Overarching Welcome

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.  Hebrews 13:2

For most Christ Church is a place of welcome.  For me, at Christ Church, I imagine God’s Kingdom, envisioning a long line of people rejoicing and headed to heaven as in Flannery O’Connor’s story “Revelation.”   I see a beautiful vision when I stand to lead worship and to preach.  I sense the spirit of Christ. 

Many share this vision, and for many a great willingness to welcome all. Still, overarching welcome remains a goal and not quite an achievement.  Offering hospitality as Jesus commands us to do means welcome to any one not like us in age, gender, race, class, sexual preference, economic level or health (mental or physical). This is a challenge.  While humans are wired for connection, we are also wired to make distinctions and exclude.  Connection happens best when we are prepared to get to know one another.  In learning more about the other, we discover common humanity, some shared interests and concerns even if we do not respond to these matters in the same way. 

Turns out Sharing Christ’s Welcoming Love, which is both our mission and our motto is not as easy as it sounds or looks.   It requires commitment, open minds and open hearts, and a willingness to talk about our discomfort, speaking our own truth in love. We cannot find the hospitality path until we see and speak our own concerns and hear those of others. 

As with the protagonist in O’Connor’s short story, we may come to see others and ourselves in a different light when we know them as fellow followers of Christ.  We then may not be quite as sure we are meant to be at the front of the heaven line.  We may be grateful to God for making the line toward heaven long and inclusive.  Otherwise, we may not be in line at all. 

I see the best of Christ Church’s welcome now, and the best we shall become.   To continue to grow spiritually and in Christ’s love shall require more conversations about what we value and love about this place and what we love about Jesus Christ for whom we are named.  

During formal and informal settings, let’s listen to one another.   Let’s encourage one another because a willingness to follow Jesus and His path of transforming love can be scary and threatening even as it leads to peace and deep joy.   May we walk this path together.  

Rejoice in the Splendor of God’s Radiance

Psalm 150

In Eastertide we all rejoice in the splendor of God’s radiance and in the glory of the Resurrection.  God’s promise of blessing, and new and full life is fulfilled.  Each Sunday we come together to offer God praise and thanksgiving through gathering in community for Holy Eucharist.   

The quote above is from Eucharistic Prayer D which we are using from Easter through Pentecost.   In Eucharistic Prayer D we take a little extra time to glorify God and to recognize how we are transformed in Christ.  

Eucharistic Prayer D is used at ordinations, too, showing joy in this commitment.  Below are some phrases and sections unique to Prayer D which you may want to listen for and absorb in this season.

  1. Fountain of life and source of all goodness, you made all things and fill them with your blessing; you created them to rejoice in the splendor of your radiance.  Prayer D opens with three strong adoration statements.  This is my favorite.  God gives breath and blessing.  Rejoice!
  2. And that we might live no longer for ourselves, but for him who died, he sent the Holy Spirit, his own first gift to those who believe, to complete his work in the world . . .    We are baptized in Christ, and live for Christ within us.  We are to complete God’s work in this world.  What a glorious invitation!  And we have the Holy Spirit as guide.
  3. And grant that we may find our inheritance with all the saints who have found favor with you in ages past. We praise you in union with them.  Once in Christ we live in the now and the yet to come.  We are part of the communion of saints of all who come before and are. 

As I pray Prayer D on Sunday on behalf of all present, listen and know:

  • God blesses us with overflowing life.
  • God invites us to join in sharing overflowing life.
  • We live in the Holy Spirit and in union with communion of saints.

Let everything that breathes praise the Lord.    Psalm 150

With every blessing, 

Mother Elizabeth

Going Forth in Ministry: Martha’s Golden Halo

Martha of Bethany

Blessings for Eastertide.   We bask in the glow of Easter Sunday celebration and experience anew the wonder of the empty tomb and Risen Christ, and God promise of new life.   Yet we witnessed on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka and see in so many places each day pain and suffering in the world around us.   How do we hold this joy and sorrow in our hearts?  

First, may we draw closer to God.   Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary, mother of James and the other women went to anoint Jesus after what must have seemed like a long wait on the Sabbath when they could not go to the tomb.   They went to Jesus, offering themselves. 

Second, we offer ourselves to do or be what is needed, what God is calling us to do or be.  We offer gifts, strengths and weaknesses which are uniquely ours to God’s dream for creation.  We join in and hop to it.  We celebrate with our apron brigade this year Martha’s Golden Halo in Lent Madness.  Martha of Bethany who took care of feeding and all the daily tasks that need to be done won.  Martha whose sister Mary “chose the better part” by sitting with Jesus, comes in to her own as a saint.   Martha, who knew Jesus could bring new life.   

