THE DOVE November 2011


By Father Jason Parkin
More than perhaps any other day of the year, Thanksgiving is a time for reunions: for extended families to gather after being separated for months or longer; for old friends to feast with one another and celebrate fond memories; for multiple generations to intersect and interact. It is, for many of us, one of the most blessed and one of the loveliest days of each year.

But there is another day in November that also serves as a reunion day: and that is All Saints' Day; for more than perhaps any other day of the Church year, All Saints' is our family reunion day. We gather to remember and celebrate those people in ages past who have been models of what it is to be faithful to God; we turn for inspiration to those who have turned their lives Godward, that we might see more clearly how to do so ourselves. All Saints' Day is the day when we open the scrapbook of the family of faith, and see who is there.

Turn to one page, and you may see Francis, with birds on his shoulders, his pet wolf by his feet, barefoot in the snow. Turn the page, and there is Joan of Arc, who led men twice her size into battle, who preferred armor to petticoats and the voice of God to the voices of humans. On another page is the paralyzed Bishop Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky, patiently typing his translation of the Bible into Chinese with one finger of his crippled right hand. Possibly sharing a page are Peter Damian, patron saint of those who suffer from migraines, and Bilbiana, a 4th century figure in whose garden grew an herb that cured hangovers. The list goes on and on.

But when we look at the pictures more clearly, we can see that the saints were not very, well, saintly. Francis, for example, rolled naked in the snow in order to defend himself from evil and distracting thoughts. Thomas Aquinas was proud and willful, not to mention gluttonous. Peter was stubborn, impulsive, and headstrong; and he abandoned Jesus just when Jesus needed him the most. Many of the saints were foolish and fat-headed and frail people. In other words, they were, in many respects, just like us; and All Saints' Day is the moment when we celebrate their memory, but also are reminded of our calling, our vocation, our privilege likewise to be holy, to be the saints of God.

And during this month of saints, for whom will we be saints? For whom will you, in ways subtle and unknowing, point the way toward God? Who will remember us, perhaps decades from now, as people who pointed them to the Other, who showed them Christ, who nudged them to walk more closely to God?

Focal Practices

By Father Chris Hardman

At our Adult Forum on Sunday, October 16, we talked about the influence of technology on our lives. Technology relieves us of certain "burdens" in our lives, but it may also contribute to a sense of alienation because many of the routine jobs that we used to participate in - jobs that brought us together in community - are no longer needed. Albert Borgmann calls these community building jobs "focal things" or "focal practices."

A good example of a "focal thing" in the pre-modern world is the fireplace. The fireplace produced a "good:" heat for the home. But, it also produced other "goods" because many people had to interact in order to make the heat possible. Someone had to chop the wood, bring the wood inside the house, light the fire, and keep the fire going. All these skills were passed down from one generation to the next. In addition, the fireplace gathered people around its warmth at night where everyone would join in conversation, play games, and so forth. When the fire went out, everyone went to bed.

While many of us have fireplaces today for decoration and occasional use, technology has made the fireplace unnecessary. The "technological device" we call the modern heating unit produces all the heat we need for all the rooms in our house all the time. It produces the "good" (heat) without us doing the good. That is, it no longer focuses the family or produces opportunities for interaction. In fact, it has become simply a commodity that we purchase.

We do not want to go back to a pre-modern world, but we do need to find other focal practices that offer opportunities for sharing our lives with each other. We need to do that because the presence of God, the grace of God, emerges in the midst of that sharing.

That is why we have begun to change our outreach giving policies here at Holy Comforter. Instead of just giving money to worthy organizations, treating them as commodities, we now try to have some interaction with the organization and the people they serve. Good News Partners (GNP) is a good example. We not only give money to GNP, we have also formed a partnership with them that includes an annual work day. The work day is a "focal practice." It is an opportunity to discover the grace of God as we go about the mundane activities of painting and cleaning and, of course, sharing our lives with each other.

Other outreach projects can also serve as "focal practices." Holy Comforter sponsors a Thanksgiving Food Drive each year for the Primo Center. Taking the whole family to the grocery store, picking out foods, packaging them, and bringing them to church together can be a wonderful "focal practice" for your family. And, more than that, your gifts allow the Primo Center to hold its own "focal practice." In most years they receive more than they need, so they share the abundance with the people of their neighborhood by holding a special "Thanksgiving Celebration."

