Weekly Notes from Father Brian Murphy


  • july 26, 2017

    Dear Church of the Apostles,


    This week's note is a guest post by Amy Willers.


    Sunday will be our second "Service Sunday" and we will be collecting the giving banks from those of you that have participated in the Fill the Ark program for Heifer International (http://www.heifer.org). If you haven't joined with us this month and would still like to, there will be one final opportunity to contribute in an extra offering this Sunday!

    For the entire month of July, our children have learned how Heifer animals can help families in need. From llamas in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru to water buffalo to farmers in Asia, animals can be a huge hand-up to people who want to improve their family's life and the lives of those around them.

    So this coming Sunday, don't forget to bring your giving banks and set them at the foot of the cross. We will briefly discuss service in our children's sermon, and then we will all pray over the money that was raised. Then, the following Sunday (August 6), our children will vote on what animal we will buy!

    Thank you to everyone who participated, and I hope more will considering giving to this great cause on Sunday!

    Blessings,
    Amy Willers

    Director of Children's Ministry

  • july 19, 2017

    Dear Church of the Apostles,


    An Irish prayer:

    May we arise today, through


    God's strength to pilot us,

    God's might to uphold us,

    God's wisdom to guide us,

    God's eye to look before us,

    God's ear to hear us,

    God's word to speak for us,

    God's hand to guard us,

    God's shield to protect us,

    God's host to save us

    From snares of devils,

    From temptation of vices,

    From everyone who shall wish us ill,

    afar and near.

    AMEN

    Peace and Hope,
    Brian+

  • july 12, 2017

    Dear Church of the Apostles,

    The picture that accompanies this note was taken at Kent Falls State Park. Tamara and I recently spent some time there exploring, reading, and enjoying creation together. The drive to the park was as lovely as the time we spent near the waterfalls.

    We are praying that you all are able to make time to enjoy God with friends and family. May God bless you with rest and rhythm in the season of Ordinary Time. (May I suggest a ride to Kent Falls.)

    Please take a minute to click over to the Home page to read about all that is going on at Church of the Apostles.

    Peace and Hope,
    Brian+

  • July 5, 2017

    Dear Church of the Apostles,

    In his book, Living the Christian Year, Bobby Gross’s writes that Pentecost is “the extraordinary inundation of presence and power that births the movement that will change the world.”

    Last week Jan wrote about Ordinary Time on the Church Calendar. It may seem like the title “Ordinary Time” and Gross’s explanation of the season as “extraordinary” are in tension with one another.

    The title “Ordinary Time” fits the season well if we think of Pentecost as the normal movement and mission of God’s people in the reality of Christ’s Advent, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension made known by the presence of the Holy Spirit.


    Author Gordon T. Smith in Evangelical, Sacramental, and Pentecostal writes, “The genius of the pentecostal vision is that we have an unmediated experience, however unusual or ordinary, that cannot be attributed to any other source than God’s very self, graciously offered and given and known… This experience of the Spirit is the birthright of every Christian.”

    In this sense, pentecostal experience and movement is completely normal in the life of every Christian and demonstrated by the Church. The regular and ordinary practice of pentecost is powerful, present, and compelling for those of us who claim to be followers of Christ.

    Peace and Hope,
    Brian+

  • june 28, 2017

    Dear Church of the Apostles,


    As I mentioned on Sunday, we are in the season of the Church Calendar called Ordinary Time. Ordinary Time begins the Monday after Pentecost, with the celebration of the Holy Spirit being poured out by the risen and ascended Lord. It continues until the Sunday before Advent begins. This season is called "ordinary" not because it is common but simply because the weeks of Ordinary Time are numbered. The Latin word ordinalis, which refers to numbers in a series, stems from the Latin word ordo, from which we get the English word order. So, the numbered weeks of Ordinary Time in fact represent the ordered life of the Church—the period in which we live our lives between times of feasting (Christmas/Easter) and times of penance (Advent/Lent).

    The messages for these 20+ Sundays of Ordinary Time are often used to focus on various aspects of the Faith, especially the mission of the church in the world. At Apostles, we focusing our sermons during this season on the New Testament readings of the Lectionary: Paul’s letter to the Romans.

    I wonder if you have noticed the color of the altar linens the past 3 weeks. Ordinary Time is marked by dark green, a color that has traditionally been associated with new life and growth in the church. May this season for the family of believers at Apostles be anything but ordinary, as we continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


    Blessings!

