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

Happy Easter Season

Meditative Silence. We leave our Sanctuary in darkness and silence following Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services. Lights and candles are extinguished. Musical instruments and devices are set down. Reflective thoughts and meditations on Jesus’ journey replace our daily task list. We find the time to push away from the continuous news cycle, “social” media stories, and the need to remember “what’s next?”.  
Music during Holy Week and the Easter season have a wide emotional range. Sorrow and confusion quickly become uplifting acclamation and praise. Quiet, contemplative pieces reveal the reason for beautiful Psalms, “Alleluias” and “Glorias.” Our shared Lenten journey becomes a positive message to take to our surrounding neighborhoods, in both word and deed. Happy Easter Season!

Ben Ehrlich

Our Holy Week Pilgrimage

Holy Week, the church’s annual commemoration of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection begins this Sunday. The many church services offer a kind of pilgrimage, an invitation for the faithful to draw close to Jesus, to pay attention to this divine mystery that is our salvation.  

The original Holy Week unfolded during the High Holy Days of Passover, when Jews from all over Israel would make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Jerusalem sits on a hill, surrounded by wilderness. The faithful would journey for days, sometimes weeks, arriving to a crowded city swelled several times its normal size. Pilgrims would pass through the gates of the city and meander their way through the bustling streets to the temple complex. Built at the highest point, the last part of their journey was a steep climb up the southern steps to pass through the temple gates.

Ten years ago I visited Jerusalem. The southern steps of the temple have withstood the passage of time. They bear a unique characteristic: the steps alternate narrow and wide, narrow and wide, all the way up. And it’s a long way up. I asked our guide why they were constructed that way. He told us that the architects of the Temple wanted people to slow down as they entered the house of God. It would be natural to speed up in anticipation, but the alternating steps pattern challenges the natural eye foot coordination.

The eye and the brain have to work harder to navigate the alternating depth of a narrow, then wide, step. It’s impossible to jog the final ascent; by design, one climbs deliberately and with their head bowed. This physical posture of head down, eyes low, slowing down would prepare the faithful for coming into the presence of the holy.

Holy Week services are a bit like those southern steps of the temple. Our regular Sunday worship can be predictable, its learned rhythms over time can lull one into dullness and inattention. But not this week, not the liturgies of Holy Week. We are beginning our final ascent to the cross and the tomb. From waving palms to washing feet, from venerating the cross to lighting the Vigil fire, these annual rituals invite us to bow our heads, slow down and pay attention as we come into the presence of the holy. I hope you will join us whenever you are able on our annual Holy Week pilgrimage.  

Mother Kim +

We Need More Matthiases

I pretty much love the season of Lent.  This time of study, prayer, and self-examination and reflection.  In these 6 weeks, I always learn so much about myself, and I am always shaped by what I learn - much more so than any New Year’s resolution. 

One thing I particularly like about Lent is participating in what is becoming an annual event for me - Lent Madness.  The brainchild of the Reverend Tim Schenck, Lent Madness is a way of learning about the men and women who make up the Church’s Calendar of Saints.  If you are in any way familiar with the NCAA March Madness brackets, then you will find much similarity with the Lent Madness brackets.     On “Ash Thursday” - (no priest tackles anything on Ash Wednesday), 32 saints are placed into a tournament-like single elimination bracket. Each pairing remains open for a set period of time and people vote for their favorite saint. 16 saints make it to the Round of the Saintly Sixteen; eight advance to the Round of the Elate Eight; four make it to the Faithful Four; two to the Championship; and the winner is awarded the coveted Golden Halo.  This year has pitted St. Peter against St. Paul (Peter was the victor), St. Peter against St. John (again, Peter was the victor), St. Michael the Archangel, Richard Hooker (the defender of the Book of Common Prayer), musician Edith Cavell, and Quiteria (who with her 8 sisters personally engaged in guerrilla-type attacks against the Roman Occupation).  It is a fascinating way to learn all about the people (and angels) who make up the great cloud of saintly witnesses who have gone before us).  Prior winners of the Golden Halo include St. Francis of Assisi, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Florence Nightingale, St. Mary Magdalene, and C.S. Lewis.

One saint I have never seen included in the brackets since I have started participating is St. Matthias the Apostle.   He was not one of the original twelve disciples; rather, he was one who followed them around (“accompanying” them to be more specific) during Jesus’ three-year ministry, beginning with Jesus’ baptism by John until the day of Christ’s ascension into heaven, until he was called by the Spirit and chosen by lot to take Judas Iscariot’s place among the Apostles.  

