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January 4, 2017, 6:51 AM

A word at mid-week, 1/4/2017

Welcome to the first mid-week of 2017 and to the 11th Day of Christmas!

This past Sunday, we gathered to celebrate not only New Year's Day but also the liturgical Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. This celebration, which falls on the eighth day of Christmas or after the birth of Jesus, recalls when he was named Jesus - the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. 

Celebration of the Holy Name on the first day of January reflects the significance of beginning each year and living out the entire year under the auspices of Jesus' name, which from the Hebrew means, "Yahweh is salvation" or "Yahweh will save." Devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus is particularly derived from Phil 2:9-11, which states that God highly exalted Jesus "and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth."

Being highly exalted by God, Jesus was not so much interested in dominance and power and prestige as he was in making the ordinary, holy. Through him, ordinary people became holy people who did extraordinary things. In the name of the Jesus, we receive the gifts of holy bread and wine that nourishes us spiritually. Through Jesus' name, ordinary water is made holy and washes us and welcomes us into the family of God. Please see my sermon.

As we begin this year under God's holy name, I want to invite you and all others to a special St. Matthew's challenge. Throughout the whole of 2017, let's dedicate this year to Looking for the Holy in Everyday Ordinariness!

  • This January, start the year with an empty jar. Each day or each week, ask God to show you something holy within your normal, everyday, ordinary world. Write down the things that you notice and add it to your jar. On next New Year's Eve, empty the jar and read about all the times and in all the ways that God revealed holiness in your life. You might just be amazed to see how God is all around you in the people you meet, the places you go, and the things that you do. Come along and take the St. Matthew's challenge!

For the past several weeks, you may have noticed a number of small red hats that have been collected in the basket on the table by the entrance to the nave. This is an initiative by The Yarn, Book and Prayer Club to help the American Heart Association kick off this year's "Little Hats, Big Hearts" campaign by collecting knitted or crocheted red baby hats to be distributed to babies born in hospitals throughout Indiana during the month of February. This coming Sunday, we will bless the hats and send them on to be used.

A word about Music at St. Matthew's. This coming Thursday evening, we will be interviewing a candidate for the position of Director of Music. I am excited about this opportunity and will keep you posted. 

Dale Caldwell has also graciously agreed to play for services this coming Sunday since we in an "in between" time with music. 

Finally, please join me in thanking Jeff Higbie for playing last week! He did a great job and is always willing to fill in when needed. THANK YOU, JEFF!

God's love to you all! Fr. Frank

December 28, 2016, 12:00 AM

A word at mid-week 12/28

Greetings from mid-week, the 4th Day of the 12 Days of Christmas [also known as Christmastide]! 

The 12 Days of Christmas: December 25 - January 5

The 12 Days have been celebrated in Europe since before the middle ages and were a time of celebration. The 12 Days each traditionally celebrate a feast day for a saint and/or have different celebrations:

  1. Day 1 (25th December): Christmas Day - celebrating the Birth of Jesus
  2. Day 2 (26th December also known as Boxing Day): St Stephen's Day. He was the first Christian martyr (someone who dies for their faith). It's also the day when the Christmas Carol 'Good King Wenceslas' takes place.
  3. Day 3 (27th December): St John the Apostle (One of Jesus's Disciples and friends)
  4. Day 4 (28th December): The Feast of the Holy Innocents - when people remember the baby boys which King Herod killed when he was trying to find and kill the Baby Jesus.
  5. Day 5 (29th December): St Thomas Becket. He was Archbishop of Canterbury in the 12th century and was murdered on 29th December 1170 for challenging the King's authority over Church.
  6. Day 6 (30th December): St Egwin of Worcester.
  7. Day 7 (31st December): New Years Eve (known as Hogmanay in Scotland). Pope Sylvester I is traditionally celebrated on this day. He was one of the earliest popes (in the 4th Century). In certain parts of the world, New Years Eve is still sometimes called 'Silvester'.
  8. Day 8 (1st January): 1st January - Feast of the Holy Name. This remembers when Jesus was officially 'named' in the Jewish Temple.
  9. Day 9 (2nd January): St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen, two important 4th century Christians.
  10. Day 10 (3rd January): St. Genevieve was born about the year 422, at Nanterre near Paris. The life of St. Genevieve was one of great austerity, constant prayer, and works of charity.
  11. Day 11 (4th January): St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American saint, who lived in the 18th and 19th centuries.
  12. Day 12 (5th January also known as Epiphany Eve): St. John Neumann who was the first Bishop in American. He lived in the 19th century.

St. Matthew's enjoyed two wonderful and beautiful celebrations over Christmas. On Christmas Eve, the church was filled with people - members of the church, guests, children, and family members of parishioners! We sang the Christmas Proclamation, blessed the Creche, enjoyed a wonderful extended Prelude by the Choir and Hand Bell Choir, heard the reading from the Prologue to John's Gospel, and sang Silent Night in the warm glow of candlelight.

On Christmas Day, we enjoyed an intimate setting with a smaller group, sang traditional Christmas hymns, and had a special candle lighting ceremony acknowledging that for many, the holidays can be hard and painful. The celebration ended with a rousing rendition of Go Tell It on the Mountain!

The church was beautifully appointed with greens and ribbons and candles and two Creche's and flowers and more! Thank you to Nancy who led the charge and to all who helped her with hanging things, putting trees in stands, setting up the Creches, and transforming the church from Advent to Christmastide!

Also, thank you all who generously donated money for flowers and altar decorations!!! Your generosity is greatly appreciated!

