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    News from St. Francis 7/9 – 7/16/17

    One of the unmistakable things that you realize upon entering any of the great cathedrals of England is that there are a lot of dead people in the world. From Westminster to Yorkminster, from Salisbury to Canterbury, and from Wells to Winchester, you encounter amazing architecture, sculpture, and paintings. You also recognize the unambiguous mortality that is our lot. Crypts, funerary statues, grave markers in the floor, and memorial plaques all remind one that amidst the beauty and wonder of the best that humans can create is the fleeting experience that we all will have. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 7/2 – 7/9/17

    An opportunity to discover one of the strong voices in theology these days, Kathryn Tanner: Tanner refuses to see divine immanence and transcendence as a zero-sum game. The paradigm for her is Jesus Christ. The incarnation brings about the closest possible relation between the human being Jesus and God. In this union, neither the divinity of God nor the humanity of Jesus is compromised. Christ demonstrates God's capacity to be in intimate relation with the world (immanence) without compromising God's radical otherness (transcendence). Both fully immanent and fully transcendent to creation, God is neither to be opposed to creaturely reality nor identified with it. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 6/25 – 7/2/17

    A wonderful reflection by Annette Herber during our recent Vestry Compline service. Well worth the read. . . Thank you Mark, thank you all for getting me to stop my routine and think what I would like to share in a meditation with you tonight. Many happy themes come to mind: * It's almost summer, we are outside, it's the season of spring cleaning. * A few of us are looking forward to spending time on the beach. For me, it's my annual time to return to Germany and catch up with my family of origin. And yes, we will be on the beach, too. My question tonight is what goes through my mind when I get still enough for a few moments? A wonderful reflection by Annette Herber during our recent Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 6/18 – 6/25/17

    Perhaps the difficulty of our time is to remember what is real. The assault on truth from fake news, while not new to our public discourse, certainly possesses a power and reach that we have not witnessed. Furthermore, the Down-the-Rabbit-Hole effect of real news castigated as fake news and duping people is deeply troubling. If nothing else, the need for an educated populace in a democracy has been underscored by our current conundrum regarding what is real and what is fake. While the implications of this dilemma for politics and policy are unbelievably important and our calling as citizens as well as Christians is to be vigilant (Luther's distinction of the Two Kingdoms is helpful now as it was in the 16th century), I am drawn to a different consideration of remembering what is real. However, a case can be made that this different awareness possesses even greater import and engagement with what is real and what is fake. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 6/11 – 6/18

    Off at my niece's graduation. Here is a wonderful poem from David Whyte: Your great mistake - Your great mistake is to act the drama as if you were alone. Your great mistake is to act the drama as if you were alone. As if life were a progressive and cunning crime with no witness to the tiny hidden transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely, even you, at times, have felt the grand array; the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding out your solo voice You must note the way the soap dish enables you, or the window latch grants you courage. Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity. Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity… Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 6/4 – 6/11/17

    At the recent CREDO conference that I attended near Asheville, NC, numerous stories of life and ministry were shared. The sacredness of our stories and how they express the deeper realities of our being was reaffirmed by this experience. There were, of course, many anecdotes laced with humor and silliness. Yet the expressions of breathtaking sadness that emerged were powerful. Faith, in these instances, is not so much a belief in a magician who can make all the difficulty disappear. Rather, faith is embodied in these moments as the very real and, at times, terrible placing of one foot in front of the other not knowing where it will lead just to walk through the day. Certainty, understanding, assurance are niceties that often do not reside on this side of faith. Rather the rawness of aloneness and the tentative reaching out for support is the body language of faith. Faith, in this instance, does not mean proof. Faith means seeking meaning in a world that, at the moment, seems devoid of it. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 5/28/17 – 6/4/17

    The recent Building One Community Breakfast Benefit held this past Wednesday at the Stamford Marriott was a truly inspiring experience. The energy in the room with over 450 individuals attending was palpable. The speeches were deeply moving. From the testimony of a recent immigrant's determination to succeed and offer a better future for his children, to the Land of Opportunity award recipient--Russian immigrant, Yelena Klompus, who works as the World Languages and Literacy Librarian at the Ferguson--and her recognition of the important collaborations between nonprofits, public/private partnerships, and within institutions that need to take place to offer people opportunities, there was much to be impressed by the work of the young nonprofit Building One Community. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 5/21 – 5/28/17

