Tuesday, February 11, 2020

A little bit of Heaven on Earth


The youth choir and I recently had the opportunity to travel to St. John’s Episcopal Church in West Point, VA. This was our second year of going to serve the congregation there, along with other people around town, and I absolutely loved it.

When we arrived on Saturday, after a filling lunch provided by some ladies from the congregation, we headed to the Good Neighbor Center food pantry to help out. The Director of the Center, Frances, explained to us how they are a joint ministry of several local, inter-denominational churches that serve the folks in and around West Point that need monthly assistance with food as we sorted the many boxes of canned goods. While the pantry was small, Christ Church donated nearly 100 pounds of food, and it’s always so rewarding to know that even our little bit of service will go a long way for those in need.

On Sunday morning, we led music during worship at St. John’s, relishing in the classical beauty and sonorous acoustics of their sanctuary. I know we touched the hearts of many attendees, and this was made clear when one sweet woman came up to me afterward and told me she “hoped that’s what heaven will sound like.”

I’m so grateful to have had this experience and I’m so glad everyone in the choir enjoyed it as much as I did. I’m grateful for community, friendship that feels like family, staying on the gorgeous York River, and seeing Jesus in all the little details.

Thank you so much for your prayers, support, and encouragement as we embarked on this trip; it meant the world to us and we’re so thankful we could go!

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

A Thing of Beauty

"The Lord is God, and he has given us light.
Bind the festal procession with branches,
up to the horns of the altar.

You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
you are my God, I will extol you.

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever." - Psalm 118:27-29

Flower arrangements beautify our worship space and offer glory to God. You've surely noticed the lovely arrangements that stand vibrant near the altar each weekend, and perhaps you've wondered about the servant's hands responsible for such beauty! Christ Church is blessed to have folks who are willing to give of their time and talent to create floral displays. This past Saturday, our Flower Guild hosted a flower arranging workshop for anyone interested in learning more about floral design. Click here for a photo-witness to the joy and beauty!

Click here for slideshow

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

This Home Made Possible By...

People all along the age spectrum joined together on Saturday for Christ Church's 2nd annual "One Build" benefiting Habitat for Humanity. One team of servants gathered on campus to make picnic tables and birdhouses as gifts for new homeowners. Two additional teams gathered at Habitat for Humanity worksites, building alongside the potential homeowners who are required to put in "sweat equity" for their homes. Homeowners frequently surpass the required limit, engaged and excited as they are to turn the boards and bricks into their home.

Two practices of the Way of Love, our guiding principles for faith formation this season, are "Go" and "Bless." To "Go" means to cross boundaries, connect deeply with others, and serve like Jesus. "Bless" means sharing our faith and giving our time and talents unselfishly to others. Our church is blessed to have tangible opportunities to live and love as Jesus taught us to do!

One Build for Habitat for Humanity
Click through slideshow for photos from One Build

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Loving Like Jesus through the Consignment Sale


A few weeks ago marked the 11th anniversary of the Christ Church Children’s Consignment Sale.

To many church members without young children, the consignment sale has always been something that pops up twice a year, visible for a few weeks in the bulletin and e-news but then fading back into the pages of church life and events past.

By why is the sale such a staple church event? What exactly does it do — for our church, and for the community?

More than you might think.
For one, there’s the financial impact. While several kids consignment stores and sales exist in Richmond, the majority are for-profit entities owned by individuals and organizations. But 100 percent of church proceeds from our sale are go directly to our Missions and Outreach ministry. Over the years, this has equated to more than $150,000 donated to charities, mission trips and organizations helping disadvantaged people in our local community and beyond.

Then there’s the impact on local families.

As all parents can attest, raising children is expensive. And in the young years of constant growth and education, there is a seemingly endless churning of clothes, toys and gear that seems to never give the family wallet a rest. Enter the consignment sale. A retail model used for decades around the world, consignment sales and shops sell used goods for owners in return for a portion of the proceeds. Consignors (sellers) benefit from increased marketing due to size, reach and operational capacity while consignees (sales and shops) enjoy profit from sales without product overhead.

At our sale, consignors set prices on their items and earn at least 60 percent of their total sales. They can opt to work one 3-hour volunteer shift and increase that percentage to 80. Of course the draw of making more money means many opt to volunteer; and volunteer power is how the sale operates. Each sale typically utilizes roughly 100 volunteers for everything from setting up racks and organizing merchandise to taking tickets and assisting customers.

So consignors get to clean out their closets, put money back in their pockets and know that their often beloved children’s items are moving on to new lives and new kids. But it doesn’t even stop there. After the sale, consignors choose to either take home items that didn’t sell or donate them. All donated items are picked up directly after the sale by Pass it On — an outreach ministry of St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Colonial Heights. Pass it On hosts its own seasonal sale of sorts — but at theirs, guests are invited through various nonprofits and social service organizations to shop for free for clothing and other items needed for their children.

It is eye opening — and heart warming — to see the people whose lives our sale impacts. I’ve met families who outfit multiple children for the entire year just by attending our sales. Hundreds of children come through the lines clutching treasures of toys, books and games they can’t wait to take home. Their smiles are enlightening and their enthusiasm is contagious. It is a beautiful reminder of the little things made possible through our efforts.

Since 2008, our sale has grown to become one of the largest and most anticipated sales in Richmond. People come from all over the metro area to find gently-loved kids items at bargain prices. But from the money raised to the lives of the thousands of people it has touched, the Christ Church Consignment Sale is much more than a bi-annual church event. It is the epitome of our dedication to the way of love, and to living and loving like Jesus every day.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

A Letter to the next generation of Christian teachers

The Rev. Darren Steadman wrote this letter after the example of the Epistles and as part of his sermon on October 6, 2019. Read the letter below and click here to hear the sermon in its entirety.

Rev. Darren here, for the sake of our Lord Jesus’ great hope of unity and peace,

To Christian kids of all ages who are intrigued by God and the stories of Jesus,

I pray that you discover God’s love and peace within your own heart like a storybook treasure. Then, the even greater adventure, may those discoveries inspire you to seek God’s goodness in everyone else.

I am grateful to God for you, for you are a precious gift to the world, whoever and wherever you are. This might sound disingenuous, but I mean it, because God makes all living things, and makes all those things special and useful and capable of kingdom-building.

I believe that there must be some good people in your family tree, and that you have inherited some amount of goodness that is begging to be brought forth. This goodness in your heart calls out to you at times, to speak kindly, do good deeds, and take care of yourself, doesn’t it!?! I pray that you listen to that voice, and give it a sacred name, and take care of it like a beloved pet, because it is a precious treasure that is alive, and you are its caretaker.

I also know it's hard to listen to the voice of goodness from within, because there are so many noises all around, and many of them don’t call upon your inner goodness.

Much of that noise calls out your inner selfishness, and it tempts you. Temptations of selfishness are normal now, and for that, I am deeply sorry. I wish I had done more in my day to silence that noise that torments you, and your generation.

But, now knowing this, you may also know the contrary to the noise. You may know the peace that is available when you tune out the noise, and you can always choose to tune it out. You are not obligated in any way to the voices of temptation. Be obligated to the goodness within you, and be grateful to be alive! Your creator gave you life, and that very same creator lives within you. Take care of your inner goodness, because that is the presence of God.

This is not normal, which is why we have another word for it. Tuning out the constant noise of temptation, and listening to the voice of your creator from within, behaving in a way that is unselfish, and using your words to forgive, and to tell others about all of this goodness - it’s not normal, so we call it by another name: HOLY.

You have the choice to BE HOLY, to say holy things, to behave in the wildly-counter-cultural manner that makes you stand out like a sore thumb. You can BE HOLY, and when you make this good choice, I’ll warn you, people will be scared of you. It’s not normal, to BE HOLY. People will be scared, that they have missed out on something good all this time, and changing is hard. People will be scared that they too have this choice, to behave in a way that stands out, when just being normal is the easiest way. It’s so tempting to just be normal and fit in, but remember: NORMAL is not always GOOD!

Choose GOODness, and you are choosing GOD-liness. You are not obligated to Normal, but I pray that you are obligated to GOOD, to the creator who gave you the precious gift of life and all of your choices and abilities, which we call GOD. Choose GOD, above all else, who created you and every living thing, who came to earth in Jesus, who sacrificed everything possible, to show us how to forgive. Jesus lived the HOLY life, and began making a NEW NORMAL. That NEW NORMAL is still under construction, and now - you have the tools to keep building it.

Would God give you this GOODNESS without trusting you to use it properly? NO! God not only gives you the tools to BUILD the NEW NORMAL, but you also have God’s confidence! God trusts you! God trusts you to use your words and your voice, to use your brain and your resources to give generously to those in need. To give your time and energy, to sing songs of beauty and prayers of thanksgiving, telling the world that GOD IS GOOD!

You can tell the world: “There is a NEW NORMAL under construction, and I am here to BUILD IT! JESUS came to set me free from shame, and forgive me when I choose poorly. Jesus Loves me, even when I succumb to temptation, and forgives me! AND! Jesus Loves and Forgives YOU!   

Love and Forgiveness, THAT is the NEW NORMAL.

You have the tools, Christian teacher. And you have GOD’s voice within you, calling you every day. GOD is SO FAITHFUL in that way - every day you have the CHOICE, the TOOLS, and the CALL to goodness. These are God’s most precious gifts to the world, so treasure these most precious gifts.

For this reason you were made, Christian teacher. God be with you, as you continue this mission of Jesus, the mission to bring UNITY to the world, and PEACE in your own heart, and build a new kingdom, where FORGIVENESS and LOVE are the NEW NORMAL.


Click here to listen to the full sermon

Monday, August 12, 2019

Thank you for supporting our Haiti missions!

Christ Church Episcopal has a long-standing partnership with our brothers and sisters in Haiti. After the devastating earthquake in 2010, we answered the call to serve and so began a long and beautiful relationship with St. Marc Episcopal Church and the people of the town of Lilevois.

We've sent mission teams, provided financial support, offered them up in continuous prayer, sponsored village-wide VBS, and even hosted their leaders here in Glen Allen. 

Our most recent mission trip renewed our special relationships and inspired new ways to deepen our union and support our brothers and sisters in Haiti in ways that serve them best. 

Thanks to your faithful support, this year alone, funds from our Missions & Outreach ministries and the 2018 benefit concert were used... 
  • To help Haitians build a roof so the congregation at St Marc’s can worship more comfortably and the students can play and learn in the shade.
  • To fund 24 midwives for a year, educating moms on nutrition, childbirth and healthy babies.
  • To help pay teacher salaries so children can learn and grow into contributing members of their community.
  • To help the congregation celebrate their accomplishments in worship and fellowship at the Feast of St. Marc’s. 
Another mission trip is being planned for 2020. Prayerfully consider how you can serve. We invite you to keep up with the story by joining the Haiti Partnership Interest Group in Realm, our online community, or by contacting lay leader Penny Sellers.