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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."


  • May 03, 2019 3:10 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Beloved Community,

    The day before you is a blank page.
    There may be lines on it for coloring,
    but it is for you to color in.
    You can fill it with wonder and gratitude.
    You can make it a picture of love
    in colors of your choosing.
    If you are bearing pain
    it can be a drawing of healing and trust.
    If you are fearful it can bear the lines and colors
    of reaching out and seeking help.
    It can be the shape of courage.
    No one can make you use any color, any shape.
    It is your choice.
    No one is judging what you put on the page.
    There is no right or wrong,
    just something to look at.
    Each moment you sit with the Divine, choosing.
    ~ Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light

    Many years ago when I was serving as Rector of Grace Church in Newton, I had a parishioner who had just had very serious back surgery. I visited with her a couple of days after the surgery. She was home and was adjusting to her limitations. I always had experienced her as a very positive person. She had a grown son who was married and had two beautiful grandchildren. She was still working as a director of an after-school program and was creative and passionate about her vocation and her volunteer work at the church.

    But this surgery knocked her for a loop. She was not used to lying around the house and she grew impatient with her inability to bounce back quickly. After I listened for a good while, I suggested that she begin a gratitude journal. “Each day I want you to write down at least five things that you are grateful for.” I suggested that it could be simple things such as sleeping through the night or giving thanks to God for the skillful surgeon who fixed the discs in her back, or the laughter of her grandchildren. I told her that I would check in with her in a month to see where she was with her gratitude journal.

    Of course, the daily practice of giving thanks to God changed everything. Her attitude became more positive and she became more patient with her body and its ability to heal and she became more patient with herself. And she gave thanks to God. Every single day! And that made all the difference.

    Writing in a journal became a prayer to God. She offered up her pain, her impatience, her inability to move as quickly as she used to. And she began to notice the small and wonderful things around her and gave thanks.

    Whether you write in a journal or paint or sing or cook or simply notice things when you are walking your dog, let it be a prayer of gratitude to God. Let your every breath be a prayer.

    Faithfully yours in Christ,




  • April 26, 2019 1:17 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. (I Corinthians 16:13-14)

    God is calling to us to look ahead and to embrace brave change. As fewer people turn to the church as a source of solace and strength, more than ever we yearn to know and be known by God and one another. In a world plagued by grievous conflict, injustice, and poverty, God gives us the courage to be agents of reconciliation, justice, and abundance. There will be difficult choices for us as followers of Jesus. It is only through ongoing, prayerful discernment together that we will find a path to a faithful future.                 
    From the Parish Transition Document, Diocese of Massachusetts

    We have been busy! Lent and Easter is always a tricky time for me; I want to embrace the season and keep time for worship and prayer but I find it difficult to keep the demands of a busy life away. This Lent and Easter were more of a challenge because of all that is happening at Epiphany at this particular time. Dave and I collaborated with Miriam to draw up a Letter of Agreement for her time as our Bridge Priest and secured the services of Ran Chase to assist Miriam as an Interim Associate Priest. We also interviewed a candidate as our Interim Priest, introduced the candidate to the Vestry, got Vestry approval, and now will work on a Letter of Agreement. Once we have a Letter of Agreement we will announce our Interim Rector to the Parish. Your treasurers along with your wardens met with Bob Malone a Diocesan Congregational Consultant and had Epiphany's Transition Review. The purpose of this is to make sure our business affairs are in order. We had a very good meeting and once Bob writes his report, we will post it on our website under the Rector Transition tab. Here you can also find a Rector Search Timeline and other important information. In addition Cherie and Alan, your treasurers, have been working hard reviewing our budget to project how a rector search will affect our 2019 and 2020 budgets and what adjustments, if any, may be necessary. All of this has happened during Lent, Holy Week, and through the celebration of Easter.

    Our next challenge is to convene a Search Committee, probably the most important step in a Rector Search. Ultimately, the Search Committee is responsible for recommending one person to the Vestry as the 11th Rector of the Parish of the Epiphany. The Search Committee is the creation of the Vestry and works for and on behalf of the Vestry. According to the Diocesan Guide for Parishes in Transition, it is important to keep in mind that in accordance with the Canons of the Church, only the Vestry can elect the Rector and the Wardens issue a call with the approval of the Bishop. If you would like to serve on the Search Committee, please see the Rector Transition page of our website for more information and the process for applying.

