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Redeemer News

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  • February 09, 2024 9:10 AM | Barbara MacDonald (Administrator)

    Dear Redeemer Family,

    As we approach the upcoming season of Lent, characterized by the symbolic color purple akin to Advent, it is a time for reflection and preparation. Our focus during this season is on preparing ourselves for the celebration of the resurrected life on Easter, a journey that involves following Jesus into the wilderness for 40 days and nights.

    Traditionally, the Church has observed Lent by fasting, taking on spiritual practices, or in other words creating space in our lives for emptiness. All these spiritual practices serve as a profound acknowledgment of our humanity, a resounding "amen" to our inherent emptiness, paving the way for God to fill it with His true life on Easter morning.

    Lent is an opportunity to embrace this nothingness rather than attempting to fill it with addictions, distractions, cheap comforts, or simplistic religious platitudes. We extend an invitation to you to enter into the emptiness that serves as the starting point for fullness and creativity, prompting reflection on the creation stories from Genesis.

    Within both Christian and Jewish traditions, creation itself arises from emptiness: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness covered the surface of the watery depths, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters" (Genesis 1:1-2).

    This Lent, we invite you to delve into the depths within yourself, bringing awareness to the nothingness that precedes the emergence of real life. Embrace the gift of your emptiness as we embark on a journey following Jesus into the wilderness before the dawn of resurrection morning.

    All spiritual practices during Lent serve as a transformative undoing and unbecoming, a process of emptying ourselves, letting go, and surrendering to the nothingness where God can be found. Silence, fasting, prayer, and giving become vehicles for surrendering to this nothingness that ultimately creates fullness, as opposed to grasping at our own self-sufficiency and covering up our innate poverty.

    Throughout Lent, let us commit to a journey of becoming more like God with God, rather than striving to become like Him apart from Him. This commitment begins on Ash Wednesday when we recognize our innate poverty, symbolized by ashes on our foreheads, acknowledging that we are but dust without God. We dedicate ourselves to refrain from filling our emptiness apart from God's true and lasting gift, bestowed on Resurrection morning.

    How will you and your family intentionally make space for empty space this Lent?


    Barrie Bliss

    Prayer of Dependence and Abandonment to God During Lent:

    "Lord, we know not what we ought to ask of Thee; Thou only know what we need; you love us better than we know how to love ourselves. O Father! give to Thy children that which we ourselves know not how to ask. We dare not ask for crosses or consolations or for the sweet bread or bitter tears; we simply present ourselves before Thee; we open our hearts to Thee. Behold our needs which we know not ourselves; see, and do according to Thy tender Mercy. We desire to adore all Thy purposes without knowing them; we are silent… we yield ourselves to Thee! We would have no other desire than to accomplish of Thy will! Teach us to pray; pray yourself in us.” - François Fénelon

  • November 13, 2023 9:41 AM | Barbara MacDonald (Administrator)

    The toolbox, a mere namesake in our household, represented something quintessentially Dad – an embodiment of good intentions without the handiness to match. His approach to fixing things leaned heavily on the expertise of neighbors, handymen, or virtually anyone else. Painting? Perhaps that was within his realm, to an extent. But actual repairs, constructions, or the artful employment of tools as our Homo sapiens ancestors intended? That was a different story altogether. Yet, there it was – a toolbox in the fullest sense of the word.

    From what lingers in my memory, the toolbox was a sturdy steel Craftsman construction, its heavy lid secured by two simple clasps. Inside, a liftable tray revealed a deeper compartment, a sort of childhood cavern where myriad objects found their home. It functioned, for all practical purposes, as a portable junk drawer. Filled with spare screws, odd pipe fittings – eleven little copper elbows, with the twelfth now a permanent fixture under the kitchen sink – along with an assortment of twist ties and fasteners. However, the toolbox's real surprise lay in its sparse inventory: just two tools and both hammers. A hefty carpenter’s framing hammer and a rubber mallet. The rubber mallet's purpose remained a mystery, but the framing hammer, oh, it had its moments – a quick fix here, whack there, or a forceful adjustment to the immovable this or that.

    This very toolbox, sparse as it was, likely sparked my own tool-fixation, a drive to be at least modestly handy. Sifting through Dad’s toolbox, recognizing its ineffectiveness, was a moment of awakening. Over the past thirty years, I’ve amassed an eclectic collection in my own toolbox – planes, rabbet and block, a spokeshave, cabinet scrapers, and not one, but three distinct hammers. My toolbox is a testament to preparedness, equipped for frequent troubles and even those unlikely to ever materialize.

