Author Archives: Daniel Fitzmaurice

eNotes: September 20-26

The Word
from Sara

It’s been an amazing week at St. David’s: our building is full of life, and we keep getting wonderful folk asking to be part of our extended family community, or wanting to express their community connections in new ways. It has me thinking a lot about what it means to be the member of a community like ours.

Church membership is definitely not what it used to be, and I’m so grateful to be part of a community with such expansive opportunities to reframe who we are and what we do. To that end, the vestry has a couple of questions for all of you, as we revise and bring into the twenty-first century our parish by-laws. You can answer them simply by emailing me, or on our Facebook page, or on the white board in the parish hall this Sunday. Here they are:

  1. What do you think it means to be a member of a congregation like St. David’s? What does it mean to be a member of the St. David’s Community?
  1. What do you think is the “object and purpose” of a place like St. David’s? To proclaim the gospel? To worship Jesus? To build community? To propagate the faith and doctrine of the Episcopal Church? To serve the neighborhood? All of the above?

Let us know!

On a related note, I also spent some time preparing for our first “Faith & Story” offering, the one-night-only “What kind of Anglican are you?” class. I hope it’ll be fun. I hope I’ll see lots of you there. (See below for details)

This Week
Rain Gardens are HERE: This Sat, Sept 22nd, 9-2 and next Sun, Sept 30, 12-3
Get on your boots and help create beautiful rain gardens full of native plants. There is a task for everyone, so bring the family and invite your neighbors! Bring your own shovel and contact Michael Welsh to sign-up:  michael.s.welch@gmail.com or 503.740.2495

The Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 20: This Sunday, September 23, 10am
The bulletin is back! Always know what’s happening on Sunday by reading them in advance here.

Directory Update this Sunday: We’re doing a final update of our community database. Find your name on Sunday and let us know we’ve got it all. Won’t be there Sunday? Email us.

Sunday School Parent Potluck: This Monday, September 24, 6-8
Come learn more about our children’s ministries opportunities this year and bring some tasty food to share in the Parish Hall.

JOIN Book Group: This Thursday, 11 – 12, Grace Room
The book group with good coffee and a mission.. one of our many exciting collaborations with the New City Initiative!

Looking Ahead
Gift Cards Needed! We have pledged to support our Covenant of Hope family in every way we can, and we have a great opportunity. Eight-year-old Corinna and six-year-old Aidyn are preparing to start school after the long transition from homelessness into their new home in Troutdale, and we would like to participate by sending their mom, Annika, some gift cards to purchase school supplies and some new clothes. (Think: Target, Walmart, Fred Meyer.) Next time you’re out shopping, consider picking up a gift card, enclosing it in a note to Annika, Corinna, and Aidyn, and dropping it by the church office. We’ll take care of the rest. Thanks for your generosity!

What kind of an Anglican are YOU? Wednesday, October 3, 7-8:30 pm in the Grace Room. Have you ever wondered what it means to be an Episcopalian? Has anyone ever asked you “What does your church believe?” This will be a fun and informative evening for newcomers and lifelong Episcopalians alike. Bring a friend! Let Sara know, so she knows how many delicious chocolate chip oatmeal cookies to make!

Baptism, anyone? The Feast of All Saints, which we will celebrate on November 4, is one of the four major baptismal feasts of the church year. If you or someone you know would like to learn more about baptism, contact Sara.

It’s not too early to think about Thanksgiving: Consider joining our community potluck this year! All are invited, so bring the family, your neighbors, and friends. Mark your calendars now, details coming soon…

Parish News
History Room Update: Many thanks to Jennie Brown and Nan Williams for the wonderful brunch last Sunday! If you weren’t able to be at the brunch but would like to learn more about the History Room, contact Jennie at 503-246-1824. There are opportunities to make a huge difference for a small donation of your time (say, 45 minutes a month?) or your treasure. Never seen the History Room? Come by for a tour any time during regular office hours or after church on a Sunday.

Got music? The choir is always looking for musical, enthusiastic, and otherwise interested voices to enliven our worship services. Rehearsals are now on Sundays from 9:20-9:50 in the Music Room and on the 2nd Thursday of every month from 6-9. If you have any questions, contact Dan.

