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News & Resources: Spiritual Spot


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."

  • April 13, 2023 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Parish of the Epiphany's 2023 Easter worship serviceI sit in the same place this morning that I sat a year ago: the Tuesday before Easter writing a message that you will read in 3 Crowns the week after Easter. So much will happen between my writing and your reading.

    Last year I was so aware of how uncertain the next week would be: we hadn’t celebrated Easter together inside our sanctuary for two years, and we had learned from the arrival of the Omicron variant right before Christmas just how quickly plans could change. Clearly it would be risky to write a message about how wonderful it would be to be together.

    I thought that I would sit down this year much more confident that I knew how we would walk the coming week together.

    And yet… how much do I really know? I know what my calendar tells me about when I will walk through the doors of Epiphany each day between now and Easter… but do I really know what that journey will look like? 

    I wonder if the uncertainty of the past few years has taught me something about the powerful presence of that uncertainty… to take each step wondering what will be revealed in the moments to come. The uncertainty is a gift in itself that leaves me open to wonder what will actually happen when we join together and bring our relationships and presence to one another in a journey that is both familiar and new each year.

    So I send this off a bit like a message in a bottle… looking forward to encountering each of you as we walk the path together from Palm Sunday to Easter. And you will read it at the other end of that road when we all look back at where that path took us this year.

    Nelia Newell

  • April 06, 2023 10:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    People in pews during Easter worship at Parish of the Epiphany, WinchesterAccording to the scriptures, something unimaginable, something unprecedented, something historically unique happened nearly 2000 years ago when Jesus, who was dead and buried, was raised to new life by God. To say it so clearly is to feel how inconceivable it is—not because such things are beyond God (in fact, such a thing could only be God's doing), but because we just don't experience the dead coming back to life. Of course, the earliest Christians knew this as well as we do. And yet, they proclaimed it as true: "He is not here"; "The tomb is empty"; "Jesus is alive, and I have seen him." These were their words. And this led them to proclaim and work for a world that was shaped by the love, mercy, justice, and peace of God. Their first words were not, "Jesus is in heaven, and we will be too, one day." Instead, they said very clearly to all who would listen: "repent and be forgiven"—really religious things in our minds, but which in reality simply mean: get back on track, turn to God; you've got infinite second chances to live and love as God has shown us in Jesus Christ—together, we can make it on earth as it is in heaven. 

    Easter is the day we proclaim clearly that with God there is enough faith, hope, love and courage to dream God's dream for this world. To see the world through our tears (like Mary and the women at the tomb), and know that through the power of God in Christ, we can and will, with God, create a new world—for ourselves, and for all, where sorrow is held by joy and death is turned to life.

    I look forward to being with you this Holy Week and rejoicing together on Easter Sunday. 

    See you there,

  • March 30, 2023 9:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Crowd of people from behindAs a parish, we have been reading Tattoos on the Heart by Father Gregory Boyle. (If you missed out being in one of the book groups, I’d still recommend for you to read the book!) In our groups last week, one of the questions was this: “Father Boyle quotes Jesuit theologian, Leon Dufour, who said “I have written so many books on God, but after all that, what do I really know? I think, in the end, God is the person you ’re talking to, the one right in front of you.” (Pg. 158) How does this shape your relationship with God? With others?”

    In the Thursday evening group, Epiphany parishioner Marion Dry took this question a bit further. She encouraged her group to use this week to actually practice experiencing God in the person right in front of us. In their final session, they will be sharing about their experiences doing this practice.

    I’d like to invite all of us into this practice in the coming weeks. What if God is the person you’re talking to, the one right in front of you? Because if we take the incarnation seriously, then God is actually in the faces of those around us. The unhoused person holding up the sign. The mail person. The people we see on a walk around the neighborhood. A friend who is experiencing a difficult time. People who are different from us. People who are difficult to be around. Classmates, coworkers, family and friends. To encounter these people with love and gratitude is what it means to love God.

    We’ll be seeing each other a lot this upcoming Holy Week. Perhaps we can extend this practice to our own community and the ways we are to be together. In the familiar rhythms — waving palm branches, eating together, washing feet, keeping vigil at the foot of the cross. Might we experience each other in new ways, recognizing the divine sacredness in each and every face.

    C.S. Lewis once said, “Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.” What if we noticed the people around us in the same reverence we would have for God? What if God is the person we’re talking to, the one right in front of us?

