November 27 marked the first Sunday in the Season of Advent, 2022. We shifted over from our primary lectionary lessons
from Luke in Year C to Matthew in Year A. We have changed from the seasonal liturgical color of green used after Pentecost, to the soothing color of Advent blue. In addition we shifted the Eucharistic Prayers that we use on Sunday. At the 8:00 Rite One service we now use Eucharistic Prayer I, instead of Prayer II. At our 10:30 Rite Two service we are using Prayer B instead because it has a more incarnational tone to it than Prayer A. We put away the Gloria for a few weeks in favor of the Kyrie and at the end of communion in Rite Two we now use the second post communion prayer.

So why is there so much shuffling around with the order of worship? It’s a lot to take in for someone not familiar with the
Episcopal Church and our liturgical forms of worship. Can’t we just figure out what works and stick with it Sunday after Sunday? The quick answer to that question is…no.

We are a people of faith where the way we worship is a true reflection of what we believe. In Latin, it is said;
lex orandi, lex credendi. We tell the story of our Christian faith by how we worship together throughout the entire year. We are a liturgical worshipping community. We use colors and symbols to enhance how we tell our story to others.

Our story begins with a four-week season of preparation we know as Advent leading to Christmas Day. Like the familiar
carol reminds us, there are Twelve Days of Christmas, ending with the Day of Epiphany on January 6th. Depending on when Easter is set, the length of the Season of Epiphany varies before giving way to 40 days of Lent. Easter is determined by the first Sunday after the full Moon that falls on or after the spring equinox. Then of course there are the 50 days of Easter tide leading to Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, and the long green season after Pentecost. Which brings us right back to Advent once again.

The foundation of our Christian Story is cyclical. However, the experience of our Christian Story is cumulative. This is why
so many of us have our own family traditions connected with this time of year. Certain music must be played while decorating. Special food is cooked and shared with family and friends. People gather to watch classic movies like, It’s a Wonderful Life, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, the Christmas Story, and now this year, the Christmas Story 2.

The point is that telling the story is central to our very being. Certain repetitive acts serve to enhance our understanding of
how God became human flesh and lived among us. As we slowly move through the weeks on the calendar, we mark important events and milestones that help up tell the story. When we get to the end of the story on Christ the King Sunday, we pause for a brief moment and then we begin again. The unique narrative of the Christian story is that it is both never ending and one that is constantly evolving.

Last Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent – Year A. And so here we are. Let us begin once again.

Mark+

It’s no great secret that many secular holidays and religious holidays appear right next to each other on the
calendar. The culture wars have been around a lot longer than most people realize. The Church has done its best to
obliterate the pagan roots of many holidays by instituting religious holidays close by. Thus, it comes as no real
surprise that All Hallows Eve, aka Halloween, falls on October 31st, while the Feast of All Saints’ falls on November
1st. Just to pile on a bit, next the church placed All Souls’ Day on November 2nd. It certainly makes for a crowded
three days of festivities. The religious world often competes with secular influences.

While All Saints’ Day has been traditionally observed on the 1st of November, no matter which day it might
fall during the week, the Church has deemed it to be of such importance that it should also be observed on the
following Sunday if November 1st falls on a weekday. Our Book of Common Prayer makes the designation quite
clear. So this year while All Saints’ falls on a Tuesday, we will observe our patronal feast on Sunday, November 6th.

We are also doing something new this year with the observance of All Souls’ Day. In most faith communities
All Souls’ Day is known as the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed. All Souls Day … is a time when we
particularly remember those who have died. The prayers appointed for that day remind us that we are joined with
the Communion of Saints, that great group of Christians who have finished their earthly life and with who we share
the hope of resurrection from the dead.
— Bays & Hancock 2012, p. 128

For the past four years I have been serving on the Board of Serenity House here in Morristown. Serenity
House is part of Friends of Hospice. The mission of Serenity House is to give people a place to die with care and
dignity. We are inviting all the families who have had loved ones pass away at Serenity House for a special service,
a Day of Remembrance. The Rev. Jason McIntosh, from First Methodist, and the Rev. Sam Schaus, from First
Presbyterian, will co-officiate with me.

