Walking the Labyrinth

Walk the labyrinth with Craig Dressler and learn how this practice can become part of your personal prayer life in this fourth installment of our prayer video series.

Other videos from this series: 
Personal Prayer Part 1 – Developing Your Personal Prayer Practice
Personal Prayer Part 2 – Praying with Icons
Personal Prayer Part 3 – Praying the Daily Office
Personal Prayer Part 5 – Centering Prayer

Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down!

You are most likely familiar with the children’s rhyme and game “Ring Around the Rosie” with the final line being the title of this article. One would never think this might apply to an Episcopal priest, but stranger things have happened!

On Ash Wednesday, the priest (Fr. Geoffrey Wild) and I were sitting in our allergist’s office waiting for our injections. An elderly friend and his daughter walked in and sat with us. The friend asked me if my husband would be distributing ashes at a service that day, and I told him he would be. The friend said he didn’t know if he could make it out to the church. The priest-husband offered to get the ashes out of the car and impose them in the allergist’s office. The friend then asked if his wife could be given ashes – oh, and, by the way, she was in the emergency room of the hospital in the same building as the allergist’s office. Geoffrey said he would be happy to do so, so we departed and went to the ER to see our friend’s wife.

I work in Mercer, PA, and Geoffrey drove me to work. He then went to a local nursing home to see one of our congregation members and impose ashes for her. She picked up the phone and called the charge nurse to let her know that Geoffrey was there. After he imposed ashes on the lady and her daughter, he turned around to find a line of folks of “all sorts and conditions” waiting to receive ashes, which he then imposed. The charge nurse told Geoffrey that there was a Roman Catholic priest who would appreciate ashes but who was unable to leave his bed. Geoffrey went to the man’s bedside and imposed ashes for the Catholic priest.

Next Geoffrey drove to Foxburg where he imposed ashes in the church there. Quite a bit of snow and ice were around that day, and Geoffrey slipped and fell on the sidewalk that leads from the church to the parish house. He brushed himself off and continued on his way.

His final stop of the day was at Church of the Epiphany where he held a Eucharist with, of course, imposition of ashes. Following the service, he joined my daughter and me for dinner at a local restaurant. As we were finishing the meal, he said to me, “I think I need to go to the ER!” I thought he was most likely in atrial fibrillation again – but no! He thought he had broken his wrist in the Foxburg fall!

We sat in the ER (where Geoffrey had visited our friend’s wife earlier in the day) Following x-rays, we learned that his wrist was severely sprained but not broken. He received pain medication and a wrist wrap, and we were finally on our way home at 11:00 pm. At that point, he was in a great deal of pain. Strangely, he said, the pain did not start until we finished dinner and he had completed his priestly duties for the day! His wrist continues to be black and blue from that fall!

We marveled at how this day unfolded as he traveled from place to place, doing God’s work. We laughed about the big line up of people at the nursing home and the Catholic priest receiving ashes from an Episcopal priest. Most of all, we thanked God for the many opportunities he gives us for ministry. Geoffrey will forever remember this day, a day when “Ashes, ashes, we all fall down” became very real for him.

Cheryl Wild attends both Epiphany in Grove City and Memorial Church of Our Father in Foxburg, where her husband, Geoffrey, serves as vicar. She is also a member of the diocese’s Commission on Ministry.

Quiet Day in Danli – A Letter from Honduras

On March 11, 2019 my husband, Dan, and I left for a two week mission trip to Danli, Honduras. He served as team leader for a group of large and small animal veterinarians, vet techs, and spouses. His sending organization was CVM (Christian Veterinary Mission) and SAMS (Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders). Our local contact was SAMS missionary Jeannie Loving, with whom we have worked through the years. Jeannie is also a member of The Order of the Daughters of King and asked me, as a Daughter, to prepare and lead a Quiet Day retreat for the ladies in the Episcopal Churches in the Danli deanery. A few days after the Veterinary team headed home we had our Quiet Day under the guidance of local Episcopal priests Fr. P. Francisco Midence and Fr. Victor Manuel Valsquez. The following is a reflection of the day sent to my chapter and prayer supporters:

I want to share with you the beautiful Quiet Day we held at Las Manos de Dios Episcopal church in Danli, Honduras on Saturday, March 24.  It was hosted by the Daughters of the King, but all women were invited. Fifty women and at least a dozen children were in attendance. We provided lunch for 73 which included children, teens, the kitchen help and a few men. I was able to greet old friends and make new ones.

