Farnham & St. John's
The Weekly Message
REMINDER: Don't forget Torrence's Fireside Chat Zoom Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. Click here. The Meeting ID is #874 6422 3213!!
The Song of the Angels

Angels in the spotlight. They are front and center in this time leading up to Christmas. This week our Gospel passage is about an angel appearing to a young Jewish girl in the Gospel of Luke. With exciting news. Last year in the Gospel of Matthew the angel appeared to Joseph the man who was betrothed to Mary. Maybe it wasn’t quite as exciting to Joseph as it was to Mary. But then again Mary seemed to need to ponder the news when she heard it, a bit skeptical at first. Funny thing about angels – the first words they offer when they appear is “Do not be afraid.”

Funny thing about angels, I used to be skeptical about them. Thought they were just part of an ancient, miraculous story, an opportunity for kids to dress up in filmy white and wear wings in Christmas pageants. Something for famous artists to paint from their imaginations. But not particularly relevant to life lived today.

For several years I used to present a four-part series on a Biblical theme in January each year at Rappahannock Westminster Canterbury. One year I was running out of ideas, but then came up with a spur of the moment list to offer the organizer. At the last minute I added “Angels” to the list. Skeptical about doing it because I considered myself something of a non-believer (of angels, that is). Guess what the group picked.

It ended up being a stunning series, not because of anything I brought to it, but because of everything the approximately 15 + participants contributed. They brought angel figurines, poems about angels, books, pictures. But mostly their own stories. Experiences they or friends or loved ones had. They shared and shared and shared. And somehow over the course of that month, angels became real. Kind of like how a child’s stuffed rabbit became real over the course of the story in The Velveteen Rabbit.

And I began piecing together stories I had heard during the years I have been a pastor, hearing others’ stories of the presence of comforting, light filled, radiant “presences” they may have called angels appearing at difficult times in their lives. It just kept adding up, the idea that there is something really real about angels.

And I remembered a stunning moment a few months after the September 11th attack on the twin towers in New York City when I stood at ground zero, then entered the chapel where weary firemen and rescue personnel had, during that fateful couple of days, token moments away from the rubble through which they were searching. In that same chapel I dropped to my knees at an altar rail and prayed – no words, just immense sadness,.  and distress. And what arose in my in-sight was a spiraling vision of filmy vapor like forms rising from the smoke and rubble being lifted gently by descending streams of light. And a kind of beautiful sound, gentle, grace filled and a shaft of light around it all.

Going through old Christmas cards a few days ago, one caught my eye.. Silvery and sparkling on a deep night blue background it offered inside a poem called “The Blessings of the 12 Angels.” About the gifts the wise men brought to Christ two thousand years ago. But that twelve angels brought gifts too. “They brought the gifts of hope and joy, wonder, praise, and peace, benevolence and comfort, which when shared tend to increase. Perseverance, strength, and grace, and faith born from above, all carried safe on angel’s wings, wrapped in eternal love.” The final words offered “The blessings of the twelve Angels serve as reminders that the most precious gifts of Christmas are not those held in the hand but treasured in the heart.”

Howard Thurman wrote about the singing of angels in his book The Inward Journey. “There must be always remaining in every person’s life some place for the singing of angels. . . . Despite all the crassness of life, despite all the hardness of life, despite all of the harsh discords of life, life is saved by the singing of angels.”

How incredibly relevant for life right here, right now. Don’t we desperately need such light filled radiant presences to come to us, like they did to shepherds in the Bethlehem hills two thousand years ago, singing and saying, “Do not be afraid, for see I am bringing you good news.” Yes!

May we be still, hear the singing of the angels, lay down our fears, find the exquisite gift of love and light waiting to fill us with hope and joy then spread the news.

