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Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

You'll find here occasional writings, a few rants, and hopefully some insights too, about Christian discipleship, the Episcopal Church, and on faith community's life at the Parish of the Epiphany in Winchester, Massachusetts. At the Epiphany we understand ourselves to be "a welcoming Episcopal community, united in God, called to seek and serve Christ in all persons, and to transform the world with love and generosity."


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  • May 05, 2022 11:25 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Barbara C. Harris Camp set against the mountains and woods of New Hampshire
    Laughter. Sitting and really talking with friends, old and new. Nature walks. Meals that somebody else plans, cooks, and serves. Perhaps an “untalent show.”

    These are all things that our retreat planning committee said at our first meeting, as we each answered the question “what do you need, at our parish retreat?” 

    All our various ideas came back to two core themes: Connection, and Joy. The need to know, and be known to, a loving community in true and real and deep ways. The need to play and to laugh. The need to enjoy those beautiful pleasures of retreat life (books and canoes and campfires). The need to mourn and heal, and to find peace. The need to see that God is good, and that we are standing together in a joy-filled, sometimes silly, sometimes serious, and always loving holy family. 

    The Parish Weekend Away will be September 23-25, 2022, at the Barbara C. Harris Camp and Conference Center in Greenfield, New Hampshire. This past Wednesday, you received an email with all the details — accommodations, meals, costs, options. Please look back at that (and spend a few minutes taking in those beautiful, inspiring pictures), and make a plan to join us. This Sunday, May 8, you’ll receive an email with a link to our registration form. 

    And on Sunday, May 15, during our Sunday forum after worship, we’ll ask you those same questions our planning committee pondered: What do you need? What would be life-giving? Soul-healing? What can this Parish Weekend Away offer to you? 

    Please come. Connect. Laugh. Eat. Play. Sit. Talk. Renew.

    With joyful anticipation,
    Bryn

  • April 28, 2022 12:35 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    YouTube thumbnail of Reverend Nick Myers in a white button-down shirt in front of fireplace mantle

  • April 21, 2022 2:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Nelia Newell, Parish of the Epiphany's co-warden. A headshot of a woman with short, white hair wearing a teal scarf.One of my favorite parts of the day is walking early in the morning with my dog. The trails near our house take me past ponds, through stands of trees and fields, and past stone walls and other reminders of an earlier history. When you walk the same trails every day, the subtle changes as one season shifts to another float into the edges of your awareness. The air feels different, the light changes and the bird songs change. My favorite is the first day that I hear the frogs.

    At some point this winter I started to head off on my walk with my mind full of lists of things to do and unresolved problems. I felt like I needed to use the time to work through things that needed to get done and was less and less tuned into what was happening around me. It was a gradual shift, one that I didn’t notice until one very cold day when the juxtaposition of a bird song that I associate with spring and my frost-bitten fingers was sufficiently jarring to push its way through the clutter of lists in my brain. It made me come to a full stop and just listen.

    In the past few weeks, a line from a song I like has been surfacing in the background: “Peace, be still, be silent and you’ll hear the whispered roar …” I’ve been trying to explore the many ways to listen. What began as commitment to leave behind the day’s projects for the duration of a morning walk has grown to a practice of spending time being still and waiting to hear God’s voice in the silence. It’s hard for me not to immediately begin to fill silence by framing a question and turning over ideas in my head, but the stillness of listening has become a time I look forward to. Often, I hear something that couldn’t have competed with the chatter that I would generate on my own and sometimes the silence itself is enough.

    I write this before we begin our journey together through Holy Week, knowing that it won’t be read until after we celebrate the Resurrection together. I look forward to once again walking these days together and to all of the moments that I associate with an Epiphany Holy Week.      

    Nelia 

  • April 14, 2022 11:15 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Gospel Procession at Parish of the Epiphany. Clergy and acolytes in white stand in the center aisle of the sanctuary.Here we are — our first Holy Week and Easter together, in-person, since March 2019. I am so very excited for this time together as a parish family. Even as some of us will be away, visiting family or traveling during the school break, I want you to know that the promises of Easter are yours. The things which have been cast down, are being raised up, and the things which have grown old, are being made new. 

    I hope you can join us for our Maundy Thursday Dinner and Service tonight at 6:15 pm. We'll have indoor and outdoor seating, as we share a simple meal together this evening and are reminded of Jesus' central call in our lives: "Love one another, as I have loved you." On Good Friday, we invite you to come together at 7:30 am in the Chapel, or at 12:00 pm or 7:30 pm for Good Friday services as we remember both the cost and the gift of God's love in this world. At our Easter Vigil on Saturday, at 7:30 pm, we will hear and experience (think candles, incense, song, and bell-ringing) the fullness of the Easter promises as we tell the story of God's love-life throughout scripture and welcome the newly baptized into the life of faith.

