Dear Friends,

In this busy week in the life of St. Andrew's, I pass along a wonder-making story from the Desert Fathers. It is an Easter story, a parable, a puzzle for the critical mind, and a story about how the Easter sustenance stays with us beyond that single day, "Easter".

Saint Apollo was living in a cave in the mountain with five brothers. He had recently come from the desert and there were his first disciples. Easter came, and when they had finished giving worship to God they ate whatever they happened to have. There were a few dry loaves and some pickled vegetables. Then Apollo said to them, 'If we have faith, my children, and are true sons of Christ, let each of us ask of God what he desires to eat'. ...He therefore prayed with a radiant face and they all said 'Amen'.

At once in the night a number of men arrived aat the cave, complete strangers to them, who said that they had traveled a long distance. They were carrying things that the brothers had not even heard of before, things that do not grow in Egypt: fruits of paradise of every kind, and grapes and pomegrantes and figs and walnuts, all procured out of season, and honeycombs, and a pitcher of fresh milk, and giant dates, and white loaves still warm although brought to them from a foreign country. The men who brought these things delivered them simply with the message that they had been sent by a rich magnate, and immediately departed in a hurry. The brothers partook of these provisions until Pentecost and satisgied their hunger with them, so that they wondered and said, 'Truly these were sent by God'.

What have you asked of God this Easter? What has shown up in your life beyond the pickled vegetables you had in your spiritual pantry leading up to Easter? Anything you hadn't even heard of before? Have you eaten through the bounty yet? (We're not quite to Pentecost!)

In Holy Curiosity,

Reed

Dear Friends,

Some of you may remember a sermon I preached last year about "Getting our practice" in standing up for our neighbors. I let you know at that time that I was participating in the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.

The PPC gathered for education, training, hearing from the poor of New Hampshire and sharing from each of our experiences. The target of our work was the "Interlocking Evils", as MLK called them, of Systemic Poverty, Systemic Racism, the War Economy, and Ecological Devastation. 43% percent of Americans are poor or low income, and suffer disproportionately from each of these evils. That's a lot to recon with, which is why we brought together people from all sorts of groups, to form a broad coalition. For six weeks, we marched in 36 states and in Washington D.C. Our tactics included rallies with prayer, song, and storytelling. We marched and held teach-ins and symbolic actions. Sometimes, for those trained and ready, this included civil disobedience.

I was arrested on the day when we focused on the War Economy, as we held a teach-in in the State House Hall of Flags. When asked to leave at closing time, eight of us, who had prepared ahead of time, persisted. Two weeks ago we had our final day in court and were found guilty of trespass. We each made a statement to the court about why we had chosen to risk this outcome. My own statement is linked above if you click on the video. The statements of my colleagues in disobedience can be found alongside my own on Facebook.

I want you to know that it was good practice.

Our voice of solidarity was heard by the poor. Our voice of challenge and encouragement was heard by those who have the power to alleviate poverty. I learned about the tactics of civil disobedience as part of social justice work. I learned about the court system. I gained a sharpened sense of when and how I might take these actions again. I learned about myself, and how to name and hold my center in a moment when what was "allowed" and what was "right" weren't fully aligned.

I wouldn't do things the same way again, but when would I ever! The problem is a familiar one in life; that until you try something, you don't know how you should have done it to begin with. So "Go", Jesus says. And if you go towards your poor neighbor, your marginalized neighbor, your bullied neighbor, your sick neighbor, you will be headed in the right direction as you stumble your way into understanding.

It was good to practice alongside those of you who marched also, and to practice with those of you who asked, "why?" or said, "I wish you wouldn't." I pray that all this will contribute to God's glorification on earth, and to the lifting up of those among us who suffer, often at the hands of systems that we ourselves have created and perpetuated. Lord have mercy. Lord open our eyes. Lord guide our feet.

In Peace,

Reed

Dear Friends,

Our 'Star Magnolia' is blooming, and I didn't want anyone to miss it! Even with the rain it has stayed beautiful for over a week, gracing the back corner of our Memorial Garden.

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You may notice that our ‘E-news’ is also blooming. Special thanks to Kim, our new Administrative Assistant, for our updated theme and layout! Our Vestry has recognized the need to through the doors open again on all our life-giving ministries, so we’re updating the enews, we’re updating the website, and we’re looking forward to a new ministry board in the Great Hall and new signage and imagery around the church.

Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near.”  -Luke 21:29-31

Our hope is to make every St. Andrew’s “entryway” a faithful sign of how the kingdom of God is truly coming near in our worship and ministries. Whenever I see our magnolia tree, I just have to pause for a minute and wonder at its beauty. I know people sometimes feel the same seeing our hospitality to a homeless family, or the artwork of our children’s camp, or during a hymn at Communion.

How can our beauty be visible from the roadside? How can our song be heard from across town? How can our hospitality be felt by every neighbor in need?

If an idea springs to your mind, would you send it along?

There are a lot of people searching for the way we live at St. Andrew’s. And a lot of people I’d like to learn from, who haven’t walked through our door yet.

In Peace,

Reed


Dear Friends,

When 10 of our young members gathered last Spring for Confirmation preparation, I spoke to them using a metaphor that Saint Paul was fond of; that training in the Body of Christ is like training as an athlete. For a team to be satisfying, everyone commits together to common practice times. There are ways you live individually outside of practice in order to bring your best self to the team; eating healthy, getting good sleep. There may be additional training opportunities to give you a boost; sports camp, off-season pickup leagues.

The Confirmands really took this to heart, and it made their journey together rich.

Drawing inspiration from Saint Paul, and from our own saints who were confirmed last Easter season, I invite you, on behalf of the diocese, to two "special training sessions" for Christian disciples in New Hampshire.  

I know so well that your lives are, like mine, full! And so I invite you out of confidence that each of these "training sessions" is a valuable chance to go deeper in your walk with God in a way that's distinct from Sunday morning "team practice".    

The first is Revival: Reimagined, May 4 at Windham Middle School. Organized by the people of St. Christopher's, Hampstead and St. Peter's, Londonderry, it features speaker the Rev. Dr. Patricia Lyons, who is the dynamic Missioner for Evangelism and Community Engagement in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. She is as at home with the gospels as she is with the canons of Harry Potter or Star Wars. Revival: Reimagined is a holy, experimental offering that will include afternoon workshops on telling stories about faith, followed by (free) dinner and a celebration Eucharist. It would be a wonderful event (particularly the dinner & Eucharist) to invite church-curious neighbors and friends to attend. Tickets are free and available HERE.

Every time I attend a Christian conference, the best part, all attendees agree, is the reviving spirit of our (usually "alternative style") worship. This event makes revival the main event!   

The second upcoming opportunity for getting in a "special session" in your Christian growth is Spring Renewal. Spring Renewal will be held on May 11 at Manchester Community College. Spring Renewal will offer workshops in three blocks - Renew, Revitalize and Reconcile - that lead us along the Way of Love. There will be live worship and a ministry fair. Come to Spring Renewal to be encouraged in your faith and equipped in your ministry. Keynote speaker, the Rev. Jay Sidebotham, priest, cartoonist, and founder of RenewalWorks (which St. Andrew's will be jumping into in the Fall...more on that to come), will share how the renewal work of the Episcopal Church of New Hampshire is connected to the church-wide Way of Love. I'm hopeful that with a number of us will going, we'll experience multiple of the sumptuous and diverse workshops. Workshop descriptions and Spring Renewal registration can be found HERE. 

Teaser: Our own Lucy Crichton and Anne McCausland are each leading workshops! 

If I go too long without eating a hearty serving of greens, or too long without some activity that gets my heart rate up, my body always lets me know...if I'll listen to its quiet signals and cravings.  

If you listen in to the quiet cravings of your spirit for a minute, what is it asking for? Would either of these workouts hit the spot?  If so, I hope you'll be bold and come along.  

I'm all signed up for these two events, and I hope I'll see you there! Now, thanks to my little check-in with my body, I'm off for a couple laps of my own around the yard!  

Training for the Kingdom,
Reed