On Sunday, May 29, 2022, we celebrated St. Augustine of Canterbury whose day on the Episcopal Church calendar is May 26. We celebrated our patron Augustine of Canterbury by planting and blessing a seedling. Every church in our diocesan area B will be planting similarly between now and the end of the Season of Creation in early fall when we will host an area celebration.
Collect for St. Augustine of Canterbury
O Lord our God, by your Son Jesus Christ you called your apostles and sent them forth to preach the Gospel to the nations: we bless your holy Name for your servant Augustine, first Archbishop of Canterbury, whose labors in propagating your Church among the English people we commemorate today; and we pray that all whom you call and send may do your will, and bide your time, and see your glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Blessing of the Seedling
God of the universe, You made the heavens and the earth, so we do not call our home merely planet earth. We call it your Creation, a Divine Mystery, a Gift from your most Blessed Hand. The world itself is a miracle. By the replanting of this seedling, may we be reminded of the Glory in all Creation, that we may be made to follow your care for all the good you call us into, and to glorify You in spirit and body. Through the reconciling work of your Son in unity with you and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Nativity of John the Baptist, June 24, 2022
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
From the readings for the Nativity of John the Baptist comes this portion of scripture from Isaiah:
The grass dries up
and the flower withers
when the Lord’s breath blows on it.
Surely the people are grass.
The grass dries up;
the flower withers,
but our God’s word will exist forever. (Is. 40:7,8 CEB)
But my garden is flourishing like never before, and the deep green of new life after the barrenness of winter has erased any signs of winter’s effects. It’s hard to imagine dry grass and withered flowers. That will come soon enough this fall.
And yet, we may have a sense that all is not well. Covid-19 lingers, and our economic concerns build by the hour as we attempt to lock in the best heating fuel prices for our churches, homes, and businesses. This is not to mention the growing edginess around gun violence, the cost of nearly everything, reproductive rights, and minority rights.
Recently I attended a session on dismantling racism provided by the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing. It was a hard but important day. We were a diverse group in more than one way, all Episcopalians from across the US, mostly the East Coast from Florida to Virginia, then Maine; of different ages, races, sexes, orientations, experiences, and viewpoints. We listened to the stories of our human family members, with different backgrounds and differing views, and different life experiences. And, we grieved the pain of deep systemic hurt as generations divided by racial injustices and viewpoints continue to harm the human family. One word emerged early in the day that was an outpouring centered on a virtual celebration of the Holy Eucharist and our Baptismal Covenant. The word was reconciliation.
Here in our remote part of the world, we might feel like all that I have said above is a million miles away and we have nothing to concern ourselves with. This, however, is not the case. The other week in our Tuesday Formation conversation we came across how the Episcopal Church defines itself. And, in our conversation that day we discovered that we have some work to do right around here.
In the Book of Common Prayer, pages 854-855 we learn that the Church is the community of the New Covenant. It is described as the Body of which Jesus Christ is the Head and of which all baptized persons are members. It is called the People of God, the New Israel, a holy nation, a royal priesthood, and the pillar and ground of the truth. It is one, holy, catholic, apostolic. It is one Body under one Head. It proclaims the whole Faith to all people to the end of time. It is sent to carry out Christ’s mission to all people. The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ. This is the work of reconciliation that is ours as people of the community of God through faith in Christ.
My friends, you and I are the Church. Our endeavor with God’s help and on God’s behalf is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ. You and I do this through prayer and worship, the proclamation of the Gospel, and promoting justice, peace, and love. This is carried out through you and me, members of the Church.
That Tuesday morning after talking about this, the question came. “How are we doing?” I won’t reveal the answer that came that day. Those of you who were present will remember.
But, on this day when the birth of John the Baptist is celebrated, the one who came as a voice crying in the wilderness, “Prepare the way!” This is a good day to reflect. How are we at St. Augustine’s doing given our understanding of who we say that we are, reconciling people in the Name of God through faith in Christ Jesus?
This coming Tuesday, June 28, we will gather for another formation conversation. It will be a scripture study on James 3:13-18. This passage has been the theme passage that opens each of our Bishop’s Committee meetings this year. In it, James suggests qualities for us to adapt in our lives by contrasting them with lesser qualities, “withering” qualities if we adapt Isaiah’s word. What will we choose?
