A Reflection on Silence.

The weekend of October 5-7 I was at Quest with our youth; and, the theme this session was “still small voice”. Throughout the weekend we focused on using silence to connect with God. 

Luckily we started in short increments, 30 seconds which grew into 2 minutes which grew into 8. 8 minutes of silence, 8 minutes of no phones ringing, texts going, modern worship music playing-just.. silence. Imagine a room full of people just sitting and not making a noise for 8 minutes. Imagine kids 12-18 not making noise for 8 minutes. Not just mysterious silence, silence devoted to connecting with God. 

I won’t lie, I didn’t hear God most of the time. I am not good at sitting still and clearing my mind. Although, I did allow myself to focus on breathing, on being still and not needing to do 25 things at once. Even so, I became more connected with myself, with the youth and with God. I was able to step back and look at my life, and through the whole weekend I kept receiving, “breathe, it will be OK”; which, is something we all need to hear right now, a reminder to trust in God, to shut off our phones and listen to what God has to say. 

By Sunday I was exhausted and my body was begging for movement. Two other churches joined HC Youth for a “yoga” based stretching session. Three different youth groups joined together just to move, stretch and be guided in prayer. I am all for meditation and centering prayer and being still while talking to God; but, as I stated above, I stink at sitting still and talk best to God when moving. It seems some of the youth respond the same way. So, we will be integrating that into our Youth Group time occasionally!

We will also be adding "Centering Prayer". Similar to meditation, we will go through guided breaths and allow our focus to where it should be (God). This is a useful technique as our youth enter one of the most stressful times of their lives, so far! This, with practice, will become a way for our youth to reach God anytime and anywhere.

In reflection, try changing the way you speak to God. Instead of talking, listen. Instead of pacing, begging for an answer, breathe, open your heart, set down your phone and listen.  I encourage everyone to sit in silence for two minutes each day, at your desk, before you drive to work, as you lay in bed. What does God have to say to you? What does your body have to say to you? What is your heart trying to tell you? Practice stillness. Our bodies are often over worked-our muscles, our emotions, and our mind. Allow the stillness to consume you, to refocus and regain yourself mentally, physically and spiritually. You will be surprised at what you hear.

Natalie Keller

Hallowe'en: A Time to Remember Our Faith

When I was a child, I loved Halloween. I loved dressing up, trick-or-treating, and counting the candy haul at the end of the night. I loved spooky front porches: the flickering jack-o-lanterns, dangling skeletons, spidery cobwebs and simmering cauldrons. It was silly fun with friends to scare and be scared on this night that celebrated all things supernatural.

As an adult, and as a priest, I still love Halloween. At Holy Comforter, we invite kids to wear their costumes the Sunday before, and enjoy a trunk-or-treat in our parking lot after worship. I know many other churches are planning the same.

Some people express surprise that a church participates in Halloween. Did you know the celebration has Christian roots? It takes a little digging to uncover the history behind the costumes and the candy, but Halloween’s origin is every bit as Christian as Christmas.

The word Hallowe’en is a shortening of All Hallow Evening, as in, the night before All Hallow’s Day. Hallow means holy, and November 1 is commemorated in the Christian calendar as the Feast of All Saints.

This holy day has roots tracing back to the fourth century, a time when many Christians were dying for their faith. The church recognized martyrs on the anniversaries of their death. As the number of martyrs increased beyond the days on the calendar, November 1 became a catch all to celebrate all the saints of the church.

Historically, All Saints’ Day honored persons of heroic sanctity for their example. Their faithfulness in the past serves to inspire our faithfulness in the present. The Feast eventually extended to the following day as well. All Souls’ Day, November 2, honors all who have died. These feast days are a time for us to give thanks for those whom we love but see no longer, to remember that we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. In its depiction of Dia de los Muertos, the Pixar movie CoCo portrayed this intimate connection between the living and the dead beautifully. We are surrounded by a community of saints who continue to love us and cheer us on from beyond the grave.

Halloween is an amazing opportunity for Christians to witness their faith. We believe that there is life beyond the grave. God has granted us the victory over death through the resurrection of Jesus. That same God is working in us even while we’re alive to help us grow in love. We belong to God, and nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. Because evil and death have no power over us, we can have fun with things that are spooky and scary.

So, bring on the ghosts and the zombies, the devils and the haunted houses. Enjoy the fright night, and when you wake up, give thanks for what is real: a community of love spanning past, present and future.

Mother Kim


The S Word

Happy fall! It’s time for beautiful colors, and leaf piles, and cooler temperatures. It’s time for Halloween costumes, and pumpkin patches, and pumpkin spice everything. And in the church, it’s time for the S word again. You know the one.

Stewardship.

It’s a word that makes many people squirm just a little, or sigh as they settle in to listen to yet another sermon about time, talent and treasure. If it makes people feel uncomfortable, or bored, why does the church devote an entire season to it? Why not just have a stewardship Sunday and get it over with?

