A Note from the Rector – 4/14/19

Holy Week is here; the culmination of Lent, the climax and concentration of the entire Christian story.  All the highs and lows of human experience are dramatically presented to us in the liturgies of Holy Week, from the glory, laud and honor of Palm Sunday, to the absolute dejection, isolation, and suffering of Christ hanging on the cross. 

Let us as faithfully as we can walk with Jesus on this final journey.  Our attitude is not one of grudging obligation, but one of true awe.  Nothing can hold a candle to the mysteries that we are invited to explore this week.  Our attitude is not one of shame, for as St. Augustine wrote in the 4th century, “The death of the Lord our God should not be a cause of shame for us; rather, it should be our greatest hope, our greatest glory. In taking upon himself the death that he found in us, he has most faithfully promised to give us life in him, such as we cannot have of ourselves.”  Augustine alludes to words of St. Paul in Scripture, words that are beautifully etched into our pulpit at Holy Apostles: “God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Come and experience glory this week at the foot of the cross.  Come and receive grace that is only available because of Jesus.  Come and cast all your cares upon the One who cares for us more than we can fathom.

A Note from the Rector – 4/7/19

The Great Vigil of Easter, April 20, 2019 – 8PM. 

It’s Saturday night.  Jesus is dead.  Hell is being harrowed.

The faithful gather in the darkness and gloom.  Quietly, a fire is kindled; the first light of a growing dawn that will soon break over all the earth.  Candles are lit and the people move into the holy place to re-member once again the story of how God is saving everything.  A single voice sings by candle-light, perhaps feeble at first but with growing strength: “This is the night.”  This is the night when You brought Israel out of bondage in Egypt…This is the night, when all who believe in Christ are delivered from the gloom of sin…This is the night when Christ broke the bonds of death and hell…THIS is the night.  The normal experience of linear time need not apply during liturgy.  Heaven and earth kiss.  Time itself bends and we join Christians everywhere and at all times at the tomb of our Savior. The night when Christ conquered death extends backward and forward throughout time and into eternity.  It shakes the very foundations of the world.  We get to be there; to experience it all through ritual and song, through word and sacrament.  This is the night. 

Even though the Great Vigil of Easter was included into the American Book of Common Prayer for the first time in 1979, it is probably the oldest service in that book.  Its structure and many of its words come to us from the Church in Jerusalem in at least the 4th century (A.D. 320s).  It is probably older than that: dating to the 2nd or 3rd century.  Through this liturgy we are joining with the prayers and songs of some of the earliest Christians, gathering at Jesus’ empty tomb to celebrate the most astonishing, earth-moving, hope-dealing thing that has ever or will ever occur.  It doesn’t get any more special or significant than that.  You should come.

A Note from the Rector – 3/31/19

I am getting excited for Holy Week and Easter!  Holy Week (the week before Easter Sunday) is April 14-20.  As it approaches, I want to highlight some of the deeply meaningful practices that make it the culmination of the Lenten season, and—If you include Easter itself—the culmination of the entire Christian year.  The week is a huge marathon of church (trust me, I know), but I cannot stress how valuable, transformative, and excited it can be when you throw yourself into it wholeheartedly.  My heart is racing just thinking about it (seriously). 

Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil (Saturday Night) are all uniquely tied together.  They even have a special name as a group: The Tridiuum (tri-dee-um).  In some senses they are each different movements of the same service.  Maundy Thursday (6:30PM, April 18), doesn’t have a dismissal at the end.  A normal service ends with “Go forth in the name of Christ” or something like that, but Maundy Thursday just cuts off.  Likewise, the Good Friday liturgy (6:30PM, April 19) does not have the normal beginning to a service—there is no Procession, song, or even opening acclamation (normally services begin with: “Blessed be God…”).  The Good Friday liturgy just jumps right in.  And then there’s the Easter Vigil (8PM, April 20).  Don’t even get me started right now on the Easter Vigil.  Next week I am going to gush over the Easter Vigil, but suffice to say that the hair stands up on the back of my neck and my eyes get watery every time I even think about it.  

