Sunrise at Menemsha.
Different venues, same wonderful message.
Resurrecting God, as we enter the season of Eastertide, may your enduring Presence remind us of the tidal qualities of your love for us. May your love break upon us as water upon the shore, molding and shaping us. May it expose us to new sharpness of vision. May your grace beckon to us the way a wave reaches out to our feet as we walk along the shore. We open ourselves to the ways in which you will surprise, inform us, change us and draw us to you. Grant us receptivity to your living presence in our lives. AMEN
“adapted from a prayer for the 2nd Sunday in Eastertide in
TOUCH HOLINESS Resources For Worship Edited by Ruth C. Duck and Maren C. Tirabassi
The Pilgrim Press NY 1990
Chilmark Church – November 22, 2015
Endi- in the language of the Ewe people of Ghana West Africa – Endi – good morning. It is good to be with you this morning, Just this past Wednesday, we returned from Ghana after almost three weeks there. It was a busy and God blessed time for us. Joining Carol and I were summer residents of Windy Gates, Alan and Evonne Lipke. Evonne is a recently retired teacher and Alan, a producer of documentaries for public radio. As many of you may already know, we have made over a dozen trips working with our United Church of Christ Global Mission Partner, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church,Ghana. Our’s is a ministry of presence, meeting people where they are and helping them to become what God would want them to be.
We each brought over to Ghana 3 – 50 pound suitcases, full of medical supplies, school materials, eyeglasses and clothing for widows and orphans and as well as funds to support projects, schools, the cured lepers’ village, scholarships and programs of the church and community. These funds were raised through donations and the sale of goods, often at the Chilmark Flea Market. We purchased goods from local craftsmen and projects of the church.
This year our mission was one of encouragement. Wherever we were, we encouraged, and enabled persons. We visited 18 different schools reminding them that education was important, that teachers work was of worth & value and that students needed to be in school. We also delivered educational materials to them. We delivered 25 first kits to schools and project areas. We helped with school fees, purchased school uniforms and offered scholarships to worthy junior high and post junior high school students. We encouraged a teacher and financial helped her to prepare for her accreditation exam.
We visited and delivered medical goods, PT apparatus, breathing equipment, and unexpired prescription medicines to the Volta Regional Hospital in Ho encouraging their leadership and staff to carry on. We encouraged the students at Mawuko Girls High by delivering funds to help further furnish the resource and learning center.
We encouraged the eco-clubs at junior high schools and contributed to Relbonet – an interfaith Christian-Muslim group which supports those eco-clubs. This project is lead by Charles Agboklu, an agent of the EP Church, Ghana. We met with and encouraged a church sponsored fire team who protected 8,000 trees from those who would burn the bush to scare out animals for food. We visited their teak plantation and met with the leaders of that community at Adaklu Waya.
We encouraged and helped fund the building of a new junior high school in Takla- the old one could fall down during the next heavy rain. In Dzofeme Avatime, we encouraged the renovation and helped toward the funding of a new roof for its chapel. We visited its schools and its elders and got an up- date on its water/sanitation project.
We met with the leadership and paramount chief of Kpenoe and were accompanied by the chief as we brought words of encouragement and food to the cured lepers village. We saw a new clinic being built to enable that village to have closer and better medical care.
We worshipped and prayed with 3 congregations, including at a funeral and met with pastors and catechists at those places. We met with the chief and leaders of Takla Gbogame and looked at the water/ sanitation issues, dilapidated junior high and arranged for an inoculation program for their 700 goats and sheep to coincide with the program in two adjacent villages.
We met with educational officials and learned of the crying need in rural areas for resources to enable students to pass national exams. We encouraged families to pay up past due school fees so children could stay in school.
Alan Lipke conducted radio workshops at Ho Polytechnic and its radio station, 98.5 AM Volta Premier, helping students produce documentary stories. Yvonne and Carol taught in schools and brought & helped students make crafts which are rarely done.
In addition, we visited several communities and participated in two cultural programs of dance, drama and song; toured a Monkey Sanctuary; visited the highest water fall in West Africa at Wli; as well as the slave dungeon at Elmina .