Thanks to the office helpers this week: Jean Baker, Deidre Baker, Carolynn Rudy, Peggy Speirs, Pat Thayer! Doesn’t it look like they’re having fun in the photo above? Contact the office to join in the fun!

Got a name tag? If you do, start wearing it! We have had loads of guests this summer and expect more leading into the fall. Can’t find yours or never had one? Let the office know.

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eNotes: September 13-19, 2012

The Word
from Sara
Welcome to September! There are lots of wondrous things going on around here….The Living School is open for business and so Dan and I are surrounded by the sounds of happy, engaged children. Be sure to check out the Grace Room next time you’re in the building. We have hired Emily Jameson as our new Children’s Ministries Coordinator. Anyone who knows Emily knows what a wealth of energy and grace she brings to all that she undertakes; it is a special blessing to have her join our staff. I am looking forward to our Faith & Story offerings this fall on Wednesday evenings. Please join us, for the Peace Mass at 6 pm, for classes beginning October 3 at 7 pm, or just spend the whole evening with us! If you have any questions about any of these classes or anything else, please contact me. In the meantime, I wish you blessings and peace during these beautiful days and always.

This Week
The Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 19: This Sunday, September 2, 10am
The bulletin is back! Always know what’s happening on Sunday by reading them in advance here.

History Room Brunch: Sunday, September 16, 11:15
Come have a tasty brunch and explore ways you might help the ongoing project to preserve, share, and celebrate our parish history and present. As always, many hands make light work, and this is particularly light work for people who value our church’s rich heritage.

Directory Update this Sunday: We’re doing a quick and thorough update of our community database. Find you name on Sunday and let us know we’ve got it all. Won’t be there Sunday? Email us.

Looking Ahead
Gift Cards Needed! We have pledged to support our Covenant of Hope family in every way we can, and we have a great opportunity. Eight-year-old Corinna and six-year-old Aidyn are preparing to start school after the long transition from homelessness into their new home in Troutdale, and we would like to participate by sending their mom, Annika, some gift cards to purchase school supplies and some new clothes. (Think: Target, Walmart, Fred Meyer.) Next time you’re out shopping, consider picking up a gift card, enclosing it in a note to Annika, Corinna, and Aidyn, and dropping it by the church office. We’ll take care of the rest. Thanks for your generosity!

Rain Gardens are coming: Sat, Sept 22nd, 9-2 and Sun, Sept 30, 12-3
Get on your boots and help create beautiful rain gardens full of native plants. There is a task for everyone, so bring the family and invite your neighbors! Contact Michael Welsh to sign-up:  michael.s.welch@gmail.com or 503.740.2495

Baptism, anyone? The Feast of All Saints, which we will celebrate on November 4, is one of the four major baptismal feasts of the church year. If you or someone you know would like to learn more about baptism, contact Sara.

Parish News
Parishioner Jim Pecore is staying at his sister Carol’s home while receiving treatment for melanoma. Consider sending a card to 4676 Oakridge Road, Lake Oswego OR 97035. Jim is also happy to have visitors but has limited energy. If you’d like to call or visit, please contact Sara for more information.

Got music? The choir is always looking for musical, enthusiastic, and otherwise interested voices to enliven our worship services. Rehearsals are now on Sundays from 9:20-9:50 in the Music Room and on the 2nd Thursday of every month from 6-9. If you have any questions, contact Dan.

eNotes: August 23-29, 2012

The Word

from Sara

This has truly been a glorious summer and it is so so so great to be back in Portland and back in the office with only a tiny bit of travel next week to the Wild Goose Festival, from which I’ll joyfully return in time for church on Sunday.

This is the season for one of my favorite activities: scheming and dreaming. This week’s ideas? A three- or four-week “Bible 101” for brand new Christians and for all you cradle Episcopalians who don’t know your beatitudes from your begats. (I know, that refers to another class of people, but you can relate, right?) And a similar short course on the Episcopal Church: Henry and Elizabeth, smells and bells, sanctuary candles and Advent wreaths, Prayer Book and Hymnal.

 

This Week
Breakfast with Neysa! This Sunday, August 26, 8:45
Bring the whole family over for a simple continental breakfast in the Parish Hall and a chance to chat with Rev. Neysa Ellgren, the diocesan Canon for Congregational Development.

The Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 16: This Sunday, August 26, 10am
The bulletin is back! Always know what’s happening on Sunday by reading them in advance here.

Looking Ahead
Book Group: Next Thursday, August 30. 11 – 12
The book group with good coffee and a mission.. one of our many exciting collaborations with the New City Initiative!

Wild Goose West is coming! Next weekend, August 31-September 2
Day passes now available if you want to bring the family for a taste of this exciting project!

Sacred Garden Dedication: Next Sunday, September 2
Have you seen our SE corner garden lately? We owe a big thank you to CityRepair’s Village Building Convergence team and Eagle Scout Christopher Luchini, his family, and his troop for transforming this area into a sacred garden this summer. We’ll celebrate with prayer and outdoor coffee hour.

History Room Brunch: Sunday, September 16, 11:15
Come have a tasty brunch and explore ways you might help the ongoing project to preserve, share, and celebrate our parish history and present. All are welcome, but do sign-up in advance starting this Sunday.

 

Parish News
Parishioner Jim Pecore is staying at his sister Carol’s home while receiving treatment for melanoma. Consider sending a card to 4676 Oakridge Road, Lake Oswego OR 97035. Jim is also happy to have visitors but has limited energy. If you’d like to call or visit, please contact Sara for more information.

Got a name tag? If you do, start wearing it! We have had loads of guests this summer and expect more leading into the fall. Can’t find yours or never had one? Let the office know.

Covenant of Hope update: Annika and her children are settled in at their apartment and doing well; they went to the zoo last week and are looking forward to the start of a new school term.
The family is still in need of:

  • a dresser or chest of drawers
  • cards to let them know we’re thinking of them (please check with the church office or Linda Goertz for the address)
  • prayers

Word Made Flesh, Made Bread

Rev. Julia Fritts McWilliams has been such a gift to us this summer! Did you miss any of her beautiful sermons? Her words from this past Sunday are below, but don’t miss What Sign Will You Give Us? and God is in the Midst of Even This.

Come Lord Christ: our Word, made Flesh, made Bread; abide in us this day. Amen.+

Good morning, sweet friends here at St. David of Wales! Or, as my little neighbor says, “St. David of the Whales.” “I want to go there!,” she says – “I love whales too!” There’s so much love here, my new-old friends, and it has been a privilege to serve with you a bit this summer. You may know this already, or you may not: what you all are doing here at St. David’s is very important. You’re helping people to discover that church is alive; that church is a relevant and beautiful thing. That being in relationship with God matters. That offering beautiful worship fills our souls. That being nourished by the Word and the Bread of Christ strengthens us, readies us, to be Godbearers out into a wary world. Serving the diocese of Western Oregon as I do, I see how urgently needed this is. I commend you, and I thank God for you.
Jesus says today, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

We’ve thought a lot about Bread this summer, haven’t we? Sometimes it happens this way, that our lectionary text gives us this long run of teachings all in a row, all about Bread. This summer we’ve pondered: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty…” I am the living bread that came down from heaven.” Then this and next Sunday’s text: “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.”

Jesus was so corporeal, wasn’t he? Fully incarnate, fully flesh. What more earthy gift could there be than to give his body and blood as our food and our drink. Jesus was certainly never one to go small, was he – giving himself so fully like this, for the sake of the whole world: Bread of heaven, to earth come down. And as mysterious and hard as it may be to think of our Lord as body and blood, bread and wine; even with the cosmically wide scope of his Presence with us, and in us, in the Eucharistic Feast, Jesus reminds us that he is also the basic stuff of life, our simple bread, our everyday sustenance.
Bread has an important place throughout Jesus’ ministry, doesn’t it. I’m reminded of its place in the Lord’s Prayer. Teaching his disciples how to pray, he said, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Not “give us enough for the season, or  for the year, or for a lifetime.” Not “give us this day a feast of riches”…Jesus said, “give us the nourishment we need to get through this day.” Just enough, for this day.