I want to circle back to Maundy Thursday, the night we celebrate Jesus’ last night before his death.  He sits down to one last meal (the Passover Seder) with his disciples.  He washes his disciples’ feet.  He institutes Holy Communion, the Eucharist.  He adjourns to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray with his disciples, who can’t stay awake, and he is betrayed and arrested.  These events are re-membered and made alive in our own lives in a number of ways:

 1.  We will have an Agape meal with each other.  Agape means “love” and it is about the love that Jesus has for his disciples (us).  Various elements of that meal will have symbolic value and will remind of us of the story in various ways. 

2.    Next, we will wash each other’s feet.  This is awkward and weird, and it’s supposed to be.  That’s the point.  Jesus demonstrated that in his Kingdom the King himself is a servant to all, and that we, as disciples, must learn to serve each other.  Gross feet?  Don’t care.  Jesus—in the visage of one another, his body—is going to wash them anyway, if you let Him.   

3.   Next, we will have a Communion service that re-members (yes, I’m putting the dash there on purpose) and celebrates the first Lord’s Supper in a special way.  This will be the last time we say the Eucharistic prayer together before Easter, although extra elements will be consecrated (see below).  This will be followed by the Stripping of the Altar, a devastating ritual, where just about everything ceremonially removed that can be removed from the chancel (the area around the altar).  This symbolizes the movement of Jesus to the garden of his betrayal, and sets the stage for the starkness of Good Friday.

4.    New to us this year is a practice called the Altar of Repose.  At the Stripping of the Altar the extra bread and wine, including that which we always keep in the Ambry (that special wooden cabinet to the left of the altar) will be carried to a special altar outside our normal worship space.  Since we believe Christ is truly present in the bread and wine of Eucharist, this movement symbolizes Christ’s removal to the Garden.  Here, Christ prays in agony and asks his disciples to keep watch with and pray.  In the story (Mark 13:32-42), the disciples can’t do it.  They fall asleep.  Jesus returns and wakes them and says, “Could you not keep watch with me for one hour?”

      At the Altar of Repose, we are listening to Jesus’ call to us to keep watch and pray with him.  You are invited to sign up (alone or in pairs) for an hour-long time slot Thursday night and the early hours of Friday morning for which you can return to the church, to the Altar of Repose, and pray with Jesus. There will prayers, readings and devotions available for you if you wish.  This is can be an especially meaningful time to take your own agony, or the agony of those you love to the presence of Christ and offer it there to him to be taken up into his passion & death and be transformed by his Resurrection.  On Good Friday, we will consume this reserved Sacrament with which we’ve prayed all night.  Even on the darkest day, the day when God dies on the cross, Jesus is still present to us in our own lives.   

A Note from the Rector – 3/24/19

I love Lent.  I also love Spring.  I love watching early Spring flowers—crocuses, irises, tulips—as they begin to break through dirty snow, dark muddy soil, rotting leaves.  They are glimmers of hope cracking open the gloom of winter.  But, you can’t rush Spring.   It is easy for me to get impatient.  One beautiful Spring day may be followed by a week of storms and terrible weather.  It is hard for me to remember that all are part of the process of new life being birthed again in the world.  It is all part of an incredible miracle, but one that requires patience and attention in order to experience. 

Lent and Spring are both times of rebirth and growth, and this growth can be subtle.  You don’t always notice a crocus growing until one day your whole yard is full of beautiful purple flowers.  This is also true of spiritual growth.  God surprises us sometimes with our own spiritual growth, with the insights and joys, with uncomfortable realizations, and strange, unexpected consolations.  These all come to us, not from within ourselves or own intellect, but from God. They are arriving to us from God’s merciful excess.  So, this Spring and this Lent don’t forget to be surprised, to be taken aback by the wonder that God is bringing into this world, as gloomy, imperfect, or hopeless as it may seem.  God is in the business of surprises.  Let us keep our eyes open for wonder, even in this slog of early Spring and mid-Lent, lest the grace of God spring on us like a trap and catches us unprepared to give God thanks.   

