On Behalf of Your Faith

It’s that time of year, again. I know I have begun to notice the increased chatter-fervor even, across the radio and television waves, and across the digital streams that occupy our lives. My email inbox is filling up with funding requests and campaign newsletters, urging me to take action for a cause. I am sure most of you are right there with me in noticing this increased onslaught and jockeying for our attention. That’s right...it’s election season.

I also notice that I don’t feel enthusiasm for this time of year, for some reason. As someone who is a bit of a political nerd and is fascinated by the story that our politics tells, this is disconcerting to me. Now, you may not be as interested in politics as I am; and, that’s okay. However, I firmly believe that political issues are not in some other stratosphere that doesn’t involve us. Rather, political issues are, by nature, human issues. From education and housing to transportation and equality, these are issues that touch all of us. The question then becomes, why are we not enthusiastic about election season?

We are dogged by media outlets informing us how divided we are; how polarized our country is. In fact, it is difficult not to believe it, as the assertions of the 24-hour-news-cycle are constantly in our face. Literally, it can be impossible to escape the blitz!... How about a different way to tune in? How about an approach that is rooted not in what you hear, see, scroll by, or are told; but, in what you believe?

We all have beliefs-and, we all have shared values. We all want safety and security for our families and communities. We all want to live healthy and productive lives. We all want clean air and water. We all want our children to be well-educated in order to grow and thrive. We all want shelter and access to healthy food. We all want to be able to have sound infrastructure that allows us to contribute to the greater good of our communities and society. We all want to be treated with dignity and equality…

So, what if we tuned into these shared beliefs and values? What if we advocated and voted, not in spite of our faith; but, on behalf of it? I have a hunch that we just might view this election season a little bit differently.

This November, many of the values that we all hold dear will be on the ballot. This could be your opportunity to live the life that you believe. Holy Comforter will be hosting a four week series: How to be a Christian in an Election Season, September 30-October 21. So, I encourage you to do your research on the ballot initiatives, read your blue book, talk to your neighbors, family members and friends about their thoughts and their beliefs. We all have something to learn from each other.

Who knows, we might just be able to turn down the noise on what we are told we believe…

Jackson Dreiling


Mind, Body & Spirit-A Basic Guide

Our bodies are temples, this is repeated over and over is our Scripture, most notably in Corinthians 6:19-20:

 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body."

This concept isn’t unique to Christianity. Several other religions have a similar concept. In the Buddhist Anguttara Nikaya I:43 ( a Buddhist Scripture used in Theravada Buddhism) states: 

"There is one thing that when cultivated and regularly practiced, leads to deep spiritual intention, to peace, to mindfulness and clear comprehension, to vision and knowledge, to a happy life here and now and to the culmination of wisdom and awakening. And what is that one thing? It is mindfulness centered on the body." 

I could give you hundreds of verses from religions around the world talking about this. But, let’s get back to why you should treat your body as a temple and as God’s dwelling place. Over history when temples are not of use to a society anymore they are destroyed or abandoned. A center of religion, spirituality, economy, rites, laws brought to the ground, sometimes overnight; leaving behind pain, confusion, and suffering, sometimes for centuries. Yet, when the temple is taken care of and constantly grows and adapts, it can be in use perpetually. For example, the Cathedral of Saint Dominic in Croatia was built in the 3rd century; but, is still in use today! The Cathedral has been taken care of and adapted to fit the modern worshiper, but the function is still the same.

The same can be done with our bodies/temples and the best part is that it’s never too late to start. Sister Madonna Buder is a nun who ran her first triathlon at age 52 and currently holds the record for the oldest woman to run an Ironman Triathlon at age 82. She attributes her running as a way of worshiping to combine “mind, body and soul”. 

So, how do you make this connection? How do you incorporate physical activity into your spiritual life? How do we make our bodies temples as God calls us to do? The answer, as with many things in life, is to start small-meditative prayer on walks is a good way to start. Then you can add in “prayer breath” when doing simple or complex exercise. To do this, start with a positive affirmation, i.e. “God of light” on an inhale; then, on the exhale finish your prayer, “Give me strength”. Repeat this in your head as you go through your exercise routine and feel how you will connect closer to God!

 If you want to explore this deeper I invite you to Sunday mornings at 7:45am in the prayer garden where we will have a guided meditative prayer and light yoga-based movement (you can do it in your Sunday best) to fully engage our mind, body, and spirit.

Natalie Keller

Youth Leader & Personal Trainer

Finding Your Niche

The program year is underway, and things are hopping at Holy Comforter! Our website is covered with details about programs, our coffee hours have been filled with opportunities to get involved, and our weekends have been booked with trainings, open houses, and kick-offs. All of this generates energy and excitement for those who are already involved, but it can be pretty overwhelming for folks who are newer to our community.

While there are some people who are ready to jump in on day one and get to work, there are many more people who need some time. Maybe they need time to get the lay of the land. Maybe they need time to rest, or to figure things out. Or maybe they need some time to get to know some people and make a few friends. Whatever they need, and however long they need it, it’s okay. One of the advantages of being a program size church is that there is room for everyone: from those who need to sit, listen, and be fed, to those who thrive on daily tasks to do around campus. People need to adjust their level of involvement to compliment the season of their life, and that’s okay.

