January 2019

 

Thursday, January 31, 2019

 

A Note from Deacon Maryan

 

“Revisiting the Wedding at Cana”

 

The prologue to John’s Gospel tells us about Jesus’s life in its fullness. His incarnation as the word made flesh (one of us) to live among us as God’s messenger of grace and love. The rest of chapter one is devoted to the ministry of John the Baptist and the calling of Jesus’s disciples. It is here that we begin to see the pattern of John’s Gospel. References to the Old Testament are found to give way to the new life we will find in following in Jesus’s steps. The most vivid of these is the way the story of Jacob’s ladder and the realization that with Jesus, there will always be a steady stream of transformation coming about. Angels going up and down a ladder signify the intimate meeting between Heaven and Earth if only for a brief second awakening us to acknowledge that God is always with us in all our sorrows and Joys.

 

Walking into chapter two, we find ourselves at a Wedding feast where a sense of God’s love abounds. It is here in this place we discern Jesus’s first “sign” as to His relationship in God as the true Messiah. You will find the “Clues” John gave about Jesus’s walk as the Messiah in the following Gospel.

 

“The Wedding at Cana”

 

2 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to them “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. 9 When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

 

1. On the Third day references Jesus’s Death and Resurrection.

 

2 & 3. Mary, the mother of our Lord, although not actually named in the Gospel, is there at the wedding with Jesus as well as his disciples. It is she who draws Jesus’s attention to the fact that the wine is running out and asks the servants to do as He says. We do not see Mary again in John’s gospel until she stands at the foot of Jesus’s Cross on Calvary grieving her son, Jesus, and receiving the beloved disciple as her new son. Both occurrences serve to initiate the new life that comes about through Jesus.

 

4 & 5. The six stone water-jars used for the transformation of water into wine are the water-jars of the Jewish purification rituals for cleanliness. The wine that is created by our Lord is a symbol of both His death and the new life Jesus has brought into the world.

6. Only Jesus’s mother and the disciples saw the transformation Jesus had created and “they believed.”

 

7 & 8. The act of changing the water into wine altered a situation that would otherwise have created a very shameful situation for the bride’s family and consequently bear similar repercussions for the bride and groom. Jesus, as you remember, is often referred to as the bridegroom and the church (his people) as the bride. The Bridegroom in this story had saved the best wine for last.

 

9. The sacrament of Eucharist, the bread and wine, are Jesus’s way of compassionately giving himself to us for always and forever. Feeding us to go out into the world to love and serve all people lovingly in his name.

 

10. The Wedding itself is a foretaste of the Heavenly banquet that has been prepared for each one of us: A moment when heaven and earth meet.

 

I hope you have enjoyed the journey; there are six more “signs” contained in John’s Gospel as to how Jesus enters our lives anew more often than we can count.

 

Peace,
Deacon Maryan

 

 

Message from Kelly

 

Dear friends,

 

Thank you to all of you who braved the cold to worship God as we met together in the Chapel of the Holy Cross at the Holderness School this past Sunday. As cold as it was outside, the chapel was warm: not only furnace-warm, but warm with friendship, and with my own joy at experiencing something I’ve been giving a lot of thought and prayer to this fall: An annual meeting that kept our focus on our unity in Christ. Those who stayed for brunch at Weld Hall filled two tables, to the delight of Holderness chaplain Josh Hill.

 

Later in this newsletter, you’ll see the names of our newly elected leaders, a team which the outgoing 2018 vestry and Bishop’s committee presented to the parish with wholehearted acclamation.

 

Your wardens and I have heard from several people who found the format of Sunday’s annual meeting so unfamiliar as to be disconcerting. We’re grateful to each one of you who spoke up and said so.

 

The pattern of incorporating a congregation’s annual meeting into a worship service is becoming a widespread practice in many dioceses. It’s also essentially the model that NH diocesan convention has adopted over the past few years, with business being enfolded within worship. It works because congregational engagement, discussion, and communication ideally takes place year round, and is not just saved up for annual meeting. The Renewal Works process is one way in which we have been growing into that habit.

 

To further assist with building transparent communication about the life of our worshipping community, treasurer Wayne Trombly will be scheduling a series of “Ask the Treasurer” forums in the next weeks. At those discussions, Wayne will gladly review and explain our financial documents and circumstances in detail. Watch for the announcement of those times. I expect that, going into the spring and summer, your wardens and I will follow his example, offering Wardens’ and Rector/Vicar’s forums. We have much good news to share about our health and future, and (as the Gospels remind us) light belongs on a lampstand, not hidden.

