Archive | Vicar’s Voice

Vicar’s Voice – Ash Wednesday

February 24, 2017

Dear St. Stephen’s Family and Friends,

Ash Wednesday arrives this coming Wednesday, March 1.  Several years ago a group of us from St. Michael’s in Barrington, Illinois were fortunate to be a part of the consecration of the Anglican Cathedral in Renk Diocese of Sudan.  The Archbishop of Canterbury was present for this joyous occasion and a worship service lasting over four hours.

The next day was Ash Wednesday.  All of us from the Episcopal Church and the Church of England were very concerned that we have a service and our hosts willingly accommodated our request.  As the process of planning the service unfolded, three powerful messages arose.  First, if you live in a country where you are never sure of where or how much food you will have, there is no need to fast.  Second, if you live in a country where death walks with you on a daily basis, there is no need to be reminded of one’s mortality.  Third, if what appears to be clouds on the horizon is actually a dust storm forcing one inside and requiring a mask to breathe, one doesn’t need to be reminded that we are all dust.   Ash Wednesday, a day to be reminded of our mortality, our sinfulness, that we are but dust simply isn’t needed in Southern Sudan.  Every day they shout “Alleluia” because simply being alive is a gift.  When they shouted “Alleluia” during the Ash Wednesday service this made sense and I joined in the shouts, and playing the drums, and rejoicing at the gifts of live, love and God…not to mention the faith of the beautiful Sudanese people.

We, however, need Ash Wednesday; we need the firm reminders that God drew us from the dirt and that when our lives come to an end our bodies will return to the dust from which all humanity was originally drawn.  We need to be reminded not only of our sinfulness but also of the grace of forgiveness.  We need to be reminded of the abundance of our lives and the reality that others aren’t so fortunate and we are compelled to help them.  We need to be reminded that we are all created in the image of God; all of us.  ‘Dust we are and to dust we shall return.’

See you Sunday, at Mardi Gras on Tuesday,  and also on Ash Wednesday.

Love and blessings,

Alvin+

Vicar’s Voice – The Crown

February 17, 2017

Dear St. Stephen’s Family and Friends,
Are you a television watcher these days?  Do you binge at all?  Well I confess that I am and I do.  Lately my enjoyment has been the series The Crown, which looks at the life of Queen Elizabeth from before her coronation forward in time.  The first series ends in the 1950’s and the world was certainly a different place then.  My curiosity about this series was particularly high because of the incredible ratings it has received and the acclaim from the Golden Globe Awards.  My curiosity was also piqued because I’m an Episcopalian/Anglican.  So armed with expectation I took the plunge and have been on a fantastic historical, insightful, interesting, emotional ride ever since.

This series captures many of the challenges of humanity, human behavior and relationships.  We experience the loneliness of Elizabeth as she the crownchooses to live as the monarch more than as herself.  We see the sacrifice of personal love in search of a perceived cultural expectation or greater good.  The watcher also witnesses the courage of leadership, the futility of aging, and the pleasure found in order and discipline.  I’m reminded in this series of the challenges we all have to be authentic and reduce hypocrisy.  Hypocrisy is simply the gap between what we know ourselves to be on the inside and what we present on the outside.  We’re all hypocritical:  the question centers on how wide is the gap.   We all are in need of grace; even more so those in positions of authority and influence.  And episode 9, which explores in depth Winston Churchill turning 80, is simply some of the best historical drama on television.  As the snow and cold continue to keep us waiting for spring, treat yourself to some good history and entertainment for the entire family on Netflix.

See you at the Variety Show on Saturday.  And see you in Church on Sunday.

Love and blessings,

Al+

Vicar’s Voice – “We Plan, God Laughs”

February 10, 2017

Dear St. Stephen’s Family and Friends,

We plan, God laughs.  And God’s been laughing a lot in my life the past several weeks.  But now thanks to the gifts of prayer, healing, rest and modern medicine it’s time to get back to work and to St. Stephen’s.  Fr. Denny will be here this coming Sunday and I’m planning to return to Erie on Tuesday, February 14.  We have many wonderful tasks and opportunities before us and I’m chomping at the bit to get underway.

First up will be the beginning of Lent with Mardi Gras on Tuesday, February 28 followed by Ash Wednesday on March 1. The schedule of services for that day is still in the works but look for details next week.  Second up will be our two strategy sessions with our Bishop’s Committee as we explore the next steps in our life as a community.  We will all engage in an ongoing conversation over the next three months as we narrow our focus and channel our resources in the directions that God intends, the people desire, and our history invites.  And before we know it Holy Week and Easter will be upon us.

New people are continuing to explore our community.  Significant outreach is taking place that is changing the world.  And soon we will enjoy several good laughs at our Variety Show on February 18.  Keep an eye on your calendar.  Please read your mail.  Please be present.

Thanks for your prayers for healing.  I’m grateful.

Love and blessings,

Alvin+

1070 Dutch Road, Fairview, PA 16415 * 814.474.5490