Welcoming Guests

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mother Kim

Service

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

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

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

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

Jackson Dreiling

An Invitation to Retreat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mother Kim

Reflections from High on the Holy Mountain, Sewanee Tennessee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mary McIntire

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

 

 

God as Home

Why go for a hike?

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

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

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

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

Blessings,

Deacon Linda

 

Photo: Colorado Columbine

Picture taken by Jesse Brown

Golden Gate State Park, CO

Rethinking Freedom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mother Kim

Unpack

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jackson Dreiling

Wonder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

+

Father Bill

Camp

camp - to pitch a tent 

           a place of temporary shelter

camp - a summer holiday

           a program for children offering a range of activities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you Holy Comforter for being great hosts to CAMPS!

Mary McIntire

Ministry: A Lifelong Journey

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

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

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

two as transitional deacons, and four as vocational deacons.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deacon Linda Brown

It's Sum-Sum-Summertime

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

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

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


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

Mother Kim

The Joshua Generation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jackson Dreiling

Grace - Life Given Freely

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings to you all this Eastertide,

Fr. Bill+

Remembering Mom with Love

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

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

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

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

Blessings,

Deacon Linda

Blessed in Beauty

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

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

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

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

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

Mary McIntire

The Ground of All Being

As many of you know, I am just returning from a three month sabbatical. Generously funded by a Clergy Renewal Grant from the Lilly Foundation, I sought out places of beauty for refreshment. Paris was one of my watering holes, a destination famous for breath-taking churches, world-class art and exquisite architecture.

The great theologian Paul Tillich described God as “the ground of all being.” He wrote that God permeates all of creation and is the foundation of all. For Tillich, God is so interwoven in all of creation that evidence of God is all around us, if we only have eyes to see.

Tillich’s catchphrase “the ground of all being” came to mind when I encountered a metal sculpture much like this one in a small chapel in France.

This sculpture captivated my attention. As it was in the lower chapel of the convent where I was staying, I had lots of time to listen to what it had to say.

I saw myself as a human being standing in the midst of it, surrounded by its branches. Because God is “the ground of all being,” the Creator is the foundation, the root system beneath. The visible branches above ground all around me are the many and various ways in which God is revealing the divine. My work is to develop the eyes to see. Can I see God all around me?

I needed this sabbatical time to help me see again. Daily schedules can move at such a lightning fast pace. Cultural values of efficiency and productivity can keep me task-oriented and results-focused. It is so easy to lose sight of the God in whom I live, and move, and have my being. But if I am blind to God in the world around me, I risk losing meaning and purpose for living.

In my grant application, I chose beauty as a sabbatical theme. Beauty is what I turn to when I need renewal: the beauty of relationships, the beauty of creation, and the beauty of the presence of God. I spend time with people that I love. I go for a hike and take in a scenic vista. I soak in a work of art. I seek out exquisite liturgy to be fed in word and sacrament.

Beauty awakens the human spirit to its transcendence. The longing for beauty is a cry of our soul. The making and appreciating of beauty is an integral connection between human beings and the Holy Spirit. We can trace anything that is beautiful in creation to the Creator who is Beauty.

What are the places of beauty in your life? Where do you turn for renewal and refreshment? If you look closely, you might see they are branches of the tree of life, signs of God reaching for you, loving you in your daily life.  

The Reverend Kim Seidman

Incredible

“Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.” John 6:21

Happy Friday, good people. I came across this verse the other day, relating the story of Jesus walking on water. Now, I have always focused on the miracle of Jesus walking on water in this story. I mean, how can you not? He walked on water!

Recently reading the novel-turned-movie The Shack, by Wm. Paul Young, there is a scene in the story where Jesus shows the main character, Mack, how to walk on water. In that story, I was struck by the incredibly simple act that walking on water was for Mack-because he trusted in Jesus. He thought there was no way that he would be able to stay on top of the water in his mortal, human state. But, just by holding Jesus’ hand, he was able to stay on top of the water and not sink. Incredible.

It is mind-blowing that such a daunting task could be made so simple through an act of trust; of faith; of love. That is exactly what I think about when I read these words out of John, also. The real miracle of this story, in my mind, was that a simple act of trust; of faith; of love, by the disciples made all the difference.

See, before they “were willing to take him into the boat”, the winds and seas were storming; and, the disciples were essentially floating in circles (as I envision it). Wouldn’t you know it, as soon as Jesus climbs aboard, the boat immediately arrives. Incredible.

As humans, it is so natural to want to go it alone-to have that fortitude and know-how to just make it happen. I find myself doing it all the time! And, as I read this verse over and over again, I have to chuckle; because, it. is. so. simple. Without him, we are only human. With him, we are incredible.

