Table Rock Talk April 2016

The Newsletter of Lawrencefield Parish Church

Welcome Bishop Klusmeyer

Annual episcopal visitation this month

The Rt. Rev. W. Michie Klusmeyer, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia, will visit Lawrencefield on April 10. The bishop visits all parishes in the diocese at least once every one or two years.

Bishop Klusmeyer will preside at both Sunday services that day, and meet with the vestry between the services. A special coffee hour is planned to honor the bishop after the 10:00 service.

Although the bishop’s visitation provides the opportunity for Confirmation or Reception, Lawrencefield does not have candidates for Confirmation this year. However, the Renewal of Baptismal Vows will be part of both morning services.

Lawrencefield reads

Parish book club welcomes booklovers

The Lawrencefield Readers meet about every six weeks on Tuesday evenings at the home of Barb Jones. Books are chosen by mutual agreement. Past titles include Recipes for Love and Murder by Sally Andrew, A Prayer for Owen Meaney by John Irving, Angry Housewives Eating Bonbons by Lorna Landvik, Life in a Jar by Jack Myer, and The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin.

Meetings are spirited, refreshments are delicious, and discussions are far-ranging. At the end of each meeting we speculate on what the author’s theology might be.

Our April selection is A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. The date will be announced shortly. Fellow readers are always welcome!

Friends of St. Lawrence wraps up Lenten Session

Group has “prayed with the saints”

Eight members of the Lawrencefield family participated in a program called Friends of St. Lawrence during the six weeks of Lent and Holy Week. Participants drew on the wisdom of such authorities as St. Francis of Assisi, St. Benedict of Nursia, St. Francis DeSales, Evelyn Underhill, and St. Ignatius Loyola.

Using a workbook composed by the rector, participants completed a daily prayer exercise inspired by the practice and teaching of each church figure. We then gathered on Sunday mornings between the services to discuss our experiences and share insights.

The Lenten Series followed up on an Advent series during which the themes explored were “Abiding in Love,” “God’s Presence in You,” “Where are you, God?” and “God is Moving in You.”

The project embracing both series is part of the rector’s doctoral study to see if coaching in spiritual discipline increases awareness of baptismal vocation. In other words, the rector is investigating how widening our experience of prayer affects our self-concept as Christian ministers!

The group will be discussing the possibility of continuing to meet to support each other in ongoing spiritual development. Meanwhile, the rector will use this parish experiment as a primary source in writing her doctoral thesis.

If sufficient interest exists, the programs will be repeated in Advent 2016 and Lent 2017 for a new generation of spiritual explorers!

Rummage sought

As you do your Spring cleaning, remember that Lawrencefield Church welcomes the donation of second-hand items to sell at our August Rummage Sale. Items of moderate size may be dropped off at church on Sundays or during office hours.

The Rector's Study The Rev. Cynthia Byers Walter

Praying with Julian

The Friends of St. Lawrence have been experimenting with “Praying with the Saints.” We have tried prayer techniques and prayer texts devised by St. Francis of Assisi, St. Benedict of Nursia, St. Francis deSales, Evelyn Underhill and St. Ignatius Loyola. One of my favorites we haven’t touched on with the FSL group is St. Julian of Norwich.

The woman known as Julian (1342-1420) was an anchoress attached to the Church of St. Julian of Norwich (England), from which she probably took her name. Anchorites and anchoresses confined their movements to cells, called anchorages, adjacent to churches, monasteries, or cemeteries. They were dependent upon neighbors’ charity for food, and devoted to a quiet life of prayer and study. Their contact with the world was through one small window, although they typically employed a single servant, and Julian herself was known to have kept a cat as a companion.

