Thursday, April 26, 2018
Message from Kelly+
Summer is coming, and with it the Church’s great green season of the Sundays after Pentecost, the season that will take us all the way to Advent. As your pastor and priest, I invite you, in the coming months, to lean into this season of growth.
As I announced at the 8 am service last week, and discussed with the combined Vestry and Bishop’s Committee at our joint meeting later on Sunday, our worship, fellowship, and formation schedule is going to look different in the coming months.
On Pentecost Sunday, May 20th, in recognition of this great festival of the church, in order to joyfully support those being baptized—and to renew our own baptismal vows together—there will be one Sunday worship service on May 20th, at 9:30 am in Ashland.
The following weekend is Memorial Day weekend, the traditional start of summer. And even though school calendars and the weather don’t necessarily align with a Memorial Day to Labor Day summer, that run of time does offer a convenient and familiar way to subdivide our own coming season of Pentecost to Christ the King.
On the Seventh Sunday of Easter, Sunday, May 13th (which is also Mother's Day), we’ll worship at 8 and 9:30 am, and the 8 am service will be on summer break until early September after Labor Day.
I won’t pretend that in offering one Sunday service instead of two between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day we’re simply joining the ranks of the many, many churches who condense their worship schedule by combining services over the summer months. Our task is different from an “ordinary church” (assuming there is such a thing) asking “8 o’clockers” and “10 o’clockers” to sit beside each other at 9 am for a few months.
In the four months that I’ve been with you all, I’ve come to value and honor the distinctiveness of the 8 o’clock gathering at Griswold Hall. The Spirit is there, God is worshipped, and long-standing relationships have been, and continue to be, nurtured and renewed.
God is calling us to do all of that, and more.
Our two mid-week 11 am worship services, which began in Lent, continue now through the summer. These are quiet services with prayers for wholeness and healing. With very rare exceptions, this is a Communion service, on Tuesday in the CLC chapel in Plymouth, and on Thursdays in St. Marks in Ashland. Both provide the chance to gather for a quiet, spoken service.
On Wednesday evenings, we’ll take a page from my former parish in New London and gather for a potluck cookout on the grounds of our Highland St., Plymouth property. Bring something to grill for yourself and a dish to pass. This will be an informal, social, friendly time, and a chance to nurture old friendships and build new ones.
Thursday evenings will be a time to explore and nurture our God-given creativity and welcome the Spirit’s presence in our lives. With a range of gifted leaders, we will experiment (play!) with gardening, writing, labyrinths, mosaic, mandalas, and Anglican prayer beads as ways of growing our spiritual lives. Most topics will be offered twice. We’ll have leaders and a schedule of dates and themes ready to share soon, for this summer-long Spiritual Formation Practices Sampler, which will take place at Sherrill Hall in Ashland.
Both the Wednesday and Thursday evening events are meant to have a “low threshold,” that is, to intentionally invite and welcome the curious, the lapsed, and the newcomer to come and experience who we are becoming as a gathered community. We’ll publicize both widely, and do please invite friends and neighbors—and feel free to bring along visiting family and other house guests.
On the weekends, we will continue to worship at 5 pm on Saturdays, and at 9:30 am on Sundays.
Two special events also occur during this summer stretch. On Thursday evening, June 7th, we hold our long-awaited Celebration of New Ministry. This a worship service led by Bishop Hirschfeld celebrating and honoring the mutual ministry of priest and people. The service will take place in Ashland, with a reception to follow. Senior Wardens, Joan Bowers and Deb Holland, are leading a small, collaborative team to plan the event. Please say “Yes” as their requests arise.
And on Sunday, August 26th, Bishop Rob makes his Episcopal Visitation to us. Besides being an important time of connection with our bishop, that service is another opportunity for baptisms, as well as for adult believers to affirm or re-affirm their faith and connection to the church. Please have a conversation with me soon if that possibility speaks to you.
With you for a summer of “Yes, and….”,
Thursday, April 19, 2018
Message from Kelly+
Here in mid-April, between the Third and the Fourth Sundays of Easter, we’re just about at the midpoint of the Easter season. And here are two questions. Which one resonates stronger with you?
“Good Lord, is it still Easter?” OR “Good Lord, is it Easter yet?”
In other words: Is the Resurrection disrupting your life, still? OR: Is the Resurrection disrupting your life yet?
Even before last weekend’s ice storm led me to cancel Sunday services, the concept of “disruption” had been front and center in my thoughts. Take a look back at the Gospel for the Third Sunday of Easter, the one we would have read together last week. (The Lectionary Page, http://lectionarypage.net, is one way to do that. Or pick up the Bible; last Sunday’s Gospel reading was Luke 24:36b-48.)
Both there, and in the portion of Luke’s narrative that immediately precedes it—which is the story of the disciples encountering the risen Jesus on the road to Emmaus—Jesus, risen and back at the table with his followers, “opens their minds” about the scripture they all knew. “Here I am, right now, with you,” he tells them. And he invites them to see how what one commentator I read last week calls “the reality-bending story of the resurrection” gives the disciples a new connection to their sacred tradition, one that sets their hearts on fire.
