Prayers Before an Election

Times before an election are likely to be controversial and chaotic, and this one is no exception. Indeed, the country is so polarized that even a simple conversation with the other side is nearly impossible. In such a climate, offering prayers before the coming election offers us a way to put all this in God’s hands, asking that God’s will be done while expressing our own concerns and hopes.  In addition, it can help us to relate more faithfully to the issues that are before us, having prayed about them. Taking sides matters, but that’s not what this is about even if you tell God your side!

Both of us are planning to do this through October. If you’d like to join us in what we will be doing, here’s how:

> Call the church office for a copy of the brief orders of service and prayers from The Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, or you can download them from the church’s Facebook page here or below.

> Before you pray, decide what you want to pray for or about, “with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.” After you have chosen one or a few concerns, see if any of the prayers listed are relevant.

> Then in a quiet place, be still and listen for God’s presence.

> Using one of the orders of service (morning, noon, evening, and before bedtime) offer your own prayers along with any others. You can repeat this once a week, daily, more than once a day, or as the spirit moves you. 

>   In addition, you could be reading one of the gospels in a prayerful way, and might also keep a journal to record your thoughts and prayers. 

>Sometime after the election we all may want to gather (by Zoom, probably) for a time of reflection.    And, may we add, when the time comes before that, remember to vote!

Rev. Ted Coolidge and Diane Reid

A Word from our Missional Priest

Dear Friends,

What is the Gospel and what is merely partisan politics? I don’t have the answer, but I feel like I am living that question as faithfully as I am able, heart open, willing to listen. As a church, following a higher authority, we are called to be humble and be a light for change in the world: to be aware of our manifold limitations and blind spots and to walk forward without fear, following Jesus. Our church means the world to me. And the world is also part of God’s mission for our church. Where do we stand?
I stand with you looking out together at a world that could use some spiritual sustenance. I know that I too need spiritual sustenance. How might we be that: for each other and for Middletown, even now,  especially now, that we cannot gather. We need your creative ideas and your desire to connect; your needs and your dreams. Please join in worship on Zoom or Facebook. YOU DO NOT NEED TO JOIN FACEBOOK TO WATCH. It’s like a TV channel. And please fill out our parish survey when it comes next week. Reach out to me anytime to set up a one to one Zoom call or phone conversation. And call a friend.
rector.holytrinityct@gmail.com

I look forward to offering at least one outdoor worship service in July.

In Christ,
Mary

A letter from Rev. Mary Barnett and Rev. Mary Anne Osborn

Dear Friends in Christ,                                       June 2, 2020

It is with troubled hearts that we write this letter to you. Our beloved nation is in pain and turmoil, and an end is not in sight. We cannot keep silent.

As you know, last night our president used federal officers to clear peaceful demonstrators away from the front of the White House. The reason? So that he could walk to St. John’s Episcopal Church for a photo of him standing in front of the church, holding a bible. By this action, our president used an Episcopal church for partisan political purposes. He did not pray while he was there. He did not read from the bible. He did not speak with the rector of the parish. He did not offer any words of consolation to the masses of hurting people who are demanding an end to centuries of white supremacy. He simply stood and posed for photos in what was a clear abuse of sacred symbols.

As your clergy, we understand that there is a wide diversity of opinion in our parish. We have tried to honor everyone in our preaching and, per the Vestry’s request, to keep politics out of our sermons.

But last night’s action by our president crossed a line. If we are to be faithful to our baptismal vows to “strive for justice and peace among all people,” and to “seek and serve Christ in all persons,” we must speak up.

We join our voices with our Presiding Bishop, the Bishops of the Northeast, including our Diocesan Bishops, and with Episcopal and Roman Catholic bishops around the country in denouncing our president’s forceful actions to use the church as a political prop. His behavior is contrary to what we believe in our church. 

As Bishop Mariann Budde, the Bishop of D.C. said last night, “The Bible is not an American document. It’s not an expression of our country. It’s an expression of the human struggle to serve and love and know God.”

To embrace this expression of holy scripture, we must acknowledge the real issue confronting us. And that issue is countless years of pervasive structures of racism that have denied our black and brown sisters and brothers the freedom to live as God’s beloved without fear of oppression, discrimination, violence, or death. And it’s about the brutality perpetrated in the name of justice that continues at an alarming rate to kill black Americans like George Floyd and so many others.

We know that together, this church community has loved and served all of God’s people for over a hundred years. Right now, we don’t have all the answers to address the deep fissures of racial injustice, but we must not let our despair immobilize us. This is the moment our faith has prepared us for. We are being called to be what we believe. May the Spirit empower us to face these days with hope and courage.

