Category Archives: rowena

Until We Meet Again

September 11, 2016

This Sunday will be my last Sunday at Trinity Church on the Green, even though I will be around to assist at Chapel on the Green two Sundays a month for the remainder of the year.  While I am excited about my new opportunity as Priest in Charge at Grace Episcopal Church, Hartford, I will miss being with you, and it will be difficult to say goodbye.

As another colleague noted, “Goodbyes are hard (though there are some partings that are long-awaited and joyful). We hate them.”[1] Yet, they are inevitable and part of our growth as human beings and Christians.
As I reflect on what the past twenty-two months have meant to me, I thank you for challenging me to be a better pastor, preacher and teacher.  I learned a great deal about my faith and what it means to be a priest in community.
I had the privilege of celebrating the Holy Eucharist with you countless times whether at the high altar and east facing, facing you at the blended Rite II service, or more intimately at the side altar.  I had the pleasure of officiating at my first baptism; two lovely baby girls!  I journeyed with many of you as you said final goodbyes to loved ones and fellow parishioners.

I spent many hours getting to know, traveling and just having fun with our choristers.  I learned that sometimes being the Choir Chaplain just meant being present, or being able to give permission to go to the bathroom and watch out to ensure choristers returned safely.  I had the privilege of capturing the joyful moments our choristers experienced in photos as they played intense games of poison ball, sang at concerts around the state or huddled together at movie night at choir camp.  I will miss your beautiful voices and your well-mannered and well-behaved demeanor as representatives of our worshipping community.  Thank you Mr. Moore, Dr. K., Mrs. Seggar, Ms. Yieh and Mr. Q.

I am grateful for the time spent with our seniors.  I have been blessed by the stories of your lives; i.e. meeting famous, iconic figures from history like Churchill and John Wayne or what the Trinity community was like in the days of the parish hall down the street.  I enjoyed our time together whether at the Whitney Center, Elim Park, Whitney Manor, Evergreen Woods, in your homes or at the Wednesday Club and Holiday Bazaar gatherings.  I thank you for allowing me into these intimate parts of your lives; your struggles with aging, your concerns about death, your joy and also worries about your family and friends.  You have taught me so much and it has been my pleasure to serve you along with Rev. Estelle, Lilian and all the team leaders of the Pastoral Care team and Home Board especially Barbara, Candy, Chris, Ellen, Judi, Lisa, Glen and Carol.

I am also grateful to the wardens, vestry and staff.  Your support, guidance, friendship and advice made working at Trinity a joy and an excellent learning experience.  I am especially grateful to Luk and the wardens (past and present) for giving me the opportunity to be your Assistant Rector.  It will be years before I truly realize the impact of just how blessed I have been to have spent this holy time with you.  I am a better priest because of it!  I am also grateful to Sherrill and Sam for their leadership with our staff.  Thank you for all that you do for so many in very quiet, caring ways.  I will miss working with you!

I am especially grateful to the members of the Monday night House Church led by Bob Sandine who allowed me to be myself, have fun and experience the weekly scripture in new and exciting ways!  Thank you for showing Christ’s love in your care for each other and also me.  Thank you for your humor, your embrace of the good things in life, and your leadership of the Trinity Players.

To all the Trinity volunteers who give tirelessly of their time and talents, thank you!  You have been witnesses of the love we share in our community.  Thank you especially to the altar guild, ushers, acolytes and sextons who were available to assist on short notice with funerals and memorials.  Thank you to members of the various outreach teams and their care for our neighbors especially the Friends of the Green, Columbus House, DESK and Grants teams.  You are blessing not only to the Trinity community but the City of New Haven.

Thank you to our various program teams but especially the music and stewardship teams.  Your tireless efforts and diligence are impressive.  Please help make their labor of love much easier by attending the Bach, Beatles and Beyond concert on September 23rd at 7pm and get those pledge cards in early to Mary Ellen and Dave!

To my Chapel on the Green family, thank you for reminding me what it truly means to care for the least.  I have been humbled by the experiences we have shared week in and week out on the Green; some of them the work of the Spirit and some others not so much.  In all of these experiences I have learned that sometimes we can’t judge a book by its cover, we have to build relationship, get to know people and hear their stories.  Thank you to our coordinators, Samantha, Luz and Mark and our faithful team of volunteers not only from the various churches and institutions but also our very own dedicated team of Cathy, Charles, David, Chuck, Debbie and Jack.

To all the families whom I have had the pleasure to join for meals, family gatherings, parish outings and even one on one coffee time, thank you for making me feel welcomed.  You are too numerous to mention here, and I hope to thank you all privately.  Just know that you have been a blessing to me and I will always treasure our times together.

Continue to pray for me as I will for you.  Until we meet again, God bless and keep you.
Rowena+

Sabbath

August 21, 2016

This Sunday the Gospel text challenges us as modern followers of Christ to step into the text and embody the leader of the synagogue who has rules and regulations to uphold.  It’s easy for us to see ourselves as members of the crowd, or the healed woman but what about the synagogue leader?  Where in our own busy lives are we called to hold in tension rules and regulations versus Sabbath.  What is Sabbath for us as 21st century Christians and is it a time to not only refresh, rejuvenate and renew, and also reconnect with God?  Kindly ponder these questions and the poem and comments that follow, as you enter into this Sabbath.

