I write to you today with the heavy heart that we all must have after yesterday’s riot at the U.S. Capitol. As Wednesday’s events unfolded, I found myself moving from incredulity to astonishment to fear for people’s lives to anger and disgust and finally relief — relief because it could have been a lot worse. As the evening moved into early morning, Congress moved back into session, our democratic process worked, and the election of former vice president, Joseph Biden, to become our next president was affirmed.
Today we stand amid the detritus of the “morning after,” not so much asking, “Did this really happen?” but rather “How did this happen?” Lots of commentators are offering opinions about what happened. One phrase I hear repeatedly is “We are better than this.” These words propose that this is not who we are as a country. Sadly, though, we are not “better than this.” To quote one football coach, “You are what you are.” When your record is 4-11, you can’t say, “We are better than this.” You are a 4-11 football team. Right now, we, as a country, are not “better than this.” We are what we are – divided, angry, sick – both figuratively and bodily, fear-filled and lost. We may become “better than this” and I know we can be “better than this,” but right now, we are not “better than this.” We are what we are.
This is where you and I, my brothers and sisters in Christ, can rise up to be beacons of hope, encouragement and healing. A bishop sometimes serves as a type of spiritual doctor. I have obviously made a diagnosis of what is unhealthy and destructive in our culture. Now, as a good physician will, I offer one part of a prescriptive course back to wholeness and health. It is the way of Christ in the Catholic faith. You and I as Catholic disciples are not separate from our culture and our country. We are part of it just like everyone else. If our country is broken and in need of healing, we must ask ourselves, “What part am I playing in all of this?” Am I living as a citizen of this country first and foremost as a disciple who is striving to love God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit and my neighbor as myself? In other words, am I living and encouraging others to become “better than this” or am I part of the problem that has brought us to where we are now? My prescription then for myself and for all of us is to do some serious soul-searching, to excise what is not of God, what is not of the good, and to become the healing cells for the body politic of our country.
We do not do this alone nor do we do it without help. We do so in communion with the Church and with one another. We have the gift of the Holy Spirit which we received when we were first baptized, we have the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the forgiveness of sins, and we have the incredible gift of the Eucharist, the Sacrament of the Cross and the food for the journey. Finally, in our daily prayer as well, let us offer prayers for our country, that we may live as brothers and sisters, not in silos of resentment and anger, but as “one nation, under God … with liberty and justice for all.”
May God bless America.
Bishop Christopher Coyne,
Diocese of Burlington VT
January 7, 2021
Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs
January 6, 2021
On this day of the Feast of the Epiphany, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry invites Episcopalians and people of faith to turn and pray on behalf of our nation.
Watch the video of the Presiding Bishop’s statement here.
A transcript of the statement follows:
Today is January the 6th, 2021. It is the Feast of the Epiphany. And on this particular day at this particular moment, even as our nation’s capital is being endangered and assaulted, we pray that the Lord Jesus Christ, we pray that God, in his Way of Love, might prevail in all of our hearts.
The events at our Capitol today are deeply disturbing. We believe the actions of armed protesters represent a coup attempt. We are a democracy, with long-standing institutional norms that must be honored, foremost among them, following the processes laid out in the Constitution and Federal statute to facilitate the peaceful and orderly transition of power.
Today’s protesters pushed through police barricades and forced their way into Congressional chambers, and the Capitol building are now threatened, and threatening the safety of lawmakers, their staff, and others who work in the Capitol complex. This threatens the integrity of our democracy. The national security of our nation, the continuity of government, and the lives and safety of our legislators, their staffs, law enforcement, and all who work in the Capitol.
I, therefore, ask you now to join me in prayer for our nation, praying first from the prayers that accompany Morning Prayer:
Save your people, Lord, and bless your inheritance;
Govern and uphold us now and always.
Day by day we bless you;
We praise your name forever.
Lord, keep us from sin today;
Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy.
Lord, show us your love and mercy;
For we put our trust in you.
In you, Lord, is our hope;
And we shall never hope in vain.
-Morning Prayer II, Book of Common Prayer, p. 98
Let us pray:
Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered together under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one God and Creator of us all; to whom be dominion and glory, now and forever.
- For Peace, Book of Common Prayer, p. 815
Oh God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your son. Look now with compassion on the entire human family; and particularly this part of the family, in the United States, and those in our nation’s capital; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
- For the Human Family, Book of Common Prayer, p. 815
On this day and at this moment, we pray for our nation. We ask God to heal us, to show us the way to healing, to show us the way to be one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Now, as our Savior Christ has taught us, we are bold to say,
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power and the glory,
forever and ever.
And now, may the peace of God which passeth all understanding keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
The blessing of God Almighty the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be on you and on this nation and on the entire human family and all of creation this moment and forevermore.
It was high summer when the Rev. Angela Emerson became interim rector at St. Peter’s Church in Bennington. The COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing, complicating her desire to undertake a hospitality initiative. Still, the congregation had certain assets at its disposal.
“One of the things that struck me was just how beautiful the church was,” Emerson says. “It’s a very large facility. It was hot and there was a lot of shade and breeze, and I started telling them about Montpelier, and how, before the pandemic, the courtyard at Christ Church, Montpelier was the place to have lunch in Montpelier.”
Brainstorming with parish leaders ensued, and eventually the conversation drifted toward putting out a box into which people could submit prayer requests. That’s when a little parish history became relevant.