One of the challenges to being a program sized church is that it is harder to get to know people, and harder to get involved when we’re ready. There are a lot of unfamiliar faces, and even for the most outgoing people, it’s overwhelming to try connect with them all. That is where all of those programs and opportunities to get involved come in. Each of those gatherings or projects is a chance for people to get to know one another in a more meaningful way, and to build smaller communities within our larger one. It is those smaller communities where people can develop friendships, get and give support, and find their home. If we aren’t careful, those small groups can become closed and unwelcoming, but if we are intentional about it, they can be niches where people are loved, fed, and empowered to do God’s work in the world.

You may have noticed an array of postcards in Maglaras Hall over the last few weeks. Those cards are invitations for us to give those who are looking for their niche. A compilation of all the cards will be printed in a few weeks in our new “Newcomer’s Guide”, but the individual cards are there for us to hand to someone who might be interested in a specific ministry or program. Please feel free to take one, put it in someone’s hand, and use it as a conversation starter. Use one to invite someone to a ministry that you’re passionate about, or use one to invite someone to a ministry you know nothing about, but think they might enjoy. It’s all about helping people find the niche that’s right for them!

Why is finding your niche important? When you have a niche, you have familiar faces to greet during coffee hour. When you have a niche, you have people around you who can support you, and you can support in turn. When you have a niche, you have ownership in the community, and the work we do together. When you have a niche, you have a place of belonging. Let’s help everyone find their niche!

Jamie Rumsey, Senior Warden

Prayer

Prayer – and praying – has been much on my mind of late.  Perhaps it is because of the feeling of uneasiness and discord that seems to be permeating our society and nation; the constant presence of uncertainty that surrounds being a caregiver for someone I love; or simply the happening of “life” with all its complexities and daily ups and downs, but prayer has been a constant companion of mine for some time now. 

Morning Prayer has been part of my daily morning routine for many, many years now.  However, at present, I find that my most serious and most intimate prayers have occurred in the darkness of the night watches, when the shadows of anxiety and unease rear their heads the most.  It is at these times that the serene words of Compline (“The Lord Almighty grant us a peaceful night and a perfect end”) or the repetitiveness of the Angelus Prayer (“Hail Mary, full of grace, blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus…), waft through my head, calming my heart of its anxieties, uneasiness, and uncertainties. 

Prayer has long been a tool that I have utilized to help ease my anxieties which, if left untended, can run their due course from mere anxiety to sheer panic attack.  Why prayer?  Well, I believe it is because through prayer I no longer feel alone in the darkness – no longer alone on this path of uneasiness – no longer alone trying to navigate the complexities of life. 

Through prayer I am connected to something greater than just me – greater than even my family or friends.  I feel connected to the one true and living God – God who, as the psalmist says, “neither slumbers nor sleeps,” who “preserves us from all evil” and “keeps us safe”, the God who “is our shade at our right hand”, who “watches our going out and coming in forevermore.”  Psalm 121

The late Henri Nouwen in his book, Here and Now: Living in the Spirit, sums it up best for me.  There he writes, “When we pray, we enter into the presence of God whose name is God-with-us.  To pray is to listen attentively to the One who addresses us here and now.  When we dare to trust that we are never alone but that God is always with us, always cares for us, and always speaks to us, then we can gradually detach ourselves from the voices that make us guilty or anxious and thus allow ourselves to dwell in the present moment.” 

Through prayer I am reminded that I am never truly alone, but that God is with me at all times - day or night – in times of surety and uncertainty, of calmness or chaos – God is there. 

Through prayer, we not only develop our relationship with the Divine – but we further our relationship with the Holy Spirit, being the conduit for the Spirit to move in and through each of us – connecting us with each other, with God, and with the world. 

Feeling alone, anxious, disconnected?  Give prayer a try.  If you don’t know where to begin, try looking at our own Book of Common Prayer.

The Book of Common Prayer is full of prayers for every occasion of life – births, celebrations, illness, death.  One simply has to open it up to discover its riches, something I commend you do try.  Open our Prayer Book.  Explore its beauty, its spirituality, its rule of living.  Check out the prayers found in its pages, and pray them.  Let them become part of you – your very being.  Let them be a conduit through which you may find that connection with each other, with our community/society/nation/world, and most importantly, with our God.  Let them help be your pathway to peace - that peace that passes all understanding – for that is what will happen through prayer.

Amen. 

Fr. Bill+

Love Where You're At

Earlier this week, I was sitting outside on our deck, drinking coffee in the morning. I know, it sounds quite exciting! But, I realized something in that moment of the mundane; something I found very powerful. Being in that moment revealed a value to me that I had not paid attention to in far too long; and, I’m hoping that I haven’t lost. I was in a state of being. And, it was perfect.

Too often, I am doing, even when I think I am simply being. Usually, I am sitting, drinking coffee AND looking at my phone...or reading the newspaper (yes, I still read the newspaper, and love it)...or thinking about my upcoming day.... As I started to reflect upon this habit of doing while being, a thought occurred to me: is it ingrained in us that we always have to be something? How often do we think, “be strong” or “be positive” or “be nice”? Even from the time we are young, we are asked what we want to be when we grow up; and, as we grow, where we want to be in five years. It is clear to me that we are constantly conditioned to be something.

A loved one recently told me to just be here. Those words were like a blanket for my soul. They gave me comfort, even a permission, that I didn’t have to work so hard to strive to be something. I could just be.

Those comforting words also reminded me that one’s being does directly affect those around you. Not only is it comforting for me to simply be; it is often times what those around us need from us.

