Farnham & St. John's
Torrence's Weekly Message
“The Circle: A Lesson from Winter Trees”
 
Circle me, Lord, keep peace within, keep harm without.
Circle me, Lord, keep hope within, keep despair without.
Circle me, Lord, keep light near and darkness afar.
Circle me, Lord, keep peace within, anxiety without.
(A Celtic Prayer from David Adam)
 
As I sit writing this Epistle Message a fierce wind is blowing the world around the home in which I am sheltering in the western mountains of North Carolina. I am here because it was the only place now (sooner rather than later) where I could get scheduled for the first of the two vaccine shots necessary to protect me from COVID – at least COVID as we know it right now. Yet, daily news announces mutations, variations blowing their way into the U. S., challenging projections of the trajectory of this disease. Dis-ease is truly the theme that is challenging all of life in this strange stormy, unsettling time.
 
The home I am in, along with the others around it, is nestled against a forested mountainside. Trees circle this mountainside. Most of them bare in the bleak cold of midwinter, but all of them vulnerable to storms and intense weather.  Old and young trees, evergreen and deciduous, grove together. Today they are bearing up within a fierce winter storm bringing high gusting winds, ice and snow blowing through their landscape. A few of the trees are old with thick trunks. They stand solidly grounded, deeply rooted. They have withstood decades of storms coming and going. Their limbs can withstand a lot of snow and ice before giving in to the gravity of it all. The other trees, bare branched or evergreened are more supple. They bend and sway in the harsh wind. Their branches humbly bow to earth when snow and ice bear down upon them, touching the earth as if to pay homage to their origins, as if to seek reassurance for continuing life. The smaller, younger trees whose roots have less breadth and depth than the more mature trees around them shelter under the higher, broader, stronger branches of older trees. 
 
In the frozen ground below this mountainside community of living breathing groves of trees there is an intricate, interconnected, woven web of roots. Spreading, reaching out, communicating, interlacing, resourcing each tree in the circle. Each tree, appearing whole unto itself, being nurtured and sustained by what’s happening underground. Life dependent on what’s being accessed from rich underground soil to nurture above ground growth and development, Root systems and rich soil: foundational to support the above ground growth of trees which are one of our world’s greatest sources of oxygen. Trees, interdependent to be sustained themselves and to sustain other life. They breathe in and out to produce then distribute oxygen for the living creatures that live in and around their circle - creatures that require oxygen for life.
 
I watch all these trees standing, swaying, bowing, bending in this winter storm and receive the wisdom they have to offer. They appear separate from one another, each planted in its own space, separate and apart, as individuals, as it appears to the human eye. But close enough together to break the force of the wind and weather. And below ground mysteriously intertwining in rich soil strengthening and supporting the whole.
 
Creation is the most astounding and authentic window to the Divine design for all of life. How often we look to the “natural” world for sustainable metaphors to live, move and have being as humans within Creation’s web of life.
 
We are trying to weather the stormy times we are in right here, right now, while many powerful forces appear to be trying to uproot and/or topple us.  Surely, the natural world around us can teach us a few things. Nature offers us a mirror to reflect upon our life. Nature may offer us insight, enlightenment, wisdom as to how to sustain human life in the middle of difficult times, such as we find ourselves in now.
 
Reflect on this vision of a grove of trees hanging on to life on a mountainside, exposed to all the elements, in the middle of a winter storm. Living and breathing life back into the world around it. A circle of trees, knowing that winter will pass, spring will not disappoint, and that deep within them, the resources to fashion new life from their branches is quietly gathering, to be ready to rise when the time is ripe to re-open. Spring following winter is essential to the nature of creation. May this story of winter trees help us to open to our essential nature and live into our place in the Holy Design of things.
 
So, ponder:
 
How are we, in our circle of faith, like these trees. What is happening to us in this stormy time? How are we weathering it? What is sustaining us? What is waiting to “spring” into new life in the months to come? How can we nurture this yet to come? Essentially: what can we learn from the trees as we “grove” together?
 
 Torrence
 
For your Spirit woven into the fabric of creation, for the eternal overlapping with time and the life of earth interlaced with heaven’s vitality,
We give you thanks, O God.
For your untamed creativity, your boundless mystery and your passionate yearnings planted deep in the soul of every human being.
We give you thanks, O God.
Grant us the grace to reclaim these depths, to uncover this treasure, to liberate these longings and in being set free in our own spirits to act for the well-being of the world.
Thanks be to God.
(A Prayer of Thanksgiving from John Philip Newell)
Announcements
An Important Message about COVID and Church

Please, please click here to access our Bishop's message about COVID and our response as "church" in this troubling time in which we are so vulnerable.

