Sunday, October 28, 2018

Prayer vigil for Tree of Life Synagogue

Please join us on Monday, October 29 at 7 p.m.for a prayer vigil for the victims of attack on Tree of Life Synagogue in PIttsburgh. 

You can read the statement from Bishop Dorsey McConnell, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, here

"This terror is added to the great heap of such crimes we have witnessed in the past. Yet our hope is not dimmed, and our obligation is clear: “Behold, I set before you this day, life and death, blessing and curse: therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:19) May we especially who bear the name of Christ be fierce in our love and unwavering in our courage, as we mourn with those who mourn, and work with others to lay the foundations for blessing, life and peace for all people." -- Bishop McConnell

Friday, October 26, 2018

The invisible thread

When God took on the form of a human being in Christ Jesus, he experienced all that inhabiting flesh entails – exhaustion, hunger, thirst, pain, birth, death.  Like Jesus, all of have suffered physically, some in extreme and unbearable ways.  And we, like him, have experienced the sweetness of health and well-being, of inhabiting our physical bodies and all of the goodness that comes to us through our senses.

But what of the emotional aspects of being human – joy, anger, betrayal, contentment, rejection, doubt, regret, fear, grief?  Here are the sources of our highest highs and our lowest lows.  Just as you and I have times of deep sadness and soaring joy, Jesus knew the range of human emotions – the sting of betrayal by his closest friends, the depths of grief when he learned of the death of his friend Lazarus, the joy of the wedding feast, the anger at seeing the temple defiled by the money changers.  He felt tenderness towards the woman who washed his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair.  In the Garden of Gethsemane, he asked if it might be possible to be spared the cup of crucifixion.  He said to his disciples, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.

To be human is to embark upon a lifelong quest to understand and to be understood.  If we are lucky, we encounter someone along the way who just seems to understand what we are going through.  Even though they can’t change the hard circumstances we are in, they are somehow able to bring us a measure of comfort just by their presence and a few quiet words of understanding.  Intuitively, we sense in them the invisible thread that knits certain people together, the thread of shared experience.  There are many in our world and in our midst whose souls are overindulged with sorrow.  Blessed are we that we have each other and a Savior who knows us deeply and understands our deepest doubts, hopes, fears and joys.

Rachel Roby, Parish Administrator

Monday, October 22, 2018

Applications for Lackey Outreach Fund Grants are now being accepted

Thanks to a substantial trust left by Carolyn Lackey to benefit the less fortunate, St. Andrew’s has disbursed over $100,000 to charitable organizations since 2014.  Some of these worthy organizations include LINK, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Menchville House Ministries, THRIVE Peninsula, Holy Cross Education Foundation, Kairos, Soundscapes, and more.

In the past, recipients have been selected by a committee.  This year parishioners can nominate organizations for funding via an application found on our website and in the church office.  The application can be completed by someone from the organization, or a parishioner can complete it on behalf of an organization with which they are involved.  Organizations that have received a grant from the Lackey Fund in the past must also apply.  Applications should be returned to the church, ATTN: Diana Skelton.  The deadline for applications is November 30, 2018.

A committee will review all applications based on the guiding principle that “the money follows our people”; in other words, top priority will be given to organizations in which parishioners are actively involved.  The Outreach Team appreciates your support in getting the word out to those organizations already receiving Lackey funds and any new organization you would like us to consider.

Diana Skelton

Monday, October 15, 2018

Take my life

In my 20 years of ordained ministry, I have attended many Confirmation services, and brought many young people to the Bishop to be confirmed. I have great memories of those services, including the joy of seeing each young person confirm their baptismal vows before receiving the laying on of hands by the Bishop.

Also, at many of these Confirmation services, the music was just glorious, and sometimes included a hymn which I consider to be one of the best hymns ever. And that is Hymn #707 in the 1982 Hymnal written by Frances Ridley Havergal:

Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to thee;
Take my moments and my days, let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of thy love:
Take my heart, it is thine own; it shall be thy royal throne.

To me, this hymn expresses dedicating one’s life to the way of Christ, which is similar to what confirmands do when they confirm their baptismal vows, affirming their adherence to the faith of Christ and living out that faith as vibrantly as possible.

I have started Confirmation classes for youth at St. Andrew’s on October 14 and will continue through April 2019. The confirmands are being prepared through studying the Baptismal Covenant (BCP, page 304), Episcopal Church history and learning what it means to be a Christian in their church and in their communities.

