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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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  • July 12, 2021 10:59 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Headshot of Bryn Hollenbeck, Director of Faith Formation at Parish of the EpiphanyOn one of our first Sundays of online worship back in March 2020, Rich Goldhor preached, and from the pulpit he looked out over the empty pews and he saw us. He pointed to where we usually sat and called out to many of us by name. We were, Rich said, “a veritable cloud of witnesses.” 

    What he saw was a combination of memory and hope; and it was one of my most poignant and holy pandemic worship experiences as I sat listening, surrounded by Legos, on my living room floor. 

    It has remained Rich’s way of seeing, that first Sunday, which has given me “hope sight” through the shutdown. It was a long year (and then some) while the staff and I worked here in our nearly-empty church building   photocopying mailings, writing emails, making recordings, or packing faith-at-home boxes. We knew the privilege of being onsite and were always grateful, but it was also lonely and often sad here in this big, dark, unoccupied church. It wasn’t the same place without you all.

    But like Paul in Romans 8, we hoped for what we did not see but waited for it patiently. I often envisioned us back together again, reunited and growing stronger as a community. I’ve seen you in pews and around tables, in classrooms and walking down hallways. And now! We can truly see again. We can be together, pass the peace, and share coffee as we talk face to face. Grab this joy with me, friends!

    While we celebrate our homecoming, this summer is also a period of vigorous planning here at Epiphany. Your vestry, staff, committee members and leaders are all holding these past months prayerfully before us while looking, with hope, into our future together. Over these next weeks of summer as new ideas and plans are shared, you will be asked to join in, to try new things, to help, and to lead with us as we plan for days full of hope. I look forward to walking these new roads together.

    With love,
    Bryn

  • July 09, 2021 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Rev. Nick Myers and a member of Parish of the Epiphany's Vestry at 2021 Vestry RetreatIn my life, I’ve noticed there are three reunions underway: personal, professional, and spiritual. Or is it actually one reunion? I tend to organize things separately “in piles” in my brain in order to feel as though “I have it together.” For me, this tendency can lead to a missed opportunity for integration if I don’t take the next steps to explore connections between those piles.

    My sister was visiting from Seattle recently; it was her first trip back to New England since the pandemic started. It was wonderful to be with her again. I’m grateful to all of you who welcomed her warmly at church that Sunday – and the family reunion party that we had at my brother’s house later that day was filled with joy and laughter. I recalled to Brett during the car ride home, “That was the best family party; it was perfect.”

    Last week, I participated in a day long, in-person “offsite meeting” at work. This meeting involved colleagues I have not seen in person since the pandemic, including my manager. I was struck by the genuine happiness in the room as we worked together to determine some future priorities. From my perspective, being together for those hours restored a camaraderie and momentum that had been missing over this last period; honestly that felt more valuable than the content of what was discussed.

    Two Parish of the Epiphany Vestry members sitting outdoors at the 2021 Vestry RetreatLast month, the vestry met for an in-person retreat, where a similar scenario played out – we spent time together over a few meals, re-connecting and laughing. On the first evening, we spent a few minutes sharing a core value about ourselves, providing a window into our lives. The next day, we agreed that one of our immediate priorities should be to continue to explore ways for the parish to be together, and you’ll be seeing more about that in the coming weeks.

    The Danish comedian and musician Victor Borge said “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” The joy and laughter that I experienced during these brief reunions were a great way to bridge the distance that appeared due to being apart. For me, it’s a terrific reminder of my need to be in community with you. I look forward to continuing our reunion.

    With blessings to you and your loved ones.

    Dave McSweeney
    Warden


  • June 28, 2021 10:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Several tables filled with people at a brunch in Epiphany's Hadley HallI love the month of June! In New England, it begins with gardens bursting with flowers and later we get our first tastes of summer weather. For most of us, schedules begin to be a little less hectic and we have time to enjoy being outside as well as having opportunities to gather with family and friends. We have the whole summer to look forward to, and often that includes a bit of travel.  It doesn’t seem like it could get much better, but this year it has!

    After months of having our lives turned upside down because of Covid, this June we have begun to get back many of the things we used to take for granted before the pandemic. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for each step forward that we have taken these past few weeks. There are so many things that I have missed, but as I think through the list, there is one thing that stands out – community.

    We find community in many different places during our lives, and as I thought about my own life, I began to realize that the place I have most consistently found community is the church. Most of my closest childhood and adult friends are people that I have met in church. I even met the person who is now my spouse when we were singing in a church choir many years ago. I’m guessing that many of you can identify with this. As we have been regathering at Epiphany these past few weeks, the one thing I have heard over and over is how much you all have missed each other. While we have done our best to keep in touch online, it just isn’t the same as sitting next to someone and having a conversation, or singing and praying together as a group, or being able to give someone a hug and letting them know that you’ve been thinking of them. What a gift our church community is!