We did the stations of the cross through the eyes of Mary. The church is a big open one and Fr. Victor had placed pictures of the 15 stations all around the perimeter.  We moved from one to the other as Fr. Victor recited the Kyrie,  Fr. Francisco played the guitar, and the women sang as they walked.  Two different women read at each of the 15 stations. One woman started to read and was so overcome she couldn’t finish. Many women commented they felt the same way. The Holy Spirit truly was present. It was extra special to me knowing you all were praying and two chapters from Central PA were also doing Mary’s Way of the Cross that very day…Apostles from Christ chapter from York, PA, and Harriet Lane Johnston chapter in Lancaster, PA.

We had fun afterward. I brought hotel soaps, shampoo, lotion, little bottles of nail polish and bags (like ones we buy at the grocery store, instead of using plastic).  We asked questions, like who has the most children, who has on a red shirt, etc., and the woman/ or women would come up and pick 2 items. They had fun with that and so did I. We had enough to give them a third and the leftovers went to the priests to give to the needy. The bags and the nail polish went first.

This is a very special event for the women as they don’t usually have an event where they can just come and be fed…physically and spiritually.  We paid for the bus and/or taxi for them to get there – some had at least an hour ride. The most expensive was $4 round trip. Jeannie Loving, our SAMS missionary contact and Daughter of the King, said most would borrow the money to get there and we reimbursed them when they arrived. We also paid for the food. I noticed some of the women didn’t eat all of theirs but saved some to take home to their family.  I couldn’t eat mine and gave it to Mabell whose husband didn’t have a job and they have 7 children.  The cost for this was covered by a grant from the Daughters of the King self-denial fund.

People here in the US have no idea what poverty is…no electricity, no running water; rice, beans and maybe an occasional chicken added to the mix every day…mangoes and watermelon when in season.  The children at the village high up the mountain don’t attend school. It is too far to go down the mountain every day.  It took us more than an hour by truck, and they use horses for transport. At the airport, I talked with two different women who come each year to help at orphanages. They are not truly orphanages, but homes for abandoned children. The parents are so poor they can not feed them or they are abused. One mentioned an 11-year-old girl with a 1-year-old baby and this was not an isolated case. One woman said the place where she worked had taken in two infants found abandoned on the road just that week.

I’m  glad to be home. Physically we found it takes us longer to recover but we are retired so we can take our time….spiritually and mentally will take a little longer.

Please continue to pray for our Daughters all over the world. It is a beautiful bond that we have as sisters in Christ.

Kathy Paulo is a member of St John’s, Franklin. She has been a Daughter of the King since 2005 and is currently serving as The Order of the Daughters of the King Province lll president and National Membership Chair. 

Praying the Daily Office

In this third installment of our prayer video series, the Rev. Patricia Lavery explains how to get started praying the Daily Office and incorporating it into your daily routine.

Other videos from this series: 
Personal Prayer Part 1 – Developing Your Personal Prayer Practice
Personal Prayer Part 2 – Praying with Icons
Personal Prayer Part 4 – Walking the Labyrinth
Personal Prayer Part 5 – Centering Prayer

Praying with Icons

In this second installment of our prayer video series, Dean Downey of the Cathedral of St. Paul in Erie discusses using icons as part of your personal prayer practice.

Other videos in this series:
Personal Prayer Part 1 – Developing Your Personal Prayer Practice
Personal Prayer Part 3 – Praying the Daily Office
Personal Prayer Part 4 – Walking the Labyrinth
Personal Prayer Part 5 – Centering Prayer

St. John’s, Sharon to Host Diocesan Prayer Vigil

9:00am Friday, March 22 – 9:00am Saturday, March 23 at St. John’s, Sharon

St. John’s, Sharon, is hosting a 24-hour Lenten Prayer Vigil for the Diocese, its congregations, its people and its communities from 9:00am on Friday, March 22 through 9:00am on Saturday, March 23.  The church and chapel will be available for prayer throughout the day. Additionally, we will gather for time of structured prayer throughout the day. All are welcome to join us in Sharon or to join us in prayer from your own location.  For more information, contact Adam Trambley (atrambley@gmail.com) or Vanessa Butler (vbutler@dionwpa.org).