    Food for Thought. . . A very thoughtful and important reflection by Julia Wade at our recent Vestry meeting. Professor Peggy McIntosh was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on a particular group. Through her work to bring materials from women's studies into the rest of the curriculum, she noticed men's unwillingness to grant that they are over privileged, even though they may grant that women are disadvantaged. They may say they will work to women's statues, in the society, the university, or the curriculum, but they can't or won't support the idea of lessening men's. Denials that amount to taboos surround the subject of advantages that men gain from women's disadvantages. These denials protect male privilege from being fully acknowledged, lessened, or ended. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    May 2017 Messenger

    On Sunday, April 23, we said farewell to our beloved deacon, Edrice Viechweg. She was a wonderful presence in our midst over the past five years. We wish her well in her new call, and we hope to see her often in the years to come..."My heart is full and overflowing. Thanks to you and my St. Francis family, I experienced a small taste of Heaven yesterday. I must admit that I knew I was appreciated, but I truly did not know how much I was loved. My years at St. Francis have been a blessing to me, my family, relatives and friends who were fortunate enough to visit with us. From the moment I enter the grounds of St. Francis, I am enveloped with a sense of peace, and everyone whom I have invited speak of the love they feel when they enter the Church and are so warmly greeted by everyone..." Click Here for more of this and other News for May 2017.

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    News from St. Francis 5/14 – 5/21/17

    What is a normal goal to a young person becomes a neurotic hindrance in old age. --Carl Jung Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 5/7 – 5/14/17

    It is Eastertide, but this is a brief reminder of the journey. From Good Friday. . . The most recent project for director Martin Scorcese is a movie based on the novel Silence by Shusako Endo. Silence tells the story of Catholic missionaries to Japan in the 17th century. Particularly, it follows the efforts of a zealous and pious priest, Rodrigues, to Christianize Japan. However, the history of these efforts is well documented and quite violent. The Kakure Krishitan, the Hidden Christians, are persecuted by the Japanese. Initially, the Japanese officials sought to get the priests to renounce their belief by torturing them and having them step on a fumie, a picture of Jesus, as a sign of their apostasy. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 4/30 – 5/7/17

    The following is a beautiful note from Edrice. You will be missed. . . Dear Mark, My heart is full and overflowing. Thanks to you and my St. Francis family, I experienced a small taste of Heaven yesterday. I must admit that I knew I was appreciated, but I truly did not know how much I was loved. My years at St. Francis have been a blessing to me, my family, relatives and friends who were fortunate enough to visit with us. From the moment I enter the grounds of St. Francis, I am enveloped with a sense of peace, and everyone whom I have invited speak of the love they feel when they enter the Church and are so warmly greeted by everyone. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 4/23 – 4/30/17

    From Sunday's sermon. . . Within some of the carcasses of medieval cathedrals, the walls double as a storyboard and present major events in the life of Jesus. High rates of illiteracy, the inaccessibility of Latin, and the dearth of Bibles in that time, made these walls the reasonable vehicle for transmitting the Christian message. Among the scenes in many churches throughout France, Italy, Germany, and England, one might recognize the baptism of Jesus, or the feeding of the five thousand. Perhaps the raising of Lazarus, the Last Supper. Certainly, the Crucifixion and images of the Resurrection. However, time, inevitably, takes its toll. The images, far from clear and vibrant, are literally shadows of their early beauty. Chipped paint, the fade of color, and the weathering of time make some of the images almost impossible to discern. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 4/16 – 4/23/17

    Eugene Burnand's painting of Peter and John running to the tomb on Easter morning is one of my favorites. The anticipation of both men is unmistakable. Yet, it is not entirely clear if it is hope or fear that drives them. For all of us who live vacillating between the two, this depiction is a helpful reminder that nothing was set in stone. However, the affirmation of Easter, "He is risen!" is a declaration of hope that the stone, ultimately, didn't have the last word. We may not be able to travel with Peter and John to see for ourselves, though we all know of the anticipation of and longing to glimpse or experience the presence of God, particularly when death overwhelms. May this Easter season hold glimpses of hope that sustain you as we continue the journey begun by Peter and John to the empty tomb. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 4/9 – 4/16/17

