? If you truly want to “connect” with Black congregants and other people of color than you need to be aware of individual and collective identities, what’s informing your beliefs and behavior in any given moment. We need to know; being aware of individual and collective identities and experiences are an integral part of exercising spiritual discernment in relating across race.

Is there a friend, a colleague, family member you avoid having discussion about racism with? The conversation you may be afraid of  may be the very conversation they’ve been waiting for.

 PSALM 130:5 NKJV

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, And in his word I do Hope.

In love and peace, Andrea Bolling

August 3, 2020

“Be the change you wish to see in the world,” a quote from Mohandas Gandhi, has been getting a lot of play in the last number of years.

What is it you want to see in the world most?

Is it possible, as Gandhi suggests, that we can effect change by BEING that change?

Contemporary theologian John Dear, a devoted student of Gandhi’s, had the following things to say about the spiritual practice of nonviolence (as quoted in Richard Rohr’s meditation of July 28):

“In his search for God and truth, Mohandas Gandhi (1869—1948) concluded that he could never hurt or kill anyone, much less remain passive in the face of injustice, imperialism, and war.  Instead, Gandhi dedicated himself to the practice and promotion of nonviolence.  He concluded that nonviolence is not only the most powerful force there is; it is the spiritual practice most neglected and most needed throughout the world.

“’Nonviolence means avoiding injury to anything on earth, in thought, word, or deed,’ Gandhi told an interviewer in 1935 .  But for him, nonviolence meant not just refraining from physical violence interpersonally and nationally, but refraining from the inner violence of the heart as well.  It meant the practice of active love toward one’s oppressors and enemies in the pursuit of justice, truth, and peace.

“’Nonviolence cannot be preached,’ he insisted.  ‘It has to be practiced.’ 

“For fifty years, Gandhi sought to practice nonviolence at every level of his life, in his own heart, among his family and friends, and publicly in his struggle for equality in South Africa and freedom for India.  It was the means by which he sought the ends of truth; in fact, he later concluded that the ends were in the means, or perhaps they were even the same. 

“In other words, the practice of nonviolence is not just the way to peace; it is the way to God.”

“’Nonviolence assumes entire reliance upon God,’ Gandhi taught.  When the practice of nonviolence becomes universal, God will reign on earth as God reigns in heaven.’

“After years of studying the various religions, Gandhi concluded too that nonviolence is at the heart of every religion.

“’Nonviolence is the greatest and most active force in the world,’ Gandhi wrote.  ‘My optimism rests on my belief in the infinite possibilities of the individual to develop nonviolence.  The more you develop it in your own being, the more infectious it becomes till it overwhelms your surroundings and by and by might oversweep the world.”   

And so I reflect:  What did Jesus do?         

Let’s be the change we want to see in the world.

In Christ,

Father Chip+

July 31, 2020

Meditation from the Rector and Sunday Service Teaser

Recently, one of our beloved parishioners asked me to join him, as his guest, to play some golf over at Farm Neck Country Club.  It was great to get outside and do something fun in an atmosphere where I felt relatively safe from the dreaded virus!  (And although I did drop a 35-foot putt, a considerably larger number of my other shots were nowhere NEAR as good…but we don’t need to get into that!)

Anyway, I think it may have been the second hottest day we’ve had here this summer, and the humidity was incredibly high.  Things went OK for about three or four holes, but at some point, everyone in my foursome got pretty lethargic.  Conversation ebbed to the bare minimum. And of course, while we all were having fun, the weather played a big role in our experience.

And then came the thirst. 

Usually, golf courses are pretty good at making sure the golfers have access to water fountains, or 5-gallon water jugs, all along the course, especially when things are blazing hot.  But not anymore!  With the virus, they shut them all off.  (Indeed, we can’t even lift the pins to take the balls out of the holes—the pins now all have devices that allow us to pull the pins up—and eject the ball—using our putters.  No touching anything!)

Thank GOD my wonderful host was thoughtful enough to make sure I had a bottled water when we first teed off.  It was so hot, I think I’d finished that bottle by the fourth hole—even knowing I’d need to ration it! 

And it was then the REAL thirst came.  I’d have to wait until we got back to the clubhouse, between the ninth and the tenth holes, to get more water.  Honestly, I can’t remember being so thirsty. Ever.

Can you remember when  you were so thirsty?

This Sunday, we have one of the (number of gospel) stories about Jesus feeding thousands, with so little.  Every time I think about these stories, I think about how we are fed by the Word of God, yes, but I also think about how I’ve NEVER—not once—EVER felt real hunger pains, and NEVER, EVER, worried about where or how I’d come about my next meal. 

Considering how things are for so many in this world, think of that. 

How about you?

And, at least for me, the next thought always comes:  How much might I, indeed all of us, be called to wrestle with that?

See you Sunday—and may God continue to bless, guide, nourish, and love you, always.

Faithfully yours,

Father Chip+         

July 30, 2020

To make an end is to make a beginning.

The end is where we start from….

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.

T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets

To new beginnings,

Palmer Marrin

July 29, 2020

Perhaps the thing that fires me up most is listening to others’ stories about their spiritual conversions, and hearing their personal witness about our living God. 

Recently I came across a good one from Diana Butler Bass in her book, Grounded:  Finding God in the World—A Spiritual Revolution:

“Where is God?”

“I have had three conversions in my life, each time seeking a deeper awareness of God.  The first was in the summer of 1975, when I left my childhood faith, which I had inherited from my parents, and embraced evangelical Protestantism, a form of faith that seemed empowering and meaningful.  The second was in the early 1990s, when I left evangelicalism (which proved more constraining than I thought) and embraced liberal Christianity as embodied in the Episcopal Church.

“The third conversion began on September 12, 2001, when the radio was playing “What a Wonderful World and I realized that I did not think the world was wonderful.  Indeed, I thought the world was frightening, a place to be endured.  Although it took me some time to understand, I had largely wanted church to protect me from the world, a community offering the comforting arms of a benevolent Father in Heaven, familiar rituals, a strengthening meal, and that promised eternal reward for being good.  I had experienced both conservative and liberal forms of this church, but came to realize that they were different forms of a very similar thing, two versions of faith in the same vertical God.

“My third conversion was not about rejecting church (as the living expression of Jesus in the world), Christianity, or faith.  Rather, my third conversion was about leaving behind the vertical God and elevator church.  The third conversion is a turning toward God-with-us and a hope for faith community that risks stepping off the elevator.  This conversion loves the world, seeks God with the world in all its beauty and pain.  It is a quest to find others who have experienced the same—and a dream that together we can build a spiritual architecture of loving God and neighbor, the God who dwells with us in grace.”   

Father Chip+

July 28, 2020

My nephew, Brian Aromando, was killed recently in a motorcycle accident, when a motorist veered into his traffic lane. He leaves behind a wife, Whitney and two teen aged daughters, Daisy and Mallory. Whitney had lost her father a few weeks prior. Our family was devastated because of this senseless act.

I couldn’t attend the funeral because of number restrictions and couldn’t be there to help in any substantive way.

Brian was a surfer who lived in Ogunquit, Maine. His friends got together and planned a memorial, where they brought orchids and leis sent from Hawaii. Over one hundred surfers paddled out and boaters came together. They brought his empty surfboard onto which they placed flowers and leis. They mourned together, they comforted the family and each other. They emailed me drone photos so that I could feel a part of it as well.

Yesterday, as I listened to Cynthia’s sermon about the Community of God, I understood what she was saying. I was so grateful because I felt the pain recede somewhat when I could sense this caring sweep over those in the water, Ogunquit Beach, the Marginal Way and envelop my family. Life can be so cruel and yet there is God’s love that envelopes us, then exudes through living creatures, allowing us to take it in and begin the healing process.

Mardi Moran

July 27, 2020

Remember the opening song from Mister Roger’s Neighborhood?  (Go ahead, sing it out loud with me!):

“It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood,

A beautiful day for a neighbor.

Would you be mine?

Could you be mine?

I’ve always wanted to have a neighbor just like you.

I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.”

I wonder:  is it possible to run those two last lines through my mind over and over during my waking hours? 

So that I see every person I encounter as my neighbor, and likewise invited to be mine?

Might I find inner peace much more readily if I at least tried that?

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace…

In Christ,

Father Chip+  

July 24, 2020

Meditation from the Rector and Sunday Service Teaser

Our gospel reading for this coming Sunday, July 26, comes from Matthew, in which Jesus is talking about what the “Kingdom of Heaven” is like.  To be honest, it seems a little strange!  One of the few examples he gives is this:  “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.”  Strange, because Jesus DOESN’T describe what might seem to us to be some sort of “space,” like a room, or a “kingdom,” like England, but something completely different.

Instead, it’s more like something that happens to us, and makes us live and see things, and want things, in an entirely differently way than if we had never been hit—like a ton of bricks, and right between the eyes—by the grace of our faith.

Perhaps, when we decide we really want to live IN that kingdom (whether those moments are sporadic, intermittent,  or almost continuous),  we’ll realize we’ve been given the most valuable thing, something to have and to hold within us, that we might ever conceive: 

The freedom of love and life in the Spirit.

The Spirit of God.   

Father Chip+  

July 23, 2020

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good.. “If your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:9, 20-21

With love and compassion,

Palmer Marrin

July 22, 2020

REPARATION:

The making of amends for a wrong one has done by paying money to or otherwise helping those who have been wronged.

     I applaud Asheville, NC for acknowledging Black Lives Matter with their reparations program.  The City of Asheville will provide funding for home ownership and businesses for Black residents to address the State’s participation in slavery and discrimination against Black people.

     Apologies and incentives to address repeated injustice go a long way in bridging the divide between Black and White America. It helps alleviate the craziness denying wrongdoing generates and truly gives us the opportunity to heal and breathe.  I don’t know about you, but I have difficulty functioning in healthy ways when important issues are avoided. In my experience, we spend more time and energy sidestepping what is clearly calling for attention than dealing with the issue at hand. For Asheville, there’s no longer a need to debate the pain created by racism and exploitation of Black people; the elephant in the room is named and all are humanized by the acknowledgement.  Asheville’s reparations program and commitment to provide non-discriminatory policing not only impacts their community but other parts of our country as we seek ways to create a nation where all citizens are treated equitably.

     We often think the need for reparations only pertain to groups.  When we understand reparation is a gesture to correct a transgression, there’s an opportunity to address micro-aggressions against individuals, families, places of worship and communities.  I believe they are equally as important and can help us see how our behavior contributes to larger forms of systemic oppression.

     So, when are reparations appropriate?  In a sermon a few years ago Father Chip, said  reparations are warranted whenever we act in ways that suppress another human being’s ability to benefit from the true fruits of his/her contributions.   I believe he read Ecclesiastes 5:18-19; It is good and fitting for one to eat, drink, and to enjoy the good of all his(her) labor in which he(she) toils under the sun all the days of his(her) life which God gives him(her); for it is his(her) heritage…. to rejoice in his(her) labor-this is the gift of God.” Thank you Asheville, for letting God lead.

     Is there someone you’ve treated unjustly, that would benefit from some reparative act/acknowledgement?  An act that will help restore dignity, position, sense of well-being?   It’s never too late.  Every week we ask for God’s forgiveness of sins, what we’ve done and left undone.   I invite you not to leave an opportunity for healing “undone”.  Be courageous, ask God for guidance, right a wrong,… repair.

With faith in peace, Andrea Bolling

July 21, 2020

I ask for a moment’s indulgence to sit by Thy side

The works that I have in my hand

I will finish afterwards.

Away from the sight of Thy face

My heart knows no rest or respite,

And my work becomes an endless toil

In the shoreless sea of toil.

Today the summer has come to my window

With its sighs and murmurs,

And the bees are plying their minstrelsy

At the court of the flowering grove.

Now is the time to sit quiet

Face to face with Thee.

And to sing dedication of life

In this silent and overwhelming leisure.

Rabindranath Tagore

Submitted by Mardi Moran

July 20, 2020       A Meditation from the Rector

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”  (Maya Angelou)

Off and on I think about the idea that God made us and eventually we return to God.  Being one of the few Great Mysteries there are, I’m not really sure how I feel about that idea. 

But here’s one thing I DO know:

When I come into church, whether with fellow saints or simply those now part of the great cloud of witnesses,

I feel like I am home.    

Your brother in Christ,

Father Chip+   

July 17, 2020      

Meditation from the Rector and Sunday Service Teaser

Most of us have heard the story of Jacob, son of Abraham and Sarah, and twin brother of Esau, who had a dream about a ladder reaching all the way up to heaven, with angels ascending and descending on it.

Waking up and remembering that strange dream, somehow Jacob sensed that he would never be alone, never be without God.    

Indeed, he became aware that he was part of something greater going on, and a member of an all-encompassing, interrelated, community.  

Believing I have time and again shared Jacob’s dream, I am convinced that we are the physical manifestation of God’s dream.   

Hope to “see you” (on YouTube) this Sunday!

Prayers for bountiful love and countless summer joys…

Father Chip+   

July 16, 2020

 Who is, or has been, a great influence in your life? Throughout all of our lives, we have always had someone that has made a difference, a teacher, grandparent, parent, friend, or God? That someone who has made you feel special, takes an interest, pushes you to do better and gives you a sense of self-worth. Small words and deeds that boost us up. Such simple acts that don’t require money, but an interest in a person. Being able to lean in, to believe in someone, to see who that person really is, or needs, or has the potential to be.

When Mother Teresa, then Agnes, was eight years old, her father died.  She became very close to her mother, who was a devout Catholic, who instilled a sense of compassion and deep commitment to charity in her daughter. They were not wealthy but her mother, Dranafile Bojaxhiu, extended an open invitation to the city’s destitute to dine with her family. “My child, never eat a single mouthful unless you are sharing it with others,” she counseled her daughter. When Agnes asked who the people eating with them were, her mother responded, “Some of them are our relations, but all of them are our people.”

Clearly her mother started Agnes on her journey of compassionate caring for people.

The greatest influence on my life was my mother. She had a strong sense of God in her life. That God would take care of us, whether it was worries or sickness. She was always stopping in to see someone, a friend or someone in a rest home, and taking us with her. She never gossiped, saying, “If you don’t have something nice to say don’t say it!” And she believed we could do or be anything we wanted to in life.

She instilled that in all five of her children.

So, as we move through these times, and always, let us remember who has made a difference in our lives and seek to do the same for others.

With gratitude,

Palmer Marrin

July 15, 2020

Deuteronomy: 31:6 NKJV

Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them, for the Lord your God, He is the one who goes with you.  He will not leave you, nor forsake you.

“Be strong and of good courage”… In my heart of hearts, I know, through Moses, God is petitioning us to have the kind of faith that generates God’s strength.  No false bravado!  We’re being encouraged to believe, be aware and confidently move through the matrices of life.

I remember a sermon when Priest Associate, Cynthia Hubbard, read the excerpt above and asked us, “Who does the “them” represent in our lives?”  That was three or four years ago and immigration was the pressing issue of the time.  I think it would be helpful to ask ourselves again: Who are the “them” in our lives?  The enemy, boogeyman, whoever/whatever challenges our sense of self.   We may feel the need to “fight” them or it: protesters, COVID 19, the government, police, aging, undocumented immigrants, etc.  I know, from training and experience, what I fear and resist most grows stronger and occupies more space and time in my life.  In effect, with fear, I block my ability to see and think clearly.  When I read Deuteronomy; 31:6, it reminds me to have faith, become the observer, turn to the power within, partner with God and unveil the boogeyman.

