Saint Francis Episcopal Church
of Southern Ohio

Parish Announcements

A Morning Prayer on the Commemoration of Claire of Assisi Monastic, 1253

Morning Prayer on the Commemoration of Claire of Assisi Monastic, 1253 on Tuesday, August 11 at 7:30 am on Zoom. The daughter of a wealthy family, Clare was inspired by St. Francis’ words with the desire to serve God and to give her life to the following of Christ’s teaching. Clare governed her community for 40 years, and outlived Francis by 27 years. Clare herself was servant, not only to the poor, but to her nuns. Her biographer says that she “radiated a spirit of fervor so strong that it kindled those who but heard her voice.” Contact Rev. Jed if you are willing to be the reader.  Zoom Link and Bulletin to be emailed and posted on website soon.



A Morning Prayer on the Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord

A Morning Prayer on the Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord will be on Thursday, August 6 at 7:30 am on Zoom.  This feast celebrates Jesus' radical change of appearance while in the presence of Peter, James, and John, on a high mountain, revealing Christ's glory prior to the crucifixion, and anticipates his resurrection and ascension. Please contact Rev. Jed if you are willing to be a reader.  The Zoom link and bulletin will be emailed and posted on website at www.saintfran.org.



Welcome The Reverend Jed Dearing to St. Francis


Please welcome Fr. Jed Dearing as he starts his residency program here at St. Francis. Please make sure to welcome him in person when you come back to worship with us.  Jed's regular office hours at St. Francis are Monday - Thursday from 8:30 am - 5:00 pm. The best way to reach Jed is to schedule time together with any pastoral concerns by contacting the church office at 937-748-2592 or parishsec@saintfran.org.


The Diocese has placed newly ordained Deacon Jed Dearing at St. Francis with his wife Raine and 17 month old son Llewyn. Deacon Jed recently graduated from Seminary, was ordained by the Bishop in June, and has joined St. Francis for his residency program for the next several years with Rev. Nancy Hopkins-Greene as his mentor.  

Guidelines for In-person Worship


St. Francis has set up some simple guidelines to follow when we come back for in-person worship. We will implement those guidelines with great care because our top priority is keeping each other safe.


  • We are requesting that the congregation not move around the church building anymore than necessary to reduce the amount of cleaning required between services. 
  • Restrooms are available for emergencies only, otherwise please do not use them.
  • No socializing in the Narthex before or after the service.  Please proceed directly into the Nave and sit in the pews prior to service.  The pews will be taped off in halves.
  •  Several bulletins will be placed in the pews prior to the service to eliminate passing them at the door.  We ask that congregants take their bulletins home to dispose of them verses at the church. 
  • There will be no Fellowship Hour after the service, we ask that anyone who would like to speak to each other should do so in the parking lot.
  • Face masks must be worn by everyone before, during and after the service. 

 

St. Francis would like everyone to implement the appropriate procedures for us to safely worship and gather together again.

If anyone would like to continue to worship at home as we come back to physically worship at St. Francis, you can still meet with us every Sunday via Youtube.


The link found below can be used to connect online.  Service time is at 10:30 am so please try to login a few minutes early.  You can find a copy of the bulletin online under the tab Bulletins on our website.

Outreach Ministry Program


St. Francis has an Outreach Ministry Program each month. For the donations for July we will be collecting money for Back to School Supplies. Please donate your loose change to this worthy cause.


We also collect certain items for our Ingathering Sundays.  Please gather Back to School Supplies for July and place them in the Ingathering baskets in the Foyer.


Our 40th Anniversary is coming up on October 4, 2020.  Please join us in celebration throughout the year as we commemorate the past 40 years at St. Francis Episcopal Church. The yearly celebration will be a time to remember who we are as a church family and renew the vision of our parish in service to God.  St. Francis will also be hosting a special service and dinner on October 4, please keep your calendars open for that day.

DSO COVID-19 Resources



Message from the Diocese of Southern Ohio

Communications teams from around the Episcopal Church have been diligently curating lists of resources to support and inform the church during this time of crisis. Here are just a few new ones we have found:


Episcopal Church Foundation Vital Practices - https://www.ecfvp.org/blogs/3763/covid-19-resources-2

Connecting in the Midst of an Epidemic from Episcopal Relief & Development - https://www.episcopalrelief.org/what-we-do/us-disaster-program/remoteministry/

Faith-Based Response to Epidemics from Episcopal Relief & Development - https://www.episcopalrelief.org/what-we-do/us-disaster-program/faith-based-response-to-epidemics/

Happy 1/2 Hour with the Rabbi



Every Thursday from 2:00 PM - 2:30 PM, you’re invited to HAPPY 1/2 HOUR with the Rabbi!


