THE DOVE January 2012

The Season of Light

by Father Jason Parkin

"The Journey of the Magi," by T.S. Eliot, is one of the most striking and poignant poems in the Christian tradition. At the end of the poem, the narrator, after recounting his experience traveling to see the Child, writes,

     All this was a long time ago, I remember,
     And I would do it again, but set down
     This: set down
     This: were we led all that way for
     Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
     We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
     But had thought they were different; this Birth was
     Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
     We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
     But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
     With an alien people clutching their gods.
     I should be glad of another death.

I have long been struck by the imagery of this entire poem, and especially by the idea of the birth of Jesus serving as a death for us, and, indeed, for the entire world. For is not this, in some sense, the feeling we get this time of the year? On Christmas Day, we celebrated the birth of a child, of The Child; and on the Epiphany we receive confirmation of the almost unbelievably good news that the Babe lying mute between the ox and ass is, in fact, the very Word of God. And yet, our joy, during these Christmas and Epiphany seasons, is one that contains in it the knowledge that life will never be quite the same again. The birth of the Holy One brings about the death of so many of the standards and values and priorities of the world. The entrance into our world of the Light has the ability to cast out the darkness in which we too frequently stumble about. And thus, the glory of the Incarnation, and the season of epiphanies that follows, comes not only in the awareness that the Prince of Peace is with us, but also in the awareness that we, as his people, are called to manifest - to embody - to enflesh his light and his life and his love in our own lives.

May this season of Light enkindle in each of us new joy, new hope, and a new heart.

Annual Parish Meeting

By Father Jason Parkin

On Sunday, January 29, 2012, we will celebrate our Annual Parish Meeting following a somewhat simplified 9:00 Eucharist. The meeting will take place in the Great Room beginning at 10:00.

The Annual Parish Meeting is always an important day in the life of any congregation. We use this time together as an opportunity to reflect on the year past, and to ponder the year just beginning. It is a business meeting, during which we elect new members of the Vestry, approve the annual budget and discuss other temporal issues and topics. But it is also a spiritual meeting, so to speak, for it affords us the chance to discuss the ways in which we are fulfilling, or hope to fulfill, God's call to us in our ministry, fellowship, worship, and outreach. At the Annual Parish Meeting, we pray, sing, laugh, rejoice in new growth, debate where God is nudging us, and, in general, hear and retell together part of the story of Church of the Holy Comforter.

I pray everyone will make a special effort to attend the meeting on the 29th, for it has been a full year, and we have much on our plate for the future, as well; and it is important that as many people as possible be part of discussions and deliberations. I look forward to seeing you at this year's Annual Parish Meeting on January 29.

Please remember that the last Eucharist will begin at 11:30 on January 29.

A New Year. A New Beginning

By Pastor Heath Howe

During Advent we have been thinking about Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. Wonderful words. Powerful. Seems a shame to think of leaving them behind now that we have moved into Christmas, are heading toward Epiphany, and embracing a New Year.

So let's not! Let us take these themes with us as we move into all that God is calling us to be in the year 2012. To put this idea into practice, here are two different activities for you to consider o do as a family or to do on your own.

A New Year...New Beginning Activity>>>

The Vineyard

We joyfully announce the birth of . . .
Barbara and Paul Devlin's first great-grandchild, David Chase Robinson, on December 3, AND twin grandbabies, Abby and Luke Roberts, on December 8.

We extend our sympathy to . . .
Elizabeth and Warren McKenna on the death of her mother, Lynn Seifert, on December 14.

We welcome to the parish . . .
Bruce and Cookie Creger of Northfield.

We remember in our prayers . . .
Henry Gansner, Summit Joutras, Charlie Paine, Denym, Mandarin and Stella Wallace as they prepare to receive the Sacrament of Baptism on January 8.

New Adult Education Opportunities

By Father Chris Hardman

An Introduction to the Bible
Is the Bible a mystery to you? Would you like to understand it better? Then join us on Saturday, January 21, where, in 2½ hours, you will learn:
   • the overall story of the Bible (the meta-narrative);
   • how the many stories you already know fit in the meta-narrative;
   • the most important stories and what they have to do with your life;
   • the story of salvation;
   • how to relate the meaning of the stories to others;
   • how to use the stories in your life and ministry.

This does sound ambitious, but God will be there helping us all! This session is for anyone who wants to know more about the Bible and its meaning for our lives . . . church school teachers, Stephen Ministers, those who want to begin a Spiritual journey with God or strengthen the journey they are already on. This course will be held from 9:30-Noon on Saturday, January 21, 2012, and will be led by Father Hardman and Pastor Howe.

A Spiritual Formation Class
Beginning on January 11 at 10:30 am, Fr. Hardman's Wednesday class will begin a study of Joan Chittister's book, Wisdom Distilled from the Daily. This book, written by a Benedictine Sister, puts into practical terms the insights of the Rule of St. Benedict. The great thing about it is you don't have to go to a monastery to benefit from these insights. The spirituality presented is for all of us stressed out 21st century Americans.

Reading the book will be very helpful, but not necessary to join the class. If you would like a copy you can order it online or Fr. Hardman will order one for you.

Youth Group News

iConnect will begin a study of their relationship with God and what it means to be a Christian.  Discussions will allow 6th and 7th graders to talk about what they believe - what they think God is like and how their belief in God makes a difference in their lives.

AIM continues their study of the gifts of the Spirit, focusing on actions that flow out of a life devoted to God: kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  By learning about these actions through biblical and current examples, 8th grade students will understand how they can have an impact on the world.  As examples, they will view clips from The Horse Whisperer (kindness) and Little Women (goodness).

WHAM, particularly in preparation for their mission trip, will undertake some team building activities.  By participating and learning from others in a group setting, high schoolers are able to transfer their leadership, decision-making, and getting-along skills into real situations now and in the future.  When teens are prepared to be strong group members, they are on their way to success as students, friends and community leaders.

Youth Mission Trips - Final registration deadline for WHAM's Mission Kentucky, scheduled for June 2012, is January 15; deadline for the 7th and 8th grade May 2012 Act Now: Chicago mission trip is February 1.

Church School Update

Our Baptism celebration will take place on January 8. All the children in the Church School are invited to lead us in the processional and sing "We Three Kings." The students' participation for the All Saints' Day Baptism was so special that we want to repeat the experience on the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord.

Our regular classroom schedule will return on January 15. Fourth and fifth Grade students will take part in Acolyte training for two weeks, after which they will have two sessions with Fr. Parkin who will do some teaching and reflection around the Eucharist.

Third Grade students will begin their Solemn Communion preparation on January 15 that will continue through the season of Epiphany and end right before Lent. Pastor Heath will be meeting with these student for six weeks. During this time our children will wonder, reflect on, and engage the theology of Holy Eucharist as well as touch and handle the elements we use each Sunday morning.

Our Junior Kindergarten, First and Second Graders will explore all the elements of Baptism through experiential lessons with water, oil, and light.

All Things Bright & Beautiful

The first phase of registration for the 2012-2013 school year is closed and we are in the process of putting together the classes for that school year. Registration has been very strong and the fervent hope is to be able to accommodate all the families who have expressed a desire to enroll their child in this ministry.

News from our Directors

Reflections on our Community Life: There's a Kind of Hush
by Patti Pateros, Director of Community Building

Formation Principles: A Lesson for Life
by Mary Johnson, Director of Children's and Youth Ministries

Music Notes: Advent Recap
by Derek Nickels, Director of Music