God's love to you all! Fr. Frank

December 21, 2016, 6:43 AM

A word at mid-week, 12/20

We are at mid-week and looking straight-on at the Yuletide Season!!!

All throughout Advent, we have been preparing our hearts and minds and souls to receive Christ into our lives in new and, perhaps, unexpected ways through the visions of the Prophet Isaiah. Like a plow that tills the ground making it ready to receive the seed, Isaiah has opened us up to see God's vision for what life and all creation is to be. And, this is not a static vision or God's holy wish for us. It is the reality that God continues to usher in through Jesus and through us.

God's purpose for us is to transform instruments of death and judgment and voices of hatred and bigotry and acts of destruction into implements of nourishment and subsistence and voices of advocacy and tolerance and acts of kindness and love. God's purpose for us is to live with hopeful abandon that new life and new energy can grow and flourish in places that appear dead or in circumstances that seem grim and bleak. God's purpose for us is to receive the promise of a child who's Spirit dwells in us and who is God-with-us - a God that we see within ourselves, a God who looks at us through the eyes of our souls, and a God who speaks wisdom in our hearts and minds. Let us continue to prepare ourselves to embrace such a wonderful gift! Please see my sermon, below.

It has been terrific to see such great participation this Advent when we, as a parish, joined together for "Go Blue for Advent" and "Go Rose for Rose Sunday." Events like these create such joy and energy in our worship and in our community!

The Adult Sunday School, "The Waiting" film series, evoked some powerful sharing and discussions among those in attendance. I am looking forward to resuming these Forums after the holidays. It would be great to see some more folks both from those who attend the 8am and 10:30am services to come together for these sessions. It is a good way to build fellowship together. So, grab your coffee, tea, water, or soda and join us at 9:15! 

Please invite friends, co-workers, family members, and neighbors to join us this Christmastide:

Christmas Eve: 8:00pm

This service will feature an extended prelude with the Choir, Hand Bell Choir, Hymn singing, and a violin solo! We will bless the Creche, have a special Children's Sermon, a Candlelight singing of Silent Night, and much more!

Christmas Day: 11:00am

This will be a joyous Christmas service and also include something special if the holidays are hard for you or someone you know. This service will feature a special litany for those struggling, grieving, or who are in any kind of pain for any reason.

The most important thing that Episcopalians do is worship together

I hope you will consider attending and participating in both of these services!

A special Thank You! to the Worship Committee and all who decorated the sanctuary weekly during Advent to create the themes of waiting and expecting. Seeing the streamers "grow" and the decorations become "more full" each week was beautiful. And, Thank You! also to those who stayed last Sunday to Green the Church and make it beautiful and inviting for Christmas. Please know of my gratitude for your loving service.

Finally, some have asked why I lay hands on people from time to time during Holy Communion. This is a practice that I have done since I've been ordained. I almost always do this with small children, however, there are instances when I am aware of something going on in a person's life and this is a way to offer a special prayer for them. On other occasions, I just have a pastoral "hunch" that someone could use an extra prayer or a touch of support. I am certain that there are many times when I do not know "what is going on inside a person" or don't have a "hunch" and so have not offered to lay hands on them. 

Please, if you would desire a special prayer or a bit of support with something you are going through, I am most happy to offer a prayer with you at the Communion Rail (or anytime, anywhere). I invite you to simply say "pray with me" and I will be glad to do so. It is one of the great honors and privileges to pray with you at anytime for any reason and especially at the "holy rail!"

God's love to you all!

Fr. Frank

December 14, 2016, 7:14 AM

A word at mid-week, 12/14

Greetings at mid-week everyone!

All through the Advent season, Isaiah has given us visions of what the world can be and - with God's promises - will be! With God's help, we are capable of transforming instruments of death into instruments of nourishment. We are capable of cultivating new life that will flower and grow into a mighty following from the stumps in our lives and in our communities. We are capable of seeing God in the unexpected, the vulnerable, and the often overlooked wonders right before our eyes - a child, born into a broken family, who has no place to lay his head, who surrounds himself with "the least of these" and who will lead not with the might of the sword, but with love and kindness and mercy beyond our comprehension. This is what we wait for, hope for, pray for, work for, and are prepared for during Advent.

Although the weather got colder and threatened snow, many of us gathered on the 3rd Sunday of Advent, all dressed in "rose" and celebrated Advent Lessons & Carols! The choir was magnificent, the atmosphere was warm and festive, and we enjoyed traditional fruit cakes and cookies from Flour De Lis at Coffee Hour! I love our Anglican heritage and liturgy that gives us a variety of ways to celebrate the Advent Season!

There are several items to which I want to draw your attention.

  1. ALL HANDS ON DECK for the Greening of the Church, this Sunday after the 10:30am service!
  2. The Annual Meeting will be held on Sunday, January 29, 2017. PLEASE SEE BELOW ABOUT PROPOSED CHANGES TO THE BY-LAWS. We will be voting on this proposal at the meeting.
  3. Music Director: plans are underway to interview a Candidate for the position of Music Director on Thursday, January 5. As we move through this discernment phase, please keep our music program in your prayers.
  4. Christmas Eve will be at 8:00pm. We will begin with music, hymns, anthems, and the Bell Choir for an extended prelude! Also, there will be a special Children's Sermon at the Christmas Eve service.
  5. Christmas Day services will be at 11:00am. This will be a regular Sunday Holy Eucharist with the addition of some special prayers of remembrance and hope for those who find the holidays difficult and painful.
  6. Angel Tree presents will be gathered this Sunday at church. We will bless all of the gifts at this service.
  7. Finally, "LET'S GO BLUE" for the last Sunday of Advent!

God's love to you all! Fr. Frank

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