    Jan

  • june 21, 2017

    Dear Church of the Apostles,

    Rest and Rhythm are two Gospel themes that may be among the most counter-cultural in our society, which glorifies busyness and equates a full calendar with a meaningful life. This summer, I will be writing frequently about the spiritual ideas of rest and rhythm as part of our presence and movement in God’s pentecostal power. 


    Often times, rest is defined as sloth and stillness as laziness. However, we are exhorted to “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

    Why is stillness a Gospel value?

    In his book, The Rest of God, Mark Buchanan writes, “Without rest, we miss the rest of God: the rest he invites us to enter more fully so that we might know him more deeply… Some knowing is never pursued, only received. And for that you need to be still.”


    In our society where “busyness is a fetish” (Mark Buchanan, again), we may be tempted to dismiss all ideas of rest, rhythm, stillness, and presence while we champion the biblical values of vocation, mission and ministry. Consider this. If stillness is how we really know the presence of God in our lives, how can we engage with Him in vocation, mission, and ministry without cultivating rest and rhythm?

    I’ll be praying for us all as we consider.

    Peace and Hope,
    Brian+

  • june 14, 2017

    Dear Church of the Apostles,

    I have always loved summer. I love the space for rest and rhythm that is created by a slightly slower (hopefully) or at least different schedule.

    Growing up I lived within walking distance to a park. The very loud “ding, ding, ding” sound that would pierce the summer air signaling that the ice cream truck was on it’s way is kind of like the soundtrack to my memories of swimming in the pool, riding the carousel, and playing Little League Baseball.

    In celebration of Fathers Day this Sunday an ice cream truck will be outside following the service. I’m not sure if we’ll hear the “ding-ding-ding” sound, but I can’t wait to find out!

    We will also make a few small changes to our summer worship services beginning this week.

    Children in grades 1-6 will remain in the service; we will include a short children’s talk before the Scripture readings; Deacon Jan and I will not be dressed in our robes; and we will not process at the beginning nor recess at the end of the service. The liturgy of Word and sacrament will remain unchanged, but these few small changes will help create a summer rhythm as we worship God together.

    See you Sunday!

    Peace and Hope,
    Brian+

  • june 7, 2017

    Dear Church of the Apostles,

    One of my favorite things as a pastor is when we have opportunities for special celebrations through the liturgy, prayer, and recognizing all that God is doing amongst our church family. Occasionally, a few of these things happen all at the same time to create a wonderful picture of God’s intention for the Church and all of humanity.


    This Sunday at Church of the Apostles will be very special as we honor this year’s graduates, pray for those who will go on missions trips and serve local outreach this summer, and celebrate the Feast of the Holy Trinity during our Eucharistic worship service at 10 a.m.


    The Feast of the Holy Trinity
    This Sunday is Trinity Sunday on the Church Calendar (sometimes referred to as The Feast of the Holy Trinity). We will pause and prayerfully consider the unique and beautiful Triune God, Father, Son, and Spirit. Our Scripture readings for this Sunday all highlight the role and intentions of the Trinity. As every Sunday, our liturgy at the Eucharistic Table will celebrate God in the fullness of His triune majesty.

    Graduates
    We will honor those who have already or will soon earn high school diplomas, bachelor and masters degrees, and have completed professional credentialing and licensing studies. This is a special time each year where we can bless academic accomplishments and pray for the next phase of these graduates’ journey.

    Mission
    The season of Pentecost is an appropriate time to celebrate and contemplate Jesus’ Great Commission done in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:16-20). During Prayers of the People this week we will take time to come around and pray for the many people from Church of the Apostles who will be serving in both local outreach and international mission this Summer and beyond.  


    I am looking forward to this weekend, and I pray that you will join us for the celebration!

    Peace,
    Brian+

  • may 31, 2017

    Dear Church of the Apostles,

    Today we consider the fourth value of the Diocese of Christ Our Hope, of which Church of the Apostles is blessed to be a part.

    The Rev. Canon David Hyman writes, “Every church has a consistent form it uses for its worship services. This is liturgy… Anglican liturgy is unique. It connects us with the worship forms of the ancient Church. It expresses the theological convictions of reformed Christianity. It teaches us to pray Holy Scripture. It has a steadying effect, as it tethers us to the constancy of God during the changes and chances of this life.”

    You can read David’s full article on the value of Anglican liturgy here.

    Please be sure to check out the list on our home page of the summer ministries and events happening at Apostles.

    Peace and Hope,
    Brian+

  • may 24, 2017

    Dear Church of the Apostles,

    With Memorial Day fast approaching, many of our thoughts drift toward summer barbecues and days at the beach. Others are preparing for trips to visit friends and family. Many of us will embark on mission trips.

