RECTOR’S MUSINGS

This Week

January 17

(cont. from E-News)

Give grace to your servants, O Lord: To Senators and Representatives, and those who make our laws in States, Cities, and Towns, give courage, wisdom, and foresight to provide for the needs of all our people, and to
fulfill our obligations in the community of nations.

 All of us have such deep hopes and aspirations for good government and many of us experience levels of increasing frustration, anger, and even hopelessness; that those elected to offices of public service will, or even can work together for the good of the nation.

It’s so easy, yet equally pointless to get into the blame game so tempting at the moment as an expression of our loss of confidence in both executive and congressional government. And so, the final collect in this section offers a salutary reminder that we all bear some responsibility for this situation in our obligations to exercise sound judgment beyond a slavish party-political spirit:

And finally, teach our people to rely on your strength and to
accept their responsibilities to their fellow citizens, that they
may elect trustworthy leaders and make wise decisions for
the well-being of our society; that we may serve you
faithfully in our generation and honor your holy Name.
For yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as
head above all. Amen.

As I prepare to be sworn in as a new U.S. citizen on January 24th, these prayers express a timely poignancy for me. Also, may I ask for your thoughts of good will and prayers for my beloved United Kingdom at this time of national crisis. As we are all too familiar with on this side of the pond, a crisis largely exacerbated by the hubris of the political class.

Remember Sunday 27th January – only one service at 9:30 am. See you in church, this Sunday!

Mark+

(full text)

I think all of us are growing more and more concerned for Federal Government workers and their families as the partial government shutdown drags on into an unprecedented fourth week and beyond. St Martin’s regularly supports two local food banks: PICA and Camp Street Ministries. We would like to increase our level of support to both food banks during the period of the shutdown and appeal for contributions of nonperishable food items to be brought to church on Sundays. Baskets will be situated as you come into the church through the main doors and if you are delivering during the week, you can always gain entry to the church through the atrium entrance.

Evensong on Sunday evening provided an opportunity to use the Prayer Book’s Collects (set prayers) For Sound Government. Most of us probably don’t know that these exist and if so where to find them, but they express our Anglican concern for the institutions of government and civic society. These prayers form part of the section headed Prayers and Thanksgiving on page 814 and the Collects for Sound Government can be found beginning on page 821.

I felt a deep collective sigh emanating from those around me in the congregation gathered within the intimate space of the chancel choir stalls as I prayed the lines

Give grace to your servants, O Lord: To Senators and Representatives, and those who make our laws in States, Cities, and Towns, give courage, wisdom, and foresight to provide for the needs of all our people, and to
fulfill our obligations in the community of nations.

 All of us have such deep hopes and aspirations for good government and many of us experience levels of increasing frustration, anger, and even hopelessness; that those elected to offices of public service will, or even can work together for the good of the nation.

It’s so easy, yet equally pointless to get into the blame game so tempting at the moment as an expression of our loss of confidence in both executive and congressional government. And so, the final collect in this section offers a salutary reminder that we all bear some responsibility for this situation in our obligations to exercise sound judgment beyond a slavish party-political spirit:

And finally, teach our people to rely on your strength and to
accept their responsibilities to their fellow citizens, that they
may elect trustworthy leaders and make wise decisions for
the well-being of our society; that we may serve you
faithfully in our generation and honor your holy Name.
For yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as
head above all. Amen.

As I prepare to be sworn in as a new U.S. citizen on January 24th, these prayers express a timely poignancy for me. Also, may I ask for your thoughts of good will and prayers for my beloved United Kingdom at this time of national crisis. As we are all too familiar with on this side of the pond, a crisis largely exacerbated by the hubris of the political class.

Remember Sunday 27th January – only one service at 9:30 am. See you in church, this Sunday!

Mark+

January 10

(cont. from E-News)

has held the position of director, more recently renamed minister of music, a post that combined responsibility for both choir and organ. After a long period of advertising and given the half-time nature of our position, we have not been able to attract the kind of person I and those advising me consider able to develop our musical direction in the combined role of minster of music (choir director and organist). I therefore, have decided to continue the interim arrangement of a separate choir director and organist.