This special All Souls’ service is meant to be a time of prayer and remembrance. It is hoped that it will
remind us of our connectedness to one another is so strong the death is not able to separate us forever. We pray to
you for those we love, but see no longer: Grant them your peace; let light perpetual shine upon them; and, in your
loving wisdom and almighty power, work in them the good purpose of your perfect will; through Jesus Christ our
Lord. Amen.

Peace,

Mark+

It happens twice a year here in Morristown. Well at least it happens twice a year in non- pandemic years. We have BBQ in the fall and the spring. The build up for BBQ is slow and gradual. The planning behind the scenes is deliberate and intense. So many moving pieces have to fall into place for a BBQ weekend to be successful. 

We start planning for the next BBQ as soon as the last one wraps up. While the event is still fresh in our minds, we have a postmortem meeting to discuss what went right, what could have gone better, and how we might improve. Then we rest for a couple of months before we get ready for the next BBQ. 

A group of 15 or so faithful parishioners have been meeting for months carefully planning for October 6-8, 2022. This year we had to order a new tent to replace the one the windstorm destroyed last spring. We also made the decision to buy shelves to store equipment inside the church downstairs. We can also use the same shelving to hold orders for our growing corporate sales. 

A dozen people met a couple weeks ago on a Saturday morning to brew 110 gallons of All Saints’ BBQ sauce. We started at 8:00 AM and finished around 1:00PM. Under the leadership of Bob Harmon the whole event went off like clockwork. Bottling the whole inventory of sauce took place last week. 

Careful calculations were made and then checked and rechecked to order the required 6000 lbs. of pork butts, slaw makings, beans, and all the serving containers. Here again we are grateful for Bill Connellee for his amazing attention to detail to get these orders in on time. Susie Carter is our Queen of Slaw and Brooke White is our Queen of Baked Beans. The production of both BBQ sides require the coordination of numerous volunteers. 

John Hutchins and Udo Wender are the two pit masters who oversee the all-night flipping and sauce basting of the pork on Thursday and Friday. Two shifts of trustees help with the labor of turning the pork butts every hour. Countless wheel barrels full of hard wood scraps are hauled and carefully turned into coals that slowly smoke and cook the pork butts. When the meat comes off the pit there is an army of volunteer workers waiting and ready to grind the meat, weigh it and package it. Some of it is made into sandwiches and plate dinners. 

Inside the parish hall cardboard has been put down on the floor to protect it from all the constant back and forth traffic. Patty Kirkley & Kathy Jones-Terry head up tracking the Corporate sales. John Litz lets us borrow his gator to haul cooked meat up the hill. There is a beehive of activity constantly bringing out food and supplies to the tent where the sales are made. Of course we’ve gone high tech with a point of sales ordering system that allows us to keep track of everything thanks to Skeet Jernigan. Inside the church office Lynne Ann Anderson has been taking orders for a couple of weeks and that weekend works overtime to account for all the sales. 

Jack Fishman graciously spreads the word about All Saints’ BBQ through the Citizen Tribune and Anne Ross uses digital media and the Chamber to do the same. Carolyn Dean works with Tribune on placing our ads. The wardens of the parish, Howard Mauney and Colleen Andrews, have been tirelessly working behind the scenes for months, “herding the cats,” all the while listening to complaints and suggestions. The job is never ending and it’s always a work in progress. 

At some point you begin to see that this is really much more than a twice a year fundraiser. It’s a community of faith coming together with the goal a common purpose. It’s a labor of love that serves the wider community of Morristown. It brings us all closer together and let’s people know who we are. Before coming to Morristown I never really thought that BBQ could be sacramental. Having witnessed firsthand how much goes into each All Saints’ BBQ event, I can now see it all in a new light. 

Mark+ 


I’m sure it is the engineer in me that is attracted to all of those quasi-reality television shows that feature old
classic cars. I especially like the shows that discover barn-find cars that have been hidden away in storage for two or
three decades or in some cases even more. There is something compelling about seeing a rare muscle car that somebody
parked in the 70’s or 80’s and walked away and just left it only to see it be rediscovered in the 2020’s.


