Dear Holy Cross Family and Friends,
Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
It goes without saying that we’re in a strange time in our common life. And although what’s going on is unique to our experience, I was reminded last week that as unique as our situation is, the scripture holds true, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) As it turns out during the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918, churches and public venues were similarly closed, even in the Upstate NY area. Unlike our forebearers, though, we have several important advantages. First, we have a better understanding of disease and how it spreads. And secondly, we have means technological means to overcome the distance and isolation which slowing the community spread of infection requires.
I am reminded of a favorite word of our dear friend the late Jane LeCount. In her last years, every time I would visit with her, she would always remind me of the word “connections.” She’d remind us that we’re all connected in some way. In this time of our “quarantine,” it’s important for us to stay connected. From the telephone to Facebook, from email to Skype, we’ve got plenty of ways to keep those connections open. I want to encourage you to keep making those all-important connections with your friends, your family, and yes, your Holy Cross family! Keep the community of Holy Cross alive and well!
Community lies at the heart of the of our Christian faith and our life as the Church. And while this pandemic has taken away from us the ways in which we are normally formed as a community, I’ve been encouraged by those who have joined us in following our services online. There are even some folks who have created online accounts for the sole purpose of participating in the streaming services. Your presence, your comments, your likes and shares are an encouragement to me personally and I thank you for them. Please keep joining us for these online services, and do share the live stream and other posts from our Facebook page to your own page when you see them (by clicking share on the post), and invite your friends and family to like our church’s page. This will help others see what’s going on here. These little acts of evangelism are great ways to encourage others to join our community – even if it’s only online for right now. You never know what fruits God will bless us with down the road.
For those who don’t use Facebook, I am working on finding a way to stream the services to YouTube. You don’t need an account to watch videos on YouTube. Presently, I am doing my best to make sure the services we stream on Facebook are uploaded as a video on YouTube so you can watch later. Generally, it takes a few hours after the live service to get these up on the site. Also, if you haven’t already, head over to the Facebook and YouTube pages, like and subscribe to them and turn on the notifications so you know when we’re live or have uploaded a video.
While we can’t be together physically during this season, our spiritual communion will continue, as does the sacramental ministry of the Church. We continue to offer the Mass on a regular basis during which we pray for your needs and the needs of the parish. Mass will be streamed at 10 a.m. on Sunday and at noon on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Please don’t hesitate to call or email or text me your concern and intentions which we can pray for during this time. Also, during this time, the sacraments and pastoral care for the sick are still available. Please don’t hesitate to contact me about these needs if you know of them.
While we were hopeful that we might get back to normal in time for Holy Week and Easter, it’s clear now this won’t be the case. Our Bishop has extended the cancellation of public services until after Easter and this will probably be extended for a long period. While we can’t change the date of Easter, we will no doubt plan a big “back to church” Sunday when it happens and encourage people to attend in great numbers!
For now, our Holy Week Schedule of Streaming services will be as follows:
Palm Sunday – 10 a.m.
Tuesday & Wednesday – 12 p.m.
Maundy Thursday – 7:00 p.m.
Good Friday Liturgy – 12 p.m.
Holy Saturday Liturgy (Not the Easter Vigil) – 10 a.m.
Easter Day – 10 a.m.
Lastly, on behalf of the Vestry and Finance Committee, I want to ask you to be mindful of your financial contributions to Holy Cross. Even though our in person Sunday liturgies are on hold, our financial obligations are not. While Holy Cross does have a small endowment from which we could draw to cover some of our expenses, even this has taken a significant loss due to the drop in the stock market recently. The finance committee is working as I write to find ways to help make giving easier for everyone through online/electronic means. In the meantime, mailing your envelopes to the church is the best method. Your continued contributions during this time will ensure that we’re meeting our financial obligations as the come up now and not having to play catch up in the future. Thank you in advance for your support. I know for some people this crisis has also meant a loss of income and we are appreciative of any support you can give.
Please Join us!
Sunday September 15
Mass offered at Noon (only Service offered this day)
Cook out picnic to follow
Bring something to share!
The Warren County Fish Hatchery
145 Echo Lake Road
Warrensburg, NY 12885
I’ve just about had it with winter. I walked out my door this morning and it was -1F. I was not amused. I am thankful, however, that with such a late start to Lent this year, there’s a good chance that Easter will be on a gloriously beautiful Spring morning in late April. Hope springs eternal, even in the little things in life.