    As your church staff has been meeting and planning for fall over the last few weeks, we have been talking a lot about how all of us need opportunities to get together so that we can strengthen our sense of community after many months of being apart. While all the plans are not completely finalized yet, I can tell you that there will be opportunities on Sundays after worship and during the week for us to reconnect and have conversations with one another. Please watch the newsletter for more information as we go through the summer. If you would be willing to help with these gatherings in some way, we would love to hear from you. We have much to be thankful for as we regather over these next few months and much to learn about what has changed in all of our lives. I look forward to reconnecting with all of you as we rebuild and add to the beloved community here at Epiphany.

    Faithfully, 
    Craig Benner

  • June 24, 2021 2:21 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Blue-green mountains with sky and clouds aboveWelcome home! It has been absolutely wonderful to welcome you back to Epiphany and to see your smiling (although masked) faces on Sunday mornings. As we get further along in our in person services, I look forward to seeing many more of you.

    This past weekend your vestry, for the first time in over a year, met in person in a day and one-half long retreat. It is hard to believe, but two-thirds of the vestry has mostly met via Zoom, so it was a wonderful time to connect with each other and with Father Nick. Part of our time together was to get reacquainted with and to learn more about each other. In one of our exercises, Father Nick asked us to speak about our own core values. That was challenging. Have you ever thought about your core values, have you ever expressed them to others? Thankfully, we had ample time to think about it and could bring a prop, an item that reflects our core value or values.

    After pondering this question, I realized that I value beauty. At first I was reluctant to share this value because it seems superficial, but as I reflected more I recognized that it really is one of my core values and it runs deeper than surface beauty. The beauty that I value is the splendor of God’s creation in the natural world; the magnificent mountains, the exquisite color and detail in a garden, how the light reflects over the water, the musical range of bird songs in the morning.  All of these things remind me that God’s love is everywhere, it strengthens my faith and brings me joy. When I have joy in my heart, I am better able to serve God and others.

    I am not alone in valuing beauty, for centuries humans have built sacred spaces, from simple outside worship gardens to magnificent cathedrals filled with artistic masterpieces, in which to glorify God’s creation. This is the ministry of our Property Committee, parishioners dedicated to keeping our own sacred space lovely and functional; let us pray for them.

    Returning to core values, what are your core values? What are the core values of the Parish of the Epiphany? I look forward to the opportunity to have this parish-wide discussion; in the meantime, enjoy the beauty of this day.

    Yours in faith,

    Suzanne Owayda
    Warden

  • February 18, 2021 2:16 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As I write to you in these first days of Lent, I’m wondering if I’ll ever enter a Lenten season again without the overwhelming echo of the feelings and memories from last year.

    The 2020 Shrove Tuesday celebration, when I was unsuspecting about the changes to come. My growing daily unease that became fear and dread as the virus spread and took over the news. Our Lenten ministry plans being edited, rewritten, and canceled. A March 12 phone call from our warden, Dave, which I took while standing in a packed Trader Joes full of empty shelves, telling me that our church building would be closing. Our first Zoom Epiphany staff meeting, where we tried to imagine a whole new kind of Lent, and a whole new kind of church.

    We all have our own stories of Lent from last February and March. Each week brought new realities and new griefs. For some, those weeks even brought new, confusing joys like time and quiet. Some of us leaned into God and the journey of Lent more fully than ever before; and some of us just couldn’t bare it. The wilderness was too real.

    And here we are, back again. Perhaps you have jumped into this Lent with renewed purpose; praise be to God. But I think many of us are crawling in on our hands and knees. Already praying. Already grieved. Already exhausted.

    My daily prayer for each of us this Lent, whatever your posture, comes from Hebrews 12:

    Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses . . . let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.

    Nick, Craig, and I are running with you. Your wardens and vestry are running with you. This entire parish--this great cloud of witnesses--is running with you. You can continue, my dear friends. Whether sprinting or crawling, Jesus meets you this Lent wherever you are.

    With love,
    Bryn

  • February 11, 2021 11:09 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    One of the gifts of being a part of a community of faith is the ability to situate ourselves in a larger story. Human relationship is a network of community. I am a friend. I am a sibling. I am a spouse. I am a parent. I am a citizen. I am a teammate. I am a beloved child of God. It could be almost anything—we are always placing ourselves within a larger story. This is good during times of struggle, challenge, division, or frustration. It’s a gift to know that we are not alone in this life and that our story is beautiful on its own, but also deeply a part of something more than ourselves.

