We Love St. Luke’s II

This week, we would like to introduce you to June, a long time member and avid supporter of our church. June will share her insight on what it means to be part of our faith community by answering just 4 simple questions…

St Luke’s is a family  that nourishes its members but also reaches out, as much as we are able, to feed and aid those to come to us for help

St Luke’s: So, June, how long have you attended St. Luke’s?

June: I first attended St. Luke’s when I moved to Hudson in 1983 … now thirty-six years ago. Being a “cradle” Episcopalian (baptized as an infant and brought up in the Church), it was natural for me to seek out the Episcopal church in my community. Back in 2004, I was able to become an active volunteer, serving on the Vestry and the Altar Guild and helping to coordinate our community suppers ever since …fifteen years of varied ministries.

St Luke’s: What makes St Luke’s such a special place for you?

June: St. Luke’s is special, first of all, because it is an Episcopal church in the Diocese of Massachusetts, a progressive presence in the national church, demonstrating leadership in social justice issues. I am very proud of this “brand” … our Church is a community where diversity is welcomed and celebrated and provides a worship space that honors tradition, reason and scripture. We are a catholic community … our liturgical roots go back to the early Christian church … and that is special indeed … Allowing for a continuity that centers us in Christ and not the Church as an institution. St. Luke’s is a family that nourishes its members but also reaches out, as much as we are able, to feed and aid those who come to us for help.

St Luke’s: What do you wish more people know about St Luke’s?

June: I wish people knew that we need their presence .. perhaps not on a regular or permanent basis, as that is an unrealistic commitment for many… but that their presence, as often as they are able to share it at worship or at our activities, is necessary for us to survive.

St Luke’s: What word woud you use to describe St Luke’s?

June: I would offer two words that describe St.. Luke’s at present … hopeful but struggling. 

St Luke’s: If you could choose just one word to describe St Luke’s, what would it be?

June: I would offer two words that describe St.. Luke’s at present … hopeful but struggling. 

We Love St. Luke’s

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church is a truly special place and we’re proud as peacocks of our Little Brick Church at the Rotary. So, we thought it would be fun to share personal stories from our very own parishioners about what makes St. Luke’s so dear to each and every one of us. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be featuring member stories so that you can get to know us and what makes this a great place to worship!

We would like to introduce you to one of our parishioners, Lisa, who is kicking off our weekly get-to-know us campaign! Each week, another member of St Luke’s Hudson will share their insight on what it means to be part of our faith community by answering just 4 simple questions…

St Luke’s: So, Lisa, how long have you attended St. Luke’s?

Lisa: I have been attending St. Luke’s for almost 10 years. Time goes by so quickly, it seems like just yesterday when I came for the first time!

St Luke’s: What makes St Luke’s such a special place for you?

Lisa: That’s an easy one for me. The people! We have just the most friendly, lovely, welcoming people in our church. They always make you feel like you are part of a big family. In a way, really, we are a family!

St Luke’s: What do you wish more people know about St Luke’s?

Lisa: I would say that I wish more people knew how open, diverse and welcoming we are. We have members from all different faith backgrounds, many different cultures and many different life experiences. And yet, we are one family! At our church, communion is open to all Baptised Christians so there is definitely a sense of unity and inclusion. We also respect different opinions and ideas and really love the strength that our diversity gives us. It’s just so great!

St Luke’s: Last question, Lisa: If you could choose just one word to describe St Luke’s, what would it be?

Lisa: Let me think on that a second. Oh, I know…welcoming! That, for me, sums up the St Luke’s experience. We love and welcome everyone and encourage people to come as they are to worship with us, to share in God’s love no matter the age, sex, color or anything else that may different about us.

From the Rector’s Desk 4th Week of Lent

Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

I sit in front my computer in my apartment in Tokyo to share what I am doing while on sabbatical from the College and from the Church.

