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

The Precious PRESENT

“Daddy, what are you talking about?”

“The precious present.”

“What?!”

“The precious present. The only thing we have is now. We can’t dwell on the past or worry about the future. All we can do is be in the moment of now.”

“Well…yeah!”

This was the conversation my son, Joshua, and I had on the way home from baseball practice on Wednesday night. He already knew the truth. He already was a believer in what I was trying to teach him. And, even though sometimes their smarty-pants responses make us want to go crazy- I hate to admit it-they are right!

Kids. We work so hard to teach them. Right from wrong. Manners. Ps & Qs. Respect. Patience. Love. Sharing… Well, as the wise philosopher, the late Lonnie “Pops” Lynn once said, “I think I’m the one that got taught.”

See, kids are ALWAYS in the moment. They are the breath of life that comes into this world living in each and every second that is given to them. They don’t know any different; because, God gives them this ability as he blesses the world with their spirit, their love, their presence. They are made in his image.

And, we have to remember that we are too. As we grow and mature into adults, that ability to be in the moment seems to fade steadily; and, becomes harder and harder to grasp. Work. Dinner. School. News. Iphones. Emails. Laundry. Facebook. Dishes. Packing School Lunches. Groceries. Exercise. Homework. Sports. Karate... We become consumed by our daily activities and the distractions that surround us. We give into those distractions and activities like a dog chases a squirrel-always in a haphazard, undisciplined way. Nothing gets the full attention it deserves. We are masters of “multi-tasking”. Well, I don’t know about you, but, I don’t like the way that feels.

Kids don’t feel that way; because, they are all in on whatever they are doing. They are in the moment. And, they want us to be too. Because, remember, that is how we are created. So, let us go about our day, starting today, as a kid does: they play. When a kid plays, they play. They don’t check-email-do-laundry-play. They just play, with all their heart, mind, body and soul.

Let’s join in. And, as we play, we will know that we have been blessed with the only gift we have or need or want right now. The precious PRESENT.

The Labyrinth: Walking a Sacred Path

About six years ago, four friends went to see Mother Kim to ask her if we could paint a labyrinth on the parking lot. After her enthusiastic yes, the adults and the youth group members painted a labyrinth, choosing the parking lot because that was accessible for “rollers” as well as walkers. In those early days, this question was heard: “what are those circles that are painted in the parking.” The simple labyrinth was used for several years.

With continued growth at Holy Comforter a beautiful new labyrinth has been built by Holy Comforter folks and dedicated Nov. 1, 2016. It is located in the courtyard of the All Souls Columbarium. With its serene setting and beautiful landscaping, it is a quiet place for prayer and contemplation.   

What is a labyrinth?

A labyrinth is a tool for prayer and meditation: a prayer of movement. To walk or move about the labyrinth is to make a pilgrimage in our own church yard. To walk the labyrinth is to take a “time out,” to be refreshed. Each person brings his or her personal thoughts, prayers, problems to walk the path. It is an active, yet meditative, way to pray.

Labyrinths are found in almost every spiritual and religious tradition around the world. Their circular design has been part of civilization for 4,000 years. Designs are found in pottery, in cave art; among the Native American and Celtic cultures, to name a few examples.

In our Episcopal tradition, the Chartres Labyrinth, a classical eleven-circuit design, was among the first labyrinths in America at Grace Episcopal Cathedral in San Francisco. The Rev. Dr. Lauren Artress, an Episcopal priest, is credited with bringing the labyrinth to churches. Her book “Walking a Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool” is a classic. The Rev. Artress now leads pilgrimages to the Chartres Labyrinth in Chartres France which was laid in the cathedral floor between 1194 and 1220.   

Labyrinths are found indoors and outdoors, in churches, schools, hospitals, and business centers. Some are rustic out in the woods; others are made of beautiful stone like the Holy Comforter labyrinth.

A labyrinth is not a maze, which has dead ends and trick turns. A labyrinth has only one path leading to the sacred center and back out again.

In walking the labyrinth, there is no right experience. It invites us to journey within the sacred circle, quietly bringing our prayers, concerns and letting go of the anxieties of daily life. It invites us into the mystery of God. Moving in the circular motion can create a sense of balance and a way to enjoy some quiet time.

For those who may wish some guidelines for moving about the labyrinth:

            Pause at the entrance to calm your spirit and mind.

            Invite God to be present with you as you walk or move about.

            Walk in silence.

            Be sensitive to others’ personal space.

            Stop and be in silence in the center for as long as you would like.

            Allow yourself to find a pace that your body wants to go.

            You may pass others on the walk: the path is two ways, going in and out.

            Use a pace and movement that is natural to you.

            No two walks are the same. Each time is a different experience.  

The labyrinth’s winding path is a metaphor for the spiritual journey. It represents our journey, as well as reminds us of so many who have traveled before us in faith.

