February 2020 Bishop’s message

 

Feb. 1, 2020

Dear Beloved in Christ:

Greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

A few weeks ago, 16 youth and eight adults returned from India, having taken part in the Mission of Peace sponsored by the Northeastern Jurisdictional Youth Ministries.

These annual pilgrimages were born out of the vision cast by the late Bishop C. Dale White.

Two of the participants on the most recent Mission of Peace are from our Conference. I am thankful to all who supported, encouraged, and helped these youth and made this pilgrimage possible for them.

As I read reflections written by the youth and adults on this Mission of Peace to India, one theme stuck out: their experience of “radical hospitality” that was above and beyond what they’ve experienced elsewhere.

We have been talking about the need to practice hospitality in our churches for more than a decade. What did these youth, who are active in our churches, find that made it so new and different from what we’ve been practicing? What is missing in our churches?

I asked my colleagues on the Episcopal Team to read their statements and offer their thoughts. Discerning all our reflections, I realized when our youth talk about their understanding of radical hospitality in the context of their experience in India (where they met leaders and people of all faiths and visited homes and various institutions), they mean something more than welcoming a person into your home or church and feeding them. Radical hospitality for them is about genuinely wanting to be with someone and sharing yourself and your valuable time.

Let me share comments by my colleagues:

These young people experienced a hospitality that they had not experienced before … and so they called it “radical.” I suspect the ordinary treatment of guests that the Indian people were extending came from their tradition and out of true respect for the “other.” No one is a stranger if you recognize the divinity in each one. So, to be welcomed, even on the street by a stranger, with “Namaste,” was overwhelming to kids who have a hard time belonging in the U.S. culture that excludes and forces people to prove their worth.

They experienced hospitality in the form of gifts: roses, plaques, meals, and lots of tea … but what seemed to matter even more was the gift of TIME. Important, busy people, religious leaders, medical professionals, government officials…they stopped what they were doing to give attention, to listen, to share in conversation, to eat and drink, often in their own homes (however humble), to invest in a relationship even if the meeting would only be short-lived.

They were especially moved by those from other faith traditions who took this time and valued and respected them from across differences. They recognized that their needs and comfort were prioritized above the needs and comfort of their hosts. They wondered (and doubted) if such hospitality were possible among our Christian communities of faith in the US. And they witnessed this gift of hospitality shown among the Indian people… care offered to the outcast, the poor, the sick, despite their ability to compensate. Because of the fine facilitation and theological framing of the Mission of Peace, young people are now articulating this gift of radical hospitality as “a reflection of God’s love and grace through the people who show it.”

Among the reflections of the youth was a challenge: “…I challenge everyone here to take this radical hospitality back home and show it to people we know and don’t know in the way it was shown to us here in India. For that is the way shalom and peace is truly found in this world full of hate and greed for if you cannot show hospitality to those around you, how do you expect the world to finally be free of the bondage of hate.”

Another offered, “I can only hope that if a group of foreign high schoolers ever comes to one of our home churches, we’d be able to reflect the radical hospitality we’ve been shown here…”

It is my hope and prayer that as people of God we take time to examine our own understanding of radical hospitality.

These youth challenge us to ask ourselves: When we are volunteering at our church’s soup kitchen, food cupboard, or fund-raising dinner, do we take time to talk and build relationships with those who come through our doors?

I understand time is important. Are we willing to give some of what is so valuable so we can really talk to a stranger and, more importantly, listen to their needs, pains, and concerns?

May God grant us the power, grace, and love to prayerfully reflect on these questions.

In Christ’s love,


Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar


 

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Rolling Ridge Taize

For Christians, Advent and Lent are typically seasons of spiritual preparation.  For years, Rolling Ridge has offered an Advent Quiet Day to prepare hearts for Christmas with a core of regulars who find rest amid the holiday hustle and bustle.  Last year, we offered our first Taizé Lenten Retreat, and were so blessed by the turn-out and the positive feedback we received in preparing spirits for Holy Week and Easter.
With Lent just around the corner (Ash Wednesday is February 26th), we invite you to journey with us to the cross at our second annual Taizé Lenten Retreat from Sunday, March 1st to Monday, March 2nd.  Whether you come for the full overnight retreat, or just for one day, your heart will find that place of quiet as you sit in the stillness, walk in the woods, or read in the glow of the fireplace.  Taizé-style worship will frame the retreat, with Rolling Ridge Director, Lawrence Jay, facilitating the time of reflection and silence, and Danny Smith and Mark Bayer-Larson leading music.
With so much noise going on around us, we encourage you to unplug and find a spiritual place of peace with Christ this lenten season as you journey with us to the cross and prepare for Easter.
  
