It’s Valentine’s Day and we’re digging out from another >10 inch snow here in Brunswick, Maine. You are telling me that the “paradise” of summer is so much more ecstatic after having spent winters here. Do I dare look ahead to summer?! In the meantime, happy Valentine’s Day!
A few weeks ago I wrote something about what this bible verse meant to me in terms of administration of parish affairs: Jesus said, “And even the hairs of your head are all counted. 31 So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-31. I said that God must be a terrific administrator if God can keep proper track of every hair on our head and the number of grains of sand on the beach!
It might seem like a silly interpretation of this passage, and my seminary New Testament professor might mock me for putting these thoughts in writing. But my point is that keeping track of the details our work together, proper documentation of our records and finances are administrative tasks God calls us to. They are to be offered to the glory of God as much as beautiful worship and pastoral care are.
Over these past three or so months that I have been with you, it is clear to me that record-keeping and policy-making are important to this parish. That’s why it is important to build on what we are already doing to track finances and the work of our ministries.
In this weekly email, I want to share with the readers a note I wrote to all the chairs of our St. Paul’s Commissions and Committees. Thank you all for tending to the administrative work of ministry together. I am so happy to be a part of our ministries at St. Paul’s!
Dear St. Paul’s Commission Chairs and Vestry Clerk:
I am writing this to the St. Paul’s Commissions that do regular ministry work and that meet regularly. First of all, please know that I recoil at expanding bureaucracies and wish never to inhibit the freedoms we share in being moved by the Holy Spirit to do our ministries at St. Paul’s.
However, as I make my way administratively in our parish and learn more and more about our ministries and the work of our commissions, I think for the sake of continuity from year to year and leader to leader, we might benefit from record-keeping of our meetings.
YOUR ACTION, PLEASE.
A. Please designate a minute-taker at your regularly scheduled meetings. The minute-taker then will email them to Susan Tyler, email@example.com in a timely way. (Again, I hate to designate a set time frame…but it would help the minute-taker and members of the commission to receive them within the week of the meeting!)
I have asked Susan Tyler to prepare labeled binders, clear a shelf in the office and begin to receive your commission’s/committee’s minutes and notes. Anyone may come to the office to review the discussions and decisions that have been recorded from meeting to meeting.
This really is not busy-work! It really does have two benefits:
1. As I said, it provides continuity from meeting to meeting and leader to leader.
2. Having a record of our work provides a foundation for moving forward. We really do have to know where we’ve been to be helped to move forward. And it’s just better to be able to read a record than to try and locate members of the committee and rely on their memory!
I want to thank Phil Studwell for inviting me to last night’s Outreach Commission meeting and for receiving my suggestion about minute-taking with such a great spirit. And thank you Jean Mulligan for inviting me to today’s Pastoral Care Commission meeting and for always creating a document of your work. And by all means, if you have comments and concerns, please share them with the wardens or me. As a Body of Christ, we are always in conversation with each other.
Your friend in Christ,
Notes on Sunday’s Music
This week’s music at 10:30 begins with a setting of “What wondrous love is this?” for organ by Donald Johns. Its approach is not quite what one might think — attractive, yet not trite. Our first hymn is “God of grace and God of glory,” with text by Harry Fosdick (1930) set to the well known Welsh tune Cwm Rhondda. it is a prayer of longing for God’s kingdom in a variety of ways. Its last stanza could easily serve as a life mission statement: “Save us from weak resignation to the evils we deplore / Let the gift of thy salvation be our glory evermore. / Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, serving thee whom we adore.” At the gradual we sing the classic Fanny Crosby hymn of joy “Blessed assurance.” At the offertory, the choir sings “If ye love me” in a twentieth-century setting by Philip Wilbey — moving, beautiful, and assuring in its message for us to trust, obey, and rely on the Holy Spirit. At communion we sing “I come with joy to meet my Lord,” a hymn by Brian Wren (1970) that helps us focus on the encounter we enjoy during the Eucharist, and its effect on us in all we do. The final hymn is “Go forth for God; go to the world in peace,” written by John R. Peacey in 1970. It sends us out to the world in joy, peace, and service. We conclude worship with J. S. Bach’s very joyful Prelude and Fugue in B flat.
Bob Judd, Music Director
I reached through the bars in the segregation unit at Maine Correctional Center to impose ashes on the woman on the other side, and when I spoke the words, “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return,” her response was neither silence nor “Amen,” but a whispered, “I know.”
Most of us don’t have twenty-four hours a day alone in a cell to reflect on our mortality, so we may not “know” it at quite so visceral a level, but the imposition of ashes at the start of Lent offers all of us an invitation to come closer to that knowing.
Ashes are the ancient sign and reminder with which we begin the journey of Lent. As the prayer over ashes in our Ash Wednesday service says: “Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the earth: Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our mortality and penitence, that we may remember that it is only by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life…”
This ritual of being marked in ash with the sign of the cross goes back to the Middle Ages. Besides being a reminder of our mortality, it is intended as a sign of penitence, a private acknowledgment of our brokenness, made public by its visibility.
