Category Archives: Guest Preachers

Lenten Letter from Bishop

April 1, 2014

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

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

As we continue to journey in the Lenten season, particularly as we enter the Holy Week, I am sure that all of us reflect on many aspects of Jesus’s ministry and mission! Of course, each one of them is very important and vital.

One of the images I am reflecting on is Jesus washing the feet of His disciples. Perhaps one of the reasons for this is that in my recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land, someone presented me with a beautiful olive wood carving of Jesus washing the feet of a disciple. As I ponder on this image, one of the things that crosses my mind is Peter’s statement to Jesus, “You will never wash my feet” (John 13:6).

We may never know what prompted Peter to react in this way, or what was going on in his mind as Jesus approached to wash his feet. Perhaps this was a shock to Peter because in that culture washing one’s feet was not a task of a leader but of a subordinate.

Perhaps Peter was not able to understand and accept the symbolism of someone washing his feet.

Perhaps Peter was uncomfortable with someone touching his feet.

Perhaps Peter was not ready to be humbled by someone washing his feet.

But as one reflects upon this holy act on the part of Jesus, as one reflects upon the dialogue between Jesus and Peter around this issue, it becomes very clear that Christ is offering a model to all of his followers of His ministry and mission. Jesus makes it abundantly clear by saying, “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 and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.” (John 13:13-15).

May I prayerfully suggest you ponder this thought as we continue our journey as disciples of Jesus Christ? Where is God calling us to wash someone’s feet at this hour in our homes, neighborhoods, nation and world?

Today, the opportunity may not be there to necessarily physically touch someone’s feet and wash them … but what about spiritually, emotionally, and financially?

More importantly, how do we react or respond to this dialogue between Jesus and Peter, as we journey as disciples of Jesus in the twenty-first century? Perhaps one of the reasons Peter was reluctant to accept Christ’s offer was he believed doing so might be seen as a weakness or lack of leadership. A few years ago, a wise mentor reminded me that accepting someone’s help in our journey is not a weakness, but a strength indeed! Many a time we fail in our ministry because we are too confident of ourselves and we refuse to take someone else’s help.

As we journey as disciples of Jesus Christ, the context of our ministry is much different from years ago! As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are constantly pushed into the margins of our society, where the ministry of a towel and basin is a blessing! It is not a ministry where we have all the answers as individuals, but a ministry where we constantly need to hear one another, learn from one another, and understand one another. In that context our mentors and teachers might be fellow pilgrims who are younger or older than us, pilgrims who may have a different accent or different lifestyle, BUT they too are the children of God who have the same quest as ours.

May God grant you and me the wisdom, courage, peace, and direction filled with the love of Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, so that we may resemble our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, our guru, who taught us the importance of the ministry of the towel and basin.

May the power and courage of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be our strength in the forthcoming Holy Week and always!

In Christ’s love,

Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar

Lyrics to Helen Stratford song sung 10/7/13

In Yonder Meadows

In these fields I’ve wandered, I’ve pondered,  I have grown

And my heart grows fonder, with each pasture I have known

And in yonder woods, I have followed the mossy banks

Of a trickling brook where I’ve knelt down to give thanks

 

These fields taught me compassion They taught me to forgive

And with mercy unrationed They taught me how to live

As a soul that’s fallen I’ve pounded my fists and wept

God must have heard me calling – For something in my spirit leapt

 

There’s a fog rolls in Each evening from the coast

It creeps across the landscapes like a phantom or ghost

It rolls across the meadow, the sorrells and the dales

Continues to drift even as dawn lifts Like a burka or veil

 

Through the mist I’m running  Heart pounding against my chest

To the spirit that is coming In whose presence I feel blessed

Yes Each moment hastens toward me  Impatient to impart

All that my soul craves  All that saves the wounded heart

 

With their verdant splendor

These fields taught me to believe

And persuaded me to surrender

In order that I might receive

No matter how far I wander

Or the qualities I lack

Or the years I have squandered

These fields, they always take me back

 

Helen Stratford

Michael Gilman, singer song writer

Mike Gilman from Aquinnah Baptist Church was our guest of honor as we celebrated Labor Day weekend at Chilmark  Community Church.

Mike sang his original songs “Why Did Jesus walk on Water?”  and “I’m having supper at the Lord’s Feast tonight”.  His father, George Gilman, is a summer member of our congregation.