We also invite you to check out all the Day Apart Retreats we have scheduled this winter and spring.  With over 26 events on the calendar this season, there is bound to be something that calls you to come away from the busyness to find rest for your soul at Rolling Ridge.
Rolling Ridge is awakening hearts to God and transforming communities with love.  Come, connect, and discover the spiritual difference. 

660 Great Pond Rd. North Andover, MA 01845
Phone: (978) 682-8815 Fax: (978) 681-1162 Em

November 26 Italian Night

Tom Ruimerman once more produced the grand finale to the Pizza Night season. (People always look awkward eating..my apologies)..but there were 4 tables of  happy eaters.DSCF0421November 26 BNovember 26 AMany thanks to Julie Flanders for fetching pizza from Rocco’s in her nifty red insulated bag for the past many Tuesdays.

Onward to 5:30 pm Tuesday “Community Suppers”.  From soup to Leg of Lamb…

(stay tuned)

The Widow and the bad Judge 10/20/19

Today’s reading from the Holy Scriptures tells of the unjust Judge. As the Parable goes there was a judge who answered only to himself, couldn’t give a rip about spiritual things and worst still did not care one hoot about or for the poor widow. Mosaic Law prescribed that the husband’s immediate family and the community of faith were primarily responsible for widows. This notion would not have been lost on Jesus’ audience that she had no one – family or faith community. The point is there was only one person on earth who could help her — the judge. The parable suggests that if even this notorious unjust Judge ended up giving the woman justice how much more would God the merciful do for those who keep asking. Remember that our God is God even of the unjust Judge and God can change the minds and attitudes of the unjust in our world.

The widow knew that this Judge was her only earthly hope, so she prattled on and on, daily waiting for the judge to arrive at his office in the morning, daily being the last face he saw as he left for his comfortable home in the evening. Her persistence in prayerfully dealing with the unjust Judge won in the end, he gave her justice. The point Jesus made was, “we must prayerfully persevere in dealing with the ungodly world and in the end we will come to know God’s justice.”

What a powerful word this is for us in a society that wants everything to come our way easily. At the first inkling of things not going our way we throw in the towel. We do not want to hear any other view but our own. We lock ourselves in silos and thus there is no cross fertilizing of ideas and actions, no holy conversations and God directed comprises. The result is that we grow progressively impoverished in character and spirituality. This is how it is in politics and this is how it is in the many church. The parable speaks loudly to us, it is time to prayerfully persevere.

Faith, patience, hope and openness be yours!

Ernest Belisle (Pastor)

Sept.22,2019 Parable of the Shrewd Manager

This introduction to the worship service gives a broad outline of the sermon themes.

Chilmark Community Church

9 Menemsha Crossroad, Chilmark, MA

Sunday, September 22, 2019

The Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Worship Service of Praise & Thanksgiving

Rev. Ernest Belisle, Pastor

Thought for the week:

“We live in a cheating culture, one that encourages us to focus on earthly wealth, short-term profits and worldly commissions.” What about you?

(Homiletics 9-19-04) 2

A Special WELCOME to

Chilmark Community Church!

We trust that you will be inspired by this morning’s worship service and pray that it will bring you some amount of spiritual renewal. Today’s Lectionary Reading (St. Luke 16), “the parable of the shrewd manager” (vv. 1-8a) is associated with present material wealth and future relationships (vv. 10-13).

Was the manager dishonest? At first glance it sounds like he was a card-carrying member of the cheating culture – he was charged with squandering his master’s property, and was given his marching orders – “You’re fired!”