Julian’s visions, which she called her “showings,” came to her after a near-fatal illness at the age of 30. Julian’s showings are remarkable for her maternal imagery for God, and her identification with the bodily sufferings of Christ. For Julian, death is not something to be feared, but the threshold to new and fuller life. She frequently describes the Lord as “tender” and “courteous.” Though no stranger to suffering, Julian’s faith in the safety of God’s maternal care is reflected in her well-known assertion: “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

Julian’s repute as a wise and holy woman became widespread. People came to her anchorage window for prayer, counsel and spiritual direction. It is easy to see why. Though her maternal imagery may be startling, few today will fail to find Julian’s writings ultimately comforting:

“The mother can give her child tenderly to her breast, but our tender Mother Jesus can lead us easily into his blessed breast through his sweet open side, and show us there a part of the godhead and the joys of heaven, with inner certainty of endless bliss. And that he revealed …See how I love you.”

One of her prayers that has been especially meaningful to me lately goes like this: “In his love has he done his works and in his love has he made all things beneficial to us.” I have been using this prayer with my Anglican rosary (which differs from the Marian or Roman Catholic rosary by having 33 beads and including prayers not specifically addressed to the Virgin Mary.)

There are two ways of understanding the phrase, “He has made all things beneficial to us.” One is to acknowledge that all good things come from God. In other words, “God has made all beneficial things.” But there is another interpretation.

One can also understand this phrase to mean, “God has made all things to be beneficial to us.” In other words, God’s grace has the capacity to turn all things, the apparently good and the apparently bad, to our benefit. This is a more challenging concept, but taken in the context of Julian’s other writings, I think this may be her intended meaning.

Julian tends to understand all things, even things that might be considered misfortunes, within the context of God’s love for humankind, and God’s plan of redemption. Her attitude makes me think of Joseph in the Book of Genesis, sold by his brothers into slavery in Egypt, but through the grace of God raised to a position where he was able to save many people from starvation. At the end of the story Joseph once again confronts the brothers who had misused him so badly, but treats them with forgiveness and loving welcome saying, “Ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good.”

I have often had cause to think of Julian’s prayer when something disastrous turns out to have been a blessing in disguise. This type of experience has contributed to one of my guiding lights, which is “God wastes nothing.” God does not intend that bad things should happen to God’s beloved children, but God is always capable of redeeming misfortune, and bringing blessing out of sorrow.

With this firm belief, Julian’s faith remained sweet and deep through experiences of grave illness, isolation, plague and widespread religious persecution. Julian demonstrates that even in the worst of times, God’s transformative power is diligently at work. The time frame for Christians is eternity, during which God will make all things to be beneficial to us.

Vestry Vibes

Summary of the March 13 Vestry Meeting:

Diocesan loan

We will receive our check for $10,000 to be applied to capital improvements once we have submitted a signed Promissory Note to the Diocese. Rector will check on this.

Insurance claim

We have not yet been able to secure a quotation from the carpet people to submit to the Insurance Company, but since we will not replace the carpet until the exterior work is done in the Spring, we have not lost any time.

Rector Housing

The rector advised the vestry of progress in her family’s plans to move from their current house to a smaller condo outside town. Progress has been quicker than expected and the move may occur by June. Rector will continue to fulfill all duties at LPC until her projected retirement in 2021.

Vestry Committees

will meet after Easter. The Budget Committee may meet as soon as we receive updates on Giving Cards from Mary Frohme, and her estimates as to funds we can expect from loyal givers who do not generally return cards.

Surrounding Neighborhoods

Doorhangers advertising LPC have been distributed in Glenn View. Barb Hinkle and Karen Dalby will distribute them to other surrounding neighborhoods.

Secretary

Jeanne Wolfe has been hired as Parish Secretary to succeed Dolores DeMatte, who retires at the end of March. Jeanne works in the office of Wheeling Park High School and so will have afternoon hours at LPC beginning in April

Sabbatical

The rector will take the last four week of her sabbatical in July to begin writing her thesis. She will inquire as to whether retired ELCA Bishop Dunkin can take on supply duty during her absence.

Senior Warden

Acolytes’ and Lectors’ robes are a mess. Pending the identification of someone who is willing to serve as Robemaster or Robemistress, Barb Hinkle will take one home at a time for laundering and relabeling. Also the printed gift bags we have been handing out to visitors have run out. Barb will price replacements.

Minutes and Treasurer’s Report

were accepted and received.

Bishop’s Visit

There will be a standard Coffee Hour on April 10 rather than an elaborate brunch.