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News & Resources: Spiritual Spot

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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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  • February 02, 2023 3:45 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    A hand placing a red paper heart in an outstretched, open handEach one of us wants our lives to matter. We desire to make a difference in the lives of our family, our friends, our neighbors, and our church. We want to leave a legacy.

    If you’ve ever known someone to have changed your life or this world for the better, it is almost certainly through their generosity—the way they give of themselves or their time or their financial capacity. Their legacy is not so much what they have done, but who they were. For we do not change this world first by doing, but by choosing to be in some particular way. All of this is to say quite simply: leaving a legacy is a matter of the heart.

    This coming year, Parish of the Epiphany will establish and strengthen a Legacy Society, which will be dedicated to ensuring the future ministry and mission of our parish. There can be little doubt that our strength today is directly connected to the planned generosity of those who have come before us. Whether it is through the generosity of Sunday School teachers caring for and nurturing our young ones in the faith, choristers leading us in song and worship and raising our spirits, or the passionate parishioner calling us into deeper service and advocacy for justice in our community—we all play a part in leaving a legacy here at Epiphany. Through planning your legacy gift, you can continue to honor this passion and commitment to the transformational work of Epiphany in the world beyond your lifetime. If Epiphany is worth your living now, then surely Epiphany is worth a planned gift that will leave and sustain your legacy. The legacy we leave behind speaks of the faith, hope, and love that we desire to pass on.

    I am excited for this new chapter in helping create a strong, vibrant, and faithful Epiphany. Not simply for our own good and growth, but for the life of the world. Indeed, Jesus Christ reminds us that our legacy as the church must be: “they will know you by your love." In the coming years, we invite you to plan and leave a legacy in the name of God’s love as we strive, always, to make love our aim. Your planned giving can and will make a difference in this world.


    Rev. Nick Myers

  • January 26, 2023 2:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Parishioners voting at Annual Meeting at Parish of the EpiphanyOur Annual Meeting this coming Sunday will be different from previous gatherings. Before all else, this is the first in-person Annual Meeting we have had in three years. We will share in a simple lunch together as we gather to reflect upon the past year, celebrate some wonderful strides we've made as a parish, and look to the future of our beloved parish. What I have to share on Sunday is about the near-term, and what I believe is also the long-term vitality and life of our parish. I urge you to come, be present, and offer your voice, vote, and presence for our shared life together. 

    As we elect new leadership, we will share our deep thanks for retiring vestry and a warden who has led us through the challenging recent years. We will hear from staff about exciting new ministries and a vision for what is next in their particular areas. I will share with you what I see as the most consequential and urgent work as we enter this new year. I am excited for this time together and pray you will join in this celebration of our shared mission.


    See you Sunday,
    Nick

  • January 19, 2023 1:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    People eating at tables under colorful canopy tents at Parish of the EpiphanyThis started as a piece on gratitude. I am deeply grateful for the many ways that we share our faith and lives at Epiphany, and I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how much of a touchstone it is for me. What emerged as I thought about it was a series of images that all center on connections, and it has left me thinking about how blessed we are to share a journey in which we connect in so many ways. What follows is not intended to cover the range of our journey together, it is only the images that I have enjoyed remembering as we begin a new year.

    • The most recent example was the spontaneous applause on Sunday after Janelle embarked on what she said was a ‘stretch’ to turn a pink button into a children’s sermon (Janelle, it was amazing!).

    • Midweek has grown from an idea to get people together in the middle of the week outdoors to a familiar part of the rhythm of our calendar. It feels completely consistent with what Epiphany is all about that we continue to have an impressive turnout every other week and that some of our newer members are beginning to be the ones who invite and welcome new people. I love to watch the connections across generations and the ways that children are being absorbed into the bigger family, and I particularly love the way that kids welcome other kids and ‘show them the ropes.’

    • Godly Play seems to be attracting a growing group of families, creating a space not only for the children who attend, but a place where parents have time together (parents, you aren’t required to stay, but I love the community that has seemed to evolve on Sunday mornings!).