Gabe Alfieri, our professional bass section leader for many years, has accepted my invitation to make permanent his interim appointment as choir director. Gabe has a Ph.D. in Musicology and is a specialist in voice with a long experience of teaching, directing, and publication. Most importantly, Gabe has long experience as a choral singer himself, and carries the affection and confidence of the members of the choir. He will be responsible for the selection of all service music, the direction of the choir, and development of our children’s music ministry.

Steven Young is our new organist. Steve comes most recently from a position as minister of music at St Thomas’ Taunton, MA. He is currently Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Bridgewater State University, MA. Steve is looking forward to not having any choir responsibilities and will focus on his role as church organist. We are hugely fortunate to have found two highly accomplished and experienced church musicians. Both Gabe and Steve will be formally instituted on Sunday, January 27th, thus beginning an exciting new chapter in music ministry at St Martin’s.

In It’s a Matter of Choice on Christmas Eve I explored the multiple ways the Bible tells the same story of Jesus and God in the incarnation. To Matthew and Luke’s nativity and John’s pre-dawn of creation versions of the incarnation story, this Sunday we will add yet a fourth Biblical incarnation story deriving from Mark’s story of the baptism of Jesus. Although we will hear it from Luke this Sunday, Luke is simply retelling Mark’s original story of incarnation as adoption. Don’t miss the next installment of the story of God and Jesus.

See you in Church, on Sunday!

Mark+

(full text)

My main focus in this week’s column is to share news about certain staff changes. On January 27th at the Annual Meeting we will honor the retirement of both Missy Bennett and Gordon Partington. Missy has served as financial administrator since 1975. Gordon has in one capacity or another been involved with taking care of our buildings since 1955.  Both represent not simply loyal and faithful service to the parish, but their retirement marks a huge transition in the continuity of our collective memory. Fortunately, both have indicated that they will remain available to fill in the institutional memory gaps that will inevitably open up, but we will no longer have their wisdom and skill contributing to the day-by-day management of the parish. I am deeply grateful to have had their support during my transitioning into the parish as rector. I cannot express how much I will miss the inexhaustible good will of their institutional as well as their personal support.

Melinda Del Chioppio is to be our new financial administrator. Again we are hugely fortunate to have someone of Melinda’s financial, organizational, and spiritual experience. Over the last couple of months Melinda and Missy have managed, seamlessly it seems to me, what might otherwise have been a tricky role transition. With respect to a replacement for Gordon – John Bracken, Peter Lofgren, and I have decided on a period of assessment to see exactly how we might best fill the vacancy left by Gordon because in truth, there is no one out there who will be able to simply step into his shoes.

I trust that many of you who have over the years appreciated Missy and Gordon will be able to celebrate their retirement with us on Sunday, January 27th.

I can now report on new developments in our music program, which have been incubating since last September.  At St Martin’s, for the last 62 years one person read on, has held the position of director, more recently renamed minister of music, a post that combined responsibility for both choir and organ. After a long period of advertising and given the half-time nature of our position, we have not been able to attract the kind of person I and those advising me consider able to develop our musical direction in the combined role of minster of music (choir director and organist). I therefore, have decided to continue the interim arrangement of a separate choir director and organist.

Gabe Alfieri, our professional bass section leader for many years, has accepted my invitation to make permanent his interim appointment as choir director. Gabe has a Ph.D. in Musicology and is a specialist in voice with a long experience of teaching, directing, and publication. Most importantly, Gabe has long experience as a choral singer himself, and carries the affection and confidence of the members of the choir. He will be responsible for the selection of all service music, the direction of the choir, and development of our children’s music ministry.

Steven Young is our new organist. Steve comes most recently from a position as minister of music at St Thomas’ Taunton, MA. He is currently Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Bridgewater State University, MA. Steve is looking forward to not having any choir responsibilities and will focus on his role as church organist. We are hugely fortunate to have found two highly accomplished and experienced church musicians. Both Gabe and Steve will be formally instituted on Sunday, January 27th, thus beginning an exciting new chapter in music ministry at St Martin’s.

