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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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  • April 09, 2020 10:50 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Beloved Community,

    We have just experienced most of Lent, and all of Holy Week and Easter in social isolation. Nothing we have experienced in these last weeks has been ordinary. People of faith all around the world have been kept apart, have been kept from gathering to worship because of an invisible virus.

    We have done our best to provide virtual worship and thankfully, with Zoom technology, we have been able to “see” one another on our computer screens or other devices. If you are like me, you have experienced a range of emotions during our time apart, days of feeling down and wondering if this time of isolation will ever end, days of hope as the vivid colors of spring burst all around us and birds return and nest in our yards.

    As Christians, we are taught that we are an “Easter People.” That means that we live in hope each day knowing that Christ defeated death and lives again. Christ lives in each one of us and although many of us may not be feeling like we have experienced Easter yet and are still living in Holy Week, Christ IS alive and one day will once again gather together and sing the glorious hymns of Eastertide.

    The psalm appointed for today is a portion of Psalm 16. The words of the psalmist are encouraging to me and give me hope:

    Psalm 16:8-11

    I have set you always before me; because you are at my right hand I shall not fall.
    My heart, therefore, is glad and my spirit rejoices; my body also shall rest in hope.
    For you will not abandon me to the grave, nor let your holy one see the Pit.
    You will show me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy, and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.
    (St. Helena Psalter)

    The psalm declares our faith in God, who is always with us even when we do not feel God’s presence. My prayer for all of us is that in this time that is like no other, we will lean evermore on the everlasting arms of Christ, trusting that he will show us the path of life and we will know that in his presence there is fullness of joy.

    Faithfully yours in Christ,



  • April 02, 2020 11:38 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Beloved Friends,

    You may have noticed that I am not participating in our live-stream services during this time of social distancing. Being in the age category that I am, I am being extra careful and not venturing outside of our home. I am well, as is Lisa and our two little poodles, Rusty and Bosco. They keep us grounded and entertained when we need a distraction. 

    I spend my days checking in with folks via phone calls and emails, Zoom meetings with various groups and individuals. Our dedicated Stephen Ministry Team continues to reach out to their care receivers and we had our first Zoom supervision group meeting last week. I am checking in with our other Pastoral Care teams making sure everyone is well and making phone calls instead of visits. 

    This time of uncertainty has deepened my prayer life and I find my time in the mornings very rich. I appreciate the prayers and poems that some of you have sent to me and we will be sharing them in the weeks to come. Some are included in this issue of the 3 Crowns. 

    I hope that you have found ways to stay connected with family and friends. I have been sharing music and prayers with my family members and some humor, of course! When the simplest, day-to-day things are no longer available to us, I notice how I appreciate life more and try to find some beauty in each day.

    You will “see” me again when I offer a sermon on April 19, the Sunday after Easter. Until then, know of my prayers for all of you. You are in my thoughts and I hold you close to my heart.

    Blessings and Peace,



  • April 02, 2020 11:13 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Here we are at the beginning of another Holy Week.   I love this week each year and I find such meaning in the retelling of the last days of Jesus life here on earth.  I usually set my focus on Jesus as he enters triumphantly into Jerusalem, and then follow along as he dines with his closest companions, only to be arrested and crucified the following day.  When all hope seems lost, it is thrilling to hear the news that Christ has risen indeed!

    Suddenly, this year is different.  This week is like no Holy Week I have ever experienced.  I have thrown out all of my original plans and started to plan anew in light of our new COVID-19 normal. As I have done this, I have notice that my focus on Holy Week has changed a bit.    This year, I find myself wondering what Holy Week must have been like for the disciples. 

    Can you imagine how exciting it must have been for the disciples as Jesus entered into Jerusalem?  Jesus, the leader they had committed their lives to, was being hailed with “Hosanna to the King!” and “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”  Little did they know that just a few days later, their lives would be turned completely upside down.

    There is no doubt that our lives have been turned upside down this year.  Looking back there were certainly some warning signs, but I don’t think many of us thought that something like this could happen so quickly in the United States in the 21st century.  Who would have thought that the communities and connections that we rely upon the most would be taken away from us?  In spite of being able to be connected electronically, it is now easy to feel separated and alone. 

