Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I like Thanksgiving for all sorts of reasons. I love the story. My first public performance was as a character in a kindergarten Thanksgiving play. I was Squanto, the fellow who introduced the pilgrims to corn. (disclaimer: I know nothing of the historical accuracy of my brief stage role.) I also enjoy the gathering of friends and family. I enjoy the food, the travel and the general pace of the holiday.

It may very well be the shift in activity level around the Thanksgiving holiday that resonates with me. It is something of a conscious shift. We become active in affirming what we hold dear. We proactively consider who we are, what we have and to whom we belong.

Of course, it can also be a difficult time for many. In listing the blessings, we note that through the passage of time and by reason of loss, some of the blessings of our lives seem inaccessible. Few are free of this reality. We, however, are a people filled with trust. We receive gifts and we give gifts, knowing from whom they come.

Blessings upon you.


I am very much looking forward to the “quiet morning” we are hosting at St. Columba’s. Time marked by silence and contemplation is an important piece of the spiritual life. Seeking God in silence is probably one of the most neglected forms of prayer. It may be that we don’t know quite what to do in the silence. It may be that we don’t like what we hear in the silence.

Please don’t let potential discomfort or fear keep you away. Please allow me to offer you a few suggestions about engaging the silence.

First, choose a simple word of phrase that has the capacity to gently capture your attention. It could be a simple and short line from the Bible. It could be a word or phrase from one of the meditations that will be available at the “ quiet morning.” It could be any word or phrase that focuses you.

Internally, repeat the word. When you start thinking about work, repeat the word and let work go. When you think of your grocery list, repeat the word. When you think of some perceived slight, repeat the word. Let your word help you push extraneous thoughts gently from your attention.

Finally, be aware of the silence and listen to it. What is happening as you become attentive to the silence? What do you hear in the silence?

If you are not able to be with us on the “quiet morning,” you can employ the simple method above wherever you are. Use it whenever you are able. Twenty minutes is a good starting point. Twice a week is a fine beginning.

In closing, I leave you with a snippet from 1 Kings. The prophet Elijah was beaten down and in need of God’s presence. God was found in the sheer silence.

1Kings 19:11   He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Thinking Big

We are in the midst of our annual stewardship campaign. We are seeking pledges to build a budget and accomplish all our goals as a parish. The pledge is our primary vehicle of support, but I want to share some interesting thoughts from Harriet Dicicco, our junior warden. She is thinking big!

And something to grow on….

Participating in our community – be it Wednesday or Sunday worship services in our Chapel, the events and meetings in our Parish Hall or elsewhere – I am drawn to the many ways in which God moves, works and is celebrated.

Certainly, God is celebrated in tangible ways in our physical site. The stained glass windows. The organ. The trees. We all hear comments about our church’s beauty, about the special spiritual ambiance of our chapel.

And I watch God at work through us in our Parish Hall. A physical space whose value lies in the more intangible - enabling community to come together to work, to socialize, to support, to learn – at times for parishioners and other times, for our larger community.

And I think about how God moves each of us to become more fully His disciples and to use our time, talent and treasures to create a world which honors and practices His tenets. Assuredly, we are able to do some of this on our own but I have found that my faith is strengthened and clarified when I am a part of a community. And so, it is timely to reflect on how I can give to that community and to myself.

Certainly our pledges are the backbone of ‘operating’ St. Columba’s on a daily basis – our ‘meat and potatoes’ – feeding ourselves, our souls by ensuring that we have a place where we come together and a rector and staff to see to our needs. Our pledges are monies to operate on.

But what about ‘dessert’? What about monies to grow on? Monies that we may give but may never see used. What about those?

There are many members of our community whose gifts we are enjoying though they are no longer with us. Thanks to the Jelke Family, we have an organ and the ability to hear, and for some, sing in praise of God and His works.

The Harold Brooke Family ensures that we are able to nurture our property.

Parishioners’ generosity enable us to enjoy our stained glass windows….and the ever-changing light which filters through them throughout the seasons– a reminder for us of God’s ability to light us and our lives.

And think of those who contributed to the campaign for the Parish Hall….

So many people have provided us with ‘dessert’ because they contributed monies to grow on.

I would love to be able to provide a dessert on the scale of crème brulee…but I am not going to wait until I can. For now, in addition to my weekly pledge for monies to operate on, I also contribute separate monies for dessert. Granted, my dessert is more on the scale of the chocolate chip cookie or the cupcake. But, for me what matters is the sharing towards something not yet envisioned, something that may make a difference to a person or people I may never meet. Something that will, in some way, help people and a community to connect with God.

I invite you to think about dessert. About making a contribution beyond your weekly pledge. Monies to grow on.

God is about community, communities. Each one of us may contribute the equivalent of a cupcake – but when we put these cupcakes all together – ah, just think of what an amazing dessert we can create.