So, my current boogeyman is COVID 19.  My health is compromised, I am in chronic pain and I am a little frightened.  This week, I went for a walk, mask on, made eye contact and said hello to the people I passed.  I was happy to realize masks and social distancing didn’t feel like such a big thing to me anymore.  As people responded to my greeting, I looked at them a little longer than usual and for the first time since wearing a mask, I could see them smile with their eyes.  Whether it was the joy of making a deeper connection or shifting awareness from my physical discomfort, I felt something changed.  I returned home, contemplated what I experienced, and rediscovered something I learned many year ago.  Attitude, the way we engage the boogeyman, is everything.

There are Masters, mostly from the East, who said they didn’t experience illness because their bodies moved at a higher frequency than disease.  Disease couldn’t adhere.  Perhaps that’s how Jesus healed the sick.  He helped people, with faith, move above the consciousness (thinking), energy (attitude) and condition (physical dimension) of their illness.  Most of us have not achieved the level of mastery of Jesus and other ascended Masters but, confidently engaging faith and knowing “he will not leave or forsake us”, we can practice spiritual discernment.  We’ll know what’s safe for us to do and not do.  In this knowledge I find solace.

To continue the journey Cynthia started, please ask yourself, “Who or what am I avoiding, not allowing in my heart, or giving power to?”  I hope this selection of scripture, Deuteronomy; 31:6 helps you face your fear as it is helping me.  An aside:  In contemplation I acknowledged I am not only afraid of contracting the disease but, also, what life will be like once the virus has run its course.  Spirit is telling me “normal” can’t be found in the past.  We have a pretty blank canvas for this next chapter of human experience and we can lovingly help create mid-millennium life or we can overlay the past.  Let’s glean our lessons, apply our wisdom and move on.  Life is precious.

In love and gratitude, Andrea Bolling 

July 14, 2020

On Gathering Artists

Alberto Rios

Art is often doing the work

Nobody else knew

Needed to be done.

We are the cobblers of the song

And barkers of the carnival world,

We are tailors of the light

And framers of the earth.

We fish among the elements

And hunt among the elusive green in gray and blue.

We drink forbidden waters

And eat invisible food.

In this time of email and phone conversations

We send us our voice

The painting, the poem, the photograph

Whose electricity is made of pencils and brushes,

Whose song is sung in the colors of the yet unnamed

Drawn from the solitary etudes of the soul

And given up in tender to the world.

How easy to spend a day writing a poem,

How hard to spend a life writing a thousand,

A poem, a painting, a photograph,

Dancers, sculptures, bowls —-

The warp and the weave and waft of iron

And paper and light and salt:

We labor for a lifetime

But take every day off.

Who knows what to make of us?

We are not the ribcage, but the legs;

We are not the steering wheel, but the headlamps.

We gather happily, if not often. We can’t

Sit still. We hurry off. Good-bye to us,

Hello to us, a tip of the hat

To us, as we go about

The drumming of our stars.

Sent in tribute to all who delight our senses, force us to think new thoughts, and bring new beauty into our lives.

Love and Peace, Mardi Moran

July 13, 2020       A Meditation from the Rector

In the course of some reading this past week I encountered the following quotation from the 20th century theologian, Paul Tillich:

“We must abandon the external height images in which the theistic God has historically been perceived and replace them with internal depth images of a deity who is not apart from us, but who is the very core and ground of all that is.”

I agree with that wholeheartedly.

To that I might add a phrase from one of Paul’s letters:  “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

Maybe whomever said we ‘need to learn to get out of our own way’ was right.

On a cosmic scale.

In Christ,

Chip+    

July 10, 2020

Thomas Merton’s prayer is frequently used for the interim time, but it seems particularly appropriate for us now as we live through another time of transition.

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,

though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. 

    Thomas Merton

Blessings,

Cynthia

July 9, 2020

“Where there is love there is life.”

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”

“The future depends on what we do in the present.”

Quotes by Mahatma Gandhi

_____________________

In this time, let us not lose our passion to do the right thing, for our neighbors, the world, and God.

Let us be one.

We are in this together.

In peace,

Palmer Marrin

July 8, 2020

Meditation

Psalm 120: 6-7 NKJV

My soul has dwelt too long with the one who hates peace. I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war.

CONFLICTED; adj. having & showing confused and mutually inconsistent feelings

     As I look at the image a relative sent on Facebook, a photo of 2 solemn Black children holding signs that said No Justice, No Peace, I felt burdened.  I know my cousin wanted me to feel encouraged…the next generation continuing the struggle and all I wanted to do was pull my hair and shout “Not another generation!”

     Everyday I listen to controversy regarding monuments, memorials, sports teams and I feel conflicted.  Sure, there are some clear cut cases, like the removal of the confederate flag from the Miss. State House, but others are not as clear for me.  Thirty years ago, I would have said, take the statues down, they were slave owners, the worst kind of supremacist!  Now, I find myself searching for the wisdom of the middle path, the grey area.  So, why have I changed? I’m older and wiser and understand what we’re dealing with are fundamental flaws in our human experience.  Namely, assigning human worth for power and profit which has taken a tremendous toll on humankind.  It’s an age old phenomena and can only be stopped at its’ root.  Christ, our Master Teacher, The Great Leveler, taught us that.  The other condition informing my perspective is my reconnection with God and Christ.  I put my trust in God, and have compassion for myself and fellow humans. I have less need or desire to idolize important figures, past or present. When we do, we set people up who have done extraordinary things to be cast aside when we learn of their fallibility.  Idolization also prevents us from seeing clearly and acting responsibly.

     Yes, I still feel conflicted, but now that I’ve named it, and am allowing spirit to guide me, Christ, to make the crooked places straight, and God, to reveal my ignorance, it feels more like a journey.  I can laugh and have compassion for myself and others.  Here are some steps I’m taking to reduce confusion.  If you’re feeling conflicted, frustrated or bored with our current political and social scene, you may find them helpful as well.

HOW TO STOP FEELING CONFLICTED USING THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED (God’s Path):

1) Put your faith in God and Trust in Christ

2) Surrender the question or conflict to God, ask for guidance

3) Be open and available to receiving responses; nature, a newspaper article, movie, conversation may provide the key to resolving the conflict or, seeing it from a different perspective.

4) Scan the body.  How does the resolution or new perspective make you feel.  Does it feel good and true?  Can you breathe deeply?  Do you need more time to engage what you’ve learned?  If you do, engage it joyfully!  Be grateful and thank God.

5) Share epiphanies, resolutions, discoveries! Tell a family member, friend, stranger what you learned or are contemplating.  Sharing will deepen the depth of discovery and change.

6) Share what you’ve discovered with Christ, God and the Holy Spirit.  Allow them to be part of your life unfolding. 

 7) Be still, and know God.

In Faith & Love, Andrea Bolling

PS. It really works!

July 7, 2020

O Holy One, I ran through the fields and gathered flowers of a thousand colors –

And now I pour them out at Your feet.

Their beauty and their brightness shout for joy in Your Presence

You created the flowers of the fields and made each one far more

lovely

than all the skill of man could design.

Accept my joy along with theirs,

This field of blossoms at Your feet

Holy One

As the wind blows through these flowers

Till they dance in the ecstasy of creation,

Send Your Spirit to blow through my being

Till I too bloom and dance with the fullness of Your life.

ISHPRIYA R.S.C.J

With grace and peace, Mardi Moran

July 6, 2020

One of my many clergy friends in the Episcopal Church who shares my high regard for the thinking of Richard Rohr and, among other writers, Henri Nouwen, The Rev Brian McGurk at St Christopher’s, Chatham, recently shared Henri Nouwen’s prayer, below, with his Centering Prayer group.  I like it for many reasons, not the least of them, because it picks up on a theme I’ve recently talked about in my last two “Sunday” sermons:  the idea of faith as being a relationship of TRUST with our God.

I recommend it highly as a prayer one might commit to saying each day when one wakes in the morning.  Why not try it every day during July?        

A Prayer (Henri Nouwen)

“O Lord, who else or what else can I desire but you? You are my Lord, Lord of my heart, mind, and soul. You know me through and through. In and through you everything that is finds its origin and goal. You embrace all that exists and care for it with divine love and compassion. Why, then, do I keep expecting happiness and satisfaction outside of you? Why do I keep relating to you as one of my many relationships, instead of my only relationship, in which all other ones are grounded? Why do I keep looking for popularity, respect from others, success, acclaim, and sensual pleasures? Why, Lord, is it so hard for me to make you the only one? Why do I keep hesitating to surrender myself totally to you?

“Help me, O Lord, to let my old self die, to let me die to the thousand big and small ways in which I am still building up my false self and trying to cling to my false desires. Let me be reborn in you and see through you the world in the right way, so that all my actions, words, and thoughts can become a hymn of praise to you.

“I need your loving grace to travel on this hard road that leads to the death of my old self to a new life in and for you. I know and trust that this is the road to freedom.

“Lord, dispel my mistrust and help me become a trusting friend.  Amen.”

Yours in Christ Jesus,

Chip+

July 3, 2020

My first morning back on the island, I was awakened by a very loud towhee with its cheerful song, “Drink-your- tea-ee-ee-ee”. Rolling over to look at the clock, I realized it was 4:45! I was not amused. Yes, I certainly will drink my tea-ee-ee-ee, but I wasn’t planning on doing it for at least 3 hours. I’m still getting over jet lag.  So, crazy bird, please let me sleep! In all fairness to the towhee, sun rise was in about half an hour. Towhees are wonderful and all that, and I do love their song. They are quite rare outside of the Vineyard and, interestingly,  the Miles Standish State Forest near us in Plymouth, but still…..

As I lay there, however, listening to my instructions for the morning, it occurred to me that my perspective was all wrong Here I was, in a beautiful place where I’m awakened by bird song rather than a whole host of less than desirable noises. How can I possibly complain?

Perspective is so important. Not only is it the glass half full or glass half empty scenario, but what we see and focus on, becomes our reality. Author Wayne Dyer once said, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

Today we have an opportunity to change our perspective in so many ways — to become more aware of how we are looking at things, to share our truths as we see them, honestly and  openly without being afraid of being wrong. To waken to our particular blind spots and to be open to seeing things differently. Andrea’s reflections have certainly helped me see things I could never have dreamed, because her experience as a person of color is not the same as mine. In fact we can never know what it is like to be in someone’s shoes, hence the critical importance to share our vision with others, as many “others” as we can, and in that way dream a shared vision of truth. We all have a little piece of the truth. Are we not called to share our piece to build a beautiful mosaic, the mosaic of the beloved community where we listen with respect and see with compassion.

There are many references to seeing, and hearing, in the Bible.

Proverbs 20:12 reads, “Ears to hear and eyes to see—

both are gifts from the LORD.”

That exuberant towhee called me to change my perspective. What other opportunities to see differently might I be missing?

I am praying for new perspective and clear vision,

Cynthia

July 2, 2020

But the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community.  It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opposers into friends.  The type of love that I stress here is not eros, a sort of esthetic or romantic love; not philia, a sort of reciprocal love between personal friends; but it is agape which is understanding goodwill for all men.  It is an overflowing love which seeks nothing in return.  It is the love of God working in the lives of men. This is the love that may well be the salvation of our civilization.   ––The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Peace,

Palmer Marrin

July 1. 2020

Isaiah 1:17 Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow.

     In last Wednesday’s meditation I invited people to join me in chanting “In Justice there’s Peace & In Peace there’s Power”. Through conversation, and comments about slogans and what they evoke from people who read the meditation, I realized that a description to understand the process for eliminating bias may be helpful.  Using slogans, the following is a cursory take of what the process for unraveling racism looks like. 

Phase One: After reading last Wednesday’s invitation my sister asked, is there a place for “No Justice, No Peace” protests?  Without hesitation I said, absolutely! It is the voice of outrage when there is a blatant violation.  Biblically, it reminds me of the time Jesus overturned carts in front of the temple. The slogan and protests are a clear exclamation that our priorities are out of order and we are in fact offending God. It is the precursor to legislative and social change.  Many demonstrators, millennials, gen Z and younger feel the injustice and need to take action.  Caution: If too much attention is given to remedial responses, deep rooted causes are not addressed. 

Phase Two: “In Justice there’s Peace”.  Implicit in this call to action is an acceptance of the existence of systemic racism, an invitation for a deeper examination of root causes, an understanding of intersectionality.  The places where race, poverty, health, intertwine to maintain this thing called institutional racism.  People in this phase want substantive change they can see & feel. Caution: Without a vision and skill at recognizing and addressing systemic racism, people in phase two of the process can feel overwhelmed by the complexity and pervasiveness of bias, make inappropriate concessions or, give up. Middle-aged and Senior justice advocates may identify closely with this phase.

Phase Three: “In God’s Justice there’s Peace”, our charge is to “love thy neighbor as thyself”.  There’s recognition and acceptance we all maintain current conditions and must all change to create different outcomes.  In this phase, there’s no denial of structural inequalities, man-made constructs for maintaining wealth and power.  The vision for the future is driven by spirit, collaboration is the most utilized construct for decision making, the way out of the present is in truth and, decisions for the common good are paramount.  John 5:30 best describes the leading consciousness of phase 3. “I can of myself do nothing.  As I hear; I judge, and My judgement is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of God who sent me.”

      Phases with slogans, which are truly calls to action, are simplistic but hopefully they address some of the angst people are experiencing, provide guidance for understanding what we’re seeing, and help us identify what we need to do to move on. Remember, in the eighties and nineties, the existence of systemic racism was vehemently debated.  Now, there’s less conversation about whether racism exists and more acknowledgement that it does.  With acceptance of truth, fundamental change is possible.  In my book, that’s progress!

        A friend once told me Dr. King’s dream was fulfilled with the elimination of segregation.  Well, I’m weighing in and I don’t believe we’ve lived the “Dream”.  Certainly we’ve made inroads in a Phase one kind of way with a little Phase two sprinkled in but, the spirit of his “Dream” the spirit of creating a more perfect Union as commended by our constitution, has yet to be realized.  At the risk of repetition, let’s dream the dream. 

      Another invitation: Each day, cultivate an image of yourself judging people by the content of their character, not their color, race, perceived wealth, sexual orientation, gender, physical or cognitive ability.  Now, set the image aside, engage even loftier thoughts of yourself as an agent of change, a disciple of Christ until there’s no picture, no image.  Welcome spirit, let the unformed guide you.  Walk, think, be, in Christ. Welcome to the next phase of your journey.  New territory, a new experience.

In love and peace, Andrea Bolling 

June 29, 2020

One of the great mysteries of our faith is posed by the age-old question, “Why does God permit us to suffer?”  Given there seems to be no obvious answer, then perhaps a corollary question, also a mystery, arises:  “How can we still hope?”

I have always found the simple practice of contemplation helps me when I need to try to get my head around life’s challenges and existential suffering.  Recently I read an excellent, pithy excerpt from Richard Rohr’s little book, “Just This,” concerning “hope and suffering,” which I find conveys much helpful wisdom:

“The virtue of hope, with great irony, is the fruit of a learned capacity to suffer wisely, calmly, and generously.  The ego demands successes to survive; the soul needs only meaning to thrive.  Somehow hope provides its own kind of meaning, in a most mysterious way.

“The Gospel gives our suffering both personal and cosmic meaning by connecting our pain to the pain of others and, finally, by connecting us to the very pain of God.  Did you ever think of God as suffering?  Most people don’t—but Jesus came to change all of that.