With the start of our Lenten pilgrimage, comes the addition of a number of opportunities for us to join together as a parish family in Christ to grow deeper in our faith and devotion to the crucified and risen Lord.
This Sunday, March 10, 2019, Mass will be held at 9:00 a.m. Please plan to be there to welcome our Bishop, William Love, as the Celebrant and Homilist. Bishop Ignatius of Antioch wrote in around the year A.D. 107, “Wherever the bishop appears, there let the people be; as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic [that is universal, whole, complete] Church.” This is Bishop Love’s triennial visit to the parish and I hope and pray and ask that everyone make every effort to join us this Sunday.
We have a number of other opportunities as well: This Friday (3/8) Stations of the Cross will be offered at 11:00 and 6:00 p.m. starting with a free soup meal. Starting Tuesday evening we’ll have start our new education program called “The New Testament You Never Knew ” by Michael Bird and N.T. Wright. This starts each Tuesday at 6:45 p.m. with a supper. Everyone is invited to attend!
I wish you all a fruitful, blessed, and holy Lent,
There’s an anecdote told in a biography of Saint Teresa of Avila, which goes something like this: St Teresa and some companions were crossing a river when Teresa lost her footing in the swift water. “Oh, my Lord!” [Teresa] exclaimed, with her usual loving familiarity, “when wilt Thou cease from scattering obstacles in our path?” “Do not complain, daughter,” the Divine Master answered, “for it is ever thus that I treat My friends.” “Ah, Lord, it is also on that account that Thou hast so few!” was her reply. This little story came to my mind as I thought about all the winter weather hitting us on days with scheduled Masses and events. Although there is a slight chance of snow showers, hopefully, things will calm down for the weekend.
Due to the storm, we had to cancel the planned Memorial Service for John Brosseau. We have rescheduled this service with a potluck supper for Saturday, February 2, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. Please plan on joining us that evening, which is also the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, commonly called Candlemas.
A Requiem Mass for Caroline Langworthy who died on January 6 is being planned. We’ll let you know more once we’ve set a date.
The Finance Committee will meet on February 1st at 4:30 p.m.
The February Vestry Meeting date has been changed to February 13 (Wednesday) at 7:00 p.m. Healing Mass on that day will be held at 6:00 p.m.
The roads sound like they’re pretty slippery today, so please use caution.
I hope I get to see you all on Sunday!
Reminder that due to Garage Sale Weekend, we will have only one Mass on Sunday 30 September at 8:00 a.m.
Fr. Pettigrew’s Sermon for Sunday on James 3:13-4:3
During the season of Lent, we’ve been meditating on some descriptions of our Lord which we find in the Stations of the Cross – each of which invites us to behold – to put before our hearts and minds – some aspect of Jesus in his life and work: We have thought about Jesus as the Lord of Justice and the Lord of Beauty; the Lord of all Creation and the Lord of heaven; and today, we are invited to put before our eyes of our hearts and minds Jesus the Lord of Life and Love.
And that is what today is all about – it is about a loving God who comes to us in the darkness of our sin to make us new and to give us light and life.
That is God’s gift to you and to me – love and life. And there is nothing we need more in our own lives and our own relationships than God’s love and God’s life.
The story of Scripture is the story of our need for that life and love:
The Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden shows humanity walking apart from their creator – showing that at its worst, humanity will choose itself. The story of Noah and the Flood showed that as things got worse and worse, God still wanted to restore us to our rightful relationship to himself, but that simply getting rid of those rotten apples in creation wouldn’t avail us for our salvation – something more had to be done. Sin and evil would still find a way into the world – death still reigned over God’s beloved creation.
But then, with the Call of Abraham and God’s covenant with him began the long story of God’s eternal plan to save us from sin and death.
God promised Abraham descendants as numerous as the stars in heaven and as innumerable as the grains of sand on the seashore. And though Abraham had faith that God would fulfill his promises, when God told him that he would in his old age finally have a son – Abraham and his wife Sarah laughed at the thought – and so they named him “Isaac” – which means – he laughed. I like that little touch – right from the start of our creation – faith is joined with laughter – joy lies at the heart of our new life in God!