    I was gassed once. It occurred during training maneuvers in my first (and only) year at West Point. To underscore the importance of a gas mask, we were marched through a CS gas tent. The gas was a mild agent (using that term with no small sense of irony), yet the impression was lasting. Try as you might to hold your breath, the cadets overseeing the exercise would force you to take a breath. Then it was all over. Throat burned. Eyes were on fire. Saliva and mucous began to flow excessively from nose and mouth. Exiting the tent, those gassed looked like human albatrosses, flailing their arms to get fresh oxygen into their lungs, saliva and mucous streaming from their faces. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 4/2 – 4/9/17

    The following is Debra's sermon from this past Sunday. It is an important look at an old text and how we do theology. .. When I was a young professor at Columbia Law School in my 20's, I thought I had the world by the tail, as they say -- an apartment on NY's West Side, engaged to be married, a job that was interesting, and in my field of study. And then, without warning, everything changed. I became very, very sick -- so ill, that it became impossible for me to leave my apartment, barely able to teach my classes, gripped by excruciating pain, with debilitating symptoms. The doctors I visited could not find anything wrong with me. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 3/26 – 4/2/17

    The following is Betsy Adams' reflection on the Lord's Prayer during our recent midweek Lenten service. It is well worth the read. . . When Mark sent out the email to those of us at St. Francis asking if anyone would be willing to speak about what the Lord's Prayer or the Apostle's Creed meant to us, I thought to myself, "I'm not going to touch either of the Creeds with a 10-foot pole!" Our wonderful former Assistant Priest at St. Francis, Molly McGreevy, acknowledging the difficulty the Creeds presented for many of her parishioners, used to say: "I think of the Creed as if they were written on double-spaced paper, so that when we recite them in the liturgy I can mentally insert after each line: 'And by THAT I mean... Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 3/19 – 3/26/17

    Like a crime scene, Biblical texts leave a host of clues. We do not always recognize them, and even when we do, we may not always be able to understand their meaning and consequences. Regardless, nothing is ever as simple as it might appear. Scratch the surface, and you will be surprised at what you find. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 3/12 – 3/19/17

    From our first mid-week Lenten Worship. . . Welcome to Lent, and may your Lenten journey be one that is filled with blessings and grace. Given the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther starting the Reformation, we thought it would be good to look at the small catechism during our Lenten gatherings. The catechism includes instruction for the Apostles' Creed, the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, Baptism, and Eucharist. It may seem a bit outdated to some, and, perhaps for others, there is a good deal of motivated forgetting inspired by a less than inspiring confirmation experience. However, the catechism may be, as they say, just what the doctor ordered. Indeed, the very reason that Martin Luther developed the catechism was for a guide to parents in raising their children in the 16th century. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 3/5 – 3/12/17

    Food for Thought…From Ash Wednesday The spacious rolling hills of southeastern Minnesota create a distinct agricultural tapestry during the spring planting season. Sections of turned earth become the rich, black, loam squares offset by the lighter fallow acres of a flowing checkerboard of fields that roll on for miles. It was near the edge of one of these plowed fields that I witnessed an early cropland communion. The encounter occurred in the mid 1980's. The wars in Central America were at their peak. Some refugees from Guatemala had been resettled in the tiny farming community in which I worked. As a part of the efforts to resettle these families, local farmers and church members collaborated to support the various needs of the refugees Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 2/26 – 3/5/17

    Whatever devotion you practice this season of Lent, either giving up something that ties you to this world or taking on a spiritual task or discipline, let it be something that helps you participate in the movement of God's love in this world, following in the footsteps of Jesus and loving one another. --The Archbishop of Episcopal Church USA, Michael Curry Click here for the complete newsletter

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    News from St. Francis 2/19 – 2/26/17

    Because of the inclement weather this past Sunday, Edrice was not able to preach the sermon she had planned to deliver. Here it is. . .After being baptized by John in the River Jordan and following the beginning of his public ministry, Jesus began a discourse of moral teachings we have come to know as The Sermon on the Mount. Two Sundays ago, we followed Jesus up the mountain and listened as He spoke about a number of blessings commonly known as the Beatitudes. Last Sunday, we heard Him say that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world, and today we listened to his teachings in which he eloquently presented a series of specific interpretations of the Law of Moses, beginning each statement with the words, "You have heard that it was said," and concluding by saying, "but I say to you". Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 2/12 – 2/19/17

