Fall is just around the corner. If it were a year like last year, now people would be getting back from their summer vacations, parents would be busy getting their children ready for back to school, and churches would be doing the final touches on the activities for the program year. Unfortunately, none of that is happening now as before. We are still in the waiting mode. Hopefully, before long, we will get to see each other in person worshipping together in our beautiful church.
One of the things Susan and I enjoy the most about living in the rectory is to see and observe how people from our neighborhood and visitors from afar come by our church, sometimes with children in tow. As they come closer to the front of the church, their paces would slow down to read what is etched on the stone at the entrance: "This is none other, but the House of God and this is the Gate of Heaven." Through the ever-welcoming red open door, they enter the narthex and then tiptoe into the back of the nave, letting their eyes to absorb the beauty and simplicity of our worship space. They come out feeling satisfied with their experience of having witnessed "The Gate of Heaven."
People coming to our campus and visiting our church reminds me of the story: The Rabbi's Gift. What was once a famous monastery had fallen on tough times. With only five monks left, including the abbot, all in their seventies, it was dying. In the woods surrounding the monastery, there was a cabin that a rabbi from a neighboring village occasionally used as a retreat. The old monks were able to sense when the rabbi would visit his cabin. And as they anticipated, the rabbi once again showed up at his cabin. Not wanting to miss him, the abbot visited the rabbi at his cabin and shared with him all that was heavy in his heart. The rabbi could only commiserate with him. Both men, as they unloaded their fears and sadness over the imminent deaths of their orders, they shed many tears. Together they spent time reading the scriptures and praying. Soon the visit was over.
The abbot, about to leave, asked the rabbi if he had any wisdom that he could take with him to his brothers at the monastery. The rabbi responded, "No, I am sorry. I have no advice for you." But then the rabbi came close to the abbot and whispered in his ear, "one of you is the Messiah." No sooner than the abbot reached the monastery, the monks wanted to know what wisdom the rabbi shared with their leader. Abbot said the rabbi didn't have any advice for them. What he said was something cryptic. He said one of them is the Messiah. It puzzled them. As anyone of the five could be the Messiah, from that day onwards, they began to treat each other as if the other was the Messiah. It created such an aura that visitors to the monastery started to notice. They witnessed the care and respect these monks afforded each other. Visitors from far and neighbors close by began to engage with the monks more in the activities of the monastery. It led to young men once again start to joining the monastery, and eventually, the monastery came back to its earlier fame and reputation.
"Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor." Romans 12:9. In his long letter to all the believers in Rome, Paul exhorts them with these practical words of wisdom and advice. Paul's audience could not have been any different from us. His advice for Romans is good for us as well. Our mutual affection, care, love, and respect for each other are all going to take us to a new way of being and a new level of ministry. I want to thank the people of Gloria Dei for the trust you placed in me to walk along with you during this interim period. As I come to learn more and more about Gloria Dei, its rich history, and its people and leadership, I am in awe of you. All that Gloria Dei has accomplished is inspiring and admirable. I am hopeful that God is going to do even greater things in our midst. Let's not allow the hurts and wounds of our past continue to distract us from working towards achieving God's future for us. Let us be audacious, and remember Gloria Dei is the Gate to Heaven.
With much love and respect,
From Jim Ufheil, Rector’s Warden
What’s going on at Gloria Dei?
Believe it or not there is a lot going on. Rev. Koshy has been with us for almost 2 months now (since July 1st) and we began our controlled reopening toward the end of July. While we haven’t hit the 25 person limit as yet, we did have 19 in attendance last week (8/23) and we’re hoping for a few more as we move into the fall (don’t forget to let us know if you plan to attend so that we can reserve you a space – we are complying with all of the Covid-19 restrictions and guidelines for limiting gathering size, wearing of face masks, social distancing and hand sanitizing).
We’re in the process of updating our wifi capabilities so that we can improve our online live streaming of our Sunday services for those that cannot make it to church, and to enhance the experience of being on the grounds and in our buildings for gatherings or meetings, etc. We’ve already purchased some equipment to facilitate better sound quality.
We’re also getting ready to hold our annual meeting which was originally scheduled for late April and got postponed due to the virus. We’ll be conducting the meeting after church service at Gloria Dei, online via live streaming and possibly using Zoom as well (provided of course that we have the band width to do both by then). As you know, our annual meeting is when we elect new vestry members, so if you would be interested in running for vestry please contact the office (phone: 215-389-1513 ; email: email@example.com). If you’re not sure and would like more information about what being on the vestry entails, please let us know that as well and we’ll get you an explanation.