“What will I do,” the so call shady manager asked himself, “now that my master is firing me?” He came up with a plan. In order to guarantee that he would have a safe place to land after his present job, he summoned the master’s debtors and gave them some wonderfully deep discounts. To one who owed 100 jugs of oil, he said “make that just 50.” To the other who owed 100 containers of wheat, he said, “You’re in luck – your bill is now 80!” The whole thing sounds pretty unethical and it seems as if he were running the risk of being thrown in the slammer for stealing. But the master’s reaction sounds rather odd. The master “commended the dishonest manager because he acted shrewdly,” which is an unlikely response from a man who has just lost fifty jugs of olive oil and twenty containers of wheat. The Liars’ Club

The parable teaches that the shrewd manager (steward) was willing to sacrifice short-term earnings for long-term security. Many Bible scholars believe that the manager was simply cutting out his own commission. The hundred jugs of olive oil could be broken down into fifty for the master, and fifty for the manager. 3

That explains why the master (God) was not angry. The manager was simply eliminating his own commission, knowing that he would benefit long-term from having a place to stay once he was out of work. At this level the parable is about “make friends for the future”(Luke 16:9). Its focus is on preparing for the next life after the present which was swiftly coming to an end. It is more about securing heavenly riches than about enjoying earthly gain.

May God bless you richly as we worship together!

Pastor Ernest

August 23, 2019 Union Chapel

Union Chapel 1Many familiar faces at the reading of the new script of 1854 (no longer an opera).  Front and center was Pastor Ernest Belisle as Frederick Douglas.  The Slave Song Choir with Chilmark members Corrie Stone and Lorna Andrade.  Lorna also was instrumental in the entire production.  Claire Ganz played a child.  Phil Dietterick accompanied the choir and played a great introduction on the organ.  Joe Keinan ( a sailor) and Kate Taylor (a women’s suffragette) each sang an unaccompanied solo.

D.S. Foster July greeting

Subject: Interesting quote from “God Moments: A Year in the Word”
Greetings! – I’m reading “God Moments: A Year in the Word” by The writers of Encouraging.com and wanted to share this quote with you.
“July 1 Who is the Boss of You? There is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.—1 Corinthians 8:6b

I have a nephew named Austin. He has always seemed like a little man instead of a little boy. His mannerisms are far more adult than childlike. Of twelve grandchildren in our family, Austin is the tenth. When we gathered as a family, the girls made great babysitters as the adults visited and prepared food. Later, the older boys began to also look after the younger ones. Out of the twelve grandchildren, nine of them were older than Austin and had at one time or another tried to exercise some authority over him. One day he came into the kitchen with a very disgruntled look on his face and announced to his mother and aunts, “I’m tired of everybody being the boss of me.” We all looked at him as he pointed to his chest with his forefinger and said, “I want to be the boss of me!” This makes for a fun story, but isn’t it a picture of how we can be as Christians sometimes? We accept Jesus as Savior. We say we want Him to be Lord of our lives. But so often we don’t let Him be Lord. Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18). It’s not a popular line of thinking today, nor very politically correct, to submit to authority of any kind. The concept of independence, doing your own thing, coloring outside the lines, seems to have taken over. But scripture teaches that it is good and necessary to submit to the authority of Jesus Christ. It brings order and protection. Most of all, it brings God’s richest blessings. Who is in control of your life…your work…your schedule…your priorities…your family…your decisions? Who is the boss of you?”
Start reading this book for free: http://a.co/8xWBiTz
Blessings upon your day!

 

“There be giants in the land” by Vicky Hanjian

“There be giants in the land…”

Numbers 13:1-3a;17-33

Matthew 28:5-10

Chilmark Community Church

June 30, 2019

Perception is a really curious human phenomenon. There is the old cliché observation that if four people witness an automobile accident, there will be four different descriptions of what happened – each person believing that they saw accurately. Moses sent 12 men, representing each of the 12 tribes out into Canaan to scout out the land and bring back a report about what they found.   

They were supposed observe whether the land was good, what kind of people lived there, whether there were settlements?  Or were there armed fortresses? Moses asked them to bring back some produce so he could see what the land produced – whether it was fertile or not.  It is clear that this was not an espionage assignment – too many men were going and Moses would not have risked losing so many leaders in a spy operation.  It seemed like a prudent thing to do – to scout things out before making a huge leap into the unknown.