    Reflecting on Dad’s humble toolbox has led me to introspect about my Christian faith. I possess a broader toolset than many a believer – Greek and Hebrew, an expansive knowledge of historical periods and geographies, an understanding of theological nuances and church protocols. My spiritual toolbox is brimming. Yet, in the light of Dad’s simple, almost barren toolbox, I can’t help but question: is more really better?

    In confronting life’s vast and varied challenges, from domestic upheavals to global crises, I often reach for my metaphorical toolbox. I ponder over the countless parish tempests in the proverbial teapots. Perhaps Dad’s philosophy, albeit with a different set of tools, holds a profound truth. What if, in the grand scheme of things, love is the only tool that truly matters? When one approach fails, perhaps all we need to do is reach back into that toolbox for another iteration of the same powerful, yet simple tool. Amidst all the complexities and strategies, the Christian toolbox might just need two tools, both fundamentally the same. When one seems inadequate, we simply try the other – a continuous cycle of reaching in, grasping, and beginning anew and always with love in hand.


  • September 11, 2023 11:12 AM | Barbara MacDonald (Administrator)

    As you pass the vintage photograph on your way to the choir room, you are walking in the footsteps of a legacy that spans generations. Beginning with a men and boys choir at the turn of the 20th century, the baton has been passed through an illustrious array of faithful contributors. There was Craig, a teacher from the Chestnut Hill School who infused pedagogical grace; Cindy Johnson, whose keyboard artistry lifted spirits; the choral enthusiasm of Mary Reynders; Michael Murray's reinvigoration of the choristers program in 2016; and most recently, the effervescent John Meyer Spressert, who has brought a blaze of youthful energy with his guitar. At Redeemer, music and youth have long been interwoven in a vibrant tapestry, each thread adding a unique hue to our community's spiritual fabric.

    In the Anglican tradition, music isn't merely an aesthetic pleasure; it's a form of spiritual language. I would argue that the Book of Common Prayer 1979 and the Hymnal 1982 are not simply books but the reverberating heartbeats of the Episcopal Church. These texts bestow words of solace, acknowledgment of our human frailty, and our hope-filled joy, while also framing our Christian journey with hymns and anthems that resonate through time.

    In my last letter, I announced the arrival of a Children’s Homily as part of our Sunday service—an endeavor that excites and, to be candid, terrifies me. But innovation doesn't stop there. We’re charting a refreshed course for music in Sunday School, thanks to Sarah Taylor (spouse of Nigel Potts). Every Sunday, towards the end of the Godly Play and Apostles classes, Sarah will shepherd our youngest from their Sunday School classes into the Children’s Chapel for a 15-minute musical journey. It will be fun, but it’s also intended to be a joyful exploration of our deeply rooted musical canon.

    Many of our senior members speak eloquently about the spiritual depth hymns add to their lives, having absorbed them in school chapels long ago. As many schools have unmoored themselves from their respective religious traditions to steer more secular courses, local parishes are the last places remaining for children to recite the prayers and sing the songs of our faith. If we don't acquaint our children with this sacred repertoire, are we not creating a chasm between the spiritual wisdom of our tradition and the souls of the next generation?

    My ambition is to sow seeds of our hymnal heritage into the fertile ground of our children’s spirituality. And, as I am wont to believe and say more often these last years, "Faithful experiments are indeed good for the soul!"

    In Christ,


  • August 29, 2023 1:30 PM | Barbara MacDonald (Administrator)

    For those like me, raised in an atmosphere of fervent Christianity, the word "Jesus" is not so much a name as it is an ever-present companion, shaping the contours of life in both obvious and nuanced ways. My boyhood home was a fortress of religious piety, the kind that would send tremors of alarm through the editorial halls of The New York Times or The Boston Globe. Mention it to Twitter's legions of secular warriors, and watch how quickly you are pigeonholed into dated archetypes of religious dogmatism.

    We were the epitome of Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting attendees: resolute in our creationist convictions, disdainful of premarital affairs, and fervently expressive about our personal conversions. The Jesus of my youth was a vigilant moral sentinel, inscribed into every facet of daily life, ensuring that we continually evaluated our ethical decisions lest we stray too far.

    However, it was not until my college years and my sojourn into Episcopalianism that I discovered a different theological landscape, one that swapped the restricting moral gauntlet for an expansive meadow of divine affection. I encountered, within the pages of the Hymnal 1982 and the Book of Common Prayer, a deity whose affinity for humanity was not predicated on moral rigor, but flourished in the expansiveness of unconditional love. The God I met was less a surveillance state and more a boundlessly benevolent parent, reveling in the joys and follies of His earthly children.