    I look forward to summer each year. The schedule gives us some space to be present to our neighborhoods, our world, and those closest to us.

    Several fun things are happening this summer at Church of the Apostles. The list here will change a bit here and there as the summer months progress, but take a minute to mark your calendars.

    Let the summer fun begin!

    Peace and Hope,
    Brian+

  • may 17, 2017

    Dear Church of the Apostles,

     

    This week the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) is launching The Telos Collective. This initiative has two objectives. One is to gather Anglican leaders who think like missionaries, who are committed to using every strategy at their disposal to reach 21st century North America for Christ.Two is to renew the Anglican church with the confidence and tools it needs to be sent into the world to joyfully make disciples.

     

    You can find out more about The Tellos Collective here.

     

    Tamara and I are thrilled to have been invited to be a part of this first gathering of The Telos Collective. We look forward to not only representing Church of the Apostles at the national conference but to help guide the ongoing missional conversations in the New York Metro area, southwest Connecticut, and New England.

     

    Will you pray for Tamara, me, and all those from across the continent who are gathering this week? Pray for the vision necessary to reach others with the Good News. Pray that those of us attending will clearly sense and enthusiastically embrace the Holy Spirit’s leading. Pray for smooth and safe travels.

     

    Peace and Hope,

    Brian+

  • may 10, 2017

    Dear Church of the Apostles,


    Two weekends ago Deacon Jan and I were joined by Tom and Shelli Hendrican at the Diocese of Christ Our Hope regional retreat. We had a great time hearing all of the good news from around the Northeast Region of our diocese, thinking and praying together about how God calls us to winsomely and clearly manifest the Gospel, and renewing friendships old and new. It was a sweet and meaningful time together.


    If you would like to keep up with all that is happening around the Diocese of Christ Our Hope, take a minute and sign up for AnchorLines, our diocesan eNewsletter.


    The Rev’d. Canon Art Going has written a note about our diocesan value of Heritage. To read his thoughts and to sign-up to receive AnchorLines, simply click here.


    Peace and Hope,
    Brian+

  • May 3, 2017

    Dear Church of the Apostles,
     
    A wonderful act of generous hospitality happened in the children's classrooms this past Sunday!


    Our kids spent a few minutes learning about mission and service. They then put that understanding into action by making Mother's Day cards that will be delivered to three Fairfield nursing homes and care centers.

    This is a beautiful picture of how generous hospitality is an action of both welcoming-in and going-out.


    Generous hospitality goes-out in the message that God sees and loves us in our times of need. This mercy will bless women who must spend Mother’s Day away from their homes and families. Our children were welcomed-in by faithful people who helped them make cards while teaching about how Jesus asks us to love others on his behalf. (To hear this past Sunday's sermon on Generous Hospitality, click here.)


    Thank you to all who serve our parents and children! Thank you to all of the kids who put love and care into each work of art. We pray that you are all encouraged by your act of generous hospitality.


    Please join me in taking a moment to pray that those who receive the cards will sense the love of God.


    Peace and Hope,
    Brian+

  • april 26, 2017

    Dear Church of the Apostles,

    This Sunday begins our final module of morning Bible study before we break for the summer. We will be thinking and discussing the Apostles' Creed by using the questions and answers from To Be a Christian, an Anglican catechism.

    Formal catechetical training is a blessed way to be formed spiritually by bringing together a classic method of discipleship, interaction with other Christians in a group format, and exploring the biblical and theological meanings behind the major tenants of our faith and doctrine. 

    All are welcome. This catechetical training is required for any adult (ages 16 and up) who may want to be confirmed by the Bishop when he visits this fall.

    That brings up another question. Why should I be confirmed?


    The Rev. Cliff Warner, Rector at Christ Church of Austin and my former priest, has written four reasons to consider Confirmation:

    • To get connected. Join the global and historic body of Christ, through the Anglican Communion, and be identify with the larger company of saints. The Anglican Communion is a rich global mosaic, comprised of many tribes, tongues and nations, a church exploding with new life in many areas of the world.
    • To be blessed. Receive the laying on of hands from our Bishop and a prayer for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in your life. Since the early church, leaders were commissioned for ministry by the laying on of hands, one generation to the next, all the way down to our Bishop, and then to you.
    • To confirm baptismal vows. If you were baptized as an infant, this is an opportunity to present yourself publically and voluntarily, as a follower of Christ in the company of his people, or renew your vows if you were baptized as a believer.
    • To invite unchurched friends. Ask them to come witness this special day in your life.

