GREETINGS FROM FR. ISAIAS - NOVEMBER
In our Gospel readings for the Twenty Second Sunday after Pentecost, Mark says, “… the Son of Man came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” John and James, two of Jesus’ disciples, ask Jesus to let them sit at his left hand and right hand when He comes in glory.
This question used to irritate me because of its arrogance. It’s not surprising that Christ checks them by saying, “it should not be among you … lording your authority over others.”
But this same request also comes from other apostles who have been with Christ. The time period is just before Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and His subsequent Passion, death and Resurrection. The apostles only know that their desire is to walk with Jesus in His suffering and to be His intimate companions ruling with Him on His right and left hand.
I can really identify with that position. But James and John want to follow Christ without truly knowing what that looks like. So they come up with their own ideas: “It’s going to look like this, God” … “It should be like this” … “I think you’ll like me if I do this.”
In our own lives, Christ is always informing our understanding of what His call means for us and what the path of discipleship will look like in our lives.
We should rejoice with James and John in their desire to follow Christ. Christ says yes, “you will drink the cup with me; yes, you will be baptized with the same baptism that I am going through.” But he also shares with them that it will be quite different from what they expect.
As disciples ourselves, we must remain open to new life in Christ, and keep our eyes open for ways that Jesus continues to reform or inform both what we expect Him to do in our life, and what He is calling us to be and do.
During my recent study at Virginia Theological Sem-inary, we worked on a book by Henri Nouwen called “Life of the Beloved.” In it, he expounds on what it means to be Bread taken, blessed, broken and given. I have always believed we are all called to be God’s beloved in Jesus. In my spiritual journey, every time I listen with attentiveness to the call of the Spirit in my life I feel a deep longing to continue to listen to His voice more and more. Nouwen believes that as we discover being Beloved of God, we realize that we are also chosen. To be chosen is to see that God has seen you and me in a special way. It is not that we are better than the others or that we exclude others.
Nouwen continues to say that we are also blessed. As children of God, we are called to be His beloved and chosen to discover this blessedness. This discovery is aided by prayer and by having an attentive presence every moment of the day. Can I notice being blessed and feel gratitude without being caught up in the busyness of my everyday life?
Third, as bread is taken and blessed, it is also to be broken. All of us are called to claim our brokenness. Our broken-ness is a step forward, opening us to our full acceptance of ourselves as God’s beloved. As I age, I realize that the joy of life is hidden in the fact that I am broken so that my life can be givenfor others. As St. Francis would put it, it is in giving that we receive. All of us are called to be bread for each other and to be bread for the world.That is, my little life will multiply itself in giving … to be a gift for others.
Come for our Backpack Blessing
Sept. 2 at the 9:30 a.m. Service (Sunday)
Come join our parish Backpack Blessing with students and teachers as they prepare for the 2018-2019 academic year.
Welcome Back Potluck Dinner
Sept. 8 at 6 p.m. in the Undercroft (Saturday)
Join us for our Welcome Back Dinner with food, games and laughter as we welcome everyone back from summer travels. Use the sign-up sheet in the Narthex for what you want to bring. Newcomers are especially welcome!
Program Year Resumes Sept. 9 (Sunday)
Worship 8 a.m. & 10 a.m. / Sunday School Sept. 30
After enjoying summer worship together, we resume our
8 a.m. and 10 a.m. services on Sept. 9. As Gift Baskets for the Fair are stored in the classroom, we’ll resumeSunday School on Sept. 30 at 9 a.m. Welcome Back to our Sunday School students and teachers! Registration is open to all.
St. Margaret’s Annual Fall Fair
Sept. 22 (9 a.m.- 4 p.m.) (Saturday)
Come and enjoy our 21stFall Fair with your family and friends. Vendors, food, and cultural presentations will make it a fun day for everyone. Invite your friends and family!
Fr. Isaias Ginson
JUNE LETTER FROM FR. ISAIAS
In April, I attended my first Global EpiscopalMission (GEM) retreat. On May 1-7, I attended a Credo conference sponsored by the Church Pension Group of the Episcopal Church. It was held at Camp Beckwith in Alabama. I was one of 27 clergy of the Episcopal Church (16 men, 11 women).
Our conference retreat centered on our Identity and Ministry in the Episcopal Church. At the end of the conference, we had to come up with a Rule of Life. A rule of life isa commitment to live your life in a particular way. It is meant to be crafted with prayer and discernment, in partnership with God, as you consider the way God made you and the values He has inscribed upon your heart.
