Weekly Notes from Father Brian Murphy


  • 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+

  • December 28, 2016

    Dear Church of the Apostles,

    This Sunday morning, we will come together to celebrate with a service of Lessons and Carols. This service helps us recall our great need, God’s great provision, and our current hope by taking us through nine scripture readings and nine hymns that tell the story of our redemption - past, present, and future.
     
    The service has been adapted from an order first used in 1880 by E. W. Benson, later Archbishop of Canterbury. He first celebrated the service of Lessons and Carols on Christmas Eve in a wooden shed, which stood as his cathedral in Truro, England.
     
    From then the liturgy was adapted for further use on Christmas Eve and in Christmastide services. It gained momentum in 1928 when the Festival of Lessons and Carols was broadcast from Kings College Chapel at Cambridge University.
     
    You can read more about the liturgy here.
     
    I have heard this service described as “the last breath of Christmas.” I like the picture of us taking a deep, grateful breath together and exhaling songs of thanksgiving for all that God has done for us. The service culminates with the celebration of Eucharist.
     
    Merry Christmas!
    Brian+

  • December 21, 2016

    Dear Church of the Apostles,


    This Saturday night at 5 p.m. we get to celebrate Christmas together! We will sing carols with the children and adult choirs, hear the Christmas story, and celebrate Eucharist.


    I can't wait!


    I hope you are able to join us. Please invite your family and friends. The more the merrier!


    This 15th Century poetic stanza rings in my mind as we approach Christmas Eve.


    Lo, in the silent night

    A child to God is born

    And all is brought again

    That ere was lost or lorn.

    - Author Unknown


    Peace and Hope,

    Brian+




  • December 14, 2016

    Dear Church of the Apostles,


    The account of Gabriel’s visit to Zechariah is one of my favorite Advent stories. You can read the entire exchange in Luke 1:11-22. In short, Gabriel tells Zechariah that he and his wife, Elizabeth, will have a son and are to name him John (the Baptist as he is know to us). Zechariah asks what, at first, appears to be a fair question, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man, and my wife is well along in years.” 


    Zechariah is struck mute for the duration of Elizabeth’s pregnancy because his question demonstrated a lack of faith. After all, he wasn’t just visited by any angel, which would have been amazing in it’s own right. He was visited by the Archangel Gabriel who stands “in the presence of God.” 


    This story has me thinking about belief this Advent season. To be honest, it seems like a really high bar.


    Regarding belief twentieth century theologian Karl Barth wrote:


    Believing is not something as special and difficult or even as unnatural as we often suppose. Believing means that what we listen to, we listen to as God’s speech. What moves us is not just our own concern, but precisely God’s concern... Imagine if everything were brought into this great and proper connection, if we were willing to suffer, be angry, love, and rejoice with God, instead of making everything our own private affair, as if we were alone. 


    As we practice this kind of faith, let us stand in the hope that we can be God’s heralds of Advent even though our faith is limited. After he regained his speech, Zechariah proclaimed Emmanuel in full faith that what God says He will do, He Does! 


    Peace and Hope,

    Brian+

  • December 7, 2016

    Dear Church of the Apostles,


    I hope that you are having a blessed and beautiful Advent so far. I look forward to worshipping together again this Sunday.


    Thank you to all those who helped make our Family Table and Celebration a success last Sunday. It was so much fun to be together and to say thank you to Amy Wolff for her service on staff at Church of the Apostles. 


    I have some exciting news about musical worship at Apostles!


    Laura Voisine has agreed to serve as our part-time Interim Worship Coordinator. Laura is a member of Apostles, served as our interim worship leader last summer, and was on the rector search team. She is a gifted worship leader and faithful follower of Christ. I am very excited to welcome her to the staff team and to work with her as we all glorify God together on Sunday mornings.


    Laura will lead worship, schedule musicians and vocalists to join her, and generally administrate the worship ministry. Laura will serve in this role for all of 2017 and possibly longer as God leads. 


    There will be a short transition period in January. Amy will lead worship on January 1, a guest worship leader will be leading us on January 8 and 15, and Laura will begin leading worship on January 23. 


    Please join me in praying for Laura and her family as she begins this new ministry role and welcoming her to the staff team at Church of the Apostles.


    Peace and Hope,

    Brian+


  • November 30, 2016

    Dear Church of the Apostles,


    Gloria in Profundus, by G.K. Chesterton


    There has fallen on earth a token

    A God too great for the sky

    He has burst out of all things and broken

    The bounds of eternity:

    Into time and the terminal land

    He has strayed like a thief or a lover,

    For the wine of the world brims over,

    Its splendor is split on the sand...