A couple of years ago I fell under the spell of the angelic creations of Kim Papinicholau. Created from "found objects" the angels that emerged from unlikely combinations of "this and that" spoke to me in a way that caught my heart. It is said each human being has a guardian angel. Maybe even more than one. I assume that's the case for those of us who are identified as in need of more than one. May be so each angel can spell the other in times of higher need of the one they are appointed to guard. Two of Kim's angels seemed to reach out to me and are now in my care and I am in theirs. Here's the bright one that I have on display at home, the other one, the darker one, is present with me at the office. Both are light filled and seem to dispell darkness, fear and any moments of distress in me, if open up to their implied message: that their light can shine in any darkness and not be overcome. I love how the bright one's halo is a bit askew. I love that the earth colored one wears flowers and berries that I added to her outfit at some point. They are such special gifts in my life.  

Background photo by Julian Hanslmaier on Unsplash No permissions required.

From the Diocese -

Bishop Jennifer Brooke-Davidson's Meditation for the third week of Advent, "Rejoice" is linked here
Zoom instructions for Advent Fireside Chats
Date: Dec 16, 2020
Time: 5:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Click here to join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 874 6422 3213

For Audio, only - Dial 1 301 715 8592. Use Meeting ID: 874 6422 3213
Don't Forget To Shop Amazon Smile
This is just a friendly reminder to use Amazon Smile during their holiday shopping. When using this link while you shop, Amazon will donate to The Haven at no cost to you!

Volunteers Needed to Sort Christmas Gifts Next Week
Donors will finish dropping off Christmas gifts for our Adopt-A-Family program at the beginning of next week. Therefore we could use your help to organize and supplement the gifts for families. We could use volunteers next Tuesday (Dec. 15th), Wednesday (Dec. 16th), and Thursday (Dec. 17th). The two shifts available are 10am-1pm and 1pm-4pm. 2 volunteers are needed for each shift. If you're available to help, please let me know.

Donations Needed at The Haven
We could use your help with some much needed items such as the following:  
  • Food Lion/Walmart Gift Cards
  • Visa Gift Cards (We have asked for gas cards in the past, but since they are difficult to find we are asking for Visa Gift Cards; increments of $15 or $25 preferred)
Our services going forward are e-mailed videos which will be sent on Saturdays.

December 20th
The Fourth Sunday of Advent
December 24th
Christmas Eve
is a special video created by the youth of North Farnham & St. John's.
It will be sent 12/23 or 12/24

December 27th
The First Sunday after Christmas

The Parish Prayer List

for those in need of God's comfort and healing
Courtenay Altaffer
John Barber
Martha Berger
Randall Bone
Sue Bowie
Nancy Allin Bush
Constance Edwards
Bob File
David Gallagher
Regina Griggs
Barbara Grander
The Rev. Howard Hanchey
Weir Harman
Billy Hooper
Rebecca Hubert
Marcia Jenkins
Stephanie, Nick & Donovan Kaywork
Jim & Sharon Krider
Mary Douglas Lawton
The Rt. Rev. Peter Lee
Susan Lewis
Frank Lynch
Susannah Marais
Pat Merkel
Tommy Neuman
Judi Newman
Kirsten Palubinski
James Rynd
Bennie Shepherd
Debbie Belfield Stacks
Scott Strickler
Waldy Sulik
Billy Tennyson
Roclyn Tennyson
Matthew Yates
Rose Mary Zellner and

and for those serving in our armed forces.
Royce Baker
David Berger
Ryan Berger
Allen Crocker
Randy Crocker
Court Garretson
Cameron Heidenreich
Dan Heidenreich
Charles Jones
Daniel Kirk

Mark Lawton
Scott Longar
Luis Loya
Christopher Strickler
Gavin Wade McClung
and Travis Pullen
Please e-mail any updates to the prayer list to parishchurchnews@gmail.com Replying to this e-mail will send it to Torrence.
December Birthdays & Anniversaries

1st – Brenda Harhai
3rd –Micheline Conn
9th – Vanelia Gallagher
9th –Elena Milsted
16th – Torrence Harman

17th - Brother Mark Jenkins
30th – Lynn & Ed Elliott
There are no in-person services this coming Sunday. We will e-mail a video service on Saturday and subsequently post it to our website farnhamwithstjohns.org, youtube and facebook pages.
Farnham Church
St. John's Church