Farnham & St. John's
Torrence's Weekly Message
"Under Construction"
At 9 a.m. on Sunday it was 77 degrees. Mid-day the temperature would climb about 20 degrees higher and everyone would be in cooler environments than the out of doors where we were Sunday morning at 9 a.m. However, Sunday morning was lovely, and the beautiful old tree shaded grounds of Sabine Hall offered nature’s air conditioning as a slight breeze stirred a little here and there.

The grounds of Sabine Hall, built in the early 1700’s offered an appropriate outdoors sanctuary for friends and parishioners of St. John’s and N. Farnham Churches, sanctuaries “founded” in the 1700’s and 1600’s respectively. Perhaps I sensed the ancestors hovering in the ether of the place as we gathered for Morning Prayer. Did they wonder about the face masks, or some remember the Spanish Influenza times of the early 1900’s or the “pestilences” that plagued congregations in earlier centuries? Prayers in times of pestilence were evident in our earlier prayer book.
When we selected Sabine Hall grounds for the Sunday services St. John’s would host, someone reminded us that the old historic house would have scaffolding surrounding its façade. As I drove up the driveway, past magnolia trees with circumferences bigger than my house, I caught sight of the house. It looked like that old Grand Dame of a house was getting a face lift, a tuck here and there around the eyes (the windows), probably some smoothing out of a few wrinkles in its sandstone here and there too. Some new mortar strengthening its “joints.” It was clearly under construction, some renovation, renewalhappening to this beautiful historic dwelling place– an image that struck me as absolutely perfect for what the church is going through during this time.

Church is “under construction” faced with “renovation” (re-newing) right now. Case in point – how we worship together. In an essential way, just like the earliest settlers to this new land of Virginia, praying under the shade of old trees in the out of doors till they could construct a man-made shelter. So, we return to the ground of being church during this time we are not able to return to our man-made brick and mortar structures. And yet, there is a bit of face lift going on. Music played on a “keyboard” linked umbilical cord like by an electrical cord to electricity in an outbuilding a hundred yards plus from where we were. Morning prayer, still theologically grounded, but at a different cadence than the words and sounds of the 1600 and 1700’s. Hymns penned in more recent centuries embrace us now. Current renovation/innovations to our church services as they were up to only four months ago include the face masks we wear, folding canvas or plastic chairs instead of wooden pews, no singing (but I think I heard a little humming behind some masks).
7-19-20 trees at Sabine Hall
The trees under and around which we gathered for our Sunday morning service last Sunday were amazing. Massive shagbark hickory trees sheltered our worship. Trees with a history all their own and yet continually growing, shedding their bark from time to time to allow the new to clothe them. Season after season releasing their sweet tasting hickory nuts to feed and nourish the wildlife that depends on them for food. I pick up a nut, imagine the seed of it inside, look up through the spreading branches of the tree that produced it and understood the miracle of growth in an astounding way. That nut possibly escaping the destiny of immediate food for a squirrel, but instead buried somewhere else nearby in the ground and one day maybe 150 years later becoming a one-hundred-foot tree. Could not have happened without continual change required to manifest its destiny housed in that tiny seed within the nut. I understand that a shagbark hickory tree may live up to 350 years and reach 130 feet tall. I wonder how old the one we gathered under last Sunday is. No one there could tell me.

Life and all living things are continually subject to change. Growth and change, re-construction, re-novation, re-newal is threaded in the DNA of the seed of everything that is created to be alive.  Is a house, a dwelling place, a living thing? Is a church, a temple, a living thing? Perhaps that would stir an interesting conversation, within the context of a Bible study. Certainly, the Old and New Testament stories claim dwelling places, temples, sanctuaries as metaphors to embody that which holds and nurtures life and faith.

