Be careful: If you come here, you will grow!
St. Philip’s Episcopal Church
A note from the Rev. Michael A. Bullock
Taken seriously, it takes effort to ignore or avoid the hard edges contained in the season of Advent. Especially when our expectation of Advent is limited to a “merry” Christmas preparation, the message of these early Advent days can be disappointing and – more to the point — downright off-putting. An example of this came this past Sunday, Advent 1. When most of us were still marking Thanksgiving and even “cheating” a bit with Christmas decorations, the gospel reading for the day came from Mark. Rife with upsetting (certainly confusing) images of familiar things falling apart, who could be blamed for preferring another televised football game or even putting up the tree? Yet, if we can withstand the urge to be distracted from Mark’s hard landscape, we might discover a very pertinent message of hope in hard times.
First, let me say as clearly as I can that the images of familiar things falling apart (Mark’s gospel “code” speaks of things like a “darkened sun”, “stars falling from the heavens”, and the consequential “suffering” that these events portend) – these do not refer to the “end of time”. Rather (and more seriously), these events speak about the challenge to live faithfully when all “hell” breaks loose in our lives. We understandably hate it when our plans, expectations, even our hopes are dashed and events threaten to undo us (things like losing a loved one or a job or one’s health or simply enduring pandemic restrictions). Losing what is familiar and deeply important to us always feels like “the end”, and under such duress it is easy for us to panic and lose our way. Yet, what the beginning of the Advent season first raises for us is this rivetingly concrete question: In such times of trial, what place does our faith in God hold? READ MORE
Looking Ahead to Advent and Christmas at St. Philip’s
With the Sunday after Thanksgiving Day being the start of a new Christian liturgical year and the beginning of the Season of Advent, and with all the challenges we have faced as a community of faith during this time of separation and trial, it seems even more important than usual to announce what we will do at St. Philip’s to mark the time and to be strengthened by the experiences.
Unfortunately, we will not be able to meet for in-person worship; but we will continue to live-stream our liturgical life. (In this vein, we will be asking Santa for a laptop computer, which our technical elves have assured us will greatly help in the sound and picture reliability of what we broadcast! What a gift this would be! Santa, are you listening?) Nonetheless, we intend – as best we can — to offer the richness and loveliness of Advent and Christmas and invite you to join us as best you can.
1. WE WILL HAVE CHRISTMAS EVE AND CHRISTMAS DAY WORSHIP SERVICES. They will be live-streamed on our facebook channel and also available on phone audio for those without internet access. Moreover, we have decided that the Christmas Eve liturgy will be a Communion service. While actual on-site distribution of the Sacrament will be limited to the four individuals providing the liturgy’s leadership, our intention is to create a sign-up sheet to identify those who may desire home Communion from the service. We are even working on the possibility of distributing Communion after the service, outside the church to those who can come by and receive. The logistics of this are challenging and still very much in the works; but at the very least we intend to bring Communion to those who cannot get out. But sign-ups are essential for being able to do this. So please keep an eagle eye out for more on the procedure and the sign-up in the weeks to come.
2. ADVENT WEDNESDAYS: QUIET EVENINGS: In the past few years, we have offered several quiet Wednesday evenings in the church for Advent reflection and prayer. This year, in lieu of Compline on Wednesdays (on three successive Wednesdays (12/2, 12/9, 12/16)), we will live-stream a similar experience, combining music, readings, reflection, and prayer – all in the context of Advent’s strengthening quiet anticipation
3. FAMILY STORY TIME: Continuing a “small “t” tradition among us, we will mark the season of Advent with three story opportunities, which are designed for CHILDREN of ALL ages and families of ALL sizes. On three consecutive Saturdays and in lieu of Compline on those days (12/5, 12/12, 12/19), we will gather via zoom to remember the richness of this season’s great anticipatory time. The first Story Time will be in honor of St. Nicholas. The second Story Time will recall what used to be the longest night of the year and the tradition of St. Lucy. The third Story Time will be to read the famous story written by a nineteenth century, Episcopal, seminary professor: “The Night Before Christmas” and perhaps the sharing of another seasonal insight!
4. CAROLING ON THE CHURCH LAWN: Can we do it? With social distancing, etc., we would like a group of 25 or less to gather at St. Philip’s front lawn for thirty minutes to sing the carols we all love so well and would otherwise miss this year. Dusk is the time (a more precise date and time will be given at a later communication). We will provide the carol verses; you bring a mask, a lantern or light and your much-missed presence. It will be good for us to have this quick and safe gathering of the community and also visibly to demonstrate to the Main Street throngs passing by that we are still in business!
