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Meditations

  • Wednesday March 7, 2018

    From Episcopal Relief & Development Lenten Meditations 2018   For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.  1 Corinthians 12:12-13   During a conversation about corporate worship, an active congregant lamented that "children need to stop moving around and talking so I can hear." Another opined that perhaps children should be "taken out of church for misbehavior."    I wondered aloud how this discussion might change if we were considering the participation of a long-standing member whose disabilities caused disruption. Does the conversation shift when we are discussing children?    As Christians, we become full members of the Body of Christ at baptism. And the Body of Christ is changed with the addition of every new member, regardless of age. Christ calls us to celebrate and appreciate the gifts of all and invites us into the wonderful and sometimes messy work of discerning ministry together as the Body of Christ.    How can we welcome children so that we are truly engaged in ministry together? Where do we fall short of being "one body"?    Regan Schutz
    Regan Schutz
  • Tuesday March 6, 2018

    From Episcopal Relief & Development Lenten Meditations 2018   Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven. Matthew 18:10   I once asked a group of fourth graders at church to write down the three people besides their parents who were most important to them. Who made them feel safe? Who encouraged them to be their best? Who helped them feel close to God?    Fourth grade is a vulnerable time. Few children think they're "cool," and everybody feels despised by a friend, a teacher, a bus driver and even a dog on occasion. I told the kids I wouldn't look at their lists, but I was curious: Did anybody have a priest on the list? No. Did anybody have a Sunday School teacher? Hands shot up.    This is not a criticism of clergy. The children valued the priests in the pulpit and at the altar rail. But the angels in these children's lives were people who sat on the floor with Play-Doh and Legos, people who shared pretzels and made space for children to be their vulnerable selves. Discipleship is strengthened not only in the pews but also in the places where lay people minister.    -Boykin Dunlap Bell
    Boykin Dunlap Bell
  • Monday March 5, 2018

    Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)   I get lost, alot. In fact, sometimes I plan on getting lost. These "lost travels" are one of the ways I learn my way around a new place. As I wander I find new things. Stores or farm stands, river vistas, and country roads that offer wonderful views. I'm never permanently lost. I usually have a sense that if I just travel in one direction, I will eventually come upon a main road that will lead me back home. Traveling in one direction is the key. Traveling in the direction of Jesus is often the key to getting unlost. It is not that I know exactly what direction that is, or the roads that I need to take, there is no GPS to the spiritual life. Instead it is just knowing that if I keep going in this direction, the direction of love and kindness, the direction of seeking to follow Jesus. I will eventually find my way home, to the nearer presence of God.   Linnae Peterson, M.Div.  
    Linnae Peterson, M.Div.
  • Sunday March 4, 2018

    Recently a dozen of us met for our first session of our Adult Lenten program called, "Meeting Jesus in John." Fellowship at 6 around a simple dinner was followed by a very good discussion. It feels more and more rare to be with a group of people in order to spend time talking about what's deep in our hearts and on our minds. It was a good reminder why it's important to slow down and go deeper - with yourself and with others - in order to grow in your faith and appreciate the gift of community.   I also felt that gift of community at the celebration of ministry at St. Matt's. It was great to have friends from Vermont and Our Savior Lutheran Church (where I was the Transitional Pastor) come and celebrate with us. They all commented on what a great community St. Matt's was. One person even said that she could just tell it was a great community by the amazing food at the reception!   I hope you have felt the gift of community in your life - with friends and family and here at St. Matt's.   If you are looking for some community, it's not too late to join our Thursday evening Adult series. Come for supper at 6 or join us from 7-8:30pm. Sunday worship at 8 & 10am. All are welcome.   Peace, Nancy
    Nancy
  • Saturday March 3, 2018

    I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing  - John 15:4-5 February 24, 2018 - The reception after the Institution of our new Rector, Nancy Vogele. Seen here are some of the "branches" which are bearing fruit in the Diocese of New Hampshire. Leah Torrey, Master of Divinity, and on the path to ordination, gave the sermon, an insightful comparison of her family's farming experiences with the care taking of the Vine. With her is Rt. Rev. A. Robert Hirschfeld, our Bishop, and her two kids. Behind Rob is Angie Battey, Senior Warden. A joyful day in the continued growth of St. Matthew's.  Steve Fry, parishioner
    Steve Fry
  • Friday March 2, 2018

    Throughout Lent we are digging into who Jesus is by looking at the Gospel of John. In the Gospel of John we see a Jesus in a different way than the other gospels, with less action and more images and explanations, the writer gives us and chance to encounter Jesus in a new way. Each week we will be posting questions related to this week's focus with an opportunity for you to share your responses. You can respond on Facebook in the comments, by email to the church office, or write your response on a poster in the Undercroft. What do you think might happen if you and God get to be close? How do people who are close to God act? When did you feel close to God this week? Linnae Peterson, M.Div.
    Linnae Peterson, M.Div.
  • Thursday March 1, 2018