No matter what we’re going through, no matter our status, no matter our health, it is part of our journey-our story. We all have a story to tell; and, I believe, as a person of faith, that joy will come in the morning. Around that corner, just over that ridge, there’s that bright side of the road, that sun will peek and bear its face. So, why not love where you’re at and allow yourself to soak it up, breathe, and be? It will make for one great story.

Jackson Dreiling

And It's A Wrap!

At 4:15 pm yesterday it was all over. All the props, music and teaching tools put away. Everyone had gone home. Lights turned off and doors locked. So ended another year of camps at Holy Comforter.

I love camps! Yes, I am tired and worn out but I love that Holy Comforter opens its campus up for 3 weeks of chaos and fun. I love it when a child who doesn’t attend Holy Comforter walks into the Sanctuary for the first time and is in awe of its beauty. I love it when they hear the Hook organ and say it’s the coolest thing they have ever heard. I love it when a child tells me that there are really nice people at this church. I love it when a child tells me they can hardly wait until next summer when they can come back again.

Thank you Holy Comforter for allowing the campus to essentially shut down during camp weeks so that our camps can take over and use every bit of space we have for programs. Thank you Holy Comforter for your generous financial support to allow all of our camps to be extremely low cost so that all may participate no matter their ability to pay the tuition. Your generosity has touched many kids over the years and it truly makes a difference in their lives. Thanks to the many volunteers who assembled snacks and cleaned up our messes – your smiles impact little lives.

So the camps are over and Joel and I are going camping!

Mary McIntire

On Faith

The average tenure of a faith leader in a Christian community is less than five years. One reason may be that after that length of time, conversations become harder as relationships grow deeper. The longer I have been a priest, the more basic the work becomes.Textbooks answers have been exhausted and a seminary education has run its course. Now I’m spending more time exploring fundamental concerns of what it means to be fully human and live faithfully.

For instance, a recurring conversation centers around the mystery of connection and belonging. I hear people wrestling with questions like: with more communication tools available than ever before, why do we feel so disconnected from each other? How do we build community in a world where we eat in our cars more than in our homes? Why are we spending more time interacting with friends and family on social media than in person? How can we support one another besides liking a post or donating money?

Underneath all of these important questions, I hear a deep longing for real relationships. A desire to know and be known, to love and be loved, as we truly are. So many factors can get in the way: FOMO (fear of missing out) can spread people thin and leave us exhausted; economic realities can keep us burning the candle at both ends; a culture that values busy-ness and rewards productivity makes it easy to over-commit. The irony is that many pursuits emerge from our desire to connect and belong, yet their practice often leaves us unsatisfied.

To say that my work as a priest is becoming more basic, I mean that I am spending more time reminding people, myself included, that God created us to be human beings, not human doings. That God made us in love, and for love. That our deepest longings to know and be known, to love and be loved, is what it means to be human. We need to be reminded of that simple basic truth again and again. And we need a place to practice.

Goodness knows a faith community can be a place where FOMO, economic realities and a culture of busy-ness can run unchecked. But at their best, faith communities exist to proclaim that God created human beings in love and for love. Practicing real relationships can be hard, messy work, but so worth it. Building a place of connection and belonging takes time.

If you haven’t visited a faith community in a while, and you find yourself longing for a place of true belonging, consider this an invitation. Broomfield has over fifty active faith communities that span multiple traditions. There is an ancient Indian fable of blind men and an elephant: each touches a part of the animal so their experience is different, yet all of them together appreciate the magnitude of the whole. So it is with human experiences of God. No one can ever grasp the whole, but each tradition touches some sense of the divine mystery.

Mother Kim

Amazing Music is Around the Corner

Although the heat from Summer is upon us, thoughts from ministers, teachers, and musicians alike will turn to planning for the next season. There will be wonderful opportunities to invite neighbors and friends to see and hear what Holy Comforter offers, as well as to attend other events in the Broomfield area. Our Hook organ is a treasure, and we will continue the Brownbag Series and the Lenten Friday concerts, offering guest musicians time with this unique instrument. More details soon, but expect reflective and seasonal selections during these recitals. For those more comfortable with an informal setting, Ben will be rehearsing the last Tuesday afternoon in July, August, and September, and all are welcome to ascend the stairs to the balcony, or just sit downstairs and listen in conditioned air.

The Denver Rocky Mountain chapter of the organist’s guild will begin their season Monday, September 10th with a free program at Calvary Episcopal Church in Golden. The guild offers free organ lessons each summer to school-aged music students, who complete an audition process in the Spring. These students are truly interested in the organ, and some have gone on to college-level study. This concert at Calvary will feature the Summer scholarship students.  Lakewood Cultural Center has recently added a digital theater organ and the next concert there is July 29th with Dave Wickerham, sponsored by the local Theatre Organ Society. This Sunday evening, July 22nd at 9pm, Lyn Loewi will play “Music in the Dark” at St John’s Cathedral, Denver. “No speaking, no program; simply unique organ music in the dark.”

Go ahead and reach for that ice-cold lemonade! Fire up the grill a few more times, throw some frisbee, and know that even in mid-Summer, plans are being made for an amazing Fall and Winter season.

Ben Ehrlich

the weight

I have been thinking a lot about the seeming unrest in our country-the upheaval of radical factions on all sides, the disintegration of civility, the lack of respect and care for our neighbors, our fellow human beings… Every day, there are more instances-real life stories-to reveal this sorrowful state of affairs.