In It’s a Matter of Choice on Christmas Eve I explored the multiple ways the Bible tells the same story of Jesus and God in the incarnation. To Matthew and Luke’s nativity and John’s pre-dawn of creation versions of the incarnation story, this Sunday we will add yet a fourth Biblical incarnation story deriving from Mark’s story of the baptism of Jesus. Although we will hear it from Luke this Sunday, Luke is simply retelling Mark’s original story of incarnation as adoption. Don’t miss the next installment of the story of God and Jesus.

See you in Church, on Sunday!

Mark+

January 3

(cont. from E-News)

  1. Hope is a perception that what is needed will happen. The very act of investing ourselves in the process of hoping for achievable outcomes makes the reality of our hope present to us in the here and now, by bringing us into a relationship with the object of our hope in real time.
  2. Hope is fueled by desire. We don’t hope for what we already have. We marshal all our energies and invest them in hope for what we feel deprived of. The very experience of deprivation provides the necessary fuel of desire that brings hope alive.
  3. The action of hoping is akin to projecting ourselves onto the blank screen of the future to envision our lives being different from what they currently are. Hope establishes a compass bearing that sets a new direction of travel into the yet to become known future. Yet, the vision of our hope also becomes a lived reality in our present. Hope enriches our experience in real time.
  4. Hope and hoping place us at risk of being disappointed when the object of our hopeful desire is not realized within the time frame we imagine. For instance, universal healthcare may not be achieved in 2019, yet without our hope-filled investment in its eventual realization in the present time, it will never be realized at all.

On a lighter note I thought you might be interested in a little Church Calendar trivia. This Sunday is the feast of the Epiphany and only once in every eight years does this celebration fall on a Sunday, enabling the Baptism of Jesus to occupy the following Sunday. The Epiphany is a major feast in the Eastern Orthodox Churches, where it, rather than December 25th is the time for celebrating the arrival of the Christ Child with the visit of the Kings bearing gifts. Normally for us, the Epiphany gets short shrift when January 6th falls in the week because the Sunday after the Epiphany is always the Baptism of Jesus.

On Christmas eve we enjoyed record breaking numbers at both services, and I trust this might be an indication that St Martin’s has once again reached a tipping point when the expanding energy and magnetic attraction of the community begins to register in the continued arrival of new members.

So, see you in church this coming Epiphany Sunday.

Mark+

(full text)

Happy New Year everyone!

We say this to one another but what does it actually mean? I suppose at a basic level it’s a hoping that the events the New Year will bring will be propitious ones. So, the typical new year greeting is an expression of hope. It would be nice to believe that the content of our hopes will be realized. Yet, do we really have a lot of confidence in this being so?

Firstly, it’s important to have a clear sense of those things we are hoping for.  In our personal and family lives there are certain outcomes that we hope could be realized in the coming year. Our civic life is deeply polarized, and our political processes and institutions fractured and in need of healing. In 2019 what do we hope might be deliverable outcomes for the good of the nation and in particular, for the flourishing of people across all walks of life? I am asking us all to give some conscious thought to answering this question for ourselves, while we are still in the early weeks of the New Year.

Hope and the action of hoping is more than being optimistic. Optimism is born from signs that things are moving in a better direction. Hope and hoping is what we cling to when there seems no obvious signs for such encouragement. I want to list several characteristics of hope and the process of hoping

  1. Hope is a perception that what is needed will happen. The very act of investing ourselves in the process of hoping for achievable outcomes makes the reality of our hope present to us in the here and now, by bringing us into a relationship with the object of our hope in real time.
  2. Hope is fueled by desire. We don’t hope for what we already have. We marshal all our energies and invest them in hope for what we feel deprived of. The very experience of deprivation provides the necessary fuel of desire that brings hope alive.
  3. The action of hoping is akin to projecting ourselves onto the blank screen of the future to envision our lives being different from what they currently are. Hope establishes a compass bearing that sets a new direction of travel into the yet to become known future. Yet, the vision of our hope also becomes a lived reality in our present. Hope enriches our experience in real time.
  4. Hope and hoping place us at risk of being disappointed when the object of our hopeful desire is not realized within the time frame we imagine. For instance, universal healthcare may not be achieved in 2019, yet without our hope-filled investment in its eventual realization in the present time, it will never be realized at all.