    I imagine that the disciples felt this way long ago on that Good Friday.  They had giving up everything to follow Jesus, and just a day after having solidified their commitment to each other at a dinner, Jesus was gone.  I can only imagine how lonely and afraid they felt.  One of them was so afraid that he was willing to deny that he knew Jesus.  Life as they had come to know it was surely over. 

    Of course, we know the end of this story, and there is good news indeed!  Jesus rises from the dead and is even reunited with the disciples.  What incredible joy they must have felt.  Jesus was alive and would be with them forever.  What they didn’t realize at first, I am sure, is that while Jesus would always be with them, things would change.  Jesus wouldn’t be with them in the flesh for much longer, but would send the Holy Spirit to be their guide.  The disciples would be asked to continue their ministries in new ways that would challenge them and make them grow.

    We too can be assured that Jesus is with us during our dark times.  I have no doubt that we will have our own Easter experience when this lockdown ends, and this virus is behind us.  How wonderful it will be to visit family and friends, to dine together, and to support each other.  Jesus will be with us as we celebrate.  Jesus will also guide us as we are changed during this time.  It is my hope and prayer that as we go through Holy Week and through the next few months that we continue to be open to the Easter that lies ahead, and to what God has in store.   

    Faithfully,

     

     


  • March 28, 2020 11:39 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    My friends, I pray this second week of social distancing was gentle on you. For me this has been a week of reevaluating how I should walk through these months with my children. When the school closures were announced two weeks ago, I leapt into action. I gathered my flashcards, posted my colored-coded schedule and we were OFF! This gave us great structure as the world tilted all around, and it gave me a feeling of control in a situation of powerlessness.

    But this week, as our new normal settled around us, it was time to take a deep breath and reconsider what our family really needs right now. It's not multiplication tables. I think what we really need is a holy surrender of our own goals and a time of building spirit, not achievements. 

    That's harder than running a homeschool, isn’t it?

    So now I'm asking myself: What could it look like, to hold our own desires in an open hand and welcome God to do deep heart work within us during this season? What if we prioritize relationships and personal connections, which usually take second place to schedules? What if we look for ways to sacrificially love others? What if we actively cultivate joy in the midst of disappointments, and embrace the new lovely that God offers? This is a work in progress, but isn’t everything?

    I pray that God will show us God's holy and perfect will for our hearts, and that we give ourselves permission to respond.

    Love, Bryn

    bhollenbeck@3crowns.org


  • March 15, 2020 11:52 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Greetings, my dear friends of Epiphany,

    I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you  (Phil. 1:3-4).

    I continue to be so grateful to God for you and your support of my unfolding journey towards the priesthood. My life is so abundantly blessed, I wanted to give you an update on my path-to-date.

    1) My studies at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP) are going well. I am mid-way through my low-residency Master of Divinity program. “Low-residency” means that most of my classes are online, with the exception of two times a year when I travel to campus (Berkeley, CA) for two-week “Intensives.” The classes are rigorous and invigorating. The biggest surprise for me is how close I have become with my “cohorts” around the country. Because we are online 24/7, we are part of each other’s lives in a deeply-connected, holy way. I am amazed how God works in my life through these remarkable people who are, in many ways, the future of The Episcopal Church. I am blessed, indeed!

    2) The reason you don’t see me around Epiphany is that I am in “field education” as a “Seminarian” (think “intern”) at All Saints of the North Shore in Danvers, MA (ASNS). Epiphany has had seminarians in the past: Jennifer Vath and Paul Shoaf Kozak, most recently. All Saints’ gracious congregation has welcomed me with overflowing support and joy. My supervising priest, the Rev. Marya DeCarlen, is a wonderful mentor and friend. I preach once a month and serve every Sunday on the altar. God inspires and challenges me every week. Those of you who know that my calling to the priesthood was born in my work as a chaplain may be surprised to read that I am beginning to feel a calling to parish ministry! While I miss Epiphany, I am grateful for being in such a different worshiping community that loves God equally as much as you do!

