Monthly Archive for October, 2010

2010 Ministry Minute #4 Mike Goulet

IMG_2334The theme of this Ministry Minute is the same as that of our Stewardship Campaign – transition. How it was, how it is, and how we’re hoping it will be.

So forgive me if I wax philosophical for a moment… Life is funny, huge volumes of our past come into our minds like a flash and seem like they came and went so quickly – my Madeline was tiny when we started coming here, now she’s so big. The point is, we reflect fondly on our past, but we always look to the future, and we should!  But we cannot forget to live in the present.

We all know how great Fr. John is as our priest and leader. How, with Anne’s help, he faces the divisions within our community unflinchingly and somehow brings us together. We know how important he is to us as our friend and spiritual leader, but now we need to look forward.

So where do we go from here? What will the new priest be like? Will she realize what a strong community we have? Will he accept us, with all our strengths and flaws, as we are? Will she have the patience to put up with us when we have a hard time making those commitments of Time… Talent… Treasure? I think the answer is yes. I firmly believe, perhaps fool heartedly, that a new leader will come in and take Fr. John’s place and move us forward in a positive direction, with God’s love as the foundation for all of it.

This community of people embodies so much of what is important to me and to my family. From our youngest members with their energy and innocence (and being an endless source of entertainment) to our eldest members with their experience and wisdom, I’m constantly reminded of how I want to be, how I want myself and my family to turn out. We’re certainly doing our part to keep this thing alive and kicking, or at least we’re trying. Sometimes we feel that we can’t do enough and get discouraged, but we never give up. We look to the future, but focus on the present, and make our contribution.

I’ll leave with this final thought – let’s not fear the future. Let’s trust in God and be determined to have the church that He wants us to have. Let’s continue to love each other and help our neighbors. Let’s continue to tolerate, to have patience, to have joy. Let’s be that church that picks up the broken candle and patiently repairs it, puts it back in its place, imperfect, but wonderful.*

* Mike Goulet’s young son Alex was commissioned as a new acolyte on this Sunday when Mike presented his Ministry Minute. The first Sunday Alex acolyted, he tipped the processional candle holder he was carrying and the candle fell off and cracked. Alex was upset, but we just melted some wax over the cracks and fixed the candle, putting it back, as Mike says, “imperfect but wonderful.” A lovely metaphor for Holy Cross Church!

Pentecost 23 October 31, 2010

Isaiah 1:10-20                                                                      

2 Thessalonians 1:1-12                                                      

Luke 19:1-10

 This is God’s Message: “If you’ll willingly obey, you’ll feast like kings. But if you’re willful and stubborn, you’ll die like dogs.” That’s right. God says so.

Isaiah 1:20 (The Message paraphrase)

I was tempted, thinking about this sermon, to start out by asking for you to define salvation. This congregation has become pretty good at talking together in response to the readings – as you demonstrated last week. I thought as a follow-up question, I’d ask how many of you believe you’re “saved” – and how many of you have doubts. But then I thought, no, that’s being a little too “frontal” with you. Salvation isn’t something most of us think much about. Continue reading ‘Pentecost 23 October 31, 2010’

Dramatic Response to the Gospel October 24, 2010

Breaking Through: A Dramatic Response

to the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

The following drama, written by Pat Karpen of Holy Cross, was presented in lieu of a sermon. It was followed by congregational discussion. 

Characters

Cummings – an older angel                            Marge Burke

Esmeralda – a younger angel                         Pat Karpen

Sarah – a young woman of about 17              Sonia Sculer

Colin – a young man of about 17                    Ben Harrington

The two guardian angels are poised on step ladders at either side of the stage area. We see Esmeralda (E) desperately trying to scratch her shoulder blades.

Cummings (C):  What’s the matter, Esmeralda?

E:  These wings trying to come out. The itching is making me crazy. It’s like cutting teeth.

C:  Patience, Esmeralda. Soon the itching will abate and you’ll have your first set of beautiful angel wings – a full-fledged guardian angel, ready for action.

E:  Thank God.

C:  Exactly, Esmeralda. Exactly.

E:  Sorry.

C:  We want you to go on a visit. 

