St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 27 Plains Road, Windham Center, CT.

Vicar - The Rev. John Burton
Sunday Holy Eucharist Service - 9.30am.

Church School for children grades 1 thru 8.

Holy Disruption: An Invitation to Lent 2015

Because it is so easy for us to live as if on autopilot—performing the routines of our lives by rote, rushing from place to place without noticing our surroundings, forgetting to be awed by creation, failing to acknowledge the existence of those whose paths we cross  or to remember that our very existence is a gift—we need Lent each year.  Lent provides us with a holy disruption.  

Give something up.  Take something up. Do something different than what you do the rest of the year.  It’s amazing how little it takes to mess up our routines.  And once free of our routines we have a chance—a brief chance--to remember that life is precious, that our time on earth is very brief and that our purpose here is to learn to love.  We have a very brief chance to live again. 

I remember meeting my undergraduate mentor in his office, an amazing old book lined, antique sort of a place.  We sat in cushioned armchairs there and discussed great things.  Except during Lent.  I remember going there that first February and finding his comfy armchair rudely pushed off into a dark corner, replaced by a stiff, straight backed wooden chair that lived the rest of the year covered by books, papers and a dusty jacket.  He used that hard chair until Easter.

We never discussed it, but I now understand that the purpose of his Lenten redecorating had less to do with his sharing in the mortifications of Christ and more to do with holy disruption.  With this simple change, every entry into his office, every sit down and stand up of his workday, every welcoming of a guest, every hour of reading in his chair became a break with his routine and a reminder to pay attention. 

The point of our Lenten disciplines is not penance, self-flagellation or even self-improvement.  It is to provide the disruption that causes us to pay attention to what really matters.  When we disrupt our routines we remember that we are human beings and not human doings.  We remember that we are creatures and not the creator.  We remember that our purpose here is to grow in love.  We are awakened from sleep and reminded that there is a lot more to life than getting more stuff and going through our lives in a trance. 

I encourage you to practice holy disruption this Lent. Give something up.  Take something up. Do something different than what you do the rest of the year.  It doesn’t need to be something great, in fact the simpler it is, the better.  And then pay attention to what happens.  Let it be a prompt for you to consider what matters and to ask: Are the things that I am doing making me into a more loving person?    If I refused to act from habit what new opportunities could come into my life? If I continue in the way that I am going will I get where I want to be?

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 18 this year.  Please join us for our Ash Wednesday Liturgy at 7:00 pm.

Ash Wednesday is followed by the six Sundays of Lent and then by Easter on April 5.  Please join us for our Sunday worship with Holy Eucharist, and children’s Sunday School each week at 9:30am.  The service is followed by Coffee Hour.



Dinner Church: Fridays in Lent

The ancient future.  That is an expression I am hearing used to describe some things that are happening in the Church these days.  One of those things is Dinner Church.  The ancient future suggests that the path into the future is found by revisiting the structures that shaped the Church in ancient times, and renewing them in the present.

Dinner Church, our Lenten Activity,  revisits the way that the earliest Christians gathered for worship in the time before dedicated buildings, vestments, hierarchy and prayer books.  Instead of Church looking like an auditorium where people go to take part in something prepared for them, it looks like an opportunity to create something together.  Instead of being a symbolic meal of a crumb of bread and a sip of wine, it is a real (vegetarian) meal which includes a Eucharistic action.  Instead of people sitting in rows and listening, Dinner Church takes place around the table and has opportunities for conversation and dialog.

Our Dinner Church will be modeled on what they do at St. Lydia’s Church in Brooklyn, NY.  As you arrive, we will gather for an opening song, prayer and a reading from Scripture.  You will then join a team of people who are making preparations.  Some will be cooking, or setting up the room, or preparing details of the service.  In time, we will gather at the tables, bless the bread and share it and then eat for a while.  When the eating is about done, we will hear again the passage from Scripture and talk about it, sharing stories from our lives.  After this we’ll pray, clean up together, sing a song, get a blessing and go home.                       

To a great extent, this format preserves what is best about our previous Lenten Soup Suppers—the food and the chance to hear each other’s stories--and it places them in a Eucharistic context while allowing us to create together rather than rely on others to do the creating for us.  Perhaps it is an ancient path into the future.

Want to know more?  Here’s an article you can read:

Or better yet, a video:

Dinner Church will happen at 6:30pm on four Fridays in Lent: February 27, March 6, 13 and 20 with a snow date on March 27.  Please join us for one or all.

St Paul's Newsletter - February 2015
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St Paul's Newsletter - March 2015
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