    • I missed the Weekend Away (thank you Covid!) but was amazed at how many people took time to send me texts, emails, and pictures so that I could be there a little bit.

    • The choristers have not only spent Wednesdays learning and singing, they seem to have followed the Epiphany habit of creating their own unique community. 

    Beyond the images is the sense of connection that has always been part of my experience of Epiphany. When people stop to check in with one another, it’s not just a quick hello, it’s a real moment of listening and responding. I’m looking forward to our continuing journey together this spring and to discovering how we will grow together.

    Nelia Newell 

  • January 12, 2023 1:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Two blue poster boards with pictures of Mission & Outreach activities at EpiphanyMy senior year of high school my friends Breanna and Rachel (they are sisters) and myself and my brother would spend every Tuesday night eating a meal with unhoused people. There was a local non-profit that provided food for people experiencing homelessness. What I loved about it, is that everybody who came would all eat a meal together — erasing the lines between who was serving and who was being served. We would sit with the same guys every week and play Jenga. One of the guys was named Wolfman, a name one does not forget!

    I think there was something about those Tuesday nights that was formational for us high schoolers. After all, my brother is now a civil rights lawyer and my friend Breanna works at a community center in Ireland that supports Travellers, an economically challenged and vulnerable population.

    Jesuit priest, Gregory Boyle, once said this: “When the gospel connects with our hearts and we find ourselves on the outskirts,” those on the margins may wonder what were doing there. They arent accustomed to our presence in their space. In the end, though, the measure of our compassion with what Martin Luther King calls the last, the least, and the lost” lies less in our service of those on the margins, and more in our willingness to see ourselves in kinship with them.”

    I think what Father Boyle is getting at is this idea of incarnated solidarity. Less of a service to approach and more of a service with, recognizing that our lives are bound together and so is our liberation. And this could be fun, like eating a meal and playing Jenga together on a Tuesday night.

    Some of you may have heard that the Mission & Outreach community here at Epiphany is in a season of discernment about where God might be calling us to next. We are taking some intentional time to hear from the greater parish community and exploring new partnerships in our community.

    I have come to learn of the ways that M&O and you all helped start the Blackstone Library in the South End when you realized the school there didn’t have its own public library. Some of you have faithfully companioned the Rawan family as they have resettled here from Afghanistan. There is a group of you that has gone to help out at San Lucas in Chelsea every Friday morning for the past 13 years to organize food for the food pantry. Many of you have been involved in Haiti and Honduras and are doing good work here locally in the community as well. And as a parish we have been generous with our resources — these are just a few examples!

    As part of our discernment, we would like to include as many voices as possible together as a parish to brainstorm all the possibilities. This is an exciting time and I believe we have the people and resources to really allow ourselves to dream big as we follow God’s call.

    We want to hear your voice! Please consider filling out this survey today as an act of compassion and justice.


    With hope,
    Rev. Janelle

    Mission and Outreach Survey

  • January 05, 2023 3:45 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Man in yellow shirt bungee jumping into a canyonWhen I was seventeen years old I went bungee jumping. I'm not certain what waivers I had to sign, but what I remember quite clearly is my looking down at the bungee cord and thinking: Do I trust this thing? It was intense, scary, thrilling, and I am pretty sure my mom didn't "sign off" on it.

    A couple weeks ago, I had a "bungee jumping" kind of conversation with a young person not from church. They knew I was a priest and they asked me: What happens to us after we die? I'm familiar with being asked such questions, but looking down at that little one, as they looked up at me, I started to sense just a touch of that vertigo of uncertainty. "Oh, here I am, talking about something I trust and believe in, but I can't prove with any certainty!" It is unsettling and exhilarating — it can be fun to step into the mystery. Maybe you know what I mean. 

    Well, I told that young person what I believe and trust in: When we die we will be greeted by God's big and warm embrace — it'll feel like coming home, because we will be. I said: "And you know what, it really is a big and exciting mystery." They gave me a nod of approval and said, "Let's keep walking." And, we did.

