Farnham & St. John's
Torrence's Weekly Message
The river is so alive this morning. Some days it rushes fast along some mysterious pathway either up-river or down-river, as if anxious to be somewhere else, either where it has been before or where it hopes to go.
This morning it is just “right here, right now.” Not still, not restless, but simply moving in the special pace of each moment. A sailor might call it choppy; to me it just seems happy. Is some mischievous wind messing with it or is it this way because something deep and joyful is resonating with its surface? Maybe the river is just doing its own river thing, dancing with delight as it awakens to the day. The river seems quite passionate about today, simply responding to what is offered in the present moment.
My spirit resonates with it this morning. I remember past Christmases when I have rushed around, up and down, hither and yon, trying to get all the Christmas things done, my spirit agitated as I found myself trying to meet so many expectations, not just others of me, but me of my own. Somehow this year seems different, more reflective, more in need of my being present simply moment by moment.
Of course, after losing someone dear to me this past year, I am more reflective. But maybe it also has something to do with a birthday. Just feeling that I am, after all, still “alive.” My birthday was Sunday, a big one. Turning 75 might seem like something distressing. It does sound a bit ancient. But for me it felt okay. To tell the truth I feel relieved. I’ve made it to some biblically ordained idea of reaching my “three score and ten” plus some. Now I sense that however many more years will come for me, each will be a true and exquisite gift and that I am to love, honor and savor every moment of them all.
Sunday afternoon at St. John’s we held a special Christmas season event we called “A Celebration of Angels & Light.” The idea was sparked by a gift from the women of the church of candles for the church’s clear glass windows, ones that automatically turn on when daylight fades and evening falls. Again, biblically speaking about something we hope will be true in our own lives, they offer a symbol for the abiding image in the Gospel of John that “the light shines in the darkness and the dark will not overcome it.” 
The other “spark” for this event was an art show featuring two artists. One was photographer Kathryn Murray displaying her beautiful light filled photographs fused on aluminum. The interplay of light and shadow reflecting on sky, land and water reminded me of how beauty can evolve in one’s life with the interlacing of both shadow and light. “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow, thou art with me” were hopeful, light filled words for me and others during the service of music and readings as we all recited the comforting verses of an ancient psalm.
And then there were the angels, incredibly exquisite or remarkedly bold, crafted by Kim Papanicholaou from salvage and “found objects.” A magnificent one centered the altar in our sanctuary. Angel wings sheltered the nativity scene glowing in the candlelight. More crafted angels graced the center of each table for our reception in Wellford Hall following the service. How like these angels we are, our bits and pieces, even those we thought discarded, seen as beautiful through our Creator’s eyes. To be gathered gently, salvaged, reworked, pieced together by a Holy Heart with a Holy vision of renewed life for a precious like new again creation. Like the hymn “Morning has broken” offers, it seems that one of God’s joys is re-creation. 
A friend who sent me an e-card for my birthday offered an interesting final thought with the words, “Relish your birth!” Another from a facebook clergy friend included an appropriate for a December birthday liturgical twist: “Happy anniversary of your nativity, Torrence.” 
I love words. A favorite activity is googling ones that strike my fancy. Dictionary definitions can be surprising and spark re-creational reflection. I did this with “relish” and “nativity.” Quoting www.vocabulary.com . “Relish isn’t just a hot dog topping, it means to enjoy something immensely.” What was fun about “nativity” was pondering its most usual synonyms, including not only “birth” but also “genesis, creation, dawning, emergence.” What a delightful combination! I must remember every year on the anniversary of my birth to enjoy immensely my genesis, creation, dawning and emergence. You might enjoy doing the same thing on the anniversary of your birth whenever it is. How exciting! To consider that maybe God, with loving gaze, is doing the same thing at the same time: contemplating the anniversary of our creation, though probably pondering a bit on how even more beautiful and useful we can become with a little tweaking here and there in the year to come. So, let’s not worry about emerging
wrinkles, squeaking joints and an extra pound or two as the years add up. We are in the hands of a Divine Craftsman who created our innermost parts and lovingly works and reworks all the bits and pieces of us in our always becoming. Relish the thought!
To Mercer O’Hara and all the St. J. altar guild angels who so beautifully prepared the church sanctuary for our Christmas Celebration and Christmas services. How beautiful it is. And you all know how much I love the liturgical combination of purple and red. Also, to the ECW for the “light shining in the darkness” candles in the windows of the sanctuary.
To Steve Foster for his wonderful gift of the exquisite nativity set to Farnham on Sunday. It is gracing the side chapel during this Christmas season and is such a treasure for Christmases to come. And to Becky Marks for our shared time together Monday afternoon lighting votives around the manger scene as we shared reflections on each of the figures around the manger.
To everyone who wished Brother Mark and me “Happy Birthday” on Sunday. Each church family’s singing was a great gift to start off a new year of life. The 752 candle at St. J. was a bit startling, so thanks for the explanation that the 75 was for me and the 52 for Mark. How creatively clever you all are!
To Sandy and Dean Garretson for the special caroling and chili (I mean the main dish) evening last week. The bonfire followed by such warm table fellowship in their historic home was such a gift on that cold winter night for those who were there.
For all who came and savored our Celebration of Angels & Light last Sunday afternoon. To the musicians, Ben, Arline and Laura and their beautiful playing. What a gift! And how we all loved Ben’s “showcase” final gift on the organ gloriously awakening our festival spirit and sending us out to savor this Christmas time. And to our featured artists, Kim with her angel craft and Kathryn with her light filled photography. To Hannah Tiffany who inspired us to add the art show and connected us with these two wonderful artists. To Sandy Hagan who appeared angel like early that afternoon to help set up the reception and to the other ECW “angels” who orchestrated the clean-up (you know who you are).
To Kim Calvert who has kept us up to date on Christmas chorale and special Christmas music concerts in the area and for the special singing “angels” at Farnham giving voice to our Advent music. To Miriam Sisson who played the offertory at Farnham so beautifully on Sunday.
Thursday Afternoon Fireside Tea & Chat

Drop by the Clopton Parlor a t St. John’s between 3 & 5 p.m. this Thursday Dec. 20 th and warm yourself beside the fire. Enjoy a warm drink of tea, coffee or cider. Bring a friend if you like. No Agenda. Offered as a time-out from the busy-ness of the season for just time together.
The December Farnham Vestry meeting will be held on January 3rd at 7:00 p.m.
Farnham's ECW has dressed her for Christmas!
In the Church

Sunday December 23 rd
4 th Sunday in Advent
Morning Prayer

9:00 a.m. at Farnham

11:00 a.m. at St. John's

Sunday December 24 th

Christmas Eve

Holy Eucharist

4:00 p.m. at Farnham
with a special dramatic presentation by the parish youth
11:00 p.m. at St. John's
preceeded at 10:30 p.m. by a Christmas Carol sing
Sunday December 30 th
5th Sunday Joint Service

Lessons & Carols

10:00 a.m. at Farnham

Sunday January 6 th
the feast of the Epiphany

Holy Eucharist

9:00 a.m. at Farnham

11:00 a.m. at St. John's
In the Parish Hall

Come Worship With Us

Sunday Service this week

9:00 a.m. Farnham Church Farnham

11:00 a.m. St. John's Church