Apalachicola, Florida......November 13, 2020
Let us not be afraid to be humbled and refined, for then we shall be further
along on the journey to wholeness.
When you receive this, we will be looking forward to a very unusual 2020 Thanksgiving. Looking toward that day, I’ve started humming the hymn, “We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing.” The next lines are, “He chastens and hastens his will to make known.”

The words of hymn 433 were written in 1625 when the word “chasten” meant to punish, as in 2 Samuel 7:14, “if he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men.” Today, although chasten still has the definition of punishment or refining, I think the one definition of the word I prefer is “to humble” … as in, “Eric was chastened by the number of his sermons that were both boring and big flops.”
 
I have been chastened many times during my time here at Trinity. I have made so many mistakes; especially in my early days here. I have said and done things that hurt people and most of you have had the courage to confront me. I feel this chastening has made me a better man and a far better priest. I hope you have noticed some growth in me over the last 15 months and I hope that you will not jump to the conclusion that what is said is meant to do harm. Too often we don’t give the other the benefit of the doubt or an opportunity to explain or ask forgiveness.

I don’t believe that chastening must come from someone whose opinion we value, but when it does, it can sting. Sometimes, people I never knew prior to the chastening have humbled me. God has also chastened me: thinking God works one way only to find out God works in another. Again, I have learned and hopefully grown. Because I had such a great marriage to Cindy, she was able to chasten me over and over again. That was one of her greatest gifts. She could tell me how much of a jerk I was and make me happy to receive that information. Then I’d walk away and think, she just told me that I had been an idiot! Then I’d laugh because she did it so well and, like every wife, she was always right.
 
A Harvard School Business School historian, Nancy Koehn, said in an interview, “Being chastened by your own conduct, by mistakes you’ve made, by setbacks you’ve encountered are some of the best classrooms in the making of great leaders.” Referring to great leaders, she said, “Chastening is how those leaders grew, got better, and got more decent—and that has a great impact on the world. Leaders that can’t reckon with themselves about their own mistakes are inevitably doomed to be less than they might.”

It is the same for Christians. We are all sometimes shamed and ashamed of our actions. For Christians, we don’t have to stay in that emotionally uncomfortable place. Through the confession of our poor actions or inappropriate words and with understanding, compassion, and forgiveness, we strive to become better.
 
Think of how King David took Bathsheba and had her husband killed. God and the prophet Nathan chastened him, and he then went on to become Israel’s greatest king. Peter denied our Lord three times before his crucifixion and after Christ’s resurrection, Jesus asked him if he loved him (three times) and Peter responded, “Yes Lord, you know I love you.” After that, Peter went on to be the head of The Church.

I believe our society could use a little more chastening, from our world, national, and state leaders, to this priest. Our mouths, our Facebook posts, and our tweets oftentimes cause us more trouble than good. Civility has disappeared with the typewriter and the landline. During the age of McCarthyism, attorney Joseph Welch finally punctured McCarthy’s puffed up sense of self when Welch said, “Have you no sense of decency?!”

When I read the newspaper, watch the news, or even overhear a conversation, I feel like shouting the same words or,” Have you no shame?”. And yet as a Christian and a priest, I feel I must first get to know the person, climb inside their skin, and get to see where they are coming from. First, I must choose to think they do not know that they have committed an offense. Sometimes culture, ignorance of someone’s history, or lack of education can explain the offense. Then it is time to explain to them why it is impolite. If it happens again, then perhaps it is time to chasten. Unfortunately, I feel we have entered into a shameless society. In some circles, especially politics, shamelessness is celebrated. Why apologize? Apologies, in that circle, are regarded as a sign of weakness.

I believe the Bible and the biographies of great women and men are replete with examples of how one’s sense of shame or one’s being chastened has led to growth as an individual or even an entire society. A whole society, you might ask. Yes, remember that Jonah was sent to Nineveh to have them repent. When Jonah finally arrived in Nineveh, he called the entire population to repentance. Everyone, from the king to the lowest animals, was covered in ashes and the humans wore sackcloth in order to show God that they were ashamed, chastened, and ready to repent.

In a few weeks we will remember hymn 433. Between now and then, I invite you to take time to examine your life and then thank God for your own chastening and your subsequent growth. Without chastening [and a (healthy) sense of shame, i.e. when we’ve broken an interpersonal bridge] we become complacent, smug, and indifferent to the world, and an enemy of Christ. Chastening is just one of the tools in God’s tool belt that helps us to conform more and more to the likeness of Christ.

