Farnham & St. John's
Weekly Message
"Reaching Out"
What a difference a couple of weeks can make. At the end of February we were all surprised at the warming weather, daffodils up early. We were eagerly involved in plans: in the church to “create clean hearts” for a Lenten journey, meetings and luncheons to host, a palm-waving Sunday, a glorious, flower filled Easter Sunday and Easter Egg hunts bringing life to our cemetery landscapes. In the community for events to come like concerts, funny plays, Spring meetings of organizations we were a part of, Garden Week, and simple routine things like exercise or yoga classes at the Y. Maybe plans to attend out of town conferences, retreats, a Spring cruise or travel to be with far flung family or friends. Etc., etc., etc. We weren’t aware that what would take over our world, locally and world-wide would totally disrupt most of our plans. Weren’t we basically clueless a couple of weeks ago that among the above etcetera’s would be a tiny microbe that would totally “infect” our rhythm of life?  An “etc.” we couldn’t have imagined then would become a monster on the loose, so ruthlessly erasing plans and expectations and, literally, threatening life!

We couldn’t have imagined that our worship service in a coming Sunday would not be in our beautiful church settings with the organ playing and folks slipping into the pews. That what it would turn out to be was some variation of “at home church.” For some of us, maybe watching a YouTube Washington National Cathedral service presented to an empty cathedral nave but thousands via internet. For some maybe pulling out a hardback copy of the Book of Common Prayer (“Now just where did we put it?) or pulling it up on the computer or picking up the current “Forward Day by Day” or some other simple contemplative reading. Or maybe, not even focusing on the fact it was Sunday and we weren’t going to church – something that happens a lot for many folks in their normal routine anyway. For twelve of us our Sunday worship happened on Sunday evening with cell phones to the ear in a hastily arranged tele-conferenced gathering. (Such special thanks to Kim and Bill Calvert for suggesting and arranging this way of doing “at home church.”) Sandy Hagan, one of the worshipers later dubbed it a “Telephone Tree Service.”  I love it! 

Our church and its facilities are closed. Meetings (ours and those of other “community” groups that use these spaces) are cancelled, rescheduled, postponed indefinitely, offered otherwise in ways promoting “social distancing.” Events throughout our Northern Neck Community are cancelled, schools are closed, sports events suspended (even nationally), churches, the “Y” and so many of the spaces we take for granted as part of our life are not open to us. But church and community are not made up of physical structures; they are made up of people. And the spaces that make a difference are our hearts, minds and spirits. The challenge now in the face of the c-virus pandemic is how we find ways to “connect” after all, how we can “reach out” to one another, how we can “gather” and commune in ways healthy for all of us. It’s about exploring the healthy pathways for community while protecting those pathways from that which wants to travel destructively along them. (Hmm! An idea worth exploring at any time.)

Monday I opened the weekly blog that I have come to treasure: for its simple wisdom, good storytelling, practical “theology” and a combination of suggested poems, prayers, music out of which I usually find a “goodie” for sharing. Terry Hershey in his “Sabbath Moment” this week offered a poem titled “Pandemic” by Lynn Ungar. I believe it simply, wisely and beautifully orients us to the opportunity we can find within the crisis that is affecting/infecting our lives, individually and collectively, locally and world-wide. In the middle of the chaos and disorder of our rhythm of life that a tiny microbe has authored, perhaps there are lessons and new ways to be learned. The way to combat the threat this micro enemy has launched is not to serve as its “host.” Its greatest pathway is us. It counts on its survival and growth, its multiplication happening in the context of what we need the most: connection, intimacy, being with each other, touching, talking, breathing in and out, being in physical proximity to other human beings. How can we meet our human needs in healthy, life (physical/emotional/psychological) preserving ways yet not take part in the proliferation of that which is life threatening and destructive? I don’t like the term “warfare” but I wonder if it isn’t particularly applicable here, as I am re-contemplating the healing stories Jesus tells, not in words, but in his actions of casting out that which was taking over those whom he healed. There was something about his Presence as he reached out with his wisdom, compassion, love and spiritual energy to make this happen. Often without physical touch and even when the person was at a physical distance from him. He recognized and addressed healing, implicitly if not explicitly as “spiritual” – a discernment of spirits that can be harmful and destructive, life-threatening. He engaged in this “spiritual warfare” by, in effect, removing a “demon” (the destructive aspect) from its “host” to make the person “well” again.