Many of you may have read last year about Episcopal Churches in the greater Portland area who took their ashes out to street corners and shopping malls, extending the frontline of their churches by sharing this ancient act of penitence with people right in the midst of their busy, broken lives. This year, St. Paul’s will be joining the growing number of churches nationwide who will be taking part in “Ashes to Go” as we take to the streets of Brunswick, ashes in hand.
The Ven. Mary Lee Wile
This Sunday’s Announcements
From the Earth Care Commission. Today at 3 p.m. Help Mainers keep warm and save heating dollars while protecting the environment by reducing CO2 emissions. Frank Mundo, co-founder and vice president of Window Dressers, a Maine non-profit, is coming to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church to explain their system, which results in the construction and installation of low cost, high quality interior storm windows.
Rejoicing Spirits. Today at 1 p.m. Rejoicing Spirits is a National program providing guidance on creating a worship service for people with disabilities. Several churches in our area are working together to provide a monthly service in a simple environment. Training for working with clients with disabilities will be held today at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church on Maine Street. Call Bunny Fazekas with questions at 729-3243.
St. Paul’s and the American Red Cross. Tuesday, February 18. The drive will be in the Great Hall from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Volunteers are needed to assist the Red Cross for our blood drive. They will assist in checking in donors and handing out refreshments after donating. There are two shifts available. One is from 1-3:30 p.m. and one from 3:30-6 p.m. In addition, those who donate will be given a voucher for a buy one/get one ski ticket from Shawnee Peak Ski Resort. At this time of year donations are usually are slow. Combined with the severe weather we have experienced, the need is more critical than ever. Hospitals throughout Maine need donations to be able to do necessary operation and in the event of unforeseen emergencies. Ninety-five per cent of the blood that is donated stays in the state. Perhaps a member of your family or someone you know has needed a transfusion. The entire process of donating only takes about an hour of your time. It is an hour that could save someone’s life. Please contact Bill Edman at 729-7326 or WEdman4@comcast.net.
Frontline Film Night: A Matter of Duty (Dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Friday, February 21 at 6:30 p.m. As a part of our Frontline initiative, St. Paul’s, in conjunction with MPBN, is pleased to show the MPBN production “A Matter of Duty.” A Matter of Duty details Kennebec Sheriff Randy Liberty’s personal battle with PTSD and that of several veterans in his charge at the Kennebec County Jail. Liberty’s honesty about his own condition and his efforts to help other veterans vividly depicts the continuing impact of war on the men and women in Maine and elsewhere who have served our country. Open to the public. Admission free (donations for “Disabled American Veterans” accepted). FMI: (207) 725-5342 or www.mpbn.net.
The Winter Gardening Workshop. Sunday, February 23 at 2:00 p.m. Vegetable Gardening ‘304’ with Master Gardeners Linton Studdiford and Nan Curtis. Topics covered include: Constructing a raised bed hoop house and starting seeds inside. Sponsored by the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust’s Tom Settlemire Community Garden. Free and open to the public, held in St. Paul’s Great Hall.
Parenting as a Spiritual Journey, Part 2. Please join Linda Ashe-Ford for a continuing conversation about the spiritual journey you take every day with your young children. This adult group will meet from 10:15 to 11:00 a.m. in the Library on the four Sundays during February. Coffee, tea, and simple snacks will be available for this time of sharing. Whether you were part of this group in the fall or not, all are invited to share thoughts on the challenging job of marking sacred time with those children in their care. Please be part of the conversation.
Middle School Youth Event. Friday to Sunday Feb 28-March 2. St. Paul’s will host the Winter Middle School Event for Maine Episcopal Youth and their friends. As hosts there opportunities to volunteer; cooking and transportation in particular, and most importantly invite any middle schoolers that you know! If you are interested in learning more or are willing to help, talk with Susan Tyler at 841-1380 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Parish Prayer Requests
Pray for our Companion Diocese of Haiti. Pray for Patrick, Jason, Benjamin and Anderson, all in the military.
Bill, Bob, Jack, Rodney Sr., Nancy, George, Kristina, Wendy & Tim, Laurie, Maitri, Barbara, David, Ann, Victor, Heather, and John.
Bishop’s Chair Side
Christy, Carol, Nancy, Linda, Lucille & family, Gwen Scott, Brandon, Mimi, Carol & Al, Louise, Mathew, Duane, Charlie, and Robert, Tom & Heather.
Margaret, Neil, Virginia, Cindy, Dawn & Family, Anuja and Chris, Harry, Norma, Leslie & Therese, Mike, Bob, Jane, Gloria & Ray, Steven, and Ned.
The white rose on the altar this Sunday is given in thanksgiving for the birth of Thomas James Shurvell, son of Derek and Lindsay Shurvell of Sharpthorne W. Sussex England, by Ben and Beth Barnes, Godparents of Lindsay.