The story of God’s redemption is a long one. Slavery in Egypt, rebellion while wandering in the desert for forty years, the giving of the Law of Moses, entrance to the promised land, the creation of the monarchy, the building of the first temple, exile from their homeland in Babylon, the restoration of the temple. Everything that happened to God’s people would be a foreshadowing of the great things to come.
But Scripture not only tells us of God’s great and powerful acts from the beginning, it also reflects back to us our own need of his grace in order to live and love in this world. Human history is filled with people striving to fill themselves with life and love. But we end up filling ourselves instead with worthless things like power, fame, wealth possessions, relationships, people, drugs, money, – you name it – anything that might serve as a cheap replacement, a cheap imitation of true life and true love.
Easter tells us that we no longer need to accept a cheap imitation – we no longer need to look to “things” to fill us and to try to satisfy our every need. Instead, we look to Jesus, for he is the one who said “I am the bread of life”; he is the one who said, “If anyone thirst come to me and drink.”
Christ has risen from the dead – trampling down death – no merely of the body – but of our emptiness.
And I think that is where my thoughts are centered this Easter – that through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we find we are filled with life and love – we are made fully alive – not as some promise of the distant future, and not merely of our bodies in eternity; but even here and now, in the very depth and core of our being.
I would say “if we look around in the world we see many people seeking to fill their emptiness with cheap imitations”: but I don’t think we have to look out into the world. I think we need only to look into our own hearts to find that we, the redeemed people of God – still possess in our own lives, our own hearts those empty places of longing, of pain, of anguish – places within us that are dead – places we put on artificial life support by feeding them with cheap imitations even though an innumerable abundance of God’s grace is offered to us – made available in Christ by the power of his resurrection!
Too often, in our weakness to sin, our unwillingness to give our selves fully to God, we accept those cheap imitations when the Lord of Life and Love stands waiting to give us the real thing.
And all we need to do to receive it is nothing more than to Behold the Lord of Life and Love; the Lord of Justice and Beauty, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, and like Abraham – trust in God’s faithfulness that he will give us more than we could ask or imagine.
For when we trust in God, he will touch our hearts, he will transform our minds, and he will give us the grace to live in his life and love. We need not fear nor be afraid – for he has done the work of our salvation for us because we could never do it ourselves.
And that faith is joined with laughter, as we rejoice to behold the Lord of Life and Love – for he has given his life in love fully and completely to us so that we might have his life in us that we might dwell and abide in his love forever.
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Schedule for the Triduum Sacrum
Maundy Thursday – March 29
7:00 p.m. Eucharist
8 p.m. until Midnight – The Watch at the Altar of Repose
March 30 – Good Friday
Solemn Afternoon Liturgy – 12:00 p.m.
March 31 – Easter Even
Easter Vigil and First Mass of Easter – 8:00 p.m.
April 1 – Easter Day
Parish Family Mass 9:00 a.m.
A light Parish Brunch and Easter Egg Hunt to follow in the Parish Hall!
This Weekend is the World’s Largest Garage Sale in Warrensburg!
- Saturday September 30th – Noon until ? – Soup Sale
- Helpers needed in the morning to help set up!
- Sunday, October 1st – 8:00 a.m. – Said Eucharist
(This is the only service today!)
Rector’s Report to the Annual Meeting
This morning, I want to lay out the priorities which I think are essential for this coming year for the life of our Parish Family.
Over the last several years, one priority that has constantly been brought up by members of our parish is the need to bring in new members. I can honestly say that, in the past few years we have indeed been bringing new people into our parish family. A few Sundays ago, when the weather was, well, typical for this time of year (cold and snowy) I looked around and at the congregation, as small as it was that day, and realized that over 3/4 of those there that day were new members since I came to Holy Cross five years ago.
Growing a small parish in a small town that is not it self growing is a tough enterprise. Indeed growing any church in any town is tough. The first thing we need to remember is that it’s not us who make the parish grow, but God.