Service is one of the four keys to living out our baptismal covenant that Pastor Heath has introduced this year. We hope you will take advantage of the many opportunities for service that Holy Comforter provides throughout the year.

Parish Community Service Project: Good News Partners
On Saturday, November 12, parishioners will roll up their sleeves and put in a full day's work (9am-4pm) doing manual labor, working side by side with residents and employees of Good News Partners in Chicago's Rogers Park neighborhood (½ day is also available). Projects include painting, minor repairs, cleaning, and arts & crafts with children - a task for every age and ability level. Adults and children ages 10 and up; sign up here>>> 
Thanksgiving Food Drive: Primo Center for Women & Children
The Primo Center for Women and Children offers support services to homeless women and their children, and our generous food and dry goods donations provide them with the means to celebrate Thanksgiving. Donations will be collected thru November 20. Shopping bags and grocery lists are available in the parlor.

Other Service Opportunities:
• Jesse Tree Christmas Giving: Holy Family School and
   Connections for the Homeless
• Easter "Laundry" Baskets: Cathedral Shelter
• Monthly Art & Crafts projects with children: Good News Children
• Monthly Dinner Prep/Service: A Just Harvest Community Kitchen

News from Our Directors

Family Ministy: Caring Conversations
by Pastor Heath Howe, Family Ministries Associate

Reflections on our Community Life: This is Reality, Not a TV Show
by Patti Pateros, Director of Community Building

Formation Principles: Slow Down, You Move Too Fast
by Mary Johnson, Director of Children's and Youth Ministries

Music Notes: I Sing a Song of Saints
by Derek Nickels, Director of Music


All Saints' Sunday Baptisms

All Saints' Sunday falls this year on November 6. As many will remember, All Saints' Day is one of the seven Major Feasts of the Christian year, and one of the principle Feasts for celebrating Holy Baptism. On that day, we will hear some of the most memorable scriptural passages of the entire lectionary cycle, sing some of the most delightful hymns in our Hymnal, and, above all, rejoice in the fact that God has, through our baptism into the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, made us all saints of God. And we will celebrate the baptisms of Cooper Eileen Godbout, daughter of Tom and Lindsley Godbout and granddaughter of John and Nancy True, and Bradley Gordon Pagels, son of Jason and Samantha Pagels and grandson of Adrienne and Lou Lower. At every baptism, we renew our own baptismal vows, and are reminded that we all have a role to play in creating a community of faith and hope that will support and strengthen the newly baptized as they grow and mature. This is a solemn yet joyous privilege; so please make a special effort to come and celebrate your own sainthood and to cheer on Cooper and Bradley as they join us in the ranks of the Saints of God.

(And on a more personal note: not only am I going to get to enjoy the lovely privilege of baptizing two children whose mothers were both in the youth group back when I was involved with that body-which is going to be a special delight for me-but we also sing my two favorite hymns on All Saints' Sunday. It is not an exaggeration to say that All Saints' Day is my favorite day of the Church year after Easter and Christmas! Fr. Jason)

Thanksgiving Offering & Eucharist

By Father Jason Parkin
At the Fall Fellowship Dinner, I quoted the great 14th century German mystic, Meister Eckhart, who rather famously said, "If the only prayer you ever say in your life is, ‘thank you,' it will be enough." Although our entire lives are filled with opportunities to express our gratitude to God for all the blessings we receive, there is, of course, one day explicitly devoted to giving thanks. This year, as always, we will celebrate a special Eucharist on Thanksgiving Day at 10:00 a.m. (please note that this is an hour later than has been the custom in years past). The day will feature some of the most beloved hymns in our repertoire, a simple homily, and the chance to see friends, grown up kids, old neighbors, and others, as, together, we offer our grateful praise to God for all that we are and have and do. Come, join in the celebration of gratitude: let us begin our day of thanksgiving by directing our praise to the One who showers us with all delights, and has so richly gifted and blessed us.

