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March 15, 2017, 8:13 AM

A word at mid-week, 3/15

Despite the cold and snow in mid-March, I pray that this mid-week finds you in a good space, surrounded by those you love, and that you are engaged in meaningful undertakings!

This past Sunday, we heard the beginnings of the story of the call of Abraham and Sarah and their journey into the great unknown. Its hard for me to imagine what traveling was like 4,000 years ago. I can only picture how treacherous and perilous it must have been. I am not sure I would have been as brave as Abraham and Sarah were to follow God's call to leave everything I know and everyone I know, and head to an unknown destination for an unknown reason. But, in reality, God calls each of us to do just that, every day. Not necessarily to physically move geographically, but to spiritually along the terrain of our hearts. Sometimes, this journey means leaving old habits that we know well, or leaving behind grudges that we have carried for far too long, or becoming less self-absorbed and taking on the temperament that is more open to God's love or that makes more space for others in our lives. Please see my sermon, below.

This coming Thursday (March 16) my family and I will leave for Japan. I return to St. Matthew's on Sunday, April 2. While I am away:

  • Sunday, March 19, The Revd Mary Slenski
  • Sunday, March 26, The Revd Mary Slenski
  • Wednesday, March 22, The Revd Steve Giovangelo
  • Wednesday, March 29, The Revd Steve Giovangelo
  • For ALL pastoral care emergencies, please contact Carissa either by the Office Phone or by Email. She will relay information to Fr. Steve, who will be "on call" for St. Matthew's during this interval.

God's love to you all, Fr. Frank


Join the Choir for Easter

St. Matt's choir started rehearsal last week on music for Easter. If you would like a short-term commitment of music making, this is your opportunity! To make best use of time for those who might join us, we will practice the Easter music at the beginning of the rehearsal immediately after the warm-up. For more information, contact Dale Caldwell by clicking the link in the left-hand column. I look forward to hearing from you.




March 9, 2017, 10:42 AM

A word at mid-week, 3/8

Good morning and welcome to mid-week!

As we begin our Lenten observance, the lectionary readings immediately turn to the theme of temptation. Who among us is not tempted? I think the wise theologians who set up the lectionary in this way thought it best to be emphasize that the power of temptation is an ever-present challenge in our lives. Often, we don't realize that we have fallen prey to temptation until we look back on things. It is always much easier to recognize mistakes after they occur. And, further, the things that can tempt us - the things that are not good for us - can sneak up on us and be disguised as something attractive or even innocent. Maybe this is why we practice self-denial ("giving something up for Lent") to help us remember that temptations are right around the corner!

The sin of Adam and Eve was less a malicious or belligerent act and more of a subtle realization and perhaps fear of their vulnerability. When we deny our vulnerability, when we seek to be self-governing, self-ruling, self-determining without qualification, without need of God or anyone, we have fallen prey to sin. On Ash Wednesday we are unabashedly reminded of our vulnerable nature, our limits, that we are finite creatures of the Creator: "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return!" Our vulnerability  is crucial for our capacity to love. We cannot be in a loving relationship without allowing ourselves to be vulnerable. The repentance we seek in Lent is a return to our vulnerability -to once again open ourselves up and recognize our interdependence on God and one another. To once again accept the person that God created. To turn toward God and reconcile with what is broken in us. Please see my sermon, below.

This evening, St. Matthew's is hosting the Irvington Area Minister's Lenten Soup Supper and Prayer Service. The preacher tonight is the Revd Rick Ginther from Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church. I hope you will all plan to attend! Thanks to Martha Cooper for organizing the Soup Supper and for all the volunteers who are helping!

As you know, the funeral services for Bill McFarland were held on Monday, March 6 at the funeral home. I am in discussions with Nancy about the possibility of holding a Memorial Service at St. Matthew's in honor of Bill's long-time association with the parish. We will likely do this in April closer to Bill's birthday. More details to come.

At their Spring Luncheon in April (see ad below), the Episcopal Women's Ministries will recognize Honored Women of the Diocese of Indianapolis. Many of you have submitted names to me (Thank You!) and I will be announcing our candidate soon!

