Wednesday, July 18, 2018

St. Margaret's Day 2018

Friday at 11AM we're having our annual patronal festival. It's a bit late to be posting this, but I will anyway. If you'd like to join us, the chapel is at 30 Harden Hill Road, Duxbury MA. Our Associate the Rev. Dante Tavolaro will be preaching.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Great Paschal Vespers

Please join us:

Sunday, April 8 at 4:00 pm

Great Paschal Vespers is an ancient evening service of processions, prayers, chants, and hymns offering praise to God for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

St. Margaret’s Chapel
30 Harden Hill Rd
Duxbury, MA 02332

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Yom HaShoah event open to the public

Congregation Shirat Hayam to Host Holocaust Survivor

In observance of Holocaust Memorial Day
Tuesday, April 10, at 7 p.m.

open to the entire public

CSH is honored to present Susan Kadar, a survivor of the Hungarian Nazi regime and the German occupation of Hungary. Ms. Kadar will share her experiences of those terrible years.  Only Susan and her mother survived the war. Eventually, they made their way to the United States where she went on to have a very productive and important career with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.  

Congregation Shirat Hayam is located at 185 Plain St. (Rte. 139), Marshfield MA in the Sanctuary Church, 185 Plain Street (Rte. 139), Marshfield MA 02050 (about 0.9 miles west of Marshfield Center). For more information about CSH please go to or call 781-582-2700.
Donations for the Boston Holocaust Memorial and the CSH Holocaust Education Fund will be gratefully accepted at the door.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

still on my mind... Can anything good come out of Nazareth?

Back in January - though it feels much more recent to me - a question was asked and a few remarks made that sparked international discussion. 

Here is one high-profile response:

In the midst of this, I read the lessons for the upcoming Sunday morning, on which I was scheduled to do supply (that is, preach and celebrate the Eucharist as a substitute for the regular priest) at a parish in the area. Apparently I am not the only one who wondered whether the president had read the lectionary in advance just to be sure he was speaking to the gospel reading at hand. 

It's still on my mind, now in Holy Week, during which we see that the Romans had a similar attitude towards the countries they were occupying and the citizens thereof. One need only consider that crucifixion was not a permitted form of death penalty for Roman citizens.  

Although I generally hesitate to share my sermons, I will share this one, as old as the topic may now be by general standards.  It's been pushed to the back burner because of more death in the news - too much death - but it seems to me that any form of attitude that makes someone "less than" is ultimately death dealing. Something to consider as Lent draws to a close, especially this week.

Epiphany 2B: What good can come out of Nazareth?
sermon for 1-14-18 

1 Samuel 3:1-10  (11-20) – call of Samuel
1 Corinthians 6:12-20 – glorify God with/in your body
John 1:43-51 – call of Philip, Nathanael under the fig tree
Psalm 139:1-5, 12-17

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

It’s good to be back - to begin to get to know you and to feel comfortable here. I appreciate your welcome, and I look forward to talking with you at coffee hour following the service.

Meeting and getting to know each other can be both a delight and a challenge. Imagine for a moment that you’re being introduced to someone. In the United States, one of the first things people ask is “what do you do?” That has its issues – but that’s for another day. Another question we hear is “Where are you from?” Now, the question “Where are you from” has the potential to capture so much meaning, depending on how it is answered and explored. A resulting conversation could show so much of who we are in so very many directions. Such a question and response provides a window into the other person. Where we’re from is very personal. Think of the related expression, “She knows where I’m coming from.”. It’s a feeling of being understood.

But we don’t always go there. “Where are you from?” and other such introductory questions can give us the sense that we know all about someone when in fact we have very little idea. Hearing that someone is from Fort Wayne, Indiana, or from Manhattan could lead you to very different ideas – which could be far from accurate. But you know those New Yorkers… Yankees fans, the lot of them.

Too often we think we know where someone is from, box them in, and fit them into our schema of The Way Things Are, and that’s that. Even putting people in what we think are GOOD boxes can be problematic because then we aren’t seeing or hearing the actual person, but only what we expect.

Jesus had this problem. He might have been born in Bethlehem and been a toddler in Egypt, but he grew up in Nazareth in Galilee, a poor town in a poor region. On the night he was arrested, Peter was identified as one of his disciples by his accent alone.

Jesus got it from home, too. When he preached in his hometown synagogue, people got offended. As they put it,
“Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?’ (Matthew 13:55-56)

Which is to say, “Who do you think you are?” We know where you’re from, so we know who you are, and we’ll judge you accordingly.

Now, really, generalizations are one of the ways the brain makes sense of vast quantities of information. It is when we regard them as hard and fast definitions that we run into trouble.  It’s when we decide we know enough about people to determine who they are – and we stop listening.

And that’s one of the issues we run into in today’s Gospel.