Schedule

9:00am.  Morning Prayer

10:15am   Prayers for every church in Diocese of Northwest PA and Western NY

12:05pm   Stations of the Cross

3:00pm.  Prayerwalk

5:30pm.  Eucharist

7:00pm.  Healing Service

10:00pm  Compline

11:00pm   Oral Reading of Gospel of Mark

8:00am.  Morning Prayer

Developing Your Personal Prayer Practice

This is the first in a six part video series on personal prayer. We invite you to join us as we explore this aspect of faith through the Lenten season. 

Other videos in this series:
Personal Prayer Part 2 – Praying with Icons
Personal Prayer Part 3 – Praying the Daily Office
Personal Prayer Part 4 – Walking the Labyrinth
Personal Prayer Part 5 – Centering Prayer

God and the Five Love Languages

In the last ten years, the concept of the Five Love Languages has exploded. Now you can find books on how to help your spouse, your teenager, your kids, your neighbors, all using the concept of the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Originally, Gary started working with the concept of the Five Love Languages as a way for his couples in counseling to communicate how and what they needed when it came to their love relationships. The Five Love Languages is a concept which gives easily understood and communicable language to one of the most difficult ideas for humans to understand: love.

The Five Love Languages are fairly easy: Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Acts of Service. In all of our relationships, aspects of each of these different love languages plays a part. The idea is that while relationships need all of these things, people tend to favor one or another love language in their own lives. People tend to understand love in one way easier than they understand love in another love language. Say for example, Mario and Sarah like each other, but Mario is all about giving gifts and Sarah wants words of affirmation. Neither will feel completely loved in the relationship until they learn how to express and share love in the other’s love language.

Naturally there are also other ways to understand and communicate love, but the patterns of love languages helps us see what could otherwise be missed. Interestingly, when you look at the scriptures, we can see throughout history that God has expressed love for humanity in all of these ways at different times. Through the scriptures and the prophets, God sends words of affirmation to all of God’s people, calling them, “treasured”, and “holy” (Deuteronomy 14:2) In chapter 49, Isaiah makes the comparison that God’s people are more precious than a child to a mother.

Through the person of Jesus, God shows love in physical touch by healing through touch, by crying with others, by allowing people to touch him. Jesus offers love and healing through touch to the Blind man in John, to the hemorrhaging woman, and to countless others. God gives bounteous gifts and receives numerous gifts from the people. The two biggest gifts given in the Bible are the gift of the Promised Land and the gift of the Messiah! Both gifts are given in love and for the redemption of the people. And those are just the biggest gifts! Throughout the Old Testament God is constantly serving the people of Israel as they wander through the desert by feeding them and giving them water, by saving them from their enemies, by sending prophets and judges to guide the people.

God loves us in so many different ways, and they are all evident in the scriptures. It is only when we step back to look and reflect can we see the overwhelming nature of God’s love for us. No matter what way you know and feel love, God is waiting to show love to you.

The Rev. Elizabeth Yale is Priest in Charge at St. John’s, Franklin. 

Coming to Center

In throwing a piece of pottery, the most essential element comes right at the beginning of the process: centering the clay. One has to take the ball of clay and get it perfectly centered on the spinning wheel if making any vessel is going to be possible. And centering, it’s not always easy. It can be tricky and one can think a ball is on center when it isn’t. As you begin to open the clay and pull up the sides, it becomes evident quite quickly that the piece is off center because the pot will be lopsided, with one side thicker or thinner than the others. When it happens, you can keep working for fun or practice, but it will get harder and harder, as the pot bounces and the lopsidedness grows more evident. Manipulating the pot becomes frustrating and eventually, it grows too unwieldy and beyond control.

When my life is un-centered, it has much in common with a bouncing, unwieldy ball of clay, spinning toward entropy not towards purpose. This most often occurs when I’ve forgotten where my true center lies. I get off kilter when I think that my value and worth derive from what others think, how well I guide or contribute to the organizations to which I belong, whether my work is successful. Being off center creates a certain spiritual thinness that leaves me vulnerable to outside voices and internal critique; it thickens the wall between my current emotional space and healthy behavior.