We encouraged a pastor and lay church leader by giving them Bible study material and shared our faith and heard their stories. We met with development people at the church headquarters and the leaders of the 800 congregation Evangelical Presbyterian church and worshipped with them.
It was a busy and fruitful time and everywhere we went we experienced warm hospitality, deep appreciation and a sense that God is alive and well and working out His plan. God is good all the time and all the time God is good. Thank you for your prayers, for having the summer flea market where we met Alan and Evonne and helped raise funds. Akpena malu – thank you God. Akpe – thank you
“Helping, Fixing, Serving”
Chilmark Community Church
August 23, 2015
Rev. Vicky Hanjian
Many years ago my Sunday School teaching partner and I were preparing for our 4th grade class. That year we were blessed with 8 boys between the ages of 8 and 10. The lesson that morning had to do with the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. So we decided to invite the kids to have the experience of having their feet washed and then of washing each others’ feet. As the lesson progressed, we got to the point of filling a large basin with water and my partner asked who would like to be first?
Almost a though a secret signal had been given, 8 pairs of feet were withdrawn, pulled back under the chair rungs – – no willing volunteers. So my friend Ila and I were left with no alternative but to wash each other’s feet and demonstrate what the lesson was about.
We took a few minutes to do this and as we looked around the room, those little guys were paying attention! So we offered the invitation again. This time one or two feet were very tentatively extended beyond the rungs of the chairs. Then one pair of sneakers came off followed by a pair of socks – – and then another and another. One by one, the kids extended their feet to see what it would feel like to have their feet washed. Gradually, they experimented with washing each other’s feet with a lot of giggling and “oooooh phew!” By the end of the class we all had clean feet and we had all learned something about what it feels like to have someone kneel in front of us and serve us in a profoundly simple and symbolic act.
We have two very brief images of service in today’s text. Jesus has returned to Bethany for a visit at the home of his dear friends, Mary and Martha and their brother Lazarus. They have prepared a dinner party for him. The words of the story are sparse: “Martha served”………Mary took a pound of expensive perfumed ointment, cleansed Jesus’ feet and wiped them, not with a towel, but with her hair.
The images of the meal and the foot washing are repeated again in the later story of Jesus sharing his final meal with his friends – and washing their feet. In the later story it is Jesus who serves and washes.
Today’s story reaches the senses: the smell of lamb and grains roasting on the fire; the scent of perfume filling the house; the intimacy of Mary’s physical touch; the feel of soft hair. It’s a sensual story. It is also a story of contrasts. Death and life are present. Lazarus is newly restored, alive, from his tomb where Jesus was warned of the terrible stench he would encounter there. Jesus is on his way to his own tomb – fragrantly perfumed. Mary and Martha are extravagant in their meal preparations and the bathing of Jesus feet. Judas kind of sulks in the corner worrying about the expense.
There is a two-word sentence in the story that catches the eye: “Martha served.” Serving is what the sisters knew how to do.
A number of years ago, Naomi Remen authored an article in the Noetic Sciences Review titled “In The Service of Life”. She wrote: “In recent years, the question ‘how can I help?’ has become meaningful for many people. But perhaps there is a deeper question we might consider. Perhaps the real question is not ‘How can I help’ but rather ‘How can I serve?’ There is a difference between helping and fixing and serving.
Richard Rohr, in his book “What the Mystics Know” writes: After decades of counseling, pastoring, and clumsy attempts at helping other people, I am coming to a not so obvious but compelling conclusion: Much of our helping is like hoping for first class accommodations on the Titanic. It feels good at the moment, but it is going nowhere. The big tear in the hull is not addressed, and we are surprised when people drown, complain, or resort to life boats. Most of the people I have tried to fix still need fixing. The situation changed, but the core was never touched.
Serving is different than helping. Remen suggests that people tend to feel a sense of inequality when they are helped. The helper may feel good, but the one who is helped may feel diminished in some way. We heard this message clearly a number of years ago when we spent some time on the Lakota Reservations in South Dakota. The tribes told stories about how they had been “helped” by the US government in the form of surplus food. They had been “helped” by missionaries who wanted to convert them to Christianity. They had been “helped” by well meaning groups who sent them boxes of used clothing. But through all this helping, their health, their spiritual traditions and their strength and dignity as a tribal people were all seriously diminished. The integrity and wholeness of tribal life was eroded by the help that was extended to them. To paraphrase Rohr, all that helping and fixing never reached the core. Life on the reservations changed, but the deepest core of life was never touched in a way that would have lead to wholeness in the relationship between the Lakota people the white population.