Before I go any further, I assure you, this blog is written to be a glimmer of hope, a silver lining on what may be clouding the state of our nation. Thanks to my father, I am a lover of music. My Dad has an incredible vinyl record collection and vintage guitar arsenal-beautiful arrays both visually and audibly. He plays a bit of guitar and harmonica; and, can sing some soul music - unfortunately, I didn’t receive any of those talents. But, I do share his love for music.

This week marks the 50th anniversary of one of his favorite band’s transcendent album, Music From Big Pink, by The Band. This music was, and is, transcendent, because it sounds timeless-it could have been recorded in 1868, 1968 or 2018. The mix of rock, Americana, blues, Zydeco, soul, gospel, bluegrass is so fitting for the messages and inspiration it offers. Recorded during the tumultuous times of 1968, with riots, assassinations and war, the album is, and always will be, anchored by the song, The Weight. As NPR Music contributor Tom Moon writes: “Think about that moment. Nobody witnessing the turmoil of 1968, at, say, the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, was waiting around for a salve like "The Weight" or, for that matter, any of the songs from Music From Big Pink. Rock was getting ever more psychedelic; something small and frail and human-scale wasn't in the realm of possibility. It came out of nowhere, this basement noise. Snuck in and took up residence without putting on airs. And it's haunting us still.”

That “salve”, as Moon describes, for me has always inspired me to think about how I view and treat others. As the song’s chorus invites, Take a load off Fanny/Take a load for free, Take a load of Fanny/And, put the load right on me. The song is marked by basic human interactions with folks in troublesome times, always with the above invitation. In other words, the song encourages us to bear another’s burden, to ease their pain, to lift them up, to take care of them. I have always wondered why The Weight was written in such cryptic language, complete with multiple scriptural references. But, since, I have changed my thinking from why, to how. And, in viewing the song in the context of the times, I see the full “weight” of its importance.

In these days and times of unrest and upheaval, the importance and power of art is more clear than ever. Art has the power to inspire, to heal, to reach hearts and minds, to produce love. And, love is exactly what we need right now. We won’t always like each other, or each other’s views, politics, beliefs or convictions. And, that’s okay. We can still sit down together and listen, watch, ponder and create. It’s how we can still live and love together.

Jackson Dreiling

Growing as a Welcoming Community

Whoever you are

Wherever you’re from

Whatever you seek

Whenever you come

WE WELCOME YOU

These words are printed on signs, bulletins, brochures, and our website as an invitation for all who are looking for a faith community or a spiritual home. It is a strong and powerful statement that says that people are important to us; whether they are found or lost, friend or stranger, committed or unsure, we see them as God’s children and they are welcome among us. What a great message of invitation for those outside our doors, right?

But I think that message is just as important inside our doors. For me, it is a constant reminder that we are called to welcome others just as we are welcomed, to accept others just as we are accepted, and to include others just as we are included. It reminds me that we cannot live into our mission, to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ, if we don’t first make room for all people in our common life together.

This spring the vestry has been thinking a lot about what it means to “welcome” someone. Does it mean to open our doors to them and invite them inside? Does it mean to offer them a friendly smile or a warm handshake? Does it mean to offer them a snack or a cup of coffee? These are acts of hospitality and are crucial first steps, but is that all there is to it?

When you first came to Holy Comforter, what did it take for you to feel truly welcome? Was it when someone learned your name and introduced you to others? Was it when someone remembered you from a previous visit and made a point to come back and say hello again? Was it when someone made room for you to sit next to them at the table, or invited you out for a cup of coffee? Was it when someone encouraged you to join them at an event, or asked for your help with a project? I suspect that whatever it was, you felt welcome because you made a personal connection, and that connection is why you stayed.

Holy Comforter prides itself on being a welcoming community but as we continue to grow, making these connections is getting more challenging. We are blessed with so many visitors and new members, but sometimes it can feel so overwhelming that we just retreat to those we know. While this is more comfortable for us individually, the vestry believes that God is calling us out of our comfort to make room for everyone that He calls through our doors. As Holy Comforter continues to grow, we invite you to join us in revitalizing our welcoming community, starting with these intentional acts of welcome.

  1. Let’s wear our nametags. It makes greeting and connecting easier for everyone if we can put a name with a face from one week to the next. If you don’t have a nametag, (or if you’ve lost yours) please let the office know. They’ll be happy to make you one.

  2. Let’s make a point to introduce ourselves to one unfamiliar face each week. Don’t worry about offending someone who’s been attending for a while - we can all use more friendly faces in our lives.  Instead of saying, “Are you new here?” try, “I don’t think we’ve met yet.”

  3. Let’s make room. Sometimes finding a place to sit is the biggest challenge a visitor faces. Consider leaving aisle seats open in your pew, or set aside a few seats at your table for visitors so you can invite them to join you.

  4. Let’s make sure no one sits alone. When you see a person, or a couple, or a family alone during coffee hour or a special event, go over and say, “Hi.” They wouldn’t come if they didn’t want to meet people, and they won’t care if there’s a generation or two in between you. I promise.

These steps are a small part of the plan the vestry is developing for Holy Comforter so we can be intentional about inviting, welcoming, and connecting visitors and newcomers in our community. If you feel called to a ministry of welcome beyond these simple acts, please let me know so we can include you on the team.

