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News & Resources: Spiritual Spot

Welcome! 

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

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


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  • May 23, 2024 1:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    2023-2024 youth leaders Ellen, John, and Hannah at Mystic LakeAccording to data, a critical response to loneliness, social isolation, and stress in a young persons life is to have more trusted adults in their sphere. It’s important for young people to have trusted adults that are not their family or their teachers. This is one of the things that churches do, at their best. And, I’m proud to say — something that Epiphany does really well because we have youth leaders like Hannah Cumming, John Jenke, and Ellen Wilson (among others!). This year, Hannah, John, and Ellen helped facilitate a Youth Faith Circle that met on Wednesday evenings over a shared meal. John and Ellen graciously hosted us in their homes starting in September all the way to May. During that time we celebrated birthdays, celebrated holidays, celebrated ordinary life and watched these teens and tweens grow taller — some of whom like to remind me that they are now taller than me! Our teens and tweens come from different towns, different schools, and different personalities all converging at Ellen or John’s house on a Wednesday night eating together and learning to be in community together. Learning to be church between Sundays. And last night, we celebrated the final Youth Faith Circle of the year along Mystic Lake, playing frisbee and croquet and watching the sunset. I am thankful for our leaders and thankful for our youth who show up and show me what it means to be Christ to one another (with a touch of sarcasm and Gen Z/Gen Alpha lingo.)

    With gratitude,
    Rev. Janelle

  • May 09, 2024 1:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    For many years, I would run to be in shape—for my bodily health. As I've gotten older, and those extra pounds are harder to "run-off" so quickly, I realize that I keep running, mostly, for my mental health. That's curious to me. Running has always been something I've not excelled at. It was hard to be called "caboose" when your older brother was the star distance runner in high school and ran in college. Through it, I realized I ran, ultimately, for me, and it didn't matter where or when I "finished." There is only so much a watch can tell you; time and distance and metrics that don't ultimately matter. It's the metrics of the heart and soul that help us go the distance. So, I run for me. I run for my health, both bodily and mental, which is a way of saying, my whole self.

    This Easter season (yes, it's still Easter!), it's good to remember that Jesus always showed up to the disciples with his scars—his hands and feet. They wanted to see them; it helped them know it was all real. The scars were part of the wholeness of Jesus, and they spoke to a wholeness the disciples, and we, seek. Our culture wants us to downplay, cover, disregard, or even be defined solely by the scars. But what Easter reminds us is that our health, our wholeness, our fullness of life, depends upon our scars being there and becoming sacred, revelatory to us. If we can't figure out a way to embrace this, we will surely push them away, onto others. This is what happens so often with unhealthy relationships, self-love, and even religion. Unresolved hurt and scars are often passed on to others. Let this season of Easter remind us that our scars speak something to us, invite us into the mystery of God, the mystery of one another, the beautiful mystery of ourselves—ultimately, so that we can love and be loved into new life. A life, where God happens, and has always been happening. Happy Easter, friends.

    Nick

  • May 02, 2024 1:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Aspergillum for sprinkling holy waterThis Saturday, we have six parishioners getting confirmed or received into The Episcopal Church. The exciting thing about this weekend is that all these parishioners are adults. We tend to think Baptism is for babies and Confirmation is for teenagers, but these rites can be offered to anyone who would like to take a next step in their faith journey. In fact, there is a special rite for those who have been baptized and confirmed in a different tradition — it’s called being received into The Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church honors your Baptism and your Confirmation from a different tradition, and being received is a way to not forsake your background, but to honor that The Episcopal Church is now your spiritual home. I was received into The Episcopal Church and in addition to the special prayer for those getting received, the Bishop also said, “Welcome home.” For those of us that did not grow up in The Episcopal Church, this tradition can truly feel like coming home.

    The heartbeat of a confirmation/reception service is reaffirming our Baptismal Covenant. That is, affirming what God has has already made true during our Baptism. The Baptismal Covenant (found on page 304 of your BCP) is one of the deepest gifts our tradition has to offer. We recite the creed and then we make promises to “seek and serve Christ in all persons” and to “respect the dignity of every human being” — all with God’s help. Perhaps today think about the next step you’d like to take in your faith journey. Perhaps it is getting confirmed or received. Perhaps it is asking the hard questions. Perhaps it is looking at the world around you anew. Think about the people you’d like to journey with and the God who companions with you each moment of the way. As Matsui Basho says, “The journey itself is home.” Please join me in praying for our parishioners who are taking this sacred next step this Saturday!


    With gratitude,
    Rev. Janelle

  • April 25, 2024 1:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    A woman in a purple sweater shaking hands with a man at Parish of the EpiphanyEarlier this spring, the group that has been working to redesign our website held listening sessions and did a survey to gather input about our experience of our Epiphany community. Janelle and Jim shared what they heard at our last vestry meeting, and I was struck by how often ‘welcoming’ was one of the responses that emerged both from a range of people and to a range of questions:  

    What makes Epiphany unique?What do people think of Epiphany?What do we want?What do those we are trying to reach want?How do we want others to talk of us 10 years from now?What do you treasure most about Epiphany?How would you explain Epiphany to a friend who is interested in a community of faith?