In Christ,

A Note from the Rector – 3/17/19

Welcome to the Second Sunday in Lent, which also happens to be St. Patrick’s Day.  Except for major feasts of Our Lord, whenever a saint’s feast day falls on a Sunday, it is transferred to the next day.  So, in the church’s mind, St. Patrick’s day is celebrated tomorrow (in case you want to wear your “Kiss Me I’m Irish” shirt tomorrow also).  This is because Sunday is always a major feast of the Resurrection.  Every Sunday is Easter Sunday, in other words.  As awesome as St. Pat is, he doesn’t hold a candle to the glorious resurrection of our Lord and Savior.  It also means that while it is a Sunday IN Lent, it is not really a Sunday OF Lent, because Sunday is always Easter.  In fact, the 6 Sundays that occur during the season of Lent are not counted in the 40 days of Lent.  Do with that information what you will.

After today’s 10AM service we are holding an Anglican Prayer Bead workshop in the Memorial Room.  Let me tell you about prayer beads.  First, it is interesting to note that the English word “bead” descends from the medieval Old English word “bede,” which means “prayer.” This testifies to how important prayer beads have been to the spiritual lives of many.

They are an aid to help us focus in prayer.  Being human means that we are spiritual and physical beings.  Many of us find it helpful, then, to have physical components to our spiritual prayer.  Prayer beads give our hands something to do, which somehow frees up some mental and emotional space and helps to focus and concentrate our prayer.  Body, mind, and spirit are connected in mysterious ways.

This embodied, contemplative practice of using objects to count prayers is very old—probably first developed in the Hindu religion over 5,000 years ago.  Many major world religions have their own version of prayer beads.  In the earliest days of Eastern Christian monasticism, monks used pebbles to count their prayers.  This practiced developed over time (4thand 5thcenturies) into beaded or knotted ropes that monks would hold and use to count their prayers. Made out of wool, and tied with a special (and very complicated) knot, prayer ropes (commonly called after their Russian name “chotkis) are still very much in use in the Eastern Christian world.  The prayer used most often with these prayer ropes is called the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”  This prayer is based on several passages form the Gospels, mainly from Luke 18:38 when a blind man outside Jericho cries out to Jesus as he passes by: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”

In the West, this practice showed up first in Ireland, in the 9thcentury monastic communities of St. Columba.  It spread throughout Europe and developed in the later middle ages into the Rosary—the “rose garden”, that is still in common use by Roman Catholics, as well as Anglicans and even a Lutheran or two.  The traditional use of the Rosary calls for three main prayers: the “Hail Mary” (derived mostly from several passage of the Gospel of Luke chapter 1), the Lord’s Prayer, and the “Glory Be” (Glory be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit…).

Sometime in the 1980s an Episcopal priest along with the contemplative prayer group at her parish, developed a simplified version of the Rosary.  They called it the Anglican Rosary.  It uses 33 beads to signify the 33 years of Jesus’ life.  Diverse prayers have been used with the Anglican Rosary, but they have always been closely derived or inspired by Scripture (as, indeed, all the prayers mentioned so far have been).  Our workshop is going to be fun for all ages.  This is a great way to teach children about prayer.  See you there!

A Note from the Rector – 3/10/19

Today is the first Sunday of the season of Lent.  This morning we join in the prayers of the Church using a very ancient form of prayer—the Great Litany.  The Great Litany is the real deal; the big time; the major leagues of prayer.  This prayer was first assembled in response to a 4th century volcanic eruption.  It was further shaped by political uncertainty, war, and medieval outbreaks of the Black Plague in Europe.  In 1544, the Great Litany was the first part of the Liturgy to be translated (and heavily edited) into vernacular English by Thomas Cranmer.  Five years later Cranmer finished the first Book of Common Prayer, which stands at the fountainhead of our own style of worship.  Cranmer’s version of the Litany melded medieval catholic spirituality with the theological concerns of the Reformation.  Martin Luther’s hand can still be detected on the version of the Litany that is in our prayer book.

At one time, the Great Litany was prayed by every Anglican parish every Sunday.  These days, even though it is included in our version of the prayer book, it has fallen into disuse.  This is a real shame. As one scholar writes, the Litany is “a most careful, luminous, and comprehensive collection of the scattered treasures of the Universal Church.”  It holds together the reformed and catholic strands of our tradition, and it articulates the needs, anxieties, and suffering of humanity with a power that is rare.  More than that, the Litany is a profound reminder that we need to rely on the grace and mercy of God.  This is equally true today as it was in the 4th century, or the 14th.  Our life depends on God, whether we recognize it or not.  And the fact is, we often don’t recognize it.  Lent is a good time to correct that, so let’s do it with style.