Listen again:
Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

Can anything good come out of Nazareth?
Does that sound… eerily familiar to anyone this morning?
Apparently derogatory remarks about poverty-stricken areas and the people who come from them are nothing new. Hearing it from the White House, now, that’s something else again. Worse than the profanity, to me, was the press secretary’s follow-up, which reminds me of Nathanael’s initial attitude. He spoke of (and I quote) “permanent solutions that make our country stronger by welcoming those who can contribute to our society, grow our economy and assimilate into our great nation.” Which, as the New Yorker pointed out, suggested “that immigrants from places like El Salvador, Haiti, Liberia, and Sierra Leone couldn’t become productive and assimilated American citizens,” which is more than a little racist.[i]

Can anything good come from Nazareth?

In the Jesuit America Magazine, Fr James Martin explains, “Nazareth was a minuscule town of 200 to 400 people, where people lived in small stone houses, and, archaeologists say, where garbage, and excrement, was dumped in the alleyways…in other words, came from a …….. place [such as that][ii]  Elsewhere in the magazine I read, “Crumbling infrastructure, inadequate health care and crippling poverty do not make a life any less valuable.”[iii] True in Jesus’ time. True now. Pragmatically speaking, these things also do not make people less likely to work hard and contribute.

All this turmoil, mind you, was happening on the day before the anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti. Furthermore, Martin Luther King Day is tomorrow. And if nothing else, the events of this past year show you that racism is still one of the biggest problems we have in this country, and we don’t seem to want to deal with it.

But we don’t need to be racist to consider this issue. Can anything good come out of Nazareth/Haiti/Africa/the Midwest/the South/California//the Middle East …. the other political party? It’s not always demonization. It can even feel perfectly affable. We just KNOW who that person is. So we don’t listen. We can’t see. We don’t try because our minds are made up.

But sometimes we know we have limited vision, and we’re more like Nathanael. “Come and see,” said Philip. And Nathanael did. With a mind sufficiently open to change. What he thought he knew was wrong and he, being without guile/deceit, didn’t hesitate to say so. And thoroughly! “Rabbi, you are the Son of God!” he exclaimed. “You are the King of Israel!”

I want you to notice something here.  What made him change his mind is that HE had been seen and known and understood when he hadn’t even noticed Jesus nearby.
“When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
Being seen and known and understood can be life-changing.

Jesus may even have heard his remark about Nazareth – but it didn’t matter. He didn’t dismiss Nathanael as an ignorant so-and-so. He didn’t even wait to be introduced. And this is wonderful.

God doesn’t wait to be noticed. YHWH comes to Samuel before Samuel knows him. In Psalm 139, the poet sings, “You have searched me out and known me… when I was still in my mother’s womb…”
 God knows us already – understands us – calls us by name.

The good news is that we, too, are capable of responding to the invitation to come and see. We can also extend the invitation like Philip. We can work to see, hear, and understand others without waiting for them to do the same, refusing to dismiss people as incorrigible. God did it for us, being born among seemingly incorrigible humanity and in a poor, hick town to boot. We can work for those who are constantly facing this kind of dismissal – or worse – on a day to day basis.

And we, like Samuel, can learn to pray, over and over, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”

“Where are you from?” we ask.
It’s still a good question. Just depends on what we do with it.

[i] John Cassidy, “A Racist in the Oval Office,” The New Yorker, January 12, 2018
[ii] James Martin SJ, “Father James Martin: Why we should welcome people from countries Trump just insulted,” America Magazine,

Monday, March 26, 2018

#MarchForOurLives Boston pictures

starting right in my old neighborhood... this is near Ruggles

a multigenerational movement

quote from Homer

This sign gets extra points for using Kreyol.

looking ahead down Columbus Ave.


taking a break in the cathedral, which was open as a warming center

quoting from Job; praying for lawmakers to do something

met these protesters back outside at the rally on the Boston Common

made it to the fenced-off area near the stage
no idea what it was fenced off for, however...

listening to teens speak 

repentance includes turning around

a 60th to celebrate

Yesterday was the sixtieth anniversary of my parents' meeting. My father loves to tell the story (and he has just corrected me on a few details, having found this post before I could tell him). I can hear the lead up (a story for another day) and then the moment itself, as she comes to the door of the Cornell chaplain's house in a red slicker and matching hat to deliver a homemade ironing board for doing sacristy altar linens (big enough to do a corporal, my mother assures me). As though struck by lightning, he crosses two rooms to meet her and can't feel his feet as he walks. This, he already knows, is the girl he's going to marry.

I don't think Mom remembers it well - though she did correct my details about her outfit.

Mom and Dad in 1959, probably the front door of the Kappa house

The best he could do was a coffee date two days later.

He came back during finals week in June and sat with her as she hemmed a dress for her home ec final.  I've worn it - she saved it all those years.

His first REAL date with her, he says, was dinner and a movie later that week. On that date, he told her that God had ordained that they be married and that there wasn't anything she could do about it. Her jaw hit the ground...