Please pray for the confirmands and for the adults who will be taking part in preparing them to present themselves before the Bishop, the Church and God.  The confirmands are:  Grace Duregger, Rachel Klinger, Caitlin Knapp, Alex Rous, Vanessa Smock, Libby Wharton, and Bobby Wharton.

The Rev. Lorna H. Williams
Associate for Children and Youth

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Cookies for Kairos!

The November 14-18 Kairos weekend is coming up at Nottoway Correctional Center in Burkeville.  The team orchestrating the weekend for about 34 inmates includes Matt Deller, Joe DuRant, and Brad Norris from St. Andrew’s.  This is a very involved undertaking: four all-day Saturday organizing and training sessions plus the Kairos weekend.

My preconceived ideas about prison ministry melted away pretty quickly.  You get a taste and maybe a heaping helping of what servant ministry is like.  Lots and lots of guidelines and rules, all of which must be followed to have a successful weekend.

The end result is most appreciative people and changed lives.  This is the Church spreading the Gospel of Christ in a place that is starving for the Gospel of Christ.

Home baked cookies are a manifestation of the love of the Christian community.  Will you help out?  Please make cookies without sprinkles, nuts or raisins, bag them (one dozen per bag) in clear plastic and bring to the big freezer in the church kitchen.   Thank you!

Brad Norris
Minister of Music

Abundant Blessings stewardship talk given Sept. 30 by Dan Waddill

When the church asks us for a pledge, it joins a chorus of other charities, all worthwhile and deserving.  I’d like to offer 2 reasons for us to make St. Andrew’s a priority.

First, the future of our church depends on what we do now.  For many years, our Diocese has reported declining attendance, fewer young people, and less money coming in.  Other denominations face the same issue, and throughout our country, cities and towns are dotted with the empty buildings of failed churches.  In part, we can chalk it up to changing times.  But here’s the thing – the need for church has not gone away.  While church attendance in our modern society is falling, anxiety, depression, loneliness, and addiction are growing, especially among young people.  If we pledge our money, time, and talents to the church, we can be sure that we are addressing the true and enduring needs of the human spirit. 

The second reason to prioritize the church is that churches are sacred places in a culture that is becoming more and more secular.  Here’s what I mean.  Last month we took Henry to his college orientation, and it was well done.  But during two days of speeches and sessions and meals and receptions, not one prayer was offered, and God was never mentioned.  This at a school that was founded by Presbyterians, a school where daily chapel had been mandatory for over 130 years.  My point is not to criticize, but only to show that our institutions have changed, such that churches now stand virtually alone as places where prayer is welcomed and God is worshipped.  So more than ever, church matters. 

The oldest son of my college roommate went to the Naval Academy, became a helicopter pilot, and completed several tours of duty courageously and honorably.  Last year, he took his own life, as too many of our servicemen and women have done.  When I saw my old friend, I realized that the only words I knew that would be of any use, or have any meaning, were words I had learned in church.  And my friend knew the same words, so in the depths of unspeakable heartbreak, we were, in fact, able to speak.  We spoke of his son as a beloved Child of God, created on purpose, and held in God’s hands during his life and even now in his death.  We spoke of death as not having the final word because we knew words of resurrection and joy.  Words we had learned in church. 

To us here now, the words are so familiar, it’s easy to forget we once had to learn them; and if we hadn’t gone to church, we wouldn’t know them.  Words of joy and good news.  At baptism and marriage, we speak of celebration, lasting commitment, and bold vows.  At a funeral, we speak of hope and trust and life.  Clearly, the words we speak in church are profoundly different from the words we hear elsewhere. 

Within these walls, we hear “Love is patient, love is kind. It rejoices with the truth.”  Do we ever see this on our internet home page?  In the news, we do hear frequent demands for an apology, but never “forgive us … as we forgive.” How about, “We pray for all who govern.”   “Give us grace to do your will.”  “We confess that we have sinned.”  “The Lord be with you.” “You have fed us with spiritual food.”  Here in this place, we encounter these words, but I don’t see them trending on Netflix.

Next year, St. Andrew’s will celebrate its 100th birthday, and it’ll be great.  No one knows what the next hundred years will bring, but here’s what I see.  At our 200th birthday, I see every pew full to overflowing, with kids squirming and babies calling (that’s a joyful sound).  I see Sunday School bursting at the seams, with classes for every age.  And when people ask, “how did this happen?” the old timers will recall that it started in 2018, when the congregation decided to challenge the times and change the trends.  To pledge their time and money and talents, enough to make a difference. 

It’s pledge season and the future of our church is in our hands.  Let’s renew our strength.  Let’s mount up and make it happen. To Randy and Susan, our deepest thanks for leading us and hosting us another year.