Februry 2013

FEBRUARY 2013

VESTRY

At its meeting on January 21, the Vestry:

–accepted the end-of-the-year Treasurer’s Report, which was generally very positive;

–approved the 2013 budget;

–heard a report about the parish website;

–made final plans for the annual parish meeting;

–discussed ongoing planning for Christian formation for all  ages;

–discussed the proposal to establish an organ/music fund to insure maintenance of the new organ.

LENT

This year, Easter Day will be on Sunday, March 31, which is almost as early as it ever can be (it can never be earlier than March 22). That means that Lent will begin unusually early, with Ash Wednesday occurring on Wednesday, February 13. On Ash Wednesday, we will have Imposition of Ashes and Holy Eucharist at Noon and at 5:30 p.m. (Note: on Tuesday, February 12, we are invited to a Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper, hosted by the United Church of Thetford at the Thetford Center Community Building. Serving begins at about 5:00 p.m.—“come when you can, leave when you must.”)
Some other invitations for Lent this year:

(1) Gail Dimick, pastor of the United Church of Thetford, has invited our parishioners to participate in that congregation’s Lenten book discussion. The book to be studied is Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road: Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World by Brian McLaren, who is a leader in the “emerging church” movement. The book invites readers to reflect on how they can be faithful to their own Christian tradition and at the same time appreciate other faith traditions. The discussion group will meet at 4 p.m. on five Sundays, beginning on Sunday, February 17. The discussions will be held at the church building on Route 5 in North Thetford.To order a book, contact Gail at (802) 333-4429 or at:

unitedchurchofthetford@gmail.com

(2) Sunday Seminars. The response to these informal, post-Coffee hour discussions has been very positive. We will have seminars on February 24, March 3, March 10, and March 17. All are welcome.

(3) Individual spiritual activities at home, might include one or more of the following:

— Access Vermont Voices (see explanation

on next page);

—Read the Gospel of Luke, which is the Gospel

featured in this year’s Sunday readings;

—use Forward Day by Day (this daily  devotional

booklet is available on the table in the hallway);

—borrow and read a book from the parish library.

FOOD SHELVES

On the next two Sundays, people can bring donations for the food shelves in Bradford and West Fairlee. Besides the usual canned goods and staples, the West Fairlee Food Shelf needs shaving cream, tooth paste, and shampoo and the Bradford Food Shelf needs soup, tuna fish, and canned fruit.

 STIG HOST

Stig, long time summer resident of  Orford  and participant in worship at St. Martin’s, died at the age of 86 on January 9, surrounded by family members.  Jeanne’s address is 636 Steamboat Road, Greenwich, CT 06830. An obituary is posted on the Parish Life Bulletin Board.

 TODD McKEE

Our former parish intern, Todd was ordained as a  transitional deacon in December and has begun an internship of at least six months at St. Barnabas’ Church in Norwich. He is also beginning a new job this month at  the Veterans’ Administration Hospital in White River Junction, where he will be working for the National Center for PTSD.

 BISHOP SPONG

Bishop John Shelby Spong, retired Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, prolific author, and occasional worshipper at St. Martin’s, will make a presentation about contemporary faith on Sunday, February 3 at 2 p.m. at The Congregational Church in Bradford. All are welcome.

                                                                                                         VERMONT VOICES

Note:  Last fall, the Diocese of Vermont began a new online program entitled “Vermont Voices.” Anyone in the diocese is welcome to submit a reflection on some key word from our Christian tradition. Submissions are then published and sent to anyone who wants to subscribe. Past writings can be accessed by going to the diocesan website (http://www.diovermont.org/) and then clicking on the link for “Vermont Voices” in the upper right hand corner of the home page.

The following essay appeared in ”Vermont Voices” early in January. You may recognize the author!

From 1986 until 1992, Dana Carvey brought to the Saturday Night Live show a character who was instantly popular and very, very funny. Carvey turned himself into Enid Strict, the “Church Lady,” who hosted a talk show called “Church Chat.” Uptight, smug, and pious, the Church Lady was a hilarious spoof of any “holier-than-thou” Christian who is totally judgmental and always superior to lesser humans. Church Lady’s guests were often celebrities (or actors portraying celebrities) whose moral track records were less than stellar. With her holy hands clasped firmly on the desk in front of her, Church Lady would comment on the guests’ indiscretions, link their behavior directly to the influence of “Satan,” and give them no room to squirm out of their “conveeeenient” immorality. On some occasions, she would climax her skewering of the guest with her “Superior Dance,” as the organ music swelled and the camera shot faded.
Dana Carvey claims that the Church Lady character was based on some ladies in the church of his childhood. Aware that he was always under scrutiny and never measured up, Carvey apparently drew on that experience to create the unforgettable Enid Strict.

Carvey’s character, of course, is over-the-top and very cartoonish, but is funny because it draws attention to and pokes fun at smug, self-righteous religionists. Jesus did the same thing in one of his best known parables:

Jesus also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt. “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ (Jesus said) I tell you this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted. – Luke 18: 9-14 (NRSV)

In contrast to the many people in our culture who claim to be “spiritual, but not religious,” the Pharisee was “religious, but not spiritual.” Fasting and tithing can be deeply rewarding spiritual practices, but they had not brought the Pharisee spiritual rewards. They had only brought him self-righteousness.

One of the best portrayals of the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector that I have ever seen was in a production of Godspell, the 1970 Broadway musical. An ambitious youth group at a Baptist Church in the town where I was serving decided to put on the play. It was a superb production. Their energy and enthusiasm, coupled with their own sincere Christian belief, made for a memorable evening. During the play, when they were doing a series of rapid-fire enactments of several parables, one of them attached a hose to one of the actors and then pumped the actor full of air. That was the Pharisee, who was “full of himself” and proceeded to recite the litany of his own pious wonderfulness. Along came anther actor, with a long pin, poked the Pharisee with it, and deflated the actor by letting all the “hot air” out of him. The audience laughed heartily.

Watching that Godspell Pharisee crumple up was a good reminder of the importance of humor in regard to our religion. If we take ourselves and our religion too seriously, we run the risk of not taking God seriously. We get wrapped up in our own small package of religion and are not open to the awe and wonder that true worship can elicit. A good sense of humor can prevent us from getting wrapped up in a small package of religion.

The tax collector needs God and the mercy that can come only from a loving divine reality that transcends himself. The Pharisee seems to think that God should be grateful for the Pharisee; the tax collector is grateful that God is merciful.

As he finishes this story, I see Jesus smiling ruefully and letting his listeners appreciate the fact that the unexpected person is praised. Surprise! The joke is on the Pharisee. He didn’t really need anything…….and that’s what he got. He goes home, full of himself, but nothing more. The tax collector, on the other hand, goes home full of mercy and hope, which is exactly what he needed.

I don’t know if the tax collector had to “beat his breast” (note: true humility does not require humiliation; it just requires honest thinking about oneself—not thinking too highly of oneself and not thinking too lowly of oneself). But I do think he left the Temple with a smile on his face—not the smile of self-satisfaction, but the smile of self-understanding. It is the tax collector who is on a real spiritual journey and one of the spiritual gifts he received was the ability to not take himself very seriously.

John C. Morris    (Saint Martin’s Fairlee )

 

SPECIAL PROGRAMS IN 2013

   Diana Butler-Bass, noted church historian and author of several books about emerging patterns in the contemporary Church will be the keynote speaker at a conference sponsored by The Vermont Conference of the United Church of Christ to be held at Lake Morey Inn on April 12-13, 2013.