Yet, although present at numerous healings, exorcisms, teachings, miracles, we hear nary a word from or about him.  Did he see Jesus turn water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana?  Did he bring people to Jesus, like Andrew and Phillip?  Did he help in the feeding of the 5,000?  The feeding of the 4,000?  Did he see Jesus cleanse the lepers, bring sight to the blind, raise the dead?  Was he present when Jesus calmed the storms, or walked on water, chased the money changers from the Temple?  Did he hear Jesus’ teachings of the beatitudes or wonder at his parables?  Was he present when Jesus was arrested, tried, convicted, crucified?   While we may never know for sure, the writer of Acts seems to think so, and for an introvert like me, this is enough. 

 My introverted self has a hard time relating to a saint like Peter or John or Paul, always on the forefront, always with an opinion, or a question, or an answer. 

I can identify much more to one who stayed on the sidelines - observing, listening, quietly doing the work to be done while simultaneously doing everything he can to not draw attention to himself (God forbid!).  Perhaps this is why Matthias is the patron saint of carpenters and tailors – the people who work behind the scenes to make sure that everything is ready for the Peters and the Pauls of the world - much like the list of people we see scrolling at the end of the movie, people we never see or know but whose work is imperative to bring that one blockbuster to the screen.

It is the quiet, dedicated and diligent work of Matthias that is needed to heal a hurting and broken world - someone who understands that to observe is the first step in understanding, to listen is the first step to healing, and to accompany someone on their journey is a sign of love, for it is when we can walk together, accompany each other, the reconciling work of God can begin.  Perhaps this is why Matthias is also the patron saint of people who need hope, such as persons struggling with addiction, as well as the caregivers.

The world needs more Matthiases – people out on the sidelines and in the trenches quietly and with fervent dedication observing, listening, accompanying, all the while understanding, healing, loving and reconciling, and bringing hope to a hurting and broken world.

As they say in the realm of Lent Madness - Happy Lent!

Fr. Bill

Embrace the Change

Ash Wednesday and the first Sunday in Lent have passed - it is time to embrace the change. 

I hope you heard it. I hope you felt it. It's kind of like that record breaking temperature drop the other day - BAM! here it is!

But I enjoy those changes. They make me think, reflect and hopefully change in some way. I like to listen to every word in our services. The liturgy, readings, hymns, anthems, sermons. What are they saying to us? How are they speaking to me? To you? Are you moved by the changes in what you see in the Sanctuary? The different, more somber tones of the organ? The mode of the music?

Maybe you can embrace the change by attending our Friday Evening Lenten Organ Series Concerts. It will be a time for you to sit, listen, reflect while taking in the visual changes in the Sanctuary. Taking time to sit and reflect becomes lost in our busy lives. Embrace this gift as you walk forward during this season of Lent.

Embrace the Change.

Mary McIntire

An Invitation to Conversations about Racism

“Which one of these is not like the others?” I stared at the pictures on the page: an apple, orange, banana...and tractor. Hmmmm: three fruits and a machine. Marking the tractor, I continued to the next question.

Looking at our Lenten offerings this year, I flashed back to a standardized logic test: a book group on a Christian classic, contemplative prayer practices, seasonal organ concerts….and a conversation on racism. Hmmmm. One of these is not like the others.

Our 5 week Wednesday evening series begins next week, 6:30-8 pm in the parish hall. “Get Woke: A Lenten Conversation on Racism” does stand out, and I want to offer some context. In 2016, the Episcopal Church in Colorado offered a workshop by Soul2Soul Sisters to learn about the emerging Black Lives Matter movement. A series of racially charged violence had dominated the news cycle: unarmed black youth killed by white civilians and police. Black men and women killed during routine traffic stops or in state custody. White police killed by black sniper. Historically black churches destroyed by arson.

Several members of Holy Comforter attended the workshop at diocesan convention, and we were deeply moved by the stories shared. We listened to Episcopalians across Colorado tell of their personal experiences with racism over the course of their lives. It got me thinking about my own encounter with prejudice: how my grandparents responded when I introduced them to my college boyfriend. Now Raj is Indian, but their profound discomfort based on his difference opened my eyes.

Our ability to notice differences is human. God created humankind to be wonderfully diverse. But when we as individuals, and as a society, assign values to human differences, we commit sin. Every person is a beloved child of God and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

Scientifically speaking, there is no such thing as race. Human beings of every skin color and ethnic origin are biologically the same: we are all homo sapiens. Race is a social construct, a way to group according to differences. Racism occurs when a society values one group over another. This is why racism is sin.