E:  Me? My first guardian angel visit! God thinks I’m ready?!

C:  Yes. Now listen carefully. The young woman you’ve been assigned to needs some help. She can’t hear you because of all the noise in her life. That’s the biggest problem we have in being guar-dian angels. People these days are so full of themselves and their problems they never stop to listen to God. You’re not getting through. Take a look.

Sarah (S) is screaming into her cell phone. 

S:  Mother, be quiet and just listen. (Pause.) No, I will not come home. (Pause.) Will you just shut up and listen! I hate math! I hate school! I don’t care if I fail! I’m not interested and I don’t need it! (Pause.) Shut up!! I don’t need it in my life. I don’t want it in my life. I will not go to summer school! I will not have a tutor! It’s stupid! It’s boring! It sucks . . . good-bye! She disconnects and immediately redials.

Colin, it’s Sarah. You still wanna hook up? Meet me at the field.

E:  Oh, crap — oops, sorry! Cummings, I’m on it. I’ll do you proud.

As E twirls to earth, S and Colin move more center. E “freezes” Colin and speaks to S.

E:  Hey.

S:  Who are you?

E:  Your guardian angel. 

S:  Yeah, right. You don’t look like an angel.

E:  Yeah, well. Maybe I wasn’t always an angel. The transition takes a while. I’m workin’ on it. (She scratches her itchy feather patches.)

S:  So, angel…what do you want? I’m busy.

E:  Takes a big breath. I want to save you from the clutter of ego, self loathing, fear and a graceless existence. I want to lead you to the embrace of mercy and wisdom. Oh, man! That sounded like a heaping load of . . .

From on high.

C:  ESMERALDA!!!!!!!

E:  Sorry. Sorry. Here’s what I mean. I don’t think your problem is math or mother. I think your problem is you.

S:  How did you know about math? Who are you? Really?

E:  Leap of faith time, Sarah. I really am your guardian angel. I’ve been trying to get through to you. A lot of us have been ,but you just couldn’t hear because of all the clutter. So we decided maybe a visit was in order. So . . . It’s over, Sarah. You can’t con me. You can’t con any of us. Level with me. Level with yourself.

S:  Oh, give me a break. Pause. E does not speak. Just looks at her. What? Pause. What!?  Pause. What?!  What do you want? Did my freaking mother hire you are something?! Pause as E just looks at her.  What!? What do you want me to say? That you’re freaking right! That I’m freaking terrified! Do you think I like being stupid! There she said it. Do you think I don’t know that I’m stupid! Pause as she softens just a tad. Do you know what it’s like to sit in that classroom and watch everyone except me get it. Even the really dumb freaking ones. Do you know what it’s like to start out by thinking that you’re normal. That you’ll open the book just like everyone else. That your pencil will fly across the pages as you come up with the answers. That the teacher will smile at you and your work. That she’ll have quiet talks with you about your talent and your future. That you’ll know the answers. That you won’t have to hide. Disappear. Talk trash. Start fights. Act bored. Act up just to hide the freaking fact that you’re useless. Stupid . . . just stupid.  Nothing. A  . . . nothing. Do you know what it’s like to go from hope to knowing that you don’t stand a freaking chance. There. Is that what you wanted to hear? Feel good, angel?

E:  Pause. I don’t like to see people in pain. No. But . . . if the pain comes not from cruelty but from looking at things that are hard to look at . . . things that have to change before we can move on . . . then maybe some temporary pain now . . . to stop what will end up being a huge and permanent pain  . . . might be worth it.

S:  What?

E:  If you keep changing who you are; if you harden your heart if it was meant to be gentle; if you make yourself brittle if you were meant to be soft; if you fill yourself with anger and let it grow and consume you; surely you will lose yourself. Do your best. Your talents will emerge. Don’t measure yourself against others. Don’t masquerade out of fear. Forgive yourself your failures and shortcomings – after all, God forgives you. Present your true spirit, regardless of how fragile and vulnerable it might be to the world.  Love yourself and others because of the eternal love given to you.

S:  Are you serious?

E:  Damn if I’m not.  C starts to scream at her from above but stays himself.

