Random

It's December. That means music planning, unpacking lots of boxes (I won't confess how many) of Christmas decorations, making lists, battling traffic and lines everywhere we go. So in many ways my life is random right now-but what do I like about random? I like that I can put 5 CD's of all different kinds of seasonal music in the player, hit random and I don't know what will come up next. It might be Mannheim Steamroller or Kings College, Straight No Chaser or Chanticleer, Robert Shaw or Wind Machine. So many different styles, themes, instrumentation and interpretations of the same carols but each variation brings something different and charming to those beloved carols. 

I think back when I was a kid and my siblings and I would put a stack of LP's on the console stereo turn up the bass and sing at the top of our lungs. But it was the same artists for 5 or 6 songs, sounding much the same on each song. But now with random on our devices we can be surprised! Woken up! Hmmmm.....is that helping me to keep watch and wait during this Advent season?

Mary McIntire

With Gratitude for Deacon Linda

In this season of gratitude, I give thanks for Deacon Linda’s presence among us. Her diaconal ministry at Holy Comforter comes to a close at the end of the year. Bishop Rob appoints deacons to serve up to six years in a parish, then following a sabbatical, a new call is mutually discerned.

Deacon Linda began serving at Holy Comforter in December 2011. I came in 2010, and have a memory block trying to recall the time before her arrival. She is an amazing partner in ministry.

Deacons are called to serve all people, particularly the poor, the weak, the sick, and the lonely; and to assist in the proclamation of the gospel and administration of the sacraments. She has fulfilled her ministry with distinction. These are some of the fruits of her work among us:

Early on, Deacon Linda called my attention to the Broomfield Sweep Report, published by the Broomfield Community Foundation, that gave an overview of the changing demographics of our community and projections of human need for the coming decade. She works with members passionate about outreach and strengthened our partnership with nonprofit organizations doing wonderful ministry in the area. She partnered with our Farmers’ Market for recognition as a Jubilee Ministry. She built relationships with other faith communities, ensuring that we weren’t replicating but complementing one another’s efforts to love our neighbors. She noticed a compassion for Native Americans among a number of our parishioners, and journeyed alongside to coordinate mission trips and pilgrimmages to Navajoland and Pine Ridge each summer. She has been an integral member of our pastoral care team, ensuring those in difficult seasons are remembered in prayer, visits and home communion.

Outside of Holy Comforter, she served as general manager for the 32nd Avenue Jubilee Center, mentored deacons in formation, and donned her scientist hat to teach youth at Cosmos Camp for two summers.

To list her accomplishments is one thing; to articulate the gift of her presence among us is another. She is a partner in prayer, a wisdom seeker, a careful listener, a team player, a worker bee, a community organizer, a fine teacher, a compassionate friend.

I’d be remiss to not give thanks for Jesse as well. Churches joke about clergy spouses being “two-fers,” meaning, they get two ministers for the price of one (especially remarkable given that deacons are unpaid!). Holy Comforter really did get a two-fer with Jesse. He, too, has a wonderful sense of call to ministry - that is firmly of the lay order. Like Deacon Linda, a Benedictine oblate and spiritual director, he too exhibits a prayerful presence that permeates every conversation. He’s passionate about his ministry with the homeless at St. Clare’s on Tuesdays, and began a men’s morning prayer and breakfast every other Thursday. He offered his professional expertise as a CPA helping us transition our bookkeeping in house a few years ago, and served as Bishop’s Warden for two years. Each of them, individually, and together, leave a deep imprint on this place. 

On Saturday, January 6 at 5 pm, I hope you’ll join us for an Epiphany Blessing and Sending Celebration in Maglaras Hall. Bring your favorite chili or pie, and we’ll send the Browns off in true Holy Comforter style - with good food and goodwill for their incredible ministry among us. Their last Sunday with us will be January 7. 

In the meantime, don’t miss the opportunity to benefit from Deacon Linda’s wisdom one more time as she leads our Advent Quiet Morning, Praying the Psalms in Advent, on Saturday, December 9, from 8:30-12. I will definitely be there (yes, childcare provided!) 

Grace and peace,

Mother Kim

Retreat

My apologies for the delay of this blog. To be truthful, I have been consumed with the pace of life and what’s next. This past season of my life, and that of the life of my family, has been an incredible one-a fun summer sprinting into a new school year, youth sports, camping and more-taken to another level with a wildly successful wedding season and an amazing political campaign. That being said, I feel like we could use a retreat. A place and time to step back, reflect, rest and renew. We have that planned, thankfully, as our family will vacation in New York City, taking in the magic of the season, together.

I have also been thinking about our recent vestry/staff retreat at Cathedral Ridge; and, the juxtaposition of the word: retreat. In my previous example, retreat serves as a vehicle for renewal. However, our retreat at Cathedral Ridge served to provide a place and time for work. When I say work, I don’t mean the busy-work, paper shuffling kind. I mean deep, rich, get-your-hands-dirty, forward-thinking work. The kind of work that sets the course for a new chapter, where we will more fully live into our purpose and our calling for the benefit of our families, neighbors and world.

After thinking about this juxtaposition, it is clear to me that I am in a place of true retreat. Where I need reflection, rest and renewal; but, where I know that I have work to do. This place has me thinking a lot about the upcoming season of Advent. To me, Advent is the epitome of retreat. A time for quiet, reflection and prayer to prepare for the work that will be done. Divine timing, huh?

Upon leaving Cathedral Ridge this past Sunday, Father Bill asked us to write what we are taking out into the world with us from the weekend retreat. Through all of our conversations, thinking and work, one word was a constant for me: vulnerability. When we are doing God’s work and truly following Jesus, we are engaging with the world in a risky, vulnerable way. And, that feels good.

I don’t know what the work ahead of me will be. But, I do know that it will be there. And, as I continue walking through this season of retreat, I am thankful for all of it-my family, the time, the space, the reflection, the rest, the renewal and the work.

Jackson Dreiling

Stewardship

“Will you who witness these vows do all in your power to support these persons in their life in Christ?” – BCP 303

Does this question sound familiar to you?  It should.  It is the question that us priests in the Episcopal Church ask of you, the congregation, when we welcome new members into the Body of Christ – the Church – through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism.  I asked it of you this last Sunday right before Hazel, Dain, and Marian were baptized with the waters and Spirit.  And, if I remember correctly, your response was a resounding, “We will!”  

In responding “We will,” we affirm our commitment to help, support, lift up, walk with, console, care, and pray for the newly baptized and their families as they move forward in their new journey of faith.  

This is the same commitment that Holy Comforter, the Church itself, makes to each and every one of you – to be with you, to help, support, lift up, walk with, console, care, and pray for each and every one of you as you move forward in your own journey of faith.  

Throughout these past few weeks, we have heard stories from various parishioners about how Holy Comforter has helped them and their families move forward in their faith – whether it was because their spirit was nourished or uplifted by a particular worship experience, their soul was touched or released by a particular hymn, choir anthem, hand bell, violin, or organ piece, their heart was comforted in a time of grief and sadness, when they felt welcomed as they walked through the door, or when their or their child’s mind was challenged, opened, or surprised by a particular learning experience.

I believe we all have our own, individual and unique stories about how Holy Comforter has helped move us forward in your own journey of faith.  Perhaps it was when you helped donate nearly 1,000 pounds of food as part of the Broomfield FISH food drive, or when you participated in the Precious Child Fill-A-Backpack drive – filling 600 backpacks with school supplies for the children of Broomfield and Northern Adams County.  Perhaps it was when you volunteered to help set up, provide a meal, or stay the night with our Growing Home families.  Was it when you brought your pet to be blessed, or your child to participate in our Trunk or Treat?  Or, was it when you had the opportunity earlier this year, to practice the Art of Beauty, and learn to play and express your spirituality through art and play?  Was it when you built relationships with other members of Holy Comforter during our annual Retreat (sliding down a snow hill in the middle of August!)?  Perhaps it was when you saw your child grow and shine with God’s love and grace through their time in the nursery, God’s Play Place, Godly Play or Youth Group.  

