Sunday School for Grownups

One strategic priority of the Growing Together campaign is to grow in faith, to deepen our knowledge of and commitment to Christian living. By your generous funding for additional staff, Holy Comforter now has the capacity to offer Christian education on Sundays for all ages. Sunday school isn’t just for kids anymore.

I’m pleased to announce three choices in Sunday School for Grownups this fall:

Unlocking the Mysteries of our Worship Music

Join our music director, Mary McIntire, for an introduction to our hymnals. How does she pick the music we sing? Why do some songs change weekly and others seasonally? What do the different letters, numbers and symbols mean?  Answers to these questions and much more! 4 Sundays beginning 10/15 from 12:15-1 pm in the choir loft.

Got Kids?

Join our associate rector, Father Bill, for a monthly parenting support group. At baptism, parents promise to help their children grow into the full stature of Christ. Come learn what our kids are learning in their Sunday School and explore how to further these conversations at home. First Sundays beginning 10/1 from 12-2 in the church office.

Bible C.L.A.S.S.

Join Dr. Schubert Ogden, retired Professor of Theology at Southern Methodist University for a Closer Look at Sunday’s Scriptures. This lectionary based Bible study will explore historical context and current applications before experiencing the text in worship. Sundays from 9-10 in the library beginning in November.

I’m also thankful to the Rev. Sandy Grundy for continuing to offer classes every Tuesday: a 9:30 am Bible study on the Gospel of John, and Centering Prayer at 1:30, both in the library.  

I am imagining learning opportunities for the spring. I hope you’ll join me and the vestry this Sunday from 6-7:15 pm as we explore forward thinking questions like “What does it look like to be a Christian in today’s culture?” and “How can Holy Comforter help us do this?” Your input will be timely for planning 2018 and beyond.

Mother Kim

My Responsibility

September. I. Love. September. This is, without a doubt, my favorite time of the year in Colorado. There is continued beautiful sunshine to bask in, a little bit of crisp air in the morning and night (great sleeping-with-the-window-open weather), vibrant colors filling our senses, Oktoberfest, back to school, and...football.

This fall will be different for me, though. While I still will be filled with pride each Saturday watching my Alma Mater play in Boulder, wearing the black and gold, Saturday is where football season will stay for me. That is because I have decided to boycott the NFL this season. For me, this means no interaction with the NFL of any kind-no tuning into games, no fantasy football, no sporting Broncos gear. Make no mistake, this is tough for me. I like the Broncos, sure; but, I love football. I always have and always will. There is just something about the camaraderie through the physicality that is unlike anything else. Having played multiple sports growing up, there is no feeling like being in the midst of battle on the gridiron with your teammates.

I am boycotting the NFL in support of and solidarity with Colin Kaepernick. I’m sure you remember Kaepernick, the young man who refused to stand during the national anthem last season, as a member of the San Francisco 49ers. Kaepernick explained his reasoning last season for his actions: "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder." As a result of this peaceful, disciplined protest, Kaepernick has been the subject of ridicule and anger from some fans and team executives. Despite having led the San Francisco 49ers to Super Bowl 47, Kaepernick has been ostracized from the league, receiving no offers to play for a team this season.  

Agree with him or not, isn’t this his right as an American, guaranteed by our Constitution?

I personally have tremendous respect for what Colin Kaepernick has demonstrated. He has used his platform and responsibility as a public figure to protest, bring awareness and advocate for his beliefs and for others. Why are more players not doing the same thing, especially the stars? Tom Brady is silent on this issue. Drew Brees is silent on this issue. Von Miller is silent on this issue. Aaron Rodgers and Derek Carr have recently made headlines in their support of teammates who have taken on Kaepernick’s legacy. But, these actions of support are too few and too far between.

I believe that these stars have a responsibility to do what is right in their hearts; but, so do we, as Christians. I have been thinking about what it looks like for me to be a Christian in today’s culture. What I always come back to is our pledge in our baptismal covenant to respect the dignity of every human being. Racial injustice is a part of our nation’s history and also part of its current life-Charlottesville, Philando Castile, Dallas, Trayvon Martin, Baton Rouge, Tamir Rice.... Racial injustice takes us, as God’s people, away from what we are called to live in-beloved community.

The Episcopal Church has launched Becoming Beloved Community, a long-term commitment to racial healing, reconciliation and justice. “Becoming Beloved Community represents not so much a set of programs as a journey, a set of interrelated commitments around which Episcopalians may organize our many efforts to respond to racial injustice and grow a community of reconcilers, justice-makers, and healers...There is no single path for every person or even every Episcopalian. People will draw on different resources and experiences and come to diverse answers to similar questions.” (Becoming Beloved Community, episcopalchurch.org)  

So, instead of immersing myself in football on Sundays this season, I will be devoting my Sundays to two things: family and becoming beloved community. Sundays are usually reserved for family time in my household. However, my practice this NFL season opens a door of conversation for my family of what it means to be a Christian in today’s culture. I will also be dedicating myself to learning how we can move along this journey of commitment that we are called to walk on. First up for me will be reading “Where Do We Go from Here? Chaos or Community?” by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This expression of faith in action that I am taking this NFL season is my journey. As no two journeys are alike, I invite you to begin (or continue) your own journey of faith in action. Next Sunday, September 17, Holy Comforter will be gathering at 6pm in Maglaras Hall to discuss questions of faith, culture, community and our vision for the future. I will definitely be there to take another step towards all of us becoming beloved community. It is my responsibility.    