If the classic barn-find is not covered with a protective cloth then it is often covered in a thick layer of dust and
dirt. Usually the car is buried under piles of stuff that have been resting on the hood, roof, and trunk. So these items
need to be removed. Often the tires have dry rotted and have long since gone flat. So they might not hold air.

There is a meticulous process for verifying the status of the classic car. VIN numbers are checked against engine
block numbers. Any documenting papers are also checked to verify the history and collectability of the car. Old gas
needs to be emptied from the gas tank. All engine fluids and filters need to be replaced. A new battery will need to be
installed. Then everyone holds their breath to see if the engine has ceased up or will it turn over. Being able to turn over
is crucial for bringing life back to this barn-find car.

Science says, “What you don’t use, you lose.” This is to say when we stop using something it immediately begins
to atrophy. This is what has happened to us during the two-year pandemic. So many things that were a regular part of
life went on hold. Ministries we relied upon ceased. The rules for what it means to live in community with each other
changed overnight. Now that we are beginning to emerge from the Covid pandemic we are faced with the task of
“restarting the car” that has been sitting idle for more than two years.

Part of the process for restarting up of a church includes a good measure of discernment. Do I really want to
keep doing this? Is this particular ministry something I want to continue doing? Maybe I would rather change something
out and replace it with something better? Will I even continue to use this “church” for the same tasks or will I now need
it for something completely different?

In a post pandemic world we are rediscovering what it means to be the Church in 2022. Like a classic car, certain
built-in features and options may no longer be relevant for the Church of the future. We are going to have to reimagine
what the mission of the Church will look like moving forward. It might be leaner. It might be smaller. It might have to be
more flexible and learn how to adjust to new demands. All this means we most likely will be able “restart the car”
without too much effort. But it also means that once we have it up and running again that we might have a few “extra
left over parts” that are no longer required to make the car work.

When it comes to restarting a church that has been dormant for the past two years we will discover that some
things will be left behind. We will learn what is really necessary and what it is that really want to do moving forward into
the future. The mission will remain pretty much the same. We will spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. Only now,
how we go about spreading the gospel might seem different because the church we are no longer looks very much like
what we used to be.

Though as long as it still gets the job done, then I say, “Thanks Be to God!”

Mark+

This is not easy for me to admit. I’ve struggled with this point of theology for many years. I’ve always held that when it comes to the Body of Christ there are indeed many parts but we still belong to the same One Body. Sadly, it would appear that the unity found in the Body might no longer exist.

Jesus the Christ: my Lord and Savior, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, the Good Shepherd who searches for the lost sheep, the one who Redeems us all by the blood of the cross, the wise Rabbi who taught his disciples by parables; that Jesus always showed compassion for those who suffered.

When Jesus saw the multitude exhausted and hungry, he fed 5000 of them. No questions asked. When Jesus encountered the blind, the lame, those with leprosy, he had compassion for them even the outsiders. He never wondered if they deserved their situation, he just healed them all. Compassion is the ability to feel the pain that others are feeling. There is a profound sense of belonging to each other that allows us to draw close enough to recognize and acknowledge our common humanity. Even when Jesus was being crucified on the cross he showed compassion when he said, “ Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

I admit that I am troubled with the declining amount of compassion that can found in our world. I’m troubled by how easily some among us dismiss the suffering of others. There is growing evidence that many believe if bad things happen to you, then you must have brought it on yourself and thus you must deserve it.

When we remove basic compassion from our lives we allow ourselves to objectify those who are different from us and no longer see them as children of God who were created in the image of God. This racism is easily excused. Sexism is allowed. Homophobia is casually overlooked. Tribalism is used as a cover for all manner of evil acts.

Thankfully, there are still some Christians who believe that compassion is a defining trait of the faith. Sadly, far too many Christians are unable to show compassion for those who suffer. When Mahatma Gandhi was once asked about Jesus he said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” For those of us who follow Jesus, it’s time for us to show the world that our faith is grounded in compassion.

