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The Fourth Sunday In Lent: Laetare Sunday
March 22, 2020
A Blind Beggar in Budapest,
December 1996
At Ascension

Don’t it always seem to go,
that you don’t what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.
  - Joni Mitchell , ‘Big Yellow Taxi
    from Ladies of the Canyon, 1970

Give ear to our prayers, O Lord, and
direct the way of your servants in safety
under your protection, that,
amid all the changes of our earthly pilgrimage,
we may be guarded by your mighty aid;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.   Amen.
     The Collect appointed for today,
    Wednesday in the Third Week of Lent

Dear People of Ascension,
   Yesterday I was asked about today’s newsletter: “ Are you really going to call it This Week At Ascension’ ? I mean, there’s really nothing happening at Ascension. ” I responded to the question by saying “ Yes, I am going to call it that ,” and I went on to explain that I would do so for two reasons.
    First, I gather that many of us are appreciating as much routine normalcy as we can get right now. I don’t need to elaborate, do I? This Week at Ascension has a remarkably high ‘open rate’ – often over 50% of those on our 350+ email list – suggesting to me that all of you out there appreciate it.
    Second, there is in fact a lot going on at Ascension , as you can read in the ‘Also from the Rector’ section below. (I’d way exceed my self-imposed pastoral letter word limit if I went into it here.)
    What I didn’t say yesterday but later pondered is this: even if we weren’t doing all that we’re doing here at this time, sacred places have a life of their own. Decades of prayer, music and administration of the Sacraments in a holy place can saturate it, I’ve sometimes sensed, with what might be imagined or felt as a heartbeat.
    Even if nothing ‘normal’ is taking place here now, the heart of Ascension continues to beat. This is due, in no small part, to you – your faith, your fondness for and attachment to this place, and your past, present and ongoing prayers. 
Longtime Ascension member John Mulcare died last night, March 17. He had recently moved from his longtime home on North LaSalle Drive to a Brookdale facility in the western suburbs. Father Raymond had recently anointed John and administered Last Rites, and he was regularly visited, cared for and supported by Ascension members David Reeves, Jim Berger (“ friends with John since 1957 ”) and Jim Drury, as well as two Mulcare nephews, Casey and Bill. Arrangements are pending for any visitation or requiem.

Apart and Together is the name I’ve given to recent additional newsletters that I initiated on the evening of March 12, when Bishop Lee directed the indefinite suspension of worship and other gatherings in the congregations of our diocese. The title Apart & Together seemed pastorally pragmatic; I’m hoping that, even though largely apart we at Ascension can maintain a sense of being together in spirit and faith. The title also captures, for me, a sense of the theology of the Ascension ...

I will continue to send you Apart & Together , not on any particular schedule but as I believe they are needed. Some but not all of the matters described below have been included in one or more editions of Apart and Together . Please forgive any annoying redundancies.
+   Unless or until circumstances change, This Week at Ascension  will continue to go out weekly on Wednesdays, with modifications to reflect present circumstances (e.g. no Sunday worship schedule ...). As always, please send any news or features that you believe should be included in any Wednesday’s mailing to Br. Nathanael Rahm in the Ascension office by the prior Tuesday evening. 
+ Br. Nathanael has completed a member spreadsheet with names and contact information. It's a first step in an effort to  identify and follow up with members who live alone and may be particularly at risk .

Mary Beth Hwang, Verger,  continues to work on technology. In one endeavor, we're hoping to have a  webcam up and running in the church 24/7  by the end of the week.

Sr. Warden Gary Alexander, past Warden Chris Raymond , and others are working on enabling the Meet feature of  G-Suite. In coming days we will test ‘Meet’ for online meetings and for possible use with the Daily Office .

Sunday's live-streamed mass  (via Facebook) was or has since been viewed over 500 times. It seems that all of the effort was worthwhile, and we aim to repeat the effort on coming Sundays as needed and to provide additional online worship resources. ( See the survey !)
We will live-stream a weekday mass (for Wednesday in
the Third Week of Lent) today at 3:30pm via our Facebook page .

We aim to live-stream Sunday masses at 9am until further notice.
(Central Time, of course).
Any mass live-streamed via Facebook may also be viewed at a later
+ A roll of toilet paper hardly seems like an appropriate image for a church newsletter – in any ordinary time – but we all know it’s become scarce for some or many. Please let me know if you are not able to acquire some basic need or need someone to run a basic but essential errand. I will do what I can to find the product or someone to be of help. 

