Compline is the last of the four services in the Daily Office in the Book of Common Prayer. This office originated in the night prayers said before bed at the end of the monastic round of daily prayer. The Rev. Mary and various lay readers will take turns leading compline on Facebook on evenings between Christmas Eve and New year’s Eve. You can find the words to the service online here.

An Invitation to Advent Conversations

Dear Friends,

During the season of Advent this year, we will be having some conversations at each of four weeks about the coming of Christ, which we will celebrate on Christmas Day. But the conversations we will be having will be about something more personal, and that is about the coming of Christ in our own lives.

In these times when the whole world is being tossed to and fro by the pandemic, by racism, by climate change, and by political polarization, it’s a good time to get some ground under our feet so that we can move through these chaotic days in a more graceful and self-giving way; and that is where Christ comes in, not as an idea but as a living presence accompanying us each step of the way.

At our conversations (which Mary and I will lead), we will explore Christ’s presence in ourselves, in our relations with others and in the world around us, and in our deepest concerns about the meaning and purpose of life. This we will do not by thinking about it, but through a contemplative awareness fostered by Richard Rohr’s book, “The Universal Christ”. Our first conversation will come by Zoom on Sunday, November 29, after the liturgy. Before leaving, we will decide together about a meeting day and time for the three meetings after that.

You will do well to get a copy of the book to use, not for study so much as for spiritual reading in the couple of chapters assigned before each meeting (for the first meeting it will be the preface, “Before We Begin” and Chapter 1). The following handouts correspond to each week’s study.

We hope you will join us, and if you have any questions, contact Ted Coolidge by phone (860-301-3603) or email.

Yours faithfully,

Mary and Ted

A Letter from Mary

November 9, 2020

Dear Parish Family,

Wow, life is challenging. Hope you are all hanging in there. I so wish we could all be  together but it looks like the church will be back online for awhile. Middletown is now in the red zone and although we had a wonderful in-person service for All Saints, gathering in person feels increasingly ill-advised. And this week Steve, our preacher and worship leader, has unanticipated pressing family obligations.

But lucky for us, we are nimble and have friends and believe in collaboration and can adjust on a dime. So, this Sunday we will worship again with St John’s. Their wonderful young intern Lizzie is preaching, so we will get the benefit of hearing a vibrant young voice! I hope you will be moved to tune in and join for our own coffee hour on zoom afterwards.

 But, regardless of this week’s adjustments, I feel very strongly that going forward, we need some new ways to be the church and grow closer together.  Especially now, when the escalating Covid situation and continuing political partisanship threatens to further isolate us from each other. We can push back.  So, I am asking for your help.

What I’d like to have happen is the creation of small covenant groups of 6-10 people who will support each other spiritually on a monthly basis.  These meetings will start with a short reading of some kind. The text you decide to share could be the scripture for the week (such as in Dwelling in the Word), a Mary Oliver poem, a paragraph from something you’ve read that has moved you in some way, or a favorite piece of music.  The point is to dwell in something together and then share thoughts and feelings and questions about it and listen to other people share. I recommend sharing the burden of leadership by rotating who picks the readings every month. The leader for the month then ends with a prayer or a poem or the Lord’s Prayer.  This is just a suggested outline. Together you can adjust the rules for your group.

 Please include present or former members of CHT. You are also welcome to include people from the wider Episcopal Church or from your own friend or family group. Feel free to invite someone who has nothing whatsoever to do with the church as long you are convinced the group could come to matter to them. The main thing is that these groups matter and are supportive to you. This what I mean by covenant. There is nothing I need from you more than this.

Scheduling can be tough but consider lunch times, breakfast times, Saturday mornings at 8 with coffee, cocktail hour with wine and cheese, Sundays at 5, Mondays at 10 after the kids are in bed: consider weird times. Meetings are only 40 minutes. (That’s how long free zoom meetings last. As the leader you will need to get a free zoom account to open the meeting or pick someone to be in the group who already has one! You can decide to extend meetings if you choose too.)

But these groups are for the least of these which is us.

And listen, if any of this makes you feel ill with apprehension, the first step is just to phone a friend and ask them to help you gather an awesome group.

( Go ahead: Ask ANYONE you feel called to. Ask Valerie, Emily Harrison from Perk (who expressed interest), Maryellen Shuckerow of St Vincent de Paul, someone from work, a favorite member who has moved away, your aunt Marge, Bishop Ian, your atheist colleague, someone who intrigues or challenges you, Pat Jackson…Just pray and ask and find your 6!)

Let me know if I can help in any way. And please send the names of your group members to me ASAP so I’ll know who is set and can reach out to help initiate other groups.



Lord’s Prayer from the New Zealand Prayer Book

Eternal Spirit,
Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all,
Loving God, in whom is heaven:

The hallowing of your name echo through the universe!
The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the world!
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom
sustain our hope and come on earth.

With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and testing, strengthen us.
From trials too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.

For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,
now and for ever. Amen.

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.

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

In Christ,

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.