“Any form of contemplation is a gradual sinking into this divine fullness where hope lives.  Contemplation is living in a unified field that produces in people a deep, largely non-rational, and yet calmly certain hope, which is always a surprise.

“A life of inner union, a contemplative life, is practicing for heaven now.  God allows us to bring “on earth what is in heaven” (see Matthew 6:10) every time we can allow, receive, and forgive the conflicts of the moment and can sit in some degree of contentment—despite all the warring evidence.

“God alone, it seems to me, can hold together all the seeming opposites and contradictions of life.  In and with God, we can actually do the same.  But we are not the Doer.”     

 In faith, Father Chip+

June 26, 2020

Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. John 12:24

What a difference a few short months can make! 100 days, plus or minus, and our world has been turned upside down and inside out. So much has changed; so much has been revealed. And yet, as I have written on several occasions, so much opportunity lurks in these changes, no matter how painful and scary they may be. So many wonderful opportunities to get it right when so many things have been so wrong for so long: things like justice, equality, a health system that works for everyone, kindness, compassion, a sense of community, an end to the division and strife that tear us apart. The list goes on and on.

Jesus understood that sometimes things have to die before they can be born again and he demonstrated that truth with his own life through the crucifixion. Similarly, I’ll never forget my high school biology teacher say, “Death makes possible the redistribution of life.”  Are we in a moment of death in this country and the world? I think so, and I hope that we don’t “return to normal” but give birth to a whole new way of living together on this “fragile earth our island home”.

Once again, I turn to my friend Cameron Trimble who wrote this week,

“These are days of reckoning, of Sacred Pain, where we look at one another through all of the “isms” that divided us and finally see, “The pain in me sees the pain in you.” The heartbreak in me sees the heartbreak in you. The fear in me sees the fear in you. The loneliness in me sees the loneliness in you. The dreamer in me sees the dreamer in you.”

And, I would add, the love and compassion in me sees the love and compassion in you. The hope and prayer for new birth and new life sees the hope and prayer for new birth and new life in you.

Blessings,

Cynthia

June 25, 2020

“Do we settle for the world as it is, or do we work for the world it should be?”

Michelle Obama

I hope we are all up for the work, in Ourselves, our Church, and the World.

Grateful,

Palmer Marrin

June 24, 2020

Looking out the window, I watched protesters march on Seaview Avenue toward Ocean Park.  I jumped out of my seat, scurried to put on shoes and hat to join them.  They were chanting, “No justice, No peace”.  I stopped in my tracks as memories of the seventies flashed before me and I found myself praying, “Please God, I don’t want to repeat the past, I don’t want to see this experience through the lens of pain and disappointment.”  Quickly I scanned my body and mind beseeching God to help me find a way to make this different.  I started chanting, “In Justice there’s Peace” over and over until my body relaxed.  Why was it different?  My experience of how we sought justice in the past is based on engagement mass to mass.  There is a blatant violation and we look for a solution that directly responds to that particular act.  It is never enough and, inevitably, the violation is repeated.  “In Justice there’s Peace” I feel an ephemeral presence, as if I’m extending an invitation…an opportunity to create a different outcome.  I knew in the few moments after chanting, what I am really seeking is God’s justice and God’s peace.  Not the vengeance of an angry God like the God we know from the Old Testament, more like the clarity and compassion of God expressed through his son Jesus the Christ.  It’s God’s justice that will help us turn this corner and create different outcomes.

Jesus, our Lord and Savior, is called the Prince of Peace.  As Cynthia Hubbard shared with us in sermon and writing, Jesus was a radical for his time and he is for our time as well. He challenged Judaic law and social norms with the living truth.  Perhaps, the peace that we all seek is to live in truth. To know we are the creators of belief systems that support socio-economic positions and preferences.  Beliefs that, unlike God, are malleable and should change as we move closer to him/her.  Maybe justice is allowing the benefits of true knowledge to take root and guide us in every activity of life.  Yes, police need re-training, but so does everyone else in America.  They are the most recent reflection of ourselves. 

Recently I heard a news reporter say, “peace is passivity”.  I know the peace I seek and the person who modeled it (Jesus) isn’t passive.  There is a difference in being the observer (in it, but not of it) and inaction.  The observer uses spiritual discernment and sometimes that means holding the consciousness for more enlightened outcomes. We often get caught in the emotional cycles of action and response.  True peace requires spiritual discernment and honesty, even when it’s not well received.  It can seem risky, but in Christ, there’s no other way.

If you have memories of past protests and events swirling around in your memory or feel hopeless from the repetition of the ugliness of racism, please join me, if the spirit moves you, in re-vitalizing hope and engaging this 2020 experience differently.  The next time you join a rally, witness one at home or need to realign your thinking about events, chant: “In Justice there’s Peace”……  “In Peace there’s Power”.  Hopefully, it will bring you closer to Christ and assist with exercising spiritual discernment.  At the very least, it may help you see new possibilities in this very familiar experience.

John 14:27

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you: not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

For over twenty years, my sister Charlene and I have shared our faith journeys.  In our discussions we often talk about the path of Christ, being the observer, peace and justice.  Whatever I know, or think I know, today is strongly influenced by our conversations. Thank you, dear Charlene, for being my sister, friend and spiritual buddy. Peace to you always.

In love and faith, Andrea Bolling

June 23, 2020

          All things bright and beautiful,

               All creatures great and small,

          All things wise and wonderful,

               The Lord God made them all.

                               G. F. Alexander, 1848

The words of the beloved Anglican hymn, which James Herriot mined for the titles of four of his books (1972-81) about his experiences as a Yorkshire veterinarian, resonate during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Every pet owner knows firsthand the truth of recent news reports that our pets have enjoyed our months of social-isolation. Cats, dogs—all kinds of domestic animals—have thrived on the added attention, as much as we have been distracted, entertained, and comforted by their presence. During pandemic lockdown, people report too a fresh appreciation of observing backyard wildlife—songbirds, crows, squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks (even skunks, with their amusingly eager little adolescents in tow!) who regularly visit our birdfeeders and compost piles.

The American naturalist, writer, and reformer Henry Thoreau—famous for his own experiment with solitude for more than two years at Walden Pond (1845-47)—marveled at the sometimes electric connection between humans and other species: “Wonderful, wonderful is our life and that of our companions! That there should be such a thing as a brute animal, not human! and that it should attain to a sort of society with our race!”

More famous for his interest in “wild” creatures, Thoreau surprisingly was what we would call “a cat person.” He reflected: “What bond is it relates us to any animal we keep in the house but the bond of affection. In a degree we grow to love one another.” Bioethicist Jessica Pierce calls dogs the “emotional support” for their people in this time of isolation. But she asks, What do dog owners owe their dogs? After the coronavirus passes, how, she wonders, will people treat their loyal pets, who will feel loneliness after we have returned to normal?

Does Christianity offer guidance in answering these and so many other questions about our ethical relation to other species? Saint Francis, the patron of animals, led a life of exemplary kindness and compassion to all creatures, which inspired the annual tradition in many churches of blessing the animals on or near October 4.

But Christianity has labored for centuries, according to Anglican clergyman Andrew Linzey, under the legacy of Augustine and Aquinas, whose emphasis on spirituality disparaged “materiality and in particular . . . the worth of non-human animals.” (Hence the often pejorative use of the word animal.) A prolific author of books on animal rights, Linzey is director of the Centre for Animal Ethics at the University of Oxford in the UK (his daughter, Clair, is deputy director). Christianity, he writes, teaches that God is incarnate (that is, took earthly form): “Material substance, that is, flesh and blood, which is what humans share in particular with much of the animal kingdom, is the pivot of God’s redeeming purposes.” Our ties to other animals, he concludes, are tangibly and profoundly moral and divine.

Mainline Christian theologians, however, typically have little to say about our ethical responsibilities to animals, and most balk at the very question of whether animals might even have souls. Indeed, even basic concerns about human souls and a literal afterlife for our species have become subordinate to other topics and issues in contemporary Christianity. Andrew Linzey helpfully proposes that debating the question of souls is ultimately both futile and irrelevant, and that our ethical obligation to animals is best measured and judged by our “sense of moral community” with the animal kingdom.

Still, there is intriguing biblical and linguistic evidence linking animals with souls. The account of the Creation in Genesis 2:7 proclaims that God “breathed into [man’s] nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Although man is said to have “dominion . . . over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:28), those other creatures too are flesh and blood “animated” by “the breath of life”—which may imply that they also have souls. In fact, the very word animal derives from the Latin anima, which is sometimes translated as the vital life force, or even as soul.

Of course God’s plan for his Creation is shrouded in mystery and is understood only dimly in the realm of faith. Until the final “scales fall from our eyes,” though, animal lovers know one thing with certainty:  that to look into the eyes of our companion animals reveals a full range of emotion— fear, contentment, playfulness, embarrassment, love. They are sentient creatures, as are we, but with different ways of knowing—ways sometimes strikingly superior to ours. Enough for now, perhaps, that we end, as does G. F. Alexander’s hymn, with praise and thanks for “all creatures great and small”:

          [God] gave us eyes to see them,

               And lips that we might tell

          How great is God Almighty,

               Who has made all things well.

–Wes Mott

June 22, 2020

One of the many things I do enjoy, being an American citizen, is the chance to make my opinions known, and to take action, political or otherwise, which is given much protection in our constitutional democracy.  And, of course, in my role as rector of our beloved congregation, I frequently need to walk a fine line between “going off” and spouting about my own personal opinions about politics and government and justice and all those things, and making sure that I respect those who come to pray, and worship, and experience God, together—allowing them to draw their own conclusions from Scripture, and my well-intentioned ramblings about them, in the context of that day and in our times, which our Jewish rabbis refer to as “teachings.” 

The problem with that approach of course (although I’m not saying there really is some sort of problem about it, at least today), is that my approach may not satisfy everyone.  Indeed, I am constantly aware (as my friend and sometimes mentor, retired clergyperson and beloved parishioner Dick Fenn told me), that you often have to choose one position or another, or you risk ticking-off not only one side or another, but EVERYONE!

In an article by Wes Granberg-Michaelson titled, “From Mysticism to Politics,” the author takes aim at something he believes has infiltrated our way of doing things in our institutional way of worshiping God.

“Everything begins in mysticism and ends in politics,” he wrote, quoting Charles Peguy (1873—1914), “a French poet and writer who lived in solidarity with workers and peasants and became deeply influenced by Catholic faith in the last years of his life.”

According to the author, “this provocative quote identifies the foundational starting point for how faith and politics should relate.” But he then states, “usually, however, we get it backward.  Our temptation is to begin with politics and then try to figure out how religion can fit in.  We start with the accepted parameters of political debate and, whether we find ourselves on the left or the right, we use religion to justify and bolster our existing commitments.”

But he says, “what if we make [our] inward journey our starting point?  What if we recognize that our engagement in politics should be rooted in our participation in the Trinitarian flow of God’s love? Then everything changes….we are invited to participate in the transforming power of this love.  There we discover the ground of our being, centering all our life and action.”

When I read these words, I realized I am instinctively adopting this approach in the way I go about my inner and outer prayer life, my contemplation AND action, my ‘faith’ and my ‘works’. 

And, as it turns out, perhaps even unconsciously, in my teachings (my sermons and homilies).

Our lives are not earned.  They are given us. 

Can we connect the divine within us with all, and everyone, else?  Can we learn to live ‘non-dualistically’?

Perhaps living into that holy way of life, that eternal space, without time, we will find our true selves, real and enduring life, and learn to become love.                         

Yours in faith,

Father Chip+

June 19, 2020

Somehow, in the course of our work with the reVision program, sponsored by the UCC organization called Convergence, I got on the mailing list for reflections that come out a couple of times per week from the Rev. Cameron Trimble, one of the authors of Liberating Hope. That book, if you recall, was the catalyst for our work together through the reVision. program. Her reflections have really spoken to me. In fact I have quoted some of her thoughts, poems and prayers already in these meditations, duly referenced of course. The most recent reflection contained the following story which somehow brought a bit of levity, but still sage truth, into the very serious situation we now find ourselves living into. The story goes as follows:

One day there was a knight riding on a forest path, decked out in shining armor and astride a mighty steed. He was all ready to right the wrong, save ladies in distress and slay dragons. Along the way he saw a small sparrow, lying on its back in the middle of the path, with its tiny legs sticking upright. He slowed down and spoke to it:

“O sparrow, why are you lying on your back in the middle of the path?”

The sparrow replied: “Good Sir knight, I was told that the heavens would fall today.”

The knight gave a good laugh, saying: “And you mean to hold the heavens up with your spindly little legs?”

But the sparrow just let a deep sigh: “One does what one can, Sir knight, one does what one can.”

Indeed, one can feel overwhelmed by what is happening and totally at a loss as to what to do or where even to begin. While I am not comparing the events of today to the heavens falling —in fact, I hope it is all going to be a good platform for positive change— the words of the sparrow are well spoken. We do what we can, whether small or large, however we can, in whatever ways we can. We can’t change the entire world by ourselves, but we can effect change at least in our immediate environment and our relationships —our families, our friends and our neighbors  The important thing is to trust that God will use whatever we can for good and that whatever we do, however big or small, it will be a start.

Faithfully,

Cynthia

June 18, 2020

So, where are we. A week and a half after our pillar groups have stopped meeting.

I feel disconnected, cut off, unplugged. Who knew that weekly meetings of our group would make us feel like we were together in our own holy spaces, but together as a community or mini communities doing our work, St. Andrew’s work, God’s work.

As the days grow slowly warmer and folks are yearning to get outside, we see a wave of summer residents arriving to their own safe havens. The Oak Bluffs harbor was full, as if it was summer as usual.

In reading The Book of Joy byHis Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams:

I learned Desmond Tutu’s outlook on optimism versus hope. ” Hope,” the Archbishop said, “is quite different from optimism, which is more superficial and liable to become pessimism when the circumstances change. Hope is much deeper. We feel optimistic or we feel pessimistic. Now, hope is different in that it is based not on the ephemerality of feelings but on the firm ground of conviction. I believe with a steadfast faith that there can never be a situation that is utterly, totally hopeless. Hope is deeper and very, very close to unshakable.

Hope is also nurtured by relationship, by community, whether that community is a literal one or one fashioned from the long memory of human striving whose membership includes Gandhi, King, Mandela, and countless others. Despair turns us inward. Hope sends us into the arms of others.”

So I am hopeful that our time apart as a parish has brought us closer together, closer to God.

I Hope that our work in our groups will not end, that we will follow through and create more community and groups to reach out among us and the community and the world, in a peaceful loving way.

Hopeful,

Palmer Marrin

June 17, 2020

One of the seemingly myriad hoops I had to jump through in order to become an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church was to submit to psychiatric testing and counseling, which took place over a course of days.  (Honestly, I found it sort of ironic, since everyone knows that those of us who discern a calling, a true vocation, are a little ‘different’ than everyone else!)

Anyway, I remember toward the end, during one of my personal sessions with the psychiatrist, he asked a question that completely surprised me.  “What is your deepest aim?,” he asked.  “And what do you believe is the deepest aim of humanity?”  (Talk about good questions for a philosophy major living in the world that bridges philosophy and faith!)

And I distinctly remember I had, after only a moment or two of reflection, a ready answer, one I think I might have said again this very day, more than twenty years later, were I asked:  “Freedom,” I said.  “I think it’s most important that we all find our freedom, and know what it is to be free.”