    Whether you're interested in being confirmed this coming fall or simply would like to join us for deeper spiritual formation, join us this Sunday at 8:45a.m. at Roger Ludlowe.

    Peace and Hope,
    Brian +

  • april 19, 2017

    Dear Church of the Apostles,


    He is Risen!


    This Sunday we continue the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ! I will be in Texas visiting my adult children who live there and will celebrating the second Sunday of Easter with Christ Church, the church that I served for five years before Tamara and I moved to Connecticut. We look forward to worshipping with our friends in Austin, but we will miss worshipping with our family in Connecticut.


    I am so thankful that we have a committed group of staff and volunteers at Church of the Apostles who minister together each week. This coming Sunday, The Reverend Jan Buchanan, our Deacon, will lead the service and celebrate the Eucharist using a special liturgy and reserved communion elements that were blessed on Easter Sunday. Frank Williams will be preaching from the Gospel text for the day.


    I look forward to hearing all of the ways that God moved on Sunday.


    Eastertide is the time in the liturgical calendar that we consider our Baptismal Vows. At our baptisms we agreed to walk in newness of life by saying, “yes!” to these questions: “Do you turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as Savior?“ “Do you put your whole trust in his grace and love?” “Do you promise to follow and obey him as your Lord?” (BCP, 302-303)


    When you enter the auditorium on each Sunday of Eastertide you will notice that the baptismal font is located near the doors. You will have the opportunity to affirm you baptismal vows. Simply dip your finger tips in the water and make the sign of the cross. This is a simple way to honor Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, celebrate the power of his resurrection, and remember that he is our gracious, loving Savior and Lord.


    Peace and Hope,
    Brian+

  • april 12, 2017

    Dear Church of the Apostles,


    Tomorrow evening we will celebrate Eucharist with the Maundy Thursday liturgy (7:00 p.m. at Roger Ludlowe). One aspect that makes this service especially meaningful is the time set aside for us to come and have our feet washed.


    This is taken from the Gospel reading for this night found in John 13 where Jesus washed his disciples feet. As we read and think about the account we should find it both scandalous and vulnerable.


    It is scandalous because Jesus, who has identified himself as The Lord several times since entering Jerusalem, takes the form and role of a slave. He actually dresses like a slave and then performs an act of a slave by washing his disciples feet. In fact, it is so scandalous that much traditional artwork, like the one above, would not depict Jesus as the servant he was, naked from the waist down with a towel tied around his waist.


    Foot washing, as is evident by the disciples apprehension and resistance, is an uncomfortably vulnerable act, yet Jesus still calls us to join him.


    Blogger Rhonda Mawhood Lee explains, “…maybe vulnerability is the point. As Jesus’ life, death and resurrection show, vulnerability is the paradoxical source of Christians’ strength. When he knelt to wash his disciples’ feet, Jesus knew that one of them was about to betray him. And he knew that the threat of torture and execution would hang over his disciples, too, when they refused to abandon the way of life he had taught them. Jesus’ companions would have the courage to stay strong in the face of those threats only if they knew they could count on each other in specific, material ways. Ways that required them -- and require us -- to get close.”


    I encourage us all to come and engage with our scandalous servant Lord and make ourselves vulnerable through the act of foot washing. The foot washing time will be voluntary. You will have the option of watching and reflecting, having your hands washed, or entering into foot washing.


    Peace and Hope,
    Brian+


    PS Please note the other Holy Week service times on the Home page, plan to join us when you are able, and invite family and friends to come along.

  • April 5, 2017

    Dear Church of the Apostles,


    A theologian once said that the Gospels are Passion narratives preceded by long introductions. I think that this has manifested itself as a true statement throughout Lent this year. The Scripture readings have directed our focus towards the work of Christ on the cross. Because of Jesus, who is fully God and fully man, there is hope in the desert, mercy in the wilderness, water at the well, light in the darkness, and life for the dead.


    This weekend is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week, when we will engage with the Passion narratives several different times in several different settings.


    When we arrive at church this Sunday, the Greeter Team will be handing out palms for us to use during the service.  After the prelude, I will invite us all to gather outside of the main doors (entering the lobby). There we will pray together and engage with the first part of the Passion narrative, Jesus’s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. Then we will process into the auditorium while singing the classic Palm Sunday hymn All Glory, Laud, and Honor as we wave our palms in honor of Christ our Passover and King.


    The service will continue with songs of worship, the reading of the full Passion narrative from Matthew, a short homily, and a celebration of Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension at the Eucharistic table.


    Palm Sunday, as well as all Holy Week services, are wonderful times to invite friends and family to join you at Church. People are generally more open to considering “religion” at this time of year. I look forward to worshiping with you all!