Holy Comforter is dedicated to fulfilling this baptismal promise to you.  But it cannot do it on its own.  It takes you.  In responding “We will” to this baptismal promise, we acknowledge that we, each of us, do not walk this journey alone.  Rather, we walk it together as a beloved community of faith, with Christ always present in, with, and through us at all times.  This is why we have asked you to envision with us as to what the next five years will look like for Holy Comforter, the church, its people, and its community.  

This Sunday is Consecration Sunday – a day when we ask you to bring in your pledge card so we can begin turning these visions into reality.  If you have not yet already turned it in, we ask that you prayerfully consider pledging to Holy Comforter, and in doing so ask yourself, how can Holy Comforter continue to move forward, fulfilling God’s mission and purpose in the world?  How can Holy Comforter continue to help you move forward in your own faith journey?  What new stories can be made?  What does it mean for us, as a beloved community of faith, when we proclaim, “We will?”  

Grace and blessings to you,

Fr. Bill

'Tis the Season for Lists

The calendar has flipped to to November and I am making lists. The grocery store, presents, cleaning, errands, to do, Christmas Cards, plays, concerts..... 

I am getting a bit tired just thinking about it. But, I am going to do you a favor and give you a list of some great musical offerings happening close by and maybe you can take a bit of time to feed your soul with some great sounds of the season.

Saturday November 18 - 7 pm Vittoria Ensemble at Holy Comforter - 1700 W. 10th Ave. Broomfield

Tuesday November 21 - 7 pm Lutheran Church of Hope Community Thanksgiving - 1305 W. 10th Ave. Broomfield - Broomfield Children's Chorus and Broomfield Civic Chorus

Friday December 1 -  6 pm Broomfield City Center Tree Lighting - many local groups will be performing

Friday December 1 and Saturday December 2 - 7:30 pm Alpine Chorale with Orchestra - We Have Seen a Great Light - includes Handel's Messiah 4500 Wadsworth Wheat Ridge

Friday December 8 7:30 pm and Saturday December 9  2:00 pm - ASTER Women's Chorus and The Broomfield Children's Chorus presents Christmas in Scandinavia - Holy Comforter Church 1700 W. 10th Ave. Broomfield

Tuesday December 12 11:30 - 12:45pm - Brown Bag Lunch and Seasonal Music Offerings by Ben Ehrlich and Marcia Rudzik - organists and Silver Bells Handbell Choir - Holy Comforter 1700 W. 10th Ave. Broomfield. Bring your own lunch, dessert and drinks provided.

Sunday December 24 - 10 am  An Advent Service of Lessons and Carols - Holy Comforter 1700 W. 10th Ave. Broomfield

Sunday December 24 - 5 pm - Holy Eucharist with Children's Sermon

                                   7:30 pm - Carols of the Season

                                   8:00 pm - Holy Eucharist

Take time to enjoy the sounds of the season!

Mary McIntire

Gifts of Gratitude

This past week I was invited to a fundraising luncheon for Broomfield FISH that carried the theme “Gifts of Gratitude.”  FISH is a local food pantry founded in 1963 to provide fresh and pre-packaged food for residents who are having difficulty putting enough food on the table.  It was started by a group of ladies from six Broomfield churches. The program was originally called “Broomfield Church Women United” and later changed its name to Fellowship In Serving Humanity, or FISH.  Holy Comforter’s own Ellie McKinley was one of its founding members.

At the luncheon, I sat at a table with several other clergy from Broomfield – Salvation Army, United Church of Broomfield, Broomfield Community Church, Highway Community Church (a new planter church in Broomfield) – and listened to the presentations.  

The opening address was given by FISH’s Executive Director, Dayna Scott, who invited each of us to think about the theme, Gifts of Gratitude, in the context of our own lives.  What do we each give thanks for?  Such a simple question, but a very powerful one in the response it elicits.  What are you thankful for?  Your family?  Home? Friends? Your church community? Material wealth?  Fill in the blank.

