Monday, January 29, 2018

It's not Groundhog Day! It's Candlemas!

In the United States, February 2 is known as Groundhog Day, when if a certain groundhog in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania sees its shadow, then 6 more weeks of winter is predicted. This tradition comes from a Pennsylvania Dutch superstition. However, in the Church, there is a tradition which is significantly older than Groundhog Day, when February 2 is known as Candlemas, or the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. 

During the first century, a Jewish woman remained in seclusion for 40 days after having a son. Mary emerged from her time of isolation after this time period, and to the Temple she and Joseph went, with the baby Jesus in tow. By Jewish law, a sacrifice to God is to be offered for both the mother and the first-born son. As the family came into the Temple to do so, they are met by two aged people, one after the other.

First up was Simeon, to whom the Holy Spirit had revealed that he would not die until he sees the long-awaited Messiah. The Gospel of Luke has Simeon taking the baby Jesus in his arms and singing a now well-known canticle known as the Nunc Dimittis: “Lord, you now have set your servant free, to go in peace as you have promised. For these eyes of mine have seen the Savior, whom you have prepared for all the world to see.  A light to enlighten the nations, and the glory of your people Israel.” Canticle 17, Book of Common Prayer, p. 93. 

He blessed the now amazed parents, and reminded Mary that a sword will pierce her own soul, as Jesus will be a sign that will be opposed in Israel.  Then, the prophet Anna, a woman of great age and even greater in the power of prayer and fasting, praised God and spoke about Jesus as the one to redeem Israel.  After Mary and Joseph finished offering their sacrifice at the Temple, they went back home to Nazareth, where Jesus flourished in growth and in wisdom.

This year, the Feast of the Presentation falls 12 days before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. What Simeon and Anna point to is what we will be learning through the scripture readings in Lent, with Jesus experiencing temptation, pain, disappointment, misunderstanding and betrayal. And we will learn how a sword will pierce Mary’s own soul too.

The Rev. Lorna Williams

Monday, January 22, 2018


"They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes."  

This week’s Gospel: Mark 1:21-2:
Jesus and his disciples went to Capernaum*; and when the Sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.

What does it mean to teach with authority, and not as the scribes?  The scribes may have been authorities on the scriptures; they had studied them and knew a lot about what had been written, knew what other scholars had said on the subject, and could offer this knowledge to other people.  But there is a vast difference between being well versed in a subject and being the source of all truth and knowledge!  When that one speaks, it is with true authority.  As Jesus tells Nicodemus, “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen.” (John 3-11)  That’s first-hand knowledge! 

Leading up to today’s Gospel passage, Jesus has been tested for 40 days in the wilderness.  When he returns he is described as being filled with the power of the Spirit.  He goes to Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee and calls Simon (Peter) and his brother Andrew, and James and his brother, John, to follow him, which they immediately do, no questions asked. In the very next verse, we come to today’s Gospel passage as Jesus enters the synagogue and begins to teach with authority that amazes everyone, even the unclean spirit that he casts out.  His authority over and command of both the physical and spiritual realm continues to astonish as the day progresses.  As soon as they leave the synagogue Jesus and the 4 disciples go to Simon’s and Andrew’s house where Simon’s mother-in-law is sick in bed with a fever.  Jesus takes her hand and she gets up, cured of her illness, and starts serving them.  Then that same night the whole city gathers around the house (word of his authority got around quickly) and Jesus cures many who are sick and casts out many demons.  Quite a day!

Rachel Roby

* Capernaum, located on the Sea of Galilee was a focal point of much of Jesus’ ministry.  In Matthew 4:13 we read, Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum.  Peter, Andrew, James, John and Matthew also lived there.  Modern day excavations have revealed a synagogue from the time of Jesus. Today there is a large octagonal Church built over the ruins of what is thought to have been the house of the apostle Peter.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

A message from Senior Warden John Whitley

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  --  Jeremiah 29:11

Happy New Year!  When we read this verse from Jeremiah we all should be excited for a New Year and Renewed Hope. With God’s help and your help, St Andrews will prosper and grow in 2018.  I wanted to send out another communication to keep you all updated on some of the many happenings in our parish. We are truly blessed to have so many committed staff members and volunteers. I hope you find this information helpful. 

Welcome Lorna: In my last communication, I welcomed Anne and now what better way to end this year with the arrival of a new Associate Rector. We are excited that Lorna is here and she did not waste any time making our youth programs exciting and inviting!

Outgoing Vestry Members: Many thanks to the vestry members whose terms ended in 2017:  Dick Barnwell, Mary Wood, and Dan Waddill; and a special thanks to Doug Vaughan, our Junior Warden. Doug’s role had him heavily involved with our building maintenance. Not an easy task, based on the age of our building. We thank them all for their many years of service.

New Vestry Members: Welcome Cathy Frey, Chris Robinson, Fritz Horne, and Bob Wharton. We thank them for the commitment of their time and talent. 

Vestry Actions: Some of the highlights from the Vestry’s work in recent months include:
  • Establishing a Vestry organization chart so that we have a Vestry Liaison for each church ministry (A list of liaisons can be found here).
  • Approving an automatic door for handicap access
  • Continuing our work along with the leadership of Dan Waddill to support our Day School.  We are excited about the new initiatives the Day School is pursuing. 
  • Approving an Alcohol Policy at the January 2018 Vestry meeting.
  • Approving the 2018 Budget
Grateful Generosity Campaign: Many thanks to Randy and Susan Bryant for leading our stewardship campaign this year. The Bryants along with Saint Lee, Virginia Darden, Dick Barnwell, and Bill Wilds did a wonderful job of planning and implementing a very successful campaign. 

