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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 06, 2018 5:14 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Happy Easter! Although Easter Sunday occurred 8 days ago, the Easter season lasts for 50 days. Thus, the Easter greetings must keep coming. I suppose this is something that I learned from my dad. As long I can remember, he has enthusiastically greeted friends and family with this post-resurrection acknowledgement. He faithfully does it all the way until Pentecost. It doesn’t matter where he is; church, the grocery store, or the post office. If he knows you and knows that you share the Christian faith, you are going to get an Easter greeting.

    It is not so much the words, “Happy Easter,” that ring true, but his authentic expression of joy. Easter is fundamentally about the profound joy that we experience believing that Jesus is risen and that hope and new life overcome death and suffering. Jesus’ victory gives us the courage we need to confront the challenges of life, as well as patience to endure through times of alienation and sadness. For this reason, we celebrate Easter with a sense of solace and elation.

    It is because of Easter that we, as a people and a church, have a unique understanding of pain and suffering. As I stated above, Jesus, the risen Christ, has triumphed over death. The fear, threat, and event of death no longer overburden and/or paralyze us. What does this mean in our day to day living and for our relationships? Well, it means that the dead are still our friends to borrow from the theologian, Elizabeth Johnson. Our beloved dead continue to form us and inspire us, even though they are no longer physically present. Their departure from earth does not bring an end to their relationship with us. Albeit in a new and different way, we continue to relate to those who have come before us and those whom have marked us.

    We believe that our beloved will live forever, as part of the Body of Christ. We, as members of one universal Church, share in this Body. This type of believing in not simply a mental exercise. It is a heartfelt truth anchored in love. The love that we have shared with the dead, which finds its source in the self-giving love of Christ, never ceases. Love continues even when someone is no longer with us. The unconquerable love of God, which has been revealed to us in and through our human relationships, is what establishes the joy of Easter.

    May your Easter season be joyful! May your continue to offer one another Easter greetings. May we all continue to lean into the love of God. Jesus Christ is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

    Paul Shoaf Kozak

  • March 26, 2018 7:34 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Triduum, Three Sacred Days

    It's one liturgy across three days. We disperse and regather during these three days, but a single liturgy overarches them, encompassing everything that happens in church, at home, at work, at school. 

    Maundy Thursday, 29 March, Do this in remembrance of me

    6:00pm, a hosted parish supper in Hadley Hall with Eucharist, foot washing in the church, stripping of the altar, and procession to the altar of repose

    Tonight is the doorway into the Triduum. The word “maundy” comes from the Latin mandatum which means “commandment.” Maundy Thursday celebrates the meal of Jesus’s self-giving, made manifest in the footwashing and in the gift of Bread and Wine. These signs of Jesus’s love and self-offering are the focal points. We reenact Jesus’ demonstration of what it means to be a servant through the ritual of foot washing. The sign is strongest when all members of the community have the opportunity both to have their feet washed and to wash others’ feet. At the conclusion of this service, the altar is stripped, then the whole congregation moves toward the baptismal font, where an altar of repose, or a local version of the Garden of Gethsemane, has been created. The unseen presence of Christ (in the consecrated bread and wine) is made visible, and we focus ourselves for the Night Watch--staying as we can throughout the night--until 7:30am on Good Friday when we receive Holy Communion with these elements. 

    Good Friday, 30 March, Behold the wood of the cross

    7:30am Prayer Book liturgy with Communion at the back of the church

    4:00pm A liturgy designed for children and families

    7:30pm Prayer Book liturgy with music and the veneration of the cross

    Because this is a continuation of Maundy Thursday there is not a procession today, merely an entrance in silence. The focal points of this liturgy are the bare Altar and a large rough-hewn cross. The Adult Choir sings the Passion, followed by the sermon, the offertory, (throughout the Episcopal Church today’s monetary offerings are directed to the church in the Holy Land) and the ancient prayers of the solemn collects. The energy and shape of this liturgy are unfamiliar; it is the trough, the desolate valley of this Three Day journey. The service concludes with the veneration of the cross. All are invited to touch the cross, or to stand near it, or to kneel at it, or to use consecrated oil to anoint the cross. 