As we all pondered this question, we heard stories of people – families, the elderly, those struggling with unemployment or medical issues – who faced real hunger, but discovered that they are able to make it through another day because of the food and services provided by FISH.  And FISH relies on the generosity of Broomfield congregations, nonprofit organizations, and companies for cash and food donations so that they can serve 35 to 40 families in need per day.  

This past week, Holy Comforter volunteers delivered nearly 1,000 lbs of donated food plus cash and gift cards to FISH during our October food drive.  I am thankful for your generosity of spirit and donation of material items and cash to FISH.  Thank you for expressing your love of neighbor.

Blessings,

Deacon Linda

Community of Saints

Holy Comforter bids farewell to one of its founding members today. Bob and Patty Davenport were one of twelve families that petitioned the Bishop in 1958 to start an Episcopal mission  in Broomfield. Tired of the long Sunday drives to a downtown parish, they envisioned a nearby congregation for their families to participate throughout the week.

Initially gathering in a home basement (with a wet bar as the altar!), then moving to a location on Hemlock Street, the fledgling congregation grew and soon purchased our current location. In 1960, 287 was a two lane country road and Broomfield had a population of 4,000.

The chapel was largely constructed by members putting in long hours on evenings and weekends after their day jobs. The vestments and altar linens were sewn by hand. The first pipe organ modified from a home instrument. The first priest, the Bishop’s son. The community thrived in the decades that followed. In the 1980s Holy Comforter purchased the residence next door, expanding its property to nearly five acres and providing needed space for an expanding Sunday school. In 2000, a capital campaign funded a new sanctuary and parish hall.

Fast forward nearly sixty years from its founding: 287 is now a major six lane highway and Broomfield boasts 65,000 residents. What began as a hopeful vision of 12 young families has grown into a vibrant reality of over 200 households.

As we lay Bob to rest today, I give thanks for him and all the other founding members who dreamed to plant and sacrificed to grow this amazing community of faith. I cannot imagine Broomfield without Holy Comforter. For three generations, this Episcopal Church has provided faithful worship, beautiful music, comfort and compassion to the hurting, and substantive Christian formation.

In order to move Forward in Faith, sometimes it’s useful to look back. To remember where we’ve come from can be an indicator of where we’re going next.

I hope you’ll join me in coming weeks as we celebrate the community of saints, those whom we love but see no longer. Music for All Souls on October 28 at 7 pm is a haunting concert of sacred music; and Choral Evensong for All Saints on November 1 at 7 pm remembers those on whose shoulders we stand. Our columbarium courtyard and labyrinth is always open for contemplation. I hope you’ll take some time in this sacred season to sit for a moment and listen: What dreams are arising in you? What is the sacrifice you are being called to make? And can you hear your saints cheering you on as you move Forward in Faith?

Mother Kim

Moments of Truth

This past week has continually revealed to me one thing: we all meet moments of truth in our everyday lives. Sometimes daily, sometimes less often; but, the absolute truth is that we will be continually confronted with the truth in our lives.

My youngest son, Jack, is learning this during his journey in the 2nd Grade. Education is beautiful in its ability to provide learning opportunities and life lessons on a daily basis. To see him grappling with these opportunities and lessons is both difficult and wonderful at the same time. As a parent, we naturally want to guide and help our children through their difficulties. However, we know that the opportunities and lessons will likely be lost if we don’t allow them to learn for themselves. They have to confront their moment of truth. As Dr. King said, “Knowledge plus character. That is the true goal of education.”

Mother Kim’s sermon last Sunday about shedding privilege to move Forward in Faith confronted a moment of truth for our culture. With so many societal ills boiling at the surface, how do we confront these ugly truths? There is no way around the scriptures in Luke 12 “to whom much is given, much will be required in return”. We are reminded, yet again, that we are called to meet these moments of truth.    