I hope you find the poem to follow helpful. I have as I read it and sense its potential as we seek ways of serving as facilitators and mediators of physical health and safety. I also hope that we glean what it has to offer at a deeper and potentially less visible level for ways of serving as facilitators and mediators of spiritual/soulful health and safety. Sometimes its easier to spot the physical “enemies” (visible or invisible), less so the spiritual ones.

Be well, stay safe, nurture compassion, let your heart, mind and soul explore new ways to reach out and touch others, let yourself be “touched” by the energy of love (received and given). Do not let yourself be overcome by fear, anxiety or a host of negative thoughts thoughts. Isolate yourself from that which is destructive and flow with what is healing and restorative and life-giving. Remember the words of the Divine: “Fear, not!” and “I am with you always.”
                                                                                   In faith,


What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath –
the most sacred of times.
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love –
For better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.
                                                 (Lynn Ungar 3/11/2020)                                           
Rt. Rev. Susan Goff Announces Appointment of Assisting Bishop 
The Rt. Rev. Susan E. Goff, Bishop Suffragan and Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese of Virginia, today announces the appointment of the Rt. Rev. G. Porter Taylor as Assisting Bishop of the Diocese of Virginia. Taylor is the retired Bishop of the Diocese of Western North Carolina and comes to the Diocese of Virginia from Wake Forest University Divinity School, where he serves as a visiting professor of Episcopal Studies.

Bishop Taylor will begin his ministry within the Diocese of Virginia on July 1, 2020. He will join Bishop Goff and Assistant Bishop Jennifer Brooke-Davidson in episcopal visitations to churches, schools, colleges and retirement communities; the support of clergy and congregations in varieties of ways; and development of clergy teaching days around diocesan mission priorities.
Please consider doing the following:

*  Watch a video of the Presiding Bishop's Sermon last Sunday.   3-15-20 Bishop Curry

*  Read last Sunday evening "teleconferencing" service in which twelve of us from Farnham & St. John's participated, complete with my "reflection notes" on the Gospel passage.     3-15 Farnham & St. John's 

*   Watch the Sunday, March 22, webcast with the Sunday Morning Holy Eucharist Service at the Washington National Cathedral.  The Very Rev. Randy Hollerith is preaching. (Small world note - Torrence was Randy's assistant at St. James's in Richmond from 2004 - 2006.)

* Link in to our Farnham/St. John's teleconferencing Evening Prayer service (The Phone Tree Service) this coming Sunday, March 22 nd at 6:30 p.m. It will be with a Celtic orientation. Here are the directions: Dial in number    1-425-436-6323  .   When asked punch in Access Code 781055#
Looking forward to "hearing" you then.
Forward Day by Day
save this site as a favorite
especially since we haven't been getting paper copies.
Our web-page Community Links page includes links to the Diocesan website, the Cathedral website, the National Church website, the on-line prayer book and other resources.
And, finally, at the end of each day a suggested prayer to offer as you slip into bed and hopefully towards rest: (from the New Zealand Prayer Book)
Lord, it is night.

The night is for stillness.
Let us be still in the presence of God.

It is night after a long day.
What has been done has been done;
what has not been done has not been done;
let it be.

The night is dark.
Let our fears of the darkness of the world and of our own lives
rest in you.

The night is quiet.
Let the quietness of your peace enfold us,
all dear to us,
and all who have no peace.

The night heralds the dawn.
Let us look expectantly to a new day,
new joys,
new possibilities.

In your name we pray.

Come join our teleconference
Evening Prayer service Sunday March 22 nd
at 6:30 p.m.
Call 1-425-436-6323
ACCESS CODE 781055 #
Farnham Church
St. John's Church