    The Avon Theater held a viewing of the documentary Sacred last Thursday night. It was an amazing visual journey that travelled the globe and our lifecycle to provide glimpses into the various ways that religious traditions mark time, highlight moments of change, and honor the sacrality of the human and the bond we seek and create with one another and the larger world. Footage shot by over 40 filmmakers around the world was used in an un-narrated film that didn't need the commentary. Rather, the documentary spoke for itself in images, movement, and the natural expression of the events and actors themselves. Needless to say, it is well worth seeing if and when you get a chance. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 2/5 – 2/12/17

    This past Monday night the vestry met for a special meeting to discuss the recent pesidential Executive Orders and how, if in any way, we might respond. For me, part of the reason for the meeting was that my good friend, Dr. Kareem Adeeb, and his Muslim community (the American Institute of Islamic and Arabic Studies) who pray at St. Francis, were anxious about what the implications of these orders would mean for them. Furthermore, given the recent violence at the mosque in Quebec City, they were also rightly concerned for their own safety. Also, and this is not least in my mind, I was feeling that many people were on edge and uncertain about what these early actions of the new administration meant or could mean, what one could do, and the exhaustion that comes with such a heightened level of stress. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 1/29 – 2/5/17

    It always amazes me how quickly the Christmas season seems to go by. It's supposed to be a time to slow down and enjoy family and friends, reflect upon the past year and look forward to the promise of new beginnings, but sometimes the busyness of life gets in the way of savoring all the precious moments. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 1/22 – 1/29/17

    Food for Thought. . . With the annual meeting this Sunday, January 22, and with the completion of the 2016 Annual Report, I do not have much to write about this week. What I do want to say is that I am continually amazed at the generosity, creativity, commitment, love, grace, mercy, sense of justice, hope, insight, strength, grit, beauty, sense of humor, humility, and gratitude that meets me at every turn by working with and serving the members of St. Francis. Thank you for your part in our life together. We truly are blessed by you. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 1/15 – 1/22/17

    I watch our rescue golden retriever, Bader, and our newest puppy, Francis, wrestle on the kitchen floor as I write. As one who is new to the rescue field, I marvel at what Bader's and Francis' engagement means. It is not just that young Francis is practicing how to fight, nor is it that young Francis is developing muscles that will enhance his growth, nor is it that young Francis is learning how to socialize in a pack. While all of these things are certainly true, young Francis is not the beneficiary of this "play". Bader is. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 1/8 – 1/15/17

    One of the primary metaphors for life that resonates with me is stumbling. As in, we stumble into the various events and activities of life. Afterward, we make sense of whatever it was that happened. Such a perspective challenges mightily the notion that we are in charge and the agency with which we believe we live our lives. While control and agency are clearly important-and Lord knows there are so many things that we are responsible to and for-there seems an element of grace-or divine humor-embedded in the stumbling metaphor. We didn't manufacture or produce so many of the aspects that make up life as we know it. We stumbled into them. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 1/1 – 1/8/17

    From the Christmas Eve sermon. . . A rock resides in one of the magnificent stained glass windows in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. It isn't your normal run-of-the-mill mineral deposit that fences the property lines of the Connecticut landscape or one that you use to skip along the water's surface during a moment of lakeside reverie. This rock is from the moon. A moon rock that Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins delivered from the Sea of Tranquility during a ceremony at the Cathedral in 1974. The Space Window is what they call it. Literally, a little piece of the heavens embedded in the earth. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 12/25 – 1/1/17

    December 21st has come an gone. Farewell December 21, for 2016. We'll catch you next year in your new 2017 iteration. I love the Winter Solstice. In the past, I dreaded it because of the long Minnesota winters. But now--and it's not just the more temperate Connecticut climate--I have an insight into why the ancients celebrated so at this time of year. The light is returning. Ever so slightly. Almost imperceptible at first. But the light is coming back. And there is a rhythm of hope that corresponds to the rhythm of the seasons. Darkness will yield to the light, only to recapture more real estate beginning on June 21. The rhythm may seem endlessly circular and, at times, meaningless. Though, these changes of seasons are tangible reminders--myriad reminders breaking in or breaking forth all around us, physical, elemental, earthly--that we aren't just reliving the same things again and again, but we are connected and living with the whole of creation. The Feast of the Incarnation--Christmas--is one of the seasonal reminders of this reality. God literally with us. In the flesh. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 12/18 - 12/25/16