Remember, that first we should talk and explain the offense or have someone explain it to us if we are the offender. Take the high road, believing that the first time you hear such things that they may not have been said with the intention to offend or cause you harm.

Once you take a deep breath, when you’ve examined all possibilities, be ready to chasten or be chastened. Also remember that it’s never fun to be chastened, pruned or refined, but it is necessary to our spiritual growth.

Just two weeks ago, on All Saints’ Day, we gave thanks for those in our past who helped us grow into the child of God each of us is becoming and gave thanks for all the saints who from their labors rest. Sometimes our saints may have chastened us when we needed it. And who among us who have had children have not chastened our own?

Let us not be afraid to be humbled and refined, for then we shall be further along on the journey to wholeness. This Thanksgiving, remember the gifts
you have received from God, both physical and spiritual; and, then
remember to stay safe, wear a mask, keep socially distant,
and give thanks at all times and all places!

Eric+
Readings for November 15, the Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost
Readings for November 22, the Last Sunday after Pentecost
AROUND THE CHURCH
Take a Risk With a New or Increased Pledge
Recently, Eric sent you a letter inviting you to make your 2021 financial pledge of support to Trinity. In part, the letter said:

"If you've never pledged, I ask you in the name of Christ to do so. It is NOT a bill; it is a personal commitment to Christ and His Church, which you may change at any time as your circumstances may change -- positively or negatively -- but it lets the leadership of the congregation know that you are committed to Christ, His Church, the spreading of the Good News. Plus, it allows us to plan how we will meet the needs of this community. Like our salvation history heroes, take a risk in 2021, a time when Trinity Church will need your support -- now, more than ever."

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. -- Proverbs 3:5-6

Penny's Worth Plans Special Christmas Sale
Penny's Worth, closed since mid-March due to the Coronavirus, is pleased to announce a special Christmas decor & gift sale on Thanksgiving weekend, November 27-28. The sale will be held outside, in the Penny's Worth back yard., in observance of health & safety precautions related to COVID-19.

Stop by and choose from a large selection of decorative items, as well as some great gifts.

Sale hours will be 12 noon - 4 pm on Friday, November 27
and 9 am - 3 pm on Saturday, November 28.
A recent Saturday morning clean-up left Trinity's Memorial Garden looking especially nice. Volunteers included (above) Charlie Galloway, Gary Ulrich, Bill McCartney, Ralph Wagoner, and Patti McCartney.
Let's Make Gingerbread Playdough!
Trinity Episcopal Church's Outreach committee is collaborating with Apalachicola Margaret Key Library and Bring Me A Book Franklin to bring holiday cheer, literacy fun, and activities to children ages 2 -7 on December 1. 

The Outreach Committee is purchasing cookie cutters to be used with playdough. Here is a recipe for the playdough; we need at least six batches. Please contact Marlene Seaborn, at 843.224.7706, if you will make a batch to be delivered no later than Monday, November 30. It doesn't take long, your house will smell delicious and you'll be spreading holiday cheer!
Call for 2021 Vestry Nominations
Vestry members Randy Mims, Charlie Galloway, and CT Ponder are
completing their terms of service at the end of the year, leaving three
seats open beginning in January, 2021. Nominations are being sought
to fill these three-year terms.

If you are interested in serving on the Vestry, please contact
Eric at 443-604-5940 to learn more and to request a nomination form.
Candlelight Prayer Service Brings
Community Together on Election Eve
Over 81% of eligible Franklin County voters cast their ballots in last week's 2020 election, representing 6,891 citizens. Congratulations to Trinity's own Rick Watson who won re-election as Franklin County Tax Collector, and to Steve Lanier, Trinity member Shirley Taylor's son, who was elected to the position of Franklin County Superintendent of Schools.
OUR GREATER COMMUNITY
First Porch Fest Apalach a Huge Success
Last weekend's Porch Fest Apalach, a community event to showcase local musicians and raise funds for the Franklin County Humane Society, provided an entertaining variety of music performed on porches around town, and raised over $3,000.

The event kicked off at noon on Saturday on the steps of Trinity and featured an afternoon performance by 'Shaken & Stirred', also known as our own Carol Harris & Randy Mims (below). Other Trinity members whose efforts created the successful event include Cathy Buell (above), Jason & Tara Carter, Karen Kessel, and Charlie & Carrie Kienzle.
Services at 5 pm Saturday & 10 am Sunday, Eastern time

Church address: 79 6th Street, Apalachicola, Florida 32320
Office address: 76 5th Street, Apalachicola, Florida 32320
Mailing address: PO Box 667, Apalachicola, Florida 32329

Phone number: (850) 653-9550