Almighty God, our heavenly Father, in whose hands are the living and the dead: We give thee thanks for all thy servants who have laid down their lives in the service of our country. Grant to them thy mercy and the light of thy presence; and give us such a lively sense of thy righteous will, that the work which thou hast begun in them may be perfected; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord. Amen.
The Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut
May 23, 2013
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
We ask you to keep the people and communities of Oklahoma in your thoughts and prayers in the wake of Monday’s devastating tornado. While we thank God that the loss of life was not as great as originally predicted, we hold in our hearts all those whose lives were lost and all whose homes and communities were devastated by the tornado.
We have been in direct communication with Bishop Ed Konieczny of the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma and have assured him of our prayers and the prayers of the Diocese of Connecticut. Bishop Ed is most appreciative of our prayers and words of support.
At this time, those wishing to help the Diocese of Oklahoma are asked to send contributions directly to the diocese at:
The Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma
924 N. Robinson
Oklahoma City, OK 73102
The notation on the checks should state “Tornado relief.”
Episcopal Relief and Development has also provided helpful information on what we can do in the wake of the tornado. See Episcopal Relief and Development’s special “Tornado Response” web page at:
Please share this information on how we can support the people of Oklahoma with the people of the parishes of Connecticut.
As is the case with such disasters, the effects of the tornado will be felt months and even years after the media reports have subsided. We ask that you continue to keep Oklahoma, and sisters and brothers in Christ in the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma, in your ongoing thoughts and prayers as they work to recover from the tornado.
Ian, Laura and Jim
The Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas
The Rt. Rev. Laura J. Ahrens
The Rt. Rev. James E. Curry
Loving God, we urgently seek your protection for those in harm’s way in the Midwest. We know your creative power will bring calming winds and settle the earth. When the chaos of tornadoes shatters homes and takes lives, we know you will be at work in our brothers and sisters who come to their neighbors’ aid, bringing healing and hope.
Living God, eternal Holy Spirit,
let your bright intoxicating energy
which fired those first disciples
fall on us
to turn the world again.
by Mallory McDuff 05-06-2013
Making an ultimatum about church attendance to a sleep-deprived teenager may be my own version of hell on earth.
“We are leaving for church in 10 minutes,” I said, summoning my most authoritative voice before the lifeless lump under the covers.
My seven-year old Annie Sky watched the tense exchange between me and my 14-year old daughter Maya, who made periodic moans from the top bunk. With furrowed brow, my first grader sat on the couch, as if observing a tiebreaker at Wimbledon with no clear victor in sight.
For a moment, I wondered why I had drawn the line in the Sabbath sand, announcing earlier in the week that Maya would have to go to church that Sunday morning after an all-day trip to Dollywood with the middle school band.
Somehow I didn’t want Dolly Parton’s amusement park to sabotage our family time in church. (The logic seemed rational at the time).
When Maya lifted the covers, I glimpsed the circles under her eyes and sunburn on her skin. But I repeated my command, with an undertone of panic, since I wasn’t sure if I could uphold the ultimatum.
When she finally got into the car, I breathed deeply and turned to our family balm, the tonic of 104.3 FM with its top 40 songs that we sing in unison. As the drama settled, I realized one reason why I made my teenager go to church: I want my daughters to know that we can recover from yelling at each other (which we had) and disagreeing. We can move on, and a quiet, sacred space is a good place to start.
In the pew at All Souls Episcopal Church, Maya leaned her head onto my shoulder, either in penitence or fatigue. “You can close your eyes in church,” I whispered. “It looks like you’re praying.”
I made her come to church because I want my daughter to know that sometimes you have to show up, even when you are exhausted.
When I opened the bulletin, I realized that Sunday was the “Senior High Service,” that day when a high school senior from the church gives the sermon. With her long brown hair and sincere gaze, Miranda Nolin walked to the pulpit after the Gospel reading and told us that when she reads the Nicene Creed, our profession of faith, she often doesn’t believe any of the words she says. (Well, she got our attention).
But she repeats the Nicene Creed each week: “Because they are an act of community, a binding tradition, they have value.”
From the pulpit, Miranda assured us that traditions “allow us to have faith, to show up, to be present when we don’t know what to believe. I might be able to write a creed that said, exactly the right words, what I believed in that moment, but it would probably be outdated by the next week. Instead I come to church.”