    We are also still actively fundraising for the Together Forever Property Fund. Invitations to special gatherings are on the way to those of who have not had the opportunity to participate in the Together Now or Together Again campaigns, so you can join those who have given already. You will be invited to attend one of three gatherings held on Wednesday 8 May, Thursday 9 May, or Sunday 12 May to learn more about our fundraising for the elevator and other future projects. The ground breaking for the construction of the elevator will happen in early May.

    So when Holy Week arrived, I intentionally put my Warden duties aside and focused on the beautiful Triduum services that Miriam, Craig, Carolyn, Sarah and many others planned for Holy Week. It was wonderful to just be in the moment of each special service that were so moving and some of the best I have experienced in my time at Epiphany.

    With all the activity swirling around, it is easy to lose sight of what is most important in our life together: the Parish of the Epiphany is not just one person or one leader but a whole host of people working together furthering God’s kingdom here on earth. We do that beautifully and will continue to do that as we welcome new people into our community. Not only did we baptize three new babies yesterday, but on 4 May 2019, six adult members will be either received or confirmed into the Episcopal Church. Please congratulate and welcome them as we continue to welcome all who find their way to our doors.

    In Peace,

    Suzanne Owayda, Warden


  • April 18, 2019 12:51 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Early on the first day of the week, while it was still
    dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.                                        John 20: 1 (NRSV)

    I subscribe to a daily email from Grow Christians which is an Episcopal website for a community of disciples practicing faith at home. I would like to say that I read it every day but I don’t. I am too busy. But when I feel I need inspiration I do read it and strangely, more often than not when I click on the article of the day, it is one written by my friend the Reverend Kit Lonergan who is a mother and also the Rector at St. James, Groveland, MA. I worked with her for three years when I was on staff at Christ Church, Andover. She is fun to work with, extremely creative and a wonderful preacher and writer. In her reflections, she merges Scripture and Jesus into her everyday life, often in a hilarious and quirky way. So recently when I felt a loss in my life and looked for comfort, I happened to yet again click on another article from Kit titled a Lenten swimming lesson. The gist of her reflection was that her five-year-old daughter was having a meltdown because she did not want to go to her swimming lesson. When Kit got down to the cause of the meltdown, she realized that her daughter was afraid to put her face in the water. So in her Kit-way, Kit decided that as her Lenten discipline, she would sign herself up for adult swimming lessons. Needless to say, her reflections on her experience were both hilarious and profound as she began to understand her daughter’s fears and recognized how hard and scary it is to be a beginner. Kit is a wonderful mother and is very courageous to jump into a pool during the winter months. I am grateful to Kit because I got to feel what that is like through her writing. Most importantly, if I had to write about being a beginner, I would probably reflect upon being in a beginner’s upholstery class and my storytelling wouldn’t have been as humorous.

    So after reading her article, I reflected on my own experiences. Once I am no longer a beginner, it gives me confidence, a new perspective, and sometimes a useful skill. It also occurs to me, and perhaps to you, that as I get older many of my beginner moments come on the heels of a loss. Then it is not necessary that I learn to do something new, I have to learn how to live in a new way. So whenever I become a beginner again, which seems more and more often now, it takes me a while to accept that I am a beginner – I cling onto my old way of being as I grieve; sometimes it takes me a while to find an instructor – I search for moments of grace and guidance; sometimes I am impatient to move on – I learn that I am in control of very little and have to learn to trust the process. This is scary and yet transforming.

    As we enter into this Eastertide season of seven Sundays, I think of Mary Magdalene coming to the empty tomb on that first Easter Sunday, carrying the burden of the loss of her dear friend. She came to anoint and prepare Him for burial, discovered He was no longer there and then meets Him in a new way. Mary Magdalene became a beginner that Easter morning; her whole life changed and she had to learn a new way of being. Easter is a season of the Church when we are all beginners and we learn how to live in this new beginning together. Transforming ourselves by grieving our old selves and then preparing to move forward to welcome our new selves. In our liturgy, the day we welcome our new selves is Pentecost, 50 days after the Feast of Easter, which will be on June 9th this year. This is the day that the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples and we are transformed from being beginners into becoming the Body of Christ on earth, the Church. I look forward to spending the seven Sundays of Eastertide together with you in this community of beginners!

    May you face whatever beginnings come into your life and know that you are not alone, we, your Church community are here to walk with you.

    I wonder where in your life right now you feel that you are a beginner?

    Love



  • April 12, 2019 12:45 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I have always thought of Holy Week as a journey. It is something that is best experienced over time. I am grateful that we have that time, an entire week, to think about what is happening and to feel the extreme emotional highs and lows. Even though I know the story well, I find that each year is a different journey depending on what is happening in my own life and in the world around me. This year is no exception.