The men returned with mixed perceptions about what they saw.

The majority report, on their return, was full of dire warnings – “Yes – – the land IS flowing with milk and honey and look at the fruit we brought back – – it takes two men to carry the bunches of grapes we found.  BUT the people who live there are strong and the towns are big and fortified – and we saw giants there.” 

Their report instilled fear in the people when they heard it -and they took up their 40 year long chant – “we would have been better off back in Egypt” – -“it would be better for us if we had died there or at least if we had died in the wilderness.”  It seemed as though they had learned nothing from their 40 years of sojourning with God and Moses.  At the slightest provocation, their fear took over and they yearned for the security of the good old days which weren’t that great, but which were familiar and predictable.

As a church community, Chilmark Community Church is on the brink of yet another “crossing into Canaan ” – – into a land that God will show you on the other side of July 1st.    Next week, you will welcome a new pastor who will lead you in new and unfamiliar ways.  Most likely you will spend a period of time adjusting to one another, discovering which expectations are realistic and which ones need to be moderated.  There may well be a lot of mixed perceptions as part of your conversations as you begin a new life with a new minister. 

I have no doubt that you will be the welcoming congregation you have always been as you and Ernest Belisle find your way together into being God’s people in a new land of relationships.

But that does not make the transition easy.  There seems to be  an unspoken, unwritten  expectation, I think, that churches will be able to weather the anxiety and stress of  changes in leadership gracefully and without a lot of questions about what comes next. In the Methodist tradition, congregations are asked  to place a lot of trust in the “scouting party” – the SPRC – and in the District Superintendent.  It is actually quite natural to wonder about the giants in the land.

Among the men who returned from the scouting party there was also a minority report from Caleb and Joshua – they stood up in the community and  said  -“Hey -wait a minute – -“The land through which we passed to scout, the land is very, very good.  “If the Lord favors us, He will bring us to this land and give it to us, a land that is flowing with milk and honey.  And there is this curious admonition:

“…. do not rebel against the Lord… do not fear the people of the land, for they are our bread, their shade has turned from them and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them.

The Hebrew is translated in a number of ways – the idea is that “these possible enemies are like our bread -we will consume them”   In the desert regions where the story takes place shade was scarce and it was sought out as protection for both humans and animals in the heat of the day.  Joshua and Caleb report that whatever protection the perceived enemies enjoyed has disappeared.  Joshua and Caleb had a different perception of the possibilities in Canaan.  They were ready to move forward into the land.

While some of the scouts felt like powerless grasshoppers in the face of the giants they perceived, Joshua and Caleb saw possibility in the place where God was leading them.

On the threshold of any transition, there may be appear to be giants in the land – – sometimes they come in the form of  unvoiced anxieties that come with another substantial change in the life of the Chilmark Church.

And even though the report of your “scouting party” has come back in a pretty positive way, there may still be a   chorus of anxious inner whispers that ask “How will things change?” “What will be different?” “What if we don’t get along?” “What if they don’t like the parsonage?”  “What if the island is too rural?” “What if he picks hymns we don’t like?” “What if we don’t understand each other?” “What if he doesn’t love us?” “What if….?  What If…?” “What if…”  Giants in the land.

As we reflected on what  a new appointment might mean for Ernest and his family, we thought that perhaps they might be having the same inner wonderings about the giants they might encounter when they get to the Vineyard – “Will we and the congregation be good working partners?”  “Will the school system serve us well?”  “What will it be like to adapt to living on an island?” “Can we afford to be there?” “Will our son make new friends?” “Will we be able to get the medical care we need in an emergency?”  “And what about all those tick borne diseases?”

There were consequences for the Israelites who feared the giants in the land.  In their fear, they demonstrated to God that they were simply not ready to take responsibility for their future yet.  Their distorted perceptions  of slavery were a safer bet.  They did not get to enter the land.  Those who were able to listen to  Joshua and Caleb followed them and the adventure of the ages began as Israel established itself in the land.

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary  encountered the same fear of “giants in the land” at the empty tomb.  With the crucifixion, they were plunged into a strange borderland without Jesus’ leadership and friendship to guide them and they were afraid.  But they were not left to stay in their anxiety about what would come next. The minority report came in the words of the messenger at the tomb : He’s already gone on ahead of you – – go to Galilee and you will see him there – – they start to run in both fear and joy – – and Jesus greets them on the way.