Jackson Dreiling

Hospital Time

If you have ever spent any time in a hospital, as either a patient or the family member of a loved one who is a patient, you know what I am talking about.  Hospitals have their own sense of time – a time not based on minutes or hours, but rather a time based on events – a test, medication, checking of the vitals, surgery, … the list goes on.  Days blend together, and soon there is no Monday, Tuesday … Friday – there is only today – here and now.

Albert Einstein once said, “Time is relative; its only worth depends upon what we do as it is passing.”  And this is never so true as when we are living in – or dealing with – hospital time.  If you happen to be the person in the bed, you pass the time healing, waiting for medication to ease us of our pain – to provide comfort (whatever comfort may be found in a hospital bed), waiting for another test to be run, waiting to be discharged to home where life may hopefully return to “normal”.  Nurses, CNA’s, doctors, specialists, PA’s, PT’s, OT’s, and other therapists wander in and out of the rooms at all hours of the day and night, poking and prodding, explaining and training, examining and evaluating, and providing care and comfort as best they can while you lie there, being literally at their mercy. 

If you happen to be the patient’s loved one, your role is more of witness than participant.  You are called to witness the pain and discomfort your loved one lying in the bed, to witness the seemingly endless parade of medical providers that come in and out of the room, and to witness the endless seconds, minutes, and hours in between, when there is nothing happening except for possibly sleep. 

Whether patient or witness, it is in these moments – these times of silent nothingness – that you feel most alone - alone with your thoughts, your worries, your fears, your anxieties.  It is in these times that peace and comfort may be found with those visitors who come to be present with us – present with the patient – present with the loving witness – these “pastoral care” visitors.  These are the visitors who we can share our thoughts with, our fears with, and yes, even our tears with.  For this is the ministry of the pastoral care visitor - a ministry of being – a ministry of presence – a ministry of prayer. 

The pastoral care visitor’s “being” provides that important connection to the outside world, where time never stops, but rather continues to march on unrestrained by “hospital time.”  Their calm presence provides that peace which “passes all understanding” in a world where uncertainty reigns.  Their prayers lastly provide the ever-so important bridge to God, providing that necessary spiritual support needed for healing to occur – whether it is physical and emotional. 

In my lifetime, I have been both patient and witness – being both in the hospital bed, and in the no-so comfortable chair beside the bed – each time getting lost in “hospital time.”  And it is in these times that I have given my utmost thanks for those pastoral care visitors who have come to be present and pray with me.  Their ministry is a true gift and a blessing from God – a living grace bestowed upon us who are sick and us who are witnesses to the hurts and pains of our loved ones. 

Time is indeed relative; and it is most serendipitous that next Saturday, September 9, from 8:30 am to noon, Holy Comforter will be offering Pastoral Care training for those interested in becoming a pastoral care minister in our Church.  If you wish to learn more, or feel called to this incredible ministry, please contact Linda Piper at pastoralcare@holycomforterchurch.net or 906-221-9657.

Blessings to you all, Fr. Bill

Pondering and Planning

Oh, can't you just feel the change in the air? The mornings are crisp, I've seen a few leaves with a change in color and my mind is really in the planning mode!

This past week I've spent lots of time in the Holy Comforter music library. While not a big room, it is long, tall and very narrow. Its shelves hold hundreds of choral anthems. Some are very old and some new. As I study the lectionary readings for the upcoming Sundays, light bulbs go off as to what will be the perfect anthem to augment those lessons. I consult the excel spreadsheet, find the anthem and box (there are about 130) it lives in. It's fun to pull out these pieces of music. Each copy of an anthem is numbered and each choir member has a number. Generally your choir number never changes. I'ts fun to look at these pieces and see what notes singers have made. For instance, singer #1 Debbie, always writes the date on the front of the music. What great history and memories are in those dates! Some pieces are crisp and clean....hmmmmm was that singer paying attention in practice and marking the things I asked? Some have names of choir members on them who are no longer with us and are one of our choir angels looking down on us as we practice and sing. Once in a while I find a personal note from a singer about how they feel about the piece like - so hard! Love it! Great text. Rhythmically horrid! My funeral. Ugh..this one is so hard! I smile at all these notes - as they let me know that music creates so many thoughts and memories to those who get the opportunity to learn and perform. What a blessing for me to spend time with these pieces of music and the singers who have gone before and those who dedicate many hours a week to rehearsals and offering their gifts to the Holy Comforter on Sundays.

Back in the loft on Sunday September 10th .............. ah it will be good to get back into the rhythm of the fall!

Mary McIntire

Stepping Out of the Boat

Jesus: “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Peter: “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
Jesus: “Come.”
Peter: “Lord, save me!”

This has been a hard week. The news and disturbing images from Charlottesville have
shaken my boat. I cannot put out of my mind faces of the angry young men carrying
weapons and shields, the injured and dead on the ground, and the silent line of clergy
being peppered with insults. I struggle with how to respond as a person of faith, a citizen
of this country, a person with white skin. I feel like one of the disciples who must have
watched the waves with horror, and in the dark, clung with all their might to the sides of
their storm-tossed boat.

Not knowing what else to do, my first reaction has been to pray: for the people of
Charlottesville, for those injured and dead, for the first responders and clergy, and for
the leaders of this country. My thoughts and prayers have also turned to wondering
about the many young men who bore Nazi and KKK regalia and came with the intent of
committing violence. What happened in their lives that brought them to this? What
must their image of God be like? Many questions.