On Sunday, we will "pass the bucket" for the Episcopal Fund for Human Need (EFHN). When clocks change for daylight savings time (A Day of Change), we will encourage everyone to toss all loose change into the bucket and we will give the collection to the Episcopal Fund for Human Need (EFHN). These donations help change the lives of people who depend on the outreach programs of the 34 outreach agencies in our diocese that are supported by your Episcopal Fund for Human Need.

Last week, we kicked off our Lenten Adult Forum's by beginning reading The New Jim Crow. We have several copies of the book available for those who would like to read the book during Lent, whether or not you are participating in the Forum discussions. We ask for a free-will donation to help off-set the expenses of the books.

Next Thursday (March 16), my family and I will be traveling to Japan for two weeks. I will be away Sunday, March 19 and March 26. The Revd Mary Slenski will lead Sunday services and Fr. Steve Giovangelo will continue to be here for the Wednesday services.

God's love to you all, Fr. Frank


May We Continue to Celebrate!

Last Sunday, musical elements of our worship changed in style and effect - Lent I. In this penitential season, a Kyrie has replaced the Gloria. The Fraction Anthem and the Psalm are presented in unaccompanied chant form. While this music may be more reserved and intimate in nature, it is no less effective or meaningful. The forty days of Lent do NOT include the Sundays. They are still feast days. While it is our pattern to note our own sin and short-comings during this season, we can still rejoice in the bountiful grace we have already received. How can we but offer our highest praise and thanksgiving?

Dale Caldwell




March 1, 2017, 1:39 PM

A word at mid-week, 3/1

Greetings, and welcome to Ash Wednesday Mid-Week and the beginning of the Holy Season of Lent!

Lenten Theme: "Return and Repent"

As we begin the season of Lent, you will note some changes to the sanctuary. First, the new Stations of the Cross are now in place. I will take opportunities during the season to teach on praying the stations. It is an ancient practice that incorporates meditation, recitation of prayers, and walking from station to station meditating on the suffering and death of Jesus. They can be prayed privately anytime of the year. We will "do" the Stations of the Cross communally on Good Friday. I hope you will enjoy this new addition.

Second, the Celtic green has been replaced by shades of violet, of which the deep shades of violet symbolize this penitential season. The vessels for Holy Communion are made of wood as are the candlesticks. The area around the chancel is adorned with copper, sand, sackcloth and ashes arranged to help create a visual stimulation of the theme, "return and repent."

Third, and hopefully most notable, is the placement of the Baptismal Font. You can't miss it! To enhance the theme of return and repent, the Baptismal Font "greets" you at the entrance of the Nave. Although our faith journeys begin long before we are even aware of it - slight nudgings, a bit of curiosity, a pulling away and a "I can't stop from moving in this direction" all characteristics of this journey - they culminate and are made visible in Baptism. Eventually and inevitably, our journeys lead us one way or another, to the Font. It is here, at this place, where our individual journeys join with others who are also making their own journey. It is here, in the common waters of baptism that we are marked forever as Christ's own.

Lent is part of that journey. Lent is a season when we focus on simple living, prayer, and fasting in order to grow closer to God. Many people commit to a time of fasting and repentance, giving up certain types of luxuries or adding Lenten spiritual disciplines such as reading a daily devotional, or prayer through a Lenten calendar, to draw themselves near to God.

Lent sets the tone where we recognize our mortality, repent of our sins, and return to our loving God. We recognize life as a precious gift from God, and re-turn our lives towards Jesus Christ. We may make resolutions and commit to change our lives over the next forty days so that we might be more like Christ.

This turning or returning in our faith journey is known by the Greek term, metanoia. It is a word that means "a transformative change of heart; especially: a spiritual conversion." It expresses a fundamental change in thinking that leads to a fundamental change in behavior and our way of living. Throughout the 40 days of Lent, the season provides us with opportunities to withdraw from ourselves, to turn toward God, to lay aside the old, and to put on a new mind more deeply and richly in Christ. I invite you to this conversion, or turning again and will pray for each of you this season for a deepening relationship with God.