S:  You really are. Pause. How about if I promise to really think about it? How about if I promise to listen more for your voice? I mean it. I’ll . . . I’ll just try.

E:  I’ll take that. She freezes Sarah and goes to Colin and unfreezes him. She is a bit angry with Colin.

E:  Hey you.

Colin:  Yeah. Who are you?

E:  Her best friend. Listen to me. Were you gonna hit on her because you wanted to, because you thought you could, or because you thought you should? Do you fell good knowing that you’re taking advantage of a fragile spirit? Does it make you feel like a man, like a tough guy to work a con like that?

Colin:  What are you talking about? We’ve been friends forever. We tell each other everything. I wouldn’t do that to her. I wouldn’t do that to anyone. Who are you anyway? Who do you think you are accusing me of all that trash?

E:  Pause. She starts to babble a bit. Oh, sorry, sorry. I got carried away. I’m kinda new at this. Actually this if my first visit. I wasn’t even supposed to make contact with you. I just got carried away.

Cummings, who has been watching from above as E digs herself a hole, speaks to her gently with a smile.

Cummings:  Ask him about the books, Esmeralda.

E:  What are those books you have?

Colin:  Oh. Some used math books I found in a store. I’ve been trying to think of ways to help Sarah.  She’s not stupid, you know. She’s just beaten herself up so badly she kinda doesn’t know which way is up.  What did you mean when you said this was your first visit? 

E:  Nothing. Nothing. I’m uh . . . from the South. You really are a good person, you know.

Colin:  Nothing special. I just . . . you know . . . I want to help.

E:  Yeah, I know. Be prepared for itchy shoulders.

Colin:  What?

E:  Nothing. Nothing. Listen. Really nice meeting you. Take care. Keep on the path. She freezes Colin and twirls back to Cummings.

E:  Hey, Cummings.

Cummings:  Hello Esmeralda. What did you learn? How did you do? 

E:  I learned that there’s only so much we guardian angels can do. They’re responsible for so much themselves, human beings. It’s scary. All we can do is point and suggest and . . . I guess . . . pray. I did feel a shifting in Sarah, Cummings. I really did.

C:  You have a good voice, Esmeralda. By the way, how’s the itching?

E:  OMG!! Sorry, sorry. The itching has stopped! It’s gone.

C:  Yes, Esmeralda. You’ve got a fine set of baby wings. You did a good job down there. Thank you.  God is pleased.

 

Photo Album for October 24 Drama

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Fr. John McCausland leads congregational discussion of the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector and the dramatic response to it written by parishioner Pat Karpen. In the parable (Luke 18:9-14), Jesus shows how we are often so full of ourselves and so intent on holding ourselves up in comparison to other people that we make no space to listen to our conscience, where God can get through to us.

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Sarah (Sonia Schuler), feeling defeated by her math class and fighting with her mother about it, turns to her boyfriend Colin (Ben Harrington) for what could be the wrong kind of comfort.

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Sarah’s guardian angel Esmeralda (Pat Karpen, right) rushes down from heaven to prick Sarah’s conscience. This is Esmeralda’s first assignment as an angel, and her supervising angel Cummings (Marge Burke on ladder in rear) occasionally has to interrupt with promptings.

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Sarah’s boyfriend Colin (Ben Harrington), encouraged by Esmeralda, brings Sarah the right kind of help, in the form of some math books, bringing the story to a happy end.

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Ben and Sonia lead prayers of Confession and Intercession composed for the occasion:

First Reader: O Lord, you know the thoughts of our hearts. Nothing is hidden from you. You know that each of us is both a Pharisee and a tax collector. We confess to you the sins of pride and self-protectiveness that close us from your love and cause us to look down on other people.

Silence is observed, after which the Community sings “O Lord, hear my prayer.”

Second Reader: Lord, we know that you come to us when we are honest with ourselves and reach out to you for guidance and help. We ask you now to forgive us our sins and lead us into the ways of truth and light which you show us in your Son Jesus Christ.

Silence is observed, after which the Community sings “O Lord, hear my prayer.”

First Reader: Lord, in our arrogance we turn away from the needs of others: the poor, the sick, those who are bullied or shunned; the lost, the lonely, the unattractive and unpopular. We pray for them now, asking that you open our hearts to them, for we too in our deepest souls know what it is to be as they are.