+ We aim to keep the food pantry ministry going.” That’s the word I heard in a recent phone call from Deacon Charles Farrell. He advocated for this plan based on likely ongoing and increased need/demand, He also explained to me some initial ideas about modifications that may be necessary. Please contact Deacon Charles directly if you are not on his pantry volunteer mailing list and would like to help. Cash contributions to the pantry or to the Rector’s Discretionary Fund could also be a big help at this time. In the memo line of your check, write ‘Food Pantry’ or ‘Discretionary Fund,’ and thank you.
+ And what about the money? The same shock and anxiety over the stock market and/or employment doubts and troubles that are being felt in countless households are also being felt here at the church. The Treasurer, Wardens and I have begun a related conversation that will soon include Vestry members and that will no doubt be going on for months. We presently have enough cash to cover immediate obligations and will, I gather, begin to develop various forward-looking models that take into account various scenarios and ways forward. 
+ And what about your mortality? Sorry to mention it, but if you haven’t thought about it, you haven’t been paying attention. A document called Five Wishes is a great starting point, or an excellent feature of a thoughtful and comprehensive estate plan. You may find, fill out and print a Five wishes document (for a small fee, I think) by linking here to the Five Wishes website or you may ask us at the church to mail a paper copy of the document to you. I have at least a dozen of them and will be glad if I need to order more. 
+ And what about the music? My thanks to our Organist David White for contemplating hymns that may have been meaningful for us to share here on the upcoming Fourth Sunday in Lent, including a favorite hymn of many, The King of love my shepherd is. David has compiled and shared some notes on the hymn that you may read by clicking here , and he also found a lovely 2012 Youtube recording from the congregation of Trinity Church, Wall Street that you may hear (and watch) here .
+ No printed sermon text this week, but I did offer an impromptu homily in conjunction with the live-streamed mass for the Third Sunday in Lent that you may view here.  
Please remember these people in your daily prayers
Charley Taylor, August 'Augie' Alonzo, Ted Long, Jim Berger, Ethel Martin, Yuka Asai, Dean Pineda, Carnola Malone, Charlene MacDougal, Jack Johnston, Patricia Johnston, Stewart Marks, Char Yurema, Bob Sparacio, Canon Edgar Wells, Nicholas Carl, Joshua, Ellie, Catriana Patriarca, Carmen Castro, Mary Drell, Jim Lo Bello, Judy Cook, Steve Waltz, Lillian Alexander, John Mulcare, Mary Lou Devens, Ted Jennings, Marty Stenson

During this time of transition , the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Chicago asks for prayers for the church, our diocese, our clergy and lay leaders, our retiring bishop, and those who may be discerning a call to become the Thirteenth Bishop of Chicago.

P rayers for the departed
Geoffrey Wainwright, Theologian ( To read the Wikipedia entry on Dr. Wainwright click here )
Denise Gordon, wife of Mary Jane Kowalski's cousin
John Mulcare

Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord: and let light perpetual shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Parishioner and organist Jay Peterson was heard making music at the console of the Schrader Organ yesterday. He later reported to me that he’d spent much of the time looking for the ‘Lost Chord.’ I gather he was referring to Sir Arthur Sullivan’s still-well-known song of 1877. You may read up on the Lost Chord by clicking here and read the lyrics below. May you all find life-giving chords to get you through this week and beyond, with God’s help. - Fr. Raymond +
  Seated one day at the organ
I was weary and ill at ease
And my fingers wandered idly
Over the noisy keys
I know not what I was playing
Or what I was dreaming then;
But I struck one chord of music
Like the sound of a great Amen
Like the sound of a great Amen
It flooded the crimson twilight
Like the close of an angel's psalm
And it lay on my fevered spirit
With a touch of infinite calm
It quieted pain and sorrow
Like love overcoming strife;
It seemed the harmonious echo
From our discordant life
It linked all perplexèd meanings
Into one perfect peace
And trembled away into silence
As if it were loth to cease

I have sought, but I seek it vainly
That one lost chord divine
Which came from the soul of the organ
And entered into mine
It may be that death's bright angel
Will speak in that chord again
It may be that only in Heav'n
I shall hear that grand Amen
The Very Rev. Patrick Raymond, Rector

Susan Schlough, Treasurer

Br. Nathanael Deward Rahm BSG, Parish Office