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The Rector's Corner

  • June 22, 2020 8:49 AM | Barbara MacDonald (Administrator)

    Dear Friends of the Redeemer,

    After extensive conversations with the Ministry Team, the Wardens, and Lee Fisher (the Redeemer's Regathering Coordinator), I have decided to postpone our public worship re-opening until Sunday, September 6th provided public health indicators and the bishop allow—and again this could be subject to change as we learn more in this continuing evolving environment. This difficult decision was made for many reasons but two in particular. 

    The first reason hinges on our collective pastoral concern for the parish. Though we could open for public worship, many of our parishioners find themselves in CDC prescribed at-risk categories. As such, public worship (as desirous as we are to gather) would be pastorally problematic to some while privileging those younger than 65 and those without pre-existing conditions. Though we know we can open, the question remains, "Should we reopen in August?" The second reason regards the dignity of our worship experience. Currently, our on-line worship consistently provides 70 to 90 households a robust worship experience at 10am on Sundays. With the extensive and required changes including entry, egress, assigned seating, staged dismissal, bathroom usage and cleaning guidelines both the on-line and in-person worship experiences would be diminished from what Redeemer parishioners currently experience and only a small fraction of our parish would be able to be accommodated for in-person worship. With these additional weeks, we can better address the required changes and the bishop’s re-opening certification process such that the experience will be better for both the online and in-person worship.

    As of today, the public health indicators continue to trend downwards across all indicators of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths in the Commonwealth generally and in the cities and towns our parishioners reside particularly. If these trends continue, we might very well find ourselves closer to the bishops' Stage 3 by September which would allow us to have a more enriched worship experience that could hopefully include some of such aspects as in-person singing, Holy Communion (bread only) and even socially distanced coffee hour fellowship! These additions would offer the kind of in-person worship and fellowship experiences well worth the many changes that will confront us necessarily whenever we gather again. 

    Though delayed, our regathering work will continue apace throughout the summer. Please send along your regards to Lee Fisher for his thoughtful and detailed work. This delay will allow us to concretize our processes and give more time for the public health picture to become clearer. Please note that on-line worship will continue to be part of the life of the Redeemer indefinitely. We have learned that these offerings have become a lifeline for those who travel or live far from the Redeemer. Thank you for your help and understanding in making this difficult decision. 

    If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly.

    Best,

    Mike+


  • June 12, 2020 9:39 AM | Barbara MacDonald (Administrator)

    If we are being truly honest with ourselves, I am not sure there’d be a single American that could say their relationship with race is simple. My relationship with race and racism are extremely complicated and that’s because I’m an American. I spent the first years of my life living in the city of Norwood, Ohio a small, poor and predominantly white city contiguous to Greater Cincinnati. And right across the literal tracks was Evanston, Ohio; Norwood’s mirror image but majority African-American. Poor whites and poor blacks competed for skilled and unskilled jobs coupled with a kind of racism that was antagonistic and often violent. White property values never rose and African-American property values always fell. Both school systems declined, and if you could get out, you got out. And so about the seventh grade, my father moved our family to the white suburbs east of Cincinnati for better schools and a safer neighborhood. Some would call it “white flight.” Some would call it “the American Dream.” Maybe it was both.

    There’s more to tell, but that’s enough to make the point: each of us has a story of race. And, just to be clear, the web of stories of race that make up our nation’s story are stories that run from lifegiving to horrific. Each of us lives a life formed in some way by race by virtue of being Americans. Each of us has a story to tell, and that means we each have the responsibility to listen. I don’t mean listening in that nice way that’s just waiting for a turn to speak. I mean listening in that way that takes seriously the story of the person standing right in front of us. I mean a kind of humble listening that doesn’t judge, doesn’t fix, doesn’t interrupt, and doesn’t get angry. I mean a listening that understands the story being told to us is true because that’s how the person telling us their story wants us to understand it. We are our stories, and race is an essential part of the story that must be heard.

    The murder of George Floyd has turned the ear of America to listen in a way hitherto unknown. The callous violence of George Floyd’s death at the hands of those trusted to serve and protect him has finally woken many from their silent indifference. Last night, the wardens and I met with a thoughtful, prayerful and eager group of Redeemer parishioners desirous of taking good steps in understanding the problems of race in ourselves, our parish, our city and our nation. This will be a long work that will ask much of us as a parish, but the gospel message is clear that Christians are agents of God’s reconciling love to all people. Racism stands in the way of Christ’s Great Commission, and we must address it in a prayerful spirit of hope, honesty, repentance, charity, and reconciliation.