I think the season of stewardship is a lot like fall. We can look around and see too many leaves to rake again, birds leaving for warmer climates, and waning hours of daylight, or we can take a step back and celebrate the beautiful fruits of our labor. Fall offers us an opportunity to give thanks for the blessings we’ve received, and so does stewardship season. Both also provide an opportunity to look ahead and prepare for the future. What will we need, not just to survive, but to grow and thrive in the seasons to come? What groundwork do we need to lay now to make that possible?

This year we’ve celebrated the last 60 years at Holy Comforter, and honored those whose hard work and generosity paved the way for the thriving congregation we see today. We will continue to celebrate this fall with reflections from members on Sunday mornings, and a farewell celebration for Father Bill on November 18th. At the same time, the church leadership will continue our energizing and prayerful discernment about Holy Comforter’s future, and our ever growing need to live into our name and our mission.

I invite you to join us in this season of stewardship. Look around and enjoy the fruits of our labor. Offer thanks to God and each other for the blessings we have received, and share those blessings with others. Then take some time to pray about our future. What might it look like if Holy Comforter fully lives into its name, its mission and its vision? What will Holy Comforter need to make that happen, and how will you be a part of it?

Blessings,

Jamie Rumsey, Senior Warden


Resurrection in Autumn

My backyard garden and flowers were beautiful this year.  I say this not to boast or brag, but rather more as a statement of fact.  My garden consisted of one beefsteak tomato plant that had grown to nearly 4 feet in height and perhaps 3 feet around; one green pepper plant which, though not as tall or round as the tomato plant, did give me the first fruits of the season; an eggplant-plant, which was a mix of deep greenish-purple leaves and beautiful purplish-white flowers; and one zucchini plant that was so tall and had huge elephant-like ears that I dubbed it “Audrey” after the man-eating plant in the musical “Little Shop of Horrors.” 

Two rose bushes (one yellow, the other orange) planted on the east side of my house were doing the best they have done in years, as were the deep red and purple roses, and myriad of potted plant set in and around my back patio.  Even the hydrangeas were flourishing better than they had since I planted them more than 10 years ago.  My backyard was lush and green, healthy, alive and beautiful. 

Beautiful that is, until the afternoon of August 14, when a hellish thunderstorm of Biblical proportions pelted my neighborhood with fierce rain and pebble-sized hail.  The storm lasted a good 45 minutes, causing rather significant street flooding.  The hail that didn’t wash away, looked like snow piled on the ground, in my garden, as well as all the pots that were once awash with tiny pink and yellow flowers.

Needless to say, my once thriving, beautiful plants, were shredded.  There remained nary a leaf on my tomato plant, and the tomatoes that hung from the vines were visibly battered and bruised.  The same held true for my eggplant-plant.  My dear “Audrey” – the great and fruitful zucchini plant - looked as if someone took a weed-wacker to her.  The only plant spared was the green pepper plant, as it was mostly sheltered by the tomato plant’s stalks and leaves. 

My roses and hydrangeas were shredded of leaf and bloom; and what remained of my potted plants were soon freezer burned by the icy coldness of the hail that now covered them.  What was once alive and thriving, was now shredded, torn, and either dead or barely hanging on.

Admittedly, the thought occurred to me to let the plants go for the rest of the summer – forego watering and tending to them until they were ready to be pulled and composted.  “If God wants them to survive, God will find a way for them to survive,” I had thought.  Little did I know of God’s plans for these plants. 

Out of shear habit alone, I resumed my morning watering schedule – all the while thinking, “Why I am doing this?  These plants are done.”  I pulled weeds that somehow and in some way survived the storm when my beautiful plants did not.  I harvested what I could and pruned that which was the worst of the damage. 

Over time, I began to see life returning to my garden.  Small leaves began to grow in once damaged areas.  Blooms returned to my eggplant and Audrey.  My tomatoes, which never did leaf, began to ripen to a beautiful deep red.

It started slow, little by little; and it wasn’t until this morning that I truly was made fully aware.  Deep greens replaced the frost burnt color of rust on my potted plants.  Tiny flowers in full bloom.  My yellow rose a sunburst of roses (I believe I counted 50 on there this morning), and the deep red roses shown in full technicolor.  “Audrey” looked as lush and alive as she did before the storm, and my eggplant-plant and green pepper plant had doubled in their size.  Resurrection had come to my garden – and I was its witness.

We rarely talk of resurrection outside of Easter season, when the first blooms of Spring make themselves known.  Never can I ever remember talking about resurrection post Autumnal Equinox – when the leaves begin to change, the nights become cool, and the shades of darkness come earlier and earlier.  And yet, there it was.  Resurrection.  Occurring right-in-front-of-me.  Glorious and grace-filled resurrection.  All it took was a little tending to – a little watering and attention – and God’s own grace to bring these once dead plants back to life. 

The same is true for each of us.  How often have the lush and full and thriving gardens that are our own lives been devastated by the storms of chance and circumstance?  How often do we find ourselves in the darkness of the tomb – feeling isolated, without hope, and alone without any clue or idea of what to do next or how to get out. 