    The vestry met this past Wednesday, and Audrey Roco presented a reflection during our beginning prayer service. It is a wonderful lesson and expansion by her on our own journeys. Enjoy. . . I was reading my grandson a book a few weeks ago and I was pleasantly surprised at the amazing lesson at the end. I can't remember the title but I remember the lesson. In a town of Chinese rats, a rich empress dressed in fine silk stood in the middle of a crowd of simple town-rats scurrying in the muddy pavements left after a heavy rain. She would not budge from her little mound for fear that mud would stain her beautiful garb. She barked at the other rats to carry her but the more she fumed, the more obnoxious she was, the less inclined any of the rats felt about carrying her. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 12/11 – 12/18/16

    From Daian Frese-Harless who is a constant observer of the rhythm of life together at St. Francis and participates in ways subtle, not-so-subtle, and blessedly profound: Newly returned to attending services, though not regularly, I had a problem standing during coffee hour in Assisi Hall. I espied a friendly looking elderly lady sitting near the west entrance stairs and pulled up one of those sliding chairs and was fascinated to hear of her travels any Sunday I made my way up to church. She was one of two people I canonized in my early years back at St Francis after about a thirty year lapse except for a few visits along with my parents and Fred and sometimes Alan, who lived in The City. I called her St Harriet of the Holy Welcome. I bring this up because I in turn get a kick out of talking with new people, although I of course enjoy the ones I have known for quite a while. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 12/4 – 12/11/16

    This past Sunday, Edrice Viechweg offered the second "What St. Francis means to me." In her inimitable way, Edrice captures well the spirit here. It's well worth the read. . . Today, like every Sunday, as I pull up in front of the church, I am overcome by a sense of calm and thankfulness. It is as if I am leaving the hustle and bustle of the world behind for a few hours, and I am entering a space where I can truly be at peace with myself. A few weeks ago when Mark asked me to say a few words about St.Francis, I agreed to do so, but didn't think about what I would say until a few days later. That was actually the day when I emailed Mark to ask him if he would baptize the baby who became a part of our church family two weeks ago at our 70th anniversary celebrations. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 11/27 – 12/4/16

    As you know, I value the collective wisdom of the leadership that is found on the vestry. Every month, a new or different insight is shared with us as members take turns giving the reflection during Compline that starts our meeting. The following is from Frank Mastrone, and continues the rich reflections we are used to: When the late night comics spoke for the first time after this years election results came in, they all said "Well, the good news is, for the next four years our jobs just got a whole lot easier. For a moment, I thought the same thing. "How lucky am I to get to do the reflection only a week after this historic decision in our nation's history." But I was wrong. This is not an easy situation to reflect upon. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 11/20 – 11/27/16

    As we enter the pledge season at St. Francis, we ask individuals to reflect on What St. Francis Means to Me. Jim Quinn offered these remarks during our 70th Anniversary celebration last Sunday, November 13. His words are very compelling, particularly in the environment we find ourselves today. Mark asked me to kick off Stewardship season by saying a few words about What St. Francis means to me, and I'd like to state it as simply as I can. St. Francis is my bedrock foundation - this community, you. This is where I turn when I feel weak and frustrated and beaten down. You may not know it, but you restore my faith in humanity. You nurture me back to sanity and give me confidence to walk back out into the world and try to do just a little bit better every day. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 11/13 – 11/20/16

    As I texted with my brother in Montana on Wednesday morning following the recent presidential election, he wryly responded to the query of how he was doing with, "So, the Canadian Immigration Website has crashed. . ." In response to the same question, my sister living in St. Paul, MN, offered, "Well, Minnesota elected Jesse Ventura as governor and we survived."…Clearly, there was far too little levity throughout the whole campaign. And with the election result another odd recurring theme of a split Electoral College vote and a popular vote, it is equally clear that we seem more and more divided in this country. The threads that connect us continue to fray. However, what I want to say in this piece is that precisely at this divisive moment, we need to actively engage the work of binding together the fraying of our public discourse, interchange, and action. For those who opposed the election of Donald J. Trump, this is not the end of the world. And for those who voted for him to be the 45th president of the United States, there is much work that remains so that what Martin Luther recognized as the fundamental task of government-the care of its citizenry-may thrive. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 11/6 – 11/13/16