Baptized and confirmed last year, Miranda shared that she comes to church with her family because she is welcomed as a questioner in a community where no one hesitates to reveal their doubts. She comes because of the community, the Holy Spirit. “Most of you are here, I’d guess, because you believe this component of the human experience is important and because it is something that is hard to access alone,” she said.
By this point in the sermon, I felt tears welling up in my eyes and spilling down my cheeks. I looked across the church and saw other adults wiping tears from their faces. I made Maya come to church because I want her to know that she can question and feel vulnerable and cry – and she doesn’t always have to do that all alone.
In her essay, “Why I make Sam go to church,” Anne Lamott writes: “The main reason is that I want to give him what I found in the world, which is to say a path and a little light to see by.” I want Maya to know that those people working to confront poverty, inequality, and environmental injustice in our church are vulnerable souls, but they are acting for the greater good in spite of their questions. I want her to know that church is not a social club, but she has to take actions to ensure it is a foundation of justice for all.
In this age when the “spiritual but not religious” seem to have more relevance than churchgoers, it’s easy to wonder why church attendance matters at all. But I believe that we need common spaces, more grounded than the corner Starbucks, to discern right actions in a world faced with crises like climate change and stark economic disparities.
Our teenagers and our children must shape these sacred spaces where we can grapple with our questions but act in faith through practices of forgiveness, feeding, hospitality, and care of creation.
As Diana Butler Bass notes, “Right now, the church does not need to convert the world. The world needs to convert the church.”
To that end, after making Maya go to church, I took my daughters to an interfaith creation care vigil that night in downtown Asheville, N.C. (By that point, I had nothing to lose). When we arrived, one of the volunteers gave Maya a basket of candles, which she helped to distribute to the 250 people gathered for the vigil.
That evening, a film crew was documenting the vigil for a Showtime movie, produced by legendary filmmaker James Cameron. As she passed out candles at dusk, the videographers followed Maya with their cameras and asked her, “Do you know why you are here?”
“I’m not really sure,” she said, laughing. “I’m just the candle person.”
I made Maya go to church because we may not know why we are here, but we can pass along a little light to others on the journey. And maybe that’s what we need to create a little heaven on earth.
Mallory McDuff, Ph.D., teaches environmental education at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. She is the author of Sacred Acts: How Churches are Working to Protect Earth’s Climate and Natural Saints.
The Bishops’ Fund for Children annual 5K for Kids is just over a week away on May 18 at Webster Hill Elementary School in West Hartford. One of the Bishops’ Fund’s annual fundraisers, the day consists of a run/walk 5K and children’s field day. This all ages fun road race benefits local children in need, so consider helping by walking, running, pledging or volunteering.
Good News! If you are 65+, join our “caravan” on Tuesday, May 14, leaving around 11am from the church parking lot to the DEEP office in Harwinton where you can get a free parking pass for all Connecticut state parks, including Black Rock in Thomaston where St. Michael’s June 1st picnic will be held. No charge; you need only show proof-of-birth such as a driver’s license.
1.) New Cosmology: An Introduction – Presented by Sr. Rosemarie Greco, DW, Saturday, June 1, 10:30 AM to noon. This month’s topic will be, “The New Cosmology: The Evolving Universe and our New Consciousness.” Introduction, video of “The Journey of the Universe” and discussion. Donation: $10. For more information call Wisdom House at: (860) 567-3163 or email: email@example.com or visit: www.wisdomhouse.org/program/calendar.html.
2.) Letter By Letter and the Spaces Between – Presented by Davyne Verstandig. Saturday, June 1, 9:30 – 3:00 PM. All writing begins with a letter on a page. If you are interested in having a writing life this is the workshop for you. Bring an open mind and a playful spirit. Fee: $40 (includes lunch) Bring a friend for $25 payable at registration. For more information call Wisdom House at: (860) 567-3163, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit: www.wisdomhouse.org/program/calendar/html.