    Peace and Hope,
    Brian+

  • march 29, 2017

    Dear Church of the Apostles,


    In just a couple of weeks we will join Christians around southwestern Connecticut and throughout the world in commemorating and celebrating the Passion of Christ through the Paschal Triduum (also called the Easter Triduum, Holy Triduum, or The Three Days).


    The Pachal Triduum is a period of 72 hours that begins with the a Eucharistic service on the evening of Maundy Thursday and ends on the evening of Resurrection Sunday. It recalls the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, as portrayed in the Gospels.


    Church of the Apostles will hold several services and events during the Paschal Triduum:


    Maundy Thursday service (April 13, 7 p.m. at Roger Ludlowe)
    This Eucharistic service will honor and worship Christ who compels us to serve others as he has served us. The Gospel reading is from the John 13 account of Jesus washing the disciples feet. The service will feature an opportunity to engage with foot washing and the stripping of the altar to conclude our time.


    Good Friday Afternoon Services (April 14, Noon - 3 p.m. at Calvary Evangelical Free Church in Trumbull)
    This day of Good Friday worship will be organized around the Seven Last Words of Jesus. There will be seven 30-minute services beginning every half hour. Each service will begin with a song of worship and then a different area pastor will speak for 15-20 minutes. This has been a tradition in the Fairfield area for the past 68 years. Come for one or more services as you are able. (See the bulletin insert this Sunday for more information.)


    Good Friday Evening Service (April 14, 5:30 p.m. at Roger Ludlowe)
    This family friendly service will be simple and beautiful as we honor Christ’s death. We will sing, pray, read Scripture, and hear a brief homily. This contemplative service is not a Eucharistic service.


    Family Open-House Brunch (April 15, 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. at Amy Wolff’s home in Trumbull)
    We will bridge the seasons of Lent and Easter by getting together on Saturday afternoon. Come for a few minutes or stay the entire time. There will be food and activities for the kids (details on the home page).


    Easter Sunday (April 16, 10 a.m. at Roger Ludlowe)
    This will be a high Eucharistic celebration of the resurrection of our great King. Invite some friends and plan to join us!


    I hope that you can attend many or all of these services and events during the Paschal Triduum.

    Peace and Hope,
    Brian+

  • march 22, 2017

    Dear Church of the Apostles,


    Our diocesan newsletter, Anchor Lines, is publishing a series of blog posts that expound on each one of the values for the Diocese of Christ Our Hope. The Rector from Church of the Cross in Boston, Mark Booker,  wrote on our second value as a diocese —  the Scripture. Instead of reading more from me, I encourage you to read Mark’s reflection here.


    Peace and Hope,
    Brian+

  • march 15, 2017

    Dear Church of the Apostles,


    This week's note is a guest post by Jan Buchanan.


    There is something about a Snow Day. I love them – always have - from the anticipation the day before when every news channel is announcing the storm’s arrival and snow total guesses, to the reporting of the aftermath and the inevitable disappointment with the weatherman’s estimation of the snowfall totals. I love the quiet of the neighborhood under a blanket of snow. I love the picturesque look of the landscape before any footprints or shovels have touched the covering. I love that in some storms (like this week’s) everyone gets to stay home, settling into individual versions of what a day off looks like: reading by a fire, sleeping until noon, wearing pajamas all day, baking & eating sugary treats, having uninterrupted time with loved ones. I don’t love the cleaning up from the snow ... but those are thoughts for another note.


    A Snow Day is a day of imposed rest, and although many welcome and enjoy this (just check Facebook) there are many that just can’t embrace it (again, scroll through Facebook). Why is that? Why is it hard for us to embrace rest? For me, sometimes there is too much to do in a week, and being kept out of the office can cause stress and anxiety about what is not getting done. There are times when I feel guilty about having a whole day to do nothing, so I waste time with questions regarding my right to rest and do nothing. And then there are times when I am so distracted and/or consumed by a problem or issue in my life that sitting still for any length of time feels like punishment. Do these sound familiar?


    As a believer, I know the Lord calls His people to times of rest. A quick glance in the concordance in my bible shows at least 25 verses on the topic of rest – that it is a good and necessary part of life with God. From the very beginning in Genesis 2:2 we learn when God “completed His work which He had done” in creating the world, the creatures, man and woman, that He rested. If God can rest, why can’t we? In Exodus 20 and 31 the Lord commands the nation of Israel to regular days of rest saying, “for six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a Sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Lord.” If we have permission from the God of the universe to take times/days of rest, why do we fight it?