This morning’s service is going to feel different.  We will begin the service by chanting together this ancient, beautiful prayer. The choir is going to march around the church really slow, and any children present might feel like joining in the march, which would be ideal as far as I am concerned.  My experience is that children intuitively understand the grandest and most sublime parts of liturgy, even if their response to them don’t always strike us adults as appropriate.  It’s going to take some time to chant the Great Litany, which is okay.  Don’t be anxious.  This is an opportunity to lose yourself in the mystery and the majesty of something bigger than you, something more important (really, it is) than the busyness and anxieties and luxuries of everyday life.  I promise it will be worth it.  I also promise to keep my sermon short.  🙂

For more on the history and use of the Great Litany see this excellent article from the Living Church magazine.

A Note from the Rector – 3/3/19

Sunday, March 3rd, is World Mission Sunday.  In this space last week, we printed the bishop’s message calling all the churches in the diocese to mark this day.  You will notice several special prayers in our liturgy this morning which are meant to commemorate mission.  Mission is also a big part of this year’s Lenten Soup Group.  Soup Group is an opportunity to gather on Wednesday evenings in Lent, eat some soup and bread, and have an interesting discussion together about Christian faith and practice.  So, this year, we’ll discuss mission (and evangelism, and the Anglican Communion, and science fiction).  All this talk of mission, though, begs the question.  What is mission?  Here’s a teaser for the Soup Group discussion:

Until the 1400s, mission (missio in Latin) was a word that was only applied to deity.  It was a technical term for the ways that God reveals God’s self in the world.   It was first used for human activity during the European conquest of South and Central America.  At that time, the Church sent “missions,” groups of missionaries to bring Christianity to indigenous people.  The outcome of these missions is, well, complicated.  Not everything done by those and other missionaries was bad.  However, I don’t have to tell anyone that there was and is a lot of terrible stuff that is done in the name of Jesus.

What can be done about the fact that missionary activity has very often gone awry in significant ways?  The first step is to recover the original definition of mission.  Mission is not something that we do.  It is not something that we have.  Contrary to how some might act, Christians don’t possess a mission.  Mission belongs to God.  Mission is the name that we give to the activity of God in the world.  God missions, that is, God moves.  God crosses boundaries.  God shows up in unexpected places at unexpected times.  God’s mission is most perfectly expressed in the person of Jesus Christ.  Jesus is God’s mission to the world.  Jesus crossed the boundary between divine and human in order to bring God’s love and forgiveness to humans.  That’s mission.  Jesus has invited us to participate in His life through baptism.  In baptism we are called to participate in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection (Romans 6:4).  In baptism we cross the boundary from death to life   In baptism we become parts of Christ’s body, and therefore are invited to participate in God’s mission.  BOOM!

If you want to hear more come to Soup Group, Wednesday nights in Lent, or just keep your ears open around here.  I love this stuff and I am not likely to shut up about it anytime soon.

A Note from the Rector – 2/17/19

In relation to my trip to the Holy Land, I have been thinking about the difference between pilgrimage and tourism.  It may seem like an overly precious distinction but I find it to be important.  Tourism isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  To visit, to observe, to experience difference, to stimulate the local economy, this is tourism.  As long as it is conducted respectfully, it can be a positive thing for both the tourists and the hosts.  Pilgrimage is different.  A pilgrimage is a spiritual journey, a journey undertaken with the intent of finding God, or at least finding some spiritual meaning in the landscape or space to which you travel.  Often it is the journey itself where grace is found, and the pilgrim sees God in the face of their fellow travelers.  On even the most interactive tour, tourism is still about observation in the end.  Tourists, no matter how savvy, are outsiders looking in.  In contrast, pilgrimage is about participation of the body, mind, and soul.  In order to be a pilgrim you must be able to recognize and experience your spiritual home, whether as a destination, or along the journey itself.  Pilgrimage is about finding that home even in an unfamiliar place surrounded by unfamiliar people.  It can be a fleeting thing, but pilgrimage is a journey home.  Paradoxically, you have to leave your home in order to find home, sometimes.  But, even as pilgrimage implies movement (and even as movement or travel does not guarantee pilgrimage), pilgrimage is first and foremost a movement of the heart.  Two people standing next to each other in the same place: one is a pilgrim and the other a tourist, and the only difference is an open heart.