    As people of faith, as followers of Jesus, we are invited to find ourselves in God’s love-life story in the Bible and the world around us. Sometimes, it is so very easy to find ourselves there; at other times, it’s a real challenge. Since I have begun as the new priest of Epiphany I have started to find myself in the larger story of our parish--our history, both old and new.

    Last week I found myself looking through the parish register of our church from 1918. I was looking for something in particular. And I found it. It happened on September 29th, 1918 and lasted till October 13th, 1918. Just three weeks. I was surprised by how brief it was. Considering that the event cost the lives of nearly 50 million people worldwide. What I saw in our parish register was that the Parish of the Epiphany closed its doors to worship for three Sundays in the fall of 1918. And the reason: “because of Influenza” (see photo). That is all that was noted. We know that there was much more to the story. It was just one part of a larger whole.

    Even now I am thinking with the staff and leadership or our parish about how we can do more than “mark our parish register” to remember and commemorate this pandemic. We have stories to tell, grief to express, lives to remember, and gratitude to share.

    As we enter this week, observing Ash Wednesday together on Wednesday, February 17th, I invite you into a Holy Lent. The phrase in our liturgy is to “observe a Holy Lent”, but I’m thinking, since we all have been “living Lent” for over a year now, we might do best to observe our life and the world around us. What are you noticing in yourself? What do you see in this world of ours, so full of beauty and companionship, as well as despair, division, injustice, and violence? If we can observe rightly, we may begin to see an invitation into something more. We may begin to see ourselves as part of a larger story. We might begin to see that the antidote to our deepest anxieties is to let our inward gaze turn toward our neighbor in love, empathy, and service. That would be a truly Holy Lent—a holy living.

    God’s peace is yours,
    Nick  

  • February 04, 2021 11:26 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    “What an amazing year this has been for Epiphany!” This was my reaction as I read the annual report and attended the annual meeting last week. I must admit, this reaction was a bit of a surprise as this past year has given us challenges that we never imagined we would face. Confronted with sickness and death, and economic, political and social turmoil, the people of Epiphany have found many ways to continue being the church.

    We have found ways to continue worshiping on Sundays and during the week which has helped to keep us grounded. Many people have stepped up to think through how we can safely worship in person again, and the implementation of these ideas is already in the works. Sunday school, choir, bible studies, prayer groups, fellowship, Stephen Ministers, Friends in Deed and Epiphany Visitors have all helped to keep us together as a community. Our mission and outreach projects have continued to make a difference in the world. Our stewardship and financial teams have worked to keep us on sound financial footing. Last, but certainly not least, our Rector search committee found ways to do their work and we have welcomed the Rev. Nick Meyers and his family to Epiphany.

    I am grateful that there is much to celebrate, but I also know that all of this work during difficult times has not been easy. I’m sure more than a few of us feel a bit tired. As I pause and think about what comes next, I realize that the flow of our liturgical calendar seems to be perfectly timed as we prepare for the future here at Parish of the Epiphany.

    On Sunday, we will close out the season of Epiphany with the Feast of the Transfiguration. At the beginning of Epiphany we saw a star marking the arrival of the Christ Child, the light of the world. In the middle of this season we heard the story of Jesus calling disciples to be "fishers of people." This Sunday we will hear about Jesus going to a mountain with Peter, James and John. While they are there, Jesus begins to shine with bright rays of light and a voice is heard giving us a call to action: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”

    So how are we, the people of the Parish of the Epiphany, going to answer the call to share the light of Christ with others? It seems to me that the season of Lent gives us the perfect opportunity to explore this question. As we walk through the quiet times of Lent, I hope that we will think and pray about where God might be leading us in our life together. Much hard work has been done, and the future looks bright. The glory of Easter is off in the distance and there will be new and exciting work for all of us to do.

    Faithfully,
    Craig


  • January 29, 2021 11:53 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In less than two weeks we begin the holy season of Lent. It is a time of self-reflection, of noticing our mortality, of slowing down to speed up towards God and neighbor; Lent is a time to question old patterns and find a way forward in faith, hope, and love. The truth is we have all been living Lent for many months now. The pandemic has been a time of Lent, as we all continue to hunger for the promises of Easter and new life.

    It is in times like these that the rituals of our faith and the practices of community as church help make a way for us. With the support of the wardens, staff, and altar guild, we have created a plan to break our fast from Communion on Ash Wednesday, which is February 17th.

    On Sunday, February 14th, Tuesday the 16th, and Ash Wednesday, the 17th, we will be distributing individual packaged consecrated bread and wine, as well as blessed ashes at the church.  See below for specific pick-up times.