    I suspect that just might change everything.

    With gratitude,
    Rev. Janelle

  • March 23, 2023 2:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Recently, this friend of mine, a priest in central London, told me that they had taken a group of parishioners for an outing—a walk in the countryside as a parish activitya way of making new relationships and getting outside the hustle and bustle of the city. While they were walking, they noticed commotion ahead near a fence-line as a farmer was struggling with a sheep. As the group approached, it was clear that the sheep was struggling to deliver her lamb. The farmer, no longer knowing how to help, stood up frantic and worried for both mother and baby. At that moment, a member of the parish came forward, rolled up their sleeves, got down on the ground and after a few moments, pulled the lamb into the world. The farmer, my priest friend, and all the parishioners were shocked. "Are you a sheep farmer too?" asked the farmer. "No," said the man; "I'm an obstetrician." This man was a newcomer to the parish and few knew much about him. My priest friend did know the man because the man was a recent arrival, not only to the parish, but the country. He was a refugee, fleeing persecution because of his sexuality, and now, struggling to start a new life. In his previous country, he was a doctor, a leader, a person well respected by those who knew him personally. But in central London, he was seen primarily as someone in need.

    It was on the walk back to the bus that the man looked at my friend and said: "All I want is for people to see my humanity." He needed opportunity; not mere charity.

    I am reminded of this simple and core moral call of our faith: Respect the dignity of every human being. Simply because we are—we are of infinite worth and dignity. 

    This Saturday, I hope you'll join our Reception for Locally Haiti at 4:00 pm in Hadley Hall. We will have food and fellowship and the gift of hearing from Wynn Walent, the Executive Director, about the innovative approach to development and the incredible leadership and work of the people of Haiti. We will learn how we can support opportunity, not mere charity. Wynn joins us on Sunday as our preacher, as well as our Forum after the 10:00 am service. I hope to see you there!

    Rev. Nick

  • March 16, 2023 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Adult and child planting seeds in cups in the backyard of Parish of the Epiphany, WinchesterIt was three years ago this week that the ways in which we approach church and ministry took a sudden, sharp turn. The practice of worship and teaching hadn't changed much in the decades prior to that precipitous moment. But quite suddenly, I found myself sending families emails with terms like "pajama church," and "faith-at-home." Parents were abruptly promoted to priest and catechist in their own houses. 

    That season was bananas. All of it. Schooling from home; working from home (with no childcare); childrearing through unknown crises. 

    And yet, that juncture encouraged Epiphany (and many churches who care deeply about children’s spiritual formation) to turn our eyes to something vital in any era. Since then, this community has tried to increasingly equip and encourage parents to share the Christian faith at home with their children. It turns out, this is the single most important factor in children developing a lasting faith of their own; it isn't worship or church school, but when faith is shared from parent to child through habits, example, rituals, and—most importantly—talk in the home. Research is glaringly clear on this. 

    Now, three years later, this whole community has the opportunity to work together to help root and water these practices. The Parish of the Epiphany has been invited into a four year partnership with the organization Vibrant Faith. With their support and guidance, we'll work to grow our ministry with families and parents in particular. Vibrant Faith has received a grant from the Lilly Endowment for this project—called The 4th Soil Parenting Initiative—and they have invited us and 19 other churches from around the country (from many denominations) to work with them as we develop relationships, programs and support for parents and primary caregivers here at Epiphany. This is an exciting opportunity for us and it is full of potential for everyone here, since a strong component of this work will be intergenerational support and mentoring. 

    The project is centered on 3 C's which we'll work on over the course of three years. 

    1. Connected — Developing trusting, authentic relationships inside the family, and outside the family with spiritual leaders, mentors, and peers (John 17:20-21)
    2. Called — Developing a deeper understanding of parenting as a calling, not simply a role (1 Peter 2:9-10)
    3. Committed — Supporting parents to "grow down" into an intentional, Jesus-centered life, while practicing what it means to "love your neighbor as yourself" (John 6:66-68)

    Our Epiphany steering committee is ready and excited to begin; thank you to Annie Bing, Pam Chester, Karen Fagan, Perry Haynsworth, Heather Keith-Lucas, and Ellen Wilson. We hope everyone will follow this journey closely, and enthusiastically participate in the ideas and projects to come! Thank you, all, for your support of children, parents, and family ministries here at Epiphany. 

