Sudbury Clergy Association Press Release
December 15, 2014
Sudbury Clergy Association to Explore Town Civility
Local Clergy Group to Engage in Town-wide Listening Project
Click here to read full Sudbury Clergy Association press release
St. Elizabeth's Episcopal Church is a warm and welcoming community in the heart of Sudbury, Massachusetts. The clergy and parishioners are committed to making St. E's a loving, supportive place for everyone, and to informing, involving, and inspiring the congregation.
Our worship services are both innovative and traditional, and we welcome those who are searching for a friendly place where they can grow with others in the knowledge and love of God. St. E's is a lively congregation, with activities for all ages. Blessed with many children, our church school and youth programs are an important part of who we are.
If you are looking for a place where you can seek meaning and make a difference, St. Elizabeth's may be that place. For more information please complete our Visitor and Newcomers Welcome Form
Announcements & Upcoming Events
Mark Your Calendars
Click on any topic to see details:
• Longest Night Service - December 22 - 7pm
• Annual Children's Christmas Pageant - December 24 - 3pm
• Christmas Eve - Christmas Music and Holy Eucharist - December 24 - 10pm
• Outreach Meeting - January 11 - 11:30am
• Annual Meeting - February 8 - 11am
• Bible Study - Tuesday mornings
• Choir Rehearsals - Thursday evenings
• St. E's Book Group - monthly
• Church School - Sunday mornings
Br. Tom Shaw - Funeral Sermon by Br. Geoffrey
Sermon peached during Bishop Tom Shaw's funeral by Br. Geoffrey Tristram on November 1, 2014:
It was three weeks ago, on one of those stunningly beautiful fall days. I was sitting at Tom's bedside in his beloved hermitage at Emery House, with his sister Penny. We had just anointed him and prayed with him, and he was looking out, gazing up through those huge windows at the brilliantly blue sky and the trees. He wanted all the shutters open, so he could see - see the golden leaves dazzling and shimmering in the sunlight.
We gazed with him, in silence, and it seemed that the whole of creation was on fire with God's glory. At that precious moment it felt like God was gifting us with just a glimpse of the glory that awaits us all - the glory which I have no doubt Tom is now enjoying. Tom, who loved St. Paul, believed and trusted absolutely, that "this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory."
All of us here today come with a sense of loss and sadness. We have lost a man who for so many years has been our brother, our bishop, our friend - and we miss him, and many of us have shed tears for him. And that is good. At the same time I know that he would want this worship to be shot through with the beams of God's glory. For the promise of glory which sustained Tom throughout his life found its source in that great truth which was the bedrock of his whole life and ministry - the great truth which we celebrate today and which Tom chose as today's Gospel. "Jesus said, I am the Resurrection and the Life. Those who believe in me even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" Today we celebrate the life of a man who did believe this and who embodied it - and built his whole life on that promise, and who in an extraordinarily gracious way was able to help so many of us to believe, to trust, and discover our own truest lives, through that great promise.
Seeing glory, seeing glory often in the most apparently ordinary and unpromising places was a great gift which Tom had, and is probably why he so loved the poems of Mary Oliver, poems which we were reading aloud to him as he died.
Tom loved to see. He loved to see into. And of all his gifts, I think he was above all a seer. He had a prophetic gift of seeing deeply, of capturing a vision. And of course this gift was the perfect one for the ministry he exercised both as Superior of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist and then as Bishop of Massachusetts - the ministry of episcope.
In the New Testament, the Greek word episcope has two meanings. Firstly it means seeing, or looking around and over. It is close to the word panorama. It is about standing back and seeing. It is the psalmist's prayer to be set upon a rock that is higher than I. It's standing in a high place where you can really over-see. The word in this sense is used many times in the Acts of the Apostles. The high place for Tom was his monastic cell. No one can understand Tom without knowing of his faithful rock-like attention to God. Every morning, without fail, he would light the candles in his cell, read Scripture and gaze at his icons, and pay attention. Before he went on his first sabbatical, the diocese asked him how they should pray for him. He said, "Pray that I may have the gift of perspective."
His faithful, daily monastic attention to prayer was not out of virtue but out of need. Without those times he - could not see. But when he could see, and his vision renewed, amazing things could happen. And we all know and give thanks to God for some of the fruits of his vision. The building up of the church in this diocese and beyond; nurturing children and young people for mission and ministry; the establishment of the Barbara C. Harris Camp & Conference Center; supporting the B-SAFE program for youth in our towns and cities; founding the Life Together Program for Young Adults and building the Together Now Capital Campaign to support our diocese's mission and ministry. These are just some of the extraordinary fruits of Tom's episcopal vision.
The word episcope has a second meaning in the New Testament. It's found in the Letter to the Hebrews and the First Letter of Peter. Here, it means, "see to it that." It means "pay careful attention and ensure that things get done right that need to be done." Theologian Ian Paul writes that to exercise episcope as the New Testament describes it, is to have the helicopter quality and ability to rise up rise high and see the overall lie of the land, but then to drop down low and attend to particular things that need dealing with.
Tom did not try to avoid this often demanding part of episcopal ministry. When Tom became diocesan bishop after the tragic death of his predecessor he focused all his pastoral, administrative and spiritual gifts on what needed to be done, however painful, to bind up the broken-hearted and renewing the hope and the vision of the diocese.
And of course he loved homing in on the particular. Often of an evening, if my light was still on, he would come into my cell, plonk himself down on a chair and tell me all about his day. He loved visitations. He really knew the parishes, and had an amazing memory for names. He liked to see what was going on, and he didn't miss much. But more than anything else he wanted to see - YOU. Who are you? What's your name? Do you love Jesus? Not very Episcopalian! And he would look at you deeply and steadily with those eyes of his. Somebody wrote to me last week and said this: "Tom is one of the few people I can name in my life who really saw me. He was able to focus on my fears and frailties. He called me out. He challenged me to do things I never would have dared to do on my own." I know that there are many here today, including me, who would echo that. And I think it was to do with his ability to see. So often he could see, what I would call the glory or the potential in another person, that they could not see themselves. St. Irenaeus said "The glory of God is a person fully alive."
Tom, who so lived his life in the power of the resurrection, longed to challenge and help others to come fully to life, to glorify God by becoming the unique and wonderful person God had made them to be. And so he would say "I want to know you. Who are you?" Even in the hospital, as he was being prepared for his operation, he would ask the staff, "What's your name? Where do you live? Do you go to church? You know there's a really good Episcopal church near where you live!" He was a formidable evangelist. Of course, because he had such a vision for how individuals can be formed and transformed in Christ, he loved spending time with young people, and they loved him. He believed in them, encouraged them and loved and prayed for them. Young men and women who had the whole of their lives ahead of them.
And so it was that in September 2012 when young Jorge Fuentes was shot dead in Dorchester, Tom was devastated. All the years I have known him, I have never known him so utterly devastated. That this young man so gifted, and so full of promise, his life ahead of him, should have been killed in this way was terrible. For Tom it was sacrilege, it was profoundly sinful, the kind of societal sin which he spent his life fighting against. And he was galvanized into action - finding ways to end violence, starting with the B-PEACE for Jorge campaign, calling Episcopalians, 650 of them, to join him and march in Jorge's name at the memorable Mothers' Day Walk for Peace.
I would say that all Tom's passion for justice had its source in his vision. He saw that every single individual had been wonderfully created in the image of God, and anything which stopped them becoming more fully the person God made them to be, from reaching their full glory, was not just unjust but sinful. Sinful, to have even one beautiful life stunted, or blighted or wiped out because of that person's race, gender, sexual orientation, class, vulnerability or disability. And he fought such sin with courage. At the State House, outside the Israeli embassy, inside Mugabe's Zimbabwe. He had great courage - courage in these past 18 months as he faced into his brain cancer.
Tom was very gifted in so many ways. But as with all of us, these gifts had their shadow side. He was a gifted and forceful leader with a clear vision. But he could also be insensitive and sometimes get angry and impatient with those who didn't agree with him. He wasn't always right! Some of us here today will have experienced something of this side of Tom.
Even during some of these challenging times with Tom, his saving grace was his sense of humor. What I loved about him was that while he took God seriously, he never took himself too seriously. He was really quite mischievous and could be disarmingly silly. When he came back to the monastery after a day in the diocese, he used to take his pectoral cross off, or tuck it under his scapular, so he would be one of the Brothers. He once came into the back of the chapel at the end of a Eucharist, and he forgot to take his cross off. A woman saw him who hadn't seen him before and said, "Why are you the only Brother who's wearing a cross?" And he said, "O, I'm monk of the month."