    Holy Saturday, 31 March, In the midst of life, we are in death

    9:30am, Prayer Book liturgy 

    This is among the Prayer Book’s best treasures! Good Friday’s emptiness yields gradually this morning to quiet expectation and preparation. The altar guild, the flower guild, the choir, and all the generous-hearted who are preparing for tonight’s feast gather in the church for this brief, yet powerful, prayer service.

    The Great Vigil of Easter, 31 March Suddenly Jesus met them and said,‘Greetings!’

    7:30pm The Great Vigil and the First Eucharist of Easter

    Our time of waiting is almost over, our work nearly completed. We pilgrims of the Three Days are nearing our destination. We are about to be gathered into the Paschal Mystery, to be seized by its present power, to be transformed. We who have died with Christ in Baptism will rise with him tonight into Easter life. Drawn from ancient sources, this is the most dramatic liturgy of the year. The progression of themes and moods played out on Palm Sunday are reversed. We hear the timeless prophecies of hope. We move from darkness to light. We celebrate baptisms by candlelight. We sing the first “alleluia” of Easter. The church is flooded with light as the Eucharist is celebrated. Bring your own bells and noisemakers! We play with fire, and with water, and sweet-smelling oil; we light a great candle in the darkness and read from the book of our story by its light; rejoicing, we carry our gifts of bread and wine to the Altar, and then the feast continues with a festive reception hosted by the 2018 confirmation class, in Hadley HallOur community’s full-on Easter joy, are the ingredients for this late-night party. 

    Easter Day, 1 April, Alleluia! Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed!

    7:30am, The Holy Eucharist

    9:00am, Choral Holy Eucharist

    10:00am, parish-wide coffee hour in Hadley Hall

    11:15am, Choral Holy Eucharist

    These identical celebrations of the Eucharist include the Beacon Brass Quintet, massed choirs, and a church full of people singing to proclaim God’s power to bring life out of death. We will hear the great Easter anthems, sing our favorite hymns, and experience everything else that makes for “an Epiphany Easter.” Come early, bring a friend, share the joy. Child care available from 8:30 until 12:30.

  • March 22, 2018 1:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    “I do need to go to church. I need specifically religious elements in my life. I find that if I just turn all of my spiritual impulses — if I let them be solitary, as I am comfortable in being — I’m comfortable sitting reading books and trying to pray and meditating. Inevitably, if that energy is not focused outward, it becomes despairing. It turns in on itself, and I will look up in a couple of months, and I find that I’m in despair. And so I think that one of the ways that we know that our spiritual inclinations are valid is that they lead us out of ourselves.”

    On Being: Krista Tippett exerpt from interview with Christian Wiman January 4, 2018

     “I give you a new commandment: Love one another as I have loved you. By this shall the world know that you are my disciples: That you have love for one another.” 

    Book of Common Prayer Maundy Thursday liturgy p. 275 

    Often when I am driving in my car, I listen to podcasts. I enjoy hearing people way smarter than I articulate their thoughts and ideas, mostly about God and faith. Recently I have been listening over and over again to an On Being Krista Tippett podcast in which she interviews a poet by the name of Christian Wiman. His thoughts on spirituality and religion in this interview are beautifully and poetically articulated and have helped me crystalize why I need “religion” and “Church” in my own life. I understand more deeply what “incarnate” means and recognize that being a follower of Christ is anchored in my body and my senses and experiences with the world and each other. 

    This week we enter into the holiest of week in our Church year. As we walk through the final days of Jesus’ life, three ancient services encapsulate the essence of who we are as Christians. These services, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil, let us experience and participate in and with our community in a deeply incarnate way. These services are not spectator events but require us to wade in and participate, to become part of the story of Jesus.

    Of the three, Maundy Thursday is my favorite. I love the theology of it, I love that it is on this night we participate in the story of the Last Supper, that it is the night the Jesus instituted the Eucharist, that it is that night that we hear again the command from Jesus to love one another and to serve one another, and that it is the night that Jesus demonstrated this love when he washed the disciples’ feet and we participate in this love by washing each other’s feet. The physical act of washing each other’s feet is a powerful way to open us to the vulnerability that is necessary to receive and give love. 

    So now I must confess. Up until last year, I have attended this service and never actually participated in the foot washing, I have only watched. I was afraid to. I was afraid that if I put myself in such a vulnerable place in front of everyone that I might not be in control of my emotions, it would be too embarrassing. So I continued to attend, to love the theology, to watch, and then read a lot about it.