Jamie Rumsey, Senior Warden

Coming this Fall: Sunday School for All ages

Is your calendar more full now than it used to be? As a culture, we are constantly on the move. Busy-ness spans the generations, from students to retired, every season of life offering endless opportunities for engagement. 

Recognizing that many priorities lay claim for our time and attention, Holy Comforter will begin offering christian education for all ages on Sunday mornings this fall. In conversation with vestry, our shared observation is that fewer are able to return another time during the week, yet long for substantive conversation about things that matter. 

I'm thankful that days are past when people attended church out of guilt or fear, or because there was nothing else to do on a Sunday morning. We know that when you're here now, it's because you choose to make worship a priority. We want to honor your time by offering substantive Christian formation opportunities as well. 

Concretely, this looks like:

 - Beginning in August, we will shift our 9 am worship to 8:30 am. 10:45 will remain the same.

-  Sunday School for children 4 years through adult will be offered from 9:45-10:30 am. This includes Godly Play classes for Pre-K-2nd, and 3rd -5th, youth group Bible study for 6th-12th, and an adult offering in the chapel. Maglaras Hall will be still be reserved for coffee hour fellowship. Professionally staffed nursery care for 0-3 will be available. 

 - During 8:30 and 10:45 worship, our nursery care and God's Play Place will continue to be offered for children 0-5. Activity bags, children's Bibles and bulletins will be available in the pews for children 6 and older. 

The vestry and I are excited to make this shift, believing that this change to our schedule will create new opportunities to deepen our connections with each other and mature our faith. 

I'd appreciate your input on areas you'd be interested in learning. If you'd like to be a part of the planning or teaching team for any of our Sunday School offerings, please reply and let me know! 

 

Grace and peace,

Kim+

The Wisdom of Mary Poppins

Just a short week ago 58 lively children arrived at the Holy Comforter campus to experience our 6th annual music camp. They were lively, fun loving chatterboxes all excited to experience the wonders of Mary Poppins!

As a kid, Mary Poppins was the first movie I remember seeing in a theater. My siblings, cousins and I arrived at the Lakeridge Theater on 17th and Wadsworth, where our Moms just dropped us off and went shopping, for a fun afternoon that was magical.

Bringing that magic to children was so much fun! We popped into chalk pavement pictures, decorated umbrellas, made bird feeders, built kites and flew them! Had a tea party on the…....ok the floor not the ceiling, but oh, so much fun!

Always a favorite at music camp is being with your age group and learning an instrument. Our 1st and 2nd graders on Boomwhackers, 3rd and 4th recorders and 5th and 6th hand chimes. And not to forget the Pre-K/K campers with rhythm sticks and jingle bells! Our end of camp concert was filled with an umbrella parade, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!, I Love to Laugh, Step in Time – with our own one man band – and Let’s go Fly a Kite!

What was just amazing was listening to kids repeat Maryisms to each other – like:

Spit Spot and off we go!

Well begun is half done!

Close your mouth Michael, we are not a codfish!

In every job that must be done there is an element of fun!

Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.

How do you measure up?

Miss Mary, are you practically perfect in every way?

And oh, so many more!

Enjoy these pictures from camp – it was truly SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIDOCIOUS!

Mary McIntire

Flat Jesus

Summer is upon us, and the questions, “So, do you have plans to get away this summer?” are beginning to be asked.  It is only fitting as the words “summer” and “vacation” go together like ‘happy” and “birthday”, “peanut butter” and “jelly”, or “shrimp” and “cake” - you really can’t have one without the other.    

School is over (for most anyway), graduations have been held, and families are beginning to plan their annual pilgrimages to the mountains, lakes or beaches, historical sites, national or amusement parks, whether a different city, state, or country or not.  Summer is always a perfect time to get away and experience new journeys and make new memories.

As you pack your suitcases or tents, cars or RVs, I hope you will leave room for one more thing - God.  Make sure to take God along with you. Trust me, God doesn’t take up much room - you will still have plenty of room for your toothbrushes and socks.  However, I can guarantee that God will make your experience and journeys much more memorable - transformational in fact.  It is just all a matter of perspective - how you look at your journey.  

As you head out on your journey, be sure to look for signs of God along the way.  They are there - for God is everywhere - in nature, in creation, in the people you meet and the relationships created.

I remember as I first experienced the awe-inspiring majesty of Arches National Park in Utah several years ago - the words of Psalm 95 came bursting forth in my mind (“In his hand are the caverns of the earth, and the heights of the hills are his also.”)  While snorkeling in Belize and experiencing the beauty of God’s creatures of the sea, the words of Genesis 1:20-21 flowed forth (“So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, …. And God saw that it was good.”)  Seeing the whales in Alaska (“There is that Leviathan” Psalm 104), or the majesty of the Colorado Monument (“I lift my eyes to the hills, from where is my help to come” Psalm 121), God was there - the God of creation as evident in nature.  

Each experience allowed me to see God in a new way - through a new lens or light - thereby transforming my own relationship with God.  Mostly, I was assured that no matter where I was, God was there also.

This summer, we want you to share our experiences with God with us.  This Sunday, pick up your “On the Road with God” bag and take it with you as you travel on your various pilgrimages.  Each bag contains items for you and your families to experience God in new and exciting ways while you are on the road.  Most importantly, each bag contains “Flat Jesus” to help you remember that Jesus is there with you.  Simply color, cut out, and take Him with you wherever you go. Be sure to photograph your “Flat Jesus” moments and post them on your own social media accounts tagging Holy Comforter (#HolyComforter) along the way.  Or share them with us so we may post them on Holy Comforter’s Facebook or Instagram page.

