24 Feb

Newsletter, February 24

Reverend Sheelagh’s Thought for the Week: February 24, 2016

Before every vestry meeting, your vestry spends fifteen minutes “Dwelling in the Word.” This is a practice of holy listening.  We listen to the same scripture passage read by two readers, paying attention to where we stop listening, or where an image pops up, or our mind wanders into the imaginative realm.  When we have listened, we listen to a partner, share our thoughts as they listen, then offer our partners thoughts to the group.  Going local is about listening.  Finding the people outside our walls and just listening.  Even in our family lives, how often does someone really listen to us? Our passage is this week’s Hebrew scripture, Moses and the Burning bush.  God appears to Moses in the burning bush.  Moses notices.  God speaks.  Moses listens.  God tells Moses he has been listening and has heard the cries of the people.  In our vestry meeting this past week, those who listened heard God say, “I hear you.”  “I understand.”  “Get on and do something about it.”  “I will be with you.”  And when you are done “come here to give thanks and worship.”  This holy listening gave us the chills.  I think we listened and heard what God wanted us to notice. After Church on Sunday, join me in the Common Room, to listen and dwell with the word. What do you hear the Spirit of God saying to you? Continue reading

17 Feb

Newsletter, February 17

Reverend Sheelagh’s Thought for the Week: February 17, 2016

“What if I had not believed that I should see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!”

I have just returned from a clergy meeting, where much of the talk was about the church becoming relevant to young people.  Surprise!  The truth is pretty stark; only 25% of 18-33 year olds have ever attended church.  I would say even less of the Y generation have attended church.  We have, it seems, been asleep at the switch for the last 25 years. The conversation turned slowly, away from realization and blame, towards the questions we need to be asking.  At that point, I felt my heart fillip.  For here is the way we the messages of our faith can become meaningful in the community.  We know that we are loved by God, “just as we are,” but our young people don’t!   In fact, most are not aware of what “just as they are” is.  So much of the world they inhabit is governed by judgment and fear. My sabbatical time will be designed to explore, visit and see experiments that church communities have begun to develop following conversation and listening to youth and young adults.  I am excited to see what  the Holy Spirit is up to, and where my travels take me. Continue reading

10 Feb

Newsletter, February 10

Reverend Sheelagh’s Thought for the Week: February 10, 2016
“Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”


These words spoken as the cross of ashes, made from the burned blessed palms of the previous year, are imposed, signify the desire to return to the Lord. This year, I have been asked many more times than usual why we impose ashes?  The easy answer is that the practice is an ancient way of showing repentance, grief and sorrow.  In more contemporary thinking, it is a symbolic way to externalize the internal awareness of our sinfulness.  However you look at it, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of something new, good and hopeful.  “Create in me a clean heart” is the psalmist’s invitation.  Ancient it might be, archaic and redundant, absolutely not!  Join me, as we enter the journey towards inner healing and freedom that Lent offers. Continue reading

04 Feb

Newsletter, February 3

Reverend Sheelagh’s Thought for the Week: February 3, 2016

This Sunday marks the end of the Epiphany season and heralds our entry into Lent next Wednesday.  Yes, it is early this year, governed by the phases of the moon that fix the Easter date, which is also early on March 27.  The theme, as with the star at the birth of Christ, is one of Light.  For me, God and Christ are always presented as light, and John’s words “in his light, we see light” have been a touchstone of my faith.  Following the Diocesan Convention address by our Bishop (www.dioceseofnewark.org), we are all now aware (if we weren’t before) that we are in the midst of a tsunami of change, and that business as usual just won’t cut it.  Please take a moment to read his address. In light of that, Paul’s words provide a touchstone for us: “Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart.” We are not to get bogged down building dwellings for Christ, or Moses, or Elijah,  but to go into the world, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit, radiant with the light of our faith that will draw people near. Let us look to the source of our being, and fix our eyes on the ultimate purpose of our community life together.   Continue reading