Service, on the other hand, is a relationship between equals. Helping incurs a subtle kind of indebtedness. Serving has a mutuality about it. There is no indebtedness. In a serving relationship, I am served just as much as the person I am serving. When I help, I have a feeling satisfaction that I have done something good. When I serve, I feel gratitude. These are two very different things.
Serving is also different from fixing. Fixing arises out of seeing the world or other persons as broken. Naomi Remen writes: “When I fix another person, I see them as broken and their brokenness requires me to act. When I fix, I do not see the wholeness in the other person or trust the integrity of the life in them. Fixing is a form of judgment about the brokenness of the other person.
When I think of images of serving, one that comes to mind is hospice work. When a hospice worker receives an assignment, it is an assignment to serve. In the work of attending to the needs of the dying and to the needs of the family, a hospice worker cannot fix anything –nor can he or she really help. In hospice work there is no fixing or helping – – only service – – the service of wise and compassionate presence – – a service that addresses and acknowledges the strength and integrity of the family and the one who is dying. Hospice seeks to serve the wholeness in the life of the client and the family as death draws near.
The images of Jesus and his friends in the gospel are images of service. Mary breaks a flask of perfumed ointment to sooth and cleanse Jesus’ feet. She can fix nothing. Her act of service doesn’t help anything. Jesus already knows his end is imminent. Nothing can fix or help the outcome. There is a mystery in Mary’s service that recognizes the integrity and wholeness of Jesus, of work, of his purpose.
Judas, on the other hand, is a helper and a fixer – – sell the ointment – -help the poor. He has a somewhat self righteous tone about him and the little editorial comment suggests that his motives aren’t really all that pure.
Later on in John’s gospel Jesus is again in the company of friends. This time he is the one with the basin and towel. He extends to his friends the hospitality of serving them by preparing to wash their feet. He comes first to Peter – and Peter resists. He is incredulous at the idea of Jesus washing his feet and he refuses. Jesus responds to him: “unless I wash you, you have no part in me.” And Peter submits to being served by Jesus. Jesus doesn’t fix anything about Peter. We know this because of the way the story unfolds after Jesus is arrested. But Jesus sees something of the inherent worth – indeed the holiness – in Peter. Unless Peter allowed himself to be served by Jesus, Peter would not be able to live out a life of service.
Jesus aligned himself with the wholeness that he saw in each life he touched. He saw that wholeness in each human being waiting to be restored and he acted in service to that wholeness.
When we see this about Jesus, we can understand a little bit more about his willing attitude when Mary anointed his feet and Martha served him a meal. In the face of the unfixable that lay ahead of them all, it was incredibly important that Mary and Martha be able to serve by their devotion and their friendship and their presence in Jesus’ life. When this story is juxtaposed with the later story of Jesus washing his friends’ feet, we see that life in Christ is not so much a life of fixing and helping – – or of being fixed or helped. Rather life in Christ is a life of serving and being served.
Through his life and death and resurrection, Jesus serves us by recognizing the wholeness and the holiness that resides in each one of us. He does not relate to us as needy, or broken or weak. Rather he serves us by honoring our strength and calling forth the best from us. If his purpose were to help us or fix us, he would only make us weaker. But Jesus calls us from weakness to strength. His loving service to us empowers us – – makes us strong.
Martha served. Mary served. Jesus serves. After Jesus had washed his friends’ feet he said to them “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me teacher and Lord –and you are right for that is what I am. So – if I your Lord have washed your feet, you ought also to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.”
So – the subtle call seems clear. We are called to lives of serving and lives of being served. We all know something about what this means because we live in a community that does this as part of its way of being in the world. The story just helps us do the fine tuning so that we can be more effective. May we enter the coming week with our eyes and ears and hearts wide open to whatever our servant ministry calls us to do and be in the name of God. AMEN.