I thought of that response again yesterday, when I was reading one of Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations (you, too, can read them daily, or whenever you like, by clicking on https://cac.org/#gsc.tab=0 ), and he was quoting James Finley, who had studied with Thomas Merton.  “Our deepest freedom rests not in our freedom to do what we want to do but rather in our freedom to become who God wills us to be.  This person, this ultimate self God wills us to be, is not a predetermined, static mold to which we must conform.  Rather, it is an infinite possibility of growth.  It is our true self: that is, a secret self hidden in and one with the divine freedom.  In obeying God, in turning to do God’s will, we find God willing us to be free.  God created us for freedom; that is to say, God created us for God’s self.”

This is what I truly believe about us.  I believe we all share, at our deepest level, an infinite possibility of growth. 

Now look at this:  this is what our Episcopal “Answer Key” (our Catechism, on page 845 of the Prayer Book) holds for us as to this question, of what it means to be human:

Q:      What are we by nature?

A:      We are part of God’s creation, made in the image of God.

Q:      What does it mean to be created in the image of God?

A:      It means that we are free to make choices:  to love, to create, to reason, and to live in harmony         with creation and with God.

Q:      Why then do we live apart from God and out of harmony with creation?

A:      From the beginning, human beings have misused their freedom and made wrong choices.

Q:      Why do we not use our freedom as we should?

A:      Because we rebel against God, and we put ourselves in the place of God.

Q:      What help is there for us?

A:      Our help is in God.

Indeed, we ARE free.  

In order to enjoy it, there is only one place to look:

In a real relationship, with our God, one in three persons. 

Help us, O Lord, to become one with our divine freedom.

Yours in faith,

Father Chip+

June 16, 2020

Grandfather,

Look at our brokenness.

We know that in all creation

Only the human family

Has strayed from the Sacred Way.

We know that we are the ones

Who are divided

And we are the ones

Who must come back together

To walk in the Sacred Way.

Grandfather,

Sacred One,

Teach us love, compassion, and honor

That we may heal the earth

And heal each other.

Ojibway Prayer

(Submitted by Mardi Moran)

June 15, 2020

For about three months now, ever since the virus “hit,” I’ve been pre-recording worship, in an empty church.  Since I’ve been of the opinion that “shorter” is better, when it comes to the length of the service, I’ve tried to keep the time to about half an hour.  To do that, I usually decide which of the readings should be omitted.  Almost always, it’s been the Psalm and the Epistle lesson, which is a real loss in my book, but overall helpful to the cause.

This past Sunday involved an especially difficult decision to omit the passage from Romans that talks about being justified by faith, and not our works.  And the reason I felt a little sad that we did not include it has to do with the following quote:

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die.  But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.”

That is:  God so loved the world…well, you know the rest.  The depth of love shown to us, given to us, by the Christ, is so deep, so powerful, so…otherworldly, it’s almost impossible to fathom. 

We are loved anyway.  And it is that love—unmerited, perhaps in our own eyes, knowing how often and how deeply we fall short—that loves us back into being. 

Many who know me well know that my deepest personal hope and desire is for something called “The Beloved Community”—when the most segregated hour in America (or anywhere, for that matter) is NOT Sunday morning worship time.  It is for a time of worship when everyone wants to worship together because BEING TOGETHER is what it’s all about.  Hearing the Word, experiencing the Word, and breaking bread together as the integral and distinct, yet beautiful and valuable, parts of the greater whole:  the Body of Christ in the world.  Love and acceptance, telling our stories and listening, confessing and forgiving mark that enlightened and illuminated kingdom, that City on a Hill. 

Recently, I came across a quote from the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I particularly like.  I found it in the materials I’ve been working through while deciding whether we may offer here at St Andrew’s a program called, “Sacred Ground,” which is an important part of The Episcopal Church’s initiative, under Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, called “Becoming Beloved Community.”  (You might take a moment or two and find it on The Episcopal Church’s website.)  To me, the quote pinpoints exactly the sort of love Christ is asking of all of us that Paul was referring to in Romans.  It is incredible:

          “But the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community.  It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opposers into      friends.  The type of love that I stress here is not eros, a sort of esthetic or romantic love; not philia, a sort of reciprocal love between personal friends; but it is agape which is understanding goodwill for all men.  It is an overflowing love which seeks nothing in return.  It is the love of          God working in the lives of men.  This is the love that well may be the salvation of our civilization.” 

June 12, 2020

Very early on in this process, I remember thinking, and saying, once this pandemic is over, let’s hope we emerge a kinder, gentler, more just world. It’s one thing to hope it, another to see the parts being broken and rebuilt in a way that benefits all of us instead of just a few very lucky ones. In my inbox this morning was the following poem by Leslie Dwight, which I would share with you, as I think it describes the situation we are living through right now better than I can.

What if 2020 isn’t canceled?
What if 2020 is the year we have been waiting for?
A year so uncomfortable, so painful, so scary, so raw –
that it finally forces us to grow.
A year that screams so loud, finally awakening us
from our ignorant slumber.
A year we finally accept the need for change.
Declare change. Work for change. Become the change.
A year we finally band together, instead of
pushing each other further apart.

2020 isn’t canceled, but rather
it’s the most important year of them all.

Praying to “become the change.”

Cynthia

June 11, 2020

St Andrew’s Business List

BCP, Page 824

Heavenly Father, we remember before you those who suffer want and anxiety from lack of work. Guide the people of this land so to use our public and private wealth that all may find suitable and fulfilling employment, and receive just payment for their labor; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Serving Our Neighbors and Our World Pillar Group are concerned about the businesses that have been disrupted because of the pandemic. We invited any parishioner who owns, manages, or is employed by a business to let us know so that we can put your business on our list. Our hope is that when any of us are looking for a business to hire or utilize, we will consider these companies:

Faith and Lew Laskaris

fastimson@aol.com

Home: 508-693-7948

Cell: 617-697-0519

Year round airBNB, VRBO, Superhosts

Mathew Tombers

Edgartown Books

44 Main Street

P O Box 5189

Edgartown, MA 02539

mtombers@edgartownbooks.com

Store: 508-627-8841

Cell: 917-880-2469

Bill Fielding, Building Contractor

All construction, start to finish, new and renovation, houses, garages, decks, door and window installation, finish carpentry.

Contact information:

William Fielding, III

508-939-1793

kidsplusfive@yahoo.com

PO Box 55

Vineyard Haven, MA 02568

Business Insurance: yes

References: yes

Licensed: yes

Year Round

We will add to this list as we continue to receive information from others.

Email mardi.moran@gmail.com with your information.

Mardi Moran

June 10, 2020

Ecclesiastes 3:1,6,7,8

To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war and a time of peace.

It’s Time!

 Outrage, hurt, fatigue, grateful, encouraged are the sequence of emotions I experienced these past few weeks. 

The voice of younger generations marching in protest echo my outrage and hurt. Many of them know the pain and history of racism.  Fatigue, well I’m still in it.  I could share thoughts of why fatigue amongst Black People and activists is so pervasive but instead, I want to explore something Father Chip mentioned in Sunday’s sermon.  On Sunday, I watched my Rector, who usually bubbles with optimism, say, pretty clearly, he is cautiously optimistic whether this movement will affect meaningful change.

When I heard him I thought, “Oh no, don’t give up.”  You see, for me giving up is tantamount to dying.  If I can’t call on God’s grace, live and walk in Christ, then what I’m left with is an oppressive human experience, with no way out.

So, I want to share why I’m grateful and won’t give up. 

I’m grateful white people are taking a stand.  A few days after George Floyd was killed a young white woman held a sign on Circuit Ave. that read in bold letters, WHITE SILENCE IS COMPLICIT WITH RACISM.  You see, I’m tired.  I’m grateful white people are taking responsibility and doing it in numbers which include major corporations, small businesses, networks and police departments across the country.  The Times published a joint letter from police chiefs from every town on MV condemning the use of deadly force and their commitment to unbiased policing literally, within days of Mr. Floyd’s death.  Yes, I’m grateful, and won’t give up.

I’m grateful for my parents and siblings, everything I’ve learned, witnessed, and studied, for it allows me to be both participant and observer in this world that’s unfolding.  All have informed my perspective. I know I am not subject to the human pendulum, the world of opposites.  There is a middle path.  It is not a path of mediocrity or indecision.  It is good.  It is the path that allows for the return of the prodigal, it is deep in faith and understanding.  Accepting of diversity and at its core, acknowledges learning, healing and growing are integral components of change, true enlightenment.  I believe it’s the way of Christ, a path to God, and I won’t give up.

I’m grateful, that I’m alive.  As we all know, what happened to George Floyd is not an anomaly.  My former husband and I were violently stopped and searched by police on our way to a wedding in Chicago.  He was pulled out of the vehicle, frisked, I was grabbed by the arm, searched while two of six officers had guns drawn.  They checked our licenses with headquarters, brusquely said, “We thought you were someone else.”  They returned to unmarked vehicles and sped away.  I felt violated and vulnerable.  The incident occurred 30 years ago and I still fear police, even when I’m asking for assistance. 

I’m grateful I have a Rector that would know not to ask the oppressed to love the oppressor.  Our journey is different.  More about reconciliation, having grace with ourselves and each other, and yes, forgiving.  I believe it leads to love when we are healed and can FREELY love ourselves.  When we can speak truth without punishment and break social contracts that maintain inequality. 

Why I’m encouraged: I see people rejecting the legacy of racism. Simply and clearly stating, it is not acceptable.

Most likely, more incidents will surface from the past and present.  It’s part of the purging needed before we can healthfully accept and engage the problem of racism in America.  Please stay open, listen.  It’s the abused, myself included, telling their stories.  We have been in denial.  Much of White America because they don’t want to face institutional racism, the inhumane treatment of black people.  For us, Black America, not wanting to feel the pain underneath the rage, unsure whether we’ll be able to return from the abyss.  Don’t give up on youth….it’s their lead now.  No matter how bleak or repetitious it all seems, this is a new day and we have wisdom to share.  It’s time to dream the dream.  See and know the image of life in a world free of racism.  Take one aspect of that vision and BE IT.  Have Faith.  Please, don’t give up.  From the ashes, the phoenix rises, new, transformed, whole and beautiful.

In Faith, Andrea Bolling

June 9, 2020

For an End to Racial Prejudice:

On God, in Three Persons, creator of one human species, in many hues:

All who pray to you are descendants of Adam and Eve, all members of one race called “human”.

Forgive the blindness that causes our eyes to notice and magnify those things we regard as different from ourselves in others. Teach us to see clearly, that we, your children, are far more alike than different. Help us to put aside the racial prejudices imbedded within us, to see within every person the Child of God you created, our sister or brother, destined for Glory. In the name of One who died for all persons, of all colors, Jesus Christ. Amen.

For Justice in the criminal system:

Lord, you suffered at human hands the pain of false arrest, torture, and unjust punishment, and you commanded us to comfort those in prison. Build a fire in your people, Lord, that we may never learn patience with prejudice or make peace with oppression, but that we may burn with zeal for justice, proportion, and equal protections under law for all people. In the name of him who died condemned. Amen.

West Virginia Episcopal Diocese

Mardi Moran

June 8, 2020

It may have been three or four years ago now, when I first learned of an excellent Sunday School program developed by Colette Potts, the wife of a clergy colleague of mine, Matthew Potts, over at St Barnabas in Falmouth.  I was at a “Ministry Fair”- type event at the Diocesan Cathedral in Boston (together with at least two or three other lay ministers from St Andrew’s Church), and was going from table to table to check out the various ministries being offered.  The Sunday School program I’m referring to is called, “Love First,”  and from what I can tell it’s really, really good—perhaps something our own congregation may want to consider using in the near future.

Much like many of the exhibitors at that Ministry Fair, Colette had some “bling” (or trinkets, really), for us to bring home, to remember them by.  Hers was a lovely bookmark, with the full name of the program on it, “Love First:  A Children’s Ministry for the Whole Church,” and on the back of it, a sweet poem I’d never read by someone named L.R. Knost.

I think the poem is perfect for these days—and every day:

“Do not be dismayed

by the brokenness of the world.

All things break.

And all things

can be mended.  

Not with time,

As they say,

but with intention.

So go. 

Love intentionally,

extravagantly,

unconditionally.

The broken world

waits in darkness

for the light that is you.”

In His light,

Father Chip+       

June 5, 2020

One of the things we love to do as grandparents is read to our grandchildren, and suffice it to say we have had a lot of time to do that over the past two months! Our grandson, Hugh, turned six and lost his first two teeth during the lockdown. Pretty exciting! I have just finished reading him a book called Volcano of Fire, which is one in a series about a mouse called Geronimo Stilton. In this particular adventure, Geronimo has to defeat a “shape shifter” monster that in the end, turns out to be nothing more than mud. But when he asks other people about the appearance of the monster, they all have a different answer. It turns out the monster assumes the appearance of each person’s greatest fear. Once Geronimo realizes this and names his own fear, he is able to get the monster into the River of Oblivion where he dissolves.  While the spiritual and metaphorical implications of this may be somewhat missed on a six-year-old, I haven’t been able to get this story out of my mind.  How true it is, that what we most fear can loom very large and very scary in our perspective and frame of reference. Whatever we most fear, it can take on a life of its own.

Right now we are surrounded by so many things to be fearful of— as I write this, the very future of our country may be at stake, as people cry out to be heard and those in power need to stand up and listen.

Jesus talked a lot about fear, generally as an admonishment not to be afraid. Fear not, we hear many times in the gospel stories. Don’t be afraid. Don’t worry about tomorrow, Jesus said, but let the day’s own troubles be sufficient for the day. I admit I am struggling with what he might say to us today, when the nation is justifiably screaming for justice and the day’s own troubles loom extraordinarily large and scary.

The opposite of fear, as we all know, is love, and that is what Jesus taught over and over again. Love one another as I have loved you. Be known by your love for one another. Do not be afraid, but love. Love slays any monster that we encounter.

Right now that may not feel easy, but let us trust that love can make a difference!

Blessings in this difficult time,

Cynthia

June 4, 2020

Quotes by Martin Luther King, Jr.

“A riot is the language of the unheard.”

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

“The time is always right to do what is right.”

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?”

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

Palmer Marrin

June 3, 2020

To my brothers and sisters in Christ:

In the last number of days following the televised murder of George Floyd, there has been a great deal of rhetoric and attention paid to the distinction between those moving their feet in a nonviolent way to signal their intention to effect change, and those who rob, loot, plunder, and rage in acts of violent behavior. This moment gives us an excellent opportunity to consider how we, as Christians, might heed the Word of God within our hearts.

In his excellent book, The Nonviolent Life, John Dear, over and over, paints an extraordinary picture of what a life might look like if one were to cultivate the habits of practicing peace—which is, in my view, spot on, the way of Christ. 

Quoting Gandhi, he writes, “For a nonviolent person, the whole world is one family.  He will thus fear no one, nor will others fear him.”  Dear continued:  “For Gandhi, to be a person of nonviolence is to be fearless.  You cannot practice nonviolence and be afraid.  You have to overcome your fears; then you can go forward in love and confidence into the culture of violence…with the message and work of justice.”

“Gandhi taught that the presence of violence within us or the use of violence by us reveals our fear.  It’s much braver, more courageous, to live without fear and wage the struggle for justice without violence.  This is a harder, more noble, more fruitful way of life. 

“How do we get beyond fear?  Gandhi spent one hour in silent prayer every morning, and one hour in silent prayer every evening, communing with the God of peace.  That prayer made the difference for him.  If we root our day to day lives in our relationship with our loving God, if we continue to claim our core identity as a son or daughter of the God of love and peace, miracles will happen.  We will find our fears slowly evaporating, and our confidence, love and joy slowly increasing.  We will learn not to fear anyone, nor even to fear sickness and death, because we have come to know the God of peace and learned to trust God.  We will know in the depths of our being that our survival is already guaranteed.  God will take care of us, provide for us, and protect us.