I have met my share of moments of truth this past week, as well. And, in confronting those moments, I have been thinking about my little Jack. Through his learning, he is essentially teaching me; or, at least reminding me of the right way to meet these moments. In seeing his fear of being less likable, or of a perceived consequence, I know my way Forward in Faith.

As God has created me, just like every single being, with a distinct purpose, I know that I must honor that purpose. Even if it is uncomfortable, unpopular, or maybe a little bit scary, what he has put in my heart is my duty to fulfill.

Jackson Dreiling

Holy Comforter's Abundant Grace

Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.  And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full.   And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children."  Matthew 14:19b-21.

The Feeding of the 5,000.  This is one of the rare miracle stories that appears in each of the 4 Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).  It is also a story of abundant grace poured out upon God’s children through God’s only son, Jesus.  Abundant grace shown when more than 5,000 men, women and children are not only fed, but fed to the point of satisfaction, through the offering of only 5 loaves of bread and two fish. 

Just a couple of weeks ago, it seemed as if Holy Comforter was experiencing its own Feeding of the 5,000 miracle.  Throughout the week of September 24th, Holy Comforter families provided holy hospitality and housing for the members of the Watoto Children’s Choir and their chaperones.  Grace poured out during this time as cultures and stories were shared, relationships formed and strengthened, and the songs of the children filled our Sanctuary.  That same time, Holy Comforter provided another form of holy hospitality when it transformed the Undercroft into living quarters for three families transitioning from homelessness to finding homes for themselves as part of the Growing Home Canopy Program.  Volunteers from Holy Comforter and our community churches provided not only meals but also the means for these families to gain a new foothold on life.  During this week, stories were again shared, friendships built, and relationships were formed.  Christ’s abundant grace flowed through the halls and rooms of Holy Comforter. 

And then Sunday night happened – news of yet again, another mass shooting, this one occurring during a Country and Western concert in Las Vegas.  60 people killed, including the gunman, more than 490 people injured.  At this same time, news of the devastation suffered by Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria. 

In all honesty, grace is often hard to notice when such natural, and unnatural events such as a hurricane or mass shooting occurs.  And yet, grace continues to flow.  This was evident last Sunday during our first meeting of Got Kids?  A group of parents, including parents of infants, toddlers, and youth, gathered together to not only hear about what their kids are doing during Nursery, God’s Play Place, Godly Play, and Youth Group, but to also share stories of what it is like to raise kids in the world today.  The question to start us off was, “How do you talk to your kids about God and Jesus?”  And blessed be, the clergy did not have to have the answer.  Rather, the answer or answers came from the other parents, parents whose kids are asking questions about God, who are stretching the boundaries of faith, who are stuck in a prayer rut, kids who doubt.  Grace again flowed through this gathering, as stories were shared, friendships made, and relationships strengthened. 

In looking back at the Gospel Miracle of the Feeding of the Five Thousand, what amazed me most is that while Jesus did indeed feed 5,000+ people, he could not have done anything had the people first not gathered, and had the people first not offered their own gifts of bread and fish, to Jesus.  This is how God – Christ seems to work.  Christ works through us, and through us grace can flow abundantly, if we offer ourselves and our gifts to God. 

The grace experienced by the Watoto Children’s choir could not have been felt had we not first opened our church and our homes to these kids and their sponsors.  The grace that occurred during our week as a Growing Home host site would never have been felt had we not first said “yes” and given of our time and our church home to the Growing Home families.  Similarly, the grace that flowed between our own families during last Sunday’s Got Kids? would never have been felt had parents not first came together and offered their own gifts of time and stories, stories which not only build relationships but also provide the foundation to support each other through the harrowing path of parenthood.

This is my experience of Holy Comforter and its people – people who say “yes” – people who open their hearts and offer themselves up to God so that God/Christ can work through them.  And through them, God’s abundant grace is allowed to flow - not only through the halls and rooms of the church, but out into the neighborhood and world which so desperately needs a little grace.

Blessings to you all.