Mission Trip to Ghana
The Following Are Approximate Costs for the Following Itineraries
Depart Boston, Miami, Tampa or Toronto – Tuesday October 27, 2015. Transfer in Heathrow, London, or Amsterdam for 7 hour flight to Accra, Ghana, West Africa. Arrive at Accra, the next evening and immediately depart for Ho.
This trip will be our last trip to Ghana
During our Ghana stay, we will primarily be housed at the Kekeli Hotel, the Social Center of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in the city of Ho. Clean and comfortable, with air-conditioning, each room will be for two guests and will have an in-room bathroom, cold water shower, and sink. Bottled drinking water will be available for meals, in room and travel use. Meals will be prepared and served in the dining room of the hotel and will feature a mixture of Ghanaian and continental food, sensitive to our dietary needs. Three meals a day are included in the cost. All fees, tips, lodging and ground travel as well as admissions are covered. This includes 12 days in Ghana, departing November 10, 2015 and arriving back November 11, 2015
Lodging for the trip to Cape Coast-Elmina area is in process of being settled.
The Ghana experience will include a Worship opportunity in a village in the region of Ho each Sunday. We will join the people of the villages and communities of the Volta Region. All participants on the trip will participate in age/skill appropriate mission projects to include such things as physical labor at a work site, teaching in a school in the Ho district, work in a medical clinic, presence in a hospital, or with the EP Church. During the time in Ghana, we will arrange cultural presentations of some of the following: arts, dance, drum, song, fabric making, culture, and/or history.
We will mke a four-hour trek to Cape Coast area where we will visit a Slave Fort and Kakum National Park which has a canopy walk over the rainforest.
Afternoons will be reserved for periods of rest and relaxation or free time for exploring the city and market of Ho and perhaps a visit to Tafi Monkey Sanctuary, Wili Waterfall or Keta Sea Defense.
Ghana (Estimated): $2,800
Plus Visa Required: $60-100 Plus Shots required: Yellow fever, malaria meds, etc.
Contact: The Rev. David Christensen telephone: 1-860-759-0791
Box 50, West Tisbury, MA 02575 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Send Deposit of $500 by August 20, 2015 mailed to Rev. Christensen
Send Payment of $1,000 by September 15, 2015 mailed to Rev. Christensen
These 2 checks should be made out to “The Federated Church” with the notation “Ghana Travel.”
Balance Due $1,300 in cash carried to Ghana
Ghana Trip: October 27, 2015 – November 11, 2015
1854 is about and inspired by, the Vineyard mid-19th century abolitionist movement . Friday, August 23, 2019 at 5 pm at Union Chapel.
See the links below to learn more. Listen to sample here. Beautiful!
Please come welcome Kathleen Dorr on Sunday, 28th. The Rev. Kathleen Dorr, M.Div. has served the church and God’s people as an Episcopal priest for 20 years, most recently, in the Diocese of Connecticut. She was ordained in the Diocese of Long Island and has served across the nation. Kathleen enjoys her rest and relaxation on Island spending as much time as possible in Oak Bluffs enjoying friends, the water and the Island. Rev. Dorr has served at the Cathedral of St. Matthew, Dallas , TX., in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, as Interim Rector at Christ Church, Associate priest for Christ Church, New Haven, CT., Chaplain of the Episcopal Church at Yale, Interim Missioner at Eagle Butte Reservation working with the Sioux Nation on the reservation, following these ministries Kathleen trained to be a hospital chaplain at the University hospital in Greenville, N.C. and became a Hospice chaplain working in this area over the past few years. Kathleen is the mother of two sons Robert, a Major in the U.S. Army and soon the U.S. Attache to Lebanon, and Aaron who lives and works in the San Francisco area. Both sons are married and have blessed Kathleen with three young grandchildren. She is widowed and was married to the Rev. Lt. Col. Guy Dorr who, after an Army career, was also ordained in the church serving on Long Island and later in life with the Navajo Nation.
Her hobbies include scuba diving around the world, kayaking, hiking and traveling as often as possible.
Her off-island contact information is:
Arlene Bodge, 303 Brooksby Drive, Unit 218, Peabody, MA 01960. Her phone after May 1 will be 978-587-2699.