Peace, Mark+

One of the guiding principles of my priesthood has always been: “If I have to choose between right thought/ dogma and right relationships, then I’ll choose right relationships every time.” Time and time again over the history of the church, official church dogma has failed us. It has always been the relationships that have endured. I’m pretty sure this is why Jesus put so much emphasis on us living into the Great Commandment, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your strength. Then love your neighbor as yourself.” It’s always been about relationships. 

At the ripe old age of 64, I’m beginning to see a deeper understanding of living into the Great Commandment. Less stuff and more memories. I’ve always believed once you have food, clothing, shelter and transportation covered, then anything else is extra. 

My wife and I have told our adult children we no longer want or need anymore stuff. Instead of sending us a gift, call us or send a card with a handwritten note for birthdays, mother’s day or father’s day. We cherish memories of those we love much more than we care for our material possessions. 

It’s actually rather freeing to walk away from the stuff. If I give away the stuff, I no longer have to worry about taking care of it. If I decline the additions of more possessions in my life, then I’m free to go where I want, when I want, with whom I want. 

This June 18th, I will mark my 28th anniversary in Holy Orders. By my counting, I’ve baptized more than 650 people (mostly babies), officiated at the weddings of more than 480 couples, and presided over the funerals for more than 500 souls. Each one of those is a memory that I care deeply about. 

In my desk at the office, all four filing drawers are filled to the top with letters and notes that I’ve kept over the years. Most of them are personal thank you notes for baptisms, weddings, and funerals. I’m blessed to have a vocation where I am allowed to be present at the holiest times in peoples’ lives. As such, I’ve kept each of those notes, letters, and cards as a reminder of why I was set apart with my ordination. 

There are those days when my heart is heavy. There are days when I wonder if the church and my priesthood can really make a difference for a world that is so divided and so broken. When that happens, I open up one of the four filing drawers in my desk. I randomly pull out a handful of cards and letters. Usually that is about a half a dozen of them. Then I open them up and begin to reread them. 

Instantly, I’m transported back in time. I connect the name to the face; the face to the place and circumstances; the place and circumstances to the story of how we originally met. Whatever doubts I might have had about my priesthood, they fade quickly away. Those memories of people in my life bring me comfort and help me to focus and move forward once again. So now I can easily leave behind all the stuff. On the other hand, the many memories of a shared humanity where paths in life have crossed and touched our souls, those will stay with me forever. It has taken me a lifetime to get here, but you can keep all the stuff. I’m more than content to remain connected to people and my memories. 

Fr. Mark 

There have been numerous times in my life when even after giving my very best effort I came up
short. I didn’t come in first place. I didn’t win the blue ribbon or hoist above my head the coveted golden
trophy. I used all the resources at my disposal along with my outside of the box imagination and still I missed
the mark.

Yet, as long as I really knew that I had given my best effort I was content. As long as I knew in my
heart if I were to replay the situation before me over and over again, the outcome would remain the same,
I could live with that. You see, there is no shame in giving all that you have for something you dearly believe
in. There is no shame in trying your absolute hardest and still falling short of accomplishing your original
goal.

Which is why with recent events in the news, I’m left struggling. Is this really our best? We just
crossed the million-person mark for lives lost to COVID-19. A million is a lot of anything. We fought over
vaccines, the wearing of masks, and social distancing. Some said it was all a hoax and the body tally kept
increasing. Others said it will go away when the weather warms up. Now we wonder how did we allow
ourselves to get to this point? Why did we let our pride, our fears, and complete ignorance, inflict such
damaging losses on this, the most powerful nation the world has ever known?

Then over the last two weeks we’ve all watched in horror as two mass shootings have once again
wreaked carnage in a grocery store and an elementary school. The media covers the aftermath like a blanket.
Our elected officials send up the usual thoughts and prayers. Many of us are outraged to live in a country
where there are more mass shootings that days in the year. As for me, I have to ask, “Is this really our best?”

I understand the deeply polarized world in which we are living. I know how tribal we have become.
Our leaders have become experts at exploiting our fears and hurts to raise billions of dollars for the next
election cycle, though in terms of any real action nothing ever changes. The list just gets longer: Columbine,
Red Lake, Virginia Tech, Northern Illinois, Sandy Hook Elementary, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Santa Fe,
Oxford, and now Robb Elementary joins the ever growing list of mass shootings.

Is just maintaining the status quo really our very best effort? Is doing nothing the preferred choice
instead of engaging the difficult work of finding compromises? Has it now become acceptable for us just to
send our children off to school and let them take their chances in life’s lottery that they might be the next
shooting victims?

I believe that to date, we have not yet given these issues our very best effort in finding new and better
solutions. I know that we can do better. There is certain to be another future wave of COVID that will take
even more lives. Without any meaningful changes in how we handle firearms in this country we are certain to
have more and deadlier mass shootings inside of our schools.

We need more of us who are willing to offer our very best to find new answers for entrenched
problems plaguing our nation. What we have given so far, simply isn’t enough. To break the vicious cycle
in which we find ourselves stuck, it will take all of our best.

Father Mark +

The past two years of Covid lockdown has had a greater effect on most of us than we probably realize. All of the controversies surrounding: required masking in public places, are the vaccinations really
necessary or even effective for that matter, my individual rights vs our responsibilities to the wider community, and of course nearly a million lives lost to the Covid-19 virus, have left the world reeling and drowning in total confusion.

To be sure we have learned how to make necessary adjustments. Meetings of all types can now be held by Zoom. People can effectively work from home. Regular Sunday morning worship services are now live-streamed on FaceBook and YouTube, making us all televangelists. The Great Resignation empowered millions of people to leave behind dead end, unsatisfying low paying jobs, for new employment
opportunities that offered hope for a better life. It would seem that life as we once knew it no longer exists. Put another way, the world before March of 2019 is dead.

So what comes next for us? As Christians we believe that with death, life has changed not ended. We are a people who believe in the Resurrection to new life. We are a people of real hope. We live for and
into the promise of new life after death. It is what is means for us to be Easter people.

We are just beginning to emerge into a world of new life after having endured so much death. We are just starting to understand how the world has changed in ways we never once imagined were possible.

We got a sense of it this past Holy Week from Palm Sunday through Easter morning. Attendance at all the services were up. People were hungry for their souls to be fed. You could sense that many of us
were clearly searching for some sort of way forward after experiencing so much death and loss. There was a real sense of new hope and new life that was present this particular Easter unlike those before.

As children of God, we understand that death no longer has dominion over us. Death doesn’t have the last word in our story. There really is new life after death. There really is a new life in the Resurrection. Considering all that we have been through over the last two years, that is Good News we can celebrate!

God’s Peace, Mark+

As a child, it was always an odd thing for me to understand why it was that Easter Sunday was a moving target. I mean
Christmas is always on December 25th. The Feast of the Epiphany is exactly twelve days later, hence following the 12 days of
Christmas, on January 6th. Determining precisely when it is that Easter happens is a bit more intriguing.

Officially, Easter is determined by the phase of the Moon. More specifically; Easter Sunday is celebrated on the first
Sunday following the first full Moon that occurs on or just after the spring equinox. Try saying that five time really fast. This means
that this year the Spring Equinox was on March 20th and the first full Moon after that will be Saturday, April 16th. So Easter Sunday
this year will be on April 17th.

The thing is, so much of the Church’s liturgical calendar is dependent on Easter. For instance, the Season of Lent is 40 days
long not counting the Sundays. We don’t count Sundays because they are all considered Feast days of our Lord. Therefore counting
backwards from Easter Sunday, April 17, 2022, it means that Ash Wednesday was March 2nd of this year. You see, it all depends on
Easter.

The same is true with the Feast of the Ascension and Pentecost Day. Pentecost happens exactly 50 days after Easter
Sunday, only in this case we do count the Sundays. So in 2022, Pentecost will be held on June 5th. Since the Ascension is always on
a Thursday that falls ten days before Pentecost, this year the Feast of the Ascension will happen on May 26th. Here again, it all
depends on Easter.

On one important level this all really makes good sense. As Christians, we are Easter people! Our entire faith experience is
based upon Jesus triumphing over death and rising from the grave. Death no longer has dominion over us. We have been
redeemed by the Blood Christ and allowed to stand before God. It all really does depend on our understanding of Easter.

During Holy Week we prepare for Easter Day. Palm Sunday is the week before Easter when Jesus enters into Jerusalem
knowing he is certain to be arrested, tried and sentence to die. Maundy Thursday is the night when Jesus gathered with his
disciples and instituted the Sacrament of Holy Communion. At the end of the service on Maundy Thursday the church altar is
stripped bare. The people all leave in silence.

At noon on Good Friday, we gather for a somber service of remembrance where we share communion from the reserved
sacrament that was consecrated the night before. Then we relive the Stations of the Cross, and we trace the path that Jesus took
on the way to his crucifixion.

The Great Vigil of Easter takes place on Saturday evening. It begins with the kindling of the new fire and the lighting of the
Paschal Candle. The first half of the service takes place by candlelight symbolizing how the Light came into the world to overcome
darkness. The Lord’s Resurrection is proclaimed and the Season of Easter officially begins at this service. The lights are raised, a
joyful noise is made, followed by singing and celebrations that Christ has Risen from the dead. This is our story. This is who we are
as Christians and people of God. It is important that we are clear about this. It is important that we understand why we gather and
what it is that we believe.

COVID has severely impacted the last two years and our ability to celebrate our faith in the fullest possible way. This year
we anticipate being able to gather without the limitations of the pandemic. This year we have a chance to fully immerse ourselves
into the story of who we are as followers of Jesus Christ.

I hope you will share with us this spiritual journey in person. From Palm Sunday, through Maundy Thursday, through Good
Friday and the Stations of the Cross, to the Great Vigil of Easter and finally to Easter Sunday, make the effort to come and take part.
Everything we know and understand about the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ depends on how we experience Easter.

Peace,
Fr. Mark

Advent means “coming or arrival,” and the reason for the season is anticipation and preparation for the birth of the Christ child and His second coming. In the early church, however, it was a time for candidates to prepare for church membership. After the fourth century, it became a time for preparation for Christmas, and penitence was added as a standard for the whole church in the Middle Ages.

Now many Christian churches are again shifting the emphasis of Advent from a penitential season, such as Lent, to a celebration of hope and anticipation. That in no means takes away from the fact that Advent is also a time of preparation and introspection.

In an effort to again distinguish between Advent and Lent, some denominations have changed the color of Advent to various shades of blue. Some Roman Catholic churches have changed to a blue violet. Although we, as Episcopalians, all grew up with purple and red violet, the early 12th century Black Canon of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre ordered black as the color for Advent! But, blue is by no means new to our church either. Before the 12th century, it was used in the Western Church.

The Sarum Rite was the original basis for the liturgy of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer and where blue was used for the color of Advent. It was often specified that it be an indigo to represent the darkness before the birth. Early art shows church leaders in ornately decorated blue robes. Shades of blue symbolize royalty, the coming of the King, hope, the night sky before the dawn, the sea before creation, and Mary. Remember early dyes were made from nature. Some historians suggest that northern European dyes were made from berries that produced blue while southern Europe was able to make purple dyes.

Tradition puts the rose-colored candle in the Advent wreath—not to symbolize Mary, but to reflect the lessening emphasis on penitence, the nearing of the end of the fast, the pending birth, and the second coming. Rose or pink represents joy. The 3rd Sunday in Advent marks the halfway point, and we are allowed to be excited for the coming event. In the Roman Catholic tradition, it is called Gaudete Sunday, from the Latin for “rejoice.” It takes its name from one of the traditional readings from Philippians which begins, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” (St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Cambira, CA)

Here at All Saints’ we have chosen the Sarum Blue for our Advent vestments. We have also changed out the old purple Advent candles for new blue ones. Our Sarum Blue vestments have been given in loving memory of Diane Baker.

Fr. Mark