Historically, our country privileges white lives over black and brown. Founding documents and existing laws have served to institutionalize the sin of racism. The rising outcry to right these old wrongs is the origin of the Black Lives Matter movement.

As staff and vestry have prayerfully engaged this conversation in the last 18 months, I’ve remembered the opening scene from the movie The Ghost and the Darkness. The story begins with a husband reluctantly leaving for an extended work assignment in Africa. His wife comforts him as they say good-bye: “You’re a bridge-builder, John; you have to go where the rivers are.”

The mission of the church is to restore unity with God and each other in Christ (BCP 855). Christians are called to be bridge-builders, so we go where the rivers are. We wade into troubled waters with love and courage in order to build places of connection across differences.

Get Woke: A Lenten Conversation on Racism is our first opportunity as a congregation to have an important conversation about a sin that continues to wound our society. We welcome Lelanda Lee, an author of anti-racism training for the Episcopal Church, and William King, retired professor of Ethnic Studies at CU as guest presenters. Over the 5 week series, participants will learn about the Episcopal Church’s journey and commitment to racial reconciliation, how racism is perpetuated in contemporary law and society even after Civil Rights, and explore how we, as individuals and as a community of faith, might respond.

Let us embrace this chance to live into our name. I hope you’ll join me Wednesday: come early at 6 to enjoy a simple soup supper, and our conversation will begin at 6:30. Youth welcome. Childcare provided.

Mother Kim+

The Wonderful World of Organs

Many careers, vocations, and hobbyists have professional organizations that bring together members to discuss and promote their shared interests. In the music world, educators, performers, and therapists join builders and repair persons to improve aspects in our different fields. The local American Guild of Organists chapter supports organ, instrumental and choir music, as well as offers student scholarships for lessons. The American Theater Organ Society maintain the expansive Wurlitzer organ at the Denver Paramount, and the digital theater organs at the Lakewood Cultural Center and Holiday Hills Ballroom. The AGO and ATOS offer year-round concerts and educational opportunities for all ages.

Recently, Holy Comforter was a featured stop during the American Institute of Organbuilders convention. Participants viewed our Hook Organ from all angles, took pictures, and heard marvelous selections from Organist John Murgel.

The Organ Historical Society puts focus not only on pipe organs and their builders, but the historical spaces they occupy. A large online database has been created by the OHS, and search fields can be narrowed to cities, states, church and builder names. Our own Holy Comforter page has been updated in this database, with assistance from Jim Steinborn and Tim Seibert. You can view our new Hook organ page here:

 https://pipeorgandatabase.org/OrganDetails.php?OrganID=56622

Many musical events are happening here in our Holy Comforter community!

See Mary or Ben for more details, and bring a friend!

Ben Ehrlich, Organist

What Can I Do?

I am a do-er, and I want to do something that matters in the world.

I read the headlines, I listen to the news, and I want to fix it all. And for an occasional, brief moment as I watch the horrors flash across my screen, I believe I actually can. I start to imagine how I might go about fixing it: what I would do, where I would start. But it only takes a few moments for the enormity of the world’s challenges to bring my aspirations crashing down. SO many people are hungry, SO many people are afraid, SO many people are hurting. What can I possibly do about it? I am just one person, and I already have a life full of people who need me to keep them fed, and happy, and whole. How can I even think about tackling something so daunting? I can’t, so I stop.

Then I climb into my car and see a blessing bag the youth group assembled sitting on my back seat. A blessing bag is just a ziploc bag full of basic items: snacks, socks, deodorant, toothpaste, and all I have to do is find someone in need to give it to. That bag, I hope, will be a small blessing to the person who receives it. But in that moment, it is a big blessing to me. It reminds me that I don’t have to fix the whole world to do something that matters. It reminds me that Jesus changed lives one person at a time, and so can I. It reminds me that I am part of a church community, a larger body, a wider movement that, when at its best, can bring about great change together. That bag of crackers and tissues reminds me that I am already doing something that matters, and I’m not doing it by myself.

My husband and I have been members of Holy Comforter for fourteen years. The first time we walked through those red doors, we found something at Holy Comforter that was different from all the other places we could spend our time. We found a group of people who were working together to make the world a better place, and they were doing it with such joy and energy that we couldn’t help but to want to be a part of it. We were welcomed in, got involved, and for fourteen years we have worked and played alongside an amazing group of people. Together this congregation has overcome obstacles, tried new things, and grown in numbers, faith, passion, and impact.