Bishop Breidenthal is back with Rabbi Abie Ingber for this week's Happy 1/2 Hour with the Rabbi on Thursdays at 2:00 p.m.

Every Thursday, Christ Church Cathedral's Rabbi-in-residence Abie Ingber gives a 30-minute online offering exploring Sunday’s sacred texts through the lens of centuries of Rabbinic commentary. This is a casual and light-hearted way to get to know the rabbi, interact with the bishop and maybe learn something about the scriptures - join the fun!

This weekly 30-minute online offering will be exploring Sunday’s sacred texts through the lens of centuries of Rabbinic commentary, is hosted by our Rabbi-in-residence, Abie Ingber.


After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the party!
Summer book club
Looking for a good book to read and people with whom to discuss it? Join Cathedral Canon Paul Williams and Diocesan Canon Lee Anne Reat for a series of book studies this summer. We will meet once a month through August via Zoom to discuss popular books.

The next gathering is Wednesday, July 29 at 7:00 p.m. We will be discussing A Lillian Smith Reader, edited by Margaret Rose Gladney and Lisa Hodgens.

As a writer and forward-thinking social critic, Lillian Smith (1897–1966) was an astute chronicler of the twentieth-century American South and an early proponent of the civil rights movement. From her home on Old Screamer Mountain overlooking Clayton, Georgia, Smith wrote and spoke openly against racism, segregation, and Jim Crow laws long before the civil rights era.

Bringing together short stories, lectures, essays, op-ed pieces, interviews, and excerpts from her longer fiction and nonfiction,  A Lillian Smith Reader  offers the first comprehensive collection of her work and a compelling introduction to one of the South’s most important writers. Her most well-known works are Killers of the Dreamand Strange Fruit. Her legacy rests on her sense of social justice, her articulation of racial and social inequities, and her challenges to the status quo. In their totality, her works propose a vision of justice and human understanding that we have yet to achieve.


Join Father Jed and the Diocesan Summer Book Club in reading "A Lillian Smith Reader." Lillian WHO? you might ask. Hers is not a household name, but should be. Lillian Smith reflected on her own white privilege in the Jim Crow South, deplored what she saw, and set out to change herself and the world. If you have ever wondered what you can do to address racial injustice directly,  A Lillian Smith Reader, edited by Margaret Rose Gladney and Lisa Hodgens, is a MUST READ.  Cathedral Canon Paul Williams and Diocesan Canon Lee Anne Reat will facilitate the Diocesan discussion on Wednesday, July 29 at 7:00 pm. Register to join in with Father Jed and others from the Diocese exploring how we might embody her vision of justice and human understanding today.  Available via E-Book through the Franklin Springboro Libraries.


Bishop Breidenthal's Sermon on July 26, 2020



Here we are in the long liturgical non-season stretching from Pentecost and Trinity to Advent. We call it ordinary time — not because it is humdrum — ordinary as opposed to extraordinary — but ordinary as in ordinal numbers (first, second, third and so on), since each of the Sundays in this period is named for where it stands in relation to Pentecost (so, for instance, today is the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost).


Even so, ordinary time tends to be uneventful until we get to September. Not this year, though, with surges of COVID-19, along with ever-rising political and economic tensions. Yet the parables we just heard from Matthew (13:31-33, 44-52) do use ordinary things as windows onto the kingdom of God — ordinary things in the usual, everyday sense of ordinary: A mustard seed, yeast, hidden treasure, an unexpected bargain, a mixed catch of fish.


At 12 o’clock I will be leading a reflection on these parables for the noonday service, where the sermon is replaced by an actual conversation anyone can contribute to. I’m always glad when I can be part of that. Just this last week, a group from that congregation spent an evening looking at the readings for the next seven weeks in order to decide on a theme for the rest of the summer. And for them a clear theme emerged, starting with the readings for today. The theme that emerged was ordinariness.


They too were struck by the homeliness and simplicity of the parables we just heard.

I look forward to hearing what the noonday people have to say about that.


What I will probably say at noon is this. These short and pithy illustrations of the kingdom of God are not so much about defining the kingdom or pinning down what it means, as they are about offering us lenses through which to see the rule of God at work in our midst, right here, right now.


