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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 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


  • December 17, 2020 4:47 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Do you remember that song from The King and I? I recall learning it at summer camp for a memorable performance by an earnest cohort in mismatched costumes on a rustic stage in the White Mountains.

    A child comes home from the first day of school chattering about a new best friend. “Tell me about her,” her mother asks. “She has red sneakers just like mine!” the child answers. A young man moves into his dorm room freshman year and meets his roommate. “We have nothing in common! He won’t answer me. He grunts!” the young man complains to his parents. By the time winter break rolls around, he wants to spend it hanging out with this now fast friend, future best man. A recent widower succumbs to his well-meaning sister’s nagging and sneaks into the unfamiliar back pew of a neighborhood church one Sunday, overwhelmed with the sense that he’s the only one there not connected to someone.

    There are so many ways we “get to know” each other. The Rector Transition Committee has been working these last six weeks to define a few more ways (socially distanced, of course) for us to get to know our new rector and his family, and they us.

    Think parade! One weekend afternoon in mid-January we hope to organize a parade of cars, starting at the church and proceeding down Lakeview by the rectory. We’ll decorate with balloons and streamers. We’ll cheer. Maybe we’ll have music! We’ll bring letters to the Myers family, telling our Epiphany stories, so they can begin to know us.

    Take a hike! The Myers family love the outdoors. We are hoping to schedule some walks, longer hikes, and sledding adventures for small groups, to have fun and begin to get to know Rev. Nick and his family. We might even end up around a crackling fire in the cloister garden.

    How about a little prayer and quiet conversation? We envision a series of intimate Zoom gatherings (or in the building, when possible) featuring time to explore engaging questions with Rev. Nick and others in his family and time for worship.

    Stay tuned for more. The committee, our new rector, and Epiphany’s vestry and staff are excited about offering a variety of new ways for us to get to know the Myers family, and they us.

    Getting to know you
    Getting to know all about you
    Getting to like you
    Getting to hope you like me

    - Jane White, Annie Bing, Jim Bracciale, Lee Kaukas, and John McConnell


  • December 08, 2020 2:31 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    "HEY! Unto you a child is born!"

    This isn’t quite scripture, but can you identify this quote?

    It’s the final line in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, my favorite childhood holiday story (I suppose I started training for this lay ministry early!). This book is about the Christmas a small-town church is turned upside down when the six Herdman children ("the worst kids in the world") stumble in looking for cookies and collection plates. Although they’ve never heard the Christmas story before, they end up claiming the lead roles in the Christmas pageant.

    The Herdmans were known for starting fires, stealing, and giving bruises. Every parishioner agrees they are unexpected, unwelcome, and definitely there to ruin Christmas.

    Only, of course, they don’t ruin Christmas. Despite dirty faces, a cigar-smoking Mary, and a wiseman bearing a ham, the congregation learns to hold their traditions a little more loosely and let God speak to them through new voices. And the Herdmans learn that baby Jesus--God incarnate--came to love and save even them.

    This year, maybe you feel like the congregation at the beginning of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever when the Herdmans barge in--knocked off-kilter and grieved by the loss of how things ought to be. Or maybe you feel more like a Herdman--ragged, wary, hungry (and pretty willing to stuff your pockets with cookies if the opportunity arises). Whether they know it or not, both the prim-and-proper congregation and the rough-and-tumble Herdmans are searching for the peace and hope only God can bring, and God does not fail them.

    I pray that this coming Sunday, you will open your hearts to hear the story of the birth of Christ from this congregation’s children. Our 2020 pageant will be different, yes. But the children’s ministry to you is as full of love and hope as ever.

    May we all listen for the new voices that speak to us this Christmas season, whether the soft sounds of a candle-lit Silent Night or the bellowing voice of a small, mud-spattered Angel of the Lord making sure that everyone hears “HEY! Unto you a child is born!”

    - Bryn Hollenbeck



  • December 04, 2020 10:09 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear friends at Epiphany,

    The season of Advent is one of waiting, preparation, and expectation. Advent means arrival, and so we are waiting for Christ to arrive, to be born not just in a stable but also in our hearts. As we wait, we prepare our hearts, making room for the Christ Child, clearing away those things that would distract us from his arrival. And as we wait and prepare, we feel a sense of joyful expectation, looking forward eagerly to his arrival.

    The interim time is surely an Advent of sorts. It is a time of waiting, of course; you are waiting for the arrival of a new rector. It is as well a time of preparation, of getting ready for a new season of ministry. And all the waiting and preparation is accompanied by a spirit of joyful expectation, anticipating what life will be like with a new rector.

    The season of Advent in the church year is four weeks; the interim season at Epiphany has been much longer, but it will soon give way to the long-awaited arrival of your new rector, Nick Myers. As eager as you are for him to arrive, he is just as eager to begin his ministry with you! While you continue to wait, one of the best things you can do to prepare for Nick’s arrival is to pray for him and his family. They are making both a journey across the country and a journey of the heart to be with you. Pave their journey with prayer, and let your prayers surround them as they arrive and settle in and begin this new season of ministry.

    As you know, Nick’s first Sunday at Epiphany will be January 17th. My last day at Epiphany will be Sunday, January 3rd. Between those two Sundays, there will be a priest on call for pastoral emergencies (contact information to come).

    Yours in Christ,
    Sarah


  • November 24, 2020 1:52 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Here we are at the beginning of Advent, a season that is one of my favorites. Advent invites us to slow down amidst one of the busiest times of the year. We are invited to be quiet and to pray. It is a season of waiting and preparation. The scripture readings during this season focus our attention both on the coming of the Christ Child and of Jesus’ coming again. Unlike Lent, where we often turn our thoughts inward, in Advent we turn our thoughts to what the coming of Christ means for us, for our families, and for the world. We often talk about themes of hope, peace, joy, and love.

    This year more than ever before, I feel the need to prepare. This year our world has been filled with sickness, death, economic distress and racial inequality. At church our regular routines of worship, fellowship and caring for one another have been upended. Even many of our personal lives have been challenged by stress or loneliness. Thankfully, even in this season of darkness, there are signs of hope and light.

    It looks as though there will be much to celebrate in the year to come. New, effective vaccines are on their way which promise to bring us relief and to restore some normality to our lives. Our church has called a new rector, and Nick and his family will soon be with us to help lead Parish of the Epiphany into a new chapter. There will also be new leadership in our country that pledges to build bridges and to work for the good of all people.

    Of course, none of these things in and of themselves, will solve all of our problems. We all need to play a role in bettering our lives, our families, our church, our country and our world. We won’t return to everything being the same. Things will be different, and we will need find new ways to fit in. During this time of preparation, my prayers are going to be focused on what role I am supposed to play. I don’t know when those answers will come, but I do know that I look forward to celebrating the light of Christ coming into this world very soon. I also look forward to gradually finding the new ways in which I am supposed to take that light into the world.

    Faithfully,
    Craig Benner


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