As I listened at our Annual Meeting last Sunday to all that is, and to all that it yet to come, I was filled with gratitude for the people of Holy Comforter. Sixty years ago a small group of dedicated and hope-filled people rolled up their sleeves and planted a church in Broomfield. Sixty years later, a few of those same people, plus almost a hundred more, sat together to reflect on all the ways the members of Holy Comforter still roll up their sleeves today. We tend to a campus that hosts and supports multiple outreach ministries and community groups. We care for each other so we can in turn care for those outside our walls. We welcome and learn from those who have different views, or face different challenges than our own. We go out into the community and serve alongside others to improve life for all. I am proud to be a member of Holy Comforter, and I am honored and excited to serve as its next Senior Warden.

As much as I want to, I cannot fix the world by myself. Fortunately I am reminded often that when I add my time, skills, and resources to those of the incredible people at Holy Comforter, we help make a real and lasting impact for others in our world, one person at a time. I think that matters.

Jamie Rumsey, Senior Warden

Jesus the Evangelist

“Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.” Mark 1:14.

This passage from last week’s Gospel lesson has really stuck in my brain, which I find to be rather odd. First, it appears to be in some respects what we in the legal profession might refer to as “dicta” – a non-consequential sentence that is more filler than anything – a throw-away sentence in a lesson that is much more about Jesus’ calling of his disciples than anything. But this is the beauty of Scripture, how it speaks to us differently each and every time we read it.

What perhaps impacted me the most about this passage, however, is how it allowed me to see Jesus in a new way – a new Light, so to speak, one in which I hadn’t ever considered before – the light of an evangelist. Teacher? Absolutely! Healer? Most definitely. Son of God, Prince of Peace, Emmanuel, Lord and Savior? Do I even need to respond to this one? But evangelist? Sad to say, but that caught me off guard.

Perhaps it is because we Episcopalians tend to shutter at that dreaded “E”-word (“evangelism”). We are a funny lot in that regard – people who prefer to follow the quote often associated with St. Francis: “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” It could be that we are one, big collective of introverts, people who would rather let our actions do our talking for us. But, sometimes actions are not enough. Sometimes, we need to use our words to spread that good news.

“Evangelism” comes from the Greek word “euangelion” which means “Good News.” As such, logic dictates that an “evangelist” is one who proclaims good news. Which is why I don’t understand the aversion we as a faith have to evangelism? I mean, who doesn’t like to share good news?

In my experience, people are always willing and ready to share the good things happening in their lives with their family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and sometimes, strangers on the street. We eat at a really good restaurant, or see a really good movie, we want to share it. If we look at Facebook or Instagram, people are often sharing story after story of good things happening in their lives – good books they’ve read, good food they’ve eaten, engagements, anniversaries, births, etc.

It would seem natural that people would also be very willing to share the good news of how their lives have been shaped, guided, and changed, comforted, strengthened, and blessed with God and Jesus in their lives. And yet, we don’t. We hold our faith very close to our hearts. However, I do believe that people are willing, if asked, to share their stories of their faith.

Lent is coming up, and instead of giving up something perhaps try taking on a new spiritual practice - the practice of evangelism. Share the good news of God with your family and friends, co-workers, and maybe, strangers on the street. It is fairly simple, although it takes some intentionality.

Jesus promised us, “I will be with you always, even unto the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20. So look and see. Be attentive. Where have you seen Christ-God-Holy Spirit working in your life? Where has God blessed you? Where has God strengthened you? Where has God comforted you? Where has God cried or rejoiced with you? God-Christ-Holy Spirit is here with us always, in every situation.

Once you have seen God’s handiwork, go and share this with people whom you know. Talk about why God is important to you. Why your faith is important to you. Why your Church is important to you. Use your words and not just your actions. These are important conversations to have - particularly now. People need to hear the good news of God.

I’ll share a recent experience of mine. I was heading to church, listening to an acoustic version of “All Creatures of Our God and King” - it just has a way of centering me. And as I drove and listened, I saw a flock of geese flying in formation, people walking their dogs before work. People were going on their way. And all of a sudden, they were all in sync with the music - in one big divine dance with each other and with the world. And I felt a peace come over me and all that was before me - a peace that passedall understanding. And I knew that all was okay - because God was at work in the world.

Evangelism doesn’t mean conversion. It means sharing the good news of God. The Holy Spirit does the rest.

As followers of Jesus, let us follow all his ways - and go and share the good news.

Blessings,
Fr. Bill+