    Last year was different. A week beforehand, I talked about Maundy Thursday to a group of children in chapel. When I admitted to the children that I had never had my feet washed, my dear eight year old friend Sydney immediately yelled out, “I am going to go to the service and get my feet washed and you are coming up with me.” 

    I answered, “If you really do go up, I will too, Sydney,” not wanting to squelch her enthusiasm and figuring the odds of having to really fulfill my promise was slim. Well, she and her mom did show up that Thursday, and luckily Sydney was wearing stockings. I said, “Oh well, you won’t be able to do the foot washing with tights on!” I thought I was in the clear for another year, but as we were all processing down the hallway towards the church for the foot washing, the door to the restroom behind me burst open and out swaggered Sydney, waving her stockings, smiling and yelling to me, “OK, now we are getting our feet washed.” I was cornered with no way out. 

    So I went up when it was time and what followed was not what I had expected. For me, it was definitely a feeling of vulnerability and discomfort, but also intertwined were feelings of love and kindness received from others. We were all laughing together amongst the awkwardness. I felt the love that I had been reading about, I saw it in Sydney’s giggles, in the kind welcome of our host Marian and in Alicia’s, Sydney’s mom, smile. After feeling that love and connection, I felt like sharing it. I believe we all felt this love that night, it was God’s love, God’s incarnate love. I would never have gotten this from reading or watching. Thank you Sydney.

    I plan on participating again this year! Please join me and we can look forward to what God is awakening in us together.

    May you feel the presence of God’s love in these holy days. Love,

  • March 16, 2018 1:07 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Click here
    to learn more about the significance and history of tabernacles and sanctuary lamps. This Easterside Epiphany will be adding these elements to the Chancel area of the Church.

  • March 16, 2018 12:29 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I don’t know about you, but as we enter the final days of Lent, I am ready for a celebration. Many of us have spent nearly 40 days now consciously reflecting on how we live our lives.

    Whether we have given something up, or taken on a new discipline, striving to be faithful people can be hard work.

    When we get to Palm Sunday, I am always ready to shout “Hosanna!” I can just imagine the elation that the first disciples must have felt. Jesus, this person whom they had given up everything to follow and support, was triumphantly riding into Jerusalem. I can imagine them feeling that all their hard work and sacrifice had paid off. Surely this was the goal they had been striving for. All would be well. I’m sure they never imagined what would unfold only a few days later.

    For some reason this year as I have been preparing for Holy Week, the disciples actions and feelings have come to the forefront of this amazing story. It is certainly easy to identify with them. We, too, make sacrifices and work for things that we believe in throughout our lives. We, too, make many mistakes along the way. What a joy it is when we get to moments in our lives when we can really celebrate. How difficult it is when things quickly change and we realize that our work is not yet done, but just beginning.

    As the events of Holy Week unfolded, I can imagine the disciples' utter devastation. I’m sure they felt that all they had valued and believed was now lost. Of course, they didn’t yet know the end of the story.

    Oddly enough, I think I am drawn to the disciples' plight this year because of all that I have been hearing about in the news locally, in our country and beyond. I certainly don’t mean to imply that I think all is lost, but I do realize that many things I have valued and taken for granted may not be as secure as I have thought. Past achievements have been worthy of celebration, but the goal of all of God’s people being loved, valued, and accepted still seems a long way off. There is certainly much more work to be done.

    I am so grateful that I know how the story of Holy Week ends. There is more hope and joy than I’m sure any of the disciples could have imagined. For me, Edith Williams' text from last Sunday’s choir anthem sums up Holy Week perfectly, and it is indeed something to celebrate!

    Jesus, so lowly, Child of the earth; Christen me wholly, Bring me new birth.
    Jesus, so lonely, weary and sad; Teach me that only Love maketh glad.
    Jesus, so broken, Silent and pale; Be this the token Love will not fail.
    Jesus, victorious, mighty and free; Teach me how glorious death is to be.