I was not a pilgrim for the entire duration of my trip.  Sometimes I was a big, goofy tourist.  Ask Deborah about my legendary shopping trip in the Christian quarter of Jerusalem.  Other times I truly found a spiritual home.  There were places where I connected with God on many different levels of history, culture, liturgy, architecture, and mystery.  I already wrote to you a little about the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  That was certainly one of those places where I found home.  Another spiritual home I found was Christ Church in Nazareth.  Of all the dozens of churches we visited, Christ Church was home in a special way.  It was a simple parish church in the Anglican Communion, not unlike our own parish church.  Most of the liturgy was in Arabic, the language of the local congregation.  But, I knew the liturgy because it was more or less our liturgy.  The beauty of our shared prayer book heritage as Anglicans was evident.  We even sang the same hymns, some of us in Arabic, some of us in English.  Not all of our voices were tuned, but it sounded like a choir of angels.  It sounded like heaven will sound, when as Scripture tells us, people of every tribe, and nation, and language will gather around the throne of God and sing praises to our Creator.  After the Eucharist at Christ Church Nazareth we shared coffee hour because even in Israel, Anglicans/Episcopalians are going to do what we do best.  It truly was home, even as this place, Church of the Holy Apostles, is truly home.  We are united in prayer and purpose with our sisters and brothers in Nazareth, and in Nablus, and in Ramallah, and Cairo, and Moscow, and New Delhi, and Belgrade, and Mobile, Alabama.  Whether we like it or not, or even know it or not, we are united with all Christians in all times and places.  We may not agree on everything; we probably don’t even like each other sometimes.  Yet, we share a spiritual home, and a spiritual purpose—to glorify God and to make God’s glory, and love, and justice known in God’s world.  Of course, the spiritual unity of Christianity aside, Episcopalians (and Anglicans around the world) have the best coffee hour, hands down.

Holy Land Update 2/2/19

Dear Holy Apostles,

I have found it more difficult than I expected to write long updates about the pilgrimage I am on in the Holy Land.  Our local guide, Iyad, keeps us very busy, and every evening we have had that exhausted but happy feeling.  If you use Facebook, you will see a lot of pictures and brief updates on my page.

I am writing to you from Nazareth in Galilee, the town where Jesus grew up.  We are staying very close to the Roman Catholic Basilica of the Annunciation, which is built over a cave that from very early on was revered as the home of Mary, and the place where the angel Gabriel visited her to announce that she would conceive a son who was to be named Jesus.  Nazareth used to be a small village of several hundred people, today there are over 100,000 people here.  It has one of the largest Christian populations in Israel, about 30% of the population are Arab Christians.  The rest are Muslim and Jews.  It is a wonderful place.  As Jerusalem is to New York: huge, chaotic, cosmopolitian; Nazareth is to Philadelphia, still a significant and fascinating city full of history, but a bit more laid back.  That’s my sense of the place, anyway.