    Something that intertwined into our DNA is undoubtedly a gift that is beyond our making. What does that mean and where do we go with it? How do we knit it more deeply into all that we do, not just the way that it feels to walk through the door?

    To this Godly Play teacher, it sounds like an invitation to wonder about this ‘welcome’ response …

    I wonder what welcome means to you?
    I wonder what welcome means to me?
    I wonder how you would like to be welcomed?
    I wonder how you like to welcome others?
    I wonder how we continue to welcome one another?
    I wonder how welcome might differ for an individual and for a community?
    I wonder how a community lives ‘welcome’ if it means different things to different people?

    Nelia Newell

  • April 11, 2024 1:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Stock image of daisies and tall grass in a green fieldIn the liturgical calendar, Easter isn’t just one day, it’s an entire season! 50 days. Longer than Lent, longer than Advent. A season of life, celebration, and hope. Now, I know that not all of you feel like you are in an Easter season. As Christians, we are called to live into seasons whether or not we truly feel or maybe even fully believe it. We are called to hold this tension. To carry both grief and hope. Joy and sorrow. Doubt and wonder. So whatever season you may feel yourself to be in, allow this Easter season to draw you towards the places that carry life and hope. Look for the risen Christ in our midst. Look for that new life that sometimes requires change to find it. Like the new buds of flowers and the warmth of the sun after the long winter, new life is always possible. Thanks be to God!

    With gratitude,
    Rev. Janelle

  • April 04, 2024 1:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Two Epiphany Church School children from above as they work on projectThe predictability of our traditional liturgy gets a little shaken up for a few minutes every Sunday. Mid-way through the 10:00 am service, a big group of little people parade in from Church School (sometimes a bit late, sometimes a moment early, and occasionally right on time). Their hands are full of creations or covered in sand, and they are in full swing of enjoying each other's company. They crowd around the steps for the children’s sermon, which is unscripted. We all (you, me, the priests, their parents) wonder what will happen that day. A mystery of faith. 

    One Sunday this Lent, I left my comfortable place on the floor with the kiddos to stand in Hadley Hall, with a microphone, talking to adults. I offered a forum on “praying like a child.'' We colored, tried prayer sticks, and meditated on the flame of a candle — our tried and true favorite practices from Church School. I also asked these adventurous adults about their memories of prayer and faith as little children. 

    What struck me as I spoke with these wonderful grown-ups—many in the current grandparent generation—was how different today's faith formation best practices and pedagogies are to many who grew up in the church. Many adults shared their negative childhood experiences around religion and religious education. Their generosity in giving me a window into their decades’ old hurt or grief was eye-opening, and renewed my commitment to what we try to do here, now—faith formation full of joy. Questions. Wonder. Individuality. Friendships. Unconditional acceptance. Wiggles. 

    This year, we have two Church School classes; two classes for that big gaggle of delightful young ones you see gathered below the altar. But we need three. This fall, we will add a third class. 

    In order to do this, we need more helpers. I need more volunteers. We need YOU.

    But maybe you need us, too. Maybe the wonder, the experimentation, the core stories told in new ways, the hands-in/feet-on time together with those little guys who truly get unconditional love . . . Maybe coming on back to Church School is exactly what your faith, heart, and soul need now. 

    After worship on Sunday, May 5, we will hold an absolutely-no-commitment information session about the many ways you can be part of children's ministry here. Please come and see. 

    Love,
    Bryn

  • March 28, 2024 1:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Stock image of hands holding a heart-shaped stone with the word "Hope" carved into itThere is a four-letter word on my heart this week. And that word is HOPE. Hope can be a bit like courage—it is not necessarily something you need each and every moment of your life, but when it is needed, there is no substitute. That may be because both hope and courage take heart (the root word of courage is in fact, coeur, "heart" in French). This Holy Week, we live from the heart, that small space where hope and courage meet. And this, friends, is exactly what we need in the world and in our lives. We walk with Jesus in the depths of our heart; through our pain, sorrow, struggles, and confusion, we pray for courage. A heart-centered living that Jesus showed us in this last week of his life. We pray that, through this journey, we will know and hold fast to a hope that is an unspeakable gift. It is the anchor of our lives, a hope in God. It is that gift that calls for the gift itself. Hope calls forth hope. 

    I hope to walk with you, as together, we walk with Christ, this week. That together, in worship and service, in the breaking of bread and the silence of our prayers, we will come to that Easter hope that is ours forever. I pray for this deep, anchoring, life-giving gift for you and for me: Hope. A four letter word that we pray be upon our lips and in our hearts this and every day. I look forward to being with you in this most sacred of weeks.