Around here, we had ice, though, and not fire. The irony was, just the day before the ice started falling, I had been in conversation with our senior wardens about the possibility of cancelling Sunday services due to the impending weather. I made it very clear that cancelling wasn’t my style; I trusted folks to use their common sense about traveling in iffy weather, and that church would go on as always.
Well. I went out to scrape my car for the quick Sunday morning drive to Griswold Hall, and the ice on the windshield and windows? It wouldn’t budge. And I admitted to myself I wasn’t going anywhere. I made a quick call to the WMUR newsroom (where the staffer was gracious even as they acknowledged the phone was ringing off the hook). I updated both church websites with news of cancelled services, and sent responses to folks who had contacted Maryan and myself directly. And there was Sunday morning, disrupted.
And so here’s another question for you: What was that like for you to have Sunday disrupted? Be as honest as possible with yourself: What difference did it make for you that we did not gather to worship at 8 am in Griswold Hall, and at 9:30 at St Mark’s? I won’t quiz you on your answers, but ask yourself that question, and then go back to that first set…
“Good Lord, is it still Easter?” OR “Good Lord, is it Easter yet?”
You can read that “Good Lord” as a colloquial note of impatience and exasperation. But I’d encourage you to say it as a prayer, either way, and allow your heart to be set on fire with “the reality-bending story of the resurrection:” Alleluia! The Lord is Risen! That proclamation has the power to disrupt everything. Let it, and see where that leads you, and us all.
Thursday, April 12, 2018
Message from Kelly+
When I was a young mother, a series of books that shared the title, What to Expect….were must-haves. The first volume published (and the launch pad for what became a media empire) was What to Expect When You’re Expecting, a book Amazon calls “America’s pregnancy bible, the longest-running New York Times bestseller ever. With 18.5 million copies in print, What to Expect When You’re Expecting is read by 93% of women who read a pregnancy book and was named one of the ‘Most Influential Books of the Last 25 Years’ by USA Today.”
Many parish websites include a “What to Expect” tab to click on, as a way of offering some insights to those curious about what might happen, should they venture through the doors of an Episcopal church. (Typically, heavy, wooden, and quite likely red-painted doors, at that). If you’re curious, it’s worth a quick Google of “What to Expect Episcopal” to catch a glimpse of the many ways various churches tackle that topic.
My own brief impression, on the heels of exactly that search, is that the answers are all pretty technical. As in, “First we do this, then we do this.”
Don’t get me wrong: information of the kind that shows up in both What to Expect When You’re Expecting and What to Expect When You’re Episcopal isn’t trivial. It’s comforting to know what’s “normal.” But you know what’s even more comforting? There is just no substitute for having a companion along the way, expert or not, to simply convey, “You are not alone, in any of this. I may not have a clue, either, but we will find our way through, together.” (As we celebrated the Annunciation last week at morning prayer, it seemed to me exactly right that Mary, new to the news that she was to be a mother, went right to visit her cousin Elizabeth, herself in the midst of a surprising pregnancy.)
God is funny about our expectations. Yes, you can go to an Episcopal church to worship, and expect to be handed a bulletin. And yes, we’ll stand and sit, and listen and answer and sometimes we’ll sing. And, YES, you are welcome to the table.
But even more so: Expect that you will encounter the Holy One… and yes, expect that that encounter may well happen in ways you weren’t expecting. This is true for every one of us, not just newcomers, and true every time we seek to meet God in worship.
I didn’t expect to lose much of my voice before last weekend, leaving me with a less-than-adequate tool for teaching the songs Saturday night at Holderness. Rev. Josh expected to have a fire going at 5. Life intervened. We made do. And you know what? As ragged as our efforts were, I’ve already had a conversation with another family about baptizing their child on Pentecost. (Friends, this is two, and counting… Who else? Really: who else? Talk to me.) And we’ll be back this Saturday (and twice on Sunday) to see what God has in store for us, if we just start by showing up.
I’ll refer us, as I do so often, to one of the concluding sentences of Morning Prayer:
Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine: Glory to God from generation to generation in the Church, and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever. (Ephesians 3:20,21; BCP 102)
Thursday, April 5, 2018
Message from Kelly+
Dear friends: Yes, it's still Easter, and it will be, for some time. Easter (as you may have seen me say elsewhere) isn't just a day, it's an entire season, 50 days between our celebration of the Resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
There are several fresh things going on in our church community this season. You'll notice some during worship. As they were at the Easter Vigil and our Easter Sunday services, the weekly Prayers of the People will be based on the prayers from the baptismal service. (One bonus: they'll be deeply familiar when we baptize Piper at Pentecost...and anyone else? There's still time to discuss this with me...). While we won't be reading as many names aloud during the Sunday prayers, our joint parish list is there for your prayerful attention, and we'll continue to name everyone at our Tuesday and Thursday midday healing Eucharists.
Of course, the freshest thing for the Great 50 Days is our worship experiment on Saturdays at 5pm at the Holderness School chapel. We had a great launch at the Easter Vigil, and we're ready to go again with another bonfire and more scripture and singing, prayer and wondering, bread and wine.
As we heard on Easter morning:
The stone is gone, the tomb is empty, and Jesus is calling all his disciples to meet him in Galilee, that is, out in the world, where he first found them and told them, "Follow me."
In this season of Resurrection, may we each hear that call to follow Jesus as fresh news, and good news, and news worth sharing.