                                                                                                   MOUNTAIN ECHO

The newspaper of the Diocese of Vermont is now being

published in printed format. If you are not receiving the Mountain Echo online and want to subscribe online, contact:

adminasst@dioceseofvermont.org

VESTRY

At its meeting on January 21, the Vestry:

–accepted the end-of-the-year Treasurer’s Report, which was generally very positive;

–approved the 2013 budget;

–heard a report about the parish website;

–made final plans for the annual parish meeting;

–discussed ongoing planning for Christian formation for all  ages;

–discussed the proposal to establish an organ/music fund to insure maintenance of the new organ.

LENT

This year, Easter Day will be on Sunday, March 31, which is almost as early as it ever can be (it can never be earlier than March 22). That means that Lent will begin unusually early, with Ash Wednesday occurring on Wednesday, February 13. On Ash Wednesday, we will have Imposition of Ashes and Holy Eucharist at Noon and at 5:30 p.m. (Note: on Tuesday, February 12, we are invited to a Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper, hosted by the United Church of Thetford at the Thetford Center Community Building. Serving begins at about 5:00 p.m.—“come when you can, leave when you must.”)
Some other invitations for Lent this year:

(1) Gail Dimick, pastor of the United Church of Thetford, has invited our parishioners to participate in that congregation’s Lenten book discussion. The book to be studied is Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road: Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World by Brian McLaren, who is a leader in the “emerging church” movement. The book invites readers to reflect on how they can be faithful to their own Christian tradition and at the same time appreciate other faith traditions. The discussion group will meet at 4 p.m. on five Sundays, beginning on Sunday, February 17. The discussions will be held at the church building on Route 5 in North Thetford.To order a book, contact Gail at (802) 333-4429 or at:

unitedchurchofthetford@gmail.com

(2) Sunday Seminars. The response to these informal, post-Coffee hour discussions has been very positive. We will have seminars on February 24, March 3, March 10, and March 17. All are welcome.

(3) Individual spiritual activities at home, might include one or more of the following:

— Access Vermont Voices (see explanation

on next page);

—Read the Gospel of Luke, which is the Gospel

featured in this year’s Sunday readings;

—use Forward Day by Day (this daily  devotional

booklet is available on the table in the hallway);

—borrow and read a book from the parish library.

FOOD SHELVES

On the next two Sundays, people can bring donations for the food shelves in Bradford and West Fairlee. Besides the usual canned goods and staples, the West Fairlee Food Shelf needs shaving cream, tooth paste, and shampoo and the Bradford Food Shelf needs soup, tuna fish, and canned fruit.

 

STIG HOST

Stig, long time summer resident of  Orford  and participant in worship at St. Martin’s, died at the age of 86 on January 9, surrounded by family members.  Jeanne’s address is 636 Steamboat Road, Greenwich, CT 06830. An obituary is posted on the Parish Life Bulletin Board.

 

TODD McKEE

Our former parish intern, Todd was ordained as a  transitional deacon in December and has begun an internship of at least six months at St. Barnabas’ Church in Norwich. He is also beginning a new job this month at  the Veterans’ Administration Hospital in White River Junction, where he will be working for the National Center for PTSD.

 

BISHOP SPONG

Bishop John Shelby Spong, retired Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, prolific author, and occasional worshipper at St. Martin’s, will make a presentation about contemporary faith on Sunday, February 3 at 2 p.m. at The Congregational Church in Bradford. All are welcome.

                   VERMONT VOICES

Note:  Last fall, the Diocese of Vermont began a new online program entitled “Vermont Voices.” Anyone in the diocese is welcome to submit a reflection on some key word from our Christian tradition. Submissions are then published and sent to anyone who wants to subscribe. Past writings can be accessed by going to the diocesan website (http://www.diovermont.org/) and then clicking on the link for “Vermont Voices” in the upper right hand corner of the home page.

The following essay appeared in ”Vermont Voices” early in January. You may recognize the author!