 

We’re also very mindful that email and websites are not the only way we need to communicate with each other. Our Faith-at-Home folks, including our at-home elders, receive a printed newsletter seasonally. We plan to resume seasonal news mailing to all parish members this year.

 

At its best, the annual meeting of an Episcopal worshipping community celebrates how God’s people have been a part of God’s mission in the preceding year. Imagining annual meeting in 2020, I’d love to publish an annual report full of ministry updates, with a wide variety of people telling the many ways we’re engaged with our neighbors. I’d love for the sermon slot to be a slideshow of a year well spent in the Lord’s service and in fellowship with each other. We weren’t there for 2019, but this past Sunday was a step towards that future.

 

Faithfully, Kelly+

 

 

Friday, January 25, 2019

 

A Note from Deacon Maryan

 

This Week's Sermon: The Wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11)

 

2 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to them “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. 9 When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

 

This short passage from John’s Gospel invites us into the fullness of meaning associated with Jesus's ministry as God’s true Messiah. John wrote seven such passages within the fold of his Gospel. Each one takes us to a place in Jesus's life where he encounters a part of his earthly ministry wherein a miracle happens due to his presence among God’s people. John calls these “signs” of Jesus's active ministry and yet the true meaning contained in the text is actually hidden within that scripture. See how many hints you can find that suggest the journey God has called Jesus to walk here among us and how the meaning of those signs makes a difference as to how we receive God’s love. There are possibly 10-12 clues. Talk to others, read commentaries, and think about the images that the passage holds for proclaiming the Glory of God through the Messianic life of Jesus. The answers will be given in next week’s newsletter!!  Best of Luck and have Fun.

 

Blessings on the journey,
Deacon Maryan

 

 

Message from Kelly

 

Dear friends,

No question: The travel course I’ve just returned from, “Learning from London,” more than lived up to its name. Many thanks to everyone who nurtured our life as church here, including the Rev. Josh Hill who led worship on 1/13, and to all (with Deacon Maryan at the lead) who helped spread the news about cancelled services on 1/20.

 

There’s lots to share from what I experienced, and I’ll be doing that over the next days and months, with detail and nuance. But just to begin:

 

Without exception, the growing London church communities we visited share a faith in God’s abundance and a commitment to respond to God with their own profound generosity. Yes, folks respond as individuals, taking the Gospel seriously and sharing their personal resources of time and energy. Crucially though, that commitment to giving away their first fruits, their best gifts—their best energy, their best people, their best resources—is true for these churches as communities as well, perhaps even more so.  Being aware—whether it happened a thousand years ago, or a hundred, or 10—that “every church was planted,” (i.e. someone left a familiar place to go into the unknown in order to gather followers of Jesus together), these thriving communities rejoice in the call they feel to help God’s church grow and spread.

 

One example: Our first Sunday in London, my small group attended two back-to-back services in a church where less than a decade ago, only a handful of people worshipped. Welcoming a small “graft” of worshippers from a church that was itself relatively new, the congregation is now thriving as a thoroughly blended community that has drawn new followers of Jesus into its midst. And—committed to its DNA of being a church that plants churches—it had recently “given away” its third service, a young and vibrant Saturday evening congregation, to enliven another new church based near King’s Cross.

 

The Diocese of London is well over halfway to its 2020 goal of establishing 100 new worshiping communities. And these are truly new instances of “church,” not just shifting churchgoers from one building to another. The call is to be “Reaching new people, in new places, in new ways.” That might mean “church” gathered for a weekday dinner in a café in a newly-developed neighborhood. Or it might be a centuries-old place in the middle of town whose doors are open, not just Sundays for worship and learning, but also morning to night during the week: open for prayer, open for a midday concert, open for homeless folks to sleep in its pews—quiet, safe, and warm.

 

And always, these thriving, growing churches are known in their neighborhoods: not merely as buildings (because sometimes there is no “church” building) but as neighbors who make the love of God, the friendship of Jesus, the comfort of the Spirit known to all by how they (as Christians) listen, speak, and act.

 

I’ve come back to our community informed and inspired, and even more certain than ever that God is up to something new and wonderful in our part of the world, too.

 

Faithfully, Kelly+

 

 

Thursday, January 17, 2019

 

A Note from Deacon Maryan

 

Thinking about “Holy Women and Holy Men” with Deacon Maryan

 

At our Thursday morning Healing Eucharist, Rev Kelly initiated the practice of preaching on the Saints of the Episcopal Church using the book Holy Women Holy Men as a reference. By tradition, each Saint or Martyr is commemorated on a specific day of the year. This morning, we celebrated St. Antony the Great, an abbot in the land of Egypt between (c 251-356 CE) who is named as the first ascetic and yet is known to have gathered both men and women disciples to live with him in a loose community setting.