    Join us on Easter Sunday at our 9:00 am or 11:15 am services, when we will have a festive Eucharist with wonderful music led by our Parish Choir and brass ensemble. We will have an Easter Reception and Egg Hunt between the services at 10:00 am. 

    I am absolutely thrilled that we will be together, in-person and online, during this Holy Week and Easter. Our life together is one small, but significant, manifestation of the new life God promises our world through Christ. Amidst the turmoil and violence of our world, the discord and disdain, in the face of the worry and the challenge, it is absolutely necessary for us to stay rooted in the life-giving power of relationship and community we find and create together. We may not be there yet, but isn't that the point? We are rooted in hope and faith and joy that the old is being made new and the cast down is being raised up — to new life. New life. Now. Together.

    Blessed Holy Week and Joyous Easter to you, my friends,
    Nick

  • April 07, 2022 1:50 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Jeremy Bruns, Interim Director of Music at Parish of the Epiphany, at an organ console“I expected the worst, and it was worse than I expected.” ~ attributed to Henry Adams

    I was probably eight years old when my parents first took me to a Six Flags amusement park in my native Texas. My mother loved roller coasters, and managed to convince me to ride the Runaway Mine Train with her — hardly a roller coaster by modern standards, but scary to a youngster nonetheless. Though only a bit over three minutes, the ride felt endless! The initial slow tug up what seemed to be an enormous climb produced much anxiety, and then the ride ‘proper’ began. Many screams and heart palpitations later, we were finally thrust up to what I thought was the loading/unloading building; I had survived. Another slow tug up to the building ensued, as I pronounced how glad I was that the ride was finally over. Just as I started to breathe normally again, I realized the building we were pulling into wasn’t the loading/unloading building, but rather a pretend Saloon with plastic people and decorations. Suddenly, there was no floor in front of us, and our train was heading straight down toward a lake! We went through an underwater tunnel at what seemed like lightning speed, and then did indeed reach the final destination.

    For much of the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, it felt as if we were riding together on a train, in the back car, unable to see forward. More recently, we seemed to make our way to the front of the train, and ‘thought’ that we could at last see where we were headed. However, as we approached what seemed to be a stopping point, we instead found ourselves in the make-believe Saloon. The ride continues, and sometimes it feels as if the floor has dropped beneath us yet again, as we plunge into a dark tunnel. Where will we be when we emerge this time? Perhaps Jesus felt the same way as the time for his final entry into Jerusalem approached.

    “Courage is not the absence of fear; it is a commitment to something greater than fear.” ~ Robert Holden

    How easy it would have been, at many junctures, to just throw in the towel, overcome with frustration and uncertainty. Cory Muscara, former monk and author of Stop Missing Your Life, says this: “The most difficult moments of life can bring the greatest growth, perspective, and insight. They can also drop us into vulnerability, making us more receptive to things like love, connection, honesty, and authenticity. We’re more likely to connect to the people we care about and reprioritize what is most important in life.” Friends, I hope that you’re holding on to what you find most important, and that you will stay in touch and connected during the seasons ahead. Whatever the path forward turns out to be, and however long this journey takes, I am glad to be in good company for all of the challenges and thrills along the way!

    All best wishes for a meaningful Holy Week and a joyous Easter Day,
    Jeremy Bruns

  • March 25, 2022 2:38 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Lit tealight candles against a black backgroundGrief: Great sorrow, especially that caused by death.
    Grace: The free and unmerited favor of God.

    Where is God in the face of grief? Have you recently experienced God’s grace? These questions that Rev. Nick asks us to reflect upon this Lent are ones that I have been turning over in my mind. 

    My friend Chris Marrion died suddenly on December 30 of last year. Those of us who knew and loved him are still reeling from this loss. Chris was one of those friends who “got me” — I could just be myself with him and vice versa. His absence over the past months has only added to this sense of isolation I’ve been sitting with for so long. I’ve written before that our faith reminds us that God shows up, we just have to notice. I’ll admit that I’ve struggled to see God in the midst of this grief.

    Chris’ memorial service was held on March 12, and his husband Randy asked me to plan the music for it. Chris and I were musical colleagues as well as friends, and I knew that he particularly loved art song and opera. So, I got to work and selected a combination of pre-recorded and live music, each chosen with specific purpose and meaning. Along the way, I offered to take on creating the service bulletin, obsessing about every revision, making sure every detail was covered, working with the technical team at the church where the service was being held to ensure that the pre-recorded materials would be available not only to those in person but also to those attending via Zoom, and so on.