Rev. Sandy Grundy

Failing at Our Lenten Fasts

"I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy Word."  (BCP 265)

I love Lent.  I always have.  Or I should say, there are aspects of Lent that I truly do love and enjoy. I have always enjoyed times of when I am permitted to be by myself in periods of reflection and self-examination.  I also enjoy Lent as a time for purposeful prayer and meditation on God’s holy Word.  However, there are also certain aspects of Lent where I truly struggle – specifically, the areas of fasting and self-denial.  I remember one year I gave up desserts and meat (all meat – including poultry and fish).  I remember that by the third week of Lent, all I could think about was ham and pies, burgers and pastries.  Sadly, I couldn’t do it.  The temptations and cravings were too much for me and I cheated (with a chocolate brownie sundae if I remember correctly.)  I remember I was devastated.  “Why couldn’t I give up desserts for just little over a month?”  However, I learned a lot about myself that year, because failing at our Lenten practice, whatever it might be, is, I believe, one of the purposes of Lent. 

Let me clarify, our purpose in Lent is not to fail at our fast or our Lenten practice; but rather, to use what happens during that fast or practice as a starting point for self-examination and reflection. 

These Lenten invitations go hand-in-hand.  We fast and self-deny, which in turn provides a basis for our self-examination.  Our self-examination in turn informs our prayer life.  Our prayer life is supported through our reading and meditating on God’s holy Word, which informs our life and our actions.  It is a perfect circle, each one independent yet inter-dependent upon the other.  

Because it is rooted in perfect-ness, failure should not be seen as a negative.  Rather, it is and should always be seen as a starting point for beginning again.  For example, we might ask ourselves, “Why couldn’t I give up chocolate?” “or meat?” “or pastries?” “or ice cream?” “or Facebook?” “or coffee?” “or sarcasm?” “or …? (you fill in the blank)” for a full 40 days?  It is the foundational source of our self-examination. 

My own failures allowed me to ask, “Why?”  “Why was I so obsessed with these cravings?”  “What was it about food or coffee or whatever that consumed my whole being?” (Pun not intended.)  Through the self-examination that accompanied the successes and failures of my Lenten practices, I was able to forgive myself for my weaknesses.  I was also able to learn much about the source of strength that was hidden deep within me.   Overall, my self-examination helped inform me in ways that continue to inform me today.  I was able to grow, knowing that I am stronger than my cravings, and stronger than my weaknesses – and that my strength comes from a place of grace, compassion, forgiveness and Love – my strength came from God. 

The goal of Lent is so that we can learn about ourselves – our “true selves” as Fr. Richard Rohr might say – the self that God created us to be – right here and right now.  And so I pray that you accept the invitation of Ash Wednesday to engage in the observance of a holy Lent, and that you embrace all that it has to offer – the fasts and self-denial – the self-examination and re-turning to God – the prayers and meditations – and most of all the successes and failures of each – and that you do so from a place of grace, compassion, forgiveness and Love – knowing that you are indeed Loved by God.  

Blessings to you this holy Lent. 

Fr. Bill+

Being Barrier Busters

One of my favorite Bible stories is Jesus healing the paralytic (Mark 2: 1-12).  Word had spread around Galilee that Jesus could heal the sick and cast out demons.  So, people started flocking to his side seeking help for themselves and their ailing loved ones.  There was such a large crowd in and surrounding his house in Capernaum that no one else could get near him.  Some people came carrying a paralytic, but they couldn’t get close to Jesus.  Undaunted, they climbed up onto the roof and literally removed it piece by piece so they could lower the paralytic on a mat to Jesus.  “When Jesus saw their faith” he forgave the sins of the paralytic.  The scribes in the room were aghast thinking to themselves that this was blasphemy.  Only God could forgive sins!  Jesus, knowing these murmurings, showed them his authority to forgive and heal as only one from God can do.  He commanded the paralytic to stand up, take up his mat and walk home -- which is what he immediately did to everyone’s amazement!

What I love about this story is the persistence of the people who brought the paralytic to Jesus.  We don’t know if they were family or friends.  We don’t know if they came at the insistence of the paralytic or if they had heard about Jesus and convinced the paralytic to see him.   Nonetheless, they came.  Imagine their disappointment arriving at the house and discovering there was no way to get the man through the crowd to Jesus!  Yet they figured out a way -- by getting up on the roof and literally pulling it apart!  They were unwilling to let barriers keep them from Jesus. They persisted in their faith and actions.  As followers of Christ, I believe this is what we are called to do – to persist in our faith and actions.  We are called to be “barrier busters” for those who need Jesus and are seeking the love, hope and healing that faith in God brings.

An example of this call became abundantly clear to me this past Wednesday evening at Holy Comforter’s Community Summit on Domestic Violence.  Our speakers from Arising Hope, Safehouse Progressive Alliance on Nonviolence (SPAN), and the Broomfield Police Department described situations of domestic violence in our families, neighborhoods, and community. Victims often feel shame and are reluctant to speak of it to other family members or co-workers.  Faith communities have an important role in helping victims of domestic violence by: becoming their friends, confidants, and advocates; learning about and promoting the community resources that are available to victims; and becoming volunteers and supporters to local shelters. Domestic violence is learned behavior. It can be unlearned, but victims need help.  If you are interested finding out how you be a barrier buster, please contact me, deacon@holycomforterchurch.net.

Deacon Linda Brown

Change

Oh, that six letter word! 