 

Ascetics practice a rule of life consistent with a spiritual life of solitude, prayer, and deep reflection that sets them apart from the world at large. Some Monks dedicate their lives to Christ’s service by living in open or cloistered communities while Hermits seek refuge as individuals. Still others seek to live a life set apart from worldly expectations abiding in a close relationship in God while living in the contemporary world.

 

Today, many have chosen to follow this pattern of life through the Rule of St. Benedict. A path to living in Christ through a Trinity of words: Stability, obedience, and conversion. According to Benedict, Stability  is found in staying put even within the day-to-day trials of community. It can be tough to live together especially in a space as small as some of our kitchens and sacristies. We feel confined and yet that is where we find a sense of belonging we can’t seem to find in the world around us. It is in that space that God abides in us. Obedience to God’s will is a tad tougher but ends up becoming the glue that holds communities together. Benedict suggests silence, listening for God’s still small voice, and acts of humility that ask us to set our expectations and needs aside while prayerfully yielding to the ideas of another. Conversion is the work of the Holy Spirit guiding “the Christ in me to always see the Christ in you!” Conversion rests in our ability to see the changes that need to come about in our own lives and in the life of our community of faith so that, as Julian of Norwich said, “All may be well.” It is in knowing ourselves beloved of God and loving Jesus enough to work at fulfilling God’s will. May the Peace of Christ rest in your hearts forever.

 

*Written as a reflection on the work of Dr. Dana Kramer-Rolls, Berkley California

 

 

Thursday, January 10, 2019

 

Message from Kelly

 

Root to Rise

 

I owe that phrase, “root to rise,” to an online yoga coach…but it’s one that will ring true for any gardeners among us, too…or builders and engineers, for that matter. The anchors that allow structures to reach up, those roots themselves reach down, often remaining hidden below the surface, whether they’re stabilizing a tower, a tree, or a tulip.

 

As the snow fell (and piled up) on Wednesday, it occurred to me that during our New Hampshire winters, those roots become even more deeply hidden. I remembered that, for many perennial plants, snow cover is essential to their cold hardiness. They survive the winter by retreating underground, their roots anchored in the soil and then insulated by a blanket of snow above. They’re doubly invisible: biding their time under the soil and the snow. And having rooted well, they will rise, when the right time comes.

 

One of the bits of wisdom that has emerged from our engagement with the Renewal Works process (which—remember?—began last fall with a parish-wide spiritual inventory) is the importance of tending to our religious roots: our shared Christian scriptures, as well as our distinctly Episcopal heritage, including the Book of Common Prayer. You’ll be hearing more and more about how we’ll be doing that in the coming months. The Renewal Works team and our vestry/Bishop’s committee are developing plans to nurture the roots that anchor the growth God calls us to: not only growth in our spiritual lives, but also growth in the impact we have for the benefit of our neighbors, and—yes—even growth in the number of disciples who join us in following Jesus.

 

My upcoming study trip to the UK is an investigation of all three of those kinds of growth—in “numbers, spirituality and effectiveness,” as one of the researchers we’ve read puts it—and how those factors combine to generate holistic, healthy church growth. I’m tremendously curious about what we’ll learn in London…just as I’m eager to see what will emerge from our roots here at home.

 

Faithfully, Kelly+

 

 

Thursday, January 3, 2019

 

Message from Kelly

 

Blizzard Bags

 

When I was a young mother and volunteering with a service organization in Charlottesville, Virginia, one of our “Done in a Day” service projects was to deliver “Blizzard Bags” to Meals on Wheels clients. On days like today, when Meals on Wheels programs were closed—because the weather and the roads made deliveries of that day’s cooked meal unsafe—having a “Blizzard Bag” in the house made sure that the clients still had the makings of a good meal on hand.

 

We’re heading into the heart of the winter now, and we all know there will be days when getting to worship (whether on a weekday or a Sunday) or another church activity is made difficult or impossible because of weather and roads. Now that I’ve been with you all for a year, and am getting to know this parish’s far-flung roads and landscapes, your leaders and I will be revisiting how we make decisions about weather-related delays and cancellations, and how we communicate those decisions.

 

But in the mean time, remember that each one of us, as Christians and especially as Episcopalians, already has a spiritual “blizzard bag” on hand: our Bibles, and our Book of Common Prayer. Jesus has promised that “where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them,” (Matt 18:20).  Can’t make it to church safely? Open your Bible or your prayerbook, phone a friend or invite someone in your household to join you, and you’re good to go.

 

Faithfully, Kelly+