Dear People of God at St. Luke's,
Elsewhere in this edition you'll find a description of our diocese's process for electing a new bishop. That was my initial letter/column for this month.
I want instead to raise the issue here
of opiate addiction and its effect on our community. I've not heard any single explanation that has caused this crisis in our town, indeed in the entire Northeast. Some patterns are identifiable. Abuse of prescription opiate based drugs (Oxycodone, Percocet, Vicodin) are still the most common source of overdoses and deaths, not to mention lives distorted by this addiction-
good people, from families who care are caught up in this profoundly vexing problem
. Heroin is now much cheaper, and has become readily available. Most of those in the addiction cycle seem to be males in late teens and early twenties, and the numbers of people affected has exponentially grown just in the last few years. There is some indication that use of these drugs is related to depression and anxiety and that in part the drugs are an attempt at self-medication, at least at first.
The Scituate Clergy Association is collaborating on designating a future Sunday when focus of prayers and/or sermon will be on this issue. A candlelit vigil will happen that Sunday evening on the Lawson Common.
I do believe prayer can help. I certainly believe that open conversation about this disease can be a significant part of trying to change the culture that fosters drug abuse. There are conversations already ongoing, trying to address the issues of drug and alcohol use among younger children. ScituateFacts.org is one source of finding how a coalition of schools, businesses, concerned parents, law enforcement, pediatricians, the YMCA, clergy (I've been part of it), teachers and counselors has been approaching the problems over the last several years.
From actress Kristen Johnston's Facebook status update; you might remember her from "Third Rock from the Sun." This describes well the dynamics involved; it dispels the wrong-headed impulse to blame addicts for some sort of moral deficiencies, and families and loved ones of being inadequate.
By Kristen Johnston
To those of you who see addiction as some sort of selfish moral weakness, my friend Andy Lassner puts into words the searing, unvarnished truth. PLEASE read & share:
"For millions of people across the world, Philip Seymour Hoffman's death was sad because we lost one of our generation's greatest actors. For millions of addicts like myself, his death was sad because another one of us lost the fight.
I remember the first time I tried heroin vividly. What I instantly loved most about the feeling was, in fact, the lack of feeling. It was a perfect sense of effortless floating. It was amazing.
I only tried it because it was easier to get than yet another prescription from yet another doctor that I'd have to lie to about pain symptoms. Opiates like Vicodin are basically lower grade, laboratory made heroin. And who doesn't love Vicodin?
The problem for me was I wanted to feel that high forever. I wanted that feeling of nothingness to never end. Not because I'm stupid. Not because I have no self control. Not because my parents failed in some way. No - I wanted that feeling because I'm an addict. I have a brain that tells me it needs more. Of everything. It tells me that despite the fact that chasing the high will cause me to lose anything and everything l love and cherish, including my life, it just needs a little more. It's just how us addicts are built. It's not our fault. It is, however, our responsibility to deal with it. And the only way for me to deal with it is to never stop asking for help. And sometimes that's not enough.
I believe Philip Seymour Hoffman did not want to to die. At all. He wanted to live. But with just a little bit less pain. And, as an addict, his brain told him narcotics were the easiest way out of emotional pain. Even when we have incredible personal knowledge to the contrary, sometimes we just want to get high just one more time. The problem is we don't ever know if that one more time will also be the one more time our body holds up. For Mr. Hoffman it wasn't.
In less than a month, I will be 15 years clean and yet not a day goes by that I don't think about and remember what it feels like to be high. I think about that more than I think about all the things my addiction cost me. That's just how our brains work.
Addiction is real and it is not about weakness. It's not a fight any of us can win by ourselves. If you are struggling with wanting to stop drinking or using drugs more than anything and not being able to - you're not broken - you're an addict. Ask for help. And then ask for help again. And then never stop asking for help. It's here. We're here and we live when we help each other and die when we don't. "
From the bottom of my heart, I thank you, Andy.
Church School Calendar- February 2014
2- Regular Classes
9- Regular Classes
16- No Classes- Winter Vacation begins
Safe Church Training
Jump start online modules with Rev Joyce.
Looking Toward Lent
Lent starts late this year...the start of March. So save the dates of March 1 for a Pancake dinner on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday services at 7 a.m., noon, and 7 p.m., all with Imposition of Ashes and Eucharist.