    Craig Benner
    Director of Music and Organist 

  • March 16, 2018 7:37 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On Sunday, 18 March and continuing until 15 April, the Reverend Ann Broomell will join the Parish of the Epiphany as an adjunct priest. This will be her first time at the Parish of the Epiphany. Now retired, Ann has served as an intentional Interim Rector in parishes throughout New England and in Maryland. She has also served in parishes as rector and cathedral dean and completed a chaplain residency program. A graduate of Episcopal Divinity School with a Master of Divinity degree, Ann earned a Doctor of Ministry degree in Congregational Sstudies from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary. She currently serves as a spiritual director and mentor with students through the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, is a member of the Board of Trustees of the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, and sings with Polymnia, a local choral group.

  • March 10, 2018 5:47 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    ...from the Rector about the 4th Sunday in Lent: Refreshment Sunday, Rose Sunday, Mothering Sunday 

    Today, the 4th Sunday in Lent, marks a break in an otherwise penitential season. In English churches, and indeed in many Episcopal Churches in the United States, whatever austerity may have marked the earlier part of Lent gives way to “refreshment.” For Anglicans the tradition of “Laetare Sunday” extends as far back as the 15th century when the opening introit “O be joyful Jerusalem” was always sung on this Sunday. The Latin word laetare is the singular imperative of to rejoice. 

    The vestments for this day are often rose-colored, and in many churches, including ours, flowers adorn the Altar. In the Diocese of Southwark (in London) the Bishop, as recently as a few years ago, encouraged parishes to serve chocolate wafers and sherry for the coffee hour. Even if we had a coffee hour I think we’d stop short of that indulgence, but the point is to remind us again that every Sunday is an anniversary of the resurrection. 

    Another historical thread for this Sunday was the old (as in medieval) practice of visiting the cathedral, or the “mother church,” and eventually that practice morphed into the contemporary custom known throughout England of honoring mothers with spring flowers and a special tea cake known as Simnel Cake. Within the Anglican tradition we see this emphasized in two different Prayer Books, Canada’s and Ireland’s, both of which describe today as “Mothering Sunday.” 

    All of these customs and traditions are ways for the church to remind us that Lent isn’t a season for penitence alone, but also a time “to prepare with joy for the paschal feast.” And so our liturgy--our music, the prayers, and the environment itself--expresses a foretaste of the joy that’s coming, the joy of Christ’s resurrection, and ours.  

    Source material The Commentary on the American Prayer Book by Marion Hatchett (1979); 2004 Book of Common Prayer for the Church of Ireland (2005). 

  • March 01, 2018 2:55 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    A few years ago the engine in my car went kaput with only 10,000 miles on it. It took two weeks to get it repaired, but eventually it was good as new. Nobody at the Ford garages, either here in Winchester, where it had its first oil change, or the one in upstate New York, where it was fixed, could explain why the engine failed. “It was just one of those things.”

    When the car was finally put back together, a friend drove me to Watertown, New York, to get it. He is really persnickety about clean windows in his car and he introduced me to a product called RainX. He sprays it on the outside of his car windows; that creates an invisible layer of wax which makes the water, and the salt spray, make big beads. Then, when the wipers do their thing, one’s view is clear and pristine. It’s a pretty great product, and now I’m converted to RainX.

    This Sunday we’ll recognize and celebrate children and parents who finished a six week course, which we call “communion enrichment.” Most Sundays the parents were with me, and the children were with Carolyn Hughes. It’s been a ton of fun, and I’ve learned a lot from these moms and dads. In an email, one parent wrote to me and said, “except for Sunday mornings I’ve never known anything about the Bible. But whenever we look at a passage in the communion program I feel like it helps me to see, somehow pulls me forward. It’s amazing, sorta like RainX on the windshield.” I laughed, recalling the bottle of RainX in the garage, and hearing the great truth of his insight.

    It’s true; the direction of the Bible, the Word, is forward, inevitably and always. Its concern is the future. We look forward when we’re driving—whether the windshield has RainX or not—and the same posture is necessary when we read scripture, to lean into the future. When Jesus disappeared from the tomb, we’re told that he “went on ahead” of everybody, especially blindsiding those fixed on their rearview mirror.

    Plenty of religion is loaded with nostalgia; it gets defined by the past. That’s true for our brand of Christianity, too, and it’s even true for some of us. We pine away for the past, unable to glimpse what lies ahead. In just a couple of weeks, we’ll enter the pathway of Holy Week, and encounter parts of scripture that tell us about our lives, as well as parts of scripture that don’t fit, or actually grate. In all of this the tasks of interpreting and reflecting on scripture, as those parents did every Sunday these past six weeks, clears the way so that we see forward. If you think about fundamentalism, which at its worst is a compulsion to retrieve and preserve the past, we see how foolish and impossible it is.