    This group will begin its work by creating a parish statement on race and racism. This statement will be the subject of prayer and conversation for the next several weeks. The statement will be sent along to the Vestry for their consideration and adoption as a theological and philosophical outline of our work as a parish. Contemporaneously, a parish-wide book group reading Waking up White by Debby Irving will begin in the coming days. This will serve as a jumping off point for those desirous of “putting their toe in the water” and those ready to “jump in with both feet” on these important matters. From there we will look at implementing the “Becoming Beloved Community” curriculum of the Episcopal Church to give us an opportunity to dive deeper into these troubled waters. In addition to these, we will look to creating real and honest relationships with our three local partner ministries commoncathedral, St. Stephen’s Youth Programs and the Epiphany School looking to joint fellowship and worship opportunities to deepen our understanding and our empathy for the broken world in which we reside. We need to hear the stories of race from our black and brown brothers and sisters in Christ.

    The Gospel of Jesus Christ calls us to proclaim the reconciling love of God demonstrated in Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension. We bear the light of Christ into a world desperate for God’s light and life. This requires of us a spirit of contrition, confession, absolution, and dedication to proclaiming Christ’ Gospel in word and deed to those far off and those near. I ask you to consider joining us in this work and journey. It will be painful at times, but it is a journey of promise in Christ’s name.

    Mike +

  • May 29, 2020 10:35 AM | Barbara MacDonald (Administrator)

    I've started a small but helpful spiritual discipline over the last weeks that goes something like this: when I go out of the house to the pharmacy, the grocery store, Dumpling House (for the absolutely necessary weekly soup dumpling take-out) or wherever, I try a new exercise of prayer. As I drive I pray for the masked drivers in the other lanes. I pray for the people pushing shopping carts across the socially distanced parking lot. And, I pray for the cashiers and workers as I zip through the aisles.

    What I noticed in my prayer this week was an idea: work is essential for a hopeful soul. What I saw at Home Depot this week were innumerable people, previously sequestered at home, strolling the outdoor aisles of vegetable seedlings and flowering annuals. Their carts were loaded up with new hoses, sprinklers, grass seed and all the other normal implements of spring. But this time there was an intangible something about hitherto banal spring project shopping.

    It was the same inside in the paint aisle and in the lumber section. Little projects of home and garden pushing people out into the world. And as I prayed, I didn't sense burden or obligation. I sensed hopefulness. One doesn't undertake even the simplest of home repairs or projects when one feels hopeless. The very act of repairing something, building something, or even having a gallon of paint mixed carries a certain hopefulness with it; a possible future written in the act. Yes, the work will solve a practical problem, but it will also mean a perfect tomato on a sultry August afternoon, a new baby in that repainted room that's now the nursery, or a cool living room thanks to that new window AC unit that your wife asked you to buy four years ago. Work, in so many forms, is an act of hopefulness especially in this moment of COVID-19.

    Mike +


  • May 14, 2020 1:56 PM | Barbara MacDonald (Administrator)

    For an extrovert like me, social isolation is the worst. There's nothing more energizing that seeing your faces on a Sunday morning as the procession gets underway, as I say the opening acclamation, or as I stand in the pulpit. But these days, standing in the pulpit with empty pew after empty pew and only the lens of the camera looking back at me makes it all a little more difficult. I love doing it for you all, but the experience of it is something like the sound of one hand clapping.

    Then I start thinking about the extraordinary needs that so many have. I read of the unemployment numbers, the rising death toll, and the seemingly insurmountable task of returning to some kind of new "normal" that would at least allow us to grab a bite to eat or have a cup of coffee. The whole weight of it presses down on me, and I ask myself, "Realistically, what can our little Episcopal parish at 379 Hammond Street do to confront these challenging days in a truly meaningful and impactful way?"

    That's about the moment the name Winston Churchill starts buzzing around in my brain. Now, let me be honest, having Winston Churchill whispering in your ear (even metaphorically) is a strange experience. But it makes me think of his speech to the British people and the world on August 20, 1940. That is the date when Churchill gave his extraordinary speech extolling the RAF pilots who battled back the tides of Nazi squadrons assaulting the isle. He offered this line, "Never was so much owed by so many to so few."

    Now this line of course came at a time of existential struggle for Britain, and comparing it to COVID-19 might seem a little disproportionate. But what I am after here is not melodrama...it's purpose. When we look back on these strange days, I do not want us to be known as the parish that perished. I want our friends and neighbors alike to be able to think of the Redeemer with a similar sentiment of gratitude. What did we do to further the reign of God? Everything we could...to the last full measure.

