Using Prayer Beads

What are prayer beads (and how are they different from the rosary)? And how do you use them as part of a regular prayer practice?  The Rev. Geoff Wild explains in this sixth segment of our series on Personal Prayer:

Stay tuned for part 2 of this video, where Cheryl Wild will demonstrate how prayer beads are made.

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 4 – Walking the Labyrinth
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.

The Little Church That Could

Grove City Community Food Pantry serves almost 2000 individuals. Perhaps the most startling statistic is that over 40% of the pantry’s clients receive no government assistance whatsoever.  These clients are the “working poor.”  They have incomes, but are unable to provide their families with all of the basic necessities.  They are not only food-insecure, but their incomes are frequently unsteady.  Enter Church of the Epiphany in Grove City.

Church of the Epiphany, Grove City, PA

Church of the Epiphany, Grove City, PA

Church of the Epiphany in Grove City, PA holds some very strong ties with the local food pantry.  Three of Epiphany’s members sit on the pantry’s Board of Directors, including Deacon Patricia Lavery, Bishop’s Warden Jack Warner, and member Pat Brenner.  The pantry, known as the Grove City Community Food Pantry, covers the entire Grove City Area School District.  Even though the community is relatively small, the number of people on the pantry’s register is surprisingly large including some 680 children and 170 elderly.

The food pantry depends heavily on community support to fulfill its mission to feed the hungry.  The Grove City community, along with Church of the Epiphany, has been exceptionally compassionate and generous by holding several food drives throughout the year.  The most important food drive takes place during the Christmas season, and is known as the Parade of Trees. This food drive is a community-wide event that pairs local non-profits with local businesses to display Christmas trees to the public throughout the holidays.  Early in November, the businesses and non-profits that wish to participate in the event register with the food pantry.  The pantry then pairs each non-profit with a local merchant.  Shortly after Thanksgiving, the merchant provides a Christmas tree and the matching non-profit provides the decorations.  The tree is displayed in a prominent location in the merchant’s business, and the non-profit chooses a theme with which to decorate it. The public is then asked to “vote” for their favorite tree by placing non-perishable food items under the tree.  Each individual food item counts as one vote.  At the end of this competitive food drive, the tree that has collected the most food items is the winner.  A previously donated cash prize is then awarded to the first, second, and third place non-profits.

This last Christmas, Epiphany was paired with Grove City’s Chamber of Commerce, and together they collected 1,248 items.

Father Geoffrey at the awards ceremony with the other prize winners. On the far right is Traci Turner, Executive Director of the Grove City Community Food pantry.

Father Geoffrey at the awards ceremony with the other prize winners. On the far right is Traci Turner, Executive Director of the Grove City Community Food pantry.

Altogether, the holiday food drive collected over 89,000 food items for the food pantry’s clients.  Epiphany and the Chamber of Commerce were the winners of the event, and Epiphany received a $100 cash award.  Father Geoffrey Wild donated the prize back to the  pantry.  Epiphany’s entire congregation took part in the food drive by donating cash to a “pot,” which was then used to purchase appropriate food items for the tree.  This is the third time Epiphany has won the Parade of Trees contest, and as a result they have become known as “The Little Church That Could.”

Of course, the real winners of the event were the clients of the Grove City Community Food Pantry.  Donations and contributions tend to fall off after the holidays, but the Parade of Trees meant that the pantry was able to keep its shelves stocked during some bitterly cold months. The food pantry is very dear to the spiritual heart of Epiphany. Father Geoffrey and Deacon Patricia frequently remind us that Christ’s work begins when we leave the church on Sunday morning.  In other words, it takes place on the streets.  By feeding our neighbors, we follow Christ’s decree to reach out to “the least of these.”

The numbers on the pantry’s register have increased month after month, making its mission more and more challenging.  Epiphany remains determined to help the pantry fulfill its mission, and does so by supporting the pantry throughout the entire year.  The congregation not only collects food and clothing on a regular basis, but the church also sends a monthly contribution to the pantry.  By feeding their neighbors, the members of Epiphany serve the church, the community, and the needy.

                                                                                                                                                      

Jack Warner, Bishop’s Warden, Church of the Epiphany, Grove City, PA