Farnham & St. John's
Weekly E-pistle
Practicing Patience

I have an ambiguous relationship with “patience.” My grandmother modeled it; my mother, God bless her creative soul, did not. One was introverted, quiet, deliberate, the other energetic, fast-moving, extroverted. I tend now to swing in some rather wide arc along a continuum between the two poles. Patience is something I have had to cultivate, and it is one of the gifts that somehow, beginning in the third quarter of my life, I began to experience with some positive, less frustrating results. Patience: something definitely called for and necessary to the rhythm of life and action in these, for me, “quarter-finals.” However, I really resonate with the prayer that the Rev. Richard “Dick” Baker (former rector of Farnham and St. John’s) displayed on his desk at St. James’s Richmond throughout his time there till his retirement from active ministry.  It read: “God grant me patience . . . . and I want it right now!”

COVID 19 has challenged my “patience” progress. I did fairly well at first, tapping into the energy (thank you, Mom) for us all to rise to the challenge of doing and being “church” beyond/outside our familiar church walls. That interior space that welcomed us into it Sunday after Sunday with its timeless, comfortable rhythm. Organ music, hymns, altar hangings the color of our liturgical seasons, a sequence of prayers, readings, singing, confessing, preaching, peace passing and blessing that could soothe or excite or simply just let us “be” together to help us meet the essential human need to connect with one another.

I have done fairly well with this slower pace of life since COVID 19 appeared on our mid-East Coast scene here in Virginia and started disrupting our daily/weekly rhythms in early March about ten weeks ago. But I am beginning to feel the “antsy-ness” creep back in. I find myself drawn to what over my lifetime had become seemingly essential in my week, physical “Church.” So, I began my “drive by” routine to make myself feel better. Important it became to check on the progress of the peonies at Farnham, the filling of the bird feeder on the little patio outside my office at St. John’s. To slip unseen in to the sanctuary at Farnham and simply stand in and feel the warmth of afternoon sunlight slipping silently through it’s beautiful old windows. To stand before the altar at St. John’s, not really alone, as an Ascension Jesus in the stained glass window above the altar gazed down on me as if to say, “Just hang in there – it will be okay, eventually.” I am not being sacrilegious – those are the strange words that came to me. 

Sometimes we do have to consider just staying the course, hanging in the mid-air between what was and a combination of what will be again, but re-newed, re-located. Maybe this is why I am excited about the St. John’s baptismal font’s move to a different place in that sanctuary – a place that I sense has simply been waiting for it. Like the stained-glass window there and the beautiful old organ that font needed its own space, needed to be highlighted for the iconic symbol it is for us as Christians. Special thanks to Carter and Priscilla Wellford for managing the removal of a pew and then to Paul Welch of Welch Funeral Home for shifting the font’s location to  its new home on the other side of the
It was also exciting at Farnham two years ago when we “chapeled” the small space in the “Gospel” arm of that old historic cruciform Colonial church.  It became a space to welcome a twelve person gathering on a quiet morning of contemplative thankfulness on Thanksgiving morning or for one hundred people taking turns gathering in small groups communing around a table of sweet or savory tidbits and cider after an afternoon or evening concert held in the cross shaped nave and chancel. For either event an intimate alterative for communion of souls.

Those are examples of living into the expanded space within our sanctuary walls. But what we have been challenged to do during COVID 19 is the creative re-visioning of worship not only outside our church walls on Sundays, but in the expanded time of doing so in the expanded space of our daily living all week long. We do so under the gaze of a Divine who says in the final book of Scripture: “I make all things new again” and seems to spend a lot of re-creational time and energy in make-overs of things that need it, like us.

So, I loved the poem prayer recently penned by Nadia Bolz-Weber, a Lutheran minister and author of a New York Times Bestseller titled, “Accidental Saints: Finding God in all
the wrong people.” Her prayer deals with this daily living worship and praise theme as we all practice patience waiting for the “exile” from the familiar to pass. But maybe when the exile passes, we will have learned something important about the time and place spaces in which we live. And maybe we will continue to have the courage to practice creativity in worshipful and praiseful ways of moving and being in expanded ways even then.