    As we approach our First 70 Celebration on Sunday, November 13, please remember that we will have only ONE service on that Sunday at 10:00 AM at the Church. A lunch and program will follow. Join us as we celebrate 70 years of God's grace in this blessed corner of God's creation, and help us to recommit ourselves to being God's hands in the world for 70 more. The following is an expansion of some thoughts offered in the recent newsletter. . . Seventy is an interesting number in the world of religion. In certain ancient traditions, the idea of seven was a sign of perfection. Thus, seven times ten-70-is perfection multiplied. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 10/30 – 11/6/16

    Muslims are out to kill us all," opined the man with whom I was speaking. It was a strange statement to me within a conversation that was stranger still on a day that was truly bizarre. "All Muslims?" I asked. "Yes," came the swift reply. Then, "Well, maybe not all of them, but the majority, and they all support overthrowing us." (I'm always intrigued by what the us truly stands for in many conversations.) "Do you know any Muslims?" I asked. "No," he shot back. "Perhaps it would be good to get to know some to see what they really think and desire," was my final statement on the matter. Perhaps, it would be good to get to know a Muslim to see what he or she really thinks and desires. What a novel thought. And what a difficult thing to do if we do not find ourselves in circles where meeting a Muslim and having that conversation is very easy. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 10/23 – 10/30/16

    Mindfulness . . . Stay in the Present . . . Take it slow . . . Put one foot in front of the other . . . Certainly good advice to achieve a calm & peaceful life. Yet, God gave us a wonderful gift: our memory. Too often, we use it to relive negative things that have happened to us, to our family members, or to the world. But, this memory would be blank except for being fed by 5 other incredible gifts from God: our senses. Tonight, let's use our memories to show our gratitude to God by reliving some good times. For each sense, I will describe my #1 memory. Then, I will have you briefly close your eyes & remember your memory. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 10/16 – 10/23/16

    The story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden found in Genesis 3 is one of the classics in all of literature. Or more correctly, it is the basis for so much great literature that has drawn on its richness. We know the events of the fruit of the tree, the serpent's tempting, and Eve and Adam's acquiescing by the foreboding name "The Fall". Reading the Genesis narrative sequentially, many throughout the ages have interpreted that a state of original grace or utopia was the beginning of all things, and then trouble came to River City in a BIG WAY but in such a small form. Regardless, life was never the same. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 10/9 – 10/16/16

    When our beloved golden retriever, Francis, died in August, we were inundated with a number of kind and empathetic notes from so many at St. Francis. Among my favorite pieces of correspondence was a card from Peggy Flood. Along with her condolences, she related an experience her daughter, Lizzie, had while a Middle School student at Trinity Catholic. During religion class, Lizzie was told by her instructor that dogs do not have souls. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 10/2 – 10/9/16

    I love the reflections prior to our Vestry Meetings. The most recent reflection came from Annette Herber. It is worth the read. My Mother's Dishes She passed away 13 years ago and I inherited them... Last weekend I fulfilled my annual duty of hosting some 10 ladies living in Northern Westchester for an evening of Pokeno at my house. What's Pokeno? Well, in the Bingo category, I think of it as a card game that most of us should be able to play even as mental, hearing and/or other capacities start declining ... Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 9/25 – 10/2/16

    Here's your sermon if you can't make worship: One of my favorite descriptions of heaven and hell is that of a banquet feast. The participants gather around a massive table overflowing with all sorts of amazing foods. However, they only have bizarrely oversized wooden utensils with which to feed themselves. In hell, those gathered around the banquet feast writhe in hunger as they endlessly try to feed themselves but to no avail. The utensils make it impossible for each person to serve him or her self. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 9/18 – 9/25/16

    It was nice to know that the public radio announcer didn't quite know how to pronounce the last name of the San Francisco quarterback, Colin Kaepernick. He clearly had other issues that were of more importance than a back up quarterback in the NFL. Kaepernick's name is pronounced with a short a rather than a long a the radio announcer used…Kaepernick has created a controversy in the mind of some and a national conversation in the mind of others by refusing to stand during the national anthem prior to the NFL games that he plays in. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 9/11 – 9/18/16