The only way to re-center is to stop the chaotic spinning, quiet all the voices, and sit still in the presence of God. When I lose center, it is because I forget that there is only One voice that actually matters and defines my worth. My faith journey is about coming to center in God’s love, trusting in my deepest place that I am God’s beloved, and knowing that nothing can change that truth. When I summon the trust required to fall into God’s love, it always catches me, always welcomes me back, and slowly, spins me back to center. Knowing I am loved beyond anything I can actually understand changes me and transforms every aspect of my life. No longer do other voices have power over me; no longer do the external things, like success or failure, define me. God has called me beloved, has adopted me as a child and heir, and longs for me to center peacefully in that truth.

And unlike an un-centered ball tending towards entropy, centeredness gives meaning and purpose. When I know who I am and whose I am, I can work in the world in life-giving ways. I do not need to control every outcome or give into anger when the world does not work my way. I can give of my time generously without demands and create spaces in which those around me are loved and accepted for who they are. Being centered means I know what is mine and what is not mine to do; I can work with a helpful detachment from outcome, trusting God is present. By trusting God’s love for me, I can freely give love and compassion to others in ways that foster healthy relationships and communities.

When I live in that centered space, certain of God’s love for me and for all the created order, everything is balanced. I’m not lopsided; I’m not coming unglued. I’m spinning in the right direction, a willing participant in what God is doing in my life and in the world. And there is no other way I want to live and no other place I want to be than right there, in the joyful center of God’s belovedness.

The Rev. Melinda Hall is vicar of Holy Trinity, Brookville, and Church of Our Saviour, DuBois. 

Different Kinds of Love

In today’s world, when love in the Bible is discussed, people typically want to know what word is used in the New Testament Greek. Many of us have heard about the different Greek words for love and their meanings. Eros, philia, storge, agape, ludus, pragma, philautia: sensual love, familial love, long term loyalty love, love for everyone and everything, playful love, practical love, and love of self. Knowing the differences between these words and how they are used in the New Testament helps us understand the scriptures better and deepen our relationship with God. Much less discussed though are the multiple words for love used in the Old Testament Hebrew. Knowing their meanings and usages can also be helpful in understanding the ways of Love between God and people. The four most commonly used words which end up being translated as love found in the Old Testament Hebrew are ahav, yada, raham, and hesed.

Ahav is typically the word used to describe relationships between people, such as between men and women, and parents and children. Ahav is used in Genesis multiple times to describe the relationships between Abraham and Isaac, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Joseph. It has an understanding of attraction and attachment, sometimes in a very mechanical or materialistic way. The relationships of children to their parents is not usually described with ahav. (The commandment to honor your mother and father uses the word kabad, which literally translates to something with weight or value.)

Yada means to know. It is used both in contexts of knowing something intellectually, and knowing someone intimately. In Hebrew you learned knowledge through the senses, through seeing, tasting, touching, smelling, and hearing. Knowing God was an intimate learning through the senses. Knowing someone else intimately, such as being in a sexual relationship with them, was understood as learning about them through the senses as well. Most of the marriages in the Old Testament are described in this manner; Jacob knew Rachel.

Raham is typically used in relationships with compassion or mercy involved. Isaiah uses it to describe the relationship of a mother to her baby, while the Psalms uses it to describe a father’s love for his son. In a number of passages, raham is used to describe God’s mercy to the people, God’s love for them, even when they didn’t follow the commandments.

Hesed is the Hebrew word most translated as lovingkindness in the King James Version of the Bible. Hesed is a steadfast loyalty kind of love, a relationship built on kindness and trust. Many of these relationships in the scriptures are formalized in some way, such as in a covenant. Marriages, the covenantal relationship between Abraham and God, or the relationship between God and the people are all formalized legal relationships described by using the word hesed.

Of course, there are other words which get used to describe love or loving relationships in the Old Testament Hebrew as well. These four, however, are the most common. Knowing the different kinds of love described can help us understand the relationships we read about in the scriptures. Love is an amazing aspect of human and divine life, in all its glorious facets.

The Rev. Elizabeth Yale is Priest in Charge at St. John’s, Franklin.