    This revelation comes at a fortuitous time as we approach the commencement of the Episcopal program year—a season of renewed devotion and community that, though time-consuming, offers something uniquely invaluable. My assertion is simple, yet profound: The Church is the lone institution in your life that seeks to reveal God's boundless love to you in a deeply personal way. Yes, the cacophony of life's responsibilities is loud, and the demands on our time are ever increasing. Yet here, in this sacred community, you will find the grounding for all other aspects of your life.

    More than that, the Church could be the sanctuary that encourages you to discard what is toxic to your soul. And there, you'll find a different Jesus, not one of moralistic scrutiny or antiquated scientific beliefs, but one with arms outstretched and eyes beaming with love. He invites you in only to propel you back into the world—a world that stands in desperate need of individuals who are renewed, reconciled, and steeped in the boundless grace of God.

    In this transformative journey from zeal to grace, I am reminded that the resonance of a name can evolve, reflecting the mutable landscape of our beliefs and experiences. Yet the name "Jesus" remains, not as an overseer of a moral fiefdom, but as a symbol of eternal, undiscriminating love.

  • May 16, 2023 8:55 AM | Barbara MacDonald (Administrator)

    Being able to read music and to learn to sing is a gift of a universal language and an art form that a person will have and enjoy for the rest of their life. Our parish church offers this gift to children today! The music program at the Redeemer may have been one of the important aspects of this parish to attract you or your family to becoming members. But why might music be considered strong here? One reason with certainty is because so many members of our adult choir (including myself) sang in a church choir as a child. Today, music and the arts are too often marginalized in the education system, in society, and we learn of more churches who are disbanding their choir - and Covid has not helped! It is therefore all the more reason to give children the opportunity to learn and love music. But learning music is more than just another language and art form. It also has many intellectual, personal and emotional benefits too. Last year I enjoyed reading some quotes by Vaughan Fleischfresser, an internationally respected music educator, consultant and speaker. He is Associate Consultant (Scottish Curriculum) for Music Education Solutions.

    Here is one quote that may resonate with you:

    Want young people to work together? Put them in a music ensemble.
    Want them to listen to each other? Put them in a music ensemble.
    Want them to learn the importance of personal responsibility? Put them in a music ensemble.
    Want them to connect? Put them in a music ensemble.

    Vaughan Fleischfresser goes on to say, (which can also apply equally to singing): Many people regret not learning an instrument. Many people regret giving up learning an instrument. Very few people regret learning an instrument. Learning an instrument changes you for the better, and it changes you for life. I have been fortunate to have given organ recitals in over 30 US states and in three other continents, and one common comment I receive when greeting audience members after is: I wish I had learnt an instrument when I was young or I wish I didn’t quit!

    I have often spoken to our choristers that singing in a choir is like a team sport. Just as every player in a sports team matters for the overall success of the team, so the same applies to choir - each voice matters for the mutual support and complete full sound of the team. However, since the return of our choristers from Covid, we are running on very low numbers and it is rather like playing a sport with only half a team. If you or somebody you know (they need not be member/s of the Redeemer) has a child/ren that may have some interest in singing, please have them contact me or let me know. The Redeemer choristers are a group of children ages approximately 8 through high school, who rehearse every Tuesday afternoon (4:30pm-5:30pm) and sing in church with the adult choir most months during the school year. The choir is affiliated with The Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) which hosts various annual summer schools around the country. I enjoyed being a music housemaster for the week-long RSCM course at Duke University Chapel in 2019 – a course which 8-year-old chorister, Nigel Potts my former choristers from Grace Church Cathedral in Charleston, SC loved returning to annually.

    It is my hope that in years to come, our choristers too may thrive in attending these wonderful courses. While music is not for every child, no experience is necessary for those that show an inclination for music. The Redeemer choristers receive (free) professional vocal tutelage and music theory from former Redeemer staff singer, Janet Ross and myself. They learn to read, sing and love music in a relaxed, safe and encouraging environment. We do not teach by rote. While the ‘work’ may be more demanding, their understanding, ability and appreciation of music will give them a greater reward.

    What we ask for in return is commitment, focus and the choristers’ best effort. As you know, we are blessed at the Redeemer with its beautiful setting in which to worship God through music. Please feel free to email me music@redeemerchestnuthill or set up a time to talk/meet, if you would like to know more about our chorister program.