“The Sabbath Hour” by K. Lyle Johnson[1]
If the Sabbath day were the Sabbath hour, what would Sunday be?
A day to think of other things, and in the world to be?
If the Sabbath day were the Sabbath hour, how fun each Sunday would be!
To the football field, the basketball court, the golf course I would be!
If the Sabbath day were the Sabbath hour, how much richer I would be!
I would work all day, and earn a lot, to finally be debt free!
If the Sabbath day were the Sabbath hour, how culturally refined I would be!
I would eat in the finest restaurants, to the movies and concerts flee!
If the Sabbath day were the Sabbath hour, how healthy I would be!
I would hike a mountain, hunt a deer, camp and fish with glee!
If the Sabbath day were the Sabbath hour, how empty I would be!
For in my own self-serving life, I would lose eternal keys.
If the Sabbath day were the Sabbath hour, how sad I would be!
For I would have to carry my sins, and the Savior never please.

POET’S COMMENTS

Much counsel has been given on Sabbath day observance. How often do we as Christians forget that the Sabbath day is equal to 24 hours, not just an hour? The activities in which we engage on that day reflect where our hearts, thoughts, and desires lay.

The Sabbath offers an incredible opportunity to know the Savior and our Heavenly Father. Who would want to trade that opportunity for temporary earthly pleasure?

Truly it is a day of adoration that should be filled with joy and gratitude. It should be a day in which we come to feel the love of God as in no other day of the week. It is a day for counting blessings bestowed by His merciful hand.

Those who properly dedicate this day to God come to find hidden treasures that build testimony, teach eternal truths, and offer pure witnesses of the Christ and the Spirit. It is on this day that man can feel one with God, and the unblemished feelings of forgiveness and love.

On this day deity is acknowledged and an eternal relationship is built. It is upon this revelatory foundation that the mysteries of God are unveiled, and we come to know Him. On this day, we are gifted time to spend several moments with our dear Savior and Redeemer. It is on that day we confirm our eternal birthright, and a celestial inheritance through covenant, prayer, and service. It is a day to recommit to covenants, and then the Father reconfirms His promises by the power of the Holy Spirit. The sacrament is experienced and a rebirth occurs.
Who would want to trade that for any worldly activity? Yet on that day, it is often done. The reader must be reminded of when Esau traded his birthright for bread and a pottage of lentils.

“And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he swore unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentils; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.” (Genesis 25:33-34)

Would one trade their time with God or the Savior for amusement or entertainment? It seems so silly, but it happens every Sunday.
The beautiful experiences that can occur on this day are nothing short of miraculous. They confirm our status as sons and daughters, children of the Living God.

Engaging in worldly activities on the Sabbath moves us away from those sacred opportunities and experiences.

May we find a deeper joy by reserving that day for Him, and Him only.
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3)

May we all put God first on that sacred day.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” (Exodus 20:8)

Blessings

Rowena+

[1] http://www.aplacetoponder.com/poetry/thesabbathhour.html

Rowena Transitioning to New Ministry

August 14, 2016

Dear Trinity Family,
Ecclesiastes 3:1 reminds us that “for everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”

Regretfully, I write to inform you that effective September 11th, 2016 I will conclude my tenure here at Trinity as your Assistant Rector.  This is a decision not made lightly but prayerfully.  I love my ministry here and everyone I have had the privilege to accompany on life’s transitions.  Yet, I feel called now to step out in faith and lead a congregation myself.  Effective October 1st, 2016 I will be appointed the Priest in Charge at Grace Episcopal Church in the Parkville section of Hartford.

Thank you for the opportunity to share in the ministry of Trinity on the Green over the past twenty-one months.  During this time, I had the opportunity to truly live into my priesthood, and understand the complexities of a program-sized parish.  At times it was difficult to understand the full scope of the ministry of a parish as large and as dynamic as Trinity.  Yet, I had the opportunity to pastorally journey with many of you.  What a blessing it has been to have this time of training and trying on new things with you in the parish and in the city of New Haven.

Thank you also for the care offered to me during my mother’s unexpected passing just two weeks into my ministry with you.  Please know that I will be forever indebted to you for the care offered me.

Again, thank you and may God continue to bless all of you.
In peace,
Rowena+


From our rector and wardens:

We are writing to inform you of an upcoming transition on our clergy team. Earlier this summer, The Rt. Rev. Dr. Bishop Laura Ahrens asked our Trinity Assistant Rector, The Rev. Rowena Kemp, to accept a call to be the Priest in Charge of Grace Episcopal Church in Hartford.  With much consideration and thoughtful prayer, Rowena has decided that she is ready for this new challenge in her growth as a priest and has accepted the position.  Rowena’s last Sunday at Trinity Church will be Sunday, September 11th and she will begin her ministry at Grace Episcopal Church on October 1st.

Rowena’s ministry at Trinity has been one of inspiration and love.  We are sincerely grateful to her for the many opportunities she has provided all of us as we grow in faith, work, and love.  We will miss Rowena very much.  Her kind presence at so many Trinity functions, her well-delivered sermons, and her generous pastoral care are only some of the testaments to the difference Rowena’s ministry has made in our lives.

We offer heartfelt congratulations to her. Her call to be Priest in Charge is a confirmation of her growing excellence and we wish her all the best as she shares her kind personhood and many talents with her new parishioners at Grace Episcopal Church.

We will celebrate her ministry at our Parish Picnic on September 11th.  May God continue to bless Rowena and her compassionate, loving ministry.
Lisa Omark, Senior Warden
Charlotte Rea, Junior Warden
The Rev. Luk De Volder, Rector

Giving Thanks for Dad

June 19, 2016

This Father’s Day weekend, let us celebrate and give thanks for our fathers, whether biological, adopted or step fathers.  Let us thank God for their love, support, guidance and even discipline.  Let us pray and ask God to change the hearts and minds of those who have been unable to fulfill their fatherly duties for whatever reason so that they may be reconciled with their children and families.  Let us pray for the dads who in the past week have lost sons and daughters as a result of violence and will never have the opportunity to hug their children or tell them they love them.

Loving God, Heavenly Father, we thank you for fathers. We thank you for biological fathers, adopted fathers, and fathers in spirit. We thank you for fathers who love and nurture children who are not their own, who teach us to be upright and courageous in adversity and make us strong enough to go out into the world.

We thank you for fathers who work hard every day to help fulfill the needs of their families, who fix broken things and teach us how to do it ourselves, who embrace us and guide us, who love us even when they don’t understand us. We know they reflect and embody your love for us as our heavenly Father.

Comfort those of us who miss our fathers this day, and strengthen and bless those fathers who work so hard to love, protect, and nurture their families this day and every day.  (1)

Happy Father’s Day.

Rowena+

Middle Time: A Prayer by Lona Fowler

June 12, 2016

Between the exhilaration of Beginning
and the satisfaction of Concluding
is the Middle Time
of enduring, changing, trying,
despairing, continuing, becoming.

Jesus Christ was the man of God’s Middle Time
between Creation and . . . Accomplishment.
Through him God said of Creation,
“Without mistake.”
And of Accomplishment,
“Without doubt.”

And we, in our Middle Times
of wondering, waiting, hurrying,
hesitating, regretting, revising;
We who have begun many things—
and seen but few completed;
We who are becoming more—and less;
through the evidence of God’s Middle Time
have a stabilizing hint
that we are not mistakes,
that we are irreplaceable,
that our Being is of interest
and our Doing is of purpose,
that our Being and our Doing
are surrounded by AMEN.

Jesus Christ is the Completer
of unfinished people
with unfinished work
in unfinished times.

May he keep us from sinking, ceasing,
wasting, solidifying—
that we may be for him
experimenters, enablers, encouragers,
and associates in Accomplishment.

Rowena+

Happy Memorial Day

May 29, 2016

Yard Sale Angel by Bonnie Thurston

There she stood, golden
among discarded
detritus from someone’s
basement or attic.
She already had
one strike against her,
being clearly female
when biblical angels
are (naturally) male.
And she had acquired
a broken wing.
You could still see
the mended crack.
Not long after
she was given to me
that wing fell off
Nothing I tried could
restore her wholeness.
There are things even
Super Glue can’t mend.
There are angels
not made to fly,
to hover in heaven
singing gloria in excelsis,
but to linger in basements
or attics, worth keeping
as silent reminders
unrepairable brokenness
can still be holy.

Thank you to all the men and women of the armed forces who gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy and the families who shared them with us.

Happy Memorial Day!

Rowena+

Un Ange Passe

May 15, 2016

In the past few months, I have sat with a number of parishioners near the end of their lives.  At the time, I was unaware of how imminent their earthly time was!  Yet, in those moments there have been periods where I had exhausted my collection of comforting words from Scripture or the Prayer Book and just remained present, silently searching for what comes next.  What comes next….not saying anything and yet praying silently that God’s will be done for them and for me?  And in those moments, I have been blessed by the presence of the Holy Spirit and perhaps a passing angel that has given me the courage, strength and wisdom to remain present.

This Sunday we will celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate to the gathered community of Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem and hence the birthday of the church.  It is a time to celebrate, wear red and be reminded as the leadership team of the Sisters of Charity of New York point out, that “the power and light of Pentecost show us the way to open our hearts to all that is before us.”  May you take this time to be opened to the guidance of the Spirit that perhaps, will be brought by un Ange Passe, a passing angel.

I leave you with the words of our fellow parishioner, Sheila Bonenberger.  Happy Birthday to us, the Church!!

Un Ange Passe (reformatted for this publication)
Un Ange Passe, meaning an angel passes over when we can’t think of what to say.  My angel doesn’t have four faces like Cherubim and isn’t chubby like putti or