    3) I am honored, humbled, and overwhelmed to report that the Commission on Ministry and Standing Committee have recommended me for Candidacy (with your vestry’s support, thank you!). That means I am no longer a Postulant, but am a Candidate. This is the next step in the process of ordination. I am humbled and grateful.

    Thank you for your support of me, dear Epiphany. You all are so deeply loved by God and me. How blessed we are to be cherished by God! You all continue to be in my prayers. God-willing, I will see you this summer on several Sundays!

    Gratefully,
    Brett Johnson

    I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:16-19)






  • February 28, 2020 3:55 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    For the past several years, we have been printing occasional hymns and service music in the bulletin from the Wonder Love and Praise Hymnal. This hymnal, published by Church Publishing, is meant to be a supplement to the 1982 Hymnal that we have in our pews.

    Wonder, Love and Praise has many wonderful texts set to tunes that are both familiar and new. While we have been enjoying many of these hymns, copyright laws don’t allow us to reprint all of the music that is in Wonder, Love and Praise. In order to be able to take advantage of all of the music that this hymnal has to offer, we have decided to buy copies of this hymnal. Thankfully, the print version of the hymnal is compact, and it will fit nicely right next the 1982 Hymnals in the book racks in the pews.

    We will be buying these new hymnals with money that has been donated to the music program over the last few years. If you would like to help offset some of this cost, you are invited to give a hymnal in memory or in honor of a loved one. Each hymnal costs $25.  Please send or drop-off your check to the Parish Office, made out to Parish of the Epiphany with "WLP hymnal" written in the memo line. Remember to include a note with the name of whomever your are honoring so a bookplate can be put in a hymnal acknowledging the name.



  • December 20, 2019 2:05 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Does anyone else feel a bit surprised that Christmas Eve is tomorrow? As Dr. Seuss’s Grinch declares, with some dismay, “It’s practically here!” Unlike the Grinch, I love Christmas, but for me it always brings a sadness that Advent is over. This is both because I love Advent best of all the Church seasons, and because I always hope to do more, and be more, during the weeks leading up to Christmas. More cookies. More cards. More service. More hymns. More peaceful reflection and spiritual growth. Couldn’t we all use a few more weeks before Christmas?

    As our young family sprinted through this season, I’ve had to let go of some expectations (sending Christmas Valentines is a good idea, right?). One practice I’ve clung to, however, is a Jesse Tree reading with my ten- and seven-year olds. The idea of the Jesse Tree, in a nutshell, is to trace God’s plan for the world through Old Testament stories up to the birth of Christ in the New Testament (made simple thanks to amazing storybooks like McCaughrean’s The Jesse Tree and Marcellino’s Jesse Tree Ornaments).

    This Advent practice is illuminating. It shows me that perhaps what is truly amazing about Christmas is how very long it is, indeed. The coming of the Messiah, the birth of Christ the Savior, the incarnation of God, this was not a single moment in history. It is not the four weeks of Advent and the twelve days of Christmas. From God’s creation of humanity, through the birth of Jesus and his death and resurrection, God’s plan was always, and will remain, to walk closely with His people. From the Garden, to Mount Sinai, to Bethlehem and Jerusalem, to the cross and Emmaus, to the work of the disciples, and into this very place today--God is with us.

    In the beginning was the Word. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. God dwells among us still. Rejoice, not only for Christmas Day, but everyday, full of God’s presence, redemption, compassion, and peace. May you have a joyful and merry Christmas.

    Bryn


  • December 12, 2019 11:25 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear Beloved Community,

    In the fall of 1994 when I was first at Epiphany as a newly ordained transitional Deacon, I offered “An Advent Service of Remembrance” during the first week of December. Having experienced several significant losses in my own family at that time made me acutely aware of how difficult the holidays would be for many parishioners at Epiphany. Each year at this time I am reminded of this great sense of loss that many of us feel whether our grief is for a loved one we lost very recently or even decades ago. There are also feelings of grief and loss associated with growing older – perhaps a sense of loss over our physical bodies no longer able to do the things we once found so easy, or an “empty nest,” or we may have retired and feel a lack of purpose in our lives. Whatever the sense of loss or grief, our feelings are real and at times we may feel out of sync with a culture that portrays families smiling around a Christmas tree laden with gifts, or gathered at a large table resplendent with candlelight and lots of festive food and drink. Everywhere we go we hear holiday music that proclaims, “Have a holly, jolly Christmas.”