    The one who sings, prays twice - attributed to St. Augustine

    Nigel Potts

    Organist & Director of Music

  • May 08, 2023 11:10 AM | Barbara MacDonald (Administrator)

    Our next Build date is Saturday, May 13th from 8:30am - 3pm.  For details and to sign up (you must sign up 48 hours in advance), click here

    I hope you can join us either by helping in the Build project this Saturday or contributing to this important mission here. 

  • March 27, 2023 11:06 AM | Barbara MacDonald (Administrator)

    Dear Redeemer Faithful,

    As we approach the holiest time of the year, we invite you to join us in celebrating Palm Sunday and Holy Week services. These services offer a time for reflection, contemplation, and an opportunity to renew our faith.

    On Palm Sunday at the 8:00am and 10:00am services we will commemorate Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem. This day marks the beginning of Holy Week, which culminates in the celebration of Easter Sunday. As we gather together, we will wave palm branches and sing praises to our Lord, remembering the joyous occasion of Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem. However, the service will shift markedly with the reading of the Palm Gospel, the ironic conclusion of a service that began with joy and wonder. At 5:00pm, Choral Evensong will reflect on this most auspicious of days in the Christian calendar.

    Throughout Holy Week, we will follow Jesus’ journey to the cross, from the Last Supper, to his arrest, trial, and ultimately his crucifixion. Through these services, we will remember the profound sacrifice that Jesus made for us and the magnitude of his love.

    On Holy Thursday, April 6th at 7:30pm, we will gather to celebrate the institution of the Eucharist, a reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice for us and the power of his love. We will wash each other's feet as a symbol of our commitment to serve one another, just as Jesus did for his disciples. We will witness the Stripping of the Altar as an act of solidarity with Christ’s trial and suffering.

    On Good Friday, April 7th, we will remember the pain and suffering of Jesus’ crucifixion, and we will mourn his death. We will reflect on the darkness of sin and the weight of our own human brokenness, but also on the hope that his sacrifice brings. Our traditional service of Solemn Collects will take place at noon with a Children’s Stations of the Cross at 5:00pm. The evening of Good Friday will be commemorated by our second annual Service of Shadows at 7:30pm. This dark mirror of Advent and Christmas Lessons and Carols will mark the solemnity of the day and the quiet of the tomb.

    On Holy Saturday, April 8th at 10:00am, Barrie Rose Bliss will lead a solemn meditative walk through the Houghton Garden. As Jesus’ body lay within a garden tomb, Houghton Garden provides a quiet and contemplative landscape to ponder the death of Christ.

    We encourage all members of our parish to attend these services and to invite friends and family to join us. These services are a time for us to come together in community, to strengthen our faith, and to grow closer to God.

    Please join us as we journey together through Holy Week and celebrate the hope and joy of Easter Sunday. We look forward to seeing you at our services.

    In Christ,


  • February 08, 2023 9:05 AM | Barbara MacDonald (Administrator)

    Dear Friends of the Redeemer,

    What an update I have for you all this morning! As of today, A Time to Build... has received over $467,000.00 in pledges! Amazing! What a joy and answer to prayer.

    We also learned last week that the Norfolk Street Project of Habitat for Humanity Greater Boston (our particular project if you will) goes before the Zoning Board for final approval this week! Please keep the HHGB team in your prayers. After zoning approval comes the Building Permit phase which could take up to twelve weeks, but after zoning approval, the runway is clear!

    Habitat has also helped us look ahead for build dates a little farther into the future. We now have four dates for the next four months: Friday, February 24th, Saturday, March 4th, Friday, April 21st, and Saturday, May 13th.  Signups are available now for February 24th and March 4th!

    As I will be on a family trip to see my mother on February 24th, I am hoping to find a team point person for that day. Not a lot of heavy lifting save giving the team a gathering point at the Church and coordinating rides. Easy peasy leadership opportunity!

    Once again, thank you for making this amazing project a possibility. There is a lot more to come on including children in this work. Also, we will have more information soon on Epiphany-Redeemer projects in particular. Below you will find the sign up information for theFeb 24th and March 4th dates. So excited and blessed!

    In, Christ,


    We've reserved the following dates for you all - February 24, March 4, April 21, and May 13. Your February and March dates are available for sign-up on Volunteer Hub. Below are the Build Day details. We are excited to continue this partnership and have you all on build site again soon!