Sunday Lectionary Study is at 8:45 a.m.
and Coffee Hour follows the service on Zoom
USE THIS ZOOM LINK
Meeting ID: 845 1770 3924 / Password: 270862
To Join by Telephone
Our plan is to celebrate Holy Communion at the Christmas Eve liturgy. Remotely broadcast with only the five liturgical leaders present in the church, Deacon Jason and I have the intention of bringing Communion to the homes that request such a visitation. In order to organize the logistics of this, we need to know specific requests ahead of time. Please contact the office either by phone [413-527-0862] or by email [Office@stphilipseasthampton.org] to place your name on the sign-up list. Also, please include your name, address, phone number, and the number of people to receive.
Communion will be offered, according to the Prayer Book form: “Communion under Special Circumstances” [BCP., p. 396ff], with special content for Christmas. Consecrated bread will be individually sealed, one per person, and pandemic protocols will be employed in these brief visits.
Questions or comments may be directed to Fr. Michael [FrMichael@stphilipseasthampton.org].
A December Christmas Toy and Food Distribution
will take place on Saturday (12/12) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sponsored by the City of Easthampton and St. Philip’s food ministry partner, Pioneer Valley Power Pack, Christmas presents and our monthly food distribution to school-age children in Easthampton will take place in the St. Philip’s parking lot. Interested parish volunteers for the PVPP food distribution should contact Clare Boyd [firstname.lastname@example.org].
As with everything this year, 2020 has been somewhat of a challenge, but not an insurmountable one. For the last few years St Philips has had a Christmas Giving Tree requesting donations of children’s pajamas and socks for the Easthampton Community Center. We would like to continue with that tradition this year with a different twist. So many parents have either lost employment or have had their hours significantly decreased making the need much greater. In past years our parish has donated 56 pairs of pjs and socks. If you are interested in participating in this much needed ministry, please contact me at email@example.com and I will assign you a size or sizes to purchase. Jan Davis and I have come up with a few ways to make this a little easier.
Unwrapped donations can be dropped off at the Davis’ home any time during the day, where a container marked ‘St Philips’ will be placed outside of the garage. If you wish to buy on-line you can have the donation shipped to either Jan or myself. Thirdly, if you are unable to drop off the donations or are unable to have the donations shipped, I will be happy to pick it up at your house.
Joe and I will bring the collected donations to the Community Center the week of December 14th.
170 Park St.
Easthampton, MA 01027
58 Gilbert Rd.
Southampton, MA 01073
If you decide to have the donations delivered, please email or call whoever you have shipped it to so that we will be sure to watch for the delivery.
Thank you to all and God Bless you,
• You can watch his address here: https://vimeo.com/476522574
• Or, you can read it here: https://files.constantcontact.com/bf18a9ba001/14d83646-52ed-4f42-b189-7f8588735125.pdf
We also voted on a motion to admit the Hispanic Ministry of Worcester into union with the convention as a new mission of the diocese. This motion was passed unanimously. To find out more about the Hispanic Ministry mission, you can watch this video: https://vimeo.com/475255801
Another exciting (and welcome) regarded Technology Reimbursement Grants from the diocese to congregations. These reimbursement grants, up to $2000, support congregations as they expand into digital ministry by creating online alternatives for sharing in worship during the pandemic.
Last but not least, we were excited to hear about the Good News Gardens movement coming to our diocese. This program is intended to help Episcopal churches and their members put Christ’s love into practice by: growing and giving healthy food; reflecting on connections between scripture, faith, food, and gardening; and learning about and influencing food systems and policies that affect society as a whole.
• You can find out more information here: https://episcopalchurch.org/good-news-gardens
• One church that is doing this already is Grace Church in the Berkshires, so you can find out more by visiting their Gideon’s Garden https://graceberkshires.org/gideons-garden/
THE ANNUAL CANVASS TO SUPPORT THE 2021 PARISH BUDGET is set to conclude. Thanks to all those who have sent in their 2021 financial commitment to the life, ministry, and mission of St. Philip’s. Senior Warden, Bonnie Katusich, and the Vestry would like to wrap-up this asking period so that an operating budget for next year can be adopted. If there are any questions or concerns about making a pledge, please speak with Bonnie or Fr. Michael.
Read the complete News of the Week HERE