In September Bishop Lane invited a number of congregations to consider forming teams of two to “Pray the Neighborhood” for one year. He asked them to take a walk around their neighborhood for an hour each week, to pray together about what they observed, and, ultimately, to gather the teams to consider how their church might join the mission of God at work in their specific locale.
Recently I asked some of the people who have committed to praying their neighborhood what they have discovered after the first few months.
The Rev. Tim Walmer of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Wilton said,
We saw a large amount of Halloween decorations around the neighborhood: fake tombstones, a zombie or two, spider webs, and lots of pumpkins. So, realizing our church is in a central location, we opened the church doors on Halloween evening and passed out popcorn balls and cookies for the kids and hot cider for the grownups. We had more than 100 people stop by. I don’t have high expectations about them coming on Sunday, but the experience of simply greeting people at the front door of the church was thoroughly enjoyable.
The rector and senior warden, the Rev. Dan Warren and Paul Beaudette, of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Auburn, shared an even bolder, highly un-Episcopal, move. They knocked on a door.
C. Kirk Hadaway
The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society
On Sunday, August 24, Bishop Steve Lane visited with the people of All Saints by the Sea, Bailey Island, at the far end of the Harpswell peninsula. In his sermon he had this, in part, to say:
“The difficulty for us is not in saying the words; it’s not in making our confession of faith. It’s in living out that confession in our daily lives.
So… who do I think Jesus is? I think Jesus is the presence of God among us. Jesus shows us not only that God loves us, but that God came to be with us and to be like us. There is nothing in human life that is unknown to God and nothing that God can not or will not face and transform. Jesus is the sign of God’s embrace of human life and the human condition. And more than that Jesus is the model and the goal of human life. Living the life of faith means to become more and more like Jesus, living our lives following his example, knowing that failure is forgiven and that, with God, all things are possible.
That’s my confession. Not perfect… there’s probably more to say. And I struggle with it. As Christians in every generation have struggled to live out their faith, so I struggle as well. I take some comfort that it has never been easy.”
Isaiah 48:20, Acts 8:5 14-17
1Peter3, John 14:15
Today we are invited to “Proclaim a joyful sound, and let it be heard; proclaim to the ends of the earth the Lord has freed his people!” Isaiah 48:20
Not only has God freed his people through the efforts of his Son Jesus, he promises to send another Advocate, the Holy Spirit. Our God will not leave us alone in this “playground” of life. Take heart!
“In this whole realm, in which Christianity mixes with human affairs every one of us has to meet questions as they arise, feeling one’s way and threshing out the problem as each new thing turns up.” Herbert Butterfield Christian Historian 1972
The apostles got to work quickly to establish the kingdom among the people. Where once they were slow to understand and slow to respond with good sense especially in Gethsemane and during the trial, we now see Phillip going to Samaria, teaching, healing and cleansing. He is soon followed by Peter, John and others of the twelve heading to Jerusalem to teach and heal with the laying on of hands. Acts 8:5-8, 14-17
Psalm 66 1-7 reminds us to lift up our heads and hearts every so often with thanks; let all the earth cry out to God with joy!
1 Peter 3:15-18 calls us to think on why Jesus died…once for all a just man he took on our burden so that we could freely be lead to God.
These scenes played out before us in the biblical narratives may serve to remind us of the movements of our fellow caregivers who bring the healing and the promises of God to the people of God in and around St. Marys’ Regional medical Center? When attending services in my church, St. Michaels in Auburn, I witness the servers there who help to include and embrace those who come to share worship. One can see the smile in God’s eyes and hear God’s voice assuring each patient, each resident, each visitor and each team player, “I will not abandon you as orphans, and I will come to you! John 14:15-18.
It ended with the birds of yellow feather In a riot of bright gold
Circling till the fire has died out circling while his heart rose through the sky
It ended with his heart transformed into a star It ended with the morning star with dawn and evening It ended with his journey to Death’s Kingdom with seven days of darkness with his body changed to light A star that burns forever in that sky. Aztec Chant ~~ concerning the sacrifice of Christ
Elizabeth Lowe BCC
On the first two Sundays of July, the Rev. James Low, former priest at St. Michael’s, will be the preacher and celebrant. On the third Sunday of July we will host visitors from Trinity Church, Lewiston, who will be sharing worship with us. On the third Sunday of August we will worship with Trinity. Our exchange is to better appreciate our mutual ministries
By Paul Beaudette, Warden
So what is it? Is it the combined service where we are all together and you see faces you haven’t seen in a while? I liked Jan Sites’ comment about the kids. Since most of the children go to the 8:00 service, the ten o’clockers don’t see them as often. Jan’s comment was, “We need children in our services, it just makes it feel right. I love to hear the kids voices during the service.” Thank you, Jan. Having a 4 year old with me on Sundays, I wonder if she is disturbing others with her restlessness. But being all together as one congregation seems to be bringing us closer together. I like summers!I don’t know if I can put my finger on it, but there is something going on and maybe you can help me figure out what it is. At Sunday’s combined service at 9:00 AM, there seemed to be an air of lightness and calmness, but energy as well. The Centering Hymn made me feel at home. The bulletin was different, the prayers seemed to hit home for me. The music, ah, the music. When you’re an eight o’clocker, you miss the music. It just feels so good to sing.
I also would like to thank Elizabeth Lowe for her wonderful story after the service regarding our prayers for her family member who had been sick. Additional gratitude offerings by Kenny Derboghosian and Joyce Baker were shared. These are the missions that are going on outside of our church walls and these are the missions we need to share with one another. We ARE making a difference in the world through our prayers. Let’s not ever stop that. Let’s continue sharing our stories, our families, our trials and tribulations as well as our successes and the things that bring us joy and happiness. So, from now on, let’s spend a few minutes during announcements to share these things with each other while we are all together.
In the last 3 months, we have seen a lot of funerals at St. Michael’s where we had not seen any for almost a year. These times can be rough for the families. We are grieving but lifting our hearts at the same time. We are St. Michael’s Episcopal Church and we are strong, we are strong for ourselves and for each other. We are a part of a remarkable spiritual community, one with deep faith and love for each other and for all people.
Somehow, I think this will be a different summer, a great summer.
Prayer is a conversation with God, most of us would agree. We usually think it’s conversation we are meant to begin. Get out the right book, straighten up, say the right words, and wait for a response. When there’s no response, we feel rejected, and walk away. If we’re honest about the practice of personal prayer, there’s often silence on the other end.
If prayer is so great, why such silence. In personal conversation with another human being, if I’m the one always starting the conversation, if I always take the initiative and hear only silence, I’m not going to stay with it very long. I’ll walk away.
The gospel and worship reverses the initiative in prayer. We’re listening to a conversation that’s already going on. Rather than our starting the conversation, we’re invited to listen to one in progress. What do we hear? Silence, music, and love language: “Abba, Father, says Christ, I want them to know you as I have known you.
Hallowed be your name. Give us today our daily bread. Your desire be done.”
At the Wednesday noon Eucharist we remembered Alcuin of the 8th century who gave us the Collect for Purity:
“Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name: through Christ our Lord.
Alcuin fostered schools and learning through parishes and Montessories, the only source of education in his time. Now we can go online for endless information. But is information really formation? How do we meet face to face, learn to trust, and employ what we know for love, service and justice? To foster such trust we’re not so far from 8th century Alcuin. Computers give information. Parishes, schools, and prayers foster formation.