Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Prayers of the People

By The Rev. Melody Perdue

“Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” - Corrie Ten Boom

During our Sunday morning virtual services, we offer different forms of Prayers of the People from our Book of Common Prayer. If you would like to be added to our parish prayer list and included in our prayers during the service, please email me at mperdue@easternshorechapel.org. Names added remain on our prayer list for 30 days, unless you contact me. We also have a long-term prayer list, holding those with extenuating needs or circumstances in prayer. If you or a family member will be deployed for any length of time, we also cover our deployed parishioners in prayer each Sunday.

Beginning on page 814 of the Book of Common Prayer, are a series of collects that may assist you in your prayer life. Prayers for the World, the Church, and in particular, Prayers for our National Life starting on page 820, provide Spirit-filled words that anchor our hearts and minds during times of trouble. If you do not have a prayer book at home, you can use the online version at www.bcponline.org (Click on Prayers and Thanksgivings to find the collects). A great app for your phone that I use daily is Mission St. Clare. It includes Daily Office prayers and scripture readings for Morning and Evening, Noonday Prayer, and Compline.

Corrie Ten Boom, author of The Hiding Place, challenges us to ponder whether prayer is something we turn to when we exhaust all other resources, or if it’s the directing force of our life. During this Season of Epiphany, may we offer our lives and our wills to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and may our lives shine forth the light of Christ to the world.

“Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice.” - Psalm:141:2

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

A New Year Brings Important New Opportunities

By The Rev. Cameron Randle, Rector

Hebrew Bible scripture for the Nativity of Our Lord recognizes one of the central dilemmas of human existence. The author of Isaiah, Chapter 9 understands that we must grow into our destinies by acknowledging the complexity of our history while resolutely embracing the future to which we have been commissioned.
 
Speaking to the Divine on behalf of a liberated people, the prophet says, “For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.” In other words, the Israelites were newly freed from the oppression of cruel overlords in a way reminiscent of a decisive (and unexpected) historical victory over Midianite captors many years before.
 
The prophet went on to describe the nature and characteristics of the one chosen to lead the people out of their spiritual, physical and mental captivity: “For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
 
Like the Hebrew people, Americans of the Christian faith are called to move forward through life with an awareness and attentiveness to our history and legacy as a people. That is not always a pleasant, easy or inviting process, especially when it entails coming to terms with our complicated past. This is abundantly evident in the context of racial relations. Yet, we cannot follow the way of Christ without taking a fearless moral inventory and confronting the outcome with honesty and humility.
 
Eastern Shore Chapel Episcopal Church is now a local affiliate of Coming To The Table, a national organization committed to racial justice and reconciliation through dialogue, discussion and determination. Racial justice work is not easy. It can be intimidating, embarrassing, off-putting and exhausting. But it is God’s work.
 
Learn more at comingtothetable.org.
 
This year’s parish Christmas offering will go toward establishing our presence as an important new component in the good work of Coming To The Table. 2021 will be a year devoted not only to distancing ourselves from the isolation imposed by the pandemic of 2020, but of moving forward toward the higher calling of “loving our neighbors as ourselves” by first truly hearing and understanding our neighbors.
 
Meanwhile, please take time in the coming days to ponder in your hearts, as did the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mystery and wonder and goodness of God. Especially at this season.
 
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Service information for Sunday, December 27

The Diocese of Southern Virginia will be offering a virtual service of worship on Sunday, December 27. The service, which will be offered on the Diocesan Youtube channel, Facebook page, and website, will be available to watch beginning at 8 AM on the morning of December 27.

Please check your emails Sunday morning for the links. In addition, the Eastern Shore Chapel Facebook page will be hosting a live watch party for the service Sunday morning at 10:30 AM. Please be sure to like and follow our Facebook page and you will get a notification when ESC goes live. You will be able to interact with others who are watching along with you via the comments, and post your prayer requests. Please join us Sunday morning! 

Home Depot's Operation Surprise: Putting Good Into Action

The Home Depot Foundation has implemented a campaign to support non-profit organizations serving on the front lines during the COVID19 pandemic. This month, the Home Depot Team chose our Chapel Pantry as the recipient of a $1000 grant!

Cliff James, the Assistant Manager and Team Depot Captain said that he was researching non-profit organizations who might be eligible for the Operation Surprise Grant when he came across our website and discovered the Chapel Pantry. After reading about the Chapel Pantry and realizing what an impact this important ministry is making on the community, especially at this time, he submitted the recommendation for Eastern Shore Chapel to receive the grant. Once approved, Mr. James came to the Chapel Pantry today and presented Kay O’Reilly the Director of the Chapel Pantry with the check. 

After a tour of the campus with Kay, Mr. James said that he will be back in touch to organize a volunteer group to come and help on a Saturday. Thank you, Home Depot for selecting the Chapel Pantry as the recipient of this award so that we may continue to serve those in need in our community!    

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

People’s Candles Available for Silent Night at Home

If you’d like a truly interactive worship experience this Christmas Eve, drive by the front entrance of the parish offices on Sunday, December 20, from 1-2 PM and pick up individual hand-held Christmas candles for your family.