“What is there to be afraid of?  We can go forth in a fearless spirit of nonviolent love toward every human being on the planet, and do our part to welcome God’s reign of peace, justice and nonviolence. 

“Fearlessness is [one] key ingredient in the nonviolent life.”     

Faithfully yours,

Father Chip+    

June 2, 2020

TODAY

TODAY – Mend a quarrel. Search out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a love letter. Share some treasure. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in a. word or deed.

TODAY – Keep a promise. Find the time. Forego a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Listen. Apologize if you were wrong. Try to understand. Flout envy. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Appreciate, be kind, be gentle. Laugh a little more.

TODAY – Deserve confidence. Take up arms against malice. Decry complacency. Express your gratitude. Worship your God. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth.

Speak it again.

Speak it still again.

Speak it still again.

Speak it still once again.

Anonymous

Mardi Moran

June 1, 2020

Nadia Bolz-Weber is an ordained Lutheran minister who has become quite popular through her writings and all sorts of other media.  Youngish, edgy, at times irreverent, she came to the ordained ministry in an unusual way.  From the book jacket on her bestselling book, “Pastrix,”:  “Heavily tattooed and loud-mouthed, Nadia, a former stand-up comic, sure as hell didn’t consider herself to be religious leader material—until the day she ended up leading a friends’ funeral in a smoky downtown comedy club.  Surrounded by fellow alcoholics, depressives, and cynics, she realized:  These were her people.  Maybe she was meant to be their pastor.”  Nadia was recently featured in Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s podcast, episode 2 of season 3, “The Way of Love,” which may be found on The Episcopal Church website.

Recently, Nadia published the following prayer, which has circulated a great deal, and which I found helpful and relevant in these days of virus and coping:

“I do not know when we can gather together again in worship, Lord.

So, for now I just ask that:

When I sing along in my kitchen to each song on Stevie Wonder’s Songs in The Key of Life Album, that it be counted as praise. (Happy 70th Birthday, SW!)

And that when I read the news and my heart tightens in my chest, may it be counted as a Kyrie.

And that when my eyes brighten in a smile behind my mask as I thank the cashier may it be counted as passing the peace.

And that when I water my plants and wash my dishes and take a shower may it be counted as remembering my baptism.

And that when the tears come and my shoulders shake and my breathing falters, may it be counted as prayer.

And that when I stumble upon a Tabitha Brown video and hear her grace and love of you may it be counted as a hearing a homily.

And that as I sit at that table in my apartment, and eat one more homemade meal, slowly, joyfully, with nothing else demanding my time or attention, may it be counted as communion.

Amen.”

Look for the helpers, I say—and look for the unspeakable moments of rich and deep blessing, which come upon us in our ordinary works, moment by moment, often without introduction, and always by surprise.

In this new season of Pentecost, the season of the Spirit, may we learn to live our resurrection lives of love and grace knowing that our God is working out her purposes in this world, through us.

Together.

Faithfully yours,

Chip+   

Friday May 29, 2020 Meditation – The Quickening

Psalm 119:93 I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me.

My favorite references to the experience of “quickening” are in psalm 119 in the KJV of the bible.  When I read it, I’m grateful. The psalm reminds me we have tools, God’s word and the holy spirit, to help weather any storm. 

My first exposure to a “quickening” was an Easter season when my eldest brother went through what my 5-year-old eyes saw as a strange transformation.  I remember running to my father, tears in my eyes, and asking him a series of questions.  “Why doesn’t Royal want to hug me?  Why does he have such a harsh look on his face?  Why are Mummy and Mama praying for him?  Did he do something bad, is he being punished?” 

He looked at me, responded, “Andrea, your brother needs his space, he’s going through a “quickening”.  If he surrenders and allows God to guide, it can be a blessing.  If he fights, or becomes too afraid, he may misunderstand his guidance or move in the wrong direction.  That’s why your Mother, grandmother and I are praying for him.”  

He hugged me and said, “That’s what the season of Easter is about.  We cocoon in Christ and emerge anew in Pentecost.  Hopefully, strengthened in faith, joy and direction.”  Not completely relieved, I asked the question that was really on my mind, “Will he still love us?”  He replied, “He will not be the same but yes, I think he’ll still love us.”

 For the past month I have been trying to find the language to describe my sense of what’s going on in the world.  I sense, on some level, the world is experiencing a grand “quickening”.   I’ve searched scripture, contemplated, trolled life experiences, to get a better understanding of what it truly means to be quickened.  One thing I’m certain of, “quickening” fundamentally changes how we see ourselves, others, the world. For every person who engages the holy spirit for guidance, as many have, then, a “quickening” this is, and there are blessings to be found.

 News anchors compare this time to the Great Depression for its socioeconomic impact; for believers of God in Christ, this may be known as the “Great Quickening or Awakening” if not in words, in the description of the experience.  Acts of kindness and demonstrations of faith far outweigh reports of selfishness and cruelty.  Amongst fear and uncertainty, people are choosing patience and compassion.

  I’ve been thinking, perhaps, the guidance for responding to a “quickening” my father gave me as a child can guide us in reconciling our experience of this crises before the beginning of Pentecost. Like the phoenix rising from ashes, we’re emerging from COVID 19.  Thank you, God, for allowing us to live this season of Easter 2020 in this year of our Lord.  Thank you for deepening our faith, giving us greater knowledge, a firmer foundation and clearer direction.  May we embrace Pentecost strengthened in faith, in joy and purpose.

 In Faith and Peace, Andrea Bolling   

May 28, 2020

My cousin gave me a book called “Presence” The Art of Peace and Happiness, Vol. 1, By Rupert Spira

This is from the section Happiness is Inherent in our Being:

“Happiness is not a state of the mind or body although it is often mistaken for such.

Happiness, like peace, is inherent in our self. It is our self.

And just as our self is ever-present, quietly observing all the changing appearances of the mind, body and world, and yet intimately one with them, so the happiness that is inherent in it, is also ever-present—-although sometimes seemingly veiled—-at the heart of all experience, waiting to be recognized.”

“The reason that we so often fail to notice it is that we turn away from the current experience and try to replace it with a better one. We seek happiness in a future object or situation, whereas it is, in fact, sitting quietly at the heart of all experience now, no matter what the particular characteristics of that experience.  It is only our turning away, our rejection of the current situation, that makes it seem as if happiness is not present now and, therefore, to be founded in the future.”

I think this pandemic has made me more present, appreciating the smaller things in our lives.  Happiness is not things, it is relationships, people and small graces.

Grateful,

Palmer Marrin

May 27, 2020

Cynthia Hubbard forwarded this reflection by the Reverend Colette Bachand, who has become noteworthy for making worship friendly and accessible to those experiencing dementia.  It points up not only how we all are facing our Coronavirus challenges from differing perspectives and needs, but even moreso, the distinct difficulties those of us with age and dementia issues must grapple with. 

Having read and thought about this reflection, I’m aware how blind I am to so much silent suffering and need.       

COVID from the Elderly Point of View

By The Reverend Colette Bachand  

They say it’s the same storm we are in

just different boats  …

this storm pandemic, COVID-19

They say … self-isolate, but my world was already so lonely.

They say … just read a good book or watch a movie, but my eyes don’t work anymore, I’ve not been able to read in years or see the TV right either.

They say … go for walks in nature, it will refresh your soul, but it’s hard to roll a walker over tree stumps and rocks

They say … write cards to people you love, but my arthritic fingers can’t hold a pen.

They say … this is teaching us to slow down … really? Haven’t seen fast in decades.

They say … just be grateful you can talk to grandchildren on your computer or phone, but I can’t figure out my phone and have never had a computer

They say  … wear a mask, 

but I can’t wear a mask and my hearing aids at the same time, 

so now I can’t hear … 

and now I can’t breathe, 

and the steam from my breath fills my glasses 

and now I can’t see where I am going and am afraid to fall,

so I don’t  …

go…

anywhere. 

They say … just enjoy the quiet time, but in the silence the ghosts have found me again and I am afraid. 

They say … just give it time … but mine is running out.

Same storm, different boats … sure.

But others can mend their boats, 

or swim to shore or wait out the storm.

My boat is disappearing over the horizon

                              and there is no one to see me off

May our God of love bless us in this time of sickness, death and healing, by helping us to see each other with the eyes of our hearts.

Yours in Christ,

Chip+

May 26, 2020

Leonard Cohen – If It Be Your Will (live 1985)

This hymn seems to be particularly helpful in our world today.

Mardi Moran

IF IT BE YOUR WILL

Leonard Cohen

If it be your will

That I speak no more

And my voice be still

As it was before

I will speak no more

I shall abide until

I am spoken for

If it be your will

If it be your will

That a voice be true

From this broken hill

I will sing to you

From this broken hill

All your praises they shall

ring

If it be your will

To let me sing

From this broken hill

All your praises they shall

Ring

If it be your will

To let me sing

If it be your will

If there is a choice

Let the rivers fill

Let the hills rejoice

Let your mercy spill

On all these burning hearts

In hell

If it be your will

To make us well

And draw us near

And bind us tight

All your children here

In their rags of light

In our rags of light

All dressed to kill

And end this night

If it be your will

May 25, 2020

In the face of so much upheaval and change, even in this season of new life, Easter, and the coming season of Pentecost (which to me impart hope and the promise of eternal life and love), there is one thing in particular that persists in nagging at my soul.

It’s the apparent murder of the young, 26-year old Ahmaud Arbery, in Georgia, the case I’m sure so many of you know about:  a person of color out jogging, when two white guys show up in a truck with guns, track him down for God knows what reason, and they end up shooting him dead.

And when I hear these things, I now always think:  I just can’t take it anymore.

Now I know I’m not in control of that particular scenario, or even the whole existing fabric of racism that runs through our national identity, but I know this:  I must do my part.  As Martin Luther King Jr wrote (in his 1963 masterpiece Letter from Birmingham Jail), injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.  I’ve even taken the point of view of Ibram Kendi, who asserted in a recent (fine) book, “How to Be an Antiracist,” that we all are in either of two categories:  either a racist, or an antiracist.  There is no gray area, nothing in between. 

Where do I see myself?

In God’s realm, the age to come, here on earth, where God dwells with us and in us, in the life of the world to come, racism no longer exists, in any form.  It does not take up any space in our human thoughts, expressions, ideas, and actions.  It is not even a forgotten memory of a distant past.  Instead, people are loved always, just because we value them for who they are.  Every one of us is equally loved by God, and we will have learned to love everyone just like we love ourselves.  Freedom is not just another word.  It is Shalom, a place of security and freedom from fear.  God’s peace.  And not a pipe dream.

We all know that true Freedom requires true Responsibility.  Racism is learned somewhere.  God don’t make no junk.

A few weeks ago, I was reading an article by a college professor in Memphis named Earl Johnson.  He was talking about the stoning of Stephen, legendary first martyr of our Christian faith. 

He painted the image of Paul there, before his conversion, watching the whole thing, holding the coats of the people stoning Stephen, who was standing up for love, for truth, for justice, for faith in a God who loves us into being and continues to do so even while we don’t know it.  Forever.

And that is all Paul did.  He held the coats.

What am I doing?

What are we all doing?                 

Grace and peace,

Chip+

May 22, 2020

Jesus said to Simon Peter, very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.“ John 21:18

This has always been one of my most favorite verses from the Gospels. I always saw it in terms of the spiritual journey, that as we grow spiritually and become literally older, we find ourselves less and less in control and more and more guided and governed by the ground of our being, or God, which is a good thing.

Today, in the midst of this pandemic, I think these words take on an added dimension.  Most people like to feel that they are in control, and we all have different amounts of control freakism dwelling within us! After all, wouldn’t it be nice if everyone else did just exactly what we think we think they should.  We know what’s best and certainly everyone else should see it our way as well. At the same time, we don’t like it much when people try to control us.

I am wondering if perhaps some of the angst and fear and in some places, extreme, borderline violent, push back surrounding the pandemic isn’t due to the fact that we have all encountered something which we clearly have no control over? Jesus certainly understood this human need/desire to be in control/in charge. In fact, I am often amazed by how well Jesus understood human nature. Someone else will tie a belt around you and lead you where you do not wish to go. Aren’t we in the midst of that right now? And who knows where we are being invited, or even commanded, to go? We just have to trust that whoever is tying that belt around us is leading us toward greater wholeness,greater freedom and to a place of greater meaning in our lives. God is in control and we just need to trust that, willingly extending our hands and letting God tie a belt around us to lead us to wherever God may be calling us all to go.

May we all be blessed with open minds and open hearts for this journey.


Blessings, Cynthia

May 21, 2020

My daughter, and two other amazing women, started an organization called Hive Family Collective back in November. They decided to present the community with programs to provide resources to families in transition (either expecting their first child or expanding their family) by addressing issues for mothers and fathers with children up to the age of five through their peer-to-peer support groups and education-based talks. The first meeting there was a blinding snowstorm, but people fought their way to get there. Hive Family Collective is providing a resource where before there was none, and so many questions and fear around the unknown.

These are a couple of posts that were posted on their Instagram account. They seem pertinent in these searching times.

And be sure to keep your light bright and shining – you never know just how many people you may be a lighthouse for. You never know how many people find their way home, in even the wildest storms, because you are there. (Cleo Wade)

Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will. (Suzy Kassem)

TODAY

I want you to think about all that you are instead of all that you are not.

So perhaps we are all hives keeping each other supported in different ways, through these uncertain and trying times.

Palmer Marrin

May 20, 2020

Questions

Jesus Said:

As the Father knows me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there should be one fold, and one shepherd.” John 19:15-16 KJV

For a few months now I’ve been upset by the number of poor and people of color who have been impacted by the virus. One article stated black people are 4x more likely to be infected and die from COVID 19 than white. As Palmer mentioned in a previous contemplation, the virus doesn’t discriminate but, pre-existing socio-economic conditions have created disproportionate fatalities.

Watching the news, I saw food lines in Queens, NY, people waiting to fill bags in the height of the virus. The majority of people appeared to be Black and Latino. In March, when I needed to use the Island Food Pantry, I looked around, most of the recipients were Brazilian, Caribbean or African American. Some people had PPE, most didn’t. We weren’t practicing the recommended 6 feet for social distancing and chairs were spaced in pre-pandemic arrangements. I remember thinking, I have to get out of here! When I watched the Queens food lines, people standing way too closely, I thought about the last time I visited the Food Pantry. I wondered if people who had financial stability truly understood why these people were standing in line during a pandemic. If those people were like me, and receive monthly food assistance, then their food allotment certainly wouldn’t allow for stockpiling. There wouldn’t be additional money for gloves, masks, disinfecting wipes, and hand sanitizer. If they were like me, they may have been afraid. In mind and spirit they may have weighed going outside into a crowded area at the risk of getting infected against staying at home and running out of food. What I saw and experienced is one of the ways that people receiving “charity” know their position in society, the way social hierarchy is maintained. Distributing assistance in a group setting during a pandemic puts recipients at risk and creates the opportunity for disparate viral impact. People with means can order online or choose when to enter a store. Poor and marginalized people do not have the same option. The care and consciousness we use to support people in need reflects how we hold them in our hearts and mind. Do we truly see those in need as part of our “fold”? Do we assist Christ in caring for his flock?