    Most years, I seem to focus on what is happening to Jesus. How would it feel to be celebrated as you come into Jerusalem, and then be mocked, derided, and eventually killed just a few days later? The resurrection was incredibly joyous, but Jesus’ interactions with his closest friends seem different afterward. Why?

    This year, as I was preparing music for Holy Week, I found myself thinking more about Jesus’ disciples. What were the Apostles feeling as the week’s events unfolded? How did they deal with losing a leader and friend for whom they had given up everything to follow? How did they manage their emotions which must have been overwhelming?

    I’m sure you already see why my thoughts were heading in the direction of the Apostles. I completely understand that what Jesus’ followers went through was much more gut-wrenching and world-changing than anything we, at the Parish of the Epiphany, are experiencing. But the more I thought about their journey, the more I saw similarities in our own. There is no doubt that we are all on a journey together this year, and it is important that we take some time to reflect on all that is happening around us. Our journey also comes with extreme emotional highs and lows. We have all shared a sense of pride that Thomas felt called and was elected to be the Bishop of Maine. Soon we will be able to celebrate his consecration. Of course, we have also shed many tears because Thomas will no longer be with us as our leader. We know that while we will still have a relationship with Thomas, that relationship will be changed. There is a noticeable sense of loss.

    The best part is that there is much good news. There was certainly good news for Jesus’ disciples that Easter Day, for it was not the end of something as they had feared, but only the beginning. As we continue our journey through the church year, we will be reminded even the miracle of Easter is not the end of the story. Jesus eventually leaves his followers and sends them a new guide in the form of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

    This is good news for all of us today as well. We know that the Holy Spirit will be working through all of us as we begin to talk about our hopes and dreams for a new leader at Epiphany. We can also be comforted to know that the Holy Spirit will be working through Miriam, Ran, and our soon to be named interim who will walk with us and guide us. None of us can predict what the next year will bring. But as we journey through Holy Week, Pentecost, and this year of exploration, I pray that we will all be open to experiencing the exciting things that God has in store for each of us.


  • April 05, 2019 2:29 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Beloved Community,

    It’s barely a week since we bid our final farewell to Thomas. We are all now living in that “in between time.” It is a time to grieve, a time to give thanks, and a time to look toward the future with hope and trust in the One “in whom we live, and move, and have our being.”

    I am honored to walk beside you on this next part of the journey. For the next five months or so I will serve as your “Bridge Priest.” The Bridge Priest fills in those in-between times until an Interim Rector is appointed by the Wardens and Vestry. We are blessed to have the Reverend Ran Chase return to assist me during this time. Ran will be here one day during the week and on Sundays. He will help out liturgically and with pastoral visits. Once the Interim Rector arrives, I will return to my role as Associate Rector.

    None of us does this work alone. We have the guidance of the Holy Spirit to lead us, direct us, and inspire us during this time of transition. I want to tell you that I do the work of ministry among you with joy and excitement for what God is dreaming for this wonderful Parish. I do this work of ministry with my spouse, Lisa Garcia, at my side. Without her support, love, and encouragement, I could not do all that God has called me to do. I hope if you have not met Lisa yet that you will introduce yourself to her.

    Epiphany is blessed with an incredibly talented, experienced, and dedicated staff. Thomas really helped to form us into a collegial and collaborative team. We work hard, have deep respect for one another, and we know how to laugh and have fun! Thank you Sarah Twiss, Carolyn Hughes, Craig Benner, Suzy Westcott, Brian Curreri, and Fred Benson for your willingness to embrace whatever the future holds.

    Thanks also to Suzanne Owayda and Dave McSweeney, our Wardens. They have taken on so much during this time of transition. I hope you will thank them and every member of the Vestry for their spiritual leadership and for accepting the call to guide this Parish during the search process for our new Rector.

    So many of you have offered help to me, the Wardens, and Vestry during this time of transition. Thank you. I hope you will pray for us, the staff, Wardens, and Vestry every single day. Pray for guidance, inspiration, patience, good humor, and endurance to run the race that lies before us.

    One of my favorite collects from the Book of Common Prayer is for guidance. I leave it with you as we look forward in joyful hope to a future filled with new possibilities, new dreams, and new challenges.