We came to Galilee, the northern section of Israel, yesterday.  Before that we were staying in East Jerusalem, near the old city at the Anglican Cathedral guest house.  Jerusalem is an overwhelming and intoxicating place.  There is a so much bustle, so many people, so many street vendors selling everything under the sun.  In the old city there are holy sites and interesting historical sites literally at every turn.  Layer upon layer of history is built up here, and it is a fascinating, beautiful place. One day last week we visited the Western Wall, the holiest place in Judaism.  I wrote the prayers you sent with me and more on a sheet of my journal and crammed with thousands more prayers into the cracks of that wall, which is part of a giant retaining wall that Herod the Great built around the Temple mount.  On the temple mount itself (a place Jews are forbidden by Israeli law to go) is the Dome of the Rock, the second holiest site of Islam.  As a Christian, I am forbidden to pray there.  The next day we went to the Holy Sepulchre which is the holiest site of Christianity.  There is Golgotha, the place of the skull where our Lord breathed his last.  Fifty yards away, housed in a church within a church, is a marble slab which covers what is left of the bench on which Christ’s body was placed after he was crucified to death.  It is almost certainly THE place.  Archeology proves that around AD 135, the Roman emperor Hadrian destroyed a first or second century structure and built a Roman temple on top of it.  He was trying to destroy the memory of every Jewish holy site, including the sites of any sect—like Christianity—that was associated with the Judaism.  When St. Helena, Constantine’s mom, arrived in Jerusalem in the early 4thcentury, local Christians (there have always been Christians in the Holy Land) had no trouble showing her the site.  She had the Roman temple removed, and used some of the pieces to build the first church of the Holy Sepulchre.  This church was destroyed when the Persians conquered Jerusalem in the 7thcentury, and rebuilt by the Crusaders in the eleventh century.  Recent archeology has discovered that Christians in the second and third century built a tunnel underneath the Roman temple to get as close as they could to the site that has always been known to be the place Jesus was raised from the dead.  The current church is a cacophony of architectural eras, as new churches, and even renovations and additions were added while salvaging parts of the old.  Six different Christian denominations share the space.  I kissed the spot where Jesus’ cross stood atop Golgotha, and I laid my head on the marble stab of his tomb.  I can’t describe how moving and faith affirming it was.  Deb and I returned to the church the following morning when it opened (at 4AM!) and witnessed several beautiful services.  Thousands upon thousands visit the church everyday, people from all over, speaking dozens of languages—tourists and pilgrims alike.  It may seem off-puting that the holiest site of our religion is so chaotic.  But, even being jostled in the crowds, it was so moving.  Every language, tribe, nation and tongue coming there, in order to fall at the foot of the cross.

I have so much more to tell you and show you.  The people are so hospitable here, the food has been excellent, and the coffee is almost worth a 10 hour airplane ride for.  So far, this has been an incredible, transformative journey for me and Deb.  I do miss you, and love you.  Sunday we will worship with our Anglican sisters and brothers in Nazareth whose liturgy in English and Arabic is very similar to ours.  Seven hours apart, our prayers will join each other as we give thanks to God together.  Know that you are in my prayers constantly as we visit these holy sites.


A Note from the Rector for 1/20/2019

As many of you know, Deb and I will soon be going on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  The trip is organized by the diocese of Pennsylvania and our bishop will lead the pilgrimage.  For most of the time, we will stay at St. George’s College, which is part of St. George’s Cathedral, the seat of the Anglican Diocese of Jerusalem.  The itinerary for the trip is a bit overwhelming.  Highlights include visits to places that chart Jesus’ entire life from Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity, to Nazareth where we will tour an archeological site that may have been Jesus’ childhood home, to the Sea of Galilee where He called his disciples, to the well where He spoke to the Samaritan woman, to the temple mount where He taught, to the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane, to the Via Delarosa, the path on which He carried the cross, to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre which encompasses both the site of Jesus’ crucifixion and the tomb where He was raised from the dead.  We will celebrate Holy Eucharist in the Judean desert, visit Jericho and the Dead Sea.  We will meet with the Most Reverend Suheil Duwani, the Anglican archbishop of Jerusalem, pray with Armenian Orthodox Christians at the Armenian Cathedral of St. James,  and hear talks by Christians, Muslims, and Jews about a number of historical and contemporary issues.

You can be assured that I will tell you all about this trip in various ways.  I am going to be jabbering on about this for a while!  As internet access allows, I intend to post updates of the pilgrimage on the church’s website, as well as probably on my personal Facebook page.  And I am planning to have a presentation about the trip on February 21st at Holy Apostles.  But there is much more to this trip than just information.  I will be bringing the prayers of/with/for this parish and all of its members with me to the Holy Land.  Deb and I will be praying for you all by name at the holiest places in the world.  In case you would like us to carry a specific prayer intention with us, there will be slips of paper and a large manila envelope on the table in the office hallway.  Those requests will be carried with us throughout the pilgrimage as a tangible reminder of the fact that we carry you all with us in our hearts and minds.

I am very grateful to the vestry and all of you for allowing me the opportunity to go on this pilgrimage.  At my request, Nancy Haas has agreed to continue in her role as Senior Warden until I return, and I am very thankful for her.  I am also thankful to members of the property committee who will be keeping an eye on the rectory.  And, I am grateful to the Rev. Doris Rajagopal, the Rev. Ken Wissler, and others who will cover the liturgical and pastoral needs of the parish in my absence.