Fr. Bill

Rhythms & Tempo

Kids are in school, programs have started, my teaching studio is back to a regular weekly schedule,  choir practices are well under way and that means the rhythm and tempo of life has changed. It feels good! While I always embrace the free flowing tempo of summer, I always feel more centered once September arrives. 

In my dream world that means, like a predictable piece of music, everything will go along at a nice steady, even pace. I know what will happen in the next day, the next week, then next measure and onto the next page. But really, that is the dream. And wouldn't life be boring if we went along in that very predictable state? And wouldn't the music we enjoy become redundant and dull if we knew what was coming next and it all felt and sounded the same?

Last Sunday the Sanctuary Choir sang a recently published (recently meaning in the last 10 years) anthem titled Sing to the Lord a New Song. It's catchy tune made it fun to learn but the rhythms played a difficult game with me! Meter markings like 7/8, 3/4, 3/1, 4/4, all mixed up in one piece! Feeling triple, triple, duple, and then duple, duple, triple, then an even 1,2,3,4 was driving me crazy! The choir could sing it, Ben could play it but I couldn't direct it! I had to really put on my "A" game not to mess up!

But that piece of music, was/is much like life. We go along at a nice tempo, the rhythm being even and straight but then something comes along and makes us work harder. Makes us think harder. Makes us engage our minds to things that are uncomfortable and sometimes difficult. And I believe that is God reminding me to look beyond myself, to things that are harder, that are more difficult, challenging and rewarding.

Embrace those changes in rhythm and tempo.

Mary McIntire

Tókša akhé

This past week I learned that the Lakota Sioux have no expression in their language for “good-bye.”  When I first heard this, it was during a trip that a group of us from Holy Comforter Church had just made to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. We arrived in the Lakota village of Kyle on Wednesday, September 13 and spent four days doing various work projects, learning about the Lakota culture and visiting with the people and hearing their stories. We worked on projects at the Oyate Teca youth community center (Oyate Teca = young people), worshiped with the Lakota at Mediator Episcopal Church, shared a hot lunch with the elders at the senior center, and toured the reservation with a guide, Gus Yellowhair, who shared with us sacred stories and sites of the Lakota people.

As we were leaving the senior center to head on our journey home, Mother Cordelia Red Owl, Episcopal priest at Mediator Church, said to our group, “Tókša akhé”, which means “see you later” or “see you again”.  She said that there was no word in the Lakota language that translates into “good-bye”.  So we immediately wondered why that was the case.  She explained to us that the word “good-bye” signifies an ending, a permanent departure, which has no meaning for the Lakota.

I have been pondering what Mother Cordelia said to us. Based on what I have learned about the Lakota people and their culture, I understand that they believe that all things are related and sacred – all creation, all living things, all people.  They use a circle with colors red, black, yellow, and white to designate the four directions and the colors of all people.  With the circle, there is no beginning and no end.  So, to say good-bye is to break the circle, to end relationship and connection between yourself and others.

So, in hearing the Lakota tell our Holy Comforter group “Tókša akhé” as we were leaving, it seemed that they were acknowledging to us that we are part of their circle of life.  What an honor that is, considering the dark history that has existed and continues to exist between the U.S. and the Native American peoples.  We were given the invitation to continue being part of their circle of life, and I pray that with God’s help Holy Comforter will take the Lakota up on their offer to “see you again”.

Deacon Linda Brown

Sunday School for Grownups

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

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

Unlocking the Mysteries of our Worship Music

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

Got Kids?

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

Bible C.L.A.S.S.

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

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

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

Mother Kim

My Responsibility

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jackson Dreiling

Hospital Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings to you all, Fr. Bill

Pondering and Planning

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

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

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

Mary McIntire

Stepping Out of the Boat

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,
Deacon Linda

Welcoming Guests

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mother Kim

Service

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

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

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

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

Jackson Dreiling

An Invitation to Retreat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mother Kim

Reflections from High on the Holy Mountain, Sewanee Tennessee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mary McIntire

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