    You and I live in a world that is increasingly suspicious of, not just faith or trust, but of mystery itself. If we just have enough time and enough technology and enough brilliant minds, we'll figure it all out. It's a scientism and materialism that is both truthful and sterile. I'm not arguing against such things in any final way (I mean, if the Webb telescope doesn't bring you awe and wonder, I'm not sure what will!). Rather, it's to say that there is something very human-making about mystery. Mystery and wonder make us more human, not less so. Mystery and wonder, especially when it comes to religion and faith, is the fuel of spiritual growth. It's about moving us to experience those "bungee jumping" realities of life and asking ourselves: Do I trust this? Maybe it's the decision to trust someone with your vulnerability; maybe it's a choice to walk away from the safe and explore the unknown; maybe it's admitting your limits and asking for, clamoring for, crying for "help." 

    As we enter this new year together, I invite you into the mystery and the wonder that is all around you and within you — the strength, the openness, the possibility of honestly asking: Do I trust this? And then, maybe, taking that leap of faith.


    See you Sunday, 
    Rev. Nick 

  • December 29, 2022 10:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Group photo from Parish of the Epiphany's annual retreat at the Barbara C. Harris Camp in Greenfield, NHMy dear friends,

    I have the privilege of crafting the final newsletter intro of 2022, which gives me the choice of looking ahead (an article on New Years resolutions, perhaps?) or back (a “year in review”). Some of you know that many years ago, I was an actual card-carrying, tweed-wearing historian. While I don’t miss that career at all (I mean come on, I get to finger paint here in ministry!), it did rather shape me, so looking back over the year is the natural choice. But then again, now I work with children, who are the most fantastically hope-filled, forward-looking creatures imaginable, and they are shaping me too.

    I’ll split the difference by sharing two notable moments at Epiphany in 2022, that stand out so brilliantly in my heart when I think about the past year, and one resolution for the next. 

    Midwinter. Last January, Omicron was in full swing. We were all—to use the words of my late grandmother—not amused. We decided that here at church we couldn’t have indoor meals together for a while. Of course, this was deep midwinter, also known as not picnic season in New England. Were we to isolate again? Give up on fellowship time? Rather than cancel Midweek, we pivoted over to Midwinter, where we ate (the most amazing ever) grilled cheese sandwiches and gathered around firepits in the Cloister Garden. It was a spot of blazing warmth, love, and community in the middle of another long, dark pandemic winter. 

    The Parish Weekend Away. For me this was a resolute bookend to the shutdown, and the realization of a deep desire of my heart. Not only did we gather, but we shared meals, memories, and afternoons lazing in the sunshine. We square danced our hearts out. We created bonds of friendship. We treasured each other and the gifts of time, laughter, and community. 

    So, what’s my resolution? To meet and truly know more of you during the coming year. I know many of you well already; but I have a lot of room in me for more true friends. 

    And if I may be so bold as to suggest one resolution for you for 2023, it’s this: Invest yourself here. Come to Midweek. Come to the Parish Weekend Away. Come to Bible Study, to Church School. Stay for fellowship hour. I know how busy we get. I know how many pressures are on us. But church community is different from everything else out there. Time in communal worship; in prayer; in studying the Word of God; and in fellowship with our family in Christ—these are things for which we are truly intended, made in the image of a loving, present God. This will bring you joy in 2023.

    With love and hope,
    Bryn

  • December 22, 2022 1:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Filled sanctuary at Christmas Eve at Parish of the EpiphanyWhen I was growing up, my favorite Christmas tradition was… going to the Christmas Eve services at my church. (Seriously, I am not making this up. I suppose this means I am in the right vocation!)

    All that to say, there was something magical about gathering together as a church family the evening before Christmas. There was joy and excitement in the air, even if it had been a really hard year. We dressed up, sang "Silent Night" in the dark with our candles, and drank hot cocoa in the slightly cooler San Diego winter air. Those who were there all the time and those who came occasionally always came back to the church for Christmas. It was like the family was all back together again. The Christmas Eve services at my home church became even more meaningful when I myself had left for college and then eventually moved quite far away. Often I had not been back in a whole year and when I walked through the doors of that church that raised me, it was like no time had passed. I was always welcomed back with embraces and eagerness to hear new life updates.