Another way to express our thanks to God is to participate in the Thanksgiving Outreach Offering, envelopes for which are available in the chuch parlor and office.  Please use these envelopes to support our ministry of offering aid and compassion to those in various kinds of distress and sorrow in the Chicago area. The very love God has instilled in our hearts-the source of our attitude of thanksgiving-prompts us to reach out in love and empathy to those who are struggling and facing frequently severe challenges. Thank you, in advance, for your thoughtfulness and generosity.

George Kezios & the Bread Guild

For over 20 years, George Kezios has faithfully led our Bread Guild, making and kneading dough, imprinting it with special Christian symbols, and baking the loaves we use in our Sunday and daily Eucharists.  He has been assisted in this important ministry by many people over the years, but the one constant has been George and his patient, diligent offering of time and skill.  George recently retired from leading the Bread Guild, and we want to thank him, most fervently, for his dedication and for so beautifully enhancing our worship with breads of different textures and flavors for varying seasons of the Church year.  Thank you, George, from the many thousands who have benefited from, and been blessed by, your gifts!  Your ministry has been invaluable and profoundly appreciated.

As we move forward, we are hoping to create a larger group of people who will take part in this ministry.  If you are interested in participating, please contact either Bill Haljun  or Fr. Jason. Creating the bread for our common worship is a particularly delightful endeavor for families perhaps even working in groups of two or more households! This is a simple but vitally important ministry, and we look forward to expanding the number of people who contribute.

Youth Group Update

By Patti Pateros, Youth Coordinator
On Sunday, October 30, all youth groups took a break from their regular lessons with a study on All Saints' Day, All Souls' Day and Halloween, all of which have their  roots in the Celtic festival of Samhain. WHAM and iCONNECT viewed a History Channel video about the origins of these special days.  AIM watched clips from "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" and related their study of friendship qualities to the Peanuts characters. All groups celebrated with a Mexican "Day of the Dead" cake and apple cider.

iCONNECT  Our 6th and 7th grade youth continue their study of stewardship to the earth and viewed two videos that show how our current habits and ways of life are changing the earth - and not for the good. If you are interested, both videos are available on YouTube: HOME is a beautiful film by Yann Arthus-Bertrand and is all shot from an aerial perspective. The Story of Stuff follows the secret lives of some of our "stuff" like electronics from its extraction, through production, and ultimately to the trash bins.

AIM  Love, joy and peace have been the focus of our 8th grade study. Using a combination of film clips, real life stories, and Bible passages, our youth have learned the true meaning of these concepts and how to incorporate them in their daily lives. Their journaling has helped them reflect on things they can do or change that would make them more loving, joyful and peaceful.

WHAM  Members of WHAM have thoughtfully made the decision not to return to Nicaragua for their June 2012 mission trip. Many of our youth had the global experience twice and would now like to switch things up and pursue a working relationship and location in the United States, with the hope of returning to Nicaragua at a future date. Site locations have been narrowed down to an Appalachian community in Kentucky and an urban area in Nashville TN. A final decision will be made by November 15; tentative dates for the trip are June 16-23, 2012

Church School

By Mary Johnson
From Noah's Ark to a Magic Show, we've had some exciting Sunday mornings recently. We have celebrated the Eucharist twice a month in Children's Chapel where we've heard stories of Creation and Noah's Ark. The children have been practicing the hymn they will sing as they process into the church on Baptism Sunday, and they sound great!

All Things Bright and Beautiful

By Mary Johnson
Applications are now available for the 2012-2013 school year. The required form and the registration priorities are available here>>

We are excited to be wearing our new ATB&B t-shirts and sweatshirts. We extend a huge thank you to Kendra Wallace for coordinating the entire effort! Highlights of our school year this autumn:
• mild weather has allowed us to spend time in the parks and take a walk to the beach;
• we've been learning all about pumpkins and even saw some in our school garden;
• many families participated in the pumpkin carving evening on October 27;
• Dr. Derek Nickels showed the children how he plays the church organ and they were fascinated.

The Vineyard

We extend our sympathy to . . .
•  Shari and Jim Burton on the death of her mother, Edythe Strandell, on August 20.
•  Joan Siebert on the death of her husband, Chuck, on October 24.  Funeral and interment will be held at St John's Episcpal Church, Chicago, where they were married 62 years ago.