My Rule of Life was short and simple. Eat Less. Pray More. Enjoy Life and Do No Harm. The background of this rule is I try to keep a healthy lifestyle so I can do ministry effectively and, in the process, live a life in harmony with all.
I have also started my Doctor of Ministry classes with Virginia Theological Seminary. My area of concen-tration is Christian Spirituality. I will go to Virginia to attend onsite classes for 21 days starting June 18.
Our summer church service schedule will begin on June 3. As in the past, we’ll have one Sunday summer service at 9:30 a.m., combining the 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. con-gregations.
Several members of St. Margaret’s will be participating in a short mission trip to Haiti. We are excited about the opportunity to work with Gina, Soledad and the people of St. Andre’s, our sister church in Cazale, helping to facilitate activities at a camp session for youngsters. Our group will be away July 13 – 23. For those here at home, we’ll host a fun evening called Haiti: 101, where we can help support the trip while experiencing first-hand the food, music, arts and culture of our companion diocese.
How are you planning to spend your summer? If you don’t already have one, why not think about developing your own Rule of Life?
Fr. Isaias Ginson
MAY 2018 GREETINGS FROM FR. ISAIAS
Mission: The Heartbeat of the Church
In April, I attended my firstGlobal Episcopal Missions (GEM) Network Conference at the Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS). It brought to- gether people in the Episcopal Church who have been involved in mission. I attended a one-day formation program focusing on the “ins and outs” of doing mission work. This formation class is a two-part series and is only given during this conference. The class sparked ideas and enhanced my knowledge of what it means to serve in the mission field. The sessions were designed to balance learning and growing spiritually through inductive and discussion-based pedagogy.
During the main conference, we were encouraged to be catalysts in congregational and diocesan settings by participating in mission events in our respective areas. We received a vast array of mission books and literature during the lectures. Missionaries from Africa and South America shared their experiences through talks and interview-type forums.
One important topic was the tension between disparate cultures and the Gospel — and how to embrace differing perspectives. Because the Gospel is not specific to any culture, western or otherwise, how can it be expressed in cultural terms, if it is to be expressed that way at all? At the same time, how do we
acknowledge the wide variety of human cultures, and accept the worthiness of diverse styles of bearing and witnessing to the universal power of the Gospel?
My take-away on that subject is that I must avoid condemning aspects of other cultures (and even my own), because God is working in and through culture.
It is with great honor and blessing that I have
accepted the call to serve God’s people at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, Plainview, N.Y., as its full-time priest in charge. Thank you, Wardens
and Vestry of St. Margaret’s – I am looking forward to this journey and engaging with all of you in articulating our faith and building relationships in the community, the diocese and the world.
From May 1-7, I will be participating in a gathering of priests across the Episcopal Church in a program called CREDO. The Latin word credo means “I believe.” CREDO encourages participants to rediscover the passionate essence of their life and ministry in the context of their faith, their relationships and their community.
CREDO provides clergy at various stages of min- istry seven days of learning, sharing, reflection, worship, exploration, holistic health and joy.
Fr. Isaias Ginson
APRIL 2018 GREETINGS FROM FR. ISAIAS
At Easter, the shout goes up: The Lord is Risen!
Beginning on Palm Sunday, as a parish family we walked with Jesus towards His final act of defiance. Signifying a messiahship of servanthood, Jesus rode on a lowly colt into Jerusalem, washed his disciples’ feet, offered a foretaste of his Body and Blood at the Last Supper, and died on the cross at Calvary. In these acts, Jesus modeled for us what servant leadership looks like when our world collapses on us. It is during times of pain, hurt, grief and loss that Jesus’ final offering on the cross gives us a bright hope for tomorrow, that Jesus will fulfill God’s loving intentions for human-kind. May we each turn our lives toward God the Father that we will be sustained and prepared for our own Easter experience.
I pray that each of us continues to renew and cultivate our relationship with the living God. Just as our Lord Jesus Christ gave the gift of himself to us, our lives should also be a gift to others. Together on Easter morning, we proclaim and rejoice in the blessing of resurrected life, committing ourselves in full. Only with God’s enduring presence in our lives can pain and sadness be endured and overcome as we celebrate God’s eternal gift of salvation.
Many thanks to all who came to the Easter Cantata and to our Neighbors of Faith visit to the Coptic Church last month. It was a joy to welcome guests to our church, and to visit with and learn more about our Egyptian neighbors in Woodbury!
Good news! I have been invited to participate in the Global Episcopal Mission Network conference at Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS), April 10-13. This exciting conference will provide tools for global engagement, help facilitate relationships and ministries throughout the world, and provide a training curriculum for individuals who will support global mission efforts in their diocese, organization or church. (Visit www.gemn.org for more information.)