We may be prevented from observing a traditional Christmas Eve service together in the sanctuary, but our faith community can still be united online. As singers perform Silent Night during our virtual Christmas Eve service on YouTube, you and your family are invited to join along and light up the individual candles that typically illumine our chapel every December 24.

Altar Guild members will be stationed out front from 1-2 PM on Sunday, December 20 to safely transfer the candles to those who wish to drive through. Pull in for a moment, say “Hi,” and be off to continue with your day.

Silent night/Holy night/Son of God/ Love’s pure light…

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

In-Person Worship @ ESC Temporarily Suspended

By The Rev. Cameron Randle
 
While COVID-19 positivity percentages continue to rise in our region, all in-person worship services (and all indoor church activities) at Eastern Shore Chapel are suspended until further notice. This cessation is in response to a December 8 directive from Bishop Susan Haynes implementing new restrictions and protocols, effective immediately.

Regrettably, our outdoor worship service scheduled for Sunday, December 13 (Advent III) is canceled and all services through the Christmas and New Year holidays will be virtual. Please participate in our beloved faith community during this temporary suspension by clicking on links emailed to you on a weekly basis or by visiting YouTube.com and entering Eastern Shore Chapel in the search bar.

The decision to pause all in-person worship services is not made lightly. It is the result of much prayerful discernment. In policy, we are supportive of Bishop Haynes and her goal of ensuring maximum safety for everyone in the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia. In reality, attendance limits of 25 or less make it difficult to conduct outdoor worship in a parish our size. This is especially true, given the number of volunteers necessary to ‘stage’ an outdoor service at ESC.

Chapel Pantry, as a critical outreach ministry, will continue to distribute food to hungry families as we have throughout the pandemic. Parish Day School, with its essential childcare services, will also follow its current protocol. After next week, PDS recesses for the holidays until January, 2021. 

As disappointing as it is to imagine Christmas without in-person worship, we are called to consider the greater good. It is no accident, I suspect, that this Sunday’s readings include the following admonition: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (I Thessalonians 5: 16-24). 

It may require some extra effort, but we are all capable of incorporating that scriptural mandate into our hearts, minds and daily lives. Just think how wonderful Christmas 2021 will be at 2020 Laskin Road!

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Love in the Time of COVID: Parish Small Groups

By Carrollyn Cox
 
It may seem like a long time since we’ve shared communion around the chancel, even longer since we’ve shared coffee and handshakes, hugs and conversation with our ESC friends.  But when ESC parishioners who are participating in the small congregational groups meet with their group, suddenly all the uncertainty and sense of loss melts away
 
Each small group has formed their own small society and societal norms. Each one has a time of meeting, their own method of how we begin and how we pray. Yes, we all study the same curriculum, our Episcopal Catechism, but each group goes about it in their own way. We may share a snack, or a cup of coffee, or we may bring our own water bottles. Nobody in my group seems to be fazed by my knitting being ever present in my hands and lap.

The frequency of meetings is agreed at twice a month and the day of the meeting is first set by the host and changed as needed. Our individual attendance is subject to our personal schedule. Each of us knows that when we feel overwhelmed and don’t think we can add another thing to our day, we are understood and welcomed back the next time we meet. In my group, when Allison and David Johnson (our hosts) scheduled a family camping weekend to celebrate their anniversary, it was a no-brainer to postpone our Tuesday evening meeting to the next scheduled time. We try hard to keep ourselves to a schedule of one hour, but if the discussion is intense, we aren’t too religious about the timing of our closing prayer.

So far, the small group I attend has met outdoors. The Johnson’s deck is just large enough for us to “social distance” around their patio table and helps us feel safer in our interaction. We are now moving indoors with social distancing and masks, at least on cold evenings! At least one group meets on Zoom. The number of participants of the current groups ranges from 8 to 10 or so, still small enough to feel safe. 

We’ve learned a lot about each other and have found reasons to love one another all over again. We’ve experienced “Aha” moments when we are struggling with the answer printed in our Prayer Books which responds to a question posed in the Catechism and one of our number says, “I think it means…” and we find the simple rationality of their view makes more sense than all our stumbling attempts at understanding. All the group hosts report that their discussions are lively and satisfying.

We’ve learned a lot about the rest of our parish as well. We’ve learned that Sunday nights are not the most popular time for our parishioners. Unless there is a special event happening at church, we’ve grown accustomed to using Sunday night to relish the weekend and to gear up for the busy week ahead.

The only thing most of us would change would be the fact that so many dearly loved members of our congregation are so alone during this time of uncertainty. Several of these groups are still small enough to be open to additional participants and new groups are encouraged. There are other church members, young and old, who will host a group that wants to join in this study and time of companionship.

My first title for this Chimes piece was “When Two or Three Are Gathered …” I changed it when it became clear that although Christ definitely is among us as we meet, God’s love and our growing love for each other has somehow become the binding cord. Lucky for us all, that binding chord is stretchable.   Please join us and share that love and community.

For more information about joining Parish Small Groups, please contact Lee Davis at cleedavis@gmail.com

Photo: Members of David Johnson and Allison Ward Johnson’s Parish Small Group.