    Once again, on Wednesday, 18 December at 7:00pm in the Chapel, we will offer an Advent Service of Remembrance. It is a simple service of prayers, hymns, candlelight, and quiet meditation. It will be a time to remember those whom we love and see no longer, a time to gather as a community and just BE. If you know people who would might find this service comforting, please invite them to join you.

    In the meantime, be gentle with yourself and your feelings during the holidays. You might give something or do something in memory of your loved one. Click here for a link to a website that contains several strategies to help cope with the holidays. Simply talking about your feelings with a close friend, family member, or one of the clergy at Epiphany can be helpful. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me, Sarah Conner, or Gayle Pershouse.

    In this holy season of Advent, I pray that each one of us will take some time out of our busy schedules to just sit and pray, even if only for a few minutes, and offer to God whatever is on our hearts.

    Faithfully yours in Christ,



  • December 06, 2019 8:52 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I experienced an internal chuckle when I learned my article would appear during Advent, this period of waiting, anticipation, and preparation for the birth of Jesus. Do you feel as though we’re in a perpetual state of waiting, anticipation, and preparation? I’ll confess it feels that way for me at times. Whether its measured in years, months, or weeks, waiting can feel uncomfortable and stressful for me. Yet, once the waiting is over, I’m left with a sense of gratitude. Why is it that I struggle with the ability to trust that all will be well? As Miriam often reminds us, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well,” from Julian of Norwich. And during our waiting, in Advent and otherwise, we can be watching for God’s presence in our lives.

    We’ve been waiting for years to have an elevator. During that time the following questions were turning over in my mind: Will we ever raise enough money? Will the construction completely disrupt everything? Will we encounter a cost overrun? How long will it take? And, so on. Well, the waiting is over, God has provided for us, the elevator is here, money fully raised, and construction costs right on budget. I am both relieved and grateful.

    We are entering into the 9th month of preparing for a new Rector. Similar questions have been swirling out of uncertainty. Well, once again, God is providing for us. I’m grateful for our immensely capable and faithful Search Committee, for the grace-filled spiritual leaders we have in Sarah Conner and Miriam Gelfer, our wonderful staff and committees who make so much happen behind the scenes, and for the steady support of our Vestry and my Co-Warden, Suzanne Owayda. Our spectacular Parish profile is complete (click here if  you haven’t seen it), and while the waiting may at times feel uncomfortable and stressful, my faith tells me to have no fear, God is with us in this journey. We just have to notice.

    We’re in the follow-up weeks of our 2020 Commitment Campaign. Together, as we finalize our budget for 2020 this month, we may have periods of doubt. Again, our faith tells us to have no fear, to trust in God, and to show our gratitude for the blessings we have.

    And so, my friends, as we wait together, let us lean on each other when there are times of doubt, uncertainty, and worry, for surely God is with us, as promised. We just have to be watching.


  • November 27, 2019 10:27 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear friends,

    One church year came to a close on November 30, and we have just begun another year on December 1st, the First Sunday of Advent. Advent invites us to make a journey of the heart, clearing a spiritual path so that we may travel to the manger in Bethlehem, there to adore Christ our Lord at Christmas. Epiphany is also making another journey this year, clearing a spiritual path so that we may travel to a new season of ministry and welcome a new rector. We are doing a lot of journeying!

    At every service now we pray a prayer for the parish written by our rector search committee. There is much wisdom in how the prayer concludes: “In every stage of our journey, may we rest in God’s abiding love.” That’s the key, isn’t it? No matter where we are on our journeys – as individuals and as a parish – we can find an oasis of divine love where we can rest as we travel on. The rest God offers us is not an interruption of the journey but an integral part of it.

    In this season of Advent, and in whatever season you find yourself in your own life, I hope you are finding the rest and refreshment you need. I’m so glad to be with you on this journey.

    Faithfully,
    Sarah
    Interim Rector



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