Fr. Isaias Ginson
MARCH 2018 GREETINGS FROM FR. ISAIAS
In Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians he writes, “Now is the acceptable time.” The season of Lent has now dawned upon us. As Christians on the journey to Easter, Lent beckons us to live a new way of life. It urges us to abandon ourselves to the possibility of new life.
This season affords us the acquisition of virtues, practices and discipline in our desire to live out our calling. All this is possible only through the love of God the Father, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and in unity of the Holy Spirit.
The church therefore urges us to take on the disciplines of Lent. I would like to encourage each and every one of you to begin to read the Scriptures with a greater sense of regularity during this period. Also let us intentionally continue the practice of prayer and fasting and holy giving. All of these practices allow us to grow closer in relationship with our Lord and each other, enriching each other’s lives in the process.
As a parish, we have several activities planned to help us go deeper into the spirit of Lent.
Wednesday Lenten Soup Suppers
Everyone is encouraged to join the parish for Evening Prayer at 6:30 p.m. each Wednesday of Lent. This short service will be followed by a simple soup supper at 7 p.m. in the Undercroft. We’ll eat silently and contemplatively as we experience the Spirit in the Scriptures and share food with one another.
The “Gracias” Easter Cantata
On Saturday, March 10, St. Margaret’s will host a large choral concert with music focusing on Jesus’ Passion and Resurrection. This inspiring evening comes to us through the Korean-based Good News Church and the International Youth Festival organization. Please invite your friends and family to this wonderful free event, which begins at 7 p.m.
We’ve been invited to visit and learn more about the nearby St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Center at 90 Woodbury Road near the Cold Spring Harbor LIRR station. You may be familiar with the festival they hold every year, showcasing ancient Christian traditions and food. We will meet in St. Margaret’s parking lot at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 8 to travel together (or you can meet us there at 7 p.m.). Fr. Guirguis will give a tour and presentation, and we’ll share some delicious Egyptian food with parishioners.
This offer of friendship continues our series of visitations and conversations with neighbors of faith. Last year,
we hosted the Women of Faith luncheon, and now we will be guests of our Orthodox Christian neighbors. It’s a wonderful opportunity to expand our experiences and learn more about the many faithful communities in our midst.
Fr. Isaias Ginson
FEBRUARY 2018 GREETINGS FROM FR. ISAIAS
I grew up in a family where education was highly valued, especially as a means to get out of poverty and marginalization. I had to work hard, my parents con-stantly admonished me, if I was not to be like our poor neighbors. When I was in college, my parents instructed me not to get involved in politics and radical social trans-formation, for that would only divert me from the goal of getting out of our sorry situation. But their worst fears came to reality. I became aware of the politics of domination and the suffering of the Filipino people, and that got me involved in the struggle for social transformation. As it turned out, my quest for educa-tion, which was primarily to escape poverty and suffer-ing, brought me back into the pains of our world.
This experience was formative to my understanding of my vocation, first as a theology student, then as a priest, and now here at St. Margaret’s. My experience has shaped where I fit in socially, what I see, and what I preach and teach. When confronted with the urgent life and death concerns of the people around me, I was not content to deal only with the abstract Trinity, but preached and taught the gospel in response to the conspiracy of a different, unholy, trinity: the absence of breakfast, lunch and dinner.
As I look back at those experiences, I find it necessary for our Christian community to hear God’s call to be of service to people beyond the walls of our church. This month marks the beginning of the season of Lent. As children of God, we are called to bridge the gap between the margins and the center, raise the consciousness, encourage new experiences, and reconstruct a world in which difference is not treated with indifference.
On Feb. 14, Ash Wednesday, we will gather as a community to begin a journey together. Ashes will be distributed during the services at noon and 7:30 p.m. Ashes To Go will be available 11 am - 2 pm.
Beginning Feb. 21, we will introduce an Evening Prayer service at 6 p.m. every Wednesday during Lent followed by a silent soup dinner in the Undercroft. Emphasis will be placed on recapturing the meaning and value of silence so as to help us quiet ourselves and listen to God’s voice by reading spiritual and biblical texts as we eat our meal. This will also help us enter into the discipline of fasting during the season.
On Saturday, Feb. 24, Barbara Festa and I will be leading a Parish Quiet Day as part of our Lenten preparation. We will encounter our Lord in prayers, meditation, journal writing, whole-body prayer and music. This invitation is also being extended to our deanery (cluster of Episcopal Churches in the area). I do hope you will join us in this journey through Lent and be ready for an encounter with God as God continues to call us to be disciples.
Fr. Isaias Ginson