Silence is observed, after which the Community sings “O Lord, hear my prayer.”

Second Reader: Lord, we thank you for the blessings of this life, especially those things we take for granted. Help us to share our blessings with those less fortunate.

Silence is observed, after which the Community sings “O Lord, hear my prayer.”

2010 Ministry Minute #3 Heidi Clow

IMG_0005Holy Cross Junior Warden Heidi Clow is a longtime resident of Weare. With her husband Tom, she owns Colburn’s North Village Store. When the Clows retired after long careers as educators in the Manchester public schools, they bought Colburn’s and adopted a daughter, Amanda. Amanda brought Heidi to Holy Cross. Heidi is a weaver, and at the conclusion of her Ministry Minute, she presented the church with a lovely set of woven Altar clothes.

When I was a teacher, we started every day on the floor in a circle at “Morning Meeting.” We greeted each other, shared, discussed what we were learning and talked about behavior. I tried to teach the children that everyone was unique, special, and that everyone had good qualities which they could use to be contributors to the world. I couldn’t, of course, say, in a public school, that we are all children of God, but it was what was meant. Our class talked about what we were learning, how to behave in certain situations, how to solve classroom problems, and ways to help each other. I miss those meetings. Children were so open, kind and thoughtful during that part of the day, and often, other adults mentioned the way my class was caring of each other.

The bullying incidents which have been in the news lately have bothered me a lot, and it is one thing I pray about. These innocent children who have taken their own lives because of bullying had a right to be the people they were, God’s children. We are all children of God, and I do not understand why children feel they can target another child, even if that child is different from them. I pray that the children I taught remember what we discussed and that they are compassionate with others in our world. And I pray that other adults model correct behavior in front of children so that this needless bullying ends.

At Holy Cross one of the things I find extremely special is the caring way everyone is with others. When we say the “Peace” each week, sing a hymn together, pray for others in our community, or celebrate communion, sometimes I feel like crying, because it is so wonderful. I wish the world were more like Holy Cross. From the first Sunday I came here, I have felt included and I am happy to be a part of this morning meeting, in which we solve problems together, share our lives, and try to be the best children of God that we can.

2010 Ministry Minute #2 Connor Houghton

connorI have truly grown up here at Holy Cross. Of course when I say this, you will immediately think, yes you have, you are very tall. This is natural; it is the reaction I get at every extended family get-together or whenever I meet someone new. But when I say that I have grown up here, I mean it in a different way. I feel like I have grown in character, in leadership, and in overall attitude during my seventeen years here. Going to church has meant a lot more than coming to a building to worship for an hour then leaving. Memories that will stay with me certainly involve getting here at seemingly unhealthily early hours for a Sunday morning, and staying well into the start of many football games in the afternoon. However now as I grow up and am preparing to head off to college, I can see that I have reaped many benefits from this time at Church. It had given me ample time to reflect on my views and beliefs in all aspects of life.

Over the past few years I have really started being able to take a side when it comes to issues of both morality and spirituality, which I do not believe I would be able to do if it hadn’t been for my time at church. It has also sparked an interest in me in church history and social justice, which coupled with my Catholic school education has given me the opportunity to study many aspects of the origins of religion as a whole and the Episcopal tradition. This study has given me a much more informed belief and has shown me that I really do believe in what we stand for here and in the Episcopal Church at large. Because I feel so strongly about the sense of community and belonging that comes from going to church here, I have dedicated my time and energy in many hours of community service to try and give back to the community here. This year, I hope to continue this spirit of service in helping with the search process and giving back in every way I can before I leave Weare for a new life in college. Overall going to Holy Cross has given me a much different outlook on life as a whole and I am sure that wherever I may end up, the lessons that I have learned here will travel with me and impact every decision that I make in the future.

Pentecost 21 October 17, 2010

Genesis 32:22-31                                                                               

2 Timothy 3:14-4:5                                                             

Luke 18:1-8

 Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. – Luke 18:1

So we’re talking about persistence this morning – persistence, commitment, a life grounded in hope and in ultimate trust in God. And while Jesus is talking specifically about prayer, in a real sense all life is prayer (or should be); so we’re talking about life, the character of life lived in discipleship with Jesus.