How many more stories we could share! And last week, I was sitting in Tom's cell in the monastery, and asking Tom in my prayers, what do you want me to tell them in this homily? And my eyes passed over the icons, the Bible and commentaries, the candles, the lists of names of those he was remembering in prayer. But in pride of place, right in the center, and covered with candle wax drippings was this painting, which he was praying with during his last days. It was one he loved and preached about and led a meditation on at Convention. That's what I want you to tell them! I heard him say. The painting is the 'Resurrection' by Piero della Francesca. [A black and white copy of this is on the front of today's service leaflet.]
Aldous Huxley called it the greatest painting in the world. Even as the guards lie sleeping, Christ in great power rises gloriously from the dead. But the glory of the painting is hard to see in a small reproduction. The glory is Christ's eyes. They gaze at us, steadily and lovingly. But they are eyes which have gone through the night: for 3 days they have been wrestling with death - but have finally conquered. This was the image Tom was praying with and this I believe is what he would want this day to be about. That however dark the day, however heavy our hearts, however hard the struggle, Christ has conquered death, has risen from the dead, and opened for us the gate of heaven. Alleluia.
Tom believed absolutely in the resurrection and longed for heaven. I had a letter a few days ago which said this: "If ever I had confidence in a life's transparency to resurrection - if ever I trusted in the life to come out of the death of someone I knew - it is with Br. Tom." Tom talked about heaven a lot, and a few months ago I remember him saying that he was getting excited about going to heaven. Not long ago someone said to him, "Tom, do you want to go to the hospice?" And he answered, quick as a flash, "No - I want to go to heaven!" And he had one favorite hymn which he loved to sing. I chose it for my own Profession in the monastery. Tom said, "That's my favorite hymn, and it always makes me cry." A hymn of glory. Well, we're going to sing it, Tom, straight after this homily. We will sing it with thanksgiving in our hearts. ["King of Glory, King of Peace."]
As we sing it, let us give thanks to God for the gift of our dear Tom, our brother, our bishop, our friend. Thanksgiving for his family who nurtured him: for his parents, for his sister, Penny, and brothers Sam and Stephen and their spouses and his nieces and nephews. Thanksgiving for the Brothers of our monastic community. Thanksgiving for the staff and people of this diocese where he served and loved. Thanksgiving especially for Jackie who served him so faithfully as his assistant for so many years. Thanksgiving for all those far and wide who have been touched and blessed by his gracious life and ministry.
Thanksgiving now to Almighty God who created him and redeemed him through Jesus Christ. Tom, we love you. We will miss you. And now may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
- Br. Geoffrey Tristram, Superior
Please share your memories - www.ssje.org/tom
Br. Tom requested that, in lieu of flowers, memorial gifts be directed to:
The Society of Saint John the Evangelist
980 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02138
The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts
138 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02111
Social Media at St. Elizabeth's - Survey
The St. Elizabeth's Communications Committee:
- publishes the monthly Mantle newsletter
- coordinates St. E's news with local media outlets
- updates the communications bulletin board in the Parish Hall
- manages the st-elizabeths.org website
The Communications Committee is currently exploring how St. E's can effectively use social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.
Do you use social media? If so, we invite you to fill out this quick online social media survey form and let us know which sites you use, and send us your ideas on how we can best to utilize these networks. Survey Link: http://st-elizabeths.org/socialmediasurvey
The Communications Committee will be meeting in January to discuss social media. We invite anyone interested to attend. For more information, email Paul Grous at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
Volunteer Opportunities - "Hot Jobs"
Volunteer opportunities at St. Elizabeth's!
We are seeking for volunteers to fill these "HOT JOBS". "Hot jobs" are typically a one time job or have minimal time commitments.
[ Fellowship ] Winter Weekend - Registration & Room Assignment Coordinator
[ Fellowship ] Winter Weekend - Finance Manager
[ Communications ] Assistant Editor - The Mantle
[ Communications ] Assistant Editor - Proofreaders (2)
[ Communications ] Assistant Editor - Bulletin Board Manager
[ Sunday Service ] Eucharistic Ministers
[ Sunday Service ] Ushers
[ Sunday Service ] Acolytes - Youth And Adults
[ Sunday Service ] Youth Choir Music Coordinator
[ Sunday Commitments ] Coffee Hosts
[ Sunday Commitments ] Materials Coordinator - COGS
View detailed descriptions of each the above and sign up. Thank you.