This is the time to tend the garden - give it nourishment – to prune that which needs pruning – to pull the weeds that need pulling – to give the garden what it needs to heal and grow once more. 

The Episcopal Church has given us a way to tend the garden of our lives - it is called “The Way of Love” – a set of seven practices designed to help us develop and follow a Jesus-Centered rule of life.  There you are invited to (1) Turn – make the decision to turn and follow Jesus; (2) Learn – spend time reading and reflecting on the Scriptures – particularly those focused on the life of Jesus; (3) Praying – make time to dwell intentionally and daily with God; (4) Worship – make all attempts to gather in community to give thanks and praise God; (5) Blessing – share your faith and selflessly give and serve others; (6) Go – cross boundaries, listen attentively, and live like Jesus; and (7) Rest – receive God’s gift of grace and peace.    

Ignore the thoughts that say “What are you doing this for?”  “Why am I bothering with this?”  “Nothing is happening!”  Stay true to your task and tend the garden.  And, as you engage in these practices, take time to remember that God is with you at every moment – walking and tending your garden with you – waiting to escort you from the tomb back out into the light of life – back to resurrection.  Resurrection will come.  All it takes is a little tending, a little nourishment, and God.  Amen.

Fr. Bill

With Gratitude for Fr. Bill

I feel joy and sadness to share with you that Fr. Bill has been appointed priest-in-charge of St. Alban’s in Windsor, effective December 1. Founded over a century ago, St. Alban’s is one of Colorado’s historic churches in a town experiencing rapid growth in recent years as part of Denver’s greater metro. Their search for a prayerful pastor who can develop new programs to serve families and help the parish discern their outreach in the community is what drew them to Fr. Bill.

I’m thrilled for his leadership opportunity, and also grieve that it means saying good-bye to his ministry at Holy Comforter. Fr. Bill brings a genuine warmth into any room he walks into. His ease and heart for people makes his office a soft place to land for anyone needing a listening ear. His culinary skills have meant delectable home-baked goods vastly improving any church meeting, and his tap-dancing is one of the highlights of our Tour of Italy fundraiser. Those kinds of details never make it on a resume, but is icing on a (still warm plum) cake.

As Holy Comforter’s first full-time associate rector, Fr. Bill greatly expanded our capacity for ministry. We have a robust pre-K through high school curriculum taught by staff and volunteers called and equipped for student ministries. He’s taken risks to try new initiatives like dinner church, and consistently called us to walk the gospel talk, even getting me to my first march. You may not know that he assumed many of Deacon Linda’s responsibilities: his heart for the homeless means he’s the clergy rep for our Growing Home family shelter partnership, and he receives countless walk-ins each week who come to our church seeking assistance with utilities, rent, gas, car repairs and medical prescriptions. He even helps navigating complicated legal matters drawing on his previous profession.

As I reflect on his gifts, one story really stands out to me: about a month ago, we received an inquiry about hosting a funeral for a young father who died of colon cancer. Without a church home, and British roots, the family longed for an Anglican funeral. As I was away for a scheduled vacation week, I told Fr. Bill it was his call. He met with the family and a few days later, Holy Comforter hosted one of our largest funerals. Our altar guild and music ministries ensured the service was beautiful. Our hospitality team worked with caterers for the reception that followed on our east lawn so family and friends could linger and share stories. Jackson hosed off the porch and outdoor seating to provide a welcoming space. All of this love-in-action took place because Fr. Bill said “of course” to a funeral for a man he never met. This is one example of why he is such a good fit at Holy Comforter, because he has gently, caringly, insistently, helped us live into our name. Thank you, Fr. Bill. We are better for your ministry among us.

Fr. Bill’s last Sunday will be November 18.

Mother Kim


On Behalf of Your Faith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jackson Dreiling


Mind, Body & Spirit-A Basic Guide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Natalie Keller

Youth Leader & Personal Trainer

Finding Your Niche

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

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

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

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

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

Jamie Rumsey, Senior Warden

Prayer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen. 

Fr. Bill+

Love Where You're At

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

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

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

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

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

Jackson Dreiling

And It's A Wrap!

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

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

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

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

Mary McIntire

On Faith

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mother Kim

Amazing Music is Around the Corner

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

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

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

Ben Ehrlich

the weight

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

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

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

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

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

Jackson Dreiling

Growing as a Welcoming Community

Whoever you are

Wherever you’re from

Whatever you seek

Whenever you come

WE WELCOME YOU

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jamie Rumsey, Senior Warden

Coming this Fall: Sunday School for All ages

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

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

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

Concretely, this looks like:

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

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

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

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

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

 

Grace and peace,

Kim+

The Wisdom of Mary Poppins

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

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

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

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

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

Spit Spot and off we go!

Well begun is half done!

Close your mouth Michael, we are not a codfish!

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

Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.

How do you measure up?

Miss Mary, are you practically perfect in every way?

And oh, so many more!

Enjoy these pictures from camp – it was truly SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIDOCIOUS!

Mary McIntire

Flat Jesus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Father Bill

Call of Duty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jackson Dreiling

Pentecost

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mother Kim