    This past week Nicholas Kristof wrote an engaging opinion piece in the New York Times entitled What Religion Would Jesus Belong To? The following quote from Kristof's piece (citing Brian McLaren) gets to the heart of what the original Jesus movement was about and how that movement has been transformed into something wholly unrecognizable in too many Christian circles today. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 9/4 – 9/11/16

    Thank you to everyone who has been so kind to us at the loss of our beloved, Francis. We knew there were so many dog/pet lovers at St. Francis. This experience has confirmed the love of people for their furry companions, and their compassion for those who have lost such important friends on life's journey. We are blessed by you! Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 8/28 – 9/4/16

    The following is from a wonderfully insightful and thoughtful friend, Jim Mustich, who offers much for all to consider. . .  If there were an archaeology of consciousness, fieldworkers would sooner or later discover that prayer lies at the deepest layer of our urge to language. Before we knew we had selves to talk to, I'm sure our fears and longings found their expression in the supplication of unknown powers, as strange and various, and as ever-present, as the weather. To raise one's own voice in prayer, or even to consider the invocations of others, is to strip the paint of irony from the soul's abode: the effect can be startling, frightening, purifying. Click here  for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 8/21 – 8/28/16

    ONLY ONE SERVICE AT 9:00 AM  THIS SUNDAY in The Meeting Room!!!! Join us for Coffee Hour at 10AM in the Meeting Room! While this Sunday's Eucharist will be a quite a bit different than many are used to, I think that it is an experiment that places us in close proximity to the expression of the early Church.  Our gathering in the Meeting Room at 9:00 AM this Sunday is borne of necessity; the refinished floor of the Church needs to cure, and the temperature in the Historic Church is nigh unbearable.  The worship of the early Church was also borne of necessity. Click here  for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 8/14 - 8/21/16

    With all the craziness of this political season, the senseless violence throughout the world, and the overwhelming reality of the myriad issues that face individuals, communities, nations and the world (how's that for an upbeat opening phrase!), it's easy to be discouraged.  Yet, there are those moments where you stumble into something so unexpected and beautiful that you regain hope in humanity and, for a moment, are carried on the crest of that wave of serendipity.  Last week possessed one of those moments in my summer wanderings. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 8/7 – 8/14/16

    Update on the Refugee Family that St. Francis and others have supported (a note from Jean Meyer):  Thank you for your continued prayers for this family.   They are adjusting to a new country, a different language, English instruction, schools, and the myriad medical appointments that are difficult.  They have made great strides in just three months.  "Our" 16 year old has been in summer school at High School, has had surgery on her ankles, is progressing very well with Physical Therapy, and is looking forward to walking some day. Four of them have bicycles now, which has brought great joy and new transportation possibilities.  Piano lessons for the 16 year old and Karate for the 12 year old have begun, with ballet lessons for the 5 year old planned for September.  Trips to parks, the Ferguson library, Stamford Nature Center and the Maritime Center have been fun.  Upcoming trips to the Bronx Zoo , NYC, the Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum are planned. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 7/31 – 8/7/16

    From Brandon Ashcraft's recent sermon. . .Since I last saw you all in May, I've been spending most of my days completing my Clinical Pastoral Education requirement. A standard part of ministry formation across many denominations and traditions, CPE is essentially an internship in which seminarians serve for a time as hospital chaplains...I went into CPE feeling nervous and overwhelmed and, truthfully, woefully unprepared for the work. Walking unannounced into a hospital patient's room and introducing yourself as a chaplain can yield a wide range of reactions: some are terrified (thinking that chaplains only come when there is bad news), others are grateful...I just desperately wanted a script; some sort of playbook. In a throwback to last week's Gospel...my inner-Martha would rear her head and I would become worried and anxious about finding the perfect words that could ease the patient's pain and assure her that God was present, even in her suffering. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 7/24 – 7/31/16

    As you have no doubt noticed, I have taken the last two weeks off from writing in this spot.  Sabbaths of many sorts are important, and I took a little sabbatical from writing.  Of course, one doesn't stop thinking about the various issues that are bombarding us daily, and the past few weeks have been a bit exhausting if you are paying any attention to the news. The pain and grief of innocent lives struck down in Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights, Dallas, and Nice among other places is deeply depressing and raises the sense of powerlessness in the face of violence that careens from one encounter to the next.  A well-known theologian of the past century, Joseph Sittler, coined the apt phrase for the malaise of this context.  Compassion Fatigue was the term he used to describe the exhaustion from knowing so much of the pain and suffering and violence that exists within our world.   Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 7/17 - 7/24/16