Next, we’re getting ready to start the next phase of our transition. We need to establish two essential committees: the first to update our church profile that will give an accurate description of our church, the congregation and the community; the second will be the selection committee that we review all potential candidates, conduct interviews and make a recommendation to the vestry on the candidate they feel would be best for Gloria Dei. Again, if you have an interest in being on either of these committees please contact the office, me, Rev. Koshy, or any vestry member.
There are even more new things taking place at Gloria Dei: Tuesday evening prayer with discussion of the next Sunday’s teachings (online via Zoom so if you’re interested let us know so that we can send you a link); other types of new committees and groups gathering (via Zoom) to talk about common interests, ways to stay in touch with and active in your church, etc. Let us know you’re interested – stay involved – make us stronger! We miss being together!
September 2020 Calendar
Annual Meeting and Vestry Elections
September 27, 2020 after 10 AM Service.
Sundays in September
Live worship in sanctuary at 10 AM. 25 people allowed in the sanctuary.
Tuesdays in September
Evensong on Zoom has changed to 6:30 PM, followed by “coffee hour” (or whatever you like to drink!)
Email Jaime at firstname.lastname@example.org for a Zoom link.
Coming in October
Book Study on Zoom – How To Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi starting Oct. 7th at 7:30 pm
Email Jaime at email@example.com for a Zoom link.
Collect: Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts; for, as you always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so you never forsake those who make their boast of your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Collect: O God, because without you we are not able to please you, mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Collect: Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Collect: O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Dear siblings in Christ,
It may surprise you to know that I haven’t always been a “fan” of prayer. In fact, it was just ten years ago that I wondered aloud to another parishioner about the point of prayer. I doubted its power and hadn’t seen too many of my prayers answered the way I wanted them to be. Yet, I persisted in prayer, sometimes aloud, sometimes in my heart, sometimes in the form of art and poetry and sometimes just by walking and admiring nature. Through that persistence, I’ve come to see prayer less as a way to control my world (by asking for things), and more as a tool for connection. When quieting myself enough to pray, I become connected with myself and my deepest desires and longings. I become connected with others as my thoughts drift beyond my own needs to those of my neighbors, our nation, and the world. And I become connected with God simply by noticing the stirrings of the Spirit within me and trusting that God is present with all of us in our suffering and in our joy.
Our team of intercessors continue to pray for the individual needs of many people. We invite you to pray with us for their health and healing (listed by first name only): Billy, Richard, Mark, Brian, Jackie, Ellen, Johanna, Amy, Luca, Heather, Margie, Kate, Tony, Mark, Edward, Susan, Kathy, Constance, Bob, George, Christine, Shaun and Mike. We also pray for the victims of violence, natural disasters, and COVID-19. May we be open to the Spirit’s call to action and God’s guidance on how to use our gifts in service to others.
Peace and blessings,
Prayer Ministry Coordinator
If you feel called to participate in this ministry, please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have a prayer request, you can contact the church office (215-389-1513) or email me at the address above.
A New Look At The Amazing Success Of Philadelphia’s Founder William Penn [Zoom Lecture]
September 16 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm Free
Watch this special program and discover what Philly was really like when William Penn got here in 1682.
Jim Murphy will present a pre-recorded video stream starting at 7pm, which will conclude at 7:45. Then, Jim will be LIVE for your Q&A until 8:30. We hope this gives you the best of both – a professionally recorded lecture with the opportunity to engage with the speaker!
Find out “How William Penn turned a ‘howling wilderness’ into America’s fastest growing city” that leapt right past both New York and Boston.
The Presenter: Jim Murphy, a certified member of the Association of Philadelphia Tour Guides, writer of over 60 articles on Philadelphia’s heroes and historic places, and soon-to-be author of a fast-reading book on Philly history by Temple University Press.
You’ll Discover: Why the American Society of Civil Engineers added Penn’s plan to its List of Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks, what a group of Chinese students noticed about Philadelphia several years ago, and what a visitor found unique about Philadelphia in 1744.
Plus you will see an out-of-this-world photo … and learn an easy way to remember Philadelphia street names very few people know about. (Jim learned it from his mother.)
It will be an evening of fun facts and enjoyable entertainment. Don’t miss it!