    Glory to God in the lowest

    The sprout of the stars in spate -

    Where the thunderbolt thinks to be slowest

    And the lightning fears to be late:

    As men dive for a sunken gem

    Pursuing, we hunt and hound it,

    The fallen star has found it

    In the cavern of Bethlehem.


    I hope your Advent has been meaningful so far, and I pray that the coming days will be filled with retreat, celebration, and anticipation. 


    Peace and Hope,

    Brian+

  • November 22, 2016

    Dear Church of the Apostles,


    Happy Thanksgiving! Tamara and I pray that you and yours have a restful and peaceful time enjoying one another and basking in all that God has done for us. I love the way the Great Thanksgiving leads us, “We bless you for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for your immeasurable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.”


    This Sunday is the beginning of Advent. Advent is the time when we look back at the arrival of the Messiah and lean forward in the expectancy of His coming again. We see how all the promises that were prophesied in the Old Testament were fulfilled in Jesus and we await his final coming and reign when he will complete the work of making all things new. 


    Advent is a time of expectancy, celebration, and tension for those of us who are citizens of the already and not-yet Kingdom. In his book, Living the Christian Year, Bobby Gross gives three helpful insights on how we should enter into Advent. 


    One, we both sing and groan. Sing for the joy of all that God has accomplished by and for his glory and groan as we await the final lifting of sin. This allows us to access all that lies in our hearts - joy and sorrow, blessing and longing (see Romans 8:18-25). 


    Two, we practice both restraint and retreat (see Luke 3:1-18). These are are perhaps the hardest disciplines to keep with all of the hustle and bustle of the season; however, they provide much needed Gospel perspective. Practicing restraint and retreat enhances our expectancy and celebration while making the season meaningful for us and our families.


    Three, we keep both an alert and open posture. An alert posture leads us to see all the ways Christ is working is making all things new while driving out the skepticism that his Kingdom will ultimately come (see Luke 1:5-25). An open posture keeps us ready to receive all the promises of Christ’s abundant life, hope, and peace (see Luke 1:26-38). 


    I encourage you to live in these three tensions of celebration and expectancy this year. We have Church-wide events to help with this (see Apostles Reads, Quiet Day, and Family Table announcements below). Gross’s book has weekly Advent devotionals to help with these three disciplines. Tamara curates an excellent daily Advent devotional that can be found on her blog and is excellent for personal of family reflection and prayer.  


    Peace and Hope,

    Brian+


    PS Please remember to drop your 2017 pledge cards in the offering plate, mail it into the office, or use this confidential online link. Thanks!

  • NOvember 17, 2016

    Dear Church of the Apostles, 


    This Sunday we will celebrate the Feast of Christ the King! 


    Christ the King Sunday is the last Sunday in Ordinary Time before the Season of Advent. It was installed on the Church Calendar because of a concern that people were too cavalier about the authority of Christ in their lives and, therefore, unaware of the great peace and safety that are found when he is allowed to reign. 


    During the summer between my junior and senior years in high school, I worked for the Army  National Guard in my hometown. I served as an intern, which is code language for “someone who does everything that no one else wants to do”. For the most part, I filed mundane documents, cleaned disgusting things, and ran useless errands. 


    The supply sergeant, a crusty, curmudgeonly guy who chomped on a stubby cigar all day long, had me install small, carefully calibrated devices called “governors" under the gas pedals of all of the military vehicles. The purpose was so that the drivers could not drive so fast that the top-heavy trucks would topple over during convoys.


    When the soldiers reported for their weekend drill, they quickly removed all the governors that had been carefully set just a few days before.


    Needless to say, Sergeant Crusty was not pleased. He asked the commanding officer to order the soldiers to cease removing the governors. The officer replied that he ordered the devices to be taken off because the company needed to hurry to their destination and could not be bothered by the safety measures. 


    Through clinched teeth and with a red face the sergeant responded, “Sir, we installed the governors, so the trucks wouldn’t flip off of the road. Your men and women are now in danger.”


    On Sunday we will celebrate Christ’s rule and reign over his Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven. We will proclaim that Jesus is our Governor and that submitting to His authority keeps us safe from flipping of off the narrow road of life. He offers safety and peace to those who recognize and follow him as King!


    I look forward to celebrating with you this Sunday!


    Peace and Hope,

    Brian+

  • NOvember 9, 2016

    Dear Church of the Apostles,


    I am writing this note during the afternoon of Election Day here in the United States. Many ballots have already been cast and many predictions have been made but, as I write, no winner has been declared.


    Many people are nervous and even panicked about the outcome of this election. I totally understand this sentiment. However, regardless of who the next President is, Christians can be quietly confident because of this promise, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10)


    Bishop Steve has written a challenging essay about our hope as Christians in the face of an uncertain and chaotic political climate. Rather than expound any further here, I commend his words to you. 


    Scripture tells us to “pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2) We can take all of our concerns over the results of this election to God through prayer. Then, we are free to reflect on how deeply God loves us. We can be at peace and communicate the compassion of Christ to everyone, even those with whom we disagree.


    One way that you can engage with quiet contemplation is to attend the Parish Quiet Day on December 3. Quiet Days are a rich part of our Anglican heritage and provide us with an opportunity to re-center ourselves in God's presence through times gathered together around Scripture, liturgy and art in silence. Let’s pause and encourage one another as we head into Advent and await the light of Christ.


    Peace and Hope,

    Brian+

  • November 2, 2016

    Dear Church of the Apostles,


    This Sunday three things will come together in our worship service: commemorating All Saints Day, praying for the persecuted church, and teaching on the various elements of our liturgical worship service. 


    The Bible is clear that all people who have put their trust in Christ belong to the communion of saints. This includes our loved ones, the Apostles, authors and theologians, and those of us who will gather for worship this weekend. All Saints Day is the time when we reflect on the acts of the Great Cloud of Witnesses (Hebrews 12:1-3) and thank God for how they have pointed us toward Christ with their words and actions. My wife, Tamara has curated a blog post that will help us pray and reflect on God’s graciousness to us throughout generations.


    Many churches will pause during worship services this weekend to pray for the persecuted church. You do not have to search too long to find stories of our brothers and sisters who are being threatened with imprisonment, loss of family, and death because of their faith in Jesus Christ. We will pray for the persecuted church around the world this Sunday during prayers of the people. 


    An instructed Eucharist is real-time teaching about the content of our Eucharistic service. Many in our congregation are new to Anglicanism and even some of us who have more experience have never considered why we do what we do when we gather together each week. This Sunday we will take some time to teach on various liturgical elements throughout the service and reflect on their biblical and historical foundations. Whether you were raised in Anglicanism or came to it more recently, come and join us for worship. 


    I am looking forward to it!


    Peace and Hope,

    Brian

  • October 26, 2016

    Dear Church of the Apostles,


    In two weeks, on November 3-5, the Diocese of Christ Our Hope, our diocese, will hold its first annual Synod in McLean, Virginia. A Synod is an assembly of the clergy and laity in a diocese. Business is conducted and representatives from each church in the diocese come together for a time of worship, fellowship, and celebration around what God has done and where we see him leading us.


    This year in addition to our clergy, The Rev. Jan Buchanan and myself, Church of the Apostles will be represented by Shelli and Tom Hendrican. Shelli and Tom were appointed by the Parish Council a couple of months ago, and we are thrilled to have them represent Apostles.


    The plenary speaker for the weekend will be Matthew Mason. He will be teaching on the topic of “Sexuality and the Gospel: Proclaiming God’s Truth with Clarity, Courage, and Compassion.” I look forward to learning from Matthew and spending time with Tom, Shelli, and Jan as well as clergy and parishioners from around our diocese.


    You can look over several reports, get an idea of the schedule, and see what God is doing by visiting adhope.org


    Please pray that God will lead and guide during this special inaugural event and bless us with insight and wisdom.


    Peace and Hope,

    Brian+

  • October 19, 2016

    Dear Church of the Apostles,

    While preparing last Sunday’s sermon and thinking about lavish hospitality I was reminded about a great movie entitled Babette's Feast. My wife Tamara wrote a beautiful summary of the movie on her blog, A Sacramental Life. I join her in recommending the movie and don’t have better words than hers.  


    Many, many excellent films include themes of hospitality; themes that range from the beautiful to the slapstick, but I can not think of a film more compelling in its sensual display of lavish, outrageous, wasteful and loving hospitality than the story told in Babette's Feast.


    Babette serves a tiny community used to scarcity to a sumptuous feast of all the best food and drink for the sole purpose of offering them kindness and beauty.  For their part, they are only slightly aware of the superiority of Babette's cooking, but the force of its sheer extravagance overcomes them anyway.  By the end of the evening, they know that they have been together in a way they have never before experienced, drawn together by the power of bread and wine. 


    It is a beautiful film; please do not let the subtitles keep you from enjoying the many profound layers of the simply-told story.


    Peace and Hope,

    Brian+ (and Tamara)

  • October 12, 2016

    Dear Church of the Apostles,


    Three quick updates this week.


    One, Tamara and I had an excellent time visiting the Thompson family for Micah’s installation service last Sunday. I was privileged to join Bishop Bill Murdock (Diocese of New England), Micah, and three other clergy as we celebrated Micah’s call and work at Saint Timothy’s Anglican Mission in South Burlington. It was very fun to have some extended hang-out time with Micah and Jen. God is blessing them in this new role, and they send their best to everyone at Apostles.


    Continue to hold the Thompson family in your prayers as they further transition into a new home and ministry at St. Timothy’s.


    Two, Amy Wolff has accepted the position of President and Executive Director of Hands Offering Hope (HOH). “Since 2011, HOH has been committed to caring for orphaned, disabled and impoverished children and youth.” Check out all of the exciting news from HOH here. Continue to pray for Amy as she transitions into this new role and other ministry adventures that God has in store for her.


    Three, don’t forget that this Sunday is our Family Table. Bring your favorite soup and plan to stick around after the service and enjoy the hospitality that our church family is so good at extending. It gets even better! Several of us will be going apple picking following lunch. See all of the details below, and please join us for lunch or apple picking or both!


    Peace and Hope,

    Brian+


    PS With all of the fun things scheduled for this weekend, it is a great time to invite some friends and family to visit Church of the Apostles. We will make them feel right at home!


  • October 5, 2016

    Dear Church of the Apostles,


    Last Sunday we were invited to the Cross to leave our sin, unforgiveness, hurt, shame, and loneliness. The response was beautiful. Many came with the expectation that, when we come to Jesus for inner healing, he responds with mercy, grace, and acceptance. 


    I took the cards that we nailed to the cross home and offered them to God on our behalf. 


    Tamara and I prayed for our Apostles’ family as we watched the flames and smoke carry the confessions and prayers to the sky (pictured above). We prayed that God would protect you from all lies, keep you in the knowledge that you are love, and continue the healing process throughout the week. 


    These words from Psalm 141 came to us as we prayed, ”O LORD, I call upon You; hasten to me! Give ear to my voice when I call to You! May my prayer be counted as incense before You.” We are praying this over you all this week as God continues to bless us with his steadfast love. 


    Please join us this Sunday. We will consider how God wants to form Church of the Apostles into a holy people. Like healing, holiness is a gift from our Good Father that was graciously lived out by his Son Jesus and is demonstrated among his people by the power of the Holy Spirit.


    Peace and Hope,

    Brian+

  • September 28, 2016

    Dear Church of the Apostles,


    We love God's Word. The Bible lights our path as we journey through this life. (Psalm 119:105) All Scripture is breathed out by God and is profitable for teaching, discipline, correction, training in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16) The word of God is alive and active; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)


    Beginning this Sunday morning, we will meet to explore and discuss the riches of God's Word together. We will begin promptly at 8:45 a.m. in the lobby area located to the right of the main entrance. Our time will conclude at 9:45, so we can all make our way to the worship service. (If you are serving and need to leave earlier, please feel free to join us and leave when necessary.) 


    For eight weeks we will explore the book of Ephesians and discuss God's plans and purposes for us to live in unity together as the Church. The sessions will be led by a team of presenters including myself, The Rev Jan Buchanan, and Walter Wittwer. The format will be conversational with a 20-minute teaching followed by a group discussion. 


    I look forward to leading this week's conversation on Ephesians 1:1-14. Please bring a cup of coffee and join us! 


    Peace and Hope,

    Brian+

  • September 21, 2016

    Dear Church of the Apostles, 


    Homes undergo changes from time to time. It is a fact of living together under the same roof. Kids go to college, people get married, loved ones pass away and employment changes. The household of God is no different. It changes from time to time as well.


    We will experience a change in our church staff this January. Amy Wolff, who has been serving for the past three years as our Communications Director, Worship Leader and Community Life Leader, will be stepping off our staff team to pursue other ministry opportunities. 


    This will be a longer note than usual. Please click below to download and read it entirely.