    Clearly, this was my way of showing how much I loved Chris, and yet, for one reason or another, every step of the journey to the day of the service felt as though I was pushing a boulder up a mountain. Why was this so hard? Why was I so frustrated? Was everyone else’s grief part of a larger puzzle? Were we each pushing our own boulders to the point where we couldn’t see anything or anyone else?  

    Grace within my grief finally arrived on the day of the memorial service. Witnessing and participating in the love and care Chris’ family and friends showed each other through our collective grief was that grace. Whether through the service bulletin, the prepared prayers and remarks, the remembrances, the music, the flowers, or the reception, we showed our love. And it reminds me how important funerals and memorial services are to the grieving process.

    God showed up, in community, connection, remembrance and grief, and I noticed. For that I’m grateful.

    Where is God in the face of grief? Have you recently experienced God’s grace?

    Dave McSweeney, warden

  • March 17, 2022 3:33 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Crucifer carrying cross during Sunday morning worship at Parish of the EpiphanyThis past Sunday I taught the youth confirmation class as we reflected upon the Nicene Creed. I'm happy to report that no one fell asleep. They had insightful questions and brought a good dose of curiosity. And, of course, we all wondered: "What difference does this make?" After all, I'm not sure many of us are losing sleep these days wondering about the hypostatic union of the divine and the human in Jesus Christ. More often than not, Episcopalians (with so many others), say: it's a mystery. But, in the 4th century, as Christianity was becoming a global and more dominant religion, people felt obligated to unify and define Christian thinking. I reminded the youth that for over 300 years, good and faithful followers of Jesus thought differently about who and how Jesus Christ was in this world of ours — and beyond it. Unity is more important than uniformity, we might say. 

    There is another creed that came before the Nicene Creed. It is evident in Paul's writings, and, we assume, predates Paul. The heart of that creed is found in Galatians 3:28: "There is no Jew or Greek, no slave or free, no male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus." You may, or may not know this, but that biblical verse, that early creed of the followers of Christ, is in our stained glass windows up near the high altar in our sanctuary. From the earliest days of Christianity, this simple belief transformed the way people lived their lives — oftentimes, bringing them in direct conflict with the world and culture around them. The earliest followers of Jesus included women in leadership (Luke 8) and sexual minorities as first converts (Acts 8); there was reconciliation across lines of division (Galatians 3), equal dignity across class and status (1 Cor. 12), and commitment to peace-making and mercy (Eph. 4:32). You can imagine what a difference it makes to believe that all are children of God, that we belong to one another through the power of Christ. 

    The Nicene Creed, or this ancient creed from Galatians 3:28, may not be the totality of your faith. That's okay. As I said to the youth at Confirmation class: a mature faith is always growing. And yet, a creed binds us together across space and time and gives direction and vision to our living and our lives. At the end of the day, this is true: our believing shapes our living. We extend welcome to our neighbors because we believe such hospitality is God's heart; we forgive because we believe forgiveness frees the wronged as much as the forgiven; we pour our lives into others because we believe that it is here that true life is found. If you're running low on trust, belief, faith these days — take heart, you are not alone. Let's lean on one another and maybe even let God... I'll let you finish the sentence. This I know: no matter what we believe, God still calls us each by name. 

    See you Sunday,
    Nick

  • March 04, 2022 9:21 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Torn red paper heart stitched with thread down the middleJesus tells us: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

    Friends, I know we are all carrying a lot these days. There is both joy and uncertainty mingled together as the pandemic becomes something new. And now, we share the weight of an unfolding war waged by Russian leadership that is categorically immoral and evil. As I mentioned in my Ash Wednesday sermon, war always has the power to decimate not only human bodies, but also our humanity. I imagine that if you're anything like me, you're not "alright." And I don't know about you, but I do feel a bit of a spiral back towards feelings of despair and disengagement that were so familiar at the height of the pandemic. I hope that you know that if you are overwhelmed, anxious, or languishing — that you're not alone. I want to invite you to be particularly present (in person or online), this Sunday as we welcome Dr. Brian Litzenberger to Epiphany for a talk with me at the 10:00 am service. Then, at the 11:15am faith forum in Hadley Hall, we'll begin a five-week series called Grace and Grief: Healing Together. We are going to be talking about all things health and wholeness for our spiritual, mental and emotional lives. No secrets here: We don't have all the answers, but the questions and conversations together will help point us in a life-giving direction. The forum will not be offered virtually as we want to create a safe space for everyone involved. 