On a lighter note I thought you might be interested in a little Church Calendar trivia. This Sunday is the feast of the Epiphany and only once in every eight years does this celebration fall on a Sunday, enabling the Baptism of Jesus to occupy the following Sunday. The Epiphany is a major feast in the Eastern Orthodox Churches, where it, rather than December 25th is the time for celebrating the arrival of the Christ Child with the visit of the Kings bearing gifts. Normally for us, the Epiphany gets short shrift when January 6th falls in the week because the Sunday after the Epiphany is always the Baptism of Jesus.

On Christmas eve we enjoyed record breaking numbers at both services, and I trust this might be an indication that St Martin’s has once again reached a tipping point when the expanding energy and magnetic attraction of the community begins to register in the continued arrival of new members.

So, see you in church this coming Epiphany Sunday.

Mark+

December 27

(Full text)

Although still technically in the 4th week of Advent, (I allow the Christmas trees to go up but forbid the lights to be turned on – I know call me old fashioned) the Community Carol Sing on Sunday afternoon launched an enthusiastic start to Christmas celebrations. What a tremendous success this was when 150+ people, many visiting St Martin’s for the first time, raised a joyful Christmas sound. Thanks to those who brought friends and neighbors to experience the joy and energy of the St Martin’s community. We excel at these kinds of low-key social outreach opportunities that show-case for others in the wider community why our church commitment means so much to us. Our thanks to Lauren Hill and her team of volunteers who ensured the runaway success of this event. The other lovely aspect from Sunday was to see how the children’s choir is really growing in confidence as well as numbers under Gabe Alfieri’s friendly, yet firm tutelage.

This Friday, December 21st, on the Winter Solstice, our Christmas celebrations begin with the Blue Christmas Service at 5:30. To experience a loss or to remember the anniversary of a loss at this time of year can be somewhat isolating as everyone around you is in full festive swing. Blue Christmas is best described as a time of reflection for the sorrowful in a season of joy. Again, I hope many of you will see this as an opportunity to invite others for whom Blue Christmas might be a helpful and healing experience.

On Christmas Eve, we begin at 4 pm with a wonderful and exuberant multigenerational celebration in which the focus is upon our children’s dramatic telling of the Christmas story in their colorful pageant. This is a time when three or more generations of family members get an opportunity to worship together. In terms of numbers, 4 pm is now our largest Christmas celebration, so do remember to arrive a little earlier to get a seat.

Except for Anglo-Catholics, Episcopalians as a rule don’t refer to the Eucharist as Mass except on Christmas eve. At St Martin’s, we have found that with changing patterns of church attendance many of us find it more and more daunting for a variety of reasons to venture out at midnight. Therefore, we have brought all the solemnity and beauty of the traditional Midnight Mass back to the more manageable hour of 9 pm.

On Christmas Day at 9:30 am we will have a simple, spoken Eucharist with no music for those who eschew all the pomp and circumstance of Christmas worship. On Sunday, December 30th, our normal Sunday service is a celebration of the Eucharist in which lessons and carols replace the normal liturgy of the Word.

Hope to see you in Church this Sunday for Advent IV.

On behalf of the Church Wardens, Vestry, and Staff at St Martin’s have a Merry Christmas and blessings for the New Year – I have a feeling we might need them.

Mark+

December 13

(cont. from E-News)

children need firm boundaries. But not just children, all of us thrive best within the limits of prescribed boundaries – contained spaces where there’s enough gravity to keep our feet on the ground. Between the Incarnation – Christ’s first coming, and the Parousia, the theological name for the second coming, lies the transgenerational terrain of Christian living.

If our Advent is only waiting for God’s first coming in Christ, then after Christmas it’s literally back to business as usual. Christ has come – so what? It’s like attending a play comprised of an endless repetition of the first act only. There’s a final act in the drama of salvation. Knowing this helps us focus on the way the action unfolds between first and final acts of the play. Focus is the operative verb here. Without an outer boundary, energy to focus on the present will lack urgency and direction (gravity) and will continually dissipate.

The present time in which we live lies somewhere between the first and final acts of the drama of salvation. The early Christians emphasized Christ’s immanent return so much because they understood better than we how necessary it was to know there was a final act – an outer boundary that refocused their attention on their present lives. We don’t need to know when or how the second coming will occur, we just need to know that at some point God will fulfill the promise to renew the face of the creation and that which has grown old will be made new.