Yup, that nasty 6 letter word has entered my vocabulary again and soon I fear, it will appear in yours! 

Look around. You can see it, you can feel it, you can hear it. It's here and not going away!

Change. There, I said it. It's out in the open and I feel better! Just when we are feeling comfy and cozy its time for a change.

The days are getting longer and warmer. Some birds are chirping, kids are outside playing, some folks are doing some gardening and yard clean up. A bit of spring in the air although we know there will be more snow. 

The clergy and music directors have been living with the next church calendar change for several weeks now. Praying, collaborating, and planning all happen weeks before the actual seasonal change. But in less than two weeks, LENT will make its debut. Changes in what you see, what you hear, what you feel are at the doorstep, just waiting for March 1st.  

I hope you will embrace this change in our rhythm of life. Take in the differences in our liturgy, our music and our surroundings. Reflect on what you see and hear. Take advantage of the extra offerings during this season of LENT. The reward will be great.

Mary McIntire

Our Manual

My wife, Jennie, and I have always supported each other's parenting by countlessly restating to each other "there's no manual for this". In other words, you do your best; and, keep striving to do better for your kids. There will be times when you fail. There will be times when you triumph. There will be a lot of landing in between. If you're a parent, I imagine you are nodding your head as you are reading this. We all go through the ups and downs of parenting-just like life. Why should we be treating parenting be any different? 

I have heard it said that "it's not the destination, it's the journey that matters". I think this speaks so well to the challenge of parenting. We don't raise our kids up to this perfect point and send them out into the world. Their learning, their growth, their journey, is always continuing. And. So. Is. Ours. Thus, how do we navigate through life's journey, along with our parenting journey, together, as one journey? 

I was reading my daily devotional a few days back; and, had somewhat of an epiphany, as I read the reflection. Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 to "bring your children up with discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord". All of a sudden, the words Jennie and I had countlessly said to each other were turned on their head! We had our manual. It has been there all of the time; and, always will be. I turned to her and said, "here's our manual." She smiled; and, knew it, too. 

Now, we will continue to fail. We will continue to triumph. We will continue to do a lot of landing in between. We will continue to learn and grow. And, so will our boys. Through all of these journeys, we will have a guiding light, just as we always have. And, when we are stuck and don't know what to do, or where to go, we will just have to reach for our manual.

Jackson Dreiling

"A Light of Revelation to the gentiles, and glory of your people Israel."

Yesterday was Groundhog Day.  I hear Punxatawny Phil saw his shadow, but I’m not worried about it—I know that February second is the first day of spring every year.  No, I’m not crazy, and yes, I can read a calendar.  But the equinoxes and solstices that by so many are called “the first day of [enter season]” are actually the mid-points.  (Gustav Holst’s famous  Christmas hymn “In the Bleak Midwinter” would become a much less poetic “two days after the first day of winter” if this weren’t true).  Most cultures in human history have marked these real starts to the new seasons (officially called “cross-quarter days”) with celebrations involving lights or fires. (Or, in the bizarre American case, rodents).   

So now that we agree it’s springtime…Yesterday was Candlemas, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord Jesus in the Temple. Forty days ago we celebrated Christ’s breaking upon the world like the first rays of sunlight on a midwinter dawn.   Yesterday we commemorated his being dedicated back to God the Father in a time-honored Jewish ritual, when Simeon proclaimed Jesus to be the Savior of all nations. “A light of revelation to the gentiles.” 

I wonder what that day in the temple would have looked like.  An old man, ready to be with God, who had seen how many thousands of babies come and go to the temple, recognizes this one baby as the savior of the nations.  It’s easy to imagine a Hollywood appearance for scripture:  Scene: temple.  Simeon sees Jesus, a ray of light shines on him from out of the ceiling, and cue majestic rumbling trumpet music.  But if ancient people were anything like modern people, the families entering the temple would have looked a lot like the families entering churches today.  During temple worship, did minds wander, as mine is prone to in church?  Was time reckoned, lists made, whispered gossip shared?  Did priests sometimes shuffle haphazardly through the prescribed rituals, going through the motions but doubting all the while? I can’t imagine not. Yet the sight of an infant inspired a spontaneous song and recitation of a psalm from one man.  What sort of baby would it take to inspire such actions today?

We heard last week about a few fishermen dropping everything and leaving their families behind to follow someone they had just met.  Think about that.  I passed an empty car on side of the highway on my way to choir practice.  It did not occur to me that the Messiah could have just called its driver to a life of ministry. Would it have occurred to a Palestinian regarding an abandoned boat on the shoreline 2,000 years ago? 

Simeon wasn't the only person in the temple, and the apostles weren't the only men that Jesus walked by on the beach.  

Which brings me back to February 2, 2017, and the first day of spring.  For being springtime, it sure is wintry.  But it’s spring—you can’t argue with the astronomy.  I even saw flowers blooming—outside—this week.  You  just have to know that it’s spring, and then know where to look.  In the swirl of doubt of everyday life and in the grime of the daily grind I have come to realize that God is there, God is calling me, God is a light of revelation.  I just have to be looking.

John Murgel