It’s one thing to keep a firm grip on the boat. It’s another to finally come to the
realization, like Peter, that one must decide whether or not to respond to Jesus’
invitation to step out in faith into the choppy waters. I may not be able to make a
difference in Charlottesville, but how do I step out here in my own community? What
can I do to show God’s love to all people – no matter the color of their skin, age, sex,
ethnicity, or gender identity? I think the events of Charlottesville challenge us all to
wake up and see our world differently and how God calls us to be different.

We have an opportunity to be different coming to Holy Comforter. For a week in
September, we are opening our hearts and facility to provide safe space for homeless
families in the Growing Home program. This program affords stability for families so
parents can care for their children, children can be in school, and families can get back
on their feet. We are in need of many hands and hearts to help us help them. Please
step out in faith and join us for an informational meeting on Wednesday, August 30,
6:30 to 8 pm at Holy Comforter.

Blessings,
Deacon Linda

Welcoming Guests

I remember my first visit to Holy Comforter in summer 2010. I didn’t want to stand out as a candidate in the priest search process, so didn’t wear my clergy collar. I wanted to see how members treated a first time guest.  

It was a very positive experience: a greeter welcomed me at the open red doors, and an usher smiled and said hello as they handed me a bulletin. I sat halfway up the center aisle for a good view of the liturgy and worship space. At the peace, several members reached out, and one sitting behind me offered her bulletin, as I wasn’t using mine and had set it aside. Rather than explaining that I knew the service already, I simply received her gift. Opening to the current page, it was touching to see that she had penciled in my name, presumably to remember and greet me again at the conclusion. When the service ended, the couple sitting at the other end of my pew invited me to join the choir, which I thanked them and replied I was sure to return. I left without going to coffee hour, having learned what I needed to know: Holy Comforter had welcomed a stranger.

Fast forward seven years, and Holy Comforter has nearly doubled in attendance and added a second worship service. Visitors can be a little harder to spot because of our size, and with two services, we never know if we might be welcoming someone who has faithfully attended the other service for years.  But I hope that our hesitation doesn’t stop us from extending a friendly greeting. Being seen and spoken to makes all the difference in the world, for newcomers and long-time members alike.

It takes a lot of courage to visit a church for the first time: from checking the website for the address and service times, to pulling into the parking lot, to walking through the doors and choosing a pew, people make a real effort to join us. And everyone appreciates being noticed and welcomed.

I believe God is at work in every single person who comes to Holy Comforter. That something prompted them to join us: we have something to offer them, and they have something to offer us. Together we are the body of Christ, and it’s our shared commitment to find how we fit. Christians are made to be in community.

August is our highest visitor month, as people who have recently moved to the area are looking for a place to belong. I urge us to remember what it felt like the first time we visited Holy Comforter, and draw from that experience to pay it forward. I love to see members catch up after a week or two apart, but may we not neglect the stranger on our way to connect with a friend. We all started as strangers before we became friends.

If you are afraid of greeting someone who has attended for a while, say something like “Can you remind me your name?” If you greet a guest at the Peace, you might invite them to join you at coffee hour and walk them into the parish hall the first time. I ask greeters and ushers to accompany families to the nursery or to Godly Play the first time, because our campus is a maze to visitors.

When I ask people why they decided to make Holy Comforter their church home, many express an intangible feeling. I can relate. And I know it has everything to do with my first impression: people seeing and greeting me, asking my name and inviting my return. It feels great to be wanted. That is a first feeling of belonging. May we live into our name.

Mother Kim

Service

Why serve? I ask myself this question often, as I think a lot about what I can do to help. Help my family, help my friends, help my neighbors, help my community...help this world. However, I often feel that I am not doing enough--and, I think that’s okay.

It’s believe it’s okay, because I have the desire to serve. Can I do more? I am sure I can. But, quantity doesn’t always equal quality. Ultimately, I strive for impact. If what I am doing to serve others makes a difference in one life, to me, it’s absolutely worth it. Our baptismal covenant charges us to respect the dignity of every human being. So, if we can do that by helping one human being, we are upholding our end of the deal.

As some of you know, I am running for public office-Westminster City Council. “Why?!” I often get asked. “Are you a little crazy?” Sometimes, I ask myself these things, too. Serving others is not easy. It takes time and energy away from loved ones, work, friends, and self. But, I don’t believe we have a choice - through Jesus’ example, we are called to serve, called to love. That is pretty clear. “But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant,...For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:43, 45

I was pondering this question as to why serve the other night, as I was reading a book to my son at bedtime. And, this book summed it up pretty perfectly. Is There Really a Human Race, by Jamie Lee-Curtis, is a wonderful book about life’s purpose, encouraging kiddos to “make the world better for the whole human race”. Deep in the book lies a treasure of purpose that aligns with Jesus’ teaching in Mark 10 above. And, it answered my questions-I am hopeful, if you have these questions also, that it will answer yours. “So, take what’s inside you and make big, bold choices. And for those who can’t speak for themselves, use bold voices.” Why serve?

Jackson Dreiling

An Invitation to Retreat

Our lives can be very full, and sometimes it’s easier to get away for a few days than it is to quiet ourselves and rest in the midst of regular routines. We make time for vacation with friends and family, because we recognize the need to reconnect with those we love. A retreat is a kind of vacation with God: a way to reconnect to the One who is the very source of our life.