Faithfully yours,

Mary                                                Mary Anne
The Rev. Mary Barnett              The Rev. Mary Anne Osborn

Dwelling in the Word with an Agape Meal: From Spiritual Milk to Living Water.

Morning Prayer and Agape Meal

When: Sunday May 31st at 9:30 a.m.

Where: Your table and your phone and or computer or smart phone.

Who: Your family and others in the online CHT community

What you need: time, space, food to eat

On Sunday, to deepen our celebration of the major Feast Day of Pentecost, we will hold an online Agape meal as part of our Morning Prayer gathering. Agape is the Greek word to describe the deepest kind of spiritual love. An Agape meal is a “love feast” that brings us together in one community gathered in the Holy Spirit.

This custom originated in gatherings of the early church after Pentecost. According to various historians, the Early Church met in homes for a common meal. After the meal (or sometimes before), the baptized Christians would withdraw from the rest of the meal’s attendees to celebrate the Lord’s Supper in private. Agape meals lost popularity around the 6th century, but were resuscitated in the early 18th century by Moravians and Methodists. An Agape Feast in included in our ­Book of Occasional Services and is most typically done on Maundy Thursday.

An Agape meal does not replace Holy Eucharist, but it serves as a unique fellowship meal for us on this significant Feast Day of Pentecost. Customarily, we would all be around tables singing hymns, hearing God’s Word, and offering prayers. Our liturgy this Sunday is different, as most all things are in these COVID days, as we gather at our own tables and come together digitally.

The most important aspect of the Agape meal doesn’t change, however, and that is to be aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit that connects us all to each other and to our one God. 

Time to say good bye…

We are very sad to see some precious and valued friends leaving Holy Trinity over the last couple of months.  However, we wish them well and send much love and many blessings along with them as they continue on their life journeys!

Mike FazioMike Fazio, who has retired after 15 years as organist at Holy Trinity. He had planned to depart after the Easter Sunday service but was prevented from doing so after the service was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Warden Steve Horst writes this tribute: here

 

The Rev. Pat Jackson’s last Sunday as deacon at Holy Trinity was May 3, when she ledDeacon Pat
prayers and read the gospel on Facebook Live and Zoom. Deacon Pat had been serving at Holy Trinity since 2011, far longer than the usual three-year stint in our diocese. Under three rectors (four if you count both Mary Barnett and Mary Anne Osborn as a team), Deacon Pat has visited the sick and shut-ins in our parish. She has also led Bible study and started a prayer group that will continue meeting after her departure.

In bidding Deacon Pat farewell on behalf of a grateful parish, the Rev. Mary called her a “prayer warrior” and said “we would not be who we are without her.” She added, “We go with her as she goes out to bless the world in new and exciting ways.” The Rev. Mary promised, “We will celebrate her at a time to come.”

Rev. Mary Anne OsbornThe Rev. Mary Anne Osborn will be leaving us after the June 7 Sunday service. Since arriving in October, she has been serving in a part-time supervisory role during the period when the Rev. Mary Barnett was a transitional curate awaiting ordination to the priesthood. The Rev. Mary was ordained a priest on March 25. With Mary Anne’s departure, the Rev. Mary will assume the role of missional priest in charge. An offsite supervisor from the diocese will be available to provide advice.

In a letter this week to the parish, the Rev. Mary Anne wrote that “it’s important for Rev. Mary to step into the role as the singular priest-in-charge.” She added, “Because of COVID, I probably won’t get to see you in person, which truly grieves me. However, I will be back for a festive celebration of this wonderful community when Mary is able to preside at in-person Eucharist with as many of you as possible. I look forward to that joyful day!” So do we!

A Living House

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A few good words from our friend George Black, the South Central (New Haven) regional missionary.
C.S. Lewis once said “Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
I heard this quote in a sermon recently and it rocked me to my core. I know that Lewis is talking about the individual here, the singular person who God is transforming from the inside out and that is indeed important, but I cannot help but see a call for The Church as a unity, in all her splendor. What was the thing we thought God was building in us, as the united Body of Christ? What was the direction we were going in before the world changed a few months ago? What is God building now, and can we let go of what WAS happening, what we wanted to happen, so that we can be present to what God is doing NOW? Are we willing to let go of the cottage so that God can make us, The Church, into the palace we are meant to be? I think God is making something great right now. It is what God does. God creates. God makes.
Are we ready to be apart of what God is making?
In Christ,
George
In the words of our Gospel this week:  “in my Father’s house there are many mansions.” May we allow ourselves to be transformed anew into a living house. –  Rev. Mary

Good News!