Use “Flat Jesus” to begin conversations with others - ask folks, “What “Flat Jesus” moments did you have?”  Let your curiosity flow. Share your experiences, your stories, your own “Good News” with the people you meet, and with us!  Such conversations and stories are consistent with Jesus’ own ministry of building and supporting relationships. If you happen to visit a church on your travels (which I HIGHLY recommend), use “Flat Jesus” to connect you with your fellow Christians.

God is in the world just waiting to be experienced.  So let’s see where God is in the world this summer. And in the process, let’s see how you are transformed.  You will be, for that is what happens when we experience the life-giving, loving grace of God up front and personal.

Father Bill

Call of Duty

“...We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” (Declaration of Independence) Wise, beautiful and soaring words-written with vision and purpose for the glory of our nation.

The Pledge of Allegiance, said by school children every day, closes with fortitude, “...one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”.

America: “The last best hope of the world.”

Eleven. This is the number of days in which the American flag has been ordered to fly at half-staff thus far in 2018. As there have been just over 140 days in the current calendar year, this current rate will yield to nearly one month of our flag hanging in sorrow. As I was lowering the flag on Tuesday morning to honor the victims of the school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, I couldn’t help but feel disheartened. I lower the flag far too often-so often, it seems, it is just part of my weekly duties. I remember seeing the flag fly at half-staff during the course of my life, every so often, to honor our military heroes on Memorial Day, or the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7. But, recently, as evidenced by the statistics above, this is our new normal.

Is this a matter of happenstance? Is it just that sometimes bad things happen? Or, could this increased half-staff practice be a symbol of the state of our nation? Are we living up to what we put on paper for our stated ideals? Are we really still the last best hope of the world?

I would submit to you that, in our present state, the answer is no. Do we treat all with unalienable rights? Or, do we systematically oppress those we deem “the other”; do we value the whole person health and intrinsic value of every human being; do we educate, shelter and support all of our people with dignity?

Are we in solidarity, fostering freedom and equity for all? Or, do we attack each other’s beliefs, politics, and faith; do we truly invest in our people to grow opportunity now and for future generations; do we ensure the cornerstone of fairness in our criminal justice system?

These are not only American ideals; but, ideals that people of faith hold dearly. Our baptismal covenant calls us to “...seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself…” and to “...strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being…”. (BCP 305)

As a proud American and Christian, on the eve of this holiday honoring those who have fought and died for these ideals, I am saddened. It is a shame that, in our current state, our practices and policies do not honor the sacrifice of the men and women who gave everything to uphold what America means-not just to Americans-but, to the world.

We can do better. Together. We must never adapt our ideals to our practices and policies. Rather, we must always ensure that our practices and policies adapt to our ideals. The memory of so many; and, the future of so many more, depend on us. This is our call of duty.

Jackson Dreiling

Pentecost

With many cell phones having cameras and the ubiquitousness of social media, we live in a culture where any one of us can be recorded anytime and anywhere. One of the cell phone videos gone viral this week captured a New York attorney berating an employee at a deli for not speaking English. You can hear the man questioning the person’s immigration status and threatening to call ICE, the federal agency for immigration and customs enforcement.

Seeing the video brought to mind other recent instances of suspicion towards different languages: a young man pulled off an airplane after speaking Arabic into his cell phone before departure, and young women wearing hijabs removed from their flight for reading Arabic. I’m hearing with increasing regularity: “Why can’t they just speak English? This is America.”

An intolerance for hearing people speak in other languages has really struck me this week in considering the story of Pentecost in Acts 2. Jesus has ascended, and the disciples are all together in Jerusalem. Jesus’ last words to them were to wait there together for the gift of the Holy Spirit that would empower them to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth. I wonder what they imagined over those ten days about what the gift of the Spirit would look like or enable them to do.

Then, all of a sudden, it happens. A sound like a rushing wind fills the room. Something like tongues of fire appear above their heads. And when they open their mouths, words come out they’ve never spoken before. The house is filled with the sounds of many languages.

The gift of the Holy Spirit in Acts is that in an instant, the disciples are made multilingual. They can now speak about Jesus - all that he said and all that he did to anyone they encounter, no matter their country of origin. This gift of being multilingual is exactly what an illiterate, uneducated band of fishermen would need to share the good news with all the earth. The disciples are equipped to reach people who weren’t born where they were born, or live where they live. They have what they need to reach people who aren’t like them.

In a time when xenophobia - the fear of strangers - seems to be on the rise, it is striking that the very first gift to the church is a miraculous ability to speak to strangers. In a time when some of our elected leaders speak in derogatory terms about those who are foreign born or have different colored skin, it is striking that the Spirit has equipped them to go out beyond the known and familiar to foreign lands.

Consider for a moment that God could have reversed the miracle - made everyone monolingual, fluent in Aramaic, the native language of the disciples. But that God chose the gift of many languages shows God’s delight and intention for human differences.