The first Christian generations changed the world in real time as the world had never before been changed. Like them, Christians in any generation who understood the priority to align themselves with the eventual fulfilment of the reign of God’s justice, will change the world in real time as a prequel to God’s final renewal of the creation in the resurrection of the world.

The first Christians lived with a sense of urgency that there is not a moment to lose. What if like them, we too could live with a sense of urgency for change; sharing their realization that there is not a moment of time to be lost in changing the world for the better –i.e. changing it in our real time? That’s the question we should be asking ourselves this Advent!

See you in Church on Sunday and don’t forget our much-anticipated Community Carol Sing at 3pm.

Mark+

(full text)

The New Testament writers took very seriously the expectation of Christ’s second coming. Because these writers of the New Testament believed that Christ would return any day now – to complete the work begun, their imperative was to be ready.  Here we are 2000+ years later and Jesus has not yet returned in triumph to judge the world. I have lived most of my professional Christian life, treating the Parousia -the theological word for Christ’s return, as a form of early Christian wishful thinking.

Journeying back in time we would discover that traditionally, Advent focused on the Four Last Things: death, judgement, heaven, and hell – a rather grim message. Beginning in the 20th-century mainstream Christians reframed Advent as an exploration of faith, love, and hope, within the existential struggle of waiting. This Advent, I have found myself asking the question – yes waiting – certainly the most difficult of all human experiences – but waiting for what?

Psychologically, we don’t thrive well in a vacuum created by a sense of endless possibilities. As any parent knows children need firm boundaries. But not just children, all of us thrive best within the limits of prescribed boundaries – contained spaces where there’s enough gravity to keep our feet on the ground. Between the Incarnation – Christ’s first coming, and the Parousia, the theological name for the second coming, lies the transgenerational terrain of Christian living.

If our Advent is only waiting for God’s first coming in Christ, then after Christmas it’s literally back to business as usual. Christ has come – so what? It’s like attending a play comprised of an endless repetition of the first act only. There’s a final act in the drama of salvation. Knowing this helps us focus on the way the action unfolds between first and final acts of the play. Focus is the operative verb here. Without an outer boundary, energy to focus on the present will lack urgency and direction (gravity) and will continually dissipate.

The present time in which we live lies somewhere between the first and final acts of the drama of salvation. The early Christians emphasized Christ’s immanent return so much because they understood better than we how necessary it was to know there was a final act – an outer boundary that refocused their attention on their present lives. We don’t need to know when or how the second coming will occur, we just need to know that at some point God will fulfill the promise to renew the face of the creation and that which has grown old will be made new.

The first Christian generations changed the world in real time as the world had never before been changed. Like them, Christians in any generation who understood the priority to align themselves with the eventual fulfilment of the reign of God’s justice, will change the world in real time as a prequel to God’s final renewal of the creation in the resurrection of the world.

The first Christians lived with a sense of urgency that there is not a moment to lose.  What if like them, we too could live with a sense of urgency for change; sharing their realization that there is not a moment of time to be lost in changing the world for the better –i.e. changing it in our real time? That’s the question we should be asking ourselves this Advent!

See you in Church on Sunday and don’t forget our much-anticipated Community Carol Sing at 3pm.

Mark+

December 6

(cont. from E-news)

I think the answer is that it’s the National CATHEDRAL – that is the national cathedral of the Episcopal Church. But when the nation celebrates and when it mourns, the National Cathedral takes on a role as the NATIONAL Cathedral – that is the nation’s cathedral. Partly this might be a function of architecture – the Gothic style articulates a confident cultural strand in pluralistic American life. Yet, it’s the Anglican DNA that marks out the Episcopal Church generally, and the National Cathedral particularly, as vehicles for the expression of powerful national sentiments that bind the nation as one, in either celebration, or mourning.

How might I sum up Anglican DNA? It’s about dignity and a balanced aesthetic, both qualities much in evidence at the elder Bush’s state funeral. But at heart, it’s the articulation of the notion of church as servant of the civic community. Episcopal churches are non-sectarian, whether as cathedrals or parish churches, they embody the principle of church the connects spiritual and civic community. The Anglican genius to which the Episcopal Church is heir results in the kind of church that serves through ministering to all regardless of whether they are our members or not.

