FROM OUR RECTOR
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Happy New Year! As I have mentioned before, I promise that I am not rushing the calendar. You see, the church calendar is very different from a secular calendar. Oh, it has the same days, months and years.Butyear actually begins with the first Sunday of Advent.And as a new year in the church begins we move to a new Gospel focus. We are moving from a focus on the Gospel of Matthew to a focus on the Gospel of Mark.
The Gospel of Mark is considered by many scholars to be the oldest of all the gospels, probably recorded around 70CE. The authors of Matthew and Luke most likely were familiar with the Gospel of Mark and maybe even had a copy as they wrote their gospels. Mark was not an eyewitness to the events he reports on but was possibly a companion of Paul and Peter and hearing the stories from firsthand witnesses. Regardless, he was an early Christian teacher who was a masterful of the story of Jesus.
The Gospel of Mark was not written to be sold in the first century version of a Barnes and Noble. Instead it was designed for reading aloud in the worship services of early Christian communities much as we do in our own services today. I am excited by the freshness of Mark and the opportunity this new year will bring to explore this gospel!
So much will be happening at Christ Church during Advent. In addition to our Christmas services we will have our Second Annual Longest Night Service. This service will be held at 5:00pm on December 20th and it will be a service of remembrance. The title does not refer to the length of the service but the fact that we are at the point of the longest period of darkness of the year. The purpose of this service is to recognize that though we are surrounded by merriment during the holidays, we can find ourselves feeling out of sync with that. Sometimes this is due to loss in our lives, loss of our health, of a relationship, of a job or more often the feelings of loss due to the passing of a loved one. This service offers us an opportunity for reflection and a sense of honor for those things. Christ came to be a light in this broken world. On December 20th, we will light candles, share in contemplative music, Eucharist and have remembrances for those people and things in our lives that have been lost. I hope you will join us for this important service.
Happy New Year,
FROM BETH PHILLIPS, OUR ASSISTING PRIEST
Dear Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Every year before Advent I treat myself to a new book or two. Every year it is my hope that they will be my guides and companions as I keep watch in the dark while waiting for the light. Yet, every year I seem to devour these books before Advent even begins. It would seem, ironically, that I have a difficult time waiting for the season of waiting. This year I treated myself to Barbara Brown Taylor’s latest book, Learning to Walk in the Dark. Although I held off for weeks before I would let myself read past the first page, I broke down and read half of it in just one soak in a hot bath. I read the other half on the way to visit family in Missouri for Thanksgiving, a full week before Advent, and I am glad that I did.
What appealed to me about this book is that Taylor invites us to embrace the dark or, at least, sit with it awhile and examine it.She discusses how society associates the term “darkness” with negative and scary things. Christians use the term as a synonym for sin, ignorance, spiritual blindness and death while juxtaposing it with the God of Light in whom “there is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5) The problem with identifying God with only the sunny side of life is that it leaves us to deal with the darkness on our own and gives us spiritual justification for turning away from the darkness without really examining it. In reality, she writes, some of the best things happen in the darkest places and some of the worst in the most well-lit churches.
Our society and often our theology, therefore, encourages us to avoid various kinds of darkness. Entire sections of bookstores are dedicated to avoiding darkness, but no one teaches you what to do when you are in dark. Part of the human experience unavoidably involves dark places. Whether it be physical or metaphysical, we all need darkness as much as we need light. Science shows we need darkness to be physically well. Similarly it is healthy to mourn for a period of time when we experience loss rather than be told we do not have enough faith. Taylor writes, and my own experience affirms, we all learn things in the dark that we could never have learned in the light. Light is not always in opposition with darkness, but rather, in balance with it. To be human is to live by sunlight and moonlight, with anxiety and delight, and to want only half of these things is to want only half of life. Her book challenges us to learn to lean into our dark feelings, face our fears and step into the unknown instead of asking to be delivered from them and take a chance at being surprised by what happens next. The payoff might be something wonderful and new as she reminds us, “New life starts in the dark. Whether it is a seed in the ground, a baby in the womb, or Jesus in the tomb, it starts in the dark.”
Have a blessed Advent and embrace the dark as we wait for the light,
WOMEN OF CHRIST CHURCH CHRISTMAS DINNER: December 11
The annual Christmas Dinner will be held at The Landmark Inn on Thursday, December 11 at 6:30pm. All women of Christ Church are welcome. The cost of the dinner is $30/person. To reserve a spot, see the posting on the Parish Hall bulletin board or contact the Church Office at 845.986.3440 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
MEN’S CLUB HOLIDAY MIXER: December 12
The Men’s Club will gather at the home of Phil McCutcheon for some holiday cheer on Fri, December 12 at 7:30pm. Please RSVP to: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
GREENING OF THE CHURCH
Join in the fun of readying our worship space for the Christmas holiday. Your help is needed after our 11am service on Sunday, December 21 to hang wreaths, wrap garlands and in every other way "green" the church with the traditional signs of the season. See you then!