If we do experience a second wave of COVID, there are things we can do to help reduce disparate impact. We can donate PPE resources to ensure everyone has the protection they need, make a contribution to the Rector’s Fund or social service agency for “Just In Time” assistance for congregants and islanders in need. Ask neighbors, family members and parishioners what they need to feel and be safe. Deliver food and PPE products directly to residences whenever possible. In the US, cases are decreasing. In Africa, India and parts of Asia and Latin America, cases and deaths are rising. Some of the most destitute nations in the world may experience the most casualties. They are nations of brown, black, beige people some, from different faith traditions. Do we look the other way, hoard or, find ways to support? Can and will we spiritually embrace people economics and racism have deemed less important? I know I can’t trust myself, I’m in this human drama. It is only in Christ, the great equalizer, that I truly know I am my Brother’s Keeper. Perhaps, in the months and years to come, we should let Jesus lead us mind, body and spirit. He will never mislead, hurt or forsake. Thank you God for our Shepherd, our Redeemer.

In faith and love, Andrea Bolling

May 19, 2020

When despair for the world grows in me

And I awake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

Waiting for their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry

(Submitted by Mardi Moran)

May 18, 2020

Dear brothers and sisters in faith,

One of my clergy colleagues, The Rev Libby Gibson over at St Mary’s, Barnstable, shared the link below, “Praise Song for the Pandemic,” by Christine Valters Paintner.

I think it’s definitely worth four minutes of your time.  Stop what you’re doing, and enter in…

We are surrounded on all sides by Love.

Whenever we have plenty to share, there are plenty who need it.  And that Love just keeps on giving.

For Love never ends.

Faithfully yours,

Chip+

May 15, 2020

This from the 22 year old United States’ inaugural youth poet laureate. Inspiring words from the generation whose lives will be forever shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Miracle of Morning

I thought I’d awaken to a world in mourning. / Heavy clouds crowding, a society storming / But there’s something different on this golden morning. / Something magical in the sunlight, / wide and warming.

While we might feel small, separate, and all alone, / Our people have never been more closely tethered. / The question isn’t if we will weather this unknown, / But how we will weather this unknown together.

We ignite not in the light, but in lack thereof, / For it is in loss that we truly learn to love. / In this chaos, we will discover clarity. / In suffering, we must find solidarity

Don’t ignore the pain. Give it purpose. Use it. / Know that this distance will make our hearts grow fonder. / From a wave of woes our world will emerge stronger.

Amanda Gorman

(Submitted by Cynthia Hubbard)

May 14, 2020

Are we really listening?

Have we all made up our minds about: How dangerous is the Corona virus? Are we ready to loosen up restrictions? Are our leaders making the right decisions?

So many questions and so much information and so much conflict, but are we listening?

In Brene Brown’s Braving The Wilderness she talks about conflict transformation instead of conflict resolution.  There is no winner or loser, but what might be better?

The most essential and courageous is to stay open minded with a desire to learn more about another person’s perspective. She says when we want to slam the door, lean in and say, “Tell me more. Help me understand why this is so important to you.” “And then we have to listen. Really listen. Listen to understand, not about agreeing or disagreeing. We have to listen to understand in the same way we want to be understood.”

The plans of the mind belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. Proverbs 16:1

Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. V:24

So, we must be gracious in our delivery of our opinions, always.

In peace,

Palmer Marrin

Contemplation for Wednesday May 13, 2020

Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Are there lessons from Amity?

I was reading the “MV Times,” watching the news and started to experience a sense of deja’vu.  That I’d been here, seen this before.  I read a “NYT” article and it said, three white house staff tested positive for the virus.   I found myself feeling anxious, perhaps selfishly I thought; Great! The last thing we need is for the President and Vice-President of the United States to become ill with COVID 19. Now, I know Boris Johnson, (PM of the UK), made it through but, I believe he  was prompted by the Queen and Parliament to take it seriously and seek hospitalization. Is it me? Doesn’t this virus warrant great caution? 

James 3:17 ESV

The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.

As I continue to sift through conflicting and confusing COVID messages, I keep thinking about something Father Chip said to me when I joined St. Andrew’s.  Paraphrasing, he stated, more than anything, we need to give people the tools to spiritually navigate this changing landscape called life.  The key, is supporting people in using spiritual discernment in everything they do.

To reinforce a request made in a previous contemplation, now, more than ever we need to pray for our politicians, business owners, everyone who is confronted with making decisions about physical re-engagement.  Pray they are blessed with discernment, are guided by spirit, and follow their guidance without hesitation.

We, everyday people, in our everyday decisions must also use spiritual discernment, if it doesn’t look or feel safe don’t do it, don’t go in!  Like Jesus, we must live compassionately.  If someone moves away in fear, or gets too close, choose to be kind.  Say hello, make eye contact, create a little space.  Our mouths and noses are covered, but our hearts and ears still receive.  We do have impact.

The more rooted in Christ, the calmer we are, the easier it is to follow spirit and create the environment we need to healthfully weather this storm.

In “The MV Times” in early March, a writer warned we were dangerously close to becoming Amity, our fictitious Shark Island with the infamous battle between public safety & political and business communities.  I think the déjà vu I mentioned earlier was an awareness that some of the management of “COVID 19”on the world stage, is similar to the way Amity managed information when a great white shark was feasting on humans in “JAWS”.  I don’t want us to live the movie.  I’d rather glean lessons and move on.  Every day I pray to “Walk in Christ”, to allow the humanism exhibited by so many first responders to become the model I emulate.  I pray the world finds faith in God, and on this beautiful Island I love so much, we let spirit guide us in creating other revenue streams to support us in what may be our newer normal.

Romans 8:28 KJV

And we know all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.

In Faith and Service, Andrea Bolling

May 12, 2020

Dear Friends,

I have come across a lovely book called The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, by Charlie Mackesy. 

Of course, it needs animals to catch my eye, but these are very wise.  In the intro the author says…

“I hope this book encourages you, perhaps, to live courageously with more kindness for yourself and for others.  And to ask for help when you need it – which is always a brave thing to do”.   

There are gentle illustrations throughout, and each page is a perfect mindfulness moment. 

               The boy,  “Do you have a favorite saying?”  

                                 “Yes” says the mole.

                                 “What is it?”

                                 “If at first you don’t’ succeed, have some cake.”

                                 “I see.  Does it work?”

                                “Every time.”  

                The boy,  “What do you think is the biggest waste of time?”

                                  “Comparing yourself to others”, said the mole.

                        Boy,  “I wonder if there is a school of unlearning”. 

                The boy,   “The fox never really speaks” he whispers.

                                   “No. But it’s lovely he is with us”, said the horse.

                                    “To be honest, I often feel I have nothing interesting to say,” said the fox.

                                    “Being honest is always interesting,” said the horse.             

                                    “Sometimes”,  said the horse.

                                    “Sometimes what?”  asked the boy.

                                    “Sometimes just getting up and carrying on is brave and magnificent.”                                                                                                                                        

I just felt like sharing a lighter, gentler side to compassion.  Can’t wait till we can come together again – hug to hug – and be!

   Virtual hugs to you,

   Cheryl DeWitt

May 11, 2020

May 8, 2020

The poet Robert Frost, in his poem Mending Wall, writes, “something there is that doesn’t love a wall.“ or, as his neighbor keeps reminding him,  “good fences make good neighbors….

Why, (he wonders) Here there are no cows Before I build a wall I’d ask to know What I was walling in or walling out And to whom I was like to give offense”.

I find myself thinking about Frost’s poem often these days. Apart from the fact that many of us may feel we are getting close to “hitting the wall“, there is a sense in which our social distancing is a deliberate attempt to put walls or fences between us. It runs counter to everything we have always been taught: hugs are healthy, conversation is beneficial, especially face-to-face, and we don’t really want to distance ourselves from one another, but find ways to overcome our differences and distances to find common, human ground. That was all true four months ago.

Today, however, that is not the case. We want distance between us and actually it is a sign of love and respect. People who go out in public without a mask are really saying that other people don’t matter. Are masks comfortable and fun to wear? No, of course not! But it is the best way we have right now to keep ourselves and others healthy and virus free. We also have the fence of distance, which may sound like an oxymoron, but again it is the fence that hopefully soon will allow us to spend time together even if not in the close proximity we would like. I heard New York Governor Cuomo state this so eloquently he might just as well have been quoting from the New Testament giving instructions how to love your neighbor as yourself.

The mask, the distance, they both say, I care about my fellow human beings and I respect their desire to keep healthy as much as I care about myself and my own, similar desire. So yes, Frost, you are absolutely right, although no doubt today for very different reasons. Back when you wrote that poem, I think it was much more about a New England belief that maintaining those boundaries meant healthy neighborly relations. In any event, good fences do make good neighbors, so let’s pay attention to that.

And thank you Robert Frost!

Blessings of health-full boundaries to you all, Cynthia

May 7, 2020

How do we keep on God’s path when there is so much fear, anger, mistrust, and the need blame someone for all of it?

In a quote from Nelson Mandela’s book Notes to the Future:

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.  I felt fear more times than I can remember, but I hid it behind a mask of boldness.  The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

Archbishop Tutu said something very similar when he was working on God Has a Dream.  He said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to act despite it.”  The English word courage comes from the French world Coeur, or heart; courage is indeed the triumph of our heart’s love and commitment over our mind’s reasonable murmurings to keep us safe.

Continuing on the French theme, on one of my many walks in the maze of dirt roads, there are plaques on the African American Heritage Trail. I found a new one in front of the Tankard house with a quote by Simone de Beauvoir.

“One’s life has value as long as one attributes value to the lives of others by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion.”

When we live by the Spirit, we’ll find it easier to avoid unnecessary conflict on nonessential matters. Our shared sense of purpose can be greater than our differences.  And with God’s help, each of us can grow in grace and unity as we keep our hearts in tune with Him. (from our Daily Bread May 15th Cindy Hess Kasper)

Blessings,

Palmer Marrin

May 6, 2020

Out of Ashes The Phoenix Rises

I come from a family of fourteen.  As you can imagine, it was quite difficult for my parents to take care of us financially and sometimes, we experienced what I would now call, “electric or oil insecurity”.  Conservation ruled the day and sometimes we experienced laps in service for days or weeks.

During those times, we thought of creative ways to stay encouraged and weather the storm.  Even at a very tender age, I felt the embarrassment of having to conserve or being unable to pay our energy bills.  How we came together as a family in response to our condition, was critical in helping me ride the waves of shame, worry and fear.

Something we did during those times was read together.  We usually started with a prayer, everyone at the kitchen table, by lamp and candlelight.  Covered in blankets.  We read excerpts from the Bible, Austen, Baum, Dickens, Grimm, Zora Hurston, W.E.B. DuBois, Langston Hughes and more.  There were always words we didn’t understand, that are no longer part of modern conversation so, we often had a dictionary or two, a thesaurus and a book of word origins within reach.

So, why am I sharing my family’s experience?  There are a couple of reasons.  In many ways, all of us are experiencing some form of “insecurity”.  It may be food, financial, relationship, housing or, ”I can’t do what I want”. We aren’t unable to go about our lives in familiar ways.  Some of us have to move through the emotional roller coaster of having to ask for help.  I want you to know, during our times of insecurity, it happened more than once, being together as a family, reading a book or poem, over hot chocolate, tea or lemonade is one of my most treasured memories of family life.  In our forced togetherness, I learned to love words, my family, and developed resiliency.  Even my Father, clearly showing the signs of worry, relaxed during our family gathering.  For a few hours, we let go of stress, received hugs and kisses from each other and went to bed enriched from being together and learning something new.  Perhaps, those of you who are quarantining in groups or use tech to connect, may want to read a book together….share an event that is greater than the condition we’re in.  If you do don’t forget, the hugs and comforting beverage, virtual or in person, are an important part of the experience.

The second reason I’m sharing, I was reading a psalm and came across the word lovingkindness.  I’ve read the word many times before but this time I remembered my Great Aunt thanking my Mother for her lovingkindness.  I realized, I didn’t know what it “truly” meant so, I googled.  This is what I learned.  Lovingkindness appears over 300 times from Genesis to Revelation.  It’s Hebraic meaning is to incline or humble oneself.  The English and American understanding of the word is to invoke God’s love and couple it with acts of goodness, kindness.

So, is there someone in your life, a family member, friend, perhaps someone who’s experiencing “insecurity” who needs a little lovingkindness?  Remember, we are all in this together.

Peace and Blessings, Andrea Bolling

May 5, 2020

I was feeling lost about what I could offer as a meditation but in my search, I came across this suggestion. It intrigues me so I am putting it out to you with the hopes that we may have an opportunity for greater self-understanding.

Examen – Each evening, take time to engage in the practice of the Examen to help listen to your inner self and to learn to recognize or discern emotional movements within you. In this recognition, your concern is not with the good or bad actions or feelings – rather your concern is how the Holy Spirit is moving you deep within. We become more discerning when we listen to what seems right and brings us inner peace. The Examen can help us to be more open to our life experiences and be more aware of where we feel consolation and desolation in our lives. The use of Examen becomes a way of listening to God and for recognizing and responding to the Holy Spirit. The Examen is a lingering over two questions like the following:

For what moment today are we most grateful?

For what moment today are we least grateful? or

When did I give and receive the most love today?

When did I give and receive the least love today? or

When today did I have the greatest sense of belonging to myself, others, God and the universe?

When did I have the least sense of belonging? Or

When was I happiest today?

When was I saddest today? Or

What was today’s high point?

What was today’s low point?

If you wish to record the responses to these questions, review them periodically to notice patterns, reflections and opportunities for growth.

 Gratefully, Mardi Moran

May 4, 2020

Dear brothers and sisters in faith,

One of our beloved parishioners, Pamela Craven, wrote in that she’s really enjoying our daily meditations, and thought she’d share something she recently she found meaningful.  When she was participating in a virtual live Metropolitan Opera Gala a week or so ago, one of her favorite singers, the Welsh baritone Bryn Tyrfel, chose to sing the following piece, “If I Can Help Somebody,” instead of an aria.  The lyrics are below; you can also listen to the music by clicking on the following link:

Thank you, Pamela! 

If I can help somebody, as I pass along
If I can cheer somebody, with a word or song
If I can show somebody, that he’s travelling wrong
Then my living shall not be in vain

Chorus:
My living shall not be in vain
Then my living shall not be in vain
If I can help somebody, as I pass along
Then my living shall not be in vain

If I can do my duty, as a good man ought
If I can bring back beauty, to a world up wrought
If I can spread love’s message, as the Master taught
Then my living shall not be in vain

May God keep you in health, and peace, and fill you with Easter wonder and joy…

Father Chip+

May 1, 2020

“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

Romans 8: 35; 37-39

These words of Paul to the young church in Rome, I would consider among those that take on new meaning during this COVID-19 pandemic. For myself, I think I can safely say that whenever I read them before, they struck me as a wonderful affirmation in times of personal trial. Today however, they take on an added depth of meeting, and I must admit whatever translation this is that came up on Bible Gateway, I like the slightly different words from the ones I am accustomed to. Does it mean God no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, persecution or even destitution? No, nothing can ever separate us from God‘s love. Not even the threat of death, our fears for today or our worries about tomorrow.

Powerful words when we seem to be besieged on all sides with fear, worry, hunger, calamity, and even death. If Paul could reaffirm the small, struggling church in Rome where they faced persecution, then how can his words not reaffirm us! Indeed, nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Thanks be to God!

Cynthia Hubbard

April 30, 2020

So, what drew me to St. Andrew’s?