    Rest allows for contemplation and problem-solving, for imagination, for meditation, for restoration of body, mind, and spirit. As those who belong to the Lord we need to encourage each other to embrace times of rest – giving each other permission to rest when it can be completely counter intuitive and counter cultural.


    In this season of Lent, when faithful Christians, 'by self-examination & repentance; by prayer, fasting, & self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy Word’ (Book of Common Prayer, page 265) prepare for the remembrance of Jesus’ passion and the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday, I encourage you to take time to rest and be with the Lord. He will meet you in that holy time. I pray it is a time of renewal and fresh revelation for your faith.

    Blessings!
    Jan

  • March 9, 2017

    Dear Church of the Apostles,

    We have several upcoming opportunities to spend time with God and one another. I would like to highlight the vision behind a couple of these offerings. Read the announcements at the bottom of the Home page for all of the details including how to RSVP when necessary.


    Many times in the Gospels we see that Jesus gathered around a meal and engaged in meaningful conversations with people. The hospitality that we offer one another around meals not only helps us to become closer together as a family, but also helps us draw closer to our Savior. During these times we invite one another into conversations that keep us grounded in the love and goodness of Jesus as we experience his presence with us around the table. We have two upcoming opportunities to gather together and eat - Fellowship Dinners and Family Table.


    Morning Prayer is a meaningful way for us to pray and discuss Scripture. By praying the biblically based and time tested Daily Office we not only engage in a conversation with God, but we also join with believers throughout he world who gather and pray similar words each day. Whether you have prayed the Daily Office regularly or this is the first time for you to try it, we welcome you to join us for Morning Prayer this Sunday at 8:45 a.m. at Roger Ludlowe.


    Quiet Days are a rich part of our Anglican heritage and provide us with an opportunity to disengage from the busyness of our lives and re-center ourselves in God's presence through times gathered together around Scripture, liturgy and art in silence.  If you desire the refreshment and peace that comes from being still in God's presence we strongly urge you to participate with us at our Lenten Quiet Day. Retreat with us for a few hours or a few minutes throughout the morning to quietly listen to God and to rest your body, mind and soul.


    I encourage you to participate in these and other opportunities as you are able.

    Peace and Hope,
    Brian+

  • March 1, 2017

    Dear Church of the Apostles,

    This week’s note is a guest post by Tamara Murphy.

    Lent is a 40 day lesson in what it means to be bodies cursed by death and decay.  If you've ever received the cross-shaped ash on your forehead, you've heard the pastoral reminder of a very real, and very sad state in which we find ourselves: Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

    From Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday, we follow the account of Christ as he makes His way to the Cross. We recognize and mourn the curse of sin and death that has separated man from God, even as we are invited to carry our cross and follow Christ on the road of suffering.  We grow in humility and gratitude with the Lenten practice of remembering that once we were alienated from God and lived as people with no hope, and we seek mercy for those still living in that state.

    Click here to read more of my blog.

    Blessings,
    Tamara

  • February 22, 2017

    Dear Church of the Apostles,

    This Sunday, the last one of Epiphany, we will conclude our series on encountering and exhibiting the light of Christ. I am excited to conclude with the Gospel where Jesus tells us, his followers, that we are the salt of the earth and light of the world. It is an amazing encouragement to us. Jesus invites us to join him in shining the light of the Good News into the darkness of our own lives, our neighborhoods, and our families. Where his light shines, darkness must flee.


    We will also begin to anticipate the season of Lent. We are invited to observe Lent “by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy Word.” (BCP, 265)


    Why do we do this together? Bobby Gross, in Living the Christian Year, answers, “Each year the season of Lent asks us to embrace a spiritual gravity, a downward movement of soul, a turning from our self-sufficiency and sinfulness. In such quiet turning, we are humbled and thus made ready to receive from God a fresh and joyous grace.”


    This is a good time to do three things in preparing for Lent. One, ask God what he desires of you in the areas of repentance, prayer, fasting, meditating, and giving to those less fortunate. Two, plan to join us for our Ash Wednesday service (details here). Three, anticipate receiving “from God a fresh and joyous grace”.


    Peace and Hope,
    Brian+

    PS There is a lot going on in this season at Apostles. Please see the details about our annual meeting, fellowship dinners, family movie night, and youth events here.

  • February 15, 2017

    Dear Church of the Apostles,


    I am excited to tell you about a new resource. Amy Willers, our Children Ministry Director, is curating an electronic newsletter that highlights happenings in the Children’s Ministry at Apostles.


