Ecole Saint Matthieu, Bayonnais, Haiti
As we start a new year, the Mission Team and the vestry are excited to issue an invitation to Saints James and Andrew, one that seeks to continue broadening the scope of our parish outreach as we look beyond our walls and our immediate surroundings to find new partners in mission. Grace Church Amherst has been supporting a primary school in rural Haiti for the past 15 years. They are already collaborating with an Episcopal church in Maryland as well as the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti, and three NGOs: Food for the Poor, Anseye Pou Ayiti (“Teach for Haiti”) and Health4Haiti. Together these partners have grown the primary school of Bayonnais from one room to a campus housing facilities for grades 1-6. This year they have added a seventh grade, and so they need more funds, and more partners. That’s where we come in.
We are proposing that our parish take on a Lenten commitment to Saint Matthieu beginning in 2023, to be evaluated after the first year to see if we can and want to continue. Educating one seventh grader for a year costs about $300, including uniforms, textbooks and school supplies). We propose a goal of $1500, enough for about five students. The vestry has asked that the parish outreach budget make up the short fall if that amount isn’t raised. We have invited someone from Grace Church to come on Sunday, February 19 to speak to the congregation about their involvement in this project, and to answer questions.
Many aspects of this outreach project make it especially worthwhile. Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, is the victim of recurring disasters, both natural and political, including climate-related disasters brought on because of the very high price this island pays for the rest of the world's environmental negligence. But Haitians value education very highly. They understand that education is their ticket out of their current state of destitution. There is a delicate balance between outreach projects that practice charity and those that promote justice. In supporting the education of young people in the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, we would be working to tip the scales in favor of justice.
Please visit the website www.graceinhaiti.org to learn more about this remarkable project.
Donation envelopes are available in the narthex, and contributions can also be made on the Saints James and Andrew website. In the memo line of a check, please write, 'Haiti - St. Matthieu'. Thank you!
In less than two weeks we will begin our observance of a holy lent “...by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy Word." It is a season where we are asked to be intentionally reflective about our lives and relationships with God - where have we maybe gone a bit sideways in embodying our faith? Where do we need to right a wrong? How might we be called to get a little uncomfortable in order to grow?
As a rule, we tend to pay attention to our individual faith during Lent. This is good, holy, and important work. Yet this Lent, we want to put a particular emphasis on our corporate brokenness, specifically with regard to systemic racism and the climate crisis. How have we as the body of Christ fallen short? How do we begin to take responsibility for the active role the Church has played in perpetuating systemic racism? How has the Church supported and promoted the consumer culture that has led to the climate crisis? How do we still deny God’s call to love creation in thought, word, and deed? This kind of corporate brokenness is something we must reflect on together. It is not work meant for us to do in isolation.
One way we will invite our parish and the wider community into this reflection is with a Lenten Meditation Walk. Some years we have hung stations of the cross in our sanctuary; this year, we will instead hang ten pieces of iconography that prompt us to reflect on our corporate brokenness when it comes to systemic racism and the climate crisis. These icons have been painted/written by John B. Giuliani, Kelly Latimore, Br. Robert Lentz, Mary Jane Miller, Jessica Rhys, and Paul Wirhun. Next to each piece is a bit of background, such as what inspired it, and a question prompting our reflection. It is our hope that throughout the season of Lent, folks will stop by the church at their own convenience and walk through our sanctuary, prayerfully reflecting on each piece and prompt. The church is open daily.
These themes will also be reflected in our worship through a special Great Litany for Creation Care, A Litany for Racial Reconciliation, a Litany for Peace and Justice, in a few of our hymns, and in our Eucharistic Prayers. With this emphasis on repentance, we will be using a penitential order, starting our service with confession. For the season of Lent we will also shift from the entire congregation saying A Prayer for the Human Family as we strive to Become Beloved Community and A Collect for Creation Care, to having one individual lead those collects each week. Our hope is that a variety of voices will help us to reflect on these prayers in a slightly different way. Sometimes we can lose track of what we are praying and why. It is our hope this subtle shift will help us remember.
If you have questions or concerns, please be in touch with the clergy. May this Lent be a season of repentance, reconciliation, and renewal.
Prayer & Meditation:
Daily Encouragement: Receive an email each day offering an affirmation, mindful moment, poem, prayer, quote, or song to reflect on and encourage you on the journey. This is a special offering from our clergy through at least Pentecost. Sign up by emailing Rev. Heather.
Daily Compline 2.0: Beginning Ash Wednesday and every evening throughout Lent at 8pm you can join others across our diocese for Compline. The Bishop established a Compline community in 2020 that continues in faithfulness. Lent is the perfect time to expand to five nights a week and create a new recurring Zoom link. In addition to The Rt. Rev. Mark Beckwith and the Very Rev. Jim Munroe, Licensed Lay Worship Leaders will be added for Thursday and Friday evenings. The NEW Zoom info will be available on Ash Wednesday HERE
Renewing God’s Creation: Daily meditations for Lent
Lent invites us to reflect on our relationships with God, each other, and the Earth upon which all life depends. The Creation Care Leadership Circle, a small group in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts that advises our Missioner for Creation Care, invites you to sign up to receive an inspirational daily meditation (including a short quote and an image) during the Forty Days of Lent. The quotes come from many sources as we honor the wisdom of many voices and traditions. Please join us as we contemplate the gift of the natural world and our calling to reconcile humanity with the rest of God’s creation. Sign up here.
Forward Day by Day:
Receive daily lectionary readings and prayer in booklet, online, or podcast form. Sign up here.
Inspired by college basketball tournaments, Lent Madness pits 32 saints against each other in a bracket, as each saint seeks to win the coveted Golden Halo. Throughout Lent, fans vote for their favorite saints at www.lentmadness.org. Sign up to receive their daily emails here.
Bible Study & Reflection
Join a parish bible study. Bible Study for Nerds is reading and discussing Acts of the Apostles on periodic Wednesdays at 5pm (email firstname.lastname@example.org for the schedule and zoom links); Monday Bible Study focuses on the upcoming lectionary readings, and Friday Reflection discusses inspirational passages. (email email@example.com for the schedule and zoom links.)
Reconciliation: Putting a Burden Down
A Lenten Quiet Day with the Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas
Saturday, March 19 from 9:30 a.m. – 12 Noon - Online- (free)
In every act of reconciliation, we connect with the boundless love of God. Through brief presentations and conversation, as well as silent prayer and guided meditation, this online Lenten retreat will give us space to explore and to pray about the places in our lives where God may be inviting us to let go our burdens of resentment, guilt, or shame. Sign up here.
For Children, Teens, & Families
Building Faith does Ash Wednesday includes a series of articles about activities and practices geared to families with children for Ash Wednesday..
A What We Do in Lent Activity Pack produced by Church Publishing includes a wealth of activities, craft projects, recipes, and short articles through which to explore Lent.
Resources for at home Lent and Easter kits by Illustrated Ministry offers coloring pages for free and for purchase.
SsJA keeps a list of resources for children and families up to date.