Now, I please don’t think I’m throwing all the responsibility of growing our parish on God. Actually, I am, but we need to be mindful of the things that God is calling on us to do to work with him. That’s what the whole Christian life is about: God doing what he does, and us responding in the way which God wants us to respond in order to be the hands and feet of God here on earth. That’s what you and I are called to be – the body of Christ, carrying on his mission in the world, by his grace. My sermon this morning was about Christ leading the Charge from death to life, and the mission of the Church, and therefore the mission of this parish as the Church in Warrensburg, is to carry out that work which God has called us to do. Indeed we end our Mass each week asking God to help us “do all such Good works which though has prepared for us do to.”
In order to be a place where people want to come. In order to be a family that people want to be a part of, we need to have our business in order. And to have that business in order, we need to be constantly asking ourselves, “Is this what God want us to do?” More than any priority which you may think our parish family may have, that must be priority number one. Are we doing what God wants us to do.
And I want to invite you today, to join with me in adding to your prayers “O Lord, what would you have us do?” That was the prayer which Paul offered up when he was confronted with the vision of Christ on the Road to Damascus. “Lord, what shall I do?”
I’ve been asking that very question myself over the last several months. What would God have us do as we move toward the future. I want to share with you a few thoughts which I have discerned.
One area which we need to pray about is how can we do more to reach out to our community. I’ve struggled myself with this very question. There are a lot of wonderful ministries which God has called other churches to in our town. North Country Ministry, the Gathering Place, the Food Pantries. What can we do?
Within our own parish, too, each of us needs to consider how we can offer service. There wonderful people in our parish who bear a lot of the work. We need volunteers to help out with things like serving on the Altar as Acolytes and Chalice bearers and members of the Altar Guild.
But we also need more people to step up and help out with those special events, like dinners, and monthly breakfasts, with those special events like the quiche luncheon and the annual Christmas Bazaar. The more people who are willing to help the better.
One of the first items the vestry will be discussing next month at our first meeting of the year will be bringing back a few committees comprised of both members of the vestry and parishioners in general. Please be willing to volunteer or serve when asked.
In the area of our worship, the vestry has discussed trying to have a contemporary service in addition to our traditional worship services. Personally, I think that there is value in having a broad range of worship offerings, but I am hesitant at the idea that we should use worship as a means of evangelism. Other churches and parishes have tried it and that’s not what worship is for.
In the area of Evangelism, we need to get ourselves out there in the public eye more often than we have in the past year. That’s one important thing. After five years, im recognized enough around town to be a visible part of our community. That’s been an important aspect of bringing new people into our family. But the biggest and most important and best way to get more people to church is to invite them. If everyone in the room today, worked this year to invite just person to church this year, we could double the size of our parish. Who will you try to bring into the church this year? Think of one person, just one and start working on them remembering that the best thing you can to start that process is to start praying for them on a daily basis. And then start inviting them.
In the area of Education, Holy Cross has a robust offering of Educational opportunities. We have the Rector’s forum on Several Sundays and Weekly Tuesday Evening meeting that goes back and forth between a book of the Bible and some other book. We also have a Men’s Bible study and a women’s bible study that meet once a month. I can share with you that I have felt personally heartbroken when I have made direct invitations to people to participate in the Rector’s forum and been told “no I’m not interested.” I can honestly say I’m hurt when I hear that. What I want to ask of each of you today is to commit to participating in some form of the educational study offerings that we have here. They are really one of my favorite parts of my job. You don’t have to talk in the groups, you don’t have to do answer questions, but just come and see, like Andrew told his brother Peter in today’s lesson.
Pastoral care is probably my second favorite part of my work here at Holy Cross. You actually pay me to go and visit people and I really do enjoy visiting our shut ins, and being there for people in their time of need.
At the same time, caring for our parishioners is a job for everyone. I’m always delighted to hear from our shut ins that so and so called them or stopped by and visited them. Our shut ins don’t make it here because they’re not able, so please, keep them part of the family this year by reaching out to them with a phone call, a card, or a visit.
I would also like to institute Lay Eucharistic Visitors in the parish. In some parishes, there are trained volunteers that take Communion from the Mass on Sunday to shut-ins each week after mass. I wonder if this might be something we can try here? Would any of you be willing to go visit a shut-in after mass on Sunday and bring them communion?
Another ministry, which exists in our parish, but you don’t hear much about is our Parish Nurse. While you don’t hear much about it, I want to just say two things. This is a wonderful ministry that has done a lot of wonderful things for our parish this past year, the results of which are private and confidential, and so done not so much in secret but in a way to keep people’s personal medical lives private. And secondly, if you have any questions regarding your health care, we have a Nurse in our parish who is available to you to help you get answers.
The final area I want to speak about today is Stewardship. Stewardship is perhaps the second most important dimension of parish life after Evangelism. Each of us is called to share the Gospel with others, in intentional ways in our lives, that’s evangelism. What follows on evangelism’s heels is Stewardship.
Stewardship involves a lot of dimensions. One of those dimensions is the maintenance of our day to day operations. You received today a report from our Treasurer. You’ll see that at the end of the year, we made ends meet and all our bills are paid. That’s wonderful. That is a blessing from God.
But one of the things that concerns me is that as you look at the report, only half of our income came from regular giving envelopes. Almost 10% came from our endowment, and almost 25% came from special projects, which are funded by things like the annual Raffle. As we look to the future, we need to have a better understanding of how God wants us to be good stewards of our annual expenses and income. A few years ago, a few parishioners went to the Parish Leadership Conference and heard about a program called “New Consecration Sunday.” This year, I’m going to be enlisting the help of some of you, and some fellow clergy to help us better understand how we might become better givers in the kingdom of God for our annual budget.
Lastly, as members of our Parish we are responsible for being good stewards of the things we have been given, our buildings being a key component. We have done a great job over the years of keeping up and maintaining the buildings we have, and being able not just to use them for our own needs, but to offer them up to the community for their needs. Our ability to be there for our surrounding community is a great blessing to us as well as to the people of Warrensburg. Our buildings are used on a regular and continuing basis by the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, North Country Ministry, Alcoholics Anonymous, and for private gatherings, such as baby showers, and receptions following funerals to name a few. I’m grateful we’ve got the beautiful and functional space to do that. And as part of our life as a family we’re charged with making sure its available for years to come.
To that end, our vestry has decided that we need to undertake another capital campaign this year. Over the last several years we’ve raised money to pay for big projects like the new roof over the kitchen, insulating the chapel roof, and the repaving of the driveway. This year, we don’t have any big ticket projects in the works. But we do have a number of smaller projects which need our attention. IN the next few weeks, you’ll be receiving a letter asking you to join in a capital campaign to raise $25,000 in order to get accomplish those little projects we need to get done. When you get that letter, please consider prayerfully how you will contribute.
I want to end this morning on a personal note. Its hard to believe that its been five years since I first stood up here and addressed you as your Priest-in-Charge. Remember that? I was 9 days into this thing called “being a priest.” I want to say how grateful I am to you all for all your love and support you’ve shown me. You’ve continued to teach me what it is to be a family in Christ. I know that I haven’t always been on top of my game, but I couldn’t do any of it without the love and help you’ve given me. I truly hope that someday I can somehow repay you all for what you have done for me. I can’t even begin to express what it means. But from the bottom of my heart, thank you. I really do love being here with you all, and serving you as a priest in God’s Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else. And I truly hope that this year will bring great blessings on our church family.
May God bless you all as you have blessed me these last few years.
Key Points from the Report to the Annual Meeting
- In everything we do this year, ask with Saint Paul, “Lord what would you have us do?” (Lord, is this what you want us to do?)
- Find a community outreach program and build on one which we have already
- Increase service within our parish
- More people helping out with events within the parish. (Breakfasts (Vestry), parish dinners, quiche luncheon, Christmas Bazaar)
- Need a server for the 8 am service.
- Host a worship event that the wider community would participate in
- Get out in the public eye as a parish.
- Every member invites one person to become part of the Holy Cross Family this year.
- Start by praying for them
- Then, invite them to “Come and See!”
- Encourage more people to participate in some for of Christian Education
- Rector’s Forum
- Tuesday Evening Bible Study
- Men’s Bible Study
- Women’s Bible Study
- Encourage parishioners to reach out to shut ins
- Cards, visits, phone calls
- Lay Eucharistic Visitors – bring communion on Sunday to a shut in
- Keep people informed about the availability of the Parish Nurse
- Hold a New Consecration Sunday program this year.
- Conduct an Capital Campaign to raise $25,000 for “small” upkeep projects around the parish