We’re hoping Mike will return this winter for those of you who missed him.

Summer is winding down. We thanked Ann Deitrich for her labor running the Flea Market which ended yesterday.  We had 10 kids in Sunday School with summer friends lingering and back to school kids returning.

We said goodbye to all the kids from Shirley, MA.

And goodbye to Noah, visiting his grand parents, Connie and Preston:

 

We had a lot to celebrate this morning with Ted Mayhew back with us. We’re keeping him in our prayers.  Just 2 or 3 Lobster Roll Tuesdays to go.

 

90th Birthday Celebrated

Bob Conway started his week long birthday celebrations with a surprise visit from his sister, daughter and grand daughter who accompanied him to church.

When Phil Dietterich’s music blew over at the near conclusion of a Bach fugue, Bob jumped in to help.

 

Cake and candles after church.

 

Letter from Bishop Suda Devadhar

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Originally I had posted the following message on my facebook page. However, a few people suggested that I share this message with all of you as well.
This past weekend was an interesting and exciting one.  It culminated the first hundred days of my episcopacy in the New England area.  These were meaningful, hopeful, and joyful days centered around the prayer that God will help all of us – clergy, laity, Prema, and me – to continue our journey in the same spirit and joy.
The weekend events started on Saturday with clergy and laity from the Connecticut Western Massachusetts District of the New England Annual Conference sharing many touching, joyful, and reflective moments.  One among them was a powerful devotion led by a clergy member who shared the following story:
“Daoud Hari, a native of the Darfur region writes about the Sahara but he might also be talking about leading a church when he says:
‘The Sahara is an impossible place. All the trails are erased with each wind…You are modern and think your compass and your GPS will keep you from trouble.  But the batteries will give out in your GPS, or the sand will ruin it.  Your compass may break or become lost as you try to put away your bedding one morning in a hard sandstorm.  So you will want to know the ways that have worked for thousands of years.  If you are good, like my father and brothers, you will put a line of sticks in the sand at night, using the stars to mark your next morning’s direction of travel.’” – from The Translator by Daoud Hari
As we continued to reflect on this powerful story, Prema and I spent a joyful evening with a colleague and her spouse at their house.  Afterward, they were kind enough to lead us to the main road, so we would not lose our way.  Can you see?  They were our stars in the journey!
Early Sunday morning, Prema and I were watching parts of a live stream of the 150th Anniversary of the Church of South India (CSI) Shanthi Cathedral in Mangalore, India where I went to church occasionally, preached on a few occasions, and where I preached my trial sermon for my ordination process in 1977.  One of the many highlights of the celebrations which we watched through the live stream was a welcome dance by one of my great nieces, a fifteen-year old, in the classical Indian tradition of Bharata Natya. I have seen her performances many times, and this was one of her best!  Her dance was in a Christian setting and in Indian tradition, but the way in which she communicated allowed us to feel her soul, mind, and body – all synchronized to welcome the gathering. (If you have time, kindly watch the video.)
From that powerful experience, Prema and I worshipped with the saints of the Open Table of Christ in Providence, RI.  The Church of the Open Table is made up of people from all walks of life, from different cultures and orientations, where people from different regions of the world are invited to stand with the pastor and children as the advent candle is lit.  We heard transformational stories from people of the Christian faith tradition, other faith traditions, and people from no faith traditions at all.  A radically welcoming congregation indeed!
On my journey back, as I reflected upon all the things I heard and saw over the weekend, I wondered what it means to be “John the Baptists” in our own settings…where our cries may sound like a cry in the wilderness – cries like that of Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, and others, no matter from which faith background we come.  However, in this advent season, may we, the children of God, join together with one another and “strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” (Matthew 6:33)
In order to achieve this, we need to listen to the wisdom of the brother in the Darfur region and other places in the world where the political, selfish greed generated by human beings continuously tries to block us and confuse us as we call for a transformation of the world as people of God.
What may we borrow from the traditions of other faiths and adopt into our journey of faith as Christians being faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ? What may we use from those rich heritages and traditions for the glory of God?  May we be as powerful a witness as a fifteen-year old girl who articulated it through her gift of dance?
No matter where we live, we can still come together as people of God where our tables are truly open to those who do not talk or act like us, to those who are radically different from us.  May we live the words of one of the hymns of the season when we sing, “the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”
Yes, it is possible, if we stretch our tents…and truly demonstrate, not just through slogans but with our actions and deeds, that we are indeed a Church with “open hearts, open minds, and open doors.”
May our prayers be in the words of Walter Brueggemann, “Come be present even here and there, and there and there.  Move us from our sandy certitudes to your grace-filled risk.  Move us to become more rock-like in compassion and abidingness and justice.  Move us to be more like you in our neighborliness and in our self-regard.  Yes, yes, yes – move us that we may finally, stand on the solid rock, no more sinking sand.” (Ed. Edwin Searcy: “Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: Prayers of Walter Brueggemann,” Fortress Press, Minneapolis: 2003, p.17).
May God continue to bless you in this holy Advent season.
In Christ’s love,
Bishop Suda Devadhar