In the Aramaic text from the Peshitta text of the second century (1), we find real beauty in the words of his prayer. “Hawvlan  lachma  d’sunquanan  yaomana:” Give us bread for our needs this day. Give us lachma, which means both bread, and understanding. Lachma, the root of the word Hachma that we heard today in Proverbs, meaning Holy Wisdom, and later translated as Sophia in the Greek. Give us bread, give us understanding, give us wisdom – enough to suffice for this day: enough wisdom for just today’s step: d’sunquanan yaomana.

Isn’t that the hardest part, really  – the next step? We pray, “God of the cosmos, with-me on earth, help me: give me the wisdom to know how to take just the next step in front of me.”  This seems like a particularly relevant prayer for all of us heading into – I hesitate to say it – Autumn. Yes, we’re full on in the heat of this long-awaited late summer, but we all see the signs of the coming season. Even as I write this sermon I hear the University marching band practicing for the first time. Autumn is coming – a time for new beginnings, next steps – and with it comes a return of a certain pace, greater unknown, paths ahead that may require big steps.

But there I go again, as we all tend to do – running off into the future, thinking about the next step and the next step after that, and which way to go…when Jesus teaches us to come back to the present. Give us the nourishment and the wisdom to be in the present; to take the step in front of us on this day.  As every great spiritual tradition teaches, the practice of being in the present is always the goal. Come back to the present: release the past; trust God with the future. Give us what we need for this day…for this day is all we really have. Jesus, our teacher, has said this before.

Do you remember in his sermon on the Mount when Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in ____?” Spirit. The poor in spirit…a phrase that confused me for a long time. But again, the ancient languages give us the key. The word he used for “spirit” is best translated as “breath”: Pneuma in Greek, Ruach in Hebrew, Shekina in Aramaic…the breath. The one thing, the only thing, that we really have in the present moment: this breath. Blessed are they who know that the only thing they really have is this present breath. Blessed are those who live in the present, who cherish this day. Give us, this day, our daily breath.

Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

We as Christians are so blessed to know him. Not everyone does. We as Christians have this beautiful gift of the Eucharist to receive him: to feel his presence abiding in us. But with it comes the responsibility to be his Body in the world: as Mother Theresa said, we are the only hands and feet he has now. And so we are to feed each other. Whether it’s here at the altar or out in the classroom, the studio, the office, the neighborhood – we are to feed one another, and bear his Holy Presence out into the world.

Jesus gave himself as living bread for the life of the world. Soon the table will be set, and we will gather to receive his nourishment and his wisdom, to become what we receive: the Body of Christ, given for the world. As each of us is drawn forward, just as we are, into the mystery of the Word made Flesh made Bread, let us breathe in deeply the blessing of this present moment, and be strengthened for the step ahead. Amen.+
(1) Syriac Aramaic manuscript of the Gospels known as the Peshitta version, thought to have been written in the2nd century  AD.  Prepared by Rev. G.H.Gwilliam, published in 1901 by Clarendon Press.

eNotes: August 16-22, 2012

The Word
Have you been missing your Sunday routine this summer? We’ve been missing you, too! Did you know that we post the test of the sermon on our blog? Want to play catch-up? Here are some recent sermons we heard:

This Week
The Living School Yard Sale: This Saturday, August 18, 8-3
Come over to pickup something special for a school-aged child in your life and support our newest building partner at the same time.

The Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 15: This Sunday, August 19, 10am
Holy Eucharist and Godly Play

The paper bulletin returns! Click the link to check it out. What do you think? Have a suggestion, comment, or thought? Feel free to send a message to the office (Office@SaintDavidPDX.org or 503.232.8461) or just scribble an idea down on the bulletin itself this Sunday and leave it under the door as we tweak its look and layout for a few weeks.

Kitchen Share SE Grand Opening: This Tuesday, August 21, 5-8pm
Welcome our new building partner at their official opening celebration on the front lawn. I heard there is a fresh ice cream making demo.. yum!

Looking Ahead
Canon Neysa Ellgren Visits: Next Sunday, August 26
Don’t miss this opportunity to visit with the diocesan Canon for Congregational
Development! All are invited to a continental breakfast with Neysa in the Grace
Room at 8:45.

Wild Goose West: August 31-September 2
Day passes now available if you want to bring the family for a taste of this exciting project!