One of my favorite places on earth is the Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE) in Boston. For over 100 years, this Episcopal monastery just off Harvard Square has been home to men who have vowed themselves to Christian service and community. Their devotion to prayer and worship cultivates a thin space, where you can actually feel the presence of the holy. It is one of easier places to open myself and listen for what God has to say.

I schedule a few days annually for retreat at SSJE. The brothers have a gift for hospitality, and providing a place for quiet prayer and reflection is integral to their mission. Guests are welcomed into simple private rooms and share meals with the brothers in the refectory. Guests and public are invited to participate in the prayer services and daily Eucharist in their beautiful chapel. The grounds are peaceful, the library is cozy, and the time away is a gift.

This community is a deep well in the Episcopal Church. You may already be familiar with their ministry through their daily emails “Brother, Give Us A Word” or their annual Lenten Study Series. If you have ever felt the pull to get away for a few days, to quiet yourself and listen for what God might want to say, let this be your personal invitation.

I have booked their guesthouse for Holy Comforter Tuesday through Friday, November 28-December 1. There are twelve spots available for this pre-Advent retreat led by two of the brothers. Cost is $375 per person for room and board, plus airfare. You will be refreshed by their wisdom, by their presence, by their worship. Please contact Mother Kim to reserve your place.

Another opportunity for a retreat closer to home is the upcoming Cursillo weekend at Cathedral Ridge, September 30-October 1. Cursillo is another thin space where it is easy to listen for what God might want to say.The three day program is full of shared prayer, individual meditation, worship, study, music, fellowship, laughter, tears, and unconditional love. Those who give themselves to the weekend testify to how they grow spiritually and discover new ways to live their faith in daily life. This movement of the spirit has been happening for over fifty years in the Episcopal Church, and many of our members have been transformed by the experience.

Our very own Bishop Rob and Deacon Linda are part of the leadership team, and I know Deacon Linda would be glad to share how you can participate in this life-changing gathering.

Mother Kim

Reflections from High on the Holy Mountain, Sewanee Tennessee

Last week I had the unique opportunity to attend The 67th Sewanee Church Music Conference at The University of the South Seminary in Sewanee, Tennessee. What an awesome experience! I hope I can give you a taste of my time there through this blog today.

I arrived in Knoxville during a crazy thunderstorm and Holy Comforter’s good friend, Fr. Rod Moore was there to greet me. He hasn’t changed a bit and it was so good to have time to reconnect with him. He was a great tour guide pointing out this and that to me as we drove through the city to he and Mary’s new home. He is proud of his yard – lots of new plants he is experimenting with since his gardening experience is Nebraska and Colorado. It is lovely and I enjoyed the different vegetation, lightning bugs and HUMIDITY – that part wasn’t so great!

Sunday we attended St. James Episcopal Church, more touring and then a great dinner at their favorite restaurant on the Tennessee River, Calhoun’s. Fried green tomatoes, bbq, biscuits and more, everything you’d expect in the south.

Monday we hit the highway for our drive to Sewanee. Tennessee is green, wooded and lovely – but HUMID! The campus is quite large and I still don’t feel like I saw that much of it as so many buildings are tucked back away from the street in the woods. The buildings are old, lovely and I felt like I was in a great southern novel like Gone With the Wind! Orientation, dinner and evensong rounded out our evening.

Walking was a big part of my days. From the dorm to the dining hall is ¾ mile. So my feet put on many miles but it felt good unless it was really HUMID – which was most of the time! There were some golf carts running around the campus and many times you could catch a ride to your destination. I took advantage of those carts whenever I could.

I had the joy of experiencing many new hymns and service music. I am excited to share of those with you this fall. Much of our time during the conference was spent in rehearsal. Singing with the attendees will go down in my life as a great musical experience. Our conference clinicians were Peter Conte and Todd Wilson, two great organist/choir masters. Their insights and inspiration will stick with me for many years. I hope I can pass on some of that knowledge to our choirs – so inspiring!

Each day we experienced a different form of liturgy – Choral Evensong, Mass for the Dead, Morning Prayer, Noonday Prayer, Compline and of course a Rite II Choral Eucharist. Mostly these took place in The Chapel of the Apostles which is on the Seminary Campus. Larger services and concerts we attended were in All Saints Chapel – well I would say Cathedral!

Our clergy guest for the week was Barbara Crawford Crafton. Mother Barbara managed each day to preach on our death and growth for the future in a way that each day the message built upon it self….tears by the time our week was over. So moving for all.

So, other than the HUMIDITY, it was an amazing, spiritually fulfilling week. Below are some photos and links to some incredible sights and sounds from Sewanee! I hope you will hear some of this soon at HC!

Mary McIntire

O Sweetest Source http://www.sewaneeconf.com/uploads/6/0/4/8/60484437/12_the_anthem.mp3

 

 

God as Home

Why go for a hike?

Jesse and I have taken up hiking in the mountains.  It is amazing that we have lived in Colorado for 30 years but only recently started this practice.  We have conjured up many reasons for not having done it before now – work, travel, other commitments, etc.  You name it.  But we now manage to carve out a day about once a week, figure out where we want to go, put together a light backpack -- including snacks, maps, rain gear, water bottle, sunscreen, and a small roll of toilet paper for those emergency situations – then gather up our hats, sunglasses, and walking sticks.  There are so many great hiking trails within a short driving distance from our house in Arvada that we have rarely traveled the same trail twice.