I arrived in Tokyo in late February, one day after my last homily and the celebration of the Lord’s Supper at St. Luke’s. It was two days after I came back from New York City, where I attended the first meeting of the Board of Trustees at General Theological Seminary, an important position to which I was elected, unbeknownst to myself, at the General Convention in 2018. I found Japan’s capital city since the late 19th century no warmer than Boston; in fact, snow is falling and roads frozen, in the north. Tokyo, however offers so many exciting cultural and other opportunities. I am trying to go to at least one museum every week. I also try to savor local food, whenever I can. I am even managing to learn how to cook with fresh ingredients from the farms and the sea. The apartment, owned by Japan Women’s University, where I am giving a series of lectures in April, is centrally located and comfortable. The University was founded in 1901 by a Japanese Protestant minister. While studying theology in Boston, he visited Wellesley and decided to establish a women’s college like Wellesley, once he returned to Japan. It is a strong bond between the two schools. Over the years, several students came to Wellesley to study for a year. One of them is teaching American Studies; I will work with her later in April for a symposium on women’s education in the US and in Japan. It is always gratifying to see a former student, thriving in any she chooses.

As some of you know, my Nancy served as a missionary to the Anglican Church of Japan some thirty years ago. Her charge was to start a program to minister to the foreign women working in Japan in the “entertainment” business, which was a euphemism for what many now call “sex industry.” It was a demanding, sometimes dangerous, work for Nancy. For, these foreign women, many from the Philippines at that time, were controlled by the yakuza, Japan’s equivalent of the mafia. Nancy’s ability to speak their language and her commitment to peace and justice helped her work for five long years. The Anglican Church of Japan has only two parishes where English is the main language: one in Okinawa, where the majority of the parishioners are US military personnel, the other is St. Alban’s Church, located next to the Cathedral Church of St. Andrew in Tokyo. The parishioners come from many English-speaking countries, including those in Africa, South Asia, UK, Canada and US. They include diplomats, business executives, but also menial workers in restaurants and shops. The Rector, William Bulson, came six years ago from the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota, where he served in a parish with many Hmong and other Southeast Asian refugees, who came to the US after the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. Yesterday, after the service, I spent the rest of the day with a Protestant minister who ministers to the incarcerated foreigners in Nagasaki. Many are Muslims, most “people of color.” Not many committed violent crimes; rather, they overstayed beyond what their visas allowed, or sold drugs in Japan. Japan has a very strict law against crimes of all sorts.  Laborers from the “Third World” are particularly vulnerable. With a steady decline in population, the population here is getting older and needier. In local markets and shops, as well as nursing homes employ people from Indonesia, Vietnam and elsewhere. Construction work that is everywhere as Tokyo prepares for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games rely heavily on foreign workers. With the encouragement of Father Bulson, St. Alban’s is reaching out to inmates in a prison for foreigners in Tokyo, modeled after the work of the minister in Nagasaki. St. Alban’s is doing Christ’s ministry. The church was established after the end of the World War II, when Douglas MacArthur and other Allied soldiers came to help Japan recover from the war. Since then, the church has flourished.

Today, April first, is a very important day in Japan. In preparation for the current Emperor’s abdication on the last day of April and of the Crown Prince’s enthronement on the first day of May, the Japanese government chose the name of the new era, which will begin on the day of the Enthronement. Starting in the 7th century, 645 to be exact, each time a new emperor was enthroned, Japan entered into a new imperial era with a new name. The current Emperor, Akihito, has reigned for 30 years now during the Heisei period. Heisei means: “lasting peace.” The imperial reign in Japan is “symbolic.” The Constitution states that the Emperor is the “symbol” of the history and the people of Japan, with no influence on politics. With the advice of nine leaders, chosen from the legal, media and academic sectors, the government chose Reiwa (令和) as the name of the new era. For over a millennium, the imperial era was chosen from the Classics of China, just as many European countries returned to the Greek and Roman precedents. This time, the Japanese chose this word from Japan’s oldest anthology of poems, Manyōshū, “Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves,” “leaves” meaning “words”. The first character, rei, means in Chinese “to decree,” as decreeing an ordinance, edict or law. In Japanese, it means something like “exquisite,” “beautiful” or “graceful.” The second character, wa, is “peace” or “harmony,” but also an alternative word for Japan. According to the Prime Minister, the choice of the new name was inspired by a desire for a peaceful era, when the people would treasure and honor that which is graceful. It is a very poetic choice.

In spite of many negative, even malicious, images associated with the Emperor of Japan, the last two Emperors have been much beloved. As “symbolic emperors,” they have no say in the government, or the military. They unify and comfort the people, especially during crises. When a huge earthquake struck the part of Japan where I grew up, Emperor Akihito and the Empress came to comfort the people who lost their loved ones. When the nuclear plant exploded, when a huge tidal wave struck Fukushima, to the north of Tokyo, they went there to visit with the victims. The current Empress grew up in a Roman Catholic family in Tokyo. The current Crown Princess, soon to be the next Empress, was also a commoner. She graduated from Belmont High School in Massachusetts, when her father was a visiting professor at Harvard Law School. From there, she went to Harvard and then to Oxford to become a diplomat for Japan. Because she was a commoner, to say nothing about her American upbringing and education, many conservative people objected to the marriage. But, in spite of her apparent poor health, Princess Masako came to be as beloved as the Crown Prince Naruhito, who is now 59 years old.

In mid-April, I will be traveling to San Diego to give a paper at an academic conference. I will return to Tokyo to continue my research and writing. I will return home to Boston on May 12 for the next meeting of the General Seminary Board of Trustees, followed by our daughter’s college graduation, and then by the 50th reunion of my undergraduate college. I may return to Japan in July for a few weeks, but it will depend on my research and writing, as well as funds.

Every Sunday when I worship at St. Alban’s Anglican/Episcopal Church in Tokyo, I thin of you all and pray for all of you. This is the time when we remember how Christ suffered for the redemption of the whole world. At the end of Lent comes Palm Sunday, when we repeat “Crucify him, crucify him.” God in Christ still loves us all. With that forgiveness, we can celebrate on Easter the Resurrection of Christ so that we, too, may rise from death, from hatred, from despair. Thanks be to God.

May the Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with each and every one of you on this day and the days and weeks to come.
Father Jim+,
Writing from Tokyo, Japan

2018 Father Jim’s Annual Report

2018 saw a number of changes in our parish, in our Diocese, in the Episcopal Church and in the world-wide Anglican Communion.

In our Parish:
After an extensive “discernment process,” recommended and aided by the Bishops’ Office, we got off to a new phase of our corporate life as the Body of Christ. The “discernment process” was a collective, shared self-reflection on the gifts from God in our parish community. We continue our weekly Celebration of the Lord’s Supper. We continue to serve the community of Hudson and beyond with our bi-weekly Community Supper. After the Sunday School teachers who had worked tirelessly for several years had to retire for personal and health reasons, the Vestry found a new teacher. Unfortunately, however, we had to discontinue our Sunday School, for lack of children, perhaps more accurately for deficient support of the parents who could not bring their children in time for the School. We baptized many babies last year. We hope that, when they reach Sunday School age, we would be able to resume our Sunday School.

As we baptized many babies, our parish also bid farewell to some elderly parishioners who passed on after years of active participation in our parish life.

An important part of our parish’s continuing ministry is our ecumenical and inter-faith relationship in Hudson and Marlborough. The Rector continues active participation in both. We continue to believe that God is one, and therefore our ministry should be collaborative.

Most important, the Rector thanks so many people in the parish, especially the Vestry, our Organist and Choir Director (Amy Lepak) and our Parish Administrator (Cynthia Janeiro-Ehlke), without whom we cannot remain the Body of Christ. There are others who volunteer their time, talent and treasure to maintain our parish family. Officers of the Vestry deserve special thanks from all of us. The Senior Warden (Bill Carnes) is a hard working leader in all aspects of our parish life, including regular participation in our worship as acolyte. He is active in the Concord Deanery, as well as in the Diocese’s program for Brazilian ministry. Our Junior Warden (Bill Pye) is unfailing in his work with our buildings and grounds, as well as stewardship campaigns. The Treasurer (Loan King) is well equipped to serve in that capacity, given his professional work in Boston. June Miller returned to her work as Clerk, when Gail Orcheski left us for New Jersey for work. Before she left Hudson, Gail served our parish in so many ways, including her contribution to the Community Supper. No doubt, she is continuing her ministry in her new parish in New Jersey. We also thank Lisa Vickers for her leadership with Carol Hobbs on the Parish Life sub-committee of the Vestry. Their imaginative planning and execution are exemplary.
In our Diocese:

The team leadership by Bishop Alan Gates and Bishop Gayle Harris continues to bring far sighted and insightful ministry for the entire Diocese, serving a variety of constituencies, including youth, ministries on college campuses and ecumenical collaborations. For two years, the Rector was chosen by the Bishops to represent the Diocese in the annual “National Conference on Christian Unity,” held in Minneapolis and Washington, DC.

Many of the 180 or so parishes and missions in our Diocese face serious challenges, most notably declining membership, resulting in diminishing financial resources. More than half of them can afford only half-time or part-time priests. St. Luke’s is among them. This challenge requires a greater degree of participation by the lay people, especially the vestry, in running parishes, including pastoral visitations. Yet another challenge is the aging of parishioners. At the Diocesan Convention a year ago, someone observed that the average age of Episcopalians in our Diocese was over 60.
The Episcopal Church and beyond:

Our Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev Michael Curry, is making a mark for our national Church, as an energetic leader in the “Jesus Movement.” As the first African American Presiding Bishop, he addresses racism in and out of the Church. We are mindful that during the Civil War in the mid 19th century, the Episcopal Church turned the other way from the corrosive issue of slavery, for many of the slave owners in the South were Episcopalians.

Of course, we remember how Bishop Burry became an instant celebrity in the world, when he preached at the royal wedding, telecast from St. George’s Chapel at Winsor Castle, when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (“Markle Sparkle”) were wed!

My own involvement in the national Church took on a new dimension. At the General Convention held in Austin, Texas, in July last year, I was elected to serve as a trustee of the General Theological Seminary. Since it is the first seminary of the Episcopal Church, the trustees are elected triennially by the General Convention of the Church. I will serve for a three year term. In May last year, I was also appointed to the Alumni/ae Council of the Union Theological Seminary in New York for a three year term. Although I never took a course there, while living in their dormitory, pursuing my PhD from Columbia, the two schools formed a collaborative relationship. Union now offers courses on religions other than Christianity, including Buddhism. The Episcopal Divinity School moved from Cambridge, MA, to Union Seminary. So, that is why they appointed me to this important role. I look forward to these new responsibilities.

Beyond the Episcopal Church, the “world wide” Anglican Communion is becoming less and less English and North American, and more and more African and Asian. The Anglican Church of Nigeria is now the largest “Province” of the Communion, closely followed by a few others in Africa. In Asia, the Church of South India, is a vital presence, beyond numbers, in the global Anglican Communion. When we look at churches beyond Anglican, we realize that the largest Roman Catholic Church is now in Brazil. The largest, and the fastest growing Protestant churches are in South Korea. In Africa, the largest competitor of Christianity is Islam, while in South Korea, it is Communism of North Korea and the People’s Republic of China. In Western Europe and North America, perhaps there is no opposition to Christianity, except for secularism, as Pope Benedict used to emphasize. Perhaps, that is the reason why Christianity is not growing in Western Europe, including Britain, and North America.

Challenges and Plans for 2019:

There are many challenges that we face, but we cannot address all of them. The only wise approach is to take them on, one at a time. This is my proposal as your Rector:

1. To bring in younger families and individuals; perhaps starting with parents who bring their babies to be baptized.

2. To resume offering Sunday School.

3. To increase financial revenues for the parish with a greater degree of parishioners who would “pledge.” The Vestry is considering renting the space in the church, but it would involve tax issues, as well as security and building issues.