    Loving God, in whom we live and move and have our being:
    We humbly pray thee so to guide and govern us by thy
    Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our life
    we may not forget thee, but may remember that we are ever
    walking in thy sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (p. 57 BCP)

    Faithfully yours in Christ,



  • March 29, 2019 3:11 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    March was a poignant month, there’s no getting around it. We had our individual and communal journeys in saying farewell to Thomas. Even though he “has left the building,” we are still on this path. In this part of our clergy transition process, many of us are still actively experiencing the “saying goodbye” phase while starting to look toward what’s next.

    With that in mind, we do have much to look forward to:

    Our Transition Process

    • Canon Martha Hubbard returns this Sunday, 7 April. She will preside and preach and also will meet with the vestry at noon to kick off our transition planning.
    • During the next vestry meeting on 10 April, we will be discussing the process of forming our Search Committee. Please stay tuned for some additional insights coming from that discussion.
    • Our search for an Interim Rector is progressing. Suzanne Owayda and I have received a candidate name from our Bishops and Canon Hubbard. This candidate is currently finishing up as Interim Rector in another parish and then will be on sabbatical for a few months. For now, we’re investigating mutual interest and a possible starting time frame. While we are very early in this process, we want to provide as much information to you as we can, and we hope to share additional news soon.
    • Our own Miriam Gelfer is now serving as our Bridge Priest, while we anticipate the arrival or our Interim Rector. Miriam will be increasing her hours with us during this period, similar to when Thomas was on sabbatical in 2017. Please know that Miriam is committed to us throughout this transition process and will be working in concert with any Interim Rector whom we select. For now, Miriam and your wardens are working to secure some additional preaching help for Sundays – you will see some familiar faces in the pulpit in the coming weeks and months.
    • There’s a new page on our Parish website where you can browse through materials related to our transition. We will be adding to it throughout the transition. Click here to see current information.

    Our Elevator – It’s Happening!

    The momentum is building for our long-awaited elevator. Here are some highlights:

    • Our Accessibility Committee continues their hard work with our Construction Manager, CE Floyd. Our construction project was officially kicked off in late February.
    • At the March vestry meeting, we approved spending $75,000 to cover costs of some items requiring a long lead time.
    • We are on track to receive final pricing for the elevator on 22 April, and we will have a special vestry meeting shortly thereafter where we will vote to approve and fund the entire project.
    • We plan to break ground on 21 May.
    • Please help us complete the funding effort for the elevator and give generously to the Together Forever Property Fund. Click here to learn more!

    Finally, I leave us with a beautiful prayer I found on the front cover of our Diocese’s Parish Transition Process Document:

    O God, you know us better than we know ourselves. Guide us in our search for a new clerical leader. Empower each one of us to use our unique ministries, to share openly and honestly our thoughts, to respect the opinions of others, and to encourage humility, patience and joy. Instill in us a vision of the Church’s family that guided by your Holy Spirit we will be united in love and joyfully accomplish this mission of discovering the one you have called to service with us as our Rector. All this we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

    Wishing us all the deepest peace.

    With gratitude for each of you,




  • March 14, 2019 2:42 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    …in our new elevator! It’s been a long time coming, but as you’ve probably heard by now, we have signed the construction agreement and will be breaking ground this spring. Epiphany’s elevator will “allow all of God’s beloved, not just the able-bodied, to participate fully in the life of our parish.” *

    While a fully-accessible campus has been a vision of Epiphany’s leaders for decades, it is finally happening thanks to those families who donated to our Together Now (2012) and Together Again (2015) capital campaigns, to the Vestry who contributed funds from two of our designated funds, and to generous families who have pledged over the past few months in the quiet phase of our current campaign. And not to be forgotten, the dedicated volunteers who have devoted countless hours to this vision over the years. Just some of the improvements we have made to date include the attractive ramp to the front of the church, the new accessible entrance to Hadley Hall from Church Street, and the power door to an ADA-compliant bathroom. We are in the home stretch now.

    Some of you may be thinking, I get all of these improvements so far, but why do we need to invest in an elevator? The reason is to enable us to truly integrate and welcome everyone into our parish life, regardless of physical ability. Our Parish is thriving. Our programming has expanded and we are currently using the Upper Parish Hall almost every week as a gathering space after church. However, these programs are primarily aimed at young families (because of the stairs), and it divides our community. Our current ability to fully occupy that beautiful space is limited, and any activities that are held there automatically exclude a good percentage of us.