It makes me ask myself, “what acts of trust; of faith; of love, do I need to perform today?”. Knowing that this kind of action can produce miracles, I am eager to answer the question. Having racked my brain, but not arriving on anything concrete yet, I will keep asking. For now, I find strength in this verse, knowing it is leading me to the answer.

Jackson Dreiling

The Holiest Week of the Year

Holy Week - the final week before Easter day - is the holiest week of the Christian year.  It is that week where we as the Church - the people of God - experience the “last days of Jesus’ life here on earth, as well as the time and events leading up to his resurrection.”  

Beginning with Palm Sunday and ending at sundown on Saturday, with the Great Vigil of Easter, we join countless other present-day Christians as well as Christians relating back to the earliest days of Christianity, as we make our pilgrimage together toward Calvary.  

The celebration of Holy Week, or the Great Week as it was called by ancient Christians, dates back to at least the 4th Century, where the pilgrim Egeria, possibly a Spanish nun on pilgrimage to the Holy Land sometime between 381 and 384 AD, joined the Christian community of Jerusalem on the afternoon of Holy Thursday when they began celebrations of the seasonal liturgy of the Easter Triduum in the Church of the Eleona, on the Mount of Olives.  For more about Egeria, check out this article: http://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/timeline/301-600/egerias-pilgrimage-blessed-the-ages-11629681.html

There are many and varied special devotions celebrated during Holy Week.  Some churches offer services every day of the week, and our own lectionary provides special readings for each day (Monday through Saturday) should you wish to include them in your daily prayer cycle.  Some churches, including our own St. John’s Cathedral, offers a Tenebrae service - a monastic office similar to matins and lauds, but structured around 15 sets of psalms, readings, and responsories.  It is a truly awe-inspiring service.  I admit, I cry each time I go, it is that moving.

The special liturgies we at Holy Comforter celebrate this week includes the Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday and the Triduum.  

The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday (commonly known as just Palm Sunday) is actually two services in one.  We begin outside with a Liturgy of the Palms, and this liturgy focuses on Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem.  We join together in the waiving of palms and cries of Hosannah! as we parade around the church property ending at the door to the sanctuary, where we begin the Liturgy of the Passion.  It is a dramatic, schizophrenic shift as we go from the joy of the palms to the experience the Passion Gospel of Jesus’ final hours.  

The hallmark of Holy Week, however, is the Triduum or Triduum Sacrum - meaning three (triduum) sacred (sacrum) days - consists of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Great Vigil of Easter.  Although they appear as three separate services, they are all, in actuality, one continuous prayer service.  You will note that after the opening greeting of Maundy Thursday, there is no dismissal by Deacon Linda until the Great Vigil of Easter.  Early Christians remained at their churches or holy sites for the entirety of the three days in constant prayer and reading of scripture.   

The Triduum begins on Thursday evening with Maundy Thursday, where we commemorate the institution of the Lord’s Supper and remember Christ’s example of love through the humble act of foot washing.  The term Maundy, it is believed, comes from the Latin for Jesus’ new command to love one another (mandatum novum), or possibly the verb to wash (mundo).  At the conclusion of that liturgy, we strip the altar as an act of spiritual remembrance of Christ’s betrayal and humiliation.  The church is left bare, and we are left to walk alone with Christ the rest of the way to the cross.  Therein, we find Christ’s presence an inescapable comfort.  In the darkened church, we sit and sing that we will remain and stay with Jesus during these last few hours in Gethsemane.  

On Good Friday, we enter into the mystery of Christ.  We experience the abandonment felt by the first disciples who thought that Jesus’ ministry ended with his death.  We hear once again his Passion, this time from the Gospel of John, we kneel at the foot of his cross, and we sit in the silence and darkness of the tomb, recalling our own own sense of abandonment and despair, which we all experience from time to time.  As we do so, we discover that we are not alone, but rather share this pain with each other, and with God, who also shares - and redeems - our loss and pain.

The Triduum concludes at sundown on Holy Saturday, which marks the beginning of the final day - Easter day.  We gather outside where the Church lights new fire with hopeful anticipation the resurrection brings.  We light the Paschal candle - the sign of the resurrection - which is then brought back into the church.  The Light of Christ spreads throughout the pews, lighting our way.  We hear Deacon Linda proclaim the coming of Easter in the Exsultet.   We retell our most sacred stories and welcome four new Christians (Andrew and Julia, Ryleigh and Emma) in the sacrament of Holy Baptism (by candlelight!).   Beginning with a rumbling from the Hook Organ, the Great Alleluia is proclaimed the church is flooded with light, bells chime and we all celebrate that “Alleluia, the Lord is risen, indeed. Alleluia!  Alleluia!”  The tomb once occupied is empty, death is conquered!  