There are those we encounter on the trail who are out for a run or a ride on their trail bikes.  They usually zip passed us and cover ground quickly.  We see people with their dogs and/or kids mainly out to get some fresh air and exercise.  Then there are those like us – “mushroom pickers” -- who aren’t in any particular hurry but take time to enjoy the scenery including attempting to figure out the names for the various flowering plants along the path or of those little birds we see flitting around in the pine trees.  Usually after our hike we come home feeling tired but exhilarated by the sights and sounds we just witnessed in creation.

I recently finished reading a book written by Diana Butler Bass, called Grounded (2015, HarperCollins Publishers: New York), about finding God in every aspect of our environment and everyday life.  She quotes from a letter on Catholic teaching, “The whole universe is God’s dwelling.  Earth, a very small, uniquely blessed corner of that universe, gifted with unique natural blessings, is humanity’s home, and humans are never so much at home as when God dwells with them.”  She says, “not only did God create our earthly home, but God is our home” (p.169).  A wonderful point to ponder.

I think anytime we can get ourselves unplugged from our everyday routines (including technology!) and get outside to see and experience the wonders of creation, we draw closer to God and God draws closer to us.  So, take the time this summer to go for a walk or even a car ride into the great outdoors.  Take your kids and your dog, or just go by yourself.  Feel the breeze on your face, smell the wildflowers, listen to the songs of birds, and feel the presence of God welcoming you home.

Blessings,

Deacon Linda

 

Photo: Colorado Columbine

Picture taken by Jesse Brown

Golden Gate State Park, CO

Rethinking Freedom

Celebrating Independence Day earlier this week has me reflecting on freedom.

If I asked what comes to mind with the word “freedom,” an easy response might be “the ability to do whatever you want.” But it only takes a few seconds to realize that freedom is more nuanced. As a child, I thought grown-ups had ultimate freedom; now having adult responsibilities, I know better. July 4, 1776 heralded independence from the crown, but the first Congress acted quickly to establish a new government. Real freedom is not anarchy; real freedom is the ability to choose what, or who, we submit our lives to.

In Romans 6, the apostle Paul describes the human experience as one of slavery. He writes that every human being serves a master, and that our only freedom is choosing the master we will serve. Human beings are fundamentally wired to orient our lives to something greater than ourselves, and whatever that is will get the best of our time, our energy and our attention. We are made to bow before something; our knees bend to kneel. No one is truly free; what we long for is the freedom to choose what we give ourselves to.

Try on Paul’s lens and gaze at the world. When a desire for power is master, what behaviors manifest? When the drive for wealth is all-consuming, how does one act? When there is an obsessive need for approval, how far will someone compromise?

Paul encourages Christians to reflect upon and become conscious of that which consumes our time, our energy, and attention, because those are indicators of what we are serving. Giving ourselves to any form of sin is a cruel master that will eventually destroy us and all we hold dear.

Because of Christ, we are free to choose another master. God is the only master humans are meant to serve.

When we bow to our Creator, we become more aware of each person being created in the image of God, and honor individual integrity.

When we bow to our Redeemer, we increase our sensitivity to the sins that can so easily separate us from one another, and confess our vulnerabilities.

When we bow to our Sustainer, we grow our patience for the slow work of grace, and practice real love.

Turning and orienting our lives wholly to God is the only path to true freedom. Freedom to be fully human as God created us to be. Serving God is both sacrificial and life-giving. The work of becoming holy will cost us everything, and yet give life in ways we never dreamed possible.

Soren Kierkegaard once wrote that “anxiety is the vertigo of freedom.” Whatever it is that we are anxious about: that keeps us awake at night and preoccupies our thoughts in the day, it might very well be the Spirit of God nudging us to real freedom, so we can better serve a better Master.  

Mother Kim

Unpack

We all have experiences that remind us of what we already know. But, what longevity do these experiences have. Do they stay with us? Or, are they but fleeting distractions? After having had such an experience this past week, I want to know how these experiences can move us from acknowledgment to action. I want to not only be content with a reminder of what I already know—I want an experience that shatters convention.

While waiting at a stoplight, I see a man standing on the corner. He is holding a sign, noting that he is a disabled veteran; and, would appreciate any help. As I become lost in my thoughts about this man (and, whether I should give to him), I am snapped into attention by another man. This other man, jumping from his newly-polished, gaudily decorated luxury car, wearing high end sneakers, sweatpants and a very large gold chain with a crucifix, leaves his car to walk across the street to the man holding the sign. He gives him some cash with one hand-then, shakes his hand, looks him in the eye and says, “thank you. Thank you for your service.”

I don’t know anything about the giving man. I don’t know what line of work he is in. I don’t know where he lives; what he believes; what he hopes for. I only know what I saw: an act of true character. I know that with that act, he made God smile—and, rightfully so. But, I was left wanting to know more.

Don’t put people in a box. I have heard that recited countless times over the years in our divided age that we live in. I have often recited it myself. I don’t know about you; but, seeing what I saw at that stoplight defied all conventional expectation. We are led to believe that an act like that happening is exceptional, remarkable, and surprising. But, is it, really?

I know that there are countless acts like this man’s, every day in every town and city across our country and across our world. Just because the “news” doesn’t highlight them doesn’t mean they don’t happen. We all see things like this in our everyday lives. And, these things remind us: don’t put people in a box. Instead, let’s unpack those boxes. We will never get to know those we don’t know, or be able to fill in the blanks, so that we are not surprised by these kind of actions, unless we unpack.

To shatter convention, to move from acknowledgment to action, let’s unpack those boxes-- together.

