May 01, 2016

Be filled with the Holy Spirit!

Greetings, Beloved!

I am writing to you in 70 degrees with bright blue skies – snow almost all melted – Alleluia! In these wonderful, joyful days of Easter, anticipating the great celebration of Pentecost, I am feeling the hope and joy of the Good News – looking for God Present – God with us and making all things new! As NT Wright says, when God runs the show, well… righteous- ness, truth, goodwill and love abound and reign – Good News Indeed!

Living in the hope and expectation of God even now making all things new doesn’t just happen. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry says it comes by embracing that we are members of “The Jesus Movement”, aka Crazy Christians. He says:

“We need some Christians who are as crazy as the Lord. Crazy enough to love like Jesus, to give like Jesus, to forgive like Jesus, to do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with God like Jesus. Crazy enough to dare to change the world from the nightmare it often is into something close to the dream that God dreams for it. And for those who would follow him, those who would be his disciples, those who would live as and be the people of the Way? It might come as a shock, but they are called to craziness.”

Our Thursday night potluck with NT Wright underscores this call – Wright is encouraging us to see Hope everywhere – to see it and embrace it and proclaim it!  Yes, it may seem crazy at times to be acting in Hope when all around us we see sorrow, grief, need, violence and selfishness. But, as Crazy Christians – as people who choose to live in the Hope that God calls us to, we are not defeated by the needs of the world, but instead are empowered to bring Hope to them.

We bring Hope by giving food and serving those who come to The Task Force, our local Crisis Center, to Bridge of Hope and to St. Francis Center; by going to the prisons and speaking God’s peace, love, and plan for good for all; by meeting together on Sunday for services and sharing God’s own presence and Being in Holy Communion; and by coming together, 2 or 3, praying, serving, worshiping. In it all, we change and transform the world in Hope!

In all these and so many other ways and times and places, God is with us, encouraging us to keep moving, and to keep being Crazy Christians in the Jesus Movement!  On Pentecost, as we celebrate the Holy Spirit who will keep us going, I will ask us to share our particular plans to keep moving.  And I hope we will be crazy enough to join one another in making those plans happen. Crazy Christians… come one, come all, come together!

With Blessings and Love,

Vicar Janet

April 01, 2016

Blessings to you this Eastertide… and Happy April to all!

I am sure that I am not alone in needing a bit of rest and respite after the power and all- encompassing spiritual rigor of Holy Week and Easter. This year we had added to that richness the challenge of a blizzard and freezing temps – yikes! What a week we had!

In it all, though, we had the ever-present, deeply moving presence of the Lord, holding our hands, whispering words of love to the Beloved, and encouraging us in our journey. Thank you to each of you for your participation by presence, hard work, passion, singing, praying, loving and helping your friends, family and self to enter more fully into the discipline and preparations of Lent, the reflections and sorrow of Holy Week, and then the fullness of joy and celebration at Easter!

Ending Holy Week with those Alleluia bells, the white vestments and lilies, the beautiful music… and the glorious retelling of Salvation History – by superb readers! – the candles and darkness giving way to the great unveiling and lights and flowers and beauty at Easter Vigil, followed by two joyful Easter Sunday Services, with pancakes! kids, and Resurrection Egg Hunt… oh, the wonder and joy were everywhere!

The fullness of the beauty and joy of Easter does not end with that day, of course, it goes on. And in the Fifty Days of Eastertide, ending with the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, we have work to do, and rest to take.

Before we move on, though, I want to pause here to give deep, deep thanks to some of the people who worked tirelessly to make each service and event special and meaningful. Our Altar Guild tops the list of behind the scenes servants- changing vestments, cleaning, putting things up and taking them down, so that every detail presented one message… in ways seen and unseen, their faithful serving enriches and makes possible our worship in the beauty of holiness. Thank you Altar Guild – thank you Mardi, Johanna, Liz G, Liz K, Pat, Joanne, Mildred, and all who step up to help out as needed – Ron H, that means you, too!

Special thanks to Shawn and Tom for the special offerings of Holy Week music from Palm Sunday through the Easter Vigil. Through your music, our spirits were lifted and refreshed, and focused more fully on each of the steps of the week of sadness, reflection, and deep joy. Thanks to all who served, read and led prayers. Easter Sunday with the glorious hymn, Jesus Christ is Risen Today! Alleluia!!, was all the more special for the passion and solemnity of the week that led to it.

Thanks, too, to the children, and to Natalie for coordinating and directing children’s participation at Palm Sunday and Easter Day services, Katherine and Tricia for captivating the Sunday School class with the Resurrection Eggs as the Greatest Story Ever Told was told and heard and enacted – Hallelujah! Thanks to Susan and the Worship and Liturgy team who thoughtfully put together the services and events of Lent and Holy Week – its unfolding was wonderful. Thanks to all who gave food, and to Katherine, Tricia, Barb, and Dianne for putting together and delivering Easter Brunches to people in need of a lift – such a grace-filled gift to people who will never know the individuals who gave, but who can know and feel God’s love through the gifts given as an Easter Blessing of joy in Christ.

And please give a general prayer of thanks that we could come together and worship, pray, serve and celebrate in the beauty and holiness of our lovely valley – surrounded by mountains and plains, filled with deer and bunnies and cows…. And even moose!, as well as snow, blue skies, sun and rain… through it all, and in it all, we are held and blessed by our Loving Living Risen Lord – Alleluia!!!

And now, as The Rev. Canon Charles LaFond reminds us, it is time to rest – perhaps to retreat. Hear his words that invite us to rest and renew:

Retreats – There must be times of retreat or else humans will become lost in work, production, materialism and suffering, losing their way simply by wandering off the gentle path which keeps appearing under foot by angels. One must retreat in order to listen to oneself and to our God’s whispers of love, affection, approval and curious suggestion.*

YES! Hear God’s whispers – of love, affection, approval, and curious suggestion! Just as we were invited to a time of prayer, fasting, and penitence for a Holy Lent, please hear this invitation to a time of resting in God, listening for God’s whispers of love, and being open to curious suggestions… perhaps a suggestion to pamper yourself… or to get on a swing and experience that rush of delight that comes with the air in your face… or to pick up a pinwheel and play… or perhaps to simply sit idle, with the sun on your face, basking. Only God knows the very thing that will bring you joy and help you to hear those tender words of Love – “My Beloved. In you I am well pleased.”

So, Beloved- Listen. Hear the sweet words of love from the Lord. Rest.
The Time to Go will soon be upon us… but now, Rest in God’s loving Embrace.
And May the Joy of Easter and the Risen Christ Be With You Now and Always. Alleluia!

Vicar Janet