There are two brothers, sons of a Marine officer: The elder has followed in his father’s footsteps, a high school athlete, a family man, a major in the Marines leading combat missions in Afghanistan, about to return for another tour of duty. The younger is just getting out of prison, where he’s served time for a botched bank hold-up. He’s a drunk, a ne’er do well . . . all the rest. The father has no time for the younger son. “You know what your problem is?” he berates him. “You’re a quitter. The moment things get tough, you check out.” Continue reading ‘Pentecost 21 October 17, 2010’

Holy Cross “Talent” Show Photo Album

Those who shared their "talents" posed at the end of the evening with their "prizes."
Those who shared their “talents” posed at the end of the evening with their “prizes.”
The Douzanis children, dressed in Tyrolean costume, sang some German songs with their grandfather.

The Douzanis children, dressed in Tyrolean costume, sang some German songs with their grandfather.

John Harrington and Will Townsend took the comedy award as "little maids from school" in a piece from Gilbert and Sullivan's "Mikado."

John Harrington and Will Townsend took the comedy award as "little maids from school" in a piece from Gilbert and Sullivan's "Mikado."

Marge Burke read three of her poems, some funny, some moving.

Marge Burke read three of her poems, some funny, some moving.

Maddy Goulet was a cat in a charming dialogue with her dad, Mike.

Maddy Goulet was a cat in a charming dialogue with her dad, Mike.

Yvette Desmarais sang a funny song about a woman who went through life complaining, especially about cleanliness, only to end up buried in . . . dirt.

Yvette Desmarais sang a funny song about a woman who went through life complaining, especially about cleanliness, only to end up buried in . . . dirt.

Shirley James told a great story about her husband Bill sixty years ago hopping a freight train to ride home after his late shift at the mill, only to find that he couldn't get off again.

Shirley James told a great story about her husband Bill sixty years ago hopping a freight train to ride home after his late shift at the mill, only to find that he couldn't get off again.

Fr. John and Anne McCausland sang "We Sing a Song of a Church in Weare" to the tune of "We Sing a Song of the Saints of God."

Fr. John and Anne McCausland sang "We Sing a Song of a Church in Weare" to the tune of "We Sing a Song of the Saints of God."

Here are the lyrics of John and Anne’s song, a tribute to Holy Cross Church through the years:

WE SING A SONG OF A CHURCH IN WEARE

We sing a song of a church in Weare, —-

                built in eighteen ninety- two,

by farmer folk who came to pray to the Lord they loved and knew.

Some were named Buxton and some were named Clough,

                some were named Breed, they were all strong and tough,

Episcopal saints of God true enough,

                and we mean to be saints too.

 

Now that little church kept going for years

                served by priests from St. Paul’s School,

who rode on horseback through woods and fields

                to teach the Golden Rule.

But one day the Feds came to build Everett Dam,

                and condemned the church just like that: slam bam!

paid them twenty thousand dollars to buy their land,

                took those farmers for some kind of fool!

 

But Holy Cross just would not give up,

                they moved their church on a truck.

Once again they prayed and worked

                and showed their saintly pluck.

They installed indoor plumbing and enlarged the church,

                called two young priests after careful search,

both of whom then moved on, leaving them in the lurch,

                so again it seemed they were stuck.

 

But Holy Cross still would not give up,

                told the Bishop they weren’t done yet.

Led by Ashworth and Knowles, Stehno and Starr

                they set out a new priest to get.

And as luck would have it, Father John and Anne

                came to see Holy Cross and said, “Yes we can,

we’ll come be with you, and together we’ll plan,

                a future that’s strong and true.”

 

Who would have guessed what that future held,

                the people who’d come through the door:

they filled that old church with folks young and old

                till the building would hold no more.

The Burkes and the Arvins, Harringtons and Roys,

                Yvette, Bobbi-Jo and her two boys,

they filled Holy Cross with a joyful noise,

                these saints of the Lord so true.

 

 

Then build a new church they set out to do,

                Donald Burke was put in charge;

and if problems arose in how to proceed,

                why, Donald could always ask Marge.