    Each household will receive consecrated bread and wine, ashes, and a service bulletin for Ash Wednesday in preparation for our live streamed service on February 17th. Parishioners are invited to drive-by the church by entering the semi-circle driveway off Central Street. We ask that you enter the semi-circle from the direction of Bacon St. and exit towards Church Street. This will help avoid traffic backing up on Church Street itself.
    Packages can be picked-up at at the Central Street door at these times:
    Sunday, 14 February from 12:00pm- 3:00pm
    Tuesday, 16 February from 7:00-8:00pm
    Wednesday, 17 February from 7:00am-9:00am

    On Ash Wednesday, the service will be available on Youtube so you can worship at a time that is convenient to you.  The service bulletin is also available here.

    We will be exercising care in the preparation and packaging of our consecrated elements and blessed ashes as we continue to follow diocesan guidelines in caring for one another during this time.

    I am very pleased and looking forward to sharing in the sacrament of Communion, this deeply central ritual of our life together—even if it is in a manner that is different than our typical practices as a community. If you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to be in touch with me.

    We will have more to share with you as we get closer to Ash Wednesday and begin this holy season of Lent together. Until then, God bless you and keep you this and every day.

    God’s peace is yours,
    Nick


  • January 21, 2021 5:35 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    New beginnings are full of promise and expectation and, well, new stuff. It’s a grand thing. And, it can be a very hard thing.

    I am a person of habit. The truth is that we all are. The routine, the plans, our habits, shape us into who we are. So, it’s a bit of high hurdle for me when everything is new. We have been asking a lot of questions in our family: Where’s the grocery store? Who is their teacher? We take our trash to a what…transfer station, you said?! Everything is new and, as I am finding out, so am I.

    It’s an interesting thing that in the midst of new beginnings, we are beginning again. What is really going on is that I’m becoming something and someone new during this time. It’s full of possibility. Maybe you sense it too. Perhaps, you are, this very moment, filled with a sense of gratitude for the new chapter here at the Parish of the Epiphany. Maybe, right now you are relishing in the possibility of new beginnings in your self, your work, your family, a relationship, or your faith and trust in God. If you find yourself thankful for the new—then I’d encourage you to pay attention to who you are becoming in this moment and roll it around in the palm of your heart a bit. Notice it and give thanks to God.

    But newness is not always sunshine and rainbows. New beginnings are not always easy or comfortable. So, there is always a bit trepidation, if not outright fear when it comes to beginning again. We might say things like: What do I do? Are people staring at me? I won’t know anyone! Do they like me? Will I be welcomed? What if I mess up? This is not what I expected!

    If you are feeling a weight of fear or sadness or unease, you too should know this truth that we proclaim in our prayers: "that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new”. This happens, we say, not because of ourselves or our wisdom or our awesomeness, but because of God’s presence in and among us. It is the promise we receive in Christ that in the good and in the less good, God is with us.

    On Good Friday we pray this prayer, that I hope might be your prayer today and everyday—in the good and the not so great moments of life. It is a prayer of hope and newness and a prayer of recognition that in it all and through it all, we trust in and are loved by a God who is with us, always:

    O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquillity the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.



  • December 23, 2020 9:03 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear friends at Epiphany,

    Always We Begin Again is the title of a small book by John McQuiston; it’s a modern interpretation of the Rule of St. Benedict. I say that phrase, “always we begin again,” to myself sometimes, usually when I’ve made a mistake and need to encourage myself to start over again with something. The phrase reminds me that life is full of beginnings, some long-awaited and some we choose each day.

    Parish of the Epiphany is beginning again in January as you welcome the Rev. Nick Myers as your Rector, starting a long-awaited new season of ministry. You will be blessed with Nick’s abundant gifts as a priest, just as he will be blessed by Epiphany’s vibrant life as a community of prayer and mission. Together, you will go places you never dreamed of before.

    The interim time is an opportunity to prepare to begin again with a new leader. And yet our interim time also encompassed an unexpected season of starting all over again. In March, it felt like we had to begin again as a parish when it became necessary to close the church building and move our life together online – worship, pastoral care, classes for children and adults, outreach projects, administration, meetings. There was no way to plan or prepare for how the pandemic would upend our life together. I am so grateful to Epiphany’s outstanding staff, wardens, Vestry, committees, guilds, and groups for persevering in ministry under difficult circumstances. And I am grateful to each of you who are quietly, daily, praying us all through this extraordinary time.

    And finally, I am so grateful for my time with you – it’s been a rich season for me, full of blessings and beauty. I am inspired by the depth of prayer and care at Epiphany. I will miss you. God bless you and keep you always.

    Yours in Christ,
    Sarah


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