Farnham & St. John's
Torrence's Weekly Message
“Gathering”

Early last week after several days of off and on again rain the fields on either side of Teague Road became small ponds. Fields that have lain fallow during the late winter just waiting for spring and whatever the farmer wants to scatter on them to hopefully flourish as the weather warms fields to that possibility.

On those couple of days as I was coming and going to my little river home, the fields sprung to life in an amazing showing. The land sprouted feathery white with the gathering of seabirds, flocking, fluttering, chattering with one another in the sunlight that had taken over from the rain. A sight that caused me to slow down, linger longer to pick up my mail from my mailbox among the little row of them at the intersection of fields where Teague Road becomes Riverview. Hundreds of birds, their bodies catching, absorbing then reflecting the sunlight. It was a dazzling sight. I wondered what had drawn them there – no seed yet scattered on the fields, nor remnants of a harvest to nourish them. But there was a joy, an exuberance reflected from their flocking together as bright and brilliant as the sunlight they reflected. I could not take my eyes off the mesmerizing sight of them all together.

That week, mid-week I headed to Boone, N. C. where I was scheduled for my second COVID shot plus a couple of days family visit just in case of a post vaccination reaction. A special bonus on family visits there is time spent with grand-dog Wally, a very extroverted Basset hound who, I believe, is convinced that he is simply a four-footed human member of his family. Wally is a canine version of what in college days we used to call a “party animal.” While his favorite indoor pastime may be characterized as “couch potato” he is most energized by his time spent at the big living room window that fronts the road in front of his house, a road narrow in width that winds around a neighborhood on the lower side of a mountain overlooking Boone. This is Wally’s window on the world and all that is passing by. It’s a narrow paved mountain road that someone in a flight of fancy decades ago named Grand Boulevard. The area’s bigger name, Grandview, is more appropriate. Wally has friends in the neighborhood and a favorite gathering place is Wally's big, really big fenced in backyard, on the sloping hillside behind his house. It’s a great gathering space for Wally and his friends, Cisco and Rufus, his Grandview four footed neighbors. Wally, Cisco and Rufus – a threesome that the Grandview humans who live in that area have dubbed “the Boulevard Boys.”

One late afternoon the Boulevard Boys gathered for a play date in Wally’s yard.  As we their humans gathered socially distanced and masked on the large deck overlooking Wally’s hillside backyard, I was surprised at the quiet that fell over our little group. How we all dropped into some mesmerized zone, conversation silenced as we watched the exuberant group below interacting, just being together with such freedom and joy. And we humans hanging over the deck railing high above them, watching. Yes, watching with delight, but also a deep longing.

We humans, like many other living things, are a people of the gathering. While there are times we need and benefit from solitude, we are wired for togetherness. And when we don’t have that togetherness that appears to be woven into the design of how we are to live optimally and wholistically, there is a longing that stirs within us – to connect with other living things and with each other.

This year of pandemic, of forcing a long, long time of sequestering ourselves, of mandating a “sheltering in place” for the good of the whole has highlighted just how important relationship is to mind and body, soul and spirit. How relationship feeds, nourishes, nurtures mind and body, soul and spirit. When we are blocked, exiled from relationship over a period of time, we hunger for it, hunger for just gathering together again. Seeing the flock of birds on the fields as I headed home, watching Wally and his friends with no social distancing or masked mandates interrupting their togetherness touched a longing. That is why both visons captured my heart and spirit so deeply.

Thanks be to God for spring, and for the COVID vaccine. May both overtake and overcome a long wintertime and a deeply invasive virus that forced our hibernation from the world as we have known it and from each other. Springtime calls us forth in any year to re-emerge in life, as surely as flowers break through the crust of the earth and tiny leaves, called forth by a warming sun, burst out from what seems dead wood. A calling that is universal, essential and reaches into the deep roots of who we are, but especially so this year. We will regather. It is going to happen. May we rejoice and be glad in this spring time of renewed life.

By God’s Amazing Grace, Spring is coming; we will gather again. Gathering as the earth comes forth to meet the sun and we bask in its warmth and the light of each other's spirit
 Torrence
Getting Out There - a meditation by Jennifer Brooke-Davidson

Every single day, I think about getting out there. Mostly, I’m thinking about getting out there to eat a meal that somebody else cooked, or taking in an actual movie, or hanging out with actual three-dimensional people -- and, of course, worshiping with the community I love. I’ll bet you have a list of things you can’t wait to get out there to do. click here to continue