    Peace and Hope and Courage is yours in Christ,
    Nick

  • March 21, 2024 1:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    People from behind sitting in the pews in the sanctuary of Parish of the Epiphany, WinchesterAs you may know, we recently held listening sessions and an online survey to gather your input on an update to our church website and logo. It’s been over a decade since our last refresh, and we’re excited to create a more user-friendly website and more welcoming online presence.

    On behalf of the staff, web design committee, and vestry, we were so grateful for the participation in this process. Thank you to everyone who shared their thoughts! The word "welcoming" consistently rose to the top in the feedback. Some of you described Epiphany as a "sacred hug" and others a place where "the spirit of God is in these walls." It's clear that creating a welcoming atmosphere is a core value of our church family, and we want our website and logo to reflect that warmth and inclusivity.

    As you may recall, Jesus used signs and symbols as part of his ministry — things like bread and wine to welcome people in. In this process, we get to think about the signs and symbols of our parish that reflect that call that God has given Epiphany over our rich history and into our future.

    We also heard about how Epiphany embraces both tradition and innovation. From our wonderful music on a Sunday morning, to the impromptu children’s sermon and Midweek, we strive to honor our legacy while remaining open to the new ways God’s spirit is moving us.

    What was made very clear in these sessions and survey is that you all love Epiphany. What a gift to love this place and these people, together.

    We will continue to keep you updated on the website and logo design process.  We are approaching this project with prayer, discernment, and a deep appreciation for this beautiful community.

    In the meantime, Holy Week begins this coming Palm Sunday. I encourage you to join us for the special services leading up to Easter. These powerful retellings of Jesus' life are a meaningful way to prepare for the Easter celebration.


    With gratitude,
    Rev. Janelle

  • March 14, 2024 1:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Photo of the tower and brick exterior of the Parish of the Epiphany in Winchester, MAWe did it! We started the Building for the Ages campaign with a goal to raise $3M, and we surpassed it. I am truly thankful for the generosity shown during the campaign.

    Now that donations have started to arrive, we are embarking on the long process of repairing and restoring our campus. We will start with sealing the building exterior: roofs, gutters, walls, doors, and windows. Once we seal the building against the elements, we will move on to the interior, including cleaning the bricks in the sanctuary.

    One of the critical components to sealing a building against the elements is the exterior paint. After close inspection by our weekday Sexton, Tony Catino, the paint that protects our wood trim and metal fire escapes is worn and cracked. We are starting to see some water damage and, if we don't fix it, the repairs could be costly. As a bonus, new paint looks good.

    I am happy to announce that our first contract to be funded by Building for the Ages was recently approved by the Vestry. This summer you may see some scaffolding around the building. Nick's Painting will be repainting the exterior and reglazing all 188 exterior windows. In fact, if you want a preview, they just did a color test by painting one of the windows in the Cloister Garden. It looks great. A fresh coat of paint really does make a difference.

    With the start of our renovations, I am reminded that we will be doing quite a few renovation and repair projects on our church in the coming years. There is a clear need and opportunity for you to help. While the Property Committee is always looking for new members, what we really need are parishioners who are willing to lend a few hours a week to help with a specific project and, when that project completes, go back to their regular lives. If these types of projects interest you, or if you want to learn more about how they are done, please reach out to me or the Property Co-Chair, Jenifer Tidwell. We will be happy to speak with you. 

    Darwin Keith-Lucas
    Co-Warden

  • March 07, 2024 1:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Stock image of a hand putting a red paper into the palm of an outstretched handFriends was the number one show on television during its heyday — and Chandler Bing, played by Matthew Perry, could steal a scene like no other cast member. Recently, I have been listening to Matthew Perry's memoir, and it pulls at the heart. Here is this man who is living this world's dream of success — at one point starring in the #1 movie and the #1 television series, not to mention dating Julia Roberts. His story is so incredible, defined by fame and fortune — and, his story is so incredibly ordinary. At the heart of it all, he says, is the need to be loved, to know you are enough. I have yet to meet someone who was not in need of love. And I have yet to meet someone who is not made more fully human by being loved by others. 

    Love, which is God, is the great mystery that puts us together — and puts us back together at times too. Love can feel a feeble thing when faced with the chaos or the suffering of our world, and I suppose this is true of our faith. As Christians, we worship a God who is made powerful in weakness. We see and say as much in Jesus, and Holy Week will remind us of this so very clearly. This is the shape of Love — the most powerful force on earth — the most vulnerable of powers we can wield. This is true whether we are talking about the streets of Rafah or the inner life of the human heart. We know Love would make things right if we could but live it, if we could simply accept it is ours. We ask God, "What are you going to do to make things right?" and God echoes back, "And you? What are you going to do?" We hunger for wholeness in ourselves and in our world. The way, we are told by Jesus is Love. This week, notice what brings you love — and give thanks. If it is someone, tell them. If it is something, offer gratitude. If it is what you are called to do, do it. For this is the mysterious math of Love — the more it is given away, the more it grows.


    Rev. Nick Myers

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Phone: 781.729.1922
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