    A thoughtful and helpful piece from Frank Bruni on the tragic events of last week. “Divided by Race, United by Pain”. There's only one cause here: taking the appropriate steps - in criminal justice,  in police training, in schools, in public discourse - so that each of us goes about  our days in as much peace as possible. And the constituency for that is all of America. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 7/10 - 7/17/16

    We continue to support Flood Victims in West Virginia with a special collection Devastating floods in West Virginia have left dozens dead, hundreds homeless, and tens of thousands without power.  These floods are the worst in a century for portions of the state. Parishioner Rich Lee, who as an alumnus of WVU considers West Virginia his second home, reminds us that this is a state with a precarious economy, due to the decline of the coal industry. If you would prefer to mail a check, please send it to: St. Francis Parish Office, 503 Old Long Ridge Road, Stamford, CT 06903 - earmarked for WV Flood Relief. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 7/3 - 7/10/16

    A Special Collection for Flood Victims in West Virginia -- July 3 and 10 Devastating floods in West Virginia have left dozens dead, hundreds homeless, and tens of thousands without power.  These floods are the worst in a century for portions of the state. Parishioner Rich Lee, who as an alumnus of WVU considers West Virginia his second home, reminds us that this is a state with a precarious economy, due to the decline of the coal industry. St. Francis will take a special collection on July 3 and 10 to support the flood relief efforts. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 6/26 - 7/3/16

    Reflection  WHAT DO YOU USE YOUR VOICE for?  Tonight I invite you to reflect on your own voice.  When do you speak up?  When do you choose to remain silent?  What does your voice reflect about you? We've all heard sayings about VOICE . . . what do they mean for you? I speak not for myself but for those without voice . . . Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes. Stay strong.  Stand up.  Have a voice. You don't have to have a grand platform or idea to make your words matter, to make your voice. Click here for the complete Newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 6/19 - 6/26/16

    The evening before the Orlando shootings, the American Institute of Islamic and Arabic Studies invited the St. Francis community to their Iftar meal-the breaking of the fast for that day of Ramadan.  It was a wonderful event with such good will, graciousness, and wonderful food!  The Sunni, Shia, and Sufi Muslims who are a part of this community modeled blessed hospitality. Click here to see the complete Newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 6/12 - 6/19/16

    The First 70 Kick off Parish Picnic June 5, 2016 was a winner. What a gang! What a fun day and what a joyous Kick Off to The First 70!  Next event: Sat. June 25 Hoedown honoring Mark Lingle's 50th birthday. Click here for the full Newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 6/5 - 6/12/16

    This past Sunday, Deacon Edrice Viechweg, made a presentation about her work in her home country, St. Kitts-Nevis. Edrice started the Edrice Lewis Scholarship Fund 10 years ago to help deserving children get off to a good start. Click here for the complete Newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 5/29 – 6/5/16

    We give thanks to all who have given so freely and willingly to maintain the freedoms that we enjoy.  God be with all who have paid the ultimate price.  May we work to create a society and world where seeking peace and understanding are invested in as much as weapons and war, so that we could live in a time where such sacrifice is no longer needed. Click here for the complete newsletter.

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    News from St. Francis 5/22 - 5/29/16

    Brandon Ashcraft's final sermon as an intern is well worth the read. . . My maternal grandparents did not like the word "good-bye" - in fact, they adamantly refused to say it; not at the end of a phone call nor at the end of a visit, you would never hear them utter this word. They were insistent that the word "good-bye" was simply too final, so instead, they said "toodaloo."
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    News from St. Francis 5/15 - 5/22/16

    A favorite observation from a teaching colleague years ago rings perennially true.  The colleague was a recent college graduate in her first teaching job.  After a particularly difficult day, she noted, "The more I realize how much I don't know, I'm teaching students who think that they know everything." 

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    News from St. Francis 5/8 - 5/15/16

    The Spirit and the bride say, "Come."
    And let everyone who hears say, "Come."
    And let everyone who is thirsty come.
    Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.
    The one who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming soon."
    Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

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    News from St. Francis 5/1 - 5/8/16

    One Friday this past January as I was sipping my morning tea, I read a page from a book of one-minute inspirations; something I do at the start of every day. On this particular morning, I opened to a page entitled "second fiddle".

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