26 Jul

Newsletter, July 26

Rev. Sheelagh’s Thought For The Week
Temporary Shepherds
It’s quickly coming time to say goodbye and I hope that you will join me on August 6 to celebrate the work we have shared together in the name of Jesus Christ.  Leave-taking is hard on both sides.  What makes it especially hard are the strict boundaries that clergy are required to observe post leaving.  We are to have no contact with any parishioner for pastoral care of any kind for three years, and then only at the invitation of the new rector or priest in charge.
So, after August 31, I can’t be with you to celebrate communion, baptisms, weddings or funerals. “Why not?” we may ask.  Best I understand, is that our faith relationship is primarily with God, not the pastor.  Priests are always temporary shepherds, and when they are called to minister to a different flock, the other flock does not go with them.  That would be a cult of personality, not a right relationship of faith in God.  So we won’t see each other again in that relationship but because I’m here in the Diocese, we will most likely see one another in different contexts, and I believe we can do that with grace and love.
My part is to let you go, treasuring and cherishing the good things we have done together; holding out the olive branch of reconciliation for the places and moments where we have hurt or misunderstood one another; and looking forward in hope and faith to seeing where God will lead you next.
Right now, your next shepherd is preparing to hear the call – please be a part of that call and make it loud and clear.  This is the “little church that does.” So – do it again, in the faith, trust and hope that is and always has been St. Stephen’s.
God is with you, always. +
20 Jul

Newsletter, July 19

Rev. Sheelagh’s Thought For The Week

“Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Romans 8:24
Hope, faith, trust – they are all states of the Spirit that we are called to rest in as believers.  So often in our lives we want assurances and contracts.  So often we want to have it all buttoned up and sorted out.  Yet much of our faith story is about living in the moment, and holding the future lightly in hope and trust. The greatest adventures in life are those that we embark upon not knowing, but trusting.  Like entering a loving commitment, or becoming parents.
I’m reminded of that kitchen wisdom story of a small bird, cradled in the hands of a small child. “Don’t hold it too tight” we say, “be careful.”  If we squeeze it too hard, we squeeze the very life out of it.   So it is with our spiritual life and our journey towards trust and hope.  Take a walk, empty your head of the cares and snares that limit and entangle us.  Open your eyes to trust in a God that so loved the world he sent his Son to show us the way.  Open your hearts to the prayer and song that is right there in your soul.  From that place comes the surge of hope and trust. Rest in it.
“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”
(Dame Julian of Norwich) Continue reading
13 Jul

Newsletter, July 12

Rev. Sheelagh’s Thought For The Week
But to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
Romans 8:6
“You’re leaving?” – Such a shock? Yes I know.  And I feel it in my heart and soul with you even though I have known it for a while, and I ache inside with holding that knowledge, but the process is,  unfortunately, the process.  However, Paul reminds us that as people of faith in whom the Spirit abides, this is the time to dig deep into that bedrock of trust.  God is faithful and the Spirit knows what the Spirit knows.  Somewhere, right now, your next pastor is busy writing a note to their current parish, just as I am, and before long, the stirrings of the Spirit will be felt in that person, and they will begin the journey here to St. Stephen’s.  In the Gospel message of the scattered seeds this Sunday, Jesus reminds us it’s time to root down deeply into our prayer lives (you and me both) and trust the Lord to take care of his church and his people.

Continue reading

06 Jul

Newsletter, July 5

Rev. Sheelagh’s Thought For The Week
“Rise up, my love, my beauty, come away;
For now the winter is past,
The rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth,
And the time of singing has come.” Song of Solomon 2:11
Quite often we have scripture that we do not use in our bulletin, and this week it is the beautiful verse from The Song of Solomon.  It’s time to let our souls and spirits rejoice in the beauty of summer glory.  We don’t need to seek for God’s presence like a “Where’s Waldo” game.  Evidence of God is all around us; revealed in the beauty and creative genius of the garden, seashore and mountain.  Enjoy friends, the beauty of these beautiful summer days! God is good, all the time.