4. To increase dedicated parishioners. At present, much of the hard work is falling on a small number of parishioners who give so much of themselves.
5. To restore some of the community engagements, such as the Fair, especially the International Fair, which we used to sponsor annually. Given the ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity of our parishioners, we are uniquely qualified to host such an event. No other church in the Metro West has the diversity we do. Few other Episcopal churches in our Diocese offer a comparable diversity, unless we go to downtown Boston. Undoubtedly, it requires hard work by dedicated people.

During the spring of 2019, I will be on sabbatical from Wellesley College. I will divide my time between home and Japan. The chief purpose of the sabbatical is to work toward a book on Takashi Paul Nagai of Nagasaki, Japan, a radiologist, a Christian convert, a victim of the atomic bomb, and a Pacifist. He is the main reason why Nagasaki has come to be known as the “City of Prayer,” while Hiroshima is known as the
City of Anger.” I plan to be in Japan from late February until late May, and perhaps again in July. While at home, I will continue to hold services at St. Luke’s. I will stay connected to St. Luke’s through the cyberspace. I will be praying for you, and I hope you will for me.
With heartfelt gratitude to all of you and to God in Christ,
Fr. Jim +

An Advent Message from Fr. Jim

acorn advent blur bright
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

I send to all of you Greetings for the Season of Advent.

While we observe in the secular calendar the beginning of the new year on the first of January, for us Christians, the new year begins with the first Sunday of Advent, which occurs this year on the second of December. For Christians, the new year begins with preparation for the Birth of the Christ Child. Four Sundays later, we observe the Birth of the Christ Child on Christmas. It was in the twelfth century that it was decided that the Christian calendar was to begin with Advent. “Four weeks,” or “forty days and forth nights,” in the Jewish way of thinking, on which Christianity was based, meant “a long time.” “Forty” is not to be taken literally. That is why we undergo a long time before the Birth of Christ, just as we go through forty days before Easter, when we celebrate the resurrection of Christ from the dead, on Easter Sunday.

As we observe the beginning of the new Christian year, we renew ourselves. We begin anew. We welcome you anew to our parish family, as we celebrate on Sundays the Last Supper when he offered himself to the faithful. We also renew our parish family life with Community Supper. We continue to look for ways to resume our children’s education in Sunday School. We also reach out for our Christian sisters and brothers in Hudson and far beyond.

As last year, we will celebrate Christmas Eve at 5:00PM, followed by a Christmas Morning service at 10 AM. After the “twelve days of Christmas,” we welcome the Season of the Epiphany, when we remember to remember how the “Three Wise Men” journeyed from the “East,” most likely today’s Iran, following only the stars, to Bethlehem to worship the Birth of the Christ Child. By then, in our “secular calendar,” we will be in 2019.

Let us remember that from Thanksgiving Day to New Year’s Day every year, some of us are so busy with family gatherings and parties with our friends. Others of us undergo the loneliest time of the year. This is the time when we hold each other, welcome each other, especially the homeless, the friendless and the lonely into our homes and churches.

We look forward to seeing you at St. Luke’s in many of our activities, especially in our Sunday morning services at 10 o’clock, followed by fellowship in the Ebens’s Room downstairs.

Let us go forth into the world, rejoicing in the power of the Spirit.

Fr. Jim+

Here is a poem that might move you, as it did me:offered by our parishioner, June Miller:

“In this Advent of expectation
draw us together in unity,
that our praise and worship
might echo in these walls
and also through our lives.
In this Advent of expectation
draw us together in mission,
that the hope within
might be the song we sing,
and the melody of our lives.
In this Advent of expectation
draw us together in service,
that the path we follow
might lead us from a stable
to a glimpse of eternity.”

Copyright © John Birch, 2016 · Prayers written by the author may be copied freely for worship.
If reproduced anywhere else please include acknowledgement to the author/website ·