FESTIVAL OF LESSONS & CAROLS
Our annual celebration of the traditional King's College Festival of Lessons & Carols will be held on Sunday, December 21 at 4pm here at Christ Church. The choirs of Christ Church and Jubilate will lead us in song!
WARWICK VALLEY ECUMENICAL COUNCIL'S CHRISTMAS DINNER AND TOY SHOP PROGRAM
There is still time to sponsor a family for a Christmas dinner. Sign-up sheets are available in the office andon the Narthex bulletin board. Most of the families still waiting have-9 members. Gather a few friends and make this a group effort!
We will have our own toy collection again this year. Toys are for ages birth to 18 years, retail priced up to $20. Please NO books or stuffed animals.may donate children's clothing as well. During Adventthese items (unwrapped) to church for the toy box in the Narthex, or drop them off at the church office on weekdays.
Program Chair Katharine Caufield may be reached at: 845.986.0945 or
WORSHIP IN ADVENT & CHRISTMAS
November 30 7:45, 9:00 & 11:00 AM - Morning Eucharists
December 6 5:00 PM - Eucharist
December 7 7:45, 9:00 & 11:00 AM - Morning Eucharists
December 13 5:00 PM - Eucharist
December 14 7:45, 9:00 & 11:00 AM - Morning Eucharists
December 20 5:00 PM - The Longest Night, A Service of Remembrance
December 21 7:45, 9:00 & 11:00 AM - Morning Eucharists
After the 11:00 service: Greening of the Church
4:00 PM - Festival of Lessons & Carols
December 24 7:00 & 10:00 PM
Holy Eucharist in celebration of Christmas
December 25 10:00 AM
Holy Eucharist in celebration of Christmas
January 4 Epiphany Pageant during the 9:00 AM Service
ALTAR GUILD REMINDER
The 4th Quarter Altar Guild Meeting and Annual Christmas Cleaning (this includes all teams) will be on Saturday, December 20 at 9am.
A MESSAGE FROM THE ALTAR GUILD ON FLOWERS AND PRAYERS
A chart is available at the back of the church for 2015 for flower and prayer lamp requests. Please consider this for your use. In the pews are envelopes to use for this purpose as well. The only way the Altar Guild gets any financial help for the flowers and supplies each week is through your generous donations.
FINDING COURAGE, FINDING HOPE (Part 2 of 2)
· Senator Edward Muskie 2011: “Can we afford clean water?” Muskie asked his colleagues. “Can we afford rivers and lakes and streams and oceans which continue to make life possible on this planet? Can we afford life itself?” questions answer themselves.
· It’s fundamentally wrong as religious people to benefit from business practice which is incompatible with sustainable life on the planet.Nonetheless, divestiture from fossil fuel stocks and reinvestment in renewable energy and energy efficiency is not without controversy in the Episcopal community.
· Give people the courage to see things in a new way.
· Get people to think.
· Focus on behaviors, not the behavors.
· There has been a poisoning of public debate and a growth of ‘hate’ radio.
· The church community can agree to disagree.
· How to deal with these issues?In a way that doesn’t ruin us, or our planet, or our relationships with each other and our relationship with God.
· How do I avoid discouragement?Do meaningful work, with people I like, with the possibility of success.
· We don’t know when we’re going to win.We don’t even know what winning looks like, but this is our obligation to posterity.
· “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead
· Hope is connected to an ability to play and celebrate.
· The leaders of the Church are the people in the pews. Change will come from the people.
· Perhaps our committee would better to be named the Committee on Environmental Justice.
· The poor suffer the greatest environmental injustice.
· Constructive involvement in these decisions is what matters. What I like about the Episcopal Church is that we get to be a part of decisions.Educate your elected officials.Letters to the editor can influence elected officials; letters from an editorial boards are even more powerful.
· We live in a Eucharistic Universe.Consider your next meal.Eating is transformational.I do this so that you might have life and live more abundantly.
· The leaders we elect are following our lead.
· Local connections get politicians’ attention. Local volunteer groups/community activists are force multipliers.
· The State Comptroller indicates NYS now spends only 20% of what we should be spending on wastewater (sewage) treatment facilities, and that ⅓ of NYS wastewater treatment plants currently in service should already have been rebuilt or retired.
· The Hudson River is warmer than it used to be, has more warm water invasive species, and has risen 8 inches.
· In the last four years crude oil prices have dropped, US domestic manufacturing has increased 20%, extraction has increased 70%, unemployment has halved, people are traveling more, but it will be with cost.We’re on track for a catastrophic future.
· A UN climate report indicates we’re 15 years away from an unchangeable future.This is perhaps too optimistic.Climate change will be a large part of our lives moving forward.
· A Gallop Poll conducted every year since the 1980s shows a trend since just after 2000 where people are increasingly willing to support decisions which help the economy at the expense of the natural environment.
· About $10,000 is what it takes for an Episcopal Diocese of NY parish to improve energy efficiency, save 25-33% on heating and electricity costs, and enjoy a one to one and a half year payback.
Edward Sattler, CC Liaison to EDNY Committee on the Environment