So -perhaps that is what is in store for Chilmark Community Church -whether we use the metaphor of entering the promised land or running along the road to Galilee as a new ministry begins here – – in either or both stories, the truth is the same.  When change is inevitable, it is the presence of God with us on the road into the new land that guides and protects and informs and keeps us whole. 

Our prayer for you as you move forward is that you will be blessed with the knowledge and assurance that the Presence of God and the power of the Holy Spirit  go before you and accompany you.

May you enter the land with excitement and joy as you greet your new pastor and knock out those pesky giants together. And, along the way, may you meet the Risen Christ and enjoy the power and the newness of what comes when you enter this new land with courage and optimism and trust.  AMEN

“The Cost of Discipleship” Armen Hanjian 6/23/19

THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP

     87, 128, 421                                                                                 92362

Luke 14:25-33                                                                    Luke 9:57-62

     The cost of discipleship.  It cost Jesus.  It cost the disciples.  To be worth anything, it’s got to cost you.

     To be a disciple, one who does the will of God, it cost Jesus a lot.  It cost him what many might call the pleasures of life:

the comforts of marriage and a home, popularity, ridicule, death in the agony of hanging on a cross.  It cost Jesus.

      The cost of discipleship.  It cost the disciples quite a bit too.  Jesus said, “Follow me.”  One man said I must bury my father, then I’ll follow.  Jesus replied, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”        Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.”  Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”  Jesus was not interested in their excuses. 

     Do you suppose God is not interested in our excuses?  We are asked for the supreme sacrifice – give up your ego and follow.  Christ so emphasized this giving of all, that Bacon noted in his writing, “prosperity is the blessing of the Old testament; adversity is the blessing of the New.”

     The principle obstacle to discipleship is concern with yourself – especially your comforts.  As one person put it, “It’s natural to think habitually of ourselves, remembering others only when their inescapably confront us; Jesus is calling us to think habitually of others, and only occasionally remember ourselves.” (Interpreters Bible, Vol. 8,p170)

     We all must face countless burdens in life, but that’s not what Jesus was referring to when he said, “If any want to be my followers, let them deny themselves and take up your cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)  It’s not some calamity, loss of a loved one, shortcoming in our temperament; it’s not enduring the hardships that come our way.  To take a cross is to volunteer, in spite of hardships. To carry someone else’s burden for Christ’s.  It is deliberately choosing an action that could be evaded.  To take up the cross is plain old fashioned self-denial.

     The cost is great.  The rewards may be few, the road bumpy, but to those who persevere will find a life of meaning and joyous satisfaction.  The Christian faith affirms that apart from Jesus Christ one cannot know this fullness of life.  There are compensations, however even in this life which far out weigh any sufferings or renunciations we may be called upon to make.

     Most people seem content to drift to and fro with the crowd.  There is a saying: “Fools wander, wise men travel.”  When you decide with your mind and heart where you want to go with your life, you also have to decide with your mind and heart what your willing to pay to get there.  Christ asks for all of you.  So when the preacher asks for more of your time or money or whatever, as god’s spokesperson,  your being asked for more of you.

     You who are parents – were you happy when your children were born?  Vicky and I were deliriously happy seeing Clark and Adam born.   Even with our insurance we knew we would have to struggle to meet expenses but we decided to keep them. We took Tim in as a foster child and when he was not adopted, we adopted him after a year.

     For many years following they brought us indescribable happiness, but Clark, Adam and Tim never brought in a penny, but we kept them and any friends they gathered along the way.

     Life you know, is never very certain.  There is always the possibility that Clark, Adam or Tim might lose life in a war, or an accident or from an illness.  Then we couldn’t keep that one any more and he wouldn’t cost us a cent.  The dead never do.

     And you know anything alive, whether it’s a child or a church is going to cost and cost.  And when it stops costing, then it’s too late.

     The cost of discipleship is high, but only those who are willing to make the investment will ever know burdens to be easy and life to be abundant.

     In a moment of quiet, would you consider committing one more aspect of your life so that your discipleship would be more pleasing to God.