I can’t say the lovely building didn’t sway me, given its warm and cozy atmosphere. Imploring me to belong to something special, as I am a very visual person.  But Father Chip sealed the deal with his infectious enthusiasm and his ability to follow through on tasks he was so passionate about. Then of course there were the parishioners of whom only a few I knew, but wow, what a journey.

As I have gotten to know more and more of the parish, I realize what a deep spiritually rich community we have. Each person in their own quiet way adding to our community of St. Andrew’s.

Perhaps during this pandemic, we are all acutely aware of small things that actually matter.

Belonging, listening, in a non-judgmental way, letting go of those things we have no control over.

Being the people God wants us to be.

So, I must end with my favorite blessing.

Life is short, and we have little time to gladden the hearts of those who travel the way with us. So, be swift to love, make haste to be kind and the blessing of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit be with you now and always. Amen.

Most gratefully,

Palmer Marrin

April 29, 2020

THE CLOUD

I’ve been thinking about what I miss most about Sunday Service in our physical church.  Our instruction to “Keep the Peace” and the benediction to go forth and “Walk In Christ” are the  two aspects of our liturgical experience that I miss.  When I’m asked to keep the peace, I feel very adult-like…I believe God is entrusting me to live in a very specific state of grace.  Every time Father Chip or Cynthia encourages us to go forth and “Walk in Christ”, I feel a little giddy,….a little joyous, like I’ve been given permission to enter “The Cloud” to know God.  To walk in love, compassion, true knowledge and possibility.

Since COVID 19, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect, ask myself….In this contained environment, how can I “walk in Christ”….live heaven on earth?  I’m now realizing most of keeping the peace and walking in Christ for me has been centered around my interactions with the outside.  How I engaged and thought of people or places I physically came in contact with.  I’d leave church in my “cloud cover” excited about what I was seeing.  What I’m now aware of is I didn’t extend “the cloud”, or my field of care and concern, to myself, my current condition.   Now that I realize I truly NEED Christ’s embrace, I am feeling more worthy of God’s love.  I’m surrendering to spirit.  The result, more recently I’ve been experiencing waves of gratitude for unexpected support.  Support I may have overlooked in the past.  I’m being more honest and open about my feelings.  I’m allowing myself to know vulnerability not in a disabling way, but in a way that’s creating an opportunity to heal.  For the moment, my walk with Christ has a more internal dimension than I allowed it to have before.  And you know what?   “The cloud” is here.  In this very humble home, in the spirit of this being, Andrea.   Where I am God is.  Thank you God.

Peace be with you.  Andrea Bolling

April 28, 2020

Dear God,

Please help us as we attempt to navigate this new reality where fear and frustration seem to rule the day. We live in a world that feels upside down, through a land of uncertain outcomes. We all want the same things; we want our loved ones and us to be well, physically and emotionally, and we desire financial stability. Yet somehow, we have become so divided that we cannot work together for that common good. Please God, help us to be united in this effort.

Help us to put aside past anger and to access your love so that we can care for each other, learn from this terrible lesson and recall the gifts that you make available. We may have forgotten them because of our scurrying after those things that do not bring us joy and peace. Take judgment from us and replace it with empathy. Help us to live in your truth, not the truth we prefer. You show yourself magnificently when we are able to give to each other and exchange your love.

Help us to revel in birds’ song, the beauty of our earth, the majesty of our oceans, the bursting buds that surround us, the glory of a sunset, the satisfaction of a good meal, the ability to make good decisions, the concern of a friend, the touch of a loved one, always remembering it is your gracious love that makes it all possible.

We know that you are with us but we forget when fear overtakes us. Fill us, God, with faith, hope and charity so that anxiety and boredom no longer command the day.

“Take me, O take me as I am; summon out what I shall be; set your seal upon my heart and live in me.” Lyrics by John Bell

Amen

Mardi Moran

April 27, 2020

In these days, I pray.  I pray for the little boys and girls just finding their way, wondering if this is what life’s all about, and for their mommies and daddies, who may be wondering that, too.  I pray for our earth, the soil, the substrate of our life.

For everyone, everywhere: Those who are sick and dying, those who have jobs but can’t do them, those who are hungry, those who are afraid.  All around the world.

Sometimes it almost seems to be too much to bear, even for those, like me, who are so privileged, so fortunate, so blessed.  Can a heart be so full it bursts?

In a way, it seems we need to be open and ready to be there for everyone, and really, in a different way than we thought we were, before.  More like an open mind and a broken heart which can bleed for everyone, wherever they are, whatever they may need.  Almost like a nerve ending, but with a heart and a mind.  An attuned spirit.  Only when the focus is on others can the undercurrent of anxiety be calmed.  A proper balance struck.  Glimpses of the holy and heaven.

After slogging day after day with longing in my heart, I read the last line in a poem that reminds me of what I perhaps long for most, in these days:

“Grant, Eternal Love, that we emerge from this time of crisis a more loving people who are committed to the welfare of all and the earth that sustains us.” *

And I remember in this season of resurrection amid the despair and loss, that it is this longing which, from the very beginning, has pulled me, thrilled me, and captured me.

The means to pick ourselves, and each other, up, in order to get there, has been given to us.

This great hope is indeed our very destiny.

And our lives will indeed, like Christ’s, be crying joy.

*from “A Prayer for Our Time,” the Rev. Frederick J. Streets, in Reflections, Yale Divinity School magazine of theological and ethical inquiry, Spring 2020, p. 7.

Fondly and faithfully,

Chip+”

April 24, 2020

Fear, by Khalil Gibran 

It is said that before entering the sea
a river trembles with fear.

She looks back at the path she has traveled,
from the peaks of the mountains,
the long winding road crossing forests and villages.

And in front of her,
she sees an ocean so vast,
that to enter
there seems nothing more than to disappear forever.

But there is no other way.
The river can not go back.

Nobody can go back.
To go back is impossible in existence.

The river needs to take the risk
of entering the ocean
because only then will fear disappear,
because that’s where the river will know
it’s not about disappearing into the ocean, but of becoming the ocean.

I came across this poem in a reflection by the Rev. Cameron Trimble. As we now begin to at least think about an emergence of a new post pandemic world, it seems a good reminder, in Rev. Trimble’s words, “we (now) have the chance to ponder together, ‘what kind of world do we wish to see on the other side of resurrection?’ I hope our newly resurrected world holds one deep truth at its core: We are all in this together.”

Blessings and peace, Cynthia

April 23, 2020

As I read from many sources, it is often hard to find the right passage or inspiration for these strange and uncertain times.

In reading, Our Daily Bread, the May 4th passage seemed to jump out to me.

God’s ultimate desire and purpose was-and is-to make all things right. Even when the people were taken into exile, God promised to one day bring a remnant back to Jerusalem and “repair its broken walls and restore its ruins” (Amos 9:11)

Even when life is at its darkest, like Israel, we can find comfort in knowing God is at work to bring light and hope back-to all people (ACTS 15:14-18).

In a recent talk, for supporting families, by Laurie Brooks, this is what she posted on her refrigerator.

DAILY QUARANTINE QUESTIONS:

  1. What am I GRATEFUL for today?
  2. Who am I CHECKING IN ON or CONNECTING WITH today?
  3. What expectations of “normal” am I LETTING GO OF today?
  4. How am I GETTING OUTSIDE today?
  5. How am I MOVING MY BODY today?
  6. What BEAUTY am I either creating, cultivating, or inviting in today?

Always grateful,

Palmer Marrin

April 22, 2020

In a recent contemplation from our devotional, Forward Day By Day, a writer describes her journey with Christ as a journey of reconciliation.  The love, grace and compassion she experiences in her walk with Christ helps her take responsibility for her shadows and gives her strength to carry her cross.  She uses the image of a hammer to describe her newly found ability to “pull herself up” and “anchor” when needed.  At the end of the contemplation, the writer asks, “Which end of the hammer do you use most often? How will you practice becoming more proficient with the other end?”

Wow, I thought: Isn’t proficiency in anchoring and letting go what we’re being called to do during this very crucial time in our lives?  Skill with the flat end, or nose of a hammer, allows us to know when to seek refuge in Christ and the Holy Spirit.  When to take care of ourselves, reach out to loved ones, first responders, church and community responsibly.  It anchors us in the knowledge that God will direct us.  The other side of the hammer, the claw, allows us to unhook, frees us from hopelessness.  How important it is to know when to let go.  Every time we “shake it off” and refuse to succumb to thoughts, feelings, conditions that diminish our connection with Spirit, we’re using the claw to extricate ourselves.

Last week, I shared my faith was deepened by my experience in Lent and Holy Week.  I now feel more “anchored in God” and can “let go” of some of my worry and pain.  Like the author of the contemplation, I too am on a journey and know, through faith I am developing skills to help me weather this storm, and prepare me for what’s next.  (By the way, in my meditation last week, I mentioned I hadn’t heard from my sister in several weeks.  I didn’t say it but, my fear was she may have contracted the virus.  Since then she’s been in contact – she’s having difficulty, but said she will stay in touch.  A prayer answered!)

Whatever image/metaphor best supports you, riding a wave, navigating a channel, surfing the web or using a spiritual hammer, may you be blessed with true proficiency, spiritual discernment and mastery.

Peace and Love,

Andrea Bolling

April 21, 2020

A suggestion for your prayer time:

Let God know five things that make you grateful to him.

I am grateful for the gift of laughter.

CHILDREN’S ANSWERS TO CHURCH SCHOOL QUESTIONS – from the Church of England

Noah’s wife was called Joan of Arc of Wolsey that he made him a cardigan

The fifth commandment is “Humour thy father and mother”

Lot’s wife was a pillar of salt by day and a ball of fire by night.

Salome was a woman who danced naked in front of Harrod’s.

Holy acrimony is another name for matrimony.

The pope lives in a vacuum.

The patron saint of travelers is Francis of the sea sick.

Abraham begat Isaac and Isaac begat Jacob and Jacob begot twelve partridges.

The natives of Macedonia did not believe, so Paul got stoned.

The first commandment was when Eve told Adam to eat the apple.

It is sometimes difficult to hear what is being said in church because the agnostics are so terrible.

The epistles were the wives of the apostles.

St Paul cavorted to Christianity.

Smiles and blessings,

Mardi Moran

April 20, 2020

A Reflection from Father Chip:

Dear brothers and sisters in faith,

One of the great joys about being in my role as your servant and rector, is receiving from you all sorts of things to read and think about, which you have found inspiring, insightful, and meaningful.  Last week, I shared with you an outstanding piece of a cappela music, the hymn, “It is Well With My Soul,” performed by some mighty fine singers in Nashville, which blew me away—and I received so many positive responses from you.

Since then, I received this translation of the Lord’s Prayer, in the dialect of Hebrew Jesus would have used, from another of our beloved parish family members, Jo-Ann Taylor, which I think is also wonderful and thought-provoking.  I invite you to take a few moments now, or soon, to take a few deep breaths, and say it out loud, slowly, and then go back and think about how it differs from the way we usually recite it.

Our God is a great god, and a great King above all gods…

In his hand are the caverns of the earth,

And the heights of the hills are his also…

May you find holy peace and Easter joys this day and always.

Father Chip+

THE LORDS PRAYER FROM ORIGINAL ARAMAIC

(Martin Trench)

Beloved Father, who fills all realms

May You be honoured in me.

Let your divine rule come now

Let Your will come true in all the universe,

in the heavens, and on earth.

Give us all that we need for each day, and

Untangle the knots of unforgiveness that bind us within,

As we also let go of the guilt of others

Let us not be lost in superficial things,

But let us be free from that what keeps us from our true purpose

From You comes all rule, the strength to act, and the song that beautifies

all

From Age to Age.

Amen.

April 17, 2020

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.  What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:1-5)

One of the things that I have particularly noticed during this COVID-19 time is how many biblical verses strike me in an all together new way. Many verses that I completely took for granted in one sense now take on an all together new meaning. One example I think are these very well-known words from the beginning of the gospel of John. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it. We certainly do feel as if we are living through a time of darkness right now. Whatever that darkness may be for you at the moment—loneliness, anxiety, fear, doubt, food uncertainty, depression — we have to remember that the light does indeed shine in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. So often I have associated these words from John with incarnation, Jesus coming into the world as the God made flesh dwelling among us, Emmanuel. Living into these 50 days of Easter, this particular year, I wonder if perhaps these words speak just as much, if not more, to resurrected life and light. I am always impressed and filled with joy by the many examples I see and hear about of people going above and beyond to help other people during this difficult time. These are flickers of light and life and I hope they will continue to grow so that when we return to “normal”, whatever normal may be,  these examples of light and life will take center stage and make the entire world a more life and light- filled place for people to live, especially those who up until now have largely been on the margins or have been falling through the cracks.

Let us all be bearers of light and life to one another during this Easter season and beyond.

Cynthia

April 16, 2020

“There is a saying in Tibetan,

‘Tragedy should be utilized as

a source of strength.’

No matter what sort of

difficulties, how painful experience is,

if we lose our hope,

that is our real disaster.”

-The Dalai Lama-

As we all come out of our Lenten reflections

to celebrate Easter, it gives us all hope.

Stay strong, stay safe, and keep your faith.

Blessings,

Palmer Marrin

April 15, 2020

SCRIPTURE

In nothing be anxious: but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be known by God.  And the peace of god, which passes all understanding, shall lead your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Phil; 4:6-7

PEOPLE: Father, may we have permission to cry?

GOD: Permission given, out of darkness comes the light.

Dutifully I participated in every internet service during holy Week.  I journaled, read scripture, meditations from Forward Day by Day and Our daily Bread.  I was determined, this virus and isolation was not going to get the BEST of me!

Easter Sunday I walked on the beach smiling underneath my mask, you know the kind of smile we force when we think we should be happy and we’re not.  Inside I was sad, a lingering melancholy I couldn’t shake.  I scanned my mind and body, asked spirit to reveal what was wrong.  Was it the church bells? Where are the sounds that let us know we can rejoice.  As I was walking, I found myself worrying about what I was going to write for Wednesday’s meditation.  Feeling like a fraud, I thought of asking Father Chip or Palmer to stand in for me this week.  I wasn’t feeling inspired, I was sad, grieving.  It took awhile but I realized the sense of loss was not my usual Holy Week experience, I always get teary when I revisit Christ’s betrayal and crucifixion. This time, I’m feeling the loss of family members, friends some of whom transitioned decades ago.  In addition to loss I feel fear, I….. and other family members haven’t heard from one of my sister’s in over 2 weeks. Not unheard of before COVID but, unsettling during a pandemic.  How could I lay this state of being on St. Andrew’s?

It’s Monday, I listened to the hymn Father Chip sent, “It is Well With My Soul”.  I listened, and allowed myself to cry…allowed myself to feel, let myself breath.  I have permission to cry.  I don’t have to pretend that I don’t worry about my sister or that the death toll from this virus is overwhelming and is dovetailing with every loss I’ve experienced in my lifetime.

A few hours ago, mask and gloves on, I went to the OB Post Office for packages and started listening to the music from the radio in the background.  “More Than A Feeling” by Boston was playing.  I smiled, this time for real.  I swayed to the music with true joy…gratitude.  Although the song is about a spiritual relationship between a man and woman, my association with “More Than A Feeling” is with Christ.  At first I thought it was the love I feel for Christ, Our Redeemer and Way Shower, but now, I think it’s faith in an enlightened path, the Christos,.…in God.  Today, I can honestly say, Happy Easter!  I can exhale, in addition to love, I have faith.  I pray that it sustains me.