Father John helped raise money, Scott Arvin drew the plan,

                Craig Bland did the heating, they worked with elan,

the Bishop gave his blessing , said “Yes, you can,

                “you’re saints of the Lord it’s true!”

 

So now a new chapter lies just ahead,

                for the saints of Holy Cross.

But strong and together, in the Spirit one,

                they’re never at a loss.

Time, talent and treasure, if all do their part,

                with joyful thanksgiving in each one’s heart,

they’ll lift high the cross and God’s love impart,

                these saints of today in Weare.

                 

 

The audience thoroughly enjoyed the talent, stomachs full of potluck supper dishes.

The audience thoroughly enjoyed the talent, stomachs full of potluck supper dishes.

2010 Ministry Minute # 1 John Heckman

Holy Cross Senior Warden John Heckman, caught by surprise (for once).

Holy Cross Senior Warden John Heckman, caught by surprise (for once).

My mother had to leave Middlebury College at the height of the Great Depression after running out of tuition money. There was no work anywhere in her native Vermont and very little hope anywhere in New England, so she went to New York City to find a job and some sort of security in a very difficult time.

She settled in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn with some old family friends, found a job, and joined Christ Church, a long-time Episcopal foundation of the community. There, at a YPF (Young Peoples Fellowship) dance, she met my father, and after the usual courtship of the times, they were married. When my father returned from World War II, they moved to suburbia and joined St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Connecticut. I was born, baptized and confirmed there, and the church became 100% of our spiritual and social environment. My parents’ friends were in “our church,” so of course were my friends. My mother taught “Sunday School.” My dad was active in the “Men’s Club.” I flipped my first egg by his side at one of the monthly Communion Breakfasts. I was an acolyte, a crucifer, and very active in YPF. I joined the church-sponsored Boy Scout Troop. For years, I went to the summer camp owned by the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut. The highlight of every holiday season was the midnight candlelight service that always required folding chairs in the lobby. We never missed one. When I came home from college for Christmas vacation, a high point was having the honor of serving as an acolyte at the midnight service.

 I went off to college in 1968, and except for weddings, funerals, and the occasional baptism, never went back to the church. I do not know why.

Thirty-four years later, after successfully partnering with my wife to raise a family, sending the children off to college, attaining a reasonable level of professional success, maintaining friendships and becoming part of our New Hampshire community, a painful midlife crisis took its toll, and emerging on the other side, I was thankful to be there reasonably whole, and looking for a link to a much simpler time.

I showed up at Holy Cross one Sunday in 2002, sat in the back (where I still am), perhaps wearing shorts (as I do in all but the coldest months of winter) and found the connection I was looking for. Sitting next to me was someone I knew. “Welcome,” she said. And that was what I needed: a welcome with no judgment, no questions, just friendship. Church is a time every week I can count on with no cell phones, no computers and plenty of opportunity to reflect on all those things we have no time to think about during the week: A time to put things in proper perspective.

I always used to laugh at my Catholic friends who always “had to” go to church on non-Sunday evenings just to get in the time. When the period finally came in my life that the “have to” turned into the “want to,” it was time to reconnect; and the Holy Cross community was there waiting. Thank you.

Pentecost 20 October 10, 2010

2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c

Luke 17:11-19

 

Friday afternoon we had a training session for our two new young acolytes, Alex Goulet and Anna Ishak, and Alex cracked one of the pillar candles at the altar. It was loose on its holder and he tipped it too far and it fell on the floor. Now what does that have to do with the readings for today? Everything.

You see, the readings are linked by the fact that each has to do with leprosy. Leprosy is mentioned again and again in the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments. It’s not to be confused with Hansen’s disease, which is the name for a medical condition, a bacterial infection now readily treated with antibiotics, that causes blotchy skin and disfigurement. In biblical times leprosy covered a wide range of ailments that had in common symtoms that made the skin discolored, scarred or imperfect. Biblical people thought that these imperfections were connected to moral imperfections. So people with “leprosy” were unfit to worship God and unfit for human society. They were outcasts. Continue reading ‘Pentecost 20 October 10, 2010’