We are going through a strange time, when it appears that so many ways we had depended on are deconstructing, dissembling, being disordered. We are called, whether we like it or not, whether we want to or not, to change. We are in a time calling for re-construction and in-novation. We and church as we knew it is in a renewal time. If, as St. Paul visualized, the church is a body with Christ at the head, it is a living thing and we as members of that body are called not to atrophy, but to revitalize, renew. Let us try and sense what the Spirit is trying to do within this time of transition. It is a difficult, challenging time, but also exciting. Time to tap into the creative energy that I believe is rising within us. I believe we are called to renew some old ways, make space for some new ones but in all our ways going forward be open to the movement of the Spirit. May it be so.

background picture is of the bricks at Sabine Hall.
Last Sunday at Farnham & St. John's
Upcoming Sunday Morning Prayer Services

9 a.m. Outdoor Service Schedule

Outdoor service will be cancelled in event of rain.
Face Masks required*, Bring your own lawn chair*, Seating will be marked in advance at 6-8 foot intervals for individuals and/or immediate family "groupings"
"Social" distancing will be respected; We will have music, but not singing;
A food pantry donation basket will be available for can and jar donations.
There will also be a plate to collect the offering.
* There will be some disposable masks and sanitized chairs available if you forget
Sunday, July 26 th

9 a.m. Outdoors
at Sabine Hall
sponsored by St. John's Church
Sunday, August 2 nd

9 a.m. Outdoors

at Farnham
Sunday, August 9 th

9 a.m. Outdoors
at Sabine Hall
sponsored by St. John's Church
Sunday, August 16 th

9 a.m. Outdoors

at Farnham
Sunday, August 23 rd

9 a.m. Outdoors
at Sabine Hall
sponsored by St. John's Church
Sunday, August 30 th

9 a.m. Outdoors

at Farnham
Each Sunday the Outdoor service will be followed by an
11:00 a.m. Rain or Shine “Virtual” Service accessed through Zoom by computer or phone.
All pets are welcome at the virtual services.
E-pistle & Sermon Publication Schedule

Through the end of August, our publication schedule will be for the E-pistle to be sent on Wednesdays and Sunday's sermon & Virtual Morning Prayer Service link will be sent on Fridays. If you can get on-line but are having trouble with e-mail, all can be found on the web-site, farnhamwithstjohns.org
Vacation Schedule
Torrence will be out of town Friday, August 7 th through Monday August 17 th .
Church Office hours are THURSDAYS from 9:30 - 3:00.

The state and the Diocese require that masks be worn if you visit the office.

For the time being Lucy works other irregular hours from home and the best way to reach her is via e-mail at parishchurchnews@gmail.com
The Parish Prayer List
Courtenay Altaffer
John Barber
Martha Berger
Randall Bone
Sue Bowie
Nancy Allin Bush
Anna Calvert
Mary Claycomb
Sumner Elwell
Constance Edwards
Bob File
Regina Griggs
Barbara & Harry Grander
the Rev. Howard Hanchey
Weir Harman
Mary Hertling
Billy Hooper
Rebecca Hubert
Marcia Jenkins
Stephanie, Nick & Donovan Kaywork
Jim & Sharon Krider
Susan Lewis
Frank Lynch
Susannah Marais
Judi Newman
Kirsten Palubinski
George Patrick
Dennis Rynd
James Rynd
Debbie Belfield Stacks
Scott Strickler
Waldy Sulik
Billy Tennyson
Connie Thompson
Matthew Yates
and Rose Mary Zellner
Please e-mail any updates to the prayer list to parishchurchnews@gmail.com Replying to this e-mail will send it to Torrence.
Upcoming Birthdays & Anniversaries
28 th Susan Crowley
30 th Mary Sulik
1 st Junius Berger
2 nd Courtney Sisson
3 rd Kathleen Sulik
11 th Carlton George
16 th Sallie Cox
There will be an outdoor Morning Prayer Service at Sabine Hall at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday and a virtual Morning Prayer Service held via Zoom at 11:00 a.m. Instructions for access to the virtual service are here.
Farnham Church
St. John's Church