    A message (in three parts) from Bishop Rob:   Part III    Chiseling Hearts of Stone          Episcopalians in the Granite State have never been known to have hard hearts, even though in these days, the risk mounts to retreat into our tribal identities.  Yes, Peter was a rock, but he was a rock who morphed.  He was chiseled by the Lord's rebukes and corrections.  He was shaped, softened and made porous by the soaking waters of God's love.  He sinks when invited to walk on the water, and yet he jumps into the lake to swim to see his Risen Lord.  He made terrible mistakes, and yet Jesus holds him up as a model of the holy life.  He had a heart of flesh that connected to others.  I like to think that Peter was one who embodied the Four Sayings of Wisdom that Chief Inspector Armand Gamache espouses in the novels of Louise Penny.  I was wrong.  I am sorry.  I don't know.  I need help.  These "sayings of wisdom" do not reflect weakness or squishiness, but a deep inner stability that is not afraid to grow more fully into God's love.   Who among us - what nation, church, community or family - would benefit from such reliance on the cornerstone of God's unceasing love, a love that calls us not to rigidity and isolation, but to life and growth in God?
    Bishop Rob
  • Wednesday February 28, 2018

    A message (in three parts) from Bishop Rob:   Part II       Chiseling Hearts of Stone       And yet, there's another side to patterning ourselves to being a rock.  Lent can be a time for us to examine the granite-ness of our hearts and souls, our muscles and brains.  Sometimes being so adamant-a word that refers to a legendary stone that is hard and unchangeable-is not a virtue at all, but can lead to wider divisions among us, and like a "glacial erratic"-one of those boulders left by the last Ice Age- we find ourselves standing alone in the woods, cut off and isolated.  The old Simon and Garfunkel anthem "I am a Rock" was both defiant and sad, an admission of failure in relationships.  In conflicts in our families, churches, communities, nation and the world, sometimes we are so tempted to stick to our positions that we stop listening.  How often do we notice that when we confront others, or they us, the usual response is not to listen but to harden our opinions, and find support from others who will only make us more rigid in our thoughts or feelings.  We speak now of the "echo chambers" of Social Media, where we are able with the push of a few keystrokes, dismiss those whose opinions challenge or conflict with our own, often with equal if not more stridency.  A recently reported conflict between a store owner in Concord and a potential patron led to accusations of potential larceny, racism, hatred.  Rather than softening positions that allow for reconciliation, deeper understanding and community, we can predict that hardness of heart will only damage and make less likely a sense of neighborliness among those involved.  In my travels on the highways and by-ways of the Granite State, I see so many bumper and window stickers that display a kind of "I don't care what you think or how you might be offended by my opinion" attitude.  It is the spirit of this age.   Again and again the Bible warns against what it calls "hardness of heart"  One of the readings assigned to the Easter Vigil is taken from Ezekiel.   A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you, and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26)
    Bishop Rob
  • Tuesday February 27, 2018

    A message (in three parts) from Bishop Rob:   Part I        Chiseling Hearts of Stone        Sometimes, a line of poetry or a verse of a song will stick with you for its particularly strong impact.   For me, one such line comes from the official song of Dartmouth College that describes the College's alumni:      And the granite of New Hampshire   In their muscles and their brains.   And the granite of New Hampshire   In their muscles and their brains.   It speaks to virtues I think we can all uphold and wish to pass on to future generations.  My own experience of being a board member of Episcopal schools tells me of the laudable goal to instill resilience, grit, persistence, strength of will and heart, and courage in our youth. All good, right? After all, Jesus was not a push-over, nor did he expect us to be.  Life and learning requires discipline and tenacity.  Jesus even renamed an early follower, Simon, as Petros, Greek for stone or rock, and we know him as Peter.  Ultimately steadfast in his love for Jesus, Peter was the Rock on whom the Church is built and the gates of Hades cannot prevail against that stone. (Matthew 16:18-20)
    Bishop Rob
  • Monday February 26, 2018

    From Episcopal Relief and Development Lenten Meditations 2018   Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. -Matthew 11:28-30   "Carry you?" My two-year-old likes to stand at my feet with her arms upstretched waiting to be picked up. She hasn't understood yet that the term is "Carry me." I'm not surprised by her request. Each day, I enter the ritual of millions and millions of caregivers: picking up and putting down, juggling her on my hip, on my back, on the front, on the shoulders, in my arms. The weight of her, the repetition, the universality and sheer joy of it often makes my heart lift. And, as she gets older, my muscles ache.    When I engage the specific concerns of others, the experience is often similar. Intercession is never a momentary prayer with immediate resolution but rather a weight that lingers for God's season full of joy- and quite a bit of ache.    With her tiny arms lifted up, and her absolute confidence I will always grab her and swing, she is right: She carries me.    - Abagail Nelson
    - Abagail Nelson

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