This week we mourn not only President Bush’s passing but that of a daughter of St Martin’s, Judy Mitchell, priest. It was at St Martin’s the Judy discovered and was encouraged in her vocation to priestly ministry. She served a number of churches in the Diocese, the last of which being All Saint’s Memorial Church. Periods of her life were marked by years of chronic illness. Yet at the same time Judy was a model of human resilience. She finally died late last week, after some days in a coma. At this point we believe a memorial service will be held for Judy at All Saints after Christmas. More news of that to follow.

This Sunday, being the second in the month means Evensong at 4:30pm. Sung by the members of our choir quartet the emphasis of this service is on a balance between musical beauty and prayerful intimacy and where possible we seat those attending in the choir stalls. Evensong is an important string in the bow of Episcopal-Anglican worship – a service particularly sensitive to our energies as daylight fades and night draws on. If you are unfamiliar with it, do come, taste, and see!

See you in church this Sunday!
Mark+

(full text)

Ross Douthat commenting in the NY Times about the upwelling of nostalgia for George Bush Sr. as one of the last representatives of the WASP Establishment that ruled American Society for most of the late 19th and 20th-centuries, ends his piece with:

So if some of the elder Bush’s mourners wish we still had a WASP establishment, their desire probably reflects a belated realization that certain of the old establishment’s vices were inherent to any elite, that meritocracy creates its own forms of exclusion — and that the WASPs had virtues that their successors have failed to inherit or revive.

As an Episcopalian, and especially as the rector of St Martin’s, I try to embody the highest ideals of what might be considered WASP values while at the same time being very aware of traditional WASP culture’s pronounced elitist and ethnocentric bias. Despite the sins of WASP culture, its virtues are personal humility and responsibility, commitment to public service and fostering the common good, alongside a valuing of institutional loyalty – all the qualities currently being identified with the late George H.W. Bush. Douthat’s point is that the WASP virtues exemplified by George H.W. Bush have not been inherited by the current meritocratic elite which is clearly defined by its narcissistic and cravenly materialist-transactional culture. We are more than nostalgic for the loss of WASP values, we deeply mourn their passing. But as Christians, not to mention Anglican Christians, we continue to hope for their revival in forms appropriate to our present age.

At the National Cathedral on Wednesday morning the Anglican DNA of the Episcopal Church was fully on display. A question: do you think it’s the NATIONAL Cathedral, or do you think it is the National CATHEDRAL?  Write your answers on a postcard and return to …. read on  I think the answer is that it’s the National CATHEDRAL – that is the national cathedral of the Episcopal Church. But when the nation celebrates and when it mourns, the National Cathedral takes on a role as the NATIONAL Cathedral – that is the nation’s cathedral. Partly this might be a function of architecture – the Gothic style articulates a confident cultural strand in pluralistic American life. Yet, it’s the Anglican DNA that marks out the Episcopal Church generally, and the National Cathedral particularly, as vehicles for the expression of powerful national sentiments that bind the nation as one, in either celebration, or mourning.

How might I sum up Anglican DNA? It’s about dignity and a balanced aesthetic, both qualities much in evidence at the elder Bush’s state funeral. But at heart, it’s the articulation of the notion of church as servant of the civic community. Episcopal churches are non-sectarian, whether as cathedrals or parish churches, they embody the principle of church the connects spiritual and civic community. The Anglican genius to which the Episcopal Church is heir results in the kind of church that serves through ministering to all regardless of whether they are our members or not.

This week we mourn not only President Bush’s passing but that of a daughter of St Martin’s, Judy Mitchell, priest. It was at St Martin’s the Judy discovered and was encouraged in her vocation to priestly ministry. She served a number of churches in the Diocese, the last of which being All Saint’s Memorial Church. Periods of her life were marked by years of chronic illness. Yet at the same time Judy was a model of human resilience. She finally died late last week, after some days in a coma. At this point we believe a memorial service will be held for Judy at All Saints after Christmas. More news of that to follow.