Ekklesia group photoDear Friends in Christ,                                            April 28, 2020

Some really good news!

I am pleased to announce that as of August 1, Ekklesia Contemporary Ballet, a professional Christian ballet company and dance school will begin renting space in our building. They will use our upstairs spaces for classes and rehearsals:

Mondays 3-8 PM
Tuesdays 10AM-8 PM
Wednesdays 3-8 PM
Thursdays 10AM-8 PM
Fridays 10AM-2:30PM
Saturdays 9AM-5:30PM

This will bring LIFE, energy, beautiful dancing and families of all kinds into our building (and potentially worship services) and will allow us to build a purposeful relationship of theological imagination with a truly inspiring, love-centered and inclusive Christian non-profit organization. This is a rare opportunity and I feel so lucky that the Holy Spirit brought us together.

Ekklesia is a wonderful ballet company, with an inspired, professional and compassionate leader in artistic director Elisa Schroth. It is heartening that she is as excited to imagine the future here with us as we are delighted to have her.  Ekklesia has a stellar reputation (some of you may have seen their Christmas production Ahavah) and they are committed to giving back financially to the under-served in Middletown, just as we are. Our goals and sense of mission substantially reinforce each other. I truly believe that working together will strengthen our church community and missional outreach. Ekklesia has liturgical, theological and artistic ties to Duke University and Wesleyan which will also deepen our relationships with those institutions.   Bishops Ian and Laura are thrilled by the possibilities for the wider church in Connecticut to connect with this group in worship and in planned Dance and Dialogue events around issues of public interest such as mental illness, inclusivity, creation care and homelessness. They have indicated that there are financial resources available at the diocesan level for further support. Ekklesia will also pay us $3,000/yearly for the use of the space which will come in handy in these challenging times.

Our upstairs spaces are largely unused during the day. Ekklesia understands, however, that if there is a funeral reception or other special activity during these times (such as the week of the Holiday Fair) the church schedule will take precedence. Ekklesia comes to us from a 15-year close relationship with another church (Living Rock in Killingworth) and they are used to transforming their spaces from dance studios to Sunday school rooms on Saturday evenings. The before and after pictures of dance studios, full of smiling young students in leotards transformed back into Sunday school rooms on a weekly basis is a wonder to behold. Cleaning and maintaining the rooms as shared spaces is a discipline the students are already committed to.

We are working on the schedule of space usage to make sure NA groups can still be supported and use our building. Monday night’s large Miracle on Main group will move to St Vincent de Paul. Tues and Wed groups are smaller and will move to the library or the community room. Thursday night’s group will move to the chapel. Ekklesia supports our commitment to the NA community.

We are looking to raise some money and split the cost of a building supervisor/ sexton between Ekklesia and CHT to ensure the building is safe when it is in use and that only authorized people are in the building at any time. This will benefit both groups.

Ekklesia will lay down a special rubberized floor (that looks like wood) in the Parish Hall so the dancers will have cushioning for jumping. This can withstand any and all church/NA group traffic and is completely removable when they leave.

The Warming Center is currently in flux due to Covid -19. It moved abruptly this March to Green Street and then to a shelter in Meriden. The Mayor of Middletown is involved with Columbus House and St Vincent de Paul in finding a better solution for the Warming Center in this time when we will need to continue to practice social distancing. They do not believe using our building will be a viable option going forward. We will continue to advocate passionately for the homeless in our community as our role evolves. I have been so impressed with the work of St Vincent de Paul and believe if anything, we can work to dovetail even more closely with them on what is needed in Middletown in the challenging times ahead for all of us.

We will reassess our working relationship with Ekklesia in 6 months to see how things are going for both parties.

Ekklesia presented a proposal to Vestry back in March and Elisa met separately with several committees (including Youth Group, Sunday School and Building and Grounds). The vestry is excited to wholeheartedly support this rental relationship. We will be ironing out the all-important details in the weeks ahead.

It is exciting to have this new beginning to look forward to as we continue to sequester ourselves. Ekklesia is up and running, teaching on-line classes (check out their website! https://www.ekklesiaballet.org) and preparing nervously for a big move to a new community. Let us welcome them!  I look forward to your feedback.

Rev. Mary

A note from our Bishops

In other related financial matters we learned this week that, sin being real, some nefarious people are using the COVID-19 pandemic to promulgate new financial scams. One ECCT parish was recently contacted by a scammer with a request for cash assistance, under the name of the bishops, in order to provide relief for those suffering from COVID-19. Please be watchful for new scams at this time, and know that neither your bishops nor any diocesan staff will be contacting you, or members of your parish, personally to seek financial assistance of any kind.