It’s like one of my favorite poems — Wallace Stevens’ “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.” As its title suggests, it is a series of thirteen short ‘takes’ on a familiar and ordinary bird that can change our way of seeing ourselves and the world if we pay attention. Let me just read you the first three of these, and you’ll see what I mean:


(1) Among twenty snowy mountains
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird

(2) I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds

(3) The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

 

Each of these vignettes is a sort of secular parable, using what could be a mundane observation — or something we might not even notice — to take our minds to a new place. It’s just what Jesus is also doing. We could call today’s series of parables ‘Five Ways of Looking at the Kingdom,’ that is, five ways of catching the mysterious workings of God in our very midst, in the places we would be least likely to look for God, because they are so very ordinary.


But these parables are not just about God lurking in our everyday lives. Just as in Wallace Stevens’ poem, they are about us, about our longing for God, our hope for salvation, our desire to be on the right side of truth. They are about our deepest desires as well as our deepest fears. And these desires and fears may be just as selfish as they are altruistic. Think of the man who finds buried treasure in a field and sells all he has to buy it. Jesus uses self-serving cunning as a metaphor for willingness to sacrifice everything for admission into the kingdom, but he is also reminding us that our purest religious motives are never entirely pure.


The same goes for the parable of the catch of fish, some good, some only fit to be thrown back into the water. Isn’t Jesus addressing our fear that we will ultimately be judged unworthy of admission to the kingdom, because of our failure to put God and the neighbor first?


Of course, the good news of God in Christ is that God is not going to throw any of us bad fish back into the water — or, as Paul puts it in today’s reading from Romans 8:26-39 — nothing imaginable can separate us from the love of God in Christ. (I will come back to Paul in a minute.) In any case, Jesus does not shrink from letting us be chastened from time to time by a healthy dose of religious fear.


Nevertheless, what these parables bring home is that our truest hope lies close by. None of these parables is about travel far from home; none is about heroic sacrifice; none is about selflessness. 


But if we have ears to hear, each hints at how God takes our selfish desires, our  ignorance, and even our guilt, and transforms these into the raw material, the hidden seed, of a true love of the goodness of God and a genuine desire for the welfare of our neighbor. What is closest to us, what is most ordinary about us, is what God works with.


Yet how do we relate this good news about closeness to the extraordinary distancing this pandemic has forced on us? If our truest hope lies close by, what do we do when those we want to be closest to are unavailable to us, or when whatever physical contact we still enjoy with those we live with comes with its own challenges and strains? I have no easy answer to that. How do we seek for God in what is close, when these days there is so much less closeness available to us?


…”What these parables bring home is that our truest hope lies close by. None of these parables is about travel far from home; none is about heroic sacrifice; none is about selflessness.  But if we have ears to hear, each hints at how God takes our selfish desires, our  ignorance, and even our guilt, and transforms these into the raw material, the hidden seed, of a true love of the goodness of God and a genuine desire for the welfare of our neighbor.”

The answer must lie in how closeness can survive distance. Many of us are thankful for the technology that has, to a real, if limited, extent, allowed closeness to overcome distance. We can talk to each other at a distance; we can see each other at a distance; we can even meet in small or large groups at a distance. But as we all know, that is not enough. We need something that will overcome the barrier of physical distancing in a way that answers our human need for more visceral connection. Or, to put it another way, we need something that simply removes any barrier, physical or otherwise, that separates us.


This brings me to today’s reading from Paul’s Letter to the Romans, which I mentioned earlier. Hear again what Paul says:


“What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … No, in all these things we are conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”(Romans 8: 35-39).


At least two things are happening in this passage. First, Paul is saying that there are no barriers between any of us and God, because Jesus, who is the eternal Word, has crashed all of them to be one of us. Second, Paul is saying that because Jesus has done this, there are no real barriers that distance us from one another, apart from the barriers of injustice and abuse that we ourselves construct. So as Christians, we are assured that, inasmuch as we love God and our neighbor, whatever keeps us apart from one another is illusory. The life blood of Jesus holds us all together. It is the medium that holds not only us but all humanity together.


So what do we do with that? We pray more deeply for one another, especially for those from whom we may be alienated for any reason. We pray for those we love and for those we hate, for those we know and miss and those who are strangers to us. We pray, knowing that in our praying we are not making or maintaining a connection, but acknowledging and living into a connection that is more real than any momentary affliction.


I think this is why we take the emotional risk of continuing to worship together Sunday by Sunday, with few of the emotional props that come with bodily presence. This is an emotional risk, because every experience of remote worship heightens our sense of loss, and chips away at our patience with it. But we face this risk out of our faith that we remain one body, in covenant with one another in Christ, no matter what.


That work is our ordinary work as followers of Jesus, more sharply highlighted in this time, but no less new.


TEB sig

 

The Rt. Rev. Thomas E. Breidenthal

Bishop of Southern Ohio