Announcements
Play Dates
As highlighted in my Epistle Message this week about gatherings, we humans seem to get as much joy and excitement about our pets play dates together as they do as we long for our times together with friends again after this long pandemic. The Boulevard Boys of Boone (mentioned in the Message) check out their humans watching over them during their canine gathering in Wally’s backyard. River friends of mine, Sue and Rick Johnson, recently shared pictures of their Corgi, Winston, on recent play dates with friends. What fun! Can’t wait till we humans get to play together, be with each other at Farnham and St. John’s –seeing, hearing and being together not just as a head shot in a little box or a name and a voice across a Zoom screen!
The Boulevard Boys of Boone
Wally, Cisco & Rufus pause to check out their humans
Winston & Katie sharing a refreshing libation after playtime.
Winston and friends greeting each other before playtime.
Speaking of Playdates
Mark your calendar for our N. Farnham/St. John’s Spring Equinox bonfire gathering at Farnham on Saturday evening March 20th 6-8 p.m. (Sunset is 7:19 p.m. that evening.) We will gather on the church grounds (socially distanced and masked, of course) to spend some time together around our bonfires (like we did at Epiphany). Bring a folding chair. Bring a friend. A sanctuary walk-through is included in the evening plans. Maybe some marshmallow roasting too. The Spring (“Vernal”) Equinox marks the time when the sun rises exactly due east and sets exactly due west. Equinox means equality of day and night. The Spring Equinox marks the time when the earth begins to experience earlier sunrises, later sunsets, softer winds and sprouting plants. Life expanding. Not to be missed!
Our Food Pantry Push

N. Farnham and St. John’s do not have their own community food pantry. We support the wonderful ones at Farnham Baptist and Warsaw United Methodist Churches near us in Richmond Country. Thanks for all the shelf goods you have supplied throughout the months. In order to better accommodate the timing of the Baptist and Methodist food pantries we support, we are designating the last week of every month as a “Food Pantry Push Week” in hopes that we can accumulate more shelf good collections at those concentrated times. So start collecting items to pass forward every time you go to the grocery store. And while they can be dropped off at our drop points (the basket under the church bell between the St. John’s church doors or the Crowley’s back porch at 278 Cedar Grove Road across the road from N. Farnham) you can simply wait and do one main drop off the last week of each month. Or notify the church office if you need someone to pick up your items from home.
The Deadline for
Easter Flower Memorials
is Wednesday, March 17th.

If you would like to donate a hydrangea plant for Easter at $17, please notify your altar guild chairman of the number of plants you wish to donate and the name(s) of your loved one(s) in whose memory the flowers are donated.

(804) 925-5599

Mercer mercerohara@gmail.com (804) 761-9542

Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash. No permissions required
The Return to Gathering for Services

begins on Palm Sunday with a Combined Outdoor Service at St. John's (the church) at 11 a.m. with a procession of palms, a walk through the sanctuary and Communion. Easter Sunday there will be a Combined Outdoor Service at Farnham including flowering of the cross, a walk through the sanctuary and Communion. Both these in person, socially-distanced, outdoor, services with masks will be followed by 5 p.m. zoom services.
Note about Zoom links:
If you've lost the zoom link for a particular week's service or series, they are on our web-site. The homepage is farnhamwithstjohns.org, and zoom links are the third item on the dropdown menu on the left of the screen. Items which are recurring can be added to your calendar and will pop up for you when you click them in your calendar if you save that calendar link.
The links to March's Sunday services are also in the "Services" section of this E-pistle as well as the Episcopal Church Welcomes You section at the bottom of the page. Links to the current Lenten Series, "Praying with Psalms" are here. You can always just bookmark these web-pages for use at service or meeting time.
Services
The Zoom links for meetings and services will be e-mailed to the congregations with the weekly Diocesan video sermon by Saturday. The link for March's Sunday's Zoom services (excluding Palm Sunday - not there, yet) are posted on our web-site, farnhamwithstjohns.org.
Sunday, March 14th  
Lent IV 



10 a.m. Service of Morning Prayer
on Zoom


homily by Torrence Harman


Sunday, March 21st  
Lent V 



10 a.m. Service of Morning Prayer
on Zoom


homily by Torrence Harman

Sunday, March 28th  
Palm Sunday 

Procession of the palms

11 a.m. - St. John's
Combined in-person Outdoor Service of Holy Communion


5 p.m. - Zoom Service
Friday, April 2nd  

Good Friday



a video-taped
service will be sent that can be watched any time during the day.


The Parish Prayer List
for those in need of God's comfort and healing:
Courtenay Altaffer
Martha Berger
Randall Bone
Sue Bowie
Nancy Allin Bush
Constance Edwards
Bob File
Vinny Fracasse
David Gallagher
Regina Griggs
Barbara Grander
Buck & Dorothy Grove
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
Marsha Rynd
Debbie Belfield Stacks
Scott Strickler
Waldy Sulik
Billy Tennyson
Roclyn Tennyson
John Welch, II
Matthew Yates
Rose Mary Zellner and
all the victims of COVID 19
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
We pray for those who have died:
Barbara Leiter
To update this list, please send an e-mail to parischchurchnews@gmail.com.
March Birthdays & Anniversaries
Mar. 1st – Anne Warner
Mar. 9th - Becky Marks
Mar. 13th – Nancy Finnegan
Mar. 13th - Ed Marks
Mar. 31st - Courtenay Altaffer
Mar. 31st - Stan Terhune, III
The Episcopal Church Welcomes You!

Our services at Farnham & St. John's this coming Sunday are Zoom meetings. The link for these meetings is on our website farnhamwithstjohns.org
North Farnham Church
St. John's Church