By God’s amazing grace may it be so,

An orchid plant I bought two years ago. Full of blooms, about five or six then as I remember. They lasted several months, then fell away. I gave my little plant TLC (tender loving care) over the next year and a half. Nothing happened. I nearly gave up hope of its blooming again. A few weeks ago after the COVID 19 "shelter-in-place" orders, it started budding and blooming again, one flower at a time. I delight and treasure each one. There are now seven full blooms, with five more buds in different stages of growth - twelve will complete the "blooming." Patient blooming. I think of twelve being the number of discipleship as we all shelter in time, maybe finding new growth in this time of resting in the Presence that we may be newly formed for our "return."  Torrence
I do not know when we can gather together again in worship, Lord.
So, for now I just ask that:
When I sing along in my kitchen to each song on Stevie Wonder’s
Songs in the Key of Life album, that it be counted as praise.
And that when I read the news and my heart tightens in my chest,
may it be counted as a Kyrie.
And that when my eyes brighten in a smile behind my mask as I thank
the cashier may it be counted as passing the peace.
And that when I water my plants and wash my dishes and take a
shower may it be counted as remembering my baptism.
And that when the tears come and my shoulders shake and my
breathing falters, may it be counted as prayer.
And that when I stumble upon a Tabitha Brown video and hear her
grace and love of you may it be counted as a hearing a homily.
And that as I sit at that table in my apartment, and eat one more
homemade meal, slowly, joyfully, with nothing else demanding my
time or attention, may it be counted as communion.
Nadia Bolz-Weber
Ascension Day is recognized in our Liturgical Calendar this week on May 21 st.
The Gospel Passage appointed for The Ascension is Luke 24:44-53.
Bishop Susan Goff offers a Sermon for Ascension Day, here. 
Evolving/Emerging Worship

Sunday mornings at 10 a.m.
beginning Sunday, May 24 th

After an informal pool of our Sunday Evening Prayer Service "congregation" we will move FROM  evening prayers on Sunday nights TO SUNDAY MORNING PRAYERS at 10:00 a.m. We will continue Zooming in by computer or telephone. This is not designed to take the place of joining in with the live stream full services of another offering, such as the Washington National Cathedral. But rather give us the opportunity to gather with the familiar faces and/or voices of our combined Farnham & St. John's church family together on Sunday morning as we begin to phase towards a physical regathering for Sunday morning worship when appropriate for the health and safety of each of us as God's family.

 Onward, grace-fully lovingly together!

Farnham & St. J's
further communications this week

Tomorrow - E-mail
Mid-Week Reflection

Friday afternoon -
E-mail with Video Sermon
and link for Sunday Morning's 10:00 a.m. ZOOM
Morning Prayer Service

with phone numbers to dial in to listen. A link to the National Cathedral's Eucharist will also be included.

Note : there will be no
Saturday e-mail .
The Parish Prayer List
Courtenay Altaffer
John Barber
Martha Berger
Randall Bone
Sue Bowie
Nancy Allin Bush
Anna Calvert
Mary Claycomb
Marilyn Day
Sumner Elwell
Constance Edwards
Bob File
Regina Griggs
Barbara & Harry Grander
the Rev. Howard Hanchey
Weir Harman
Mary Hertling
Rebecca Hubert
Marcia Jenkins
Stephanie, Nick & Donovan Kaywork
Ramiza Koya
Jim & Sharon Krider
Susan Lewis
Frank Lynch
Susannah Marais
Judi Newman
Les Merkel
Kirsten Palubinski
George Patrick
Don Phillips
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
May Birthdays
May 4 th Ben Cox
May 5 th Carl Barber
May 14 th Carter Wellford, IV
May 16 th Harry Grander
May 19 th Sandy Garretson
May 22 nd Mary Hertling
15 th Susan & Jim Crowley
16 th Candy & Bill Carden
20 th – Courtney & Michael Sisson
Note: Those of you who open this on your phones each week miss either the artistic or the amusing background items that enhance this publication. This week, they are funny sayings and photographs illustrating "patience," such as "I had my patience tested. I'm negative," and "I wish I was as thin as my patience." So, if you can, open these on a device with a full screen!
There will be a Compline Service via Zoom Sunday evening at 6:30 p.m. Further instructions will be forthcoming later in the week.
Farnham Church
St. John's Church