From 1986 until 1992, Dana Carvey brought to the Saturday Night Live show a character who was instantly popular and very, very funny. Carvey turned himself into Enid Strict, the “Church Lady,” who hosted a talk show called “Church Chat.” Uptight, smug, and pious, the Church Lady was a hilarious spoof of any “holier-than-thou” Christian who is totally judgmental and always superior to lesser humans. Church Lady’s guests were often celebrities (or actors portraying celebrities) whose moral track records were less than stellar. With her holy hands clasped firmly on the desk in front of her, Church Lady would comment on the guests’ indiscretions, link their behavior directly to the influence of “Satan,” and give them no room to squirm out of their “conveeeenient” immorality. On some occasions, she would climax her skewering of the guest with her “Superior Dance,” as the organ music swelled and the camera shot faded.
Dana Carvey claims that the Church Lady character was based on some ladies in the church of his childhood. Aware that he was always under scrutiny and never measured up, Carvey apparently drew on that experience to create the unforgettable Enid Strict.

Carvey’s character, of course, is over-the-top and very cartoonish, but is funny because it draws attention to and pokes fun at smug, self-righteous religionists. Jesus did the same thing in one of his best known parables:

Jesus also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt. “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ (Jesus said) I tell you this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted. – Luke 18: 9-14 (NRSV)

In contrast to the many people in our culture who claim to be “spiritual, but not religious,” the Pharisee was “religious, but not spiritual.” Fasting and tithing can be deeply rewarding spiritual practices, but they had not brought the Pharisee spiritual rewards. They had only brought him self-righteousness.

One of the best portrayals of the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector that I have ever seen was in a production of Godspell, the 1970 Broadway musical. An ambitious youth group at a Baptist Church in the town where I was serving decided to put on the play. It was a superb production. Their energy and enthusiasm, coupled with their own sincere Christian belief, made for a memorable evening. During the play, when they were doing a series of rapid-fire enactments of several parables, one of them attached a hose to one of the actors and then pumped the actor full of air. That was the Pharisee, who was “full of himself” and proceeded to recite the litany of his own pious wonderfulness. Along came anther actor, with a long pin, poked the Pharisee with it, and deflated the actor by letting all the “hot air” out of him. The audience laughed heartily.

Watching that Godspell Pharisee crumple up was a good reminder of the importance of humor in regard to our religion. If we take ourselves and our religion too seriously, we run the risk of not taking God seriously. We get wrapped up in our own small package of religion and are not open to the awe and wonder that true worship can elicit. A good sense of humor can prevent us from getting wrapped up in a small package of religion.

The tax collector needs God and the mercy that can come only from a loving divine reality that transcends himself. The Pharisee seems to think that God should be grateful for the Pharisee; the tax collector is grateful that God is merciful.

As he finishes this story, I see Jesus smiling ruefully and letting his listeners appreciate the fact that the unexpected person is praised. Surprise! The joke is on the Pharisee. He didn’t really need anything…….and that’s what he got. He goes home, full of himself, but nothing more. The tax collector, on the other hand, goes home full of mercy and hope, which is exactly what he needed.

I don’t know if the tax collector had to “beat his breast” (note: true humility does not require humiliation; it just requires honest thinking about oneself—not thinking too highly of oneself and not thinking too lowly of oneself). But I do think he left the Temple with a smile on his face—not the smile of self-satisfaction, but the smile of self-understanding. It is the tax collector who is on a real spiritual journey and one of the spiritual gifts he received was the ability to not take himself very seriously.

John C. Morris    (Saint Martin’s Fairlee )

 

SPECIAL PROGRAMS IN 2013

  

   Diana Butler-Bass, noted church historian and author of several books about emerging patterns in the contemporary Church will be the keynote speaker at a conference sponsored by The Vermont Conference of the United Church of Christ to be held at Lake Morey Inn on April 12-13, 2013.

MOUNTAIN ECHO

The newspaper of the Diocese of Vermont is now being

published in printed format. If you are not receiving the Mountain Echo online and want to subscribe online, contact:

adminasst@dioceseofvermont.org

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