    What I heard in that young dad’s analogy of God’s Word with RainX was a reminder that scripture is living and active, waiting for us to do something with it. Maybe today, and in the weeks to come, we can see faith as a deep confidence in God’s future, not living in the past, but leaning forward, able to see exactly where we are going.

    Faithfully in Christ,

  • February 23, 2018 12:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    During a recent Genesis middle school meeting, I asked the kids about what they look for in an ideal pastor. On the off chance Thomas needed to go on a quick impromptu theological mission to Barcelona and we needed a short-term replacement, what would you look for in a candidate?

    There was a moment’s hesitation and then the qualifications came flying in. “They need to be nice.” “They should be a dog person.” “They should show us how to be Christian.” “I wanna be happy to see them.” “They should wear bow-ties.” “They should remember people’s names.”

    Later, I mentioned to Carolyn that one of the girls pointed out that everyone had just ended up describing Thomas.

    After a little dip in the conversation, one of them said “I guess, they just need to be a good Christian.”

    “What’s a good Christian?”

    “If you come to church, if you pray, and if you’re nice to everyone. You also have to do nice things.”

    “Do you feel like you’re a good Christian?”

    *Laughs* “I don’t know. Sometimes, I guess.”

    I find middle schoolers are an easier puzzle to solve than high schoolers. Middle schoolers look for role models in their lives and are quick to point out hypocrisy and inconsistencies.

    In an atmosphere like that, it is of the utmost importance than we as a community raise our own standards of stewardship, acceptance, and love to the heights our young ones expect in us.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fallen short (well, I can but Sarah says this has to come in under 20,000 words) but I do my utmost to scramble back because there’s a small group of children who think I’m better than I am. And they feel that way about us.

    So I’m going to try to be the most Christ-like versions of myself. Even if I don’t feel it all the time, I’m going to put my best foot forward. I hope you’ll join me. Because young eyes are watching.

  • February 16, 2018 10:06 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The liturgical season of Lent is meant to be a journey. Like all journeys, it has a beginning (Ash Wednesday) and an end (Holy Saturday). Along the way, there are points of rest. In the western Church, these typically occur on Sundays (days not actually counted toward the 40). This journey does not require us to pack very much, just a prayerful heart and a penitent spirit. The main thing is to be sure to pack enough prayer and penance for the entire journey, for each spiritual discipline should get used every day.

    I realize that making the commitment to prayer every day may seem daunting. I can’t say that I have the best track record in this practice. Still prayer gives nourishment on this journey, allowing us to persevere through long stretches and static moments. Prayer is as simple as being fully honest with God. It is not speaking with an enlightened eloquence or succinct theological language, let alone a posture of kneeling a certain way. When we pray, we share our hearts with God. Ultimately, the purpose of Christian faith is a closer union with the Creator. Lent gives us a direct opportunity in prayer to know God more deeply.  

    The deepening of our relationship with God can simultaneously happen when we open our minds and spirits to being penitent. While it is true that the briefest of surveys of Christian history reveals that the word penance brings some hefty baggage (i.e. self-flagellation), the mistakes of our past should not make us so intransigent to embracing the truths of offering genuine penance. In doing so, we acknowledge that we are NOT God. Moreover, an act of penance demonstrates an awareness that we are part of a larger world that suffers when we fail to live out our baptismal covenant. Finally, showing penance points to a most fundamental truth of the human condition – we rely on each other. As we journey through Lent, disposing ourselves in humility can surely launch us into profound communion with others and/or God.

    I hope that you set out on a Lenten journey this year. Invite a friend, a neighbor, or even a stranger. If you feel like you might need some guidance on this trek, Parish of the Epiphany provides multiple opportunities for you to journey in community with other members of the Parish during the Lenten Home Series or the Lenten on-line course. Regardless of how you approach the season of Lent, may you find peace and joy and renewal. May you marvel at the awesome blessing of walking this earth just like our Savior!

    Paul Shoaf Kozak

Location & Contact

70 Church Street
Winchester, MA 01890
Phone: 781.729.1922



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