Letter from the Bishop

November 20, 2012

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

I greet you in and through the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

First and foremost, let me express my sincere thanks and appreciation for the significant response and the generous contributions you have made in response to the devastating effects of Super Storm “Sandy.”  In fact a team from the New England Annual Conference is already in ministry in Crisfield, Maryland.  Once again, the connection of our Church is a wonderful gift in the midst of tragedy and loss. Your contributions are truly appreciated.

On behalf of the Northeastern College of Bishops, I am writing to provide you with an update and to make an additional appeal for your consideration.  Our United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has done their initial assessment of the situation and has determined that the recovery from this disaster will take approximately 3-4 years to complete.  This means that our response will be ongoing as we provide a helping hand to those in need.

At a recent meeting of the Northeastern Jurisdictional College of Bishops, we determined that the focus of our efforts will be centered on the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference.  The devastation there is significant and, after nearly a month, is still being assessed.  We know already that there are critical needs that must be addressed.

For that reason, we are initiating a special offering for the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference from their sister Annual Conferences in the Northeastern Jurisdiction.  This offering will be put together into one gift from the Annual Conferences of the Northeastern Jurisdiction and presented directly to the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference.  When a disaster of this magnitude strikes, UMCOR suggests that an Annual Conference set up their own special fund in addition to gifts provided to the ADVANCE.  This offering will be sent from the NEJ Annual Conferences to that fund.

May I request you consider taking a special offering on either December 2 or 9, earmarked for “Greater New Jersey Hurricane Relief.”  These offerings are to be sent directly to the New England Annual Conference Office.

Thank you once again for your spirit and your willingness to respond to our sisters and brothers in need.  My prayer is that we will come together to provide a truly significant offering as a demonstration of our support.

I look forward to partnering with you in the months ahead to provide a significant and compassionate response.

With Great Appreciation for Your Ministry and In Christ’s Love,

Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar

He added, in another email, the following:

Some may question why, if we just collected offerings for the victims of Sandy, we are sending a second offering, specifically for the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference.  Personally, as your Episcopal leader, it is a sensitive issue for me since I just came to serve among you and with you, the Saints of the New England Annual Conference, after serving among and with the Saints of the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference for eight years.  While it is true that we are giving through UMCOR, we also need to realize that there are restrictions on the use of UMCOR funds.  Only limited UMCOR funds can be used for repairs of the church buildings, parsonages and replacement of clergy personal belongings and many of the churches do not have flood insurance coverage.

 

 

Helen’s Halloween after “Sandy”

This is an email from Helen sent when her power came on Friday.

Not sure when i will be able to send this to you, as i have no internet service – nor telephone reception, nor electricity for that matter.  If you have watched the news, which, trust me, none of those most affected by the hurricane have been able to do, you may have taken note that lower manhattan was severely handicapped by the surges associated with the recent weather system…The east river, which is a few blocks away, overflowed its banks – and a five foot wall of water flooded con edison, causing one of its transformers to blow up.  The explosion was deafening, and rattled and reverberated throughout the area, knocking out power…Everything has been closed down and the east village has been transformed into a ghost town.  Nothing is open, no street lights, no flower vendors, no stores, no coffee stands.  Nothing.  It is very eerie and desolate – and dark…There is also no cell phone reception or internet so it is impossible to reach anyone – or go anywhere.  There is no subways service and although busses have started running, they are so  dangerously overcrowded and delayed, that it is very crude – and – sorry to say this – rattling.  I would easily compare it to India…And keep in mind there are no traffic lights and hundreds, if not thousands, of people strung along a ten block distance, hoping to cram into a bus…a lot of jabbing and jostling and jeers.  its definitely hardcore…