Jackson Dreiling

Wonder

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”  Genesis 1:31a

I took my very first hot-air balloon ride Monday morning, and I have to say the experience was INCREDIBLE!  The conditions for the ride were perfect - a clear and crisp sunny morning with no clouds to be seen.  As we began our ascent to 10,000+ feet, we could see for miles and miles, taking in the view of both Pikes Peak and Mt. Evans to the south, the still snow-covered Continental Divide to the west, the Great Plains to the east, and Fort Collins and Greeley to the north.  I could even see Holy Comforter, though it looked rather tiny from such a great height!   

As I took in the view, I was reminded of our Old Testament reading from two weeks ago - Trinity Sunday - where we once again heard the story of creation … of how God created not only the world, but everything - the sun and moon and stars, the seas and dry lands, the mountains and the plains, the birds and fish and all creatures that walk on the earth … all beautifully and lovingly created by God. 

I was also reminded that throughout the creation process, God took time to stop and reflect on what had been created, to enjoy both the wonder and wonderfulness of that creation.  And then God called it “good” and blessed it. 

As I was peering out the basket of that hot-air balloon from 10,000+ feet above sea level and observing this great, big, wonderful world, I pondered, “how often do we take the time to reflect on the wonder and wonderfulness of all that God has created in our community, in our world?” “Do we take the time to wonder?”  “Do we ever make the time to wonder?”  If so, why not? 

One other observation I made, though not while I was floating blissfully high above the earth, but rather after I had returned to the ground and was in my car trying to exit the parking lot, was how busy we are.  Car after car after car filled with people rushing to get to work (it was about 8:00 in the morning after all - right during the height of the morning rush hour), and I realized that this is why we so often miss the wonder and wonderfulness of God’s creation - our own busy-ness - and the demands we often place on ourselves - on our person - on our time.  We run from appointment to appointment with nary a second to spare - much like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland - often missing the joy and beauty that is right in front of us. 

Our busy-ness will never go away, I am fairly certain of that.  It is our culture and nature as humans in the 21st Century.  Therefore it is up to us to make a concerted effort to stop and wonder at all that God has created - joy and beauty that is ever present just waiting to be seen and experienced.  This summer, it is my prayer for us all that we make time and opportunity to experience all that God has given us, for as I have noticed while floating high above the earth, we live in a great, big, wonderful and beautiful world - a world blessed by God from its very creation.  And as we make that time to stop and wonder at the wonderfulness of God’s creation, that we give thanks for the gifts that God has given us.  Amen.

+

Father Bill

Camp

camp - to pitch a tent 

           a place of temporary shelter

camp - a summer holiday

           a program for children offering a range of activities

Over the years he word "camp" has taken on new and different meanings for me. 

As a young girl "camp" meant packing up my clothes and heading to the mountains for either Camp Fire Girls Camp or 4-H Camp. Sleeping in a large dorm like cabin in bunk beds, roasting marshmallows, singing, hiking and yes, the dreaded outhouse. 

While in college I would go with Joel's family "camping" to go fishing. This was a new experience for me as my family didn't camp. My dad had enough "roughing it" while in the Army during WWII and he liked all his comforts of home. So I learned about camping from the McIntire's. 

Joel and I got a very small tent after we were married and we had great fun experiencing Colorado via car camping next to streams and lakes. Not long after Megan was born we purchased a 1960 Apache tent trailer. What fun our little family has had camping and traveling with that trailer. Even though it is 57 years old we still camp in it every summer. Why it wouldn't be summer if we didn't!

But "camp" took on a whole new meaning for about 6 years ago. Music Camp. A week of activities all revolving around music. Campers everywhere! Campers learning about great composers. Campers learning to read notes. Campers learning to count rhythms. Campers learning to play rhythm sticks, Orff xylophones, a recorder, a hand chime.

Campers listening to Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Vivaldi, Mozart, Copland, Gershwin, Grofe'. Campers listening to music with their eyes closed, letting the music paint pictures in their minds then painting and drawing those pictures and writing stories to share with new friends at camp.

Camp is making a new friend. Camp is watching eyes light up when returning campers see a friend from the summer before and catching up. 

So every summer "camp" has a double meaning for me - MUSIC CAMP and CAMPING! Music Camp is over for 2017 - time for CAMPING!

Thank you Holy Comforter for being great hosts to CAMPS!

Mary McIntire

Ministry: A Lifelong Journey

Saturday, June 10th was a joyous occasion for the Diocese of Colorado, for it was

in the morning at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral, near downtown Denver, when 9 people

were ordained to holy orders by Bishop Robert O’Neill. Three were ordained as priests,

two as transitional deacons, and four as vocational deacons.

Like many of my deacon and priest colleagues, I took my alb and red stole to wear in the

opening processional for the service. As we were lining up to process into the cathedral, I

looked at the faces of each of those soon to be ordained. They had come to this day and this

place by many different ways – physically, mentally, spiritually. It made me think about my

own journey and how I came to my ordination day about 5-1/2 years ago. They had the

same “deer-in- the-headlights” look on their faces that I had!

Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber, Lutheran Pastor and founder of the House for All Sinners and

Saints in Denver, gave the sermon and what a sermon it was! I wish I had recorded it

(perhaps it might get posted on the Diocesan website) because she spoke so honestly about

ministry. She asked the soon-to- be ordained folks the question: Do you think because you

have studied many deep subjects such as theology, liturgy and hermeneutics in seminary

and survived taking a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education, that you are now well prepared to

enter into ministry? To which she answered, “Of course, you’re not!” We all laughed. I

thought to myself, “How true, how true!”