    Download here.

  • September 14, 2016

    Dear Church of the Apostles,


    Last Sunday morning we began a vision sermon series. This is not a time when we will be laying out a five-year strategic plan. Instead we will be considering the characteristics that have led so many of us to describe Church of the Apostles as Home. The Holy Spirit, Healing, Holiness, and Hospitality are the characteristics of home that God intend for us to embody together as a church.


    Home is a place where peace, reconciliation, and belonging come together to express shalom. We experience this together as believers in Christ and share it with others as we invite them to join us in the household of God. Shalom can be experienced and shared only as we remember that we were all once utterly and helplessly homeless and were welcomed home by the grace of Jesus Christ. 


    Since the characteristics of Home are so closely connected, each sermon will build on the themes from the week before. If you could not attend church last Sunday or were serving our children and parents during the sermon time, please take a few minutes and listen sometime this week. 


    Peace and Hope,

    Brian+



  • September 8, 2016

    Dear Church of the Apostles,


    I would like to highlight two great opportunities for this fall. 


    This Sunday we will begin a vision sermon series during the morning worship services. This series is not intended to lay out a comprehensive five-year strategic plan. We will consider five characteristics that God is asking Church of the Apostles to embody. If you know someone who is considering church in general or is deciding whether or not to make Apostles their church home, please invite them to join you. 


    Life Groups at Apostles will begin later this month. Life is busy and most of us are not looking for one more thing to add to the calendar, so why should we consider joining and participating in a small group? 


    Two words come to mind - connection and care. 


    Life Groups allow us to deeply connect with brothers and sisters because we have time and space to be real with one another. Groups also offer us an opportunity to connect more deeply with God. Through Bible study, prayer, and the encouraging words and actions of others, we see and sense the life giving love of our Good Father. 


    I can’t count the number of times that I have heard someone who is going through a hard time tell me that they they are being carried by the loving care of their Life Group. Spiritual, physical, and emotional needs can be freely expressed, graciously received, and appropriately met as we share life together.  


    All of the details for how to get involved are found here. Please take a minute to ask God how he wants you to be involved during this season of your life.


    Peace,

    Brian+



  • September 1, 2016

    Dear Church of the Apostles,


    Thank you so much for all you have done to welcome Tamara and me! We have been blown-away by your generosity and hospitality. We were especially blessed by the Installation Service last Sunday and the reception on Saturday night. It was a sweet and rich weekend to be together and celebrate all that God has done and will do through Church of the Apostles. 


    This week we will return to a more familiar worship service. The Rev Jan Buchanan will be preaching from the appointed Gospel passage. I look forward to being taught by Jan this week. In the short time that I have known her it has been very clear that she is a beloved child of God, mighty woman of faith, and gifted teacher. 


    We will be worshipping together with some liturgical elements that we haven’t worshipped with since I have been here. I am avoiding calling these “new” liturgical elements because they are not new. They are tested and true words and actions that point us to our Good Father as we celebrate his Son through the power of the Holy Spirit. Here are a few things to look for as we worship this week.


    Children’s Dismissal

    We will be formally dismissing our children from the sanctuary to their special time of ministry by inviting them to follow the Cross to Sunday School. (I will give the kids some instruction on how to do this on Sunday.) We formally recognize that children are a vibrant and beautiful part of the Body of Christ who not only enter into transformational living but also lead us adults by displaying the childlike faith that we are all called to demonstrate (Mathew 18:2-5).


    Lessons

    We will be reading four lessons, one from the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Gospels. We will pray the Psalm appointed for this week together responsively. Scripture is the authoritative and centering work of the Holy Spirit within the Church. Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirt and profits us by showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, and training us to live God’s way (2 Timothy 3:16). It is to be central in both our personal quiet times and corporate worship. By reading passages from all the sections of the Bible, we keep ourselves grounded in the complete and rich Gospel story.  


    Prayers of the People

    e will pray over and bless the work that we do as a parish as we recognize the value of our vocations as we join God in his work of making all things new. We will ask those who are working in or have retired from a particular vocational field to stand as we pray a blessing over them and their work. Some of us will stand for one vocation others for more than one, but all will be prayed over and sent out into our various fields of vocational ministry and service. 


    We will be using some additional elements that will be new to some of us and familiar to others but will focus all of us to worship the Triune God. I look forward to coming together, glorifying God, and blessing one another this weekend. 


    Peace and Hope,

    Brian+