    We are committed to seeing the whole family of God transformed through faith in Jesus Christ and a commitment to follow hard after his Gospel. This is true of children, youth, young professionals, seniors, and everyone in between. Because children spend some time being taught and cared for outside of our main auditorium on Sundays, it is easy to lose touch with these precious members of our community.


    Therefore, click the “Read More” tab below to see the newsletter and look for a copy to arrive in your email inbox one time each month. Take a minute to read about all of the happenings in the Apostles Children’s Ministry. Pray for the our children, their parents, and our super team of children’s ministry servants. Ask God to reach more families in Fairfield County and beyond with the Good News.


    Peace and Hope,

    Brian+


    [Read More]

  • February 8, 2017

    This past Sunday, Tamara and I had the privilege of attending the ordination service of a fellow priest at Church of the Cross in Boston, Massachusetts. (The front of the sanctuary is pictured above.) We were reminded again during the service how much we love the Church, and how much we love being part of the Diocese of Christ Our Hope. It was an honor for me to join nine fellow priests and our Bishop in laying hands on Chris, the Ordinand, and asking for God to bless his ministry.


    Folks from Church of the Apostles have an opportunity to experience some of this same joy by joining others from around the Diocese of Christ Our Hope in worship, discussion, and fellowship at our second annual regional retreat in April.


    We will come together on Friday night to celebrate the Eucharist. On Saturday, we will hear a regional report from Bishop Steve. Then we will continue the very important discussion from our diocesan synod entitled Sexuality and the Gospel: Proclaiming God’s Truth with Clarity, Courage, and Compassion. We will have an opportunity to enter into smaller conversations in a break-out session following the plenary talk.


    This year’s Regional Retreat will be held on April 28-29 in Canadensis, Pennsylvania at Spruce Lake Retreat Center. There is no charge for the retreat, and accommodations are available (for a charge) at the retreat center. You can check out more details and register for the retreat here.


    Peace,
    Brian+

  • February 1, 2017

    Dear Church of the Apostles,


    This Epiphany season, we are discussing how we encounter Jesus and his light. Through these encounters Jesus is exhorting us to fully surrender our lives and lifestyles to him and the Gospel.


    Bishop Steve is beginning a series in our diocesan newsletter, Anchor Lines. He will expound on each one of the values for the Diocese of Christ Our Hope. This week our Bishop wrote on the Gospel. Instead of reading more from me, I encourage you to read his teaching here.


    Peace and Hope,

    Brian+

  • January 27, 2017

    Dear Church of the Apostles,


    The Annual Parish Meeting will be held on Sunday, February 12, 2017 in the cafeteria at Roger Ludlowe Middle School following the morning worship service. We will be presenting the financial picture from 2016 as well as the budget for 2017. Our Treasurer, Don Barton, has good news to share with us on both counts! We will also be approving three new Parish Council nominees and approving some changes to the Church of the Apostles By-Laws.


    This will be my thirteenth annual meeting as a pastor in three different churches. I really look forward to them each year.


    There is a great account of the first ever Church council recorded in Acts chapter 15. The Apostles and Church leaders came together to discuss, pray over, and decide a far more weighty issue than any we will cover at our annual meeting. They were coming together to decide how the Gospel relates to all people and the strategy for taking the love of Christ to the world.


    What I love about the account is how God met with them, so they could say with confidence, "It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us..." (Acts 15:28) I have seen God move in similar ways at the annual meetings I have had the privilege to lead. God meets us with goodness, grace, and wisdom. Then we are able to proceed in trust and confidence that He has good plans for Church of the Apostles.


    Please plan to attend the meeting especially if you are a Covenant Member. (We'll have snacks!) Pray that we will be eager to follow Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church. Take a minute to look over the proposed changes to the By-Laws here and the bios of our three Parish Council Nominees. Come ready to listen, ask questions, make comments, and see how God has been and will be faithful.


    See you there!


    Peace and Hope,

    Brian+


  • January 18, 2017

    Dear Church of the Apostles,

    My first Sunday preaching and celebrating as your Rector was July 17, 2016, and that means that yesterday marked the sixth month anniversary of being your Rector at Church of the Apostles. I have counted the months on my fingers multiple times before writing this note, because it’s kind of hard to believe. In one sense it seems like I have been here a lot longer than six months, and in another sense it seems like Tamara and I just joined you all a few weeks ago.

    Since July, I’ve been asked a few questions over and over by many of you and others. I thought that I would answer these two great questions here as we ponder the last six months.

    What is one thing that has been harder than you think over the past six months?

    In one way this is the harder question to answer. We have not been taken aback by anything that we have experienced in at Church of the Apostles or in Fairfield County. We love our church and our community.