In July I’ll head to Austin for the Episcopal Church’s General Convention. This is our governing body made up of our bishops and elected representatives from 109 dioceses across 17 countries. One of my favorite parts of our triennial gathering is daily Eucharist. The worship is crafted with intention and care for our international composition, so we hear scripture read and sing hymns in different languages. When it comes time to pray the Lord’s Prayer, the Celebrant always invites the people to pray in the language of their birth. As I hear people praying in dozens of different languages simultaneously, a passage from Revelation 7 comes to mind. It is a vision of heaven, where saints from every tribe, language, people and nation are gathered around the throne of God in worship. This is the church at the end of time, and whatever gap exists between that future vision and our present reality means there is still work to do.

The Church’s celebration of Pentecost is a timely reminder for American Christians that God is not an English speaking Caucasian deity, but the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer of every human being.  The Spirit always gifts the church in every age with exactly the tool necessary to reach across whatever it is that divides us to speak of the all inclusive radical love of Jesus.

As the children’s song goes - red and yellow black and white, they are precious in his sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.  

Mother Kim

Encouragement

As we recognize, honor, or remember our own Mothers this weekend, we should also appreciate the many contributions made by all women, whether in our local communities or the larger global society. These achievements have often been overlooked or go unrecorded in our history books. Thanks in large part to the internet and social media, we can discover and share the works from many talented female artists, scientists, musicians, and teachers. Recently, a musical program at Holy Comforter featured works by women composers, including Amy Beach, Florence Price, Louise Farrenc, and Nadia Boulanger. These women faced added obstacles in their career path, due to gender, race, family or health issues, but were blessed with the strength and faith to continue. Jeanne Demessieux was a young French organist that bravely traversed the mostly-male academic halls as both a student and professor. Fanny Crosby and Francis McCollin were blind composers that did not let disability restrict their dreams.

In encouraging the next generation, we should not only consider the lessons from the past, but also the possibilities for the future. Current and upcoming projects promise to include more diverse voices, in all fields. Musicians are able to join a “virtual” choir through combined uploaded videos. Free public domain sheet music and recordings are available online.  The Margaret Zach International Women’s Composer Library is a great research tool for scholarly papers, recordings, and yearly festivals.

Encouragement can be a helpful seed planted for someone’s talents and ideas.

Ben Ehrlich

Stories

My dad was quite the storyteller.  Whether we were sitting around the table, taking a drive up the mountains or across the plains to visit my folks’ hometown in western Kansas, or sitting around a campfire in the wilds of Wyoming, he always had a story to tell.

l couldn’t always vouch for the truthfulness of his stories - the one about “jumping cactuses” or his tales about the number and size of fish that he caught during any of his many fishing trips - always left me wondering if my leg was being pulled.  However, whenever he began a tale, I always found myself enrapt by his storytelling abilities and the stories he told.

But what I truly enjoyed - what I loved the most to hear - were the stories of his childhood - of the time he and his cousins found and accidentally blew-up his father’s still hidden in the river bank, of the no-hitter he pitched while in high school, of his relationship with his younger brother and cousins, of how he met and wooed my mother.  I never tired of hearing these stories. These stories shaped my father into the man that he was - why he did the things, and thought the things, he did. And each time he told them, I always learned something new, something I didn’t know before, about my father.

We are all shaped by the experiences of our life - experiences which become paragraphs and chapters in our own stories just as we are shaped by the stories of those around us.  This is the power of stories.

The same is true for our biblical stories.  The stories in the Hebrew Bible - our Old Testament - tell the stories of God’s love and faithfulness for the Hebrew people.  The four Gospels tell the stories of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ. The Book of Acts of the Apostles tell the story of the Holy Spirit and her impact on the lives of the apostles.  The letters of Paul and the other Epistles tell the story of the early church navigating its way through uncharted territory. The Book of Revelation? Well, it is really just a beautiful story. Each of these stories, however, shaped not only the people who heard them, told them, or read them, they shape us also.  They inform how we look at and think about God, how we look and think about Jesus, how we look and think about the world and the people in it.

We all have stories to share - stories of our faith and about who and how we came to love God, Jesus, and the church.  We also have stories of our every days life experiences - whether those experiences were joyous or sad, uplifting or downtrodden, easy or hard, or just every day life.  What we as Christians should do, what we as followers of Christ are called to do, is to seek, name and celebrate Jesus’ loving presence in those stories - our stories and the stories of those people we meet, and then invite everyone to MORE.    

This is evangelism - the sharing of the Good News and its impact on your life.  Take for example, the woman at the well in the Gospel of John. She met Jesus on just another day in her life.  And yet, that meeting was transformative for her because he told her amazing things about herself. Its transformative nature wasn’t lost on her - she named it, “He told me everything I had done!”  And then , she celebrated it, sharing it with everyone in her village. And she invited them all to MORE - to come and see this great man. What a great example for all of us!

We are coming up to the Feast of Pentecost - a day when the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles and made it possible for them to share the Good News of Jesus throughout all the world.  We then turn our eyes to the Season after Pentecost - “Ordinary Time” we call it. And yet, it is far from ordinary. The liturgical color turns to green which is a sign of growth - growing.  

Let us use this time to ask ourselves - what are the stories of your life?  What experiences shaped you - what experiences in your life made you the person you are today?  These are the chapters of your life. And when you have answered them, go and share them with your friends, your family, your neighbors.  And in your sharing, be intentional in seeking, naming and celebrating Jesus’ loving presence in them - and then invite everyone to MORE. Let us take back what it means to be an evangelist - just like the woman at the well - and start to share the Good News and in doing so, be transformed in Christ, and then go and transform the world.  