    Those memories are the ones that made me feel that I was back home again.

    I am looking forward to celebrating Christmas with all of you this weekend. I hope that it feels a bit like a homecoming whether this church has been your home for many years, or like me, for just a few months. Whether you are involved in every committee there is or haven’t been back in quite some time, this is your home. We gather together at the end of each year to make room for Christ and to celebrate a God who would make home with us. That is good news that helps us to enter the new year with strength and hope.


    With gratitude,
    Rev. Janelle

  • December 15, 2022 12:15 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Sanctuary during Christmas at Parish of the EpiphanyLast week, after having run errands all morning and returned to the house with arms full, I realized that my keys were safely nestled in the zipped pocket on the inside of my winter jacket. I stared at the doorknob, felt the pressure of the keys on my chest, and said to myself, "Of course." And, like nearly everyone else in this situation, I tried to unzip my coat, hold the storm door open with my knee, and retrieve my keys. It didn't go well. Right before the grocery bag tore down the middle, I wisely decided to put all the bags down and step away from the door. I needed to let go of what I was holding.

    This is a full week. From the exciting news of a breakthrough in the study of nuclear fusion or the celebrations of the World Cup, to the mournful remembrance of the shooting at Sandy Hook in Newtown, CT ten years ago or the more intimate moments of challenge or sadness (which often happen during holiday seasons). 

    This is a full week. On Tuesday, Rev. Bob invited us into a space to care for one another as we experience such grief. Wednesday night the vestry gathered to discern our ministry and mission for this coming year and approve a budget. This Saturday the Parish Choir and Chorister gather to practice and prepare for the Christmas celebrations ahead. In Atlanta, at 2:00 pm on Saturday, Janelle Hiroshige will be ordained a deacon, as she responds to God's call in her life. On Sunday, we welcome the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem at the Adult Forum to explore the homeland of Jesus and our longing for peace and home in this world. At 5:00 pm on Sunday evening we celebrate our festive Lessons and Carols service, in a sanctuary adorned by the Flower Guild and prepared by the Altar Guild; after the service we have a festive reception together — a wonderful way to enter more deeply into Advent, towards Christmas. Just sharing all that is happening this week makes us realize, our arms are full. Full of wonderful and beautiful and, maybe, heavy things.

    I'm reminded that it is good to carry such things. And, there comes a time to set these things down. Maybe when the work is finished, the songs are sung, the relationships tended, the call heard. To let go, reminds us that we can't do everything ourselves; indeed, we are not the center of it all. We need help opening the door or are invited to set something down to take another up. This Advent season, this week, is full — but let it not be about busy-ness or distraction, checking-lists, or getting wrapped up in the worry of a perfect "whatever". Advent and the celebration of Christmas is about this: we are not alone, God is with us, this sacred life rests in God's embrace — no matter what we carry.

    Happy Advent friends. See you Sunday,
    Nick

  • December 08, 2022 1:15 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Three Tupperware bowls containing carrot soup“And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work." 2 Corinthians 9:8

    This past Sunday afternoon, members of our vestry, our Property, Creation Care, Planned Giving, and recently formed Capital Campaign committees met to have a strategic planning conversation about our campus. It was the first of what I expect will be many conversations with this group. We met out of a desire to integrate the many discussions over the past several months and develop a sense of alignment on the big picture for our campus: what the significant issues and decision points will need to be to move forward. And we had a conversation about our values.

    We enjoyed lunch and fellowship during the first 30 minutes of our 3-hour session. We had a simple meal: soup, salad, and bread. I made my mother’s carrot soup. I have her recipe scribbled on a piece of paper in my own writing; I recalled years ago, she read it to me over the telephone. The recipe doesn’t make much – it calls for a pound of carrots, an onion, and two and a half cups of vegetable stock. So, most of the week leading up to the meeting, I was obsessing about how many multiples of the recipe I should make; it looked like we might have anywhere between 20 and 30 attendees. Ultimately, I settled on 10 pounds of carrots and went from there. It didn’t stop me from second-guessing myself, fretting that it might not be enough, laughing at myself for being so worried; you get the picture.