    Going forward, the elevator will enable us to use our Upper Parish Hall for more multi-generational and parish-wide events (remember the Boar’s Head Feast and junior choir plays?). It will be helpful for choir members who regularly use this space. It will facilitate transporting food from the kitchen to provide hospitality for our activities and will make the space more attractive for outside rentals. And the elevator is not for just the second floor. We can more easily move items up from the basement for rummage and the fair, fully utilize the basement rooms for committee meetings, make another set of bathrooms available to all, and help participants in weekly parent groups get their strollers downstairs. The elevator will make it seamless to travel around the building, and clearly demonstrate that we value the participation of every member of our church.

    In a forward-thinking move, Epiphany’s leaders decided to combine this final push to complete the elevator with the establishment of a new designated fund that will also provide for future large-scale property needs. This January the Vestry approved the Together Forever Property Fund along with a short fundraising campaign with a goal of $150,000. This campaign will top off the funding needed to complete the elevator ($70K) and seed our new Together Forever Property Fund ($80K). Thereafter, the fund will provide an object for planned giving and a funding base for future capital projects such as the master landscaping plan or a possible renovation of the Upper Parish Hall.

    On a personal note, I can say how grateful I am that the ramp to the sanctuary was completed before my husband Rick was confined to a wheelchair. It made it easy for us to walk through the front door of our church every Sunday. We felt at home, and not like an inconvenience. I am eager for the day when everyone in our Parish family feels similarly welcome throughout our entire building.

    …for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”   Isaiah 56:7

    Eileen Marks
    Chair, Elevator Fundraising Steering Committee

    If you would like to learn more or contribute to the Together Forever Property Fund, please click here. To learn more about Epiphany’s progress over the years toward becoming a fully accessible campus, please click here.

    *from Epiphany’s Accessibility Master Plan (2013)



  • March 08, 2019 11:06 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    ...and I hope, by thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home. The Methodist Hymnal, #93

    Once upon a time, beginning in 1830, a missionary roamed the vast, lonesome and wild terrain of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, ministering to the Indians of the Great Lakes. Bishop Frederic Baraga, known as the Snowshoe Priest, traveled by foot over 500 miles every winter through blinding snowstorms and deep forests, over trackless mountains to the remote villages of five tribes.

    A modern-day traveler can discover more about Bishop Baraga’s life by visiting the Shrine of the Snowshoe Priest on Keweenaw Bay, featuring a 60-foot bronze statue atop 26-foot-long snowshoes. This curiosity is surrounded by five teepees, a table with votive candles, and a Cornish-Pasty stand. Tourists not awestruck by the Bishop’s treacherous calling to bring thousands to Christ in howling, arctic conditions probably liken this quirky, hidden shrine to others in its category, such as the famous Corn Palace in South Dakota, constructed entirely of corn husks, or the world’s largest concrete peanut sculpture in Oklahoma.

    One-hundred-fifty years later, a young lad was growing up not far from Keweenaw Bay in the Upper Peninsula. There Tommy Brown became a mediocre skier - even breaking his leg one season - on the nearby Porcupine Mountains. He played hooky with his classmates at the majestic Bond Waterfalls, only a bicycle ride away. His spiritual life began at the tiny Ewen Methodist Chapel, with only four pews on each side, and an organ, powered by a frayed extension cord, that he sometimes played. His faith grew in the summers at Camp Michigamme, a church camp where campers plunged into the glittering lakes, hiked through meandering forests and leaped over swift white rivers, and, when feeling puny - or faking it - would rest at the Ernest T. Brown Memorial Health Cabin, named after Tommy’s great-grandfather.

    It may be only a piece of a state, but it has a feel of a lost continent. If there’s a grander landscape on the planet, another intrepid new bishop just might begin discovering it soon in another state miles away.

    Tommy Brown, who grew into Thomas James Brown, Bishop-elect of the Diocese of Maine, might feel like he’s going home. Replacing snowshoes with snow tires and maybe a navigational gadget a bit more advanced than a compass, Thomas will be visiting congregations spread across 33,265 square miles. Thank goodness Bishop Baraga never snowshoed through Maine’s tangled, desolate 100-Mile Wilderness; he would have succumbed to exposure and starvation just trying to get out, a fate which has befallen even hikers of today. Near this unforgiving wilderness is Church of the Advent, the northernmost outpost of the diocese in Caribou, nearly in Canada.

    As he makes his way to All-Saints-by-the-Sea summer chapel on Bailey Island, probably with just four pews, the rugged seashore might remind Thomas of miles of crashing waves on the shores of his boyhood: Lakes Superior, Huron, and Michigan. He’ll climb to St. Peter’s Church in the eastern White Mountains, and gaze northward towards abandoned paper mills, reminiscent of abandoned copper mines of his youth.