    Mike+

  • April 24, 2020 2:43 PM | Michael Dangelo (Administrator)

    Meeting COVID-19 Head On

    Dear Friends of the Redeemer,

    COVID-19 is challenging us all in extraordinary ways. We cannot visit those we know and love. We cannot go outside without wearing a mask. We cannot gather to pray for the world in the ways we know and need.

    Some of these challenges, let's face it, are inconveniences. For others, however, the economic disruption is catastrophic. Jobs are being lost, rent is going unpaid, and bringing food to the table is proving more and more difficult.

    After extensive conversations with our Strategic Ministries Committee and our partners at St. Stephen's, The Epiphany School and our friends in the Newton Public School system, we believe we have two ways to meet this extraordinary moment, and we need your help.

    The first is food. Whereas in years past FUEL has been able to purchase large quantities of specific foodstuffs, grocery stores and bulk food stores are now limiting the quantities of essential foods FUEL can purchase. Two of this and one of these will not meet the needs of the moment. Below is a list of the items we are asking you to consider adding to your regular grocery shopping, Instacart order, or even an Amazon or Walmart delivery order. Even if you are limited to one or two of an item, if fifty of us order one or two each, we will quickly acquire the food we need to meet our partners' needs. We will provide covered bins outside the parish offices for collection. You may also order some of these things and have them delivered directly to the parish offices. FUEL will continue to use Easter Offering funds to purchase these items every way we can, however, we need the buying power of the whole parish to meet these needs. Your generosity will make all the difference as we will be trying to fill 125 FUEL bags for delivery every Thursday. 

    Proteins:

    1 can chicken (12.5oz) or 2 cans of tuna (5oz each) or 1 bag of beans and 1 peanut butter (28oz-40oz)

    Fruit:

    2 cans of fruit (15oz each) [pineapple, fruit cocktail, pears, peaches or mandarin oranges] or equivalent in individual serving cups and/or 1 jar of apple sauce (48oz or equivalent in individual cups)

    Carbohydrates:

    1 pound pasta [any type], 

    1 bag of rice 

    1 box of macaroni and cheese (6oz each)

    1 box of cereal (20oz)  or cereal bars

    1 box of crackers (10-15oz)

    Other:

    1 can or bottle of marinara sauce (24-48oz)

    2 cans soup (10-15oz each)

    The second way is through VISA gift cards. St. Stephen's is looking to make fifty $50.00 cards available each week, one per family. These cards will help with incidentals as almost 70% of St. Stephen's families report having an immediate family member out of work. These cards may be purchased online or in person at Shaw's, CVS or Walgreens throughout the area. These we ask to be sent to the Redeemer Parish Office or dropped off in the mail slot at Redeemer so that we can bring them weekly as a bundle to St. Stephen's along with their FUEL Food Bags.

    Friends, these are extraordinary times, and I believe that God has called this extraordinary parish to meet them with wisdom and compassion. I hope you will help.

    In Hope,

    Mike


  • April 17, 2020 12:20 PM | Michael Dangelo (Administrator)

    Mike BaldI don't want you to worry. It will grow back. I've done this before but long before I knew anyone from the Redeemer. At first, I thought it was just me. About a week ago I started having these thoughts of taking my old sheers out of the closet and putting them to work. Snip snip and all that.

    After checking in with male friends on Facebook I could see I wasn't alone. One after another sensible if not imperfect home haircuts became flattops which became mohawks which became buzz cuts. It seems that one of the symptoms of cabin fever is doing to one's hair what one has always dreamed of doing. And it wasn't just my male friends. My female friends are trying crazy hair colors and new do's all across Facebook. Maybe we are all looking for a little something we can control in a time when everything is out of our control? Look no further than what we see in the mirror every morning for the particular canvas of choice!

    And there it is...the world is out of our control. We all sit in the not-so-splendid isolation of home school tech support, empty wine boxes (yeah we are down to the boxes now) and the limitless ignorance of "when will this craziness ever end?" If we needed the lesson before, we sure have received it in abundance: the world is not ours to control. We are at the whim of forces that are far greater than us and microscopically smaller. And here we are...stuck looking at the same selves but now with shorter hair, and maybe we are all just a little afraid.

    And so I am reminded of the twelfth chapter of the Gospel of Luke:

    Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.  (Luke 12:6&7)

    Fear is a natural thing. But, for the Christian, the love of God can be deeper than any fear. Jesus himself reassures us of God's love and care for us in our Luke passage. God's sovereign grace is greater than quarantines, tiny viruses and even international economies. We are of exceeding value to God. And, even if we shave off all the hairs on our heads, God still knows how many we have. Thanks be to God!

    Mike+


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379 Hammond Street
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
PHONE:  617-566-7679
FAX:  617-566-6678
office@redeemerchestnuthill.org

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