3.) Ecology and Spirituality Program – Saturday, June 1 2:00-3:00 PM
The care of the earth and its inhabitants calls for a responsible stewardship. What affects our world affects our spirit. The decline of the bee population will be the focus of this program. Donation can be given at the door. For more information call Wisdom House at: (860) 567-3163, email: email@example.com or visit: www.wisdomhouse.org/program/calendar.html
4.) Requiem For Being: Installation by Cate Bourke. Marie Louise Trichet Art Gallery. Taking bee colony collapse as a point of departure, this exhibit will be a meditation on otherness, ambivalence and disconnectedness. Opening including reception: Saturday, June 1, 3:00-5:00 PM. For more information call Wisdom House at: 860-567-3163, email www.wisdomhouse.org or visit: www.wisdomhouse.org/program/calendar.html.
4.) Labyrinth Walks – Tuesday, June 11 and 18, 9:00-10:30 AM. Introduction, video, labyrinth walk and reflection time. Donation: $5. For more information call Wisdom House at: (860)567-3163, email, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit: www.wisdomhouse.org/program/calendar/html
5.) The Beguines: Creative Religious Women in a Time of Ferment – Presented by Elizabeth Dreyer, PhD. Saturday, June 22, 9:30 AM – 3 PM. Learn about the beguines, female members of a medieval lay movement, which broke new ground in experimenting with the elements of religious life. Could this be the “new-old” wisdom for today? Fee: $40 (includes lunch). Bring a friend for $25 payable at registration. For more information call Wisdom House at: (860) 567-3163, email: email@example.com or visit: www.wisdomhouse.org/program.calendar/html.
I was so moved by the story of the cross you lost, and found again after seventeen years. Now I have a story to share with you.
About fifteen years ago, I was gardening one August Sunday afternoon, and was very hot, dirty, and sweaty. Stupidly, when I changed into gardening clothes after church, I didn’t take off the pearl earrings, which I always wore, that my mother gave me for my sixteenth birthday. When I realized I was still wearing them, I was deep in the dirt, but kept checking to be sure they were still on my ears. Suddenly, one wasn’t. I searched for two hours in an area about four feet square, sifting dirt, looking under every blade of grass and leaf, but no earring. Jim even helped. My sadness, and fury at my own carelessness, has stayed with me. I’ve looked over and over in the past years, excited when I spotted a white pebble, always hoping. My mother was my best friend, and most of what I have that’s beautiful came from her.
Yesterday in the windy, rainy afternoon, I was raking driveway stones off another flower bed about ten feet from where I thought the earring was lost. That flower bed was majorly torn up before and during construction/expansion of the garage apartment in the past two years: plants were dug out and transplanted, it was overrun almost daily by heavy machinery, loads of sand and rocks were dumped on it.
Suddenly there was a glint – there was the pearl, undamaged, glowing with its beautiful rich color! It seemed so right that it should come back to me on Easter. Finding the pearl was truly an Easter miracle.
As your priest it is part of my job to provide pastoral care to the members of the congregation. This includes, but is not limited to, praying with people when they are at risk or in trying circumstances. It means visiting people when they are in the hospital or convalescing. It means taking my turn with the Lay Eucharistic Ministers in visiting those who are shut in for long periods of time. It means blessing newborn babies, praying with the dying and bereaved. It means providing counsel for those in times of stress or uncertainty. Hearing the confessions of those who are burdened with guilt and pronouncing God’s forgiveness on them. It means blessing people’s homes and families and enterprises.
Most clergy, and I am among them, find it odd that people who are faithful in attendance at worship are often so reluctant to call on their priests. We are frustrated when we hear that someone has been in the hospital and we did not hear about it and missed the opportunity to pray with the sick.
So when should people call on their priest? Here is a list.
• When going to the hospital for surgery
• When being in the hospital for any illness
• When confused, anxious, or upset and could use someone to listen
• When in need of counsel
• When burdened with a feeling of guilt
• When convalescing from an illness, injury, or hospitalization
• When desiring help in an interpersonal difficulty
• When having concerns about your faith
• When having a question about the faith, the traditions of the Church, or any religious or spiritual matter.
• When feeling a desire to get to know the priest better
With the HIPPA rules, the only way I can know that someone is in the hospital is if someone tells me. So please let me know. I am available to you as a resource and as a minister of God’s grace and power. Call me at church (860-567-9465) or at home (860-361-6818).
Thanks for your help.