This Sunday, being the second in the month means Evensong at 4:30pm. Sung by the members of our choir quartet the emphasis of this service is on a balance between musical beauty and prayerful intimacy and where possible we seat those attending in the choir stalls. Evensong is an important string in the bow of Episcopal-Anglican worship – a service particularly sensitive to our energies as daylight fades and night draws on. If you are unfamiliar with it, do come, taste, and see!

See you in church this Sunday!

Mark+

November 29

(cont. from E-news)

such as the Cloak Ministry which collects toiletry and clothing essentials and distributes them to several homeless shelters. Advent is marked by additional degrees of generous living.

This Advent:
  1. will mark exceeding our target benchmark of raising $20,000 for Episcopal Charities.
  2. we will directly disburse St Martin’s Outreach Grants to the tune of $5,000 – $7,000 from Outreach Ministries and an additional $2,000 from a tithe (10%) on the revenue surplus generated by the wildly successful Thrifty Goose.
  3. KidsZone will assemble upwards of 75 packs of socks, underwear, and toiletries (all the fruit of our members’ generous donations) for distribution at the weekly Epiphany Soup Kitchen – a meal site that offers 80- 90 people (mostly working poor) a weekly three-course meal. In addition to our volunteers hosting ESK once a month, St Martin’s folk occupy key positions on the ESK board.
  4. 90 people from the community were fed at the Thanksgiving Day Dinner with a further 30 take-out meals distributed.
  5. through our support of the DCYF (Dept. for Children, Youth and Families) Christmas Appeal, this year we will buy Christmas presents for 45 children aged 6 months to 14 years old, and provide $100 gift cards for young adults who as part of VEC, a voluntary extension consent program run by DCYF, who are aging out of youth services and establishing themselves in the world.

This year, let’s wait or at least try to practice a spirit of waiting. Postponing our desire for instant emotional gratification (I’ve decided not to buy the kimono you all so admire on me) helps us to listen to a deeper and more generous rhythm of living. Good things are worth waiting for because they only come in their own time. In the meantime, thank you to everyone for ensuring that our community is becoming better fit for God’s purposes.

Have a fruitful Advent and see you in Church, this first Sunday in Advent.

Mark+

(full text)

Advent marks the beginning of a new Church Year. The Church’s year begins four weeks before the birth of Jesus, a period designed to allow time to prepare. In a culture when Christmas is celebrated as a non-stop commercial season from Black Friday onward, the older rhythms of preparing with anticipation seem quaint.

Quaint they may be, yet the Church’s seasons speak of an older wisdom about the rhythms of life. The modern world of instant gratification means effectively that gratification is reduced to a momentary experience, no sooner achieved then forgotten. The cumulative result is that we are never satisfied. Real satisfaction is the fruit of anticipation, preparation, and of course the most difficult emotional state of all – waiting.

Tolerating the experience of waiting is a process of becoming better oriented to God’s activity in the world around us. Becoming better oriented is measured in degrees of living generously. In addition to our yearlong programs such as the Cloak Ministry which collects toiletry and clothing essentials and distributes them to several homeless shelters. Advent is marked by additional degrees of generous living.

This Advent:

  1. will mark exceeding our target benchmark of raising $20,000 for Episcopal Charities.
  2. we will directly disburse St Martin’s Outreach Grants to the tune of $5,000 – $7,000 from Outreach Ministries and an additional $2,000 from a tithe (10%) on the revenue surplus generated by the wildly successful Thrifty Goose.
  3. KidsZone will assemble upwards of 75 packs of socks, underwear, and toiletries (all the fruit of our members’ generous donations) for distribution at the weekly Epiphany Soup Kitchen – a meal site that offers 80- 90 people (mostly working poor) a weekly three-course meal. In addition to our volunteers hosting ESK once a month, St Martin’s folk occupy key positions on the ESK board.
  4. 90 people from the community were fed at the Thanksgiving Day Dinner with a further 30 take-out meals distributed.
  5. through our support of the DCYF (Dept. for Children, Youth and Families) Christmas Appeal, this year we will buy Christmas presents for 45 children aged 6 months to 14 years old, and provide $100 gift cards for young adults who as part of VEC, a voluntary extension consent program run by DCYF, who are aging out of youth services and establishing themselves in the world.