St. Elizabeth's Bad Weather Alerts Service
You must opt-in to receive St. E's alerts as txt messages sent to your cell phone or via email.
Subscribe to the St. Elizabeth's Church bad weather alerts service: http://st-elizabeths.org/alerts
If you need help with the alerts service, please contact email@example.com.
Please answer this quick survey so we know what you might want or need. We welcome and encourage multiple survey responses so we hear from everyone in your household.
Watch the video created to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the St. Elizabeth Chapel on May 18, 2014. Enjoy!
Watch the video created to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the St. Elizabeth Church on October 5, 2014. Enjoy!
St. Elizabeth's Mission Statement
The vestry recently approved a more detailed version of the Mission of St. Elizabeth's Episcopal Church. "Inviting, Forming, Sending, Serving" is officially part of the mission and logo of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. These words have played a significant role in our revamping of the St. Elizabeth's Mission Statement. Parishioners were asked to fill out pew cards indicating what they felt to be the mission of our church. Not surprisingly, the themes that surfaced again and again were largely related to these four words. People emphasized the value of St. Elizabeth's as an open and welcoming place ("inviting"); a place to hear and reflect on the teachings of Christ, to be shaped by prayer, and to help each other in our faith journeys ("forming"); a place where we are fortified to go out into the larger community filled with the love and hope of Christ ("sending"); and finally, as a community that reaches out to others through ministries such as The Soup Kitchen, The Giving Tree, City Mission and ASP ("serving"). Indeed, Inviting, Forming, Sending and Serving are words that crystallize the mission of our church. They encapsulate both what we are and what we seek to become.
St. Elizabeth's Episcopal Church invites seekers to share the joys and challenges of a journey of faith. Following the teachings of Jesus Christ and guided by scripture, tradition, and reason, we proclaim by word and action the love of God. We seek to serve and praise Christ in all people by celebrating the greatness of God's creation and all its creatures, helping those in need, and striving for justice and peace in all areas of our common life.
Church School and Youth Choir Registrations Available Online
Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for children in grades 1 to 6 is an approach to the religious formation of children. It is rooted in the Bible and the liturgy of the church, using the educational principles of Maria Montessori. Children gather in an "atrium", a sacred room prepared for them, containing simple yet beautiful materials that they work with. Please use our church school online registration form to register your child(ren) for the church Children Programs.
The Youth Choir sings every Sunday, warming up with the Adults at 9:30 am, going to church school, returning during the offertory and usually singing during Communion. After a quick break for juice and cookies, we return to the balcony to rehearse for a half hour. Please use our youth choir online registration form to register your child(ren) for the youth choir.
Lotsa Helping Hands
Create a free of charge, private, web-based community to organize family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues - a family's 'circles of community' - during times of need. Easily coordinate activities and manage volunteers with our intuitive group calendar. Communicate and share information using announcements, messages boards, and photos. Perhaps you are caring for a loved one who is ill, or you are looking for ways to support a caregiving family. Coordinate meals, organize rides to medical appointments, manage logistical tasks that come with caregiving, and provide medical status updates.
St. Elizabeth's recommends the use of Lotsa Helping Hands. In literally minutes, a Coordinator can create, free-of-charge, a private and secure Lotsa Helping Hands web community, define volunteer activities using the supplied templates, and begin inviting members to the community. Through an intuitive interface that requires no training, volunteers can then easily view and sign up for any number of available tasks, review their current commitments, and be confident they won't forget any assignments as the system automatically sends out email reminders of upcoming obligations.
St. Elizabeth's Safe Church Guidelines
It is the commitment of the parishioners and staff of St. Elizabeth's Church to do our utmost to insure a safe environment for our most vulnerable members and to observe appropriate fiscal controls to protect our assets from misuse. To that end we have posted the Outline of St. Elizabeth's Safe Church Guidelines as well as the full text of the Policy for Safe Church Practices. Parishioners and staff members may register for diocesan Safe Church Training.