Dear People of God: The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting….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, 264-5
We hear these words and invitation to Lent each year at our Ash Wednesday service. It is an opportunity for each of us to consider how, and perhaps if, we are living as Christians. The elements of Christian practice that are emphasized in Lent – self-examination and repentance; prayer, fasting, and self-denial; reading and meditation on God’s holy Word – are intended to deepen our relationship with God in Jesus Christ.
In my recent address at the Annual Meeting, I spoke to the importance of recalling and nurturing our relationship with God in Christ because it is the foundation of who we are and all we do as individuals and a parish. If we allow that relationship to lie fallow, our work is in vain—for it will be temporary, passing. It is only when our being and our doing are grounded in a living, active relationship with Christ that God’s Spirit empowers and sustains us; linking our efforts with God’s mission of reconciling all of creation with God’s self and each of us with one another. It is a mission begun in and through Christ and continues in us, his followers.
In light of this understanding, I invite you this Lent to take the opportunity offered in this season to find time to reflect, pray, read the Bible, and offer up acts of fasting or self-denial as a means of deepening your connection, your vital and living relationship with Jesus. Please join us for the service on Ash Wednesday at 7:00 pm and throughout Lent as you are able because we are strengthened by God’s Spirit when we come together. A schedule of special services during Lent is included with this letter.
This year, our Lenten alms will be earmarked for Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD). Lenten envelopes are included for your use. They can be enclosed in a regular envelope and mailed to the church or dropped into the alms basin at a service.
May God bless you and your family in this holy season with a renewed sense of His presence in your lives.
The Rev. Christine Petersen-Snyder
“O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel,
that morns in lonely exile here, until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.”
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
I write to you in this season of hopeful anticipation of Emmanuel, God-with-us, whom we know as our Lord Jesus Christ. In Advent, we prepare for the coming of Christ. For most of us we think of Christmas, when God came down, became one of us, born a vulnerable infant. Yet, the true hope of Advent is not related merely to the celebration of Christmas, that first coming among us, rather it is the preparation and anticipation of that time when Christ will come again bringing the reign of God, the Kingdom of God fully known and established here on the earth.
Each year, we listen to the prophets, who speak to us and to the powers that be of God’s righteousness, the ending of injustice and oppression. The prophets speak of God’s vision for all creation, to be at peace and to live in unity; united in the love of God, united in their love and care of each other. The vision of God, this new, renewed reality began to be realized more than 2,000 years ago when our Savior was born at Christmas. It will be fulfilled, completed, when Christ comes again. This is our hope at Advent and it is for this Kingdom, this loving, fulfillment of God’s hope and vision for creation that we wait; and for which we prepare.
I invite you to take time this Advent to consider the vision of God: to reflect on our Christian hope, as we worship together, as we take time for silence and prayer, as we study again God’s Word. May it be a time when we seek and know the signs of God’s in-breaking presence, when we seek and know the Spirit of Christ active among us in the church and in the world.
Let us seek to be the heralds, those who announce the good news of Christ’s birth and Christ’s living presence among us as we celebrate Christmas. Emmanuel, God with us, has come and lives among us still and Emmanuel will come again to finish the work begun in and through us, so that Christ might be all in all.
I hope you will be able to join us during this holy season of Advent and for our joyful celebrations Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. On behalf of the wardens, the vestry and myself, I wish you and your family the peace and joy of the season.
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Submitted by Angela Zimmerman:
ST. THOMAS CHURCH
PLANNING OUR FUTURE…“MAKING OUR VISION REALITY”
“All things come from you, O Lord, And of Your own have we given to you”.
SUMMARY OF ALL MEETINGS….
St. Thomas’ is going through a time of great reflection, reviewing our past and looking forward to the future. In developing this Agenda, we look forward to everyone’s input, involvement and investment. Each of you has a perspective, a thought and contribution as we move forward in God’s work. Your ideas and thoughts are greatly appreciated as together we do make a difference…
From August – October, three Visioning Sessions were held. The purpose of these meetings was to create a universal plan, inclusive of parishioners, to cultivate the growth and development of St. Thomas’ Church now and in the future. It also connects to broader movement – the Five Marks adopted by the Anglican Communion. Through this process St. Thomas’ mission statement was revised: Love one another as Christ Loves you…
Some reflections that guide us as we move forward:
* We grow where we are planted;
* Our motivation to Act should be dictated by what we want to see happen;
* Our catechism: mission to restore all to unity with God and each other in Christ;
* Our Baptism Covenant: see and serve Christ in all people;
* Our Mission is the heartbeat of our church and our work….
Our assets. talents and opportunities were explored and the following are activities that we will embrace into our mission and ministry in 2012 as we continue to grow into a more welcoming community:
§ Feeding Program to include those who are experiencing “food insecurity” and/or people who feel isolated;
o Action Follow-up: Janice Anderson and Kelley Meyer are working with a Committee. An application for support will be filed with Episcopal Charities, an initial collection was taken at Mother Christine’s Institution and the program is scheduled to begin at the end of February.
§ Continue Life Skills Fellowship Initiative, co-sponsoring with neighborhood groups as appropriate;
o Action Follow-up: The Stewardship Committee has planned four workshops from January- June 2012. Some of the workshops will be co-sponsored with local organizations to maximize visibility and impact. The first one, BULLYING PREVENTION will be implemented on January 31, 2012 in collaboration with the Junior League, Women’s Club of Farmingdale.
§ Create loosely structures “SAFE SPACE” activities i.e. open teen nights in collaboration with neighborhood entities;
o Action Follow-up: Patti Meyer will work with an ad-hoc committee to continue the Family Night Concept and with Linda Kreussling and others to continue the Safe Halloween Program. Other activities to promote the SAFE SPACE concept will be explored over the upcoming year.
§ Community Fellowship and/or Fundraising Events: Spaghetti Dinner, St. Patrick’s Day Dinner etc.
§ Formalize/develop a Transportation “BUDDY SYSTEM” to help folks get to services;
§ Visitation/Check-In Program for the sick and homebound;
§ Enhancing St. Thomas’ as a place for spiritual growth, learning and worship.
Father Palmer Farewell Video