Looking ahead to the next few months, while we were hopeful that our worship life could include the return to in person worship in our beloved sanctuaries sooner rather than later, the reality may be slower in coming than we have been wishing. However, please know that church life and worship is not suspended but will continue in the different and hopefully creative ways we have been experiencing since March 2020. As we come upon the one year mark of COVID time, we must renew our strength, stay the steady course we have been promoting for the greater health of the whole "body," pray without ceasing (breathe in hope, breathe out peace; breathe in peace, breathe out love), and step by step journey together on our pilgrimage into spring and renewal. There is an amusing but enlightening little Q&A type quote that goes like this: "How did the little dog get to Dover? Leg over leg." That's us, just putting one foot in front of the other till we get to where God's love and our love and care for each other can take us. After all, as Ram Dass said it: "We're all just walking each other home." Torrence
The Annual Meeting of the Congregation of St. John's Episcopal Church
Sunday, February 7, 2021 at 10 a.m.
The meeting will be conducted by Zoom -
Agenda items will include
  • election of two vestry members
  • the 2021 Budget
  • Annual Reports
Vestry members concluding their three year term are
  • Arline Hinkson and
  • Brother Mark Jenkins. 
Nominees for election for the two openings on the vestry are
  • Barbara Jean LeFon and
  • Anne Neuman. 
The Annual Meeting of the Congregation of N. Farnham Episcopal Church
Sunday, February 7, 2021 at 1 p.m.
The meeting will be conducted by Zoom -
Agenda items will include
  • election of two vestry members
  • the 2021 Budget and
  • Annual Reports
Vestry members concluding their three year term are
  • Kim Calvert and
  • Ed Elliott. 
Nominees for election for the two openings on the vestry are
  • Brenda Harhai and
  • Stan Terhune
Ash Wednesday Services

Please note that there will be two zoom services on Ash Wednesday, February 17th: One at noon and one at 7 p.m. Attend whichever one suits your schedule!
Mark your Calendars for the Upcoming Lenten Series:
"Prayer Works: Praying with the Psalms"
Tuesdays, February 23, March 2, 9, 16, 23

A blend of bible study, prayer, reflection, conversation

Two options: A morning 10 a.m. session; an evening 7 p.m. session
By Zoom
More details to follow
Services & Sermons
The Zoom links for meetings and services will be e-mailed to the congregations and have been posted on our web-site, farnhamwithstjohns.org. They are the third item in the dropdown menu on the left hand side of the page.
Sunday, February 7th  

Annual Meetings by Zoom

10 am St. John's
1 pm Farnham
(no service)

Zoom link to be sent to the congregation and has been posted on our web-site.

Diocesan Sermon by
the Rt. Rev. Porter Taylor
Sunday, February 14th  

10 am Combined Service of Morning Prayer
by Zoom

including homily


Diocesan Sermon by
the Rt. Rev. Susan Goff



Wed., February 17th  


Ash Wednesday
services via Zoom


12:00 noon
&
7:00 p.m.


Sunday, February 21st  

10 am Combined Service of Morning Prayer
by Zoom

including homily


Diocesan Sermon by
The Rt. Rev. Eugene Sutton, Bishop of Maryland
The Parish Prayer List
for those in need of God's comfort and healing:
Courtenay Altaffer
John Barber
Martha Berger
Randall Bone
Sue Bowie
Nancy Allin Bush
Pat Damion
Constance Edwards
Bob File
David Gallagher
Regina Griggs
Barbara Grander
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
Barbara Leiter
Susan Lewis
Rich Lyman
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 also pray for those who have died:

Richard Damion

Upcoming Birthdays & Anniversaries
Feb. 8th – Steve Foster
Feb. 15th – Brenda & G.W. Goddin
Feb. 15th – Eva Milsted
Feb. 17th - Barbara Jean LeFon

Background photo by Daniel Mirlea on Unsplash. No permissions required.
The Episcopal Church Welcomes You!

Our services at Farnham & St. John's this coming Sunday have been replaced by annual congregational Zoom meetings. The link for these meetings is on our website farnhamwithstjohns.org
North Farnham Church
St. John's Church