    We still utilize Volunteer Hub to register all volunteers onsite, the link includes all necessary information including site location, construction staff contact info, waivers, etc. Your Volunteer Hub link is listed below and should be distributed to your organization for anyone who wants to participate in the build. Registration closes 48 hours before a build day. All volunteers must register on Volunteer Hub no later than 48 hours before your Build Day, we are unable to extend the registration period. Anyone not registered on Volunteer Hub cannot participate in the Build Day.

    Date: February 24 & March 4

    Time: 8:30 am-3:00 pm with a lunch break at 12pm. Clean-up begins at 2:30 pm.

    Site Locations: 725 Parker Street Boston MA 02120

    Online Volunteer Sign-Up

    Online Volunteer Sign-Up Deadline 1st Build Day: February 22 

    Online Volunteer Sign-Up Deadline 2nd Build Day: March 2

    Day-of Contact: Cathy Kurczak, Construction Site Supervisor (617) 515-2883


    • Dress in clothing that can get dirty and wear sneakers or work boots.
    • Food and drink for the day, including lunch, snacks, and plenty of your beverage of choice. Water will be offered. No fridge is available. Lunch is not provided.

    • Wearing a mask is encouraged by all volunteers.

    • Printed waiver only for 16/17-year-old participants via Volunteer Hub. All volunteers must be at least 16 years old to participate in a Build Day.

    Every volunteer arriving at the build site must be registered on our online volunteer platform (VolunteerHub). I also encourage you to read Frequently Asked Questions on our website.

    Please feel free to contact me via email at with any additional questions related to your BuildDay(s). In the case of inclement weather, please contact the Day-of Contact, Cathy (contact info above), before arriving on site. We look forward to seeing you on site!

  • May 23, 2022 12:29 PM | Barbara MacDonald (Administrator)

    Dear Friends of the Redeemer,

    I write to you this afternoon from a crossroad within my soul. On Saturday night as I was putting the final touches on my Sunday morning sermon, my phone (like yours) alerted me of the murder of ten black Americans at the hands of an angry and young white supremacist. Those murdered people just like us going about their daily routines providing for themselves and their children. Celestine Cheney, grandmother of six, was grocery shopping with her sister. Andre Mackniel was shopping for a birthday cake for his three-year-old son. Hayward Patterson was just waiting in his taxicab to pick up a shopper when he was murdered. This violence was horrific and numbingly predictable. It was that story we continue to hear about a mentally unstable young white man hatefully fueled to violence by racially charged lies and sentiments. And like all of these terrible stories, these murders were preventable. Had this young man's parents, his friends, his relatives, or his systems of education and justice acted in concert on the information they all had, these innocents would have been saved. I could not gather my soul in a way to address it, and I am still at a loss on how we might confront the sick sin of white supremacy that cancerously infects our national soul. What strikes me today is how American Payton Gendron is. Gendron hailed from Conklin, New York, a rural town on the border of New York and Pennsylvania. With a population of just over 5,000 people, Conklin's citizenry represents the kind of majority white small town America that is worlds away from the cosmopolitan and diverse worldviews of our East and West Coast realities. Relegated to the limited and narrowing economic horizons of much of America's hinterland, the positivity and possibility of upward mobility is being dragged down by factors far beyond our control. And, when the optimistic stories of America no longer move someone to hope and possibility, other narratives filled with lies and hateful sentiments begin their pernicious work of radicalizing the young and impressionable. There is no excuse for the murders committed by Payton Gendron, but the seeds of his hate were sown in the soil of isolation, watered by hopelessness, and fertilized with anger, cruelty and hate. These too were all preventable.

    What then can an Episcopal Church and its community of Christians do in light of this great field of thorns growing in our midst? Every piece of our life as the Church stands against the forces that created Payton Gendron. We are a community. Isolation is inimical to us. We are called to gather from across the panoply of the human experience breaking the divisive barriers of economics, ethnicity, education, gender, sexuality, and all of the dividing walls that keep human beings apart. We are agents of the Gospel and its message of hope. We believe that in raising Christ from the dead, God has broken the power of sin and death that drag people into hopelessness. Ours is the most hopeful story that can be told. And, we are called to love. Love is not just avoiding behaviors that are wrong, it is actively seeking out those that are alone and estranged so that they might experience God's abiding love with and through us. Through God's own Gospel story and God's own Gospel love, we can and will starve the seeds of hate planted all around us.

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379 Hammond Street
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
PHONE:  617-566-7679
FAX:  617-566-6678
OFFICE: 8:30-4:30 pm M-F | SUMMER:  9:00-3:00 pm M-Th

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