God's love to you all, Fr. Frank


As we mark the beginning of Lent with Ash Wednesday, we will be changing the service music: a Kyrie in place of the Gloria, different settings of the Sanctus and Fraction Anthem, and a new tune for the Offertory Hymn. So that these musical settings will become second nature to you, we will rehearse them before the service next Sunday(remember the change to ONE service at 10 a.m.). So after Fr. Frank rings the bell, don't tarry entering the church. We'll still have a minute or two for silent meditation after we rehearse together. I'm looking forward to it

Dale Caldwell




February 22, 2017, 8:14 AM

A word at mid-week 2/22

Greetings everyone,

I hope you are enjoying this odd "winter" spring-like weather in February on this mid-week day!

This week, as we conclude the Sermon on the Mount and head into the last Sunday after the Epiphany and celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration, Jesus commands us to "be perfect" as God is perfect! The command to be perfect is rooted in the Greek word, "end" or "fulfillment." Because Jesus was human and endured all that we endure, he understands that it is harder for us to love rather than hate, to forgive rather than to hold a grudge, to share rather than to keep all things for ourselves, and that it is harder for us to heal than it is to hurt one another in thoughts, words, and deeds. So, when he commands us to be perfect, he is asking us to persist in being the people we were created to be, which means doing all of the other things he commnaded in the Sermon on the Mount such as, repaying evil with good and forgiving and praying for those who harm us. What is holding you back from being the person that God created you to be? Please see my sermon, below.

Tuesday, February 28 and Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper

First, I apologize for my mistake - Carolyn Kirkendall and Martha Cooper are NOT organizing this event. We do not have enough volunteers to put on this event for this year. Ellie is checking with the Boy Scouts, so the Official Word about whether or not we will have this event is still forthcoming. I WILL LET YOU KNOW ASAP so you can make plans!

 

Wednesday, March 8 Lenten Soup Supper and Prayer Service

Martha Cooper has offered to help lead this event. We need 4-5 people who are also willing to make soups for that evening. Please let Martha and I know if you are willing to prepare soup or any other snacks. We also need coffee, water, and drinks like lemonade and ice.

New Service Time

Beginning on Sunday, March 5 we will move to having only 1 service at 10:00am.

Lenten Adult Forum

Angie Wilkinson has agreed to lead the Adult Forums for Lent. We will be reading the book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander. It is a book suggested by the national Church. I will purchase 5 copies of the book for those who would like to purchase a copy.

We will start the new Forum on the 1st Sunday of Lent at a new time: 11:15am (after the service). We will conclude no later than 12 Noon.

The Prayer List

Beginning in Lent, we will update the prayer list. Please let us know who needs to be removed from the list and who you would like added.

God's love to you all, Fr. Frank


Stocking Up on 'Alleluias'

With the start of Lent in just a week, we will be "putting away" our Alleluias until Easter. If you are like me, you miss their use during Lent. The opening and closing hymns this Sunday are filled with these declarations of praise, so you will be able to "stock up" on them, if you will. The entrance hymn, Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones, uses the tune lasst uns erfreuen (the same one used for All Creatures of Our God and King). (This tune will be used for the Doxology following the offertory music during the Easter season - but more about that next week.) So enjoy the feast before the fast of Lent begins.

Dale Caldwell




February 15, 2017, 8:48 AM

A word at mid-week 2/15

Happy day after Valentine's Day and welcome to Mid-Week!

It was nice to see so many Facebook posts of how people were celebrating Valentine's Day and reading some pretty nice remarks about their mates! Coupled with spring-like weather in the middle of February, I hope it was a special day for many of you. I know that holidays - any holiday - can be difficult and painful for many as well. If this is true for you, please know of my thoughts and prayers for you.

It was nice to see such a large gathering this past week for Scout Sunday. The church was full and the energy was palpable! Two more scouts approached me with news that they are on track to becoming Eagle Scouts and wanted to share their ideas for projects with me. It is great to witness the formation that these young boys and teenagers receive from Scouting and the 62-year relationship between Troop 161 and St. Matthew's. And, the Cub Scouts are well on their way planning and preparing for the Pine Wood Derby event!