Sacred Garden Dedication: Sunday, September 2
Have you seen our SE corner garden lately? We owe a big thank you to CityRepair’s Village Building Convergence team and Eagle Scout Christopher Luchini, his family, and his troop for transforming this area into a sacred garden this summer. We’ll celebrate with prayer and outdoor coffee hour.

History Room Brunch: Sunday, September 16, 11:15
Come have a tasty brunch and explore ways you might help the ongoing project to preserve, share, and celebrate our parish history and present. All are welcome, but do sign-up in advance starting this Sunday.

Parish News
The results are in! Checkout the full results if you haven’t already.

Got a name tag? If you do, start wearing it! We have had loads of guests this summer and expect more leading into the fall. Can’t find yours or never had one? Let the office know.

What sign will you give us?

Thank you to Rev. Julia A. Fritts McWilliams for preaching these words with us on August 5, 2012.

John 6:24-35

Come, Lord Jesus; Great I Am, come: and be known to us in the breaking open of Word and Bread. Amen.+

Good morning, my friends, and happy summer! It’s full on summer now, isn’t it – finally! A time for refreshment, for refilling our depleted reserves. Mother Sara is away doing just that, and gave me this honor of serving and worshiping with you again today. We come together to find rest, and renewal; solace, and strengthening; courage, and reassurance. We come together to refill those empty places that the world would drain away: We come to be filled, and fed.

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Jesus Christ: the Great I Am: Word made flesh, Bread of life – self-given in love, to feed the whole world, and deliver it from brokenness. We know who he is, what he is, two thousand years after he said this to the thronging crowds that day. But they weren’t so sure. Even after witnessing that long string of miracles – exorcisms, healings, raising the dead, feeding the five thousand, walking on water! – even still, after all that, the people asked him this: “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing?”

Oh my. “Show us a sign!” with the signs all around. “Help us believe you!” with proof right at hand. We shake our heads and marvel at their blindness; we commiserate with Jesus at all the hard-headedness he faced. But, my friends, isn’t it just that same way for us? When confusion exhausts us, and hope falls away, when we’ve lost all sense of direction – isn’t that us, calling out the same thing? “Show us a sign!” “Help us to believe that you are who you say; help me to believe that you are at work in my life.” Even now, after two thousand years of understanding and cultural hindsight, after a lifetime of learning all that he is and all that he does, I shake my head and marvel at my own blindness, because sometimes it’s that way for me. “Show me a sign, Lord – show me a sign: am I out here all alone, or can I believe that you at work in this?”

Maybe this is the question that lies deep in the heart of things: can we believe? Jesus tells us today that our work is to believe: he says, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” We are to believe in God, and believe in Jesus. But sometimes that’s very hard: we are creatures of intellect, and reason, and doubt; and life on earth is a devastating business sometimes. It can be very hard to believe that a loving God is at work in the world when suffering is all around. It brings us face to face with our old friend, “The Big Question.” Remember that? We explored it a few weeks ago: if God is real, then why is there so much suffering that we cry out for signs at all?

Some would say that suffering is a sign of God’s unreality, of God’s absence. Some would say that suffering simply integral to finite mortal life. I am persuaded that all of our troubles – sadness, worry, grief, fear, anger, doubt, pain – all these things are part of mortal life, not a sign that something is broken. Suffering is inherent in being human. And isn’t that why Jesus came? To be with us in the midst of the suffering. To be the bread of life to sustain us, the cup of grace to remind us of his presence. To be the sign for us of larger life, proof of his love, all around us – no matter how many times we fall into unbelief.

So look again. Find the signs and wonders that have marked the path of your life, and grow in belief that God is well at work in it. Come again into believing, no matter how many times you’ve lost your way in unbelief – as the Sufi mystic Jalal ad-Din Rumi said, “Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn’t matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again; come.”

Jesus understands us in all our brokenness – in our unbelief, in our hard-headedness – and beckons us to grow in belief that, although we may not see exactly the sign we’ve set our hearts on, God’s signs are there, all around. So come, believe; find the signs of his presence in you, and among you. He is the Bread of life; he is the Cup of grace. Come; be filled and replenished: become what you receive*: the Body of Christ, given for the world.

Amen.

*”Become what you receive…” St. Augustine of Hippo, 4th century