Often people tend to skip Holy Week, desiring to head directly to Easter Day.  However, I have often heard that this is like going directly from the appetizer to the dessert.  You miss the beauty and the joy, the communion and relationship that comes from the main course!  We walk this journey not alone, but with each other, in a great cloud of witnesses that have come and gone before us from the earliest of days.  Most importantly, we walk this walk with Jesus, our ever present guide, teacher, and companion in the way.  Come and experience that which is the holiest week of our church year, and then enjoy the spirit of resurrection!  Amen.

The Reverend William Stanton

A Visitor to Holy Comforter

You may or may not have heard the statistics.

Maybe you haven’t experienced it yourself or known anyone who has.

I met someone at Holy Comforter yesterday who had.

She is a young woman I’ll call Eleanor, even though that is not her real name.

She lives in Broomfield.

She has three small children whom she loves very deeply.

Eleanor is educated and articulate.

She told me that she never thought she would be in the situation she has now found herself in.

She had never prepared for it.

Or ever thought that she had to.

But it happened.

And her life has been changed forever.

You see, Eleanor is a victim of domestic violence.

The sad part is that she is not alone:

  • 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of [some form of] physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.
  • Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime.
  • On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.
  • 1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90% of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence.
  • The presence of a gun in the home during a domestic violence incident increases the risk of homicide by at least 500%.
  • Domestic violence cuts across all lines in our society: economic, ethnic, racial, etc.

Eleanor has had to restart her life and the lives of her children.

She has had to figure out how to get work so that she can pay bills.

She has had to undergo therapy to work through the fear and trauma of her experience.

She called Holy Comforter because she was short of the rent amount she needed to pay for the month.

She had been referred to Holy Comforter by the local office of the Salvation Army.

She wondered if we could help her.

Because Holy Comforter has intentionally set aside funds for clergy discretionary accounts, we are able to help people in our congregation and our community with some financial assistance.

So, I wrote a check to her landlord toward some of her rent.

Eleanor was very grateful for the assistance.

I asked her if she had a faith community to provide spiritual support and she said she didn’t.

I let her know that Holy Comforter would welcome her and her children.

She let me know that she appreciated the invitation and would consider it.

As I walked with her to the door, she turned to me and said with tears in her eyes that her life right now is very hard; but, that she feels she is on the right path.

She thanked me again for the rent assistance, and we said good-bye.

In this season of Lent, the parishioners of Holy Comforter were asked to bring donations of toiletry items to the church during the Sundays of March.

The drive served as a reminder of our Lenten call to give alms to those in need.

By the 4th Sunday, all of the items donated filled 4 very large plastic bins.

They were delivered to A Precious Child, who helps families in need, and to Arising Hope, a shelter in Adams County for women and their children who are victims of domestic violence.

Please pray for Eleanor, her children and the many families like hers who are struggling to recover from domestic violence and abuse. 

Pray that they will find the loving care, healing and spiritual support that they need.

Pray that our eyes will be opened to what we can do to help them.

Deacon Linda Brown

Are You Ready?

Are you ready? I am - well almost! Holy Week. It strikes terror in the hearts of church musicians as we ready our choirs for the massive amount of music and liturgy that takes place. Emotions run high as approach each service. Sometimes it is easy for us to get caught up in the details of the service rather than in the meaning of the service. I find myself needing to take some time each day of Holy Week to look at the scriptures, read the text of the hymns, ponder and pray. Maybe looking head at some hymns might help you in your own Holy Week preparations. I might suggest looking at the following hymns and finding a verse or phrase on which you can pray and meditate.

My favorites:

Hymn 154 - All Glory, Laud and Honor 

Hymn 156 - Ride On! In Majesty!

Hymn 158 - Ah, holy Jesus

Hymn 159 - At the cross her vigil keeping, stood the mournful mother weeping

Hymn 160 - Cross of Jesus, cross of sorrow

Hymn 162 - The royal banners forward go

Hymn 164 - Alone thou goest forth

Hymn 165 - Sing my tongue the glorious battle

Hymn 167 - There is a green hill far away

Hymn 168 - O sacred sore wounded

Hymn 170 - TO mock your reign, o dearest Lord

Hymn 171 - Go to dark Gethsemane

Hymn 172 - Were you there?

Hymn 173 - O sorrow deep

If you would like to borrow a hymnal from the church library room to use for prayer and contemplation as we approach Holy Week please feel free to do so. 

I hope that the offerings from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday will take you on a beautiful journey as we walk with Christ during the holiest of weeks.

Mary McIntire