More than 15 years earlier, Bill Harrington, the church’s junior warden, had built a miniature stable for the Christmas pageant, constructing it using bolts, rather than nails so the structure could be put up for the family service and taken down before the more formal Eucharist later that morning.
“I didn’t know if we even still had that down in the cellar,” Harrington says. But he took a look, and there it was, stacked in pieces on the floor.
The tiny structure had originally been constructed for children, and Harrington had to prop it up on blocks so it would accommodate adults. And, being a proud workman, he didn’t want the blocks to be visible, so he covered them with the good boards he had saved when the congregation took down an old fence behind the parish hall.
But all of that was easily accomplished, and a good day’s work later, St. Peter’s was the home of Pause Place, a sliver of a place in which passers-by can submit prayer requests on index cards, pick up some of the prayers that the church makes available, peruse a community bulletin board, or just stand out of the elements if the weather is unfriendly.
The church sits at the corner of Pleasant and School Streets in what was once a toney part of town with opulent homes that were divided into rooming houses and apartments as the local economy declined. In this sometimes melancholy townscape, the hut quickly became an opportunity for conversation. “If we are there putting up a prayer or something, somebody will inevitably stop and say something to us,” Emerson says.
St. Peter’s provides copies of prayers for grief, healing and peace in Pause Place, as well as copies of the Serenity Prayer. It incorporates the prayers of passers-by into its Sunday service. On occasion, those prayers offer a window into the difficult lives of the church’s neighbors.
“The last one I saw on Saturday was ‘Dear God help me,’” says John Terauds, the church’s community missioner. “There was no name on it. It was just a scrawl on an index card. It’s like a cry from the heart. It’s like something straight out of a psalm.”
Emerson believes Pause Place constitutes the first step into a deeper engagement with the neighborhood. Regardless of the pandemic, she says, the congregation will continue to explore ways to use the gift of its lawn and building to reach out to the community.
“It’s a way of saying, ‘We want to be a part of your life,’” she says. “’And we want you to be a part of ours.’”
December 17 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Grab a pint and join us over Zoom for Theology on Tap! Secure your spot here and invite your friends with this link.
Sr. Helena Burns, FSP will be speaking on “Theology of the Body.”
Theology on Tap is a lecture and discussion series for young adults ages 18-39.
VT Christian Music is NOW holding a monthly Christian Music Online Concert Series.
2nd Wednesday Night of the Month – 7pm via Zoom — LIMITED SEATING AVAILABLE
ZOOM link will be sent out via email a few days before the show.
Tickets will be on sale through 6pm January 13, 2021 or until we run out of Zoom seats.
January 13, 2021 – featuring
$10/FAMILY TICKETS — PURCHASE HERE
WATCH THESE VIDEOS
November 17, 2020 | 1:00 p.m. ET
CLICK HERE to Register
As we are faced with challenges, uncertainty, and division, we turn to God for guidance, counsel, and encouragement. Our foundation as individuals, families, and as a country have been tested mightily, and we know our strength starts with a solid core. Let’s reflect on God’s example, His grace and love for others, and recognize that we are all a part of His higher plan.
Join Dr. Evans as he illustrates how living the biblical principles of stewardship within the realm of God’s kingdom is key to strengthening each other and healing our communities. Through His gifts of time, talent, and treasure, God empowers us to spread His love, light, and hope. As we serve others, we serve and honor the Lord.
In her convention sermon to the Episcopal Church of Vermont, Bishop Shannon preached on Matthew 14:22-34. “Now is the time for us in the Diocese of Vermont to step out of the boat and go closer to Jesus,” she said. “I pray that we will allow Jesus to terrify us with his power working in you! May we feel the water undulating under our feet and lapping around our ankles. May we feel the wind blowing in our faces and causing us to feel unsteady, and when this happens, I pray that we will reach out, call out to Jesus to steady us. His hand is always there, ready to hold us up.”
During the summer months, I was fortunate to spend a few weeks of vacation at our family cottage on the coast of Maine. I say “fortunate” because I realize that for all kinds of reasons, most especially the Covid-19 pandemic, many were unable to have anything resembling a vacation this year. Indeed, some of you see the idea of a vacation as wishful thinking even in the best of times. So, I am truly fortunate for having my time away.
In many ways, my summer vacation was no different than any other year: The beach was the same, the Maine water was still a bit chilly, and the daily patterns of vacation were pretty much like any other year.
But in other ways, it was very different. I found myself talking to neighbors and friends “across the hedge,” maintaining safe social distancing, especially with my elderly friends. The vegetables I brought from my garden were left at the backdoor with a knock and wave and hurried conversation at a distance. The next day I got a text from the same neighbor telling me a blueberry pie was on my porch and to hurry and get it before the chipmunks did.
A few times, we gathered outside for an early evening happy hour, each in our safely distanced chair with our own glass of wine, catching up on all of the news we missed since last summer.
Whenever anyone would make their masked and gloved way to the supermarket there was a shout-out to the neighbors, “Does anyone need anything at the store?” Life went on, although not the same. Even in a time of social distancing and quarantine, friendship and community were maintained.
The same is true for the Church here in Vermont. While many things are different because of the pandemic, many things are the same. We adapt, we compromise, we think creatively, and we try new ways of being who we are as a people of Christian faith. Even in time of social distancing and quarantine, fellowship and communion are maintained.
— Bishop Christopher Coyne,
Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington