Dear Friends,

"Do you know the Emmaus Story?"

For the past two Sundays we've had this question posed on signs at the entrances to church. Well, do you know it?

The story of two disciples meeting a stranger on their walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus is our parish "icon in words" for this year, chosen by our Vestry during a weekend of prayer. An icon is an image (or for us, story) through which we are helped to see God. And we've encapsulated the Emmaus Road with the words Walking together. Recognizing Jesus. Practicing resurrection.

And because it's an icon, our goal isn't just to know the story, but to find ourselves in the story. If you have 5 minutes, take a read through it at the link above, or in your Bibles at Luke 24:13-35. Notice that the "second disciple" on the road is not named. And also I find it marvelous that scholars aren't quite sure where Emmaus truly was. So perhaps that other disciple is you. And perhaps you or I are on the Emmaus Road today, and might break bread with Jesus in that town this very evening.

Where are you in the Emmaus Story?

All this year we'll we quietly asking this question and sharing what we notice in ourselves and our community; in meetings, in worship, in conversation, and in service.

Where are you Walking Together, Recognizing Jesus, or Practicing Resurrection?

This Sunday we will worship with our Christian siblings at First Church, United Church of Christ. I expect that, gathered for communion and the Word, we may experience all three, in fact. But it's so much more fun in specifics, and those only come alive in the living of them. I hope you can be there and would love to hear what you experience. I hope you have been or can come to our Sunday morning formation in which people are naming these moments in their life. I hope you might drop into our upcoming Advent study. Or speak up during one of our "Enacted Gospel" reflection times. Or (*gasp*) notice Holy Companionship, Christ's Presence, and Resurrection right out in your daily life, and come running back to share it with your Christian family.

Watching the world through this specific lens, together, gives us common language for experiences of the Holy that sometimes slip by unremarked, uncelebrated. This year, we celebrate! This year, we're walking to Emmaus.

In Love,

Reed

Dear Friends,

This week as we anticipate the celebration of Veterans Day, which is also Armistice Day, I pass along this message from the New Hampshire Council of Churches and NH Veterans for Peace. This Sunday, along with many others, we will ring the bells. Thank you to all who have served our country in the armed forces, placing your own bodies and spirits in harms way, for your neighbors.

In hope of that peace of Christ, which astounds even the world's greatest imagination,

Reed

"2018 is the 100th anniversary of end of World War I (Armistice). In 1918, church bells rang around the world, 11 times at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Then a movement followed that called for THE WAR TO END ALL WARS to be truly that. It is time to ring the bells again.


NH Veterans for Peace and the NH Council of Churches ask congregations to ring their church bells on Sunday, November 11, 2018 and to read this below. This action will reflect our faith in the Prince of Peace who calls us not to "learn war any more" (Micah 4:3).
The Armistice of 1918 ended the horrendous slaughter of World War I, called THE WAR TO END ALL WARS. When the Armistice was signed, exuberant JOY broke out around the world. For many years bells rang 11 times at that 11th hour of the 11th day on the 11th month. Then it slowly faded away, especially in the U.S.
Now we ring bells again, many bells, many places, 11 times, at that sacred moment. With a moment of silence, we remember the soldiers and civilians killed in warfare in every country, and we commit to work and pray for peace until this assault on the Will of the Creator of us all, is finally over."

Our father Abba John said, 'The saints resemble the trees of paradise laden with the fruits of life which, in their glory and the blessings they give, are of many kinds, through the saving spring of the Holy Spirit, which waters them all'.

-From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers

Dear Friends,

Happy All Saints Day! Today we celebrate the faithful saints of God, living and dead. This feast is such a big deal to the church that we even get to "transfer" it to Sunday so that we can all celebrate it together on our primary day of worship.

We raise our hearts and spirits to remember today and Sunday the saints who have gone before us, laden with the fruit of the Holy Spirit. And also we raise our eyes to recognize ourselves as among this same "cloud of witnesses." We too are saints of God. We too are laden with fruit. Will we let ourselves acknowledge that?

When you look at yourself...in your mind, in the mirror, through the eyes of another person...do you know how laden with the fruit of the Holy Spirit you are? Do you see the blessings you bear? The blessings that your church, family, and neighbors are so thankful for?

Perhaps I have written this to you before, but it bears remembering again that the first words of the Father to the Son at his baptism were, "You are my beloved, with you I am well pleased." That is the same Father who looks upon each of us, and sees us as saints; beloved, pleasing. What is your favorite fruit among all those "many kinds" you bear? Which of your gifts do you know best and love most?

...Amen!

In a related expression of gratitude and fruitfulness, we had our "Consecration Sunday" offering of pledges this past Sunday, and I would be remiss if I did not share a celebration of that harvest as well. We had a joyful service blessed by the words of guest preacher the Rev. Colin Chapman from Londonderry, and then feasted in the Great Hall.

When the numbers we tabulated and announced, we heard that half of those who pledged last year had been present that very day to pledge again, and 90% had raised their pledge. And we had 5 brand new pledges. And most of all, my heart was moved by the spirit in the room when those figures were announced, because it seemed to me that people were happy to hear the numbers, but that the numbers were just icing on the cake after the gratitude-feast we'd all enjoyed together. Amen again!

We are, of course, still hoping to gather in many more gratitude-gifts from all who couldn't be here in person Sunday, to embody and enrich our Gospel life through St. Andrew's. But truly, the source of these gifts is remembering, on this All Saints Day, and every day, that we ourselves are laden with the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Beloved personally. Saints of God.

In Love,

Reed

Dear Friends,

When you come to worship this week, have a look upwards to see something new!

Thank you to our Vestry, Buildings & Grounds Committee and Sexton Eric, who have put in lots of good work in contracting for the installation of a new "50 year" roof over all our buildings (besides the worship space, which was done a couple years ago!). I look forward to all the unimpeded-by-weather ministry that this (hopefully!) longtime roof will release us to focus on. And of course, huge thanks to the many roofers who have been swarming over our building this week to complete the job.

Finally we give thank to those who came before us and offered up gifts of money for just such  purposes as this. Our new roof has been funded through the Rachel Johnson and Lucia Ewing Funds.

All this abundant thanksgiving is especially appropriate as we anticipate our "Consecration Sunday" Worship (10 AM only) and Celebration Luncheon on the 28th. We'll be literally covered by the blessings of God!

In these final days before we gather in our gratitude pledges for 2019, may your heart rejoice in all God has given you, and may you know yourself beloved and covered over by God's embrace. That embrace and protection is the last word stronger than all our "leaky roof" days. You've reminded me of this in a dozen ways just this week in your own words and actions. It's a joy to be getting re-rooved with you!

In Gratitude,

Reed