Thank you Father Chip for loving us…providing music to heal the soul.  Thank you OB Post Office for sharing your radio and allowing me to hear the right song at the right time.  Thank you St. Andrew’s for allowing me to share a story from my life.  I invite you to click the link below, and dance, in celebration of faith.  In celebration of life.   Andrea Bolling

April 14, 2020

It would be easier to pray if I were clear

Author unknown

O Eternal One,

It would be easier for me if I were clear

and of a single mind and a pure heart;

if I could be done hiding from myself and from you,

even in my prayers.

But, I am who I am,

mixture of motive and excuses, blur of memories,

quiver of hopes, knot of fear, tangle of confusion,

and restless with love, for Love.

I wander somewhere between gratitude and grievance,

wonder and routine, high resolve and undone dreams,

generous impulses and unpaid bills.

Come find me, Lord.

Be with me exactly as I am.

Make of me small enough to snuggle,

young enough to question, simple enough to giggle,

old enough to forget, foolish enough to act for peace,

skeptical enough to doubt the sufficiency of anything but you,

and attentive enough to listen as You call me out of the tomb of my timidity

into the chancy glory of my possibilities and the power of your Presence.

This seemed so appropriate as we struggle with so many different feelings.

Mardi Moran

April 13, 2020

My dear family and friends in Christ,

One of our parishioners, Betsey Hughes, sent a link to this fantastic hymn, “It is Well With My Soul,” for me to listen to.

What a great gift!  It was so wonderful, it almost brought me to tears.

I wholeheartedly recommend you take five minutes, and click on the link below, to hear what she sent, an Easter gift I’d like to give every one of you.

Our Lord is a great god, and a great King above all gods!

May your Easter season be filled with joy and more brightly rekindle your soul in the light of the resurrection.

In His Name,

Father Chip+

PS:  I always thank God for you…

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul

It is well
With my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul

It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, o my soul

It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul

It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul

“It Is Well With My Soul” is a hymn penned by hymnist Horatio Spafford and composed by Philip Bliss.

April 10, 2020

Today we mark what is considered one of the holiest days of the Christian year. We call it Good Friday, but from all outward appearances, it is anything but good. For Jesus it was a day filled with anguish, torture and passion. A 24-hour day of doubt, fear, pain and sorrow, for himself and certainly for the world. When we look at the suffering Jesus endured on Good Friday, we often try to justify it by saying that Jesus went through all this suffering for us, or simply, Jesus died for our sins. Personally, I’ve always had a bit of a hard time with that thinking, although I don’t begrudge anyone who may have been taught to feel this way. I was as well.

Over the years however, I have come to see Good Friday more in terms of what God, in human form in the person of Jesus, did with us. If Jesus is really Emmanuel, or God with us, then it is God who is suffering on the cross. A God who is willing to suffer WITH us, not so much FOR us. When God took on human form, he experienced the fullness of the human experience: suffering, anguish, passion, doubt, fear and even death. That means that nothing life throws at us, even a once in several centuries life-changing, earth uprooting pandemic, there is nothing that God has not experienced already.  Wow! What kind of awesome God is that! One who knows our suffering and is willing to suffer with us whatever may befall. I hope you are able to take a few minutes on this Good Friday and reflect on how the suffering of God impacts your life, right now. Hopefully it will bring some comfort and peace in the midst of all the anguish.

Remember that we are all in this boat together, and God is at the helm, no matter what.

Cynthia Hubbard

April 9, 2020

During our first pillar groups I read a book by Brene Brown, called “Braving the Wilderness”

Here are a few lines I find meaningful at the moment.

“Across the years, the men and women who could most fully lean in to joy were those who practiced gratitude.”

“The wilderness is where all the creatives and prophets and system-buckers and risk-takers have always lived, and it is stunningly vibrant. The walk out there is hard, but the authenticity out there is life.”

” Social interaction makes us live longer, healthier lives. By a lot.”

So as I find myself in the wilderness with time to reflect. I read, practice gratitude  for all the small things, and write, call, facetime or Zoom to stay connected.

With gratitude,

Palmer Marrin

April 8, 2020

Every morning I read a prayer for ministration to the sick from the Book of Common Prayer.  Chronic pain has plagued me for longer than I care to remember.

In this, our new age I realize it’s not just our physical maladies, pain, viruses etc.; but the heartache of separation, media overload, and the anxiety that’s present in most of our social discourse.

Reciting the morning prayer is not only helping me prepare my body physically for another day…it’s helping me align to Christ in attitude and spirit.  I’ve taken some liberties, changing some of the words in the prayer to bring it “closer to home”, I hope you don’t mind, but you also find strength and solace in this gentle prayer.

BCP pg. 461

This is another day, O Lord.  I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be.  If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely.  If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly.  If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently. And if I am to do nothing, let me do it with grace.  Make these words more than words, and give me the spirit of Christ.  Amen

May you know Christ this day in body, mind and spirit.

Until next week, Andrea Bolling

April 7, 2020

North Country

By Mary Oliver

In the north country now it is spring and there

is a certain celebration. The thrush

has come home. He is shy and likes the

evening best, also the hour just before

morning; in that blue and gritty light he

climbs to his branch, or smoothly

sails there. It is okay to know only

one song if it is this one. Hear it

rise and fall; the very elements of your soul

shiver nicely. What would spring be

without it? Mostly frogs. But don’t worry, he

arrives, year after year, humble and obedient

and gorgeous. You listen and you know

you could live a better life than you do, be

softer, kinder. And maybe this year you will

be able to do it. Hear how his voice

rises and falls. There is no way to be

sufficiently grateful for the gifts we are

given, no way to speak the Lord’s name

often enough, though we try, and

especially now, as that dappled breast

breathes in the pines and heaven’s

windows in the north country, now spring has come,

are opened wide.

Faithfully submitted, Mardi Moran

April 6, 2020

A Holy Week Reflection

Each year when Palm Sunday comes, marking the beginning of the most holy season in our Christian calendar, I remember that I must, in some way, walk the walk that Jesus did on his way to the cross, in order to fully realize, and feel, the joy that inevitably comes to me on Easter Day.  It’s not about pain for pain’s sake, but something much bigger.

It’s all about remembering

who I am,

what I am,

who we all are as a people…

And who God is,

and what God is doing.

Love began all this, and love always sees us through.

Always there is a morning again, and always there is new life that comes out of death.

Nothing can stop love.

Nothing.

Father Chip+

April 3, 2020

April 2, 2020

As we all struggle through these strange times I came across a passage in “Our Daily Bread” from Ecclesiastes 5:10

Whoever loves wealth is never satisfied.

This virus we are all experiencing is a great leveler. It doesn’t matter how much money you have or who you know.

People who are mindful of themselves and others seem to do better.

Small acts of kindness are what brings us all together.

Praying and believing that God is Love, levels the playing field.

Let us all remember that we are all God’s children.

Be kind and safe,

Palmer Marrin

April 1, 2020

Desiderata

GO PLACIDLY amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

By Max Ehrmann © 1927

The common myth is that the Desiderata poem was found in a Baltimore church in 1692 and is centuries old, of unknown origin. Desiderata was in fact written around 1920 (although some say as early as 1906), and certainly copyrighted in 1927, by lawyer Max Ehrmann (1872-1945) based in Terre Haute, Indiana.

These words never fail to calm me.

With love and faith, Heather Anne Slayton

March 31, 2020

Creation Walk

Take time in your day or in your week to walk outside for an intentional walk in creation. Notice one small thing (a branch on a tree, a bird in a bush, a cloud in the sky). The world is truly a lofty beautiful place, with God in every crack and crevice; if we pay attention, we can fall into a still, humble and prayerful space. This is a practice of going out into the world and savoring everything that comes across our path, opening our senses to what is, taking a walk in the cathedral of the world.

90 Days of Spiritual Practices

Mardi Moran

March 30, 2020

Like many of the Great Challenges that our country faces from time to time, our struggles to ward off and eventually defeat the novel coronavirus has been termed a ‘War Effort.’  Certainly, this is a battle, and a life and death struggle for us—and many will die as a result of the disease of the unseen enemy. If we are fortunate, we may avoid the illness, along with those close to us.  Yet I’m sure we will all need to grieve, in some way.

I’ve been reading the small booklet of Lenten Meditations published by Episcopal Relief and Development, which, this year, focuses on the “spiritual lives of children and how children inspire the spiritual lives of adults.”  One entry, for March 16, comes under a heading that is a line from our baptismal liturgy, indeed, from our “Baptismal Covenant,” in which we promise to God and to each other that we will “proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ.”  Sarah Irwin, a priest and young mother, wrote of driving her three-year old son to preschool each day, having to pass by a war memorial that boasted a very large cannon.  “What is it?  the boy asked.  “Does it still shoot cannonballs?  Is it dangerous?”  And then finally, one day, he asked, “Do wars still happen?”

Imagine.  Being young enough to still be able to ask that question, trusting enough that there is still hope that such things as military wars no longer exist.  And yet old enough to think they still might.

If the season of Lent reminds us all of one thing, it’s that we are not God, and that inevitably, we will indeed die, and return home to be with God.  But that is far from the end of the story, and those of us who’ve been careful and attentive enough in our focus, listening to the persistent stirring of our hearts, know that God always brings life out of death.   The fact that a three-year old knows the moral outrage of war—for whatever reason—should be reason enough for all of us to know how we are called to live in God’s world, THIS world.  And indeed, give us hope.

The good news, of course, is that we’ve been given the means for our salvation.  The victory has already been won.

Chip+

Friday, March 27, 2020

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.

And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has become clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live. 

Poem called Pandemic*

by Lynn Ungar as shared by our Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry

Thursday, March, 26, 2020

I have been doing a lot of Lenten reading and have found so many wonderful inspirational thoughts.

This reading from Galatians 5:26 was a favorite.

“We will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.”

I found it while reading a book from Melanie Shankle, “Every Day Holy”, Finding a Big God in the Little Moments

I also want to share one of my favorite blessings from our previous minister in Litchfield, CT.

“Life is short, and we have little time to gladden the hearts of those who travel the way with us. So, be swift to love, make haste to be kind, and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you always, Amen.”

Gratefully,

Palmer Marrin

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Every morning I read a prayer for ministration to the sick from the Book of Common Prayer.  Chronic pain has plagued me for longer than I care to remember.

In this, our new age I realize it’s not just our physical maladies, pain, viruses etc.; but the heartache of separation, media overload, and the anxiety that’s present in most of our social discourse.

Reciting the morning prayer is not only helping me prepare my body physically for another day…it’s helping me align to Christ in attitude and spirit.  I’ve taken some liberties, changing some of the words in the prayer to bring it “closer to home”, I hope you don’t mind, but you also find strength and solace in this gentle prayer.

BCP pg. 461

This is another day, O Lord.  I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be.  If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely.  If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly.  If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently. And if I am to do nothing, let me do it with grace.  Make these words more than words, and give me the spirit of Christ.  Amen

May you know Christ this day in body, mind and spirit.

Until next week, Andrea Bolling

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

At this time when we feel so fearful and vulnerable, it seems like an important time to reach out to God for help and hope. We trust that by sharing our concepts of God and how we best connect with him, we can help each other through this crisis. We invite your participation by letting us know your thoughts and experiences which may help us learn a richer spiritual life. Write, email, text. We would appreciate your help.

I was received into the Episcopal Church because I heard the overwhelming message that God is loving and not the judge that I had grown up to fear. I wanted to be a part of that culture. The Book of Common prayer was so beautifully written and the prayers held words that I felt but couldn’t formulate. It has been a rewarding experience.

While reading the Bible with a small group, I came across a passage that has become my favorite. It occurs just after God confronts Adam and Eve. They have acted with free will, but by eating that apple, have probably made the most consequential decision by introducing evil into the world.

God makes his judgment. One can only imagine what he felt, from disappointment to fury. Yet his next thought seems to be one where he wants to help make the transition somewhat easier.

It is Genesis Chapter3, verse 21:

For the man and his wife, the Lord God made leather garments, with which he clothed them.

Adam and Eve had covered themselves with fig leaves, clearly unsuitable. While God can foresee the terrible consequences of their actions, he shows love and compassion to them by making substantial clothing to make their lives somewhat easier.

My take away lesson is that while God will hold us accountable for our actions, the overriding principle is that he loves us enough to forgive our transgressions and to help us overcome obstacles we confront. Even when we really mess up, God is there for us.

I pray that God will show his abundant love to all of us in a manner that individually, we can absorb and fully experience.

Blessings,

Mardi Moran *

A Meditation from the Rector: Our Work as Church

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be offering short excerpts (and some personal thoughts) from Bishop Steven Charleston’s 2014 book, “Good News: A Scriptural Path to Reconciliation.” I believe, as do some other parishioners working together as part of a “Reconciliation Team,” that there are some important insights in this book that might benefit all of us as we go about working to remain united as a community of faith, Christ’s body in this world, as well as suggesting ways we may choose to be healers and unifiers in—and perhaps even of—society.

Continuing from the Introduction:

“The love Jesus calls us to has nothing to do with a right of judgment on our part. He tells us point blank: judge not. As the Lord, Jesus reserves judgment to God. God alone will weigh our sins and decide who among us has sinned more grievously than another. Since we are all in that same boat together, it is hypocritical for us to withdraw from another. In fact, it is contrary to the command of Jesus who told us to love one another as he loved us. And Jesus loved us all without ever putting us in a pecking order of sin.

“In the end, Jesus is clear that God values love over rightness, compassion over judgment. This leads us with the fundamental question: how do we love one another as Jesus loved us when we disagree? We follow his example. We imitate Christ.”

[My questions for you today: Do you agree with Charleston that it is hypocritical for us to withdraw from one another when we disagree? That it is contrary to Jesus’ command that we love one another as he loved us?]

May we all share the in the great joys of our common Resurrection life,

Father Chip+

A Meditation from the Rector: Our Work as Church

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be offering short excerpts (and some personal thoughts) from Bishop Steven Charleston’s 2014 book, “Good News: A Scriptural Path to Reconciliation.” I believe, as do some other parishioners working together as part of a “Reconciliation Team,” that there are some important insights in this book that might benefit all of us as we go about working to remain united as a community of faith, Christ’s body in this world, as well as suggesting ways we may choose to be healers and unifiers in—and perhaps even of—society.

Continuing from the Introduction:

“One of the shorthand phrases that is often popular when Christians disagree about human behavior is ‘hate the sin, love the sinner.’ While on the surface, this phrase seems like a charitable expression, it masks a deeper, implied judgment. The phrase begins on the assumption that we can judge what is sinful. In that way, it gives us the right to judge others and still claim to love them.

“But isn’t sin real? Don’t we believe that some human behaviors are sinful and contrary to the will of God?

“Absolutely. In fact, people engage in behaviors that are sins. Some seem very clear to us (lying, cheating, murdering) while others are contentious among us (abortion, homosexuality, ‘just war’). The fracture lines in communities of faith begin to form when people either do not agree about whether a particular behavior is sinful, or when they seek to elevate one particular sin as being of special, more sinful, importance.

“Reconciliation does not mean that we stop believing in sin. It says, that we must stop pretending that another person’s sin is different from our own. Reconciliation calls us to stop setting ourselves apart and acting as the judge and jury for sinners.”

[My questions for you today: Charleston writes that “we must stop pretending that another person’s sin is different from our own.” Is it indeed possible to learn to put our differences aside in order to establish, or restore, a meaningful relationship with someone? Is it worth it?]

May we all share the in the great joys of our common Resurrection life,

Father Chip+