I thank a parishioner for pointing me to the You Tube series, "Jesus was an Episcopalian" (alright, whimsical and not meant to offend other denominations). For any adult interested in learning more about the Episcopal Church we will show segments of that series on Wednesday evenings in Lent, starting Wednesday the 9th, in the Gordon Room on the big new digital TV over the fireplace. This will be a great chance for already-Episcopalians to refresh their memories, or even find out new things, as well as a chance for those interested in formally become Episcopalians to learn about the unique spiritual, liturgical, and theological nature of Anglicanism/Episcopalianism.
Audit Help Wanted
We need to have an audit of our finances. Not only is this required by our parish by-laws and the diocese, but completed audits are needed before we can apply for loans and grants that are out there. Can you or someone you know take on this important task? Please contact the Rev. Grant Barber, or Ed Karsch our Treasurer, or George Boerger, Chair of Finance-or just call the office.
ASP Stock Sales
Please support our teens by purchasing stocks. Shares are $25/each. For your investment you will receive a postcard from our trip and the knowledge that you will be helping a family in Appalachia. Forms are on the table in the narthex. Participating from St. Luke's this year are Elianna Buckley, Conor Rafferty, Gerrit Self, Maddie Shannon and Casey White, along with Nancy Buckley and Steve Rafferty, advisor. Thank you!
Election of a Bishop
For the last 20 years Tom Shaw has been the Diocesan bishop for the Diocese of Massachusetts (the eastern part of the state-Framingham is as far to the west as we go-and yet this diocese has the largest number of parishes in the American church). He announced his retirement last spring, just before also being diagnosed with brain cancer, the treatment for which is going well. So Bp. Tom called for the election of a new bishop.
We have three (ok, four) sorts of bishops' roles. Diocesan is in charge. Coadjutor is an 'apprentice' Diocesan bishop, working for a period of time side by side with the retiring bishop. Suffragan Bishops are assisting bishops for the diocesan one. Bp Gayle Harris is a suffragan bishop. They do not inherit the diocesan position, and unlike the rest of any staff positions which may or may not continue under a new diocesan bishop, a suffragan continues to serve until retirement (or election as a diocesan bishop somewhere). The last role is filled by a retired bishop who can serve on contract to help out, or are brought in as needed. With mandatory retirement at 72 of bishops it is not unusual to have some available. Bp. Bud Cederholm is a retired suffragan bishop.
The Episcopal Church of the USA was set up after the Revolution, and by some of the same people who wrote the Constitution. Now, in England bishops are appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Queen. Here in the US we elect bishops, and we have two 'houses' to do so, just like in Congress (although higher functioning we hope): presbyters (priests) and laity-lay people elected by each parish. A bishop of whatever sort has to be elected by both houses, lay and ordained, from a slate of nominated clergy, at a specially called convention.
Our convention has been called for the election on April 5th at our Cathedral in Boston, on Tremont Street, on the Common opposite the street from Park St. Station. From St. Luke's voting people are Grant, Joyce Scheyer, Beatrix Hurwitch (she is a vocational deacon, retired-don't know what that means? Then ask ask her), Michael Marrone, retired priest, and the two lay delegates: Joan Powers and Gail Meehan, elected at our Annual Meeting.
Five priests were nominated by a committee empowered with that task. To read about them and learn about the process more in depth go to: http://www.diomass.org/top-news/nominees-announced-bishop-election with links to follow . Two of the nominees are from this diocese, three from without. There is also a petition process whereby more people can be nominated-there have been more from this process but until they have been certified as eligible we won't know who they are.
Before the Convention all the candidates will appear together at various locations in the diocese to make brief presentations and to answer questions. Anyone can attend those sessions, the locations still to be announced; they will occur from March 14-March 19.
The person elected will then need to be approved/endorsed by other dioceses in the church-usually pro forma, but not always.
Bishop Shaw will be honored by a season of celebration, starting with Gratitude Sunday, April 27th.
The new bishop will be consecrated on September 13th. Details to follow.
Gospel Vespers for Bishop Barbara Harris
Sunday, Feb. 16th, 4 p.m. at St. Paul's Cathedral
A celebration of the 25th anniversary of Barbara Harris' consecration as a Bishop and an opportunity to thank her for all she's given us as our Bishop. We hope that every parish will be represented, with 3 - 4 people. There will be a reception afterward. Please let Rev. Joyce know if you are interested in attending.
Community Dinner- Sun., February 23
Menu will feature Pot Roast, Vegetables and Dessert.
More information to follow.