 

i have an appointment at the hospital tomorrow – and since there was no way anyone could get in touch with me – nor could i call the hospital, i took the bus up today – just to find out if indeed the appointment was still to be honored. NYU medical center, just a few blocks away, had massive flooding the night of the storm, its generator failed, and all the patients had to be evacuated (without elevators, mind you…)  When i arrived at Bellevue, the scenario was not much different.  The hospital was in the dark, and though there was some generator capacity, they were not sure how much longer it would last, and there was a convoy of ambulances, and the national guard, assisting in moving the patients.  No telephones there, no electricity, and no way for much of the staff to get there.  Pretty grim.  Needless to say all appointments have been cancelled…I am hoping that a few important upcoming procedures will not have to be rescheduled, and that things will be back to normal…I am hoping that the flooding did not do irreparable damage – as things are already shoddy in terms of medical care – the wait involved and then the bureaucracy…its a bit dour.

i also went further uptown to recharge my cell phone – though i was unable to get enough reception to make calls or receive whatever messages have accumulated. uptown is totally normal.  all the businesses are open, all the traffic lights are working, and women are walking around with shopping bags.  i found a whole foods with a cafe and plugged my phone in.  most every one there was from down town, doing the same thing.  we all look a little weathered, as its been impossible to shower or bathe…

i am happy i don’t live in a high rise.  i can’t imagine what it would be like to have to walk up eleven or twenty one flights of stairs.

fortunately the temperatures are descending – so whatever food stuffs i bought can go out on the fire escape.

the trip on the bus to stop at the hospital and then to whole foods required six hours of my day.  only to return to the east village to find that i can’t really make any calls anyway.

strange because there are no news stands, no bars, no televisions so we have no idea what is going on…or what the rest of the eastern seaboard experienced.

its halloween and its a little spooky…once darkness descends, no one is out on the street.   it just feels too dangerous.

 

i am not sure where to go or what to do about getting “on line.”  i need to make some inquiries.  perhaps since i don’t have to go to the doctor’s tomorrow i will brave the decrepit bus service again and find a way to get this email off.

 

All Saints message from Bishop Suda Davadhar

November 1, 2012
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
As we open our calendars to November, it indicates that we are observing “All Saints Day.” This is celebrated in most of our churches.
Though there are many definitions of a “saint,” one of the definitions that I appreciate and celebrate is, “A saint is an agent of change.”  Though there are countless numbers of people to whom we give credit in our personal faith journeys, one on my list is Archbishop Oscar Romero.  Archbishop Romero was a prophetic voice of the voiceless people who suffered injustice in El Salvador.  He was assassinated for his Christian witness as he was celebrating the mass. As we think about his ministry and his Christian witness, may we pause over a prayer composed by Bishop Ken Untener, who included it in a reflection titled “The Mystery of the Romero Prayer.”
A Future Not Our Own (also known as ‘The Long View’)
It helps, now and then, to step back
and take the long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of
the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete,
which is another way of saying
that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No programme accomplishes the church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about:
We plant seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything
and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for God’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders,
ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.”
Though one could develop several sermons out of this prayer/poem, one of the messages I get in the context of All Saints Day/Sunday is that we who have tried to bring about change in our personal and Christian lives might not have seen the end results of our ministry and mission, but we have been blessed with an “opportunity for God’s grace to enter and do the rest.”
As I have reflected on and processed what I have heard in my conversations and dialogues with some of you in my district visits and in other places, the life and witness of Archbishop Romero challenges all of us by saying, “We are prophets of a future not our own.” The saints in our lives and Christian journeys stimulate us to do our part as baptized Christians at every moment of our lives, not worrying about the results.  Yes, it is a human tendency to say at certain moments, “Why should I work hard if someone else is going to reap the results of my hard work and sacrifices?”  However, the saints we know challenge us to move beyond that stage and ask a deeper question, “Being the recipient of God’s grace in my own life, how can I impart it upon others through my Christian witness?”
As we thank God for blessing us with countless numbers of saints along the way in our personal and faith journeys, may we also be in prayer and ask, “How can I be a saint – an agent of change – in my own context?”
Kindly remember that “God loves you all and so do the Devadhars!”
In Christ’s Love,
Bishop Suda Devadhar