    Jesus invites us to come to him, to seek comfort and care and, perhaps most important, companionship. Notice, the promise is not that the burden disappears, it is that it will be shared, made light-er, and that together, we can find some rest and renewal. This Sunday, I hope you can be a part of our shared worship and the beginning of a conversation as we discover God's grace amidst our grief, and healing — together.

    See you Sunday,
    Nick

  • February 10, 2022 10:05 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Two hammocks in profile against a colorful sunsetRight about this time, in midwinter, I'm beginning to hit a wall. Even though I grew up in northern Indiana with some terrible winter weather, it is right about now that I notice my tank is approaching "E." I suppose this is one way that I am reminded of the need for rest, for sabbath. Tomorrow, the family and I head out for some vacation time together as extended family gather to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of my in-laws, Bob and Linda. This kind of rest is punctuated by celebration and renewing relationships with family that we haven't been able to see in quite some time. Likely, a familiar story. I hope it is a time of rest, release, and reconnection.

    This past week I met with my spiritual director who reminded me how we often approach rest as something to be done, instead as a way of being. Sabbath, as a religious practice in the Jewish and Christian traditions, is all about recognizing this simple truth that we often turn away from: we are not at the center, God is. This kind of rest is about open-handed living, not white-knuckled control on our lives. I hope that each one of you can know some rest, sabbath, and renewal in the days ahead. Each one of us is carrying different things: grief over the death of a loved one, frustration over what feels like another diminished school year, exhaustion or overwhelm from it all, or maybe optimism for the beginning of the end of the pandemic, gratitude for another day, joy in the gift of this life. For me, I take with me a readiness for rest; and I am excited for the year that is ahead of us. So full of possibility, renewal, rebuilding—we are at a new chapter in Epiphany's life thanks to God's faithfulness, your commitment, and a trust that we are not the center of it all, God is.

    In Christ, 
    Nick 

  • February 04, 2022 11:35 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Photo of a rocky mountaintop, with a hiker in the distance and the sun shiningIn Rev. Nick’s Annual Meeting address to us, he acknowledged that many of us feel tired. Tired of Covid, tired of Zoom, tired because we are working hard to renew our communal life together. Rev Nick pointed out that we may feel tired but not exhausted; we feel the type of tired one might feel after a long walk or a hike in the White Mountains. As a hiker, I understand that analogy. After a long hike there is a sense of accomplishment — each step brings you closer to the summit with lovely rewards along the way.

    I have hiked on and off for my whole life, and as a sport, it is simple: you just put one foot in front of the other. Some might call it boring, but if you are observant, there is a lot to look at and think about while hiking. In the springtime, when the trees are not yet in full bloom, you can spy the lady slipper and trillium wildflowers off to the side of the trail. Summer is beautiful with the long days and warm temperatures, and possibly thunder clouds forming in the distance. Of course, in New England the “hiking season” is the fall when the mountains are ablaze with color. I happen to really enjoy winter hiking: the day needs to be just right, cold and sunny, but the snowy woods are magical, and quiet, and the snow-covered trail is easier on the knees.

    Like hiking, I am ending my six years as Warden feeling tired, but the good tired, not exhausted but tired with a reward of a long hike that is now over, with a sense of accomplishment of a job well done. Typically, a hiker’s reward are the beautiful views along the way or feeling like you are standing on top of the world and seeing for miles. The rewards for me during my time as a warden has been getting to know each of you better and working alongside you to make God’s kingdom on Earth a closer reality. Often when the trail gets steep, hikers need encouragement to continue. I have felt encouraged and supported by all of you during the most difficult times in these past six years and for that I am very grateful. Along the way you have been the vista points, the points of beauty. You have helped me in my spiritual journey; my faith is stronger and deeper knowing that not every problem can be solved, that sometimes you just need to have the faith to hand it over to God.

    I have been blessed to have served with two wonderful Co-Wardens, Jane White and Dave McSweeney, both of whom I consider dear friends. Jane was a patient mentor, and we made a good team guiding the rector in organizing the fiscal and spiritual life of this place, while enjoying a few laughs along the way. Dave’s three years as a Warden have been full of unpredictability and change. I am so grateful to have had Dave as a partner to walk with during these days. His intelligence, deep spirituality, and sense of humor lightened the burden that we both carried — thank you.

    It has been a joy to get to know Rev. Nick and his family. The Parish of the Epiphany is blessed to have him as our spiritual leader — we are in good hands.

    Finally, thank you to our new Warden, Nelia Newell, for accepting the call, and to our new slate of officers and Vestry people for saying yes to the call to serve the good people of the Parish of the Epiphany.

    Thank you again; it has been a pleasure to serve along side of you.


    Yours in Christ,

    Suzanne Owayda,
    Warden, retired


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