This year, let’s wait or at least try to practice a spirit of waiting. Postponing our desire for instant emotional gratification (I’ve decided not to buy the kimono you all so admire on me) helps us to listen to a deeper and more generous rhythm of living. Good things are worth waiting for because they only come in their own time. In the meantime, thank you to everyone for ensuring that our community is becoming better fit for God’s purposes.

Have a fruitful Advent and see you in Church, this first Sunday in Advent.

Mark+

November 15

(cont. from E-News)

delivered the St Martin’s Day sermon which was well received. I hope to post Howard’s words as soon as he gets them to me. What some marveled at was the sense of synchronicity between rector and rabbi’s messages, delivered morning and evening last Sunday. I was warning about a return to the instabilities of 1914 in international relations. Taking the prophet Isaiah’s dream of universal inclusion as his starting point, Howard, echoing Edmund Burke’s complaint that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing, warned about our society’s gradual and almost imperceptible desensitization in the face of a rising barrage of racist and fascist rhetoric – which only a short time ago would not have been tolerated in the public space.  I am deeply appreciative of the warm and mutually supportive relationship that Howard and I enjoy; a current expression of the long affection between Temple Beth-El and St Martin’s.

New energy at the Women’s Spirituality Group meetings is nothing new, yet, with a spectacular evening of water, fire and Celtic lore at Pet Gray’s last Monday evening, the St Martin’s Men’s Community seem to have caught the same energy.
Don’t forget to bring your completed estimate of giving (pledge) cards to church, this In-gathering Sunday.
Mark+

(full epistle)

This Sunday is In-gathering bringing to a close the 2019 Annual Renewal Campaign. More on this to follow in a special email to land in your inbox tomorrow.

I don’t know how many of you have paid a visit to the Thrifty Goose lately, but if so, you will have probably been greatly surprised. The Thrifty Goose has morphed from a traditional church charity shop into a swank repurposed clothing and accessories shop. This amazing transformation is attributable to the committed team of volunteers who have worked so hard to embrace new changes. This last week, in the online publication, Providence Daily Dose, Beth Comery wrote glowingly about the new face of the Thrifty Goose. Beth says:

I had no idea. The Thrifty Goose at St. Martin’s Church is a cut above your ordinary church thrift, and it’s huge. This is primo vintage, and lightly used, clothing and housewares. The site is fresh and clean and even has two changing rooms . . . with mirrors!

Other changes signal the new energy in the parish, much in evidence this last Sunday. Attendance at the morning Remembrance Day observances was very gratifying and although I feared this might have resulted in a smaller attendance to celebrate St Martin in the afternoon, this was in fact not the case. 133 attended Choral Evensong and we had around 122 stayed for the parish feast that followed. The feedback on both the Evensong and the feast has been enthusiastic. It is a joy to be able to congratulate the choir for their wonderful singing and to congratulate the feat’s organizers and volunteers who ensured this was a tremendously joyful occasion; the first parish celebration in our beautiful refurbished Great Hall. Thank you all!!

Rabbi Howard Voss-Altman delivered the St Martin’s Day sermon which was well received. I hope to post Howard’s words as soon as he gets them to me. What some marveled at was the sense of synchronicity between rector and rabbi’s messages, delivered morning and evening last Sunday. I was warning about a return to the instabilities of 1914 in international relations. Taking the prophet Isaiah’s dream of universal inclusion as his starting point, Howard, echoing Edmund Burke’s complaint that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing, warned about our society’s gradual and almost imperceptible desensitization in the face of a rising barrage of racist and fascist rhetoric – which only a short time ago would not have been tolerated in the public space.  I am deeply appreciative of the warm and mutually supportive relationship that Howard and I enjoy; a current expression of the long affection between Temple Beth-El and St Martin’s.

New energy at the Women’s Spirituality Group meetings is nothing new, yet, with a spectacular evening of water, fire and Celtic lore at Pet Gray’s last Monday evening, the St Martin’s Men’s Community seem to have caught the same energy.

Don’t forget to bring your completed estimate of giving (pledge) cards to church, this In-gathering Sunday.
Mark+