    ~ Bryn 

  • March 09, 2023 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Exterior photo of Parish of the Epiphany in Winchester, MassachusettsThis is an exciting time to be at Epiphany! Midweek has solidified itself as a fixture in our parish life. We have a full staff and growing volunteers. We are coming together and exploring what it is to be a community in the post-lockdown era. It’s a perfect time to think about who we are as a parish and who we want to be. The use of our building and how it supports our vision is an important part of that conversation.

    Last fall, the Property Committee presented an assessment of the current state of our property and the work that would be needed to maintain it over the next ten years. Understandably, there was a bit of sticker shock. Fortunately, Property interrogated the assessment’s assumptions and identified our slate roof would benefit from enhanced annual maintenance, but does not need to be replaced. This reduces our capital need from $6M to about $3.5M, which is good news for us all.

    Regardless, we will need a capital campaign to fund the building repairs and build the church’s endowment to support our mission as a church. “What is the mission of our church?” Who do we want to be as a parish? Or to put it another way, what is our vision for the future of our church? These are very important questions that we need to decide on.

    It would be straightforward for our vestry to decide on a vision for the future , but the result wouldn’t reflect our community as a whole. To truly be a vision that drives our programming and activities as a church, it needs to come from all of us. Our vestry engaged in a workshop led by Corey Hollenbeck where, instead of focusing on what we thought the vision should be, we focused on how to best gather input from the parish as a whole.

    Soon your wardens and vestry will be reaching out to targeted groups from across the parish to get a feel for the differing views and find the commonalities within our congregation. The feedback we receive will influence which groups we talk to next and how we will bring the congregation together. Along the way, the process will include parish-wide conversations to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to be heard. Remember, one of the great things about being an Episcopalian is we have room for disparate views! Eventually we will coalesce around a common vision that will drive our programming and overall mission of the church.

    These conversations will also afford us the opportunity to re-think the use of our building to better align with who we are and who we want to be as a parish. We are already seeing the beginning of this process. To better align with modern views on childcare, including better air quality and natural light, our nursery has been moved upstairs, Godly Play has also been moved to the Upper Parish Hall, and people are starting to ask what the future use for the basement should be.

    Coalescing around a common vision will take time. It obviously will not come to conclusion before we start a capital campaign later this year. But the conversations we have over the next few months should give us an overall direction to base the campaign on.

    This is an exciting time to be part of this community. We are growing as a parish, exploring who we are, and we are changing as a result. By working together and engaging in dialogue to chart a common direction, we will ensure that our path forward reflects who we are and who we want to be as a parish. I am excited and honored to serve as one your wardens through this process. 

    Darwin Keith-Lucas, Warden

  • March 02, 2023 4:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Rev. Nick Myers preaching in the pulpit at Parish of the EpiphanyMaybe you've had this thought once (maybe many times; don't worry, I won't tell). It's true: your priest is not perfect. In fact, sometimes they just don't seem to get it. This is so much the case, that the Bible has a story about priests who just don't get it. We'll hear one this Sunday, as we listen to the story of Nicodemus and Jesus. Jesus says some things that really confuse Nicodemus. So much so, that it might feel like Jesus is giving up on the guy. After all, he comes to Jesus at night — apparently worried about what his other priestly friends might say. Nicodemus just doesn't understand Jesus. There are times that I struggle with Jesus too. I find some of Jesus' teachings about forgiving our enemies, loving all our enemies, not worrying about the things of life/this world to be particularly hard. I suppose it's why the story of Nicodemus is one of my favorites. I get Nicodemus — and it's not just because I'm a priest. No, what I really love about Nicodemus and Jesus is that this isn't the last time Nicodemus appears in the gospel story. When Jesus has been crucified, Nicodemus shows up again. This time, though, he does not come at night, but in the light of day and he makes clear that he loves this Jesus, even if he has not always understood it all. What he does know is that Jesus and the promise of God's love is the answer to all his restlessness under the dark of night. I take that to be reassuring. It means that your priest doesn't have to be perfect (Thank God!)  and you can bet they won't be. It is the love of God alone that is perfect.

    This Sunday, I'm excited to have the Rev. Isaac Everett join us to preach at both services and share at our Faith Forum after the 10:00 am service. Isaac is the Executive Director of CRECHE here in Boston, and he'll share with us and invite us to imagine how we can live more deeply into God's perfect love through the power of community, kinship, and making home for all. I'm looking forward to it and seeing you there!