While my garden is thriving and the grass is perfectly green, the tensions in our world have many feeling that they are withering. Though there may be withering days in our lives, we are still the reconciling presence of God through faith in Jesus Christ because the Word of the Lord endures. I encourage you to be the Church in the world. This is what God calls us to.
Faithfully in Christ,
An announcement shared in church on Sunday, June 19
Fr. Douglas’ husband, Tom Avila, recently received a cancer diagnosis requiring care through Dana Farber in Boston. Douglas and Tom will be back in Boston at the very end of the month into the third week of July for surgery and recovery. At this time, there is every reason to believe that the surgery will be successful with an optimistic outcome. While Douglas and Tom appreciate that folks want to do something, what is most appreciated are your prayers. Douglas will let you know through our Senior Warden, Norman, how things progress. If you don’t hear more, it just means that we don’t know. Take no news as good news. One thing that you can know today is how much your understanding and prayers are appreciated.
The Rev. John Burton will be the guest celebrant on July 3 and 10.
Episcopal Church Resources about Life’s Issues You are never alone
Gun violence and reform: (Click link for more info) Episcopal Church Policies on Gun Safety and Gun Reform – The Episcopal Church
We are the Church that Looks and Acts Like Jesus: (Click link for more info) A Church That Looks and Acts Like Jesus – The Episcopal Church
Reproductive rights: (Click link for more info) Statement on Supreme Court Dobbs decision by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry – The Episcopal Church
Racial justice: (Click link for more info) center for racial healing
LGBT+: (Click link for more info) welcomingresources
Coming up at St. Augustine’s
Sunday, July 18 Fthr. Douglas will celebrate the baptisms and the entire congregation will welcome into the Body of Christ: Juniper, Orrin and their Grandfather Bob at the morning service.
Tuesday, June 28 10:30 AM until Noon. Formation on James 3:13-18 followed b Holy Eucharist
Tuesdays, July 12, 19, 26 August 2 and 9 10:30 AM – NOON, Faith Formation and Holy Eucharist. “Embracing an Adult Faith/What it means to be a Christian” with Marcus Borg. A video series with conversation.
Thursday Contemplative Prayer via Zoom is on hold during the Summer.
From the Bishop’s Committee
Highlights from our April meeting:
· Parish leaders agreed to update their Safe Church training certification by the end of June of this year
· Kristin agreed to regularly spread the good news of our church and thrift shop on the Community Hub
· The Committee thanked Dianne for the gift of her sewing skills that added to a meaningful Lent and Easter by making the purple Lenten cross coverings and white Easter cross drape
· Arranged for the planting of the seedling celebrating Augustine of Canterbury, Creation Care and a planting project of Diocesan Area B
· Joint Ash Wednesday with Dover-Foxcroft Congregational Church, Fresh Start monthly meeting, meeting with Bishop Brown, Canon Fry and Standing Committee President Rev. Gavit, April Chrism Mass in Rangeley, participated in Ukrainian Prayer Vigil at Dover-Foxcroft Congregational, Lead Tuesday Formation and Thursday Zoom Contemplative Prayer, prepare and preside over Holy Week services, represent St. Augustine’s at area Easter Vigil in Brewer, continuing ed. work in March, attend Bishop’s Town Hall
While some have reached out to me when desiring home visits and pastoral care, not all seem to be aware that I am available to you for care.
Know how happy I am to meet with you in your home or at church or other location as it is safe to do so given the everchanging Covid situation. Know that I am here for you when it comes to your care pastorally in-person, on Zoom or by phone. Know that I am concerned with your care and I want to care for you and be beside you when you have need. This is part of my calling as a priest, to walk beside you. I don’t know if I don’t here directly from the party requesting care.
Know that pastoral care is always confidential. It is about you and about finding God who is with you in your situation. Know that I will respond to you in a timely way when I hear from you directly.
What is less helpful is when I receive concerns through other people. Second or thirdhand information places your care and me in an awkward situation that is less helpful. Know that I don’t respond to second or thirdhand request. But, I will honor all requests for care coming directly from you.
What do you need to do to receive care? Reach out to me directly. I am available by phone or text at (207)659-4890 and e-mail at email@example.com.
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