    Thomas’s well-worn Book of Common Prayer will be next to him as he navigates those miles of two-lane winding, country roads. With the defroster full on and the windshield wipers frantically keeping the ice from forming an impenetrable crust, his flocks, from California to Vermont to Massachusetts are praying with him the beautiful Prayer for Travelers:

    Preserve those who travel;
    Surround them with your loving care;
    Protect them from every danger;
    And bring them in safety to their journey’s end;
    Amen.

    Godspeed, Thomas, and welcome home.

    Ellen Wilson, former warden and cross-country cyclist,
    including 533 miles in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula


  • March 01, 2019 12:32 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Whenever I see a family in church on Sunday mornings I am in awe. I am in awe that they got themselves dressed and out the door and in church after a week of school, work, and many other activities. For those of us who do not have children, there is a deep sense of respect and awe that parents take their roles of nurturers so seriously. You often put your own needs aside to ensure that your children have everything that they need. Clearly, the Christian formation of your children matters to you. Week after week, you do whatever is necessary to get your kids to church and to Sunday school and Children’s worship. It’s not an easy task, but the payoff is beyond measure.

    Thomas and I notice when families come to the altar rail for communion. We notice the wonder in your children’s eyes, even children who are not yet two years old, getting caught up in the mystery taking place. Somehow, they know they are a part of it all. I see little thumbs and forefingers come together as I approach them with communion. They know something sacred is happening and they want to be a part of it! And I am in awe when a young boy receives communion and bows his head for prayer at the altar rail. He lingers longer than the rest of his family and it seems he is caught up in that liminal space that no words can describe. And I am in awe.

    In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus said, “Let the children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14 ESV) At Epiphany we believe that our children and youth are vital members of our Parish and contribute to our common life by their wonder, their desire to learn about their faith, and their sheer joy in living every day. Our children have so much to teach us about the love of God. If we are patient and are willing to engage them, they will open our eyes and hearts to the mysteries of life that many of us have forgotten or ignored.

    I hope that if you haven’t had a chance to have a conversation with one of our children or youth that you will make a point of doing so. They are bright, funny, creative, and full of joy! As you engage them you just may see the world in a different way. And if you’re like me, you will be forever changed and filled with awe.

    Faithfully yours in Christ,



  • February 13, 2019 5:48 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    What do you mean, sit in silence? You don’t talk to anyone? How do you do that? Why would you do it at all?

    I’ve had all of those questions and many more when I mention to friends that I will soon be leaving for an annual silent retreat. I’ve had similar, if less intense, reactions to the idea of gathering in the chapel at Epiphany for contemplative prayer. I am often surprised by the response of stunned disbelief at the thought of not talking, at least out loud, for some length of time.

    So what does happen on a silent retreat, or even in the half-hour, contemplative prayer service at Epiphany on Thursday mornings at 9:00am? There are, of course, the logistics. We use simple spoken prayers to lead to the silence; we use the chime of a singing bowl to enter into silence; we sit before the chapel altar with lit candles and an icon. We sit in silence for fifteen minutes before another prayer takes us back into fifteen more silent moments. We say amen after a final short prayer and go our way.

    And the prayer? There are no rules other than to keep silence. But in the silence, prayer is the process of building and deepening our relationship with God. Talking and listening are the foundation on which all relationships are built. It’s no different with God.

    Jesus tells us to ask for what we need, to ask for our deepest desires. Jesus also holds us in our anger, sadness, despair, fear, or joy and gratefulness. We can tell him anything and ask for help, forgiveness, love, or strength and courage. We can ask for a change of heart or the strength to make a change. We can always talk to God – about anything.

    Listening is what happens if we stop talking, if we quiet the narrative that is so often going on in our heads. It’s what happens if we try to enter the silence, calm our minds, slow our breathing, and simply sit with Jesus. We don’t have to ‘do’ anything. We have the privilege of not worrying about what we need to achieve, we can simply be – open and receptive to the ultimate love that Jesus represents. It’s an opportunity to pay attention and to open the creaky gates of our hearts.

    Maybe you’ve tried this kind of silence and contemplation and you just couldn’t sit still or your mind continued to race. That’s what often happens to me. But, I think God calls us to be faithful, to keep on trying, to care about the deep relationship that can only be built by intentional talking and listening, even if it’s in five-minute increments. I invite you to join us on Thursday mornings or to begin your own practice, somewhere in your day. Say it all from your heart and open your heart to hear. God’s love is always with us.

    Mary Street



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