    See you Sunday,

  • February 23, 2023 1:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    A palm cross lying on top of a bowl of ashesAs a church family, we are officially in the season of Lent! I have always been a fan of Lent. It feels like a very honest season. Advent is like this as well. Advent reminds us that a lot of life is… waiting. The season builds up our capacity to wait and to put our yearning towards God’s kingdom of love and justice. Lent reminds us that a lot of life is… death. Of course, all of us experience literal deaths of loved ones, but also there are little deaths around us all the time. Deaths of dreams, of expectations, of how we thought life would be. In our tradition, seasons of celebration (like Christmas or Easter) are always preceded by times of preparation (like Advent and Lent). It makes those times of celebration that much more meaningful when we have had devoted time to prepare ourselves first.

    The great paradox of Lent is that being reminded of our own mortality is what it means… to live. Pretending like everything is fine and avoiding all difficult emotions is not living at all. Lent invites us to go deep within ourselves and find that God has been there all along.

    We do not know how many days we have left, but for today there is breath in our lungs and it is a gift. Allow this season to open you in new ways. Frederick Buechner says that during Lent, “Christians are supposed to ask one way or another what it means to be themselves.” Ask the questions, embrace the ambiguity — find God in all of it.

    I will share this poem by Jan Richardson to be a companion for you as we journey together through Lent.

    Rend Your Heart
    A Blessing for Ash Wednesday

    To receive this blessing,
    all you have to do
    is let your heart break.
    Let it crack open.
    Let it fall apart
    so that you can see
    its secret chambers,
    the hidden spaces
    where you have hesitated
    to go.

    Your entire life
    is here, inscribed whole
    upon your heart s walls:
    every path taken
    or left behind,
    every face you turned toward
    or turned away,
    every word spoken in love
    or in rage,
    every line of your life
    you would prefer to leave
    in shadow,
    every story that shimmers
    with treasures known
    and those you have yet
    to find.

    It could take you days
    to wander these rooms.
    Forty, at least.

    And so let this be
    a season for wandering,
    for trusting the breaking,
    for tracing the rupture
    that will return you

    to the One who waits,
    who watches,
    who works within
    the rending
    to make your heart

    Jan Richardson

    I love the image of Lent being a time to wander around in the rooms of your heart to find what might be there. I hope this image is helpful for you as we enter this season!

    Blessings to you,
    Rev. Janelle

  • February 09, 2023 1:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As noted in the Annual Meeting, six months ago, the vestry formed a committee to explore and make recommendations on a bequest and planned giving program. Committee members include Co-Chairs John Snow and Warren McFarlan; the Reverend Nick Myers, Kim Erskine, Bruce Glabe, Marie Johnson, James Wagner, and Jane White. Over a series of meetings, the committee identified bequests as an appropriate first step in installing a planned giving program at Epiphany and establishing a Legacy Society (hereafter called the Cornerstone Society). In last week’s 3 Crowns, Nick Myers talked about the importance of creating and sustaining legacy.

    The committee noted that roughly 80% of church planned gifts across the 
    USA come as bequests. Consequently, the committee’s initial focus was on starting a bequest program and establishing the Cornerstone Society at Epiphany whose members are those who have made a bequest to Epiphany. No sustained efforts have been made to secure bequests for Epiphany in the last twenty years. Such bequests, over time in other churches, have contributed substantially to their financial strength. The committee believes the same can be true for Epiphany. Accordingly, we are asking you to consider making a bequest to the Parish of the Epiphany in your will and estate plans. Just as we benefit today from the gifts of those that came before us at Epiphany, so also will those who come after us benefit from our generosity. The church can hopefully serve its community forever. All members of the bequest and planned giving committee have included, or are in the process of including, Epiphany in their wills and estate plans.

    A planned giving section is being added to the Epiphany website in the next month or two to facilitate parishioner planned giving. The committee will run a 45-minute education session on planned giving this spring to introduce the topic to those who are unfamiliar with it. If interest warrants, a more extensive education program on planned giving will be offered this fall, using professional resources.

    When you make a bequest or some other form of planned gift to Epiphany, we ask that you notify the church office of that fact so we can note it in our records and add you to Epiphany’s Cornerstone Society. All aspects of the gift will be completely confidential.

    Warren McFarlan

  • 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

Location & Contact

70 Church Street
Winchester, MA 01890
Phone: 781.729.1922


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