    That being said, we miss living in the same state as our adult children. This isn’t news to anyone who has ever done this, nor is it the first time we have expressed it since we have been living in Connecticut. Our kids are doing well, and we are sure that it is God’s plan that we live across the country for this stage of our lives, but it’s a little harder than we expected. I look forward to the day when time and space will no longer separate us from this we love.  Thank you for the way you have carried this burden with us by praying for and welcoming our children whenever they visit their new home. Would you continue to pray for Andrew, Alex, Rebekah, Kendra, and Natalie?

    What is one thing that has pleasantly surprised you about Fairfield and/or Church of the Apostles?

    Okay, maybe this is actually the harder question to answer. Tamara and I have known from the beginning that God called us to Church of the Apostles; therefore, we expected - and have gladly experienced - a positive initial transition period getting to know all of you. What has pleasantly surprised us is how fast we felt a part of the Apostles family.

    From the care that the Search Team and Parish Council took in calling me, to the Welcome Gatherings we had together the first two months following our arrival, and in the many ways you’ve shown generosity and kindness to my family we’ve felt a peaceful sense of belonging. More importantly, it is obvious that your love for us stems from your love for Jesus and His Church.

    Thanks for sharing life with Tamara and me over the last six months! We look forward to living amongst you all for years to come. We can’t wait to see all that God will accomplish for his Kingdom through Church of the Apostles!

    Peace and Hope,
    Brian+

  • January 11, 2017

    Dear Church of the Apostles,


    I commend three resources to you this week (in no particular order).


    1. Living the Christian Year, by Bobby Gross


    Gross takes the various seasons of the Church Calendar, briefly explains their Biblical and theological significance, and writes weekly devotionals for each season. A summary from the book’s jacket states, “Rehearsing God’s creation, Christ’s life story and the Spirit’s coming will change you, drawing you into deeper intimacy with God and pointing your attention to the work of the Father, Son and Spirit in and around you.” Click here to purchase Bobby Gross' book.


    2. Sexuality and the Gospel: Proclaiming God’s Truth with Clarity, Courage, and Compassion


    These plenary talks given by Matthew Mason at the 2016 Diocese of Christ Our Hope Synod are an excellent resource for Christians. The title aptly summarizes the content. Mason calls us to affirm the Gospel truth about our sexuality and identity in a manner consistent with the grace and mercy of Christ. Matthew’s presentation is clear and easy to follow while being challenging and encouraging. Also, his British accent makes everything sound smarter. Listen to all three talks here.


    3. Anglican 1 Class


    On Sunday, January 22 at 8:45 a.m. at Rodger Ludlowe, we will begin a six-week class on the fundamentals of worshipping as Anglicans and especially focus on the Biblical and historic foundations of our liturgy and theology. Discussion will span a range of topics on worship and practice. The class is designed for those who are new to Anglican worship, those who have been Anglicans for many years, and everyone in between. We are excited to offer childcare for the class. Check out all of the details on our home page.


    Peace and Hope,


    Brian+

  • January 5, 2017

    Dear Church of the Apostles,

    Happy New Year!

    I would like to highlight four things as we begin 2017.

    One, please take a moment to review the procedure for nominating candidates for the Parish Council (below). We are seeking to fill three 3-year terms and one 1-year term. Nominations are due to Don Barton, our Treasurer, by this coming Monday, January 9.

    Two, the season of Epiphany begins this Friday, January 6. Bobby Gross, author of Living the Christian Year, defines Epiphany as “a season of Enlightenment when we focus our attention on Jesus and the unfolding manifestation of his glory.” We ask to see Jesus, and he always responds “come and see” (John 1:39).  The Light of Christ compels us to conform to a Gospel way of living that makes him apparent to all. In other words, after we come and see, we go and tell. For the next eight Sunday mornings we will explore these two sides of the Epiphany.

    Three, The Apostles Reads Group will meet on Sunday, January 15 at 4 p.m. at the Murphy’s home (200 Villa Ave, Fairfield) to discuss the book Silence that we read throughout Advent and the collection of essays and poems by G.K. Chesterton that we read throughout Christmas. All are welcome whether you read one or both works or only got to read segments. Please, RSVP to Tamara if you plan to attend.

    Four, morning Bible study will resume on Sunday, January 22 with a special six-week class entitled Anglican 1. We will review several ways that Anglicans practice Gospel living and highlight the biblical and historic foundations of our liturgy and theology. We have arranged childcare for the class. Please see all of the details below and RSVP to Jane if you plan to attend.

    Peace and Hope,
    Brian+