Third, we offer ourselves in quiet prayer.  Myself, I prefer the opening of my entire being to God in centering prayer.   Others may pray with a few set sentences and silence, and still others may dance or walk.  

As we open ourselves more to God, we also open our hearts more deeply and truly to the world.  In reflecting during the weeks of Lent and now Easter, I sense the Holy Spirit within calling me out of comfort and complacence.   I sense a stirring in the Christ Church community.  We pray, offer ourselves and seek God and . . . next steps to be discerned.

God is working something new in us.   God’s invitation is there always to draw closer to God and to join with God in the experience of transformation and in healing our hurting world.  

We Offer Our Selves, Our Souls and Bodies

The season of Lent is under way.   Our worship shifts to the Penitential Order during which we begin by recalling God’s mercy, saying or singing the Ten Commandments [Decalogue], and confessing our sins together.   Lent is a time of self-examination when we look at ourselves in the entirety of our emotions and actions, even the parts we prefer not to acknowledge.   

For the first three weeks of Lent we shall use Eucharistic Prayer 1, a Rite 1 option for Holy Communion.   Rite 1 does more than include “thee’s” and “thy’s” and “eths,” as in “Bless the Lord who forgiveth all our sins.”   It is more than comforting language for those who grew up with it, though admittedly that may be a key reason the Worship Team loves Rite 1. The music is great, too.  Rite 1 provides a perspective on our lives with God. 

For the next three Sundays if participating in a Rite 1 service, I invite us all to listen for a few sentences in the Eucharistic Prayer itself. 

— “And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, our selves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee;”

At Holy Communion we bring our entire selves and offer our entire selves to God.  The path to Life is giving our lives to God, letting go, releasing any bit we may want to hold on to.  This offering brings perfect freedom and peace as worry for self vanishes.  Rarely does this happen all at once, but coming forward with the intention of this offering week-to-week, we draw closer to Christ.

— “And we humbly beseech [ask earnestly] thee, O heavenly Father, so to assist us with thy grace, that we may continue in that holy fellowship, and do all such good works as thou hast prepared for us to walk in;”

What a beautiful prayer after Holy Communion.  We have offered up our selves, we have been nourished and strengthened by the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, and now we return to the world to undertake what God has in mind for each of us unique beings.  We each have good works God has prepared for us to walk in.  Walking on the journey toward fullest Life, God provides opportunities for service, offerings we give to one another and to creation.  

— “The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Finally, there is the blessing which reinforces the peace of God we find when our hearts and minds know God’s love and walk in God’s ways.   Having offered our entire selves, asked for grace to do the service God has prepared for us, we are blessed by the peace that passeth all understanding.

May it be so. 


Creating Space for God – A Lenten Journey

Lent is a time to make room for new life.


“Lent’s great gift to us is this activation of our God-given resources, as we conduct our work within ourselves, making room for new life.” *

* Patric and Marsha Dawe, article in The Episcopal Network for Stewardship

For most of us who consider Lent it becomes a time to give something up. Giving up can be to take on a discipline that might also help us lose some extra winter weight, it could be seen as a punishment for our lack of restraint, but rarely is giving up something for Lent meant to prepare us for the work God has given us to do.  

This Lenten season I invite us all to enter a time of making space for God to enter more deeply into our hearts and lives.  I invite us to draw closer to God and discover the strength and love of God within us and in the world around us.  

“The soul thrives on slowness, spaciousness, and stillness,” write Christine Paintner in The Wisdom of the Body.

First this Lent, let us consider spaciousness.   As a first step to creating space for our soul and God to live closely together, we begin the process of unveiling unveil ourselves to God and to ourselves.  How many of us have parts of ourselves we would rather not acknowledge and perhaps wish we had given up for Lent?  [note: twice I gave up yelling at my children for Lent and noticed positive if not fully lasting change.]

During the coming six weeks, may we try spending time welcoming all the parts of ourselves to full view.   One good method is the Welcoming Prayer developed by Mary Mrozowski.

  1. Focus on one’s body.  Note aches, pains, both physical and emotional.  Let these sink in and breath.  Simply accept them.
  2. Intentionally invite feelings such as sorrow or anger without any resistance to the emotion.  Often we want to push these away from us. 
  3. Let go perhaps saying, “I offer up my [anger, sorrow] and give it to God. 

Another option for making space is literally to clear out clothing and other items from our homes.   Starting this Sunday we will have black trash bags available.  Please take one after worship and consider placing an item of clothing or no longer needed household item in the bag.  Bring it in for our Clothing Closet or Rummage Sale (sale dates April 5-7).   

This Lent may we make space to allow God to enter more deeply into our hearts, our homes and our lives and be strengthened to love and serve God, opening ourselves and drawing closer to the heart of Jesus Christ