Pastor Nadia went on to explain that no matter the extent of our training or how sharp our

skill set may be we are never fully ready to take on God’s work. If we were, then we would

have no need of God. Ministry would become less about God and more about us. When we

enable God to use our weaknesses, God’s grace enters in and the most amazing things can

happen. She quoted the Apostle Paul, “So I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses,

so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses,

insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am

weak, then I am strong.” (II Cor. 12:9b-10)

Pastor Nadia’s message must have been consoling for those about to be ordained - that

ministry is a lifelong journey. Indeed, her words were an amazing reminder for all of us –

clergy and lay people alike – that we are not perfect and that we all make mistakes. As

Christ’s ministers, we are all called to love one another and to forgive one another.

Deacon Linda Brown

It's Sum-Sum-Summertime

Every season offers gifts, and summertime brings some of my favorites: a different rhythm of life and really good eats. Maybe it’s the longer daylight hours, or vacations, or enjoying the great outdoors, that create a more relaxed vibe this time of year. The spaciousness invites community making and conversation. And oh my, the cornucopia of fruits and veggies (and ice creams) that abound!  Holy Comforter embraces these gifts of summer with two great seasonal opportunities:

Our Broomfield Farmers’ Market opens on Tuesday, June 13 at 4 pm. I invite you to join me every Tuesday through September (except July 4). Come out for local food (calories don’t count at the market) live music (you won’t believe the line-up) and the chance to meet and greet neighbors (y’all come on over, now). You’ll find me in the shade tent sipping lemonade, and I hope you pull up a chair beside. Bookmark our website and like our facebook page to stay apprised of weekly specials..

Our annual parish retreat is another great opportunity to connect and enjoy. Please mark your calendar for August 18-20 and register for a fabulous weekend at the YMCA - Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby. If you’re new to Holy Comforter in the past year or two, I especially invite you to come. A weekend of playing and relaxing together in God’s beautiful creation does wonders for building lasting friendships. I’ll be hooked on the zipline, sliding on the tubing hill, or recovering in an adirondack chair, and I hope you’ll join me.  


Whatever shape your summer calendar is taking, I hope you will preserve some time to simply be. I don’t know where I first heard the phrase “if the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy,” but the older I get, the truer those words feel. My experience is that packed schedules squeeze the life and joy out of us, and human connections suffer. Quality relationships take time, and soul-feeding conversations require care and attention. Summertime offers the opportunity to invest in what matters: each other. Let’s eat, drink and enjoy!

Mother Kim

The Joshua Generation

I recently visited the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, while on a trip to the South with my father and younger brother. This visit was our final stop of the trip; and, it couldn’t have been more fitting to end our experience (but, not our journey) where the dreamer was slain. See, we made the trip to take my Dad on a pilgrimage of sorts, to feel the Delta Blues-“Ground Zero” of American music-the Crossroads where the legend of Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil. The blues, a music borne out of oppression, gives voice to every emotion known to man; and, produces all modern day American music.

My father is a lover of music; and, particularly the blues. This trip was a birthday present from my brother and me, thanking him for his guidance in music, to be sure; but, overwhelmingly thanking him for his guidance as a father, a teacher, a leader. Kind of like our Moses.

 We experienced Delta Blues culture intimately, through the numerous people we met, the music we felt, the food we ate; and, the history we heard. It is a history that haunts southern culture to this day: a history of brutality, white supremacy, slavery, sharecropping, lynching, raping and immense poverty. In 2017, the south has most definitely not “risen again”. Clarksdale, Mississippi has a population of about 17,000 people: 80% African-American, 20% Caucasian; 35% poverty rate; $25,948 median household income; double-digit unemployment. (U.S. Census, 2015). The disparity is highlighted by numerous abandoned buildings throughout town; while several new boutique restaurants, motels and clubs have popped up.

I mention all of this because it cannot be denied that there is much work to do. In Clarksdale. In the South. In America. Yet, experiencing Delta Blues culture also showed me that there is beauty in Clarksdale. There is a sense of community in the Blues scene in Clarksdale that is unlike anything I have ever experienced. People live together and support each other, despite racial, economic or political differences. There are disagreements, to be sure. However, the shared experience of the Delta Blues truly does bring people together. The music provides the beauty in this community.

As we took in a set at Red’s Juke Joint on Saturday night, the torch bearer of Clarksdale’s blues scene, Anthony “Big A” Sherrod was shining bright. At 31 years old, he is at least one, if not three, generations younger than the guys who brought him up and laid the foundation of the Delta Blues. As I listen, Dr. King’s question is ringing in my ears: “Where do we go from here?”

The same question can be echoed as I think about my Dad and what he has instilled in my brother and me. The same question can be echoed again as I exit the National Civil Rights Museum, following the silhouette of marchers, back out into the world. President Obama once said that “…just as Joshua carried on after Moses, the work goes on for all of you, the Joshua Generation, for justice and dignity; for opportunity and freedom.”

Herein I find my answer. Just as “Big A” stands on the shoulders of giants; so too, do I. Moreover, we all do. The work is not done. The march continues. The music keeps playing. And, the dream lives on… “And, we shall see what will become of his dreams.” Genesis 37:20

Jackson Dreiling

Grace - Life Given Freely

I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”  John 10:10. 

These words have been a constant companion of mine since we all first heard them two Sundays ago during the Gospel Lesson appointed for Good Shepherd Sunday. 