As we move through this season in the glow of Epiphany light, the Lectionary continues to provide us with portions of the Sermon on the Mount - Jesus's defining sermon from which all other teachings and healing will flow. If we were to summarize the Sermon on the Mount in a single sentence, it would be something like this: How to live a life that is dedicated to and pleasing to God, free from hypocrisy, full of love and grace, full of wisdom and discernment.

This week, Jesus fulfills and reinterprets God's Covenant and in particular its Ten Commandments, contrasting with what "you have heard" from others...The Greek word for "fulfill" used in the New Testament means, "to carry on with." So, Jesus is reminding us what is at the heart of the law; what the law is really asking of us. At the heart of the law, at the heart of the teaching on murder and adultery and divorce and oath taking is that our relationships matter to God. How we treat one another in our families, in our churches, in our places of work, in the grocery store, on Facebook, in conversations, each and every relationship we have matters to God! 

Rules and structures are important because they help define limits and boundaries and give order to life. But, doing everything right or living by the letter of the law is not necessarily what God is most interested in. God is more interested in how you live out your life every day in all of your relationships. What difference would it make to you and the way you live your lives if this were true? What would you do differently if it mattered to God how you are relating and caring for one another? What would change in your life if your relationships mattered to God? Please see my sermon, below.

There were two homework assignments this week:

  1. Calling to mind a relationship that sustains you and is important to you, reflect on what makes this a good relationship. Then, give thanks to God for that person and the relationship you share with them.
  2. Calling to mind another important relationship to you but has suffered some damage, hold that person and the relationship in prayer. Offer the brokenness to God asking for help and healing. Reflect on what action you can take to move the relationship to greater health.

I hope these practical "assignments" are proving meaningful to your faith life. I encourage you to take these things to heart and to remember that I pray for each of you every week and that I am praying for you as you reflect on these two important relationships in your life.

Time is flying and we will be deep into Lent soon enough! 

  • On Tuesday, February 28 we will celebrate Shrove Tuesday with a pancake supper. More details to follow soon, but if you are interested in helping with the event, please talk with Martha Cooper and Carolyn Kirkendall! Thank you Martha and Carolyn!!!
  • On Wednesday, March 18, St. Matthew's will host the Irvington Lenten Soup Supper and Prayer Service The Soup Supper begins at 6:00pm followed at 7:00pm by the Prayer Service. Martha Cooper has volunteered to help organize the Soup Supper. If you are willing to help, please talk with her ASAP! Thank you Martha!!!

We will resume the Adult Forums/Sunday School at the start of Lent using the series, The 5 Marks of Love. Stay tuned for further details!

Finally, I ask your prayers for the Vestry and me as we gather this coming Saturday for an all-day retreat. I believe there is much potential for growth and vitality ahead of us and it will take a lot of hard work, clarity of discernment, and a willingness to learn from failure in order to bring these possibilities and potentials to fruition. 

God's love to you all, Fr. Frank


Anthem Premiere This Sunday

Nearly from the beginning of its existence, the Christian church has been a haven for the nurture of the arts. Consider stained glass that has taken your breath away. You have surely seen altars and appointments that have engendered a sense of awe and reverence. Religious textile art and paintings have brought new perspectives to biblical stories. Heaven-ascending architecture and the deep tones of an organ can take us to the near presence of God. The Holy Spirit has spoken through all art forms which bring us to ineffable worship and praise. 

This Sunday, St. Matthew's will experience the premiere presentation of Thomas Strickland's anthem Teach Me, O Lord written for the Centennial Celebration. In the context of the church, Tom's musical pursuits as an organist and composer were early on nurtured by his parents Ruth and Charlie Strickland and encouraged by former St. Matt's organist Adele Haritonoff, who regularly took him to area organ recitals. 

The church by its nature will continue to foster inspired art, confirming God's never-ending creative work. 

Dale Caldwell


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