Sunday, November 29, 2009

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WE HAVE A DOG! Her name is Xena, Warrior Princess. We adopted her from a no-kill animal shelter in Connecticut yesterday, Saturday November 28. She's a lab mix, about 45 pounds, a year old. She was a stray, rescued by the Connecticut shelter from someplace in South Carolina. She is so sweet.

She just had her first bath - that was an adventure! but she did great. Now she's getting a walk outside.

I'm not going to gush. I just wanted you all to know, it's been past time to honor the lives of Black Bart and Miss Kate of blessed memory, by giving a home and family to another dog. And I half believe they sent Xena.

So, rejoice. And please welcome, Miss Xena, Warrior Princess of all Connecticut!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Octave of All Saints 2009

Dear Friend(s) of Grace Church:

Some say we are dying, but, look!, we are alive.

This paraphrase of 2 Corinthians 6: 8 sums up where we are at Grace Church in our 119th year. I can point to signs that our congregation is dying, but there is far more evidence that we are very much alive!

We have a core of parishioners who pray, worship, and work with great dedication to the glory of God and for the benefit of Grace Church.

Our priest is skilled at preaching, teaching, and pastoral care. We love her, and she loves us.

Our worship in enhanced by excellent music: choir, organ, and hand bells.

We hold services for the public each month: a healing service in the church and an outdoor service to which people without homes are especially invited.

Our kitchen has received high marks from the Norwalk Health Department.

Our buildings, including two houses on Berkeley Street (one of which now houses our priest), are in good repair; our church is handicapped-accessible.

We have a labyrinth for prayer and meditation.

We continue to support the FAWE girls’ school in Sierra Leone—and three of us have visited it.

We collect food and Christmas gifts and distribute them to those in need. We collect supplies for the children at Malta House; one of us tutors a young mother at Malta House.

We serve our community by opening our building to a variety of local organizations.

We are exploring the possible merger of our parish with the congregation of Iglesia Betania, and we have worshiped and socialized together.

Our new ministries were the subject of a full-page article with pictures in GOOD NEWS, the newspaper of the Diocese of Connecticut.

We all should be excited by and proud of the ministry and mission, which, with God’s help, our congregation is involved in. To accomplish all that we are doing we need the time, talent, and treasure of all of us. As a congregation we are blessed by God. As individuals and families we are blessed by God. A pledge card for 2010 is enclosed. In consideration of all that God has done for us and for you, please make your generous financial commitment to God by filling out and returning the card by November 22nd. Note that nine members of the Vestry have already made their pledges, totaling $$29,380, an average of $3164. A fine example for us all.

Your brother in Christ.

John Sutton, Senior Warden and Pledge Chairman

Sunday, November 8, 2009

ya can't always be perky

It's 11:17 p.m. Tomorrow night is Vestry and I need a good night's sleep. I'm already not going to have that because I'm still awake. I can't get comfortable enough to sleep. The muscle and joint aches are keeping me awake. Tylenol doesn't help. I'm tired. But tired isn't enough.

It's funny, that. Because sometimes congregations get tired of trying to stay alive as the church they always were. So tired they can't catch a vision. So tired they convince themselves they're too old to do the work of redevelopment. So tired they lose their imagination. Keeping the doors open becomes one long night of not being able to get comfortable. Nothing they do is able to help. What is the answer?

For me, the answer might just be to stop taking Femara, the post-chemo drug I'm on. I imagine, however, my doc will want to try stronger analgesics so I can continue taking the drug that's supposed to greatly reduce the recurrence of my cancer. 

For the church, the answer might be more direct, daring prayer. Let us pray: Lord Jesus, rouse yourself! Stir up your church! Shake us, turn us upside down, route us from our buildings and our idols and make of us a people so imbued with the knowledge of your unconditional love for all people that we are on fire to tell everyone we see who and what you are, who continues to live and serve, and calls us to serve the people who don't know you, now and forever.

I don't know if my body can stand masking the symptoms of chemo drug assault on my body. I don't know if the people of the churches can stand being shaken up so hard that their world is turned inside out. I do know I can't sleep. And I do know the world can't sleep because it needs the churches to be true to their Lord and Saviour, who came not to be served, not to be taken care of, not to be comforted, but to serve, and to care for, and to comfort and strengthen all those who do not yet know that God is nothing but Love, pure, unconditional, unadulterated Love.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thought for the Day

"I have seen blacker fears turned to hope; hope on until there is none."

(From the old movie, "Fire Over England", a line spoken by Elizabeth I)