Farnham & St. John's
Torrence's Weekly Message
Snowflakes, Snowbirds & A Sermon Unspoken
The snow came Saturday night. I wanted to wait up for it to begin. But fell asleep, only to be stirred awake at some point, wander into my river room and watch the magic of snowfall awhile before heading back to bed. 
I love to watch snow fall. As a child I was told that every snowflake has its own pattern, each a unique design, no two alike. I couldn’t prove it but I simply came to trust that it sounded true enough to be so. As an adult I started collecting snowflakes, not ones in nature, of course, but ones by human craftspeople marketing them as Christmas collectible ornaments. With my birthday just before Christmas, ornaments make an easy gift. My daughter gives me the annual crystal snowflake one company makes, each year differently designed. Unique, like each year of my life, it seems. Some have sharper edges
than others. Over time a few experience some damage. I arrange them all anyway on a metal table top tree wrapped with tiny lights. The lights shine on them, but also through them. The sunlight too. Taken together, even those with their own brokenness, offer light-filled beauty. Reflective, I think of the collected years of my life in the same way. Gently, watching the light shine through, hoping my Creator will also use a loving lens when gazing on me. When I put them away on New Year’s Day, I gently wrap and store each one as I wonder what another year will bring. I hope that the gift of years, like the crystal snowflakes, will come, realizing that no matter how perfect the design may seem, each is so fragile.
I was prepared for whatever a storm might bring. The day before I filled all five bird feeders.  “Why so many?” you might ask as I paused, about to buy a sixth? I resisted, even as I reflected that “feeding” is just in my family DNA. When it comes to food our motto is “more is better.” Waking the next morning to rain and sleet washing snow off the stoop outside my river room, I got inspired. With a quick sweep of several scoops of bird seed, a table was set. The birds swooped in. It was community mealtime, obviously more appealing than eating isolated on “one-at-a-time” perches on feeders randomly placed around the yard. I ate my breakfast a few feet away on the other side of the sliding glass door as my feathered friends feasted on theirs. Being with others at mealtime was as nourishing as my food. I thought about the communion that we might have had that morning at church but for the weather. Then gave thanks to God for “home communion” with my little friends. When two or three or even more of God’s creatures are gathered together, no one is alone, and the Divine seems even more abundantly and lovingly present.
The church sanctuaries were empty on this sleet and snow Sunday. Bible passages for the day were not read aloud, hymns not sung, the lights off, the organ silent, sermon unspoken. The service would have been dedicated to “The Baptism of our Lord.” As I watched the Rappahannock River flow by a hundred feet from where I sat, instead I remembered the day several years ago when I stood knee deep in the Jordan River at a place that was perhaps the spot where Jesus was baptized. When a voice came from heaven, called him by name as “the Beloved” and added, “with you I am well pleased.” In church you would have heard me read the full story of Jesus’ baptism as told in the Gospel of Luke. You would also have heard someone read aloud the words of the prophet Isaiah, giving sound to God’s Voice. I would have tried to preach a message about it all. But whatever was to be spoken there and then will remain unspoken by me. Instead, now you are offered the chance to let God’s message form in and through you. Sunday’s passage from the prophet Isaiah (slightly adapted) follows this Epistle message, linked below. It is offered for your personal reflection. You be the preacher. Read the words, reflect on them, listen to what the Divine Voice within the silence is trying to tell you as you feel it calling you “Beloved.” Let a sermon, just for you, form in your understanding. And you don’t have to preach it. Not out loud to anyone, that is. Just live it – whatever the voice of love offers. Remember what St. Francis’ shares? “Preach the gospel at all times. Only if necessary, use words.”

Grace & Peace today and always,


Co-Editor's Comment

The advice on Torrence's link to last week's reading is something I think I'll practice when I'm being a Lector in my own church. We need more lectors at Farnham & St. John's. Don't you want to volunteer?
To communicate feedback, comments, observations, or reflections you may have as a result of reading these weekly messages, click here to E-mail Torrence directly. She welcomes the dialog, as it stimulates her creative process. A reply to this E-pistle goes to the church secretary.
click here to see videos of Lifeline meal packing or the manner in which it's distributed.

Saturday January 19 th

We need at least 1 more person to join us with other local churches to pack meals for Haitian children!

Rappahannock High School
9:45 a.m. to 12 noon
We will pack 30,000 meals 

$35 dollars (857 meals) per person.

Checks should be made payable to Menokin Baptist Church .

Please e-mail Courtney Sisson , if you will help.

Courtney Sisson
Bible Study - Tuesdays
Jan. 22 through Feb. 26
5:30 p.m. - supper
6:15 - 7:30 p.m. - study

In this Winter series we will survey three remaining main areas in the Old Testament: the Psalms (Jan. 22 & 29), the Wisdom Literature focusing on Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon & Job (Feb. 5 & 12) and Introduction to the Prophets primarily focusing on the three major prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel (Feb. 19 and 26). If you were unable to participate in the Fall series, do not let that discourage you from entering this Winter series since we will be reviewing throughout some of the earlier material as it relates to the current topics. I look forward to having those of you who previously participated return to continue our study of the Old Testament. However, please everyone who plans on attending all or most of this Winter series let me know of your intent to do so for purposes of food and materials.  RSVP at  torrence.harman@aol.com  or

Click here t o see the haven's January newsletter. They have a Volunteer Meeting at  11 am on Wednesday, January 16th  at their Administrative Office.
All current or interested volunteers are strongly encouraged to attend and should RSVP by contacting Brittany Clayborne at (804) 333-1099 or brittany.clayborne@havenshelter.org .
BL&C (Bag Lunch & Conversation) will resume on Thursday, January 24 th (note date change). We have invited Warsaw Town Manager, Joseph Quesenberry to bring us up to date on "The Bottom" and other improvements in the Town of Warsaw. In February we have scheduled Richmond County Social Services Director, Vanessa Livingstone, to provide us an overview on the broad range of services for which the Department is responsible, zeroing in on some of the specific areas in which the church and community may have an impact. The other two Thursdays in February we will devote our time and conversation to the important topic of "The Role of Church and Volunteers in the Community: Action for Impact"
Annual Meeting Notices
The Congregation of St. John's Episcopal Church is holding its annual meeting this Sunday, January 20, 2019 at 12:30 p.m. following the Sunday morning service and potluck lunch. The Agenda will include approval of the 2019 Budget, Annual Meeting Reports and election of two vestry members for a three year term resulting from the rotation off the vestry of Anne Neuman and Priscilla Wellford. The two nominees are Courtney Altaffer and Sandy Wade Hagan. All members are invited to come find out what's in store for 2019!
The Congregation of N. Farnham Episcopal Church holds its Annual Meeting on Sunday, January 27, 2019 at 10:30 a.m. following the Sunday morning service. The Agenda will include approval of the 2019 Budget, Annual Meeting Reports and election of two vestry members for a three year term resulting from the rotation off the vestry of Ed Marks and Sue Crowley. Nominees are Jim Crowley and Michael Sisson.  All members are invited to come find out what's in store for 2019!
In the Church
Sunday January 20 th
Epiphany II

Holy Eucharist

9:00 a.m. at Farnham

11:00 a.m. at St. John's
followed by annual meeting
Sunday January 27 th
Epiphany III

Morning Prayer

9:00 a.m. at Farnham
followed by annual meeting
11:00 a.m. at St. John's

Sunday February 3 rd
Epiphany IV

Holy Eucharist

9:00 a.m. at Farnham

11:00 a.m. at St. John's
Sunday February 10 th
Epiphany IV

9:00 a.m. Morning Prayer at Farnham

11:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist
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