She thought it was a line, though.

This summer, they will have been married for 58 years.  I'd call that a pretty good line, wouldn't you?

a love story

Addendum: Dad points out that she is a more beautiful woman now than she was then.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

of sermons and herding kittens: a very brief snapshot

I'm still writing my sermon for tomorrow. 
This is an accurate enactment of the process and current state of affairs:

It appears that my sermon process has given up something for Lent. When it sits still, I'll let you know what that is.

Meanwhile, onward, by the grace of God!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Duxbury Interfaith Council 2018 Spring Holiday Basket Project

Last weekend there was a (tiny little) snowstorm. Noah didn't amount to much after all. Yesterday and today it has been spring. 

just after sunrise this morning
a beautiful start to a beautiful day

It's been over 60 here in Duxbury, and it was 73 in Cambridge yesterday afternoon when I was up to speak with the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard Div. I was wishing I could add a few extra hours in the afternoon to wander around and look at birds. (That's not an unusual wish, however.)

happy long-tailed duck, already anticipating the loveliness

Tomorrow I hear it will snow again. 

"You did not just say that..."

Meanwhile, however, I have received a confirmation that spring is on the way, Punxutawney Phil notwithstanding. It's time to think about the DIC food drive for our holiday meal baskets. Care to participate? See below for possibilities. 


The Outreach Committee of the Duxbury Interfaith Council is planning the Spring Holiday food basket project to distribute holiday meals to our less fortunate neighbors.  This has become a major community endeavor, and we are asking for your help.  We thank you for your continued support, as do over 130 recipient families.


DONATIONS OF MONEY:  Please make check payable to the Duxbury Interfaith Council and mail to P.O. Box 1161, Duxbury, MA  02331. 

DONATIONS OF FOOD:  Please drop off all non-perishable items at Holy Family Church, 601 Tremont Street, by Saturday, March 24th   
Non-perishable donations needed:
      Canned Goods:  Yellow and Green vegetables, Cranberry Sauce, Canned Gravy
      Juice:  Non-frozen concentrated juice mix
      Packaged Dessert Mixes: Quick Bread, Muffins, Brownie, Cake & Frosting
      Baked Goods: Cookies, Brownies, Squares, Cupcakes, Quick Breads, and Pies.
Baked Goods should be dropped off no later than 3:00 pm on Monday, March 26th.
**No food donations in glass containers and within expiration dates, please.

There is always an enormous need for home-style baked goods for the Spring Baskets.  Please consider baking from scratch or purchasing from a local supermarket bakery.  These goods add a personal touch to the baskets.


BASKET ASSEMBLY:  At Holy Family Church Parish Center, 601 Tremont St. 
Tuesday, March 27th 9:00 AM-12:00 Noon and Wednesday March 28th from 9:00 AM – 12:00 Noon

BASKET PICKUP/DELIVERY:  Most recipients pick up their baskets.  We need help loading the baskets into cars and delivering baskets on Wednesday, March 28th.d from 12:00 – 4:00 pm (strong adults only) 
Deliveries begin at 1:00 pm.

Everyone should have a nice dinner.

Monday, January 8, 2018

after celebration and storm

Well, Merry Christmas Epiphany!

The wreaths and ribbons and lights are all coming down now, which always makes me sad, especially when it is cold and grey.

The candles in my prayer corner remain, however; their warmth reminds me of that which really matters. 

Today was our sabbath - that is to say, our day of rest - on which I try to spend time outside and also do some walking, both of which lift my spirits considerably.

I thought I'd go look for a few ducks late this afternoon on my way to do errands. I knew things were pretty well frozen, but the black ducks had made an appearance on the shore near us earlier in the day (binoculars!). The river mouth and the Powder Point Bridge over the bay are often good gathering places for ducks, so I headed out in all optimism.

Not so much.

At the river mouth, there was some water between the bridge and the otherwise iced-up inlet, but nothing stirring. As I was preparing to leave again, an intrepid little bufflehead popped up.

She was determined to find something in the water flowing back with the incoming tide from under the ice.

I do hope she found something eventually. Nothing much seemed to be coming her way; nevertheless, she persisted.

At the Powder Point Bridge, nothing but pigeons and a few gulls, high up. It only took a glance to see that my vision of eiders, loons, scoters, and buffleheads was not to be. The bay was completely frozen over; even the water I thought was open had ice not far underneath.

I only made it half way across before turning back, realizing that the return walk would not be at all fun in the stiff, cold wind.

What I saw, however, was lovely in its own stark way. The colors were stunning.

Not much of a birding expedition, but an experience of beauty for which I am grateful. Perhaps at some point I can paint it. (I did learn on retreat one year, however, that watercolors freeze very fast outdoors in January. My spiritual director was quite amused.)

May God grant you such beauty and serenity as well.