Associate Clergy:  The Episcopal Church has a practice of honoring clergy who perform unpaid volunteer work in a parish by designating them as Associate Clergy. Associate Clergy are listed in the bulletin strictly to honor their service in each respective parish. For example, a parish in Virginia Beach has a Rabbi who volunteers and is listed as an Associate Clergy. Larger parishes may have a listing of Associate Clergy that could number well over ten!  At St. Andrew’s our Associate Clergy include the Rev. Carol Chamberlain, the Rev. Travis Greenman, and the Rev. Dr. John Herbst. 

Diocesan eNews: Want to know more about our Diocese? You can register online for the Diocesan eNews at In the top right hand corner, you can enter your email address and you will receive confirmation that you are registered. 

Volunteer Opportunities: Here at St. Andrew’s, we have many opportunities for you become involved in our ministries and activities. Please reach out to me or any member of the Vestry if you would like to help. My contact information is (email) or 757-469-1351 (cell).

John Whitley
Senior Warden

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Good Book Club is coming!

St. Andrew's will join Episcopalians around the world to read the Gospel according to Luke during Lent and the Book of Acts during Eastertide in 2018. We will start reading Luke on Sunday, February 11 and read a section of Luke’s Gospel every day through the season of Lent. The entire season of Easter will be devoted to daily readings from the Book of Acts. We hope you’ll join us on this journey! 

How does it work?
We'll follow this list of daily readings which divides Luke and Acts into 50 days each. Each day, participants will read a few verses of Luke or Acts. If you are a regular reader of Forward Day by Day, you can easily follow along because Luke and Acts will guide the reflections during Lent-Easter 2018. 

Join Us on Sunday Mornings
Beginning Sunday, Feb. 11, and continuing throughout Lent, our Sunday Adult Forum (9:15 a.m. in the parish hall) will be a discussion of each week's Good Book Club readings. You don't want to miss it! More details coming soon! 

Follow the Good Book Club on Facebook and Instagram
We'll be posting the daily readings on our Facebook and Instagram, along with resources and conversation from the wider church. If you don't follow us, now is a great time to start!

Learn more about The Good Book Club, watch a video from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, and access helpful resources on our website here

Monday, January 1, 2018

Being & Becoming: Goals for our future

As we begin 2018 together, I have an invitation for you, an invitation that has to do with the future of St. Andrew’s Church.  At our Annual Parish Meeting in December, I shared three goals for St. Andrew’s that have been forming in my mind and heart over the past year.  The three goals grew out of my ongoing conversations with vestry and other parish leaders; my observations of our life and ministry here at St. Andrew’s; and the continuing education workshops and reading I’ve undertaken since my arrival. The goals (described in more detail below) are: 1) being Church; 2) offering intentional, authentic relationships; and 3) re-engaging in our neighborhood. 

I invite you to join me in the coming months as together we pray about, reflect on, and work toward these three goals. Beginning at 7 p.m. on Tuesday evening, February 6, I will be holding a once-a-month Being and Becoming gathering in the Parish Hall for all interested parishioners to come together for conversation, planning, and action as we discern how best to move forward on each goal. Dan Waddill has graciously agreed to help lead this effort.  Additional reading and resources can be found on our website here.

I hope you will join us, either in person or in spirit (and definitely in prayer!), as we move forward into our future, where God is already present and waiting for us.

Every blessing,

Goal 1:  Being Church
Being Church includes all of the things we usually do as a parish: offering worship, pastoral care, Christian formation, and fellowship; and engaging in mission and outreach. What’s new and, I think, critical is the challenge to be Church to two different groups:
  1. Those currently in our pews: many longtime members, many older folks, those comfortable and familiar with our patterns of worship, life, and ministry.
  2. Those who (mostly) are not in our pews: young adults, families with small children, those who didn’t grow up in the church, those for whom our ways of doing things feel foreign or unhelpful.
Being church to these two groups simultaneously will require flexibility, creativity, careful listening, loving respect, and a willingness to experiment (and, necessarily, fail periodically).

Goal 2:  Offering intentional, authentic relationships with God and others, even across the usual divides
As Christians, our primary relationship is with God through Jesus Christ, in whom we are all part of one Body and by whom we are called to love and serve those inside and outside that Body. God loved and loves us while we are still sinners; we are to offer that same grace to others.
Intentional relationships don’t simply happen; they are created and nurtured when we reach out in love to those who differ from us in age, socio-economic status, race, political belief, or any other category that normally separates us. Authentic relationships acknowledge human brokenness and foibles as well as human achievements and accomplishments; they are made possible as we dare to live and speak with integrity and vulnerability and to offer and receive forgiveness. Authentic relationships, including our relationship with God, have room for doubt and uncertainty, change and growth.

Goal 3:  Re-engaging in our neighborhood
We are so blessed to be in the midst of Hilton Village with its vibrant community life and abundance of families with children—but in general those families with children are not part of St. Andrew’s, although many of them participate in VBS and/or come to us on Halloween. The history of St. Andrew’s Church contains many stories of active engagement in the neighborhood:  door to door visits in the early years to invite people to church; starting a kindergarten to serve the community; creating a library for the community. What would more active engagement in our community look like now?  What needs could we meet?