We have all heard them before - they come around every three years in the Revised Lectionary cycle.  They are the words that my favorite professor at Iliff School of Theology patterned his life.  They were, in his words, his capital “T” Truth.  They formed his judgment and decision making.  If he had to choose between two courses of action, he would ask himself, “Does this action give life so that others may have it abundantly?” 

These words were given new meaning for me this last three days during the annual gathering of Colorado Episcopal clergy at the 2017 Clergy Conference.  The topic was “Identity/Vocation” - both individual and congregational - framed by the question “Who Do You Say That I Am?”  Our discussions were led by our speakers the Reverend John Lewis and Ms. Rebecca Hall from the Seminary of the Southwest/St. Benedict’s Workshop in Austin, Texas.  There, Reverend Lewis talked of “grace” as being “the life-giving power of God.”   This is what God - the bringer of life - does.  God brings life:  In creation, God brought life out of darkness, life out of chaos; in resurrection, God brought life out of death. 

This grace - this life-giving power - is given to us - each and every one of us - freely by God - so that we may in turn use our own individual gifts and talents to go out into our community, our world, and share that same grace with others. 

In this Easter season - this season when we celebrate the resurrection of Christ into our lives - it is good for us to remember God’s grace given to us through the resurrected Jesus.  As St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Galatians, “it is no longer [we] who live, but it is Christ who lives in [us].  And the life [we] now live in the flesh [we] live by faith in the Son of God, who loved [us] and gave himself for [us].”

God came to us in the person of Jesus so that we may have life and have it abundantly.  Through Christ’s resurrection, we are called to share that life so that others might have life also, and have it abundantly.  I’ll leave you with the same questions we were asked to ponder, questions most appropriate for this season of Resurrection:

•    What are some ways has God shared this grace - God’s “life giving power” - with others through you?

•    Who in your life can you identify as being someone who shares God’s grace with others? 

•    How can we all share the life the risen Christ has given us with others so they may have life abundantly? 

Jesus came that we all may have life and have it abundantly.  Let us go forth into the world sharing that same life - that same grace - with our neighbors and strangers alike.

Blessings to you all this Eastertide,

Fr. Bill+

Remembering Mom with Love

A group of us from Holy Comforter went to the coolest Mother’s Day party this morning.  It was held at The Refuge in Broomfield, a non-denominational church that does some really amazing things in our community.  This party specifically honored single moms, one of the most vulnerable demographic groups economically in the City and County of Broomfield.   Their stories are varied – divorced, widowed, or separated, but staying true to the love and care of their children.  They have to work hard to pay the bills each month.  Cars break down.  The kids get sick.  They need shoes.  Food has to be kept on the table.  And the one who usually goes without is Mom.  This party was called “Single Moms are Super Heroes” because that is what they are.  What a great title for a party!

Like any great party, it took a village of people and community organizations to pull it all together.  The Refuge provided the welcoming space, including a wonderful play room and activities for 28 kids, from toddlers to teenagers.  The ladies from Holy Comforter’s She Matters group set a wonderful breakfast buffet for the single moms; and, brought oodles of snacks for the kids.  She Matters assembled colorful gift bags for each guest that were full of lovingly made items: hand made necklaces, scented sugar scrubs and bath bombs. The Women’s Gathering gave the moms knitted and crocheted lightweight scarves in a myriad of soft colors.  Then there were the planters of colorful flowers assembled by She Matters that the guests could take home.

The amazing surprise for the single moms and their kids was in the parking lot after the party.  The lot was filled with bicycles of all sizes and colors that had been brought and donated by the Rotary Club.  It was Christmas in May!  Each child was given the opportunity to select a bicycle and get fitted for it.  Then Rotary gave each one the all-important safety helmet to wear.  The smiles on the faces of kids and their mothers were a gift to behold.  It was all about love, freely given, freely received. No strings attached.  This is what God is all about.

So, this Mother’s Day, whether your mother is living or not, whether you are a Mom or not, or maybe you never knew your mom, make it a day to show love to someone – no strings attached.  Just delight in the smile that you see in return and thank God.

Blessings,

Deacon Linda

Blessed in Beauty

On Sunday morning I had the rare opportunity to just sit in the choir loft and take it all in......the sights, smells and sounds of a wonderful early spring. Yes, I admit, I was a bit tired on Sunday morning after our great Tour of Italy Fundraiser; and, it was easy for me to let my thoughts wander just a bit. I got to thinking about all the beauty which has surrounded this community in the last several months. 

Being able to see the artwork from our beauty series. Seeing how folks, kids and adults, took ordinary things and then transformed them into works of thought and beauty. How touching for all who were able to work with their hands and souls to create and for those of us to fix our eyes upon these beautiful creations.

The faint scent of spaghetti sauce still lingering in the air from a great night in Maglaras Hall of people eating, laughing, sharing stories, the friendly competition of bidding for that much desired item, and giving generously of their treasure to support the many works of mission and ministry that touch so many more lives than we truly know about.

Listening to all the beautiful music coming from below as we sang hymns together, hearing John play magnificent preludes and postludes. And oh my, Meg and John playing The Resurrection from the Rosary Sonatas by Biber. During that offertory I was transcended into a wonderful place of beauty. How blessed are we to hear magnificent beauty every Sunday....the generosity of so many musicians sharing their God given talents with us. How blessed we are! 

Yes, we are blessed every Sunday to a mini concert of sorts, given from the hearts of musicians as offerings. Please take a listen - as we are blessed in beauty here at Holy Comforter.

Mary McIntire