    Part of our effort in parish life together involves shifting our culture to move away from the binary view that our building and our mission are somehow separate items. In my mind, we need to talk about the property for a while so that we can stop talking about the property. And what I mean by that is our vestry has developed a vision to self-fund our property needs from our endowment so that our pledge dollars are entirely focused on our people and our mission. To achieve that vision, there’s work to do, and it involves talking about our property.

    At the end of 2021, the vestry charged the Property Committee with helping us get a comprehensive view of our campus maintenance needs so that we could do a better job of longer-term planning and financial forecasting. That work resulted in an engagement with Commercial Construction Consulting (C3) out of Boston.

    C3 reports that while overall, the properties are well maintained and are in good condition, there are items nearing the end of their expected life and needing immediate attention. The accumulated cost to address repairs, spread over ten years, is estimated at $5.7 M. It’s essential to know that this figure is to maintain our campus and doesn’t include renovations or additions that we may want to do as we consider other uses for the campus.

    Our afternoon was filled with several 15-minute sessions, through which we developed a set of property categories and core values that we’d like to apply to each topic to help us discern what will be next. We’ll be sharing more of this work with you in the coming months.

    As you might imagine, our conversations veered into the “how in the world will we afford this” territory, and the room was mixed with both optimism and concern. I was reminded of how I was worried about whether there would be enough soup for lunch (granted, on a much smaller scale). In the end, there was enough soup; I even took home leftovers for lunch on Monday. While we don’t know where we will end up in this strategic conversation about the property, I know that God is able to provide us with every blessing in abundance. For now, I need to trust that we’ll have enough.


    Dave McSweeney, warden

  • December 01, 2022 1:45 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Once again we have entered into the penitential season of Advent, the beginning of another liturgical year. These four Sundays and the days surrounding them give us a time of spiritual preparation for the upcoming celebration of the birth of Jesus at Christmas. Tish Harrison Warren, an author and priest in the Anglican Church in North America, summed up this season of Advent in one of her weekly New York Times articles last year, amidst the ongoing pandemic. She wrote: "Advent is a season of hope, and part of practicing hope is noticing where we need it. In church, congregants sing a well-known Advent hymn that begins, 'O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel.' We recall that we require ransom and rescue. Another year has gone by and we still live in a world in need of mending. We have learned anew through these long years that a virus can suddenly change our lives, that our illusions of control and predictability are fragile and faulty, that lies are often mistaken as truth, that we cannot keep ourselves or those we love from pain, that the wreckage of poverty, injustice and darkness persist. This is the very world of heartbreak, Christians say each year, into which Christ came and will come again.”

    Indeed, this staple of our Advent hymnody “O come, O come, Emmanuel” is an adaptation of the Great O Antiphons which have been sung in the Roman church since at least the 8th century. They are seven Magnificat antiphons used at Vespers on the last evenings of Advent (December 17-23), leading up to the December 24 Vigil on Christmas Eve. The ornate antiphon for each evening would be sung before and after the Magnificat (Song of Mary), the high point of the Vespers liturgy. These texts likely originated in Italy in or before the 6th century, when Boethius refers to them in The Consolation of Philosophy. The Latin titles are:

    17 December: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
    18 December: O Adonai (O Lord)
    19 December: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
    20 December: O Clavis David (O Key of David)
    21 December: O Oriens (O Dayspring)
    22 December: O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations)
    23 December: O Emmanuel (O God With Us)

    The first letters of the titles, from last to first, appear to form a Latin acrostic, Ero cras, meaning 'Tomorrow, I will be', mirroring the theme of the antiphons (Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia). Such acrostics were popular among early medieval writers. If you look at Hymn number 56 in our Hymnal 1982, you will note that the appropriate date for each stanza is listed. Though we don’t have daily services of Vespers or Evensong during the final octave leading up to Christmas, these antiphons might serve as a useful addition to a daily devotion or meditation as we approach the next celebration of Christ’s birth in the manger. In the meantime, all best wishes during this season of hope and preparation,

    Jeremy Bruns

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