Blessings,

Fr. Bill

Community

Talk about a big, broad, buzz word. The word “community” is used so commonly in our everyday language that I think our society has forgotten what it really means. Thus, I write this, attempting to give it some context, some life, some hope.

The Miriam-Webster dictionary defines the word “community” as: a unified body of individuals; such as a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society; such as an interacting population of various kids of individuals in a common location.

Obviously, a common location groups people together, as does a common characteristic. Yet, grouping people together does not necessarily bring people together. I think we all can see that in our everyday lives- our places of work, our schools, our neighborhoods, definitely group people together. However, in many neighborhoods, for instance, people drive away from their garages, only to return in the evening, close the garage door and retreat inside. Our schools are set in neighborhoods that are typically reflective of the aforementioned way of life. Our places of work are seen as an extension of our selves, not as part of our selves. Our groupings don’t always bring us together.

Unified...living together...interacting population…

Re-read those definitions again and begin to see these words. These words, in my opinion, are the key to bringing the word “community” to life. To truly live in community requires action and active participation and purpose. If we are not unified; if we are not living together; if we are not an interacting population...what are we?

This past Saturday night, I, along with nearly 150 other members of Holy Comforter, brought the word “community” to life. People who have been part of Holy Comforter since its inception talked, laughed and lived with others who have a much shorter time connection to Holy Comforter. Many generations, many interests, many hopes and dreams. But, one community.

There was a vibrant quality to the night that resembled a celebration-although a fundraiser, it was definitely a celebration. As we celebrated together, we re-wrote a new definition of community: an interacting population, living together with a unified purpose.

And, for that kind of action, there are no words.     

Jackson Dreiling

Can You Imagine?

Ten years ago Holy Comforter’s future was uncertain.

Today Holy Comforter is a growing, thriving parish. Our average Sunday attendance is the highest it has ever been, we have more households pledging now than any other time in our church’s history, and we are financially sustainable. Our campus bustles with a multitude of groups and ministries throughout the week. We are the proud sponsors of community outreach programs like the Broomfield Farmers’ Market and the Broomfield Children’s Chorus, and we have forged strong partnerships with local non-profit organizations like Growing Home and Broomfield FISH. Thanks to the incredibly successful Growing Together capital campaign in 2015 we have added an associate rector to our staff, an exquisite pipe organ to our sanctuary, and anticipate that our mortgage at the end of 2018 will be almost half of what it was 10 years ago. The healing, hard work, generosity, dedication, and subsequent growth that we have witnessed over the last decade have truly been beyond our imagination.

Now we get to dream about what Holy Comforter will look like 10 years in the future. Who is God calling us to be, and what is he calling us to do? Who will we welcome into our midst? How will we grow and change on our Christian Journey? What opportunities and challenges will present themselves? How much of an impact can we make in our community and our world? Can you imagine?

Last week I shared the mission, vision and values that came out of our conversations last fall. If you haven’t read them yet, please do so here. With these as our guide, the Vestry is now beginning to discern the answers those big questions. In the months ahead we will be listening to leaders in our congregation, and our community about the needs and opportunities they see for ministry. We will be examining how to best grow and support members on their faith journey. We will be evaluating the existing needs and the future potential of our campus. We will be envisioning what Holy Comforter could look like if we fully live into our mission, vision and values, and we will be identifying what we will need to make that happen.

I invite you to dream with us, and share those dreams with each other. God has already done incredible things at Holy Comforter. Can you imagine what’s next?

Jamie Rumsey, Senior Warden

Beneath the Surface

When asked to describe Holy Comforter, people say we are welcoming and caring. They say we are active and generous, prayerful and spirit-filled, hopeful and resilient. People like that we eat together, we work together, and we play together. These are characteristics ingrained in our DNA that people notice when they visit, and cite for their return. But, this part of our identity is just the tip of the iceberg. What do we value that drives who we are? What do we hope to become? Why do we do what we do? The answers to these questions are our values, our vision and our mission. This deeper part of our identity is why we stay at Holy Comforter. It’s what we invest our time and resources into. It’s at the heart of all we do, and it is what will guide us into the future.  

Last fall the Vestry hosted gatherings in which members were asked to reflect on Holy Comforter’s identity and future. New and long-time members of all ages joined us, and we received many thoughtful and insightful responses. With this feedback in hand the Vestry and Executive Team gathered for a retreat in November to pour through the pages of notes. Seven common threads emerged as we worked, and those threads lead to seven values and accompanying vision statements that represent Holy Comforter at its core. We have chosen to present them to you in a circle because we believe they all carry equal weight, and they all work together to define who we are, what we do, and where we’re going.

I invite you to take some time to read through our mission, vision and values this week. They are the reason we are welcoming, caring, active, generous, prayerful, hopeful, and so much more. They are what lies beneath the surface.  

Values & VisionFinal.png

What is a Mission?

A mission describes why an organization does what it does. Our mission is that of the Episcopal Church, which is given to us in the Book of Common Prayer on page 855. Our values and vision are rooted in this mission, and all we do should move us closer to achieving it.

What is a Vision?

A vision describes what an organization does to accomplish its mission. While we already do each of these to a degree, living into them fully is going to take more time, work, and intention. These vision statements will help us focus our efforts and decide where to allocate our resources.

What are Values?

Core values reflect what is most important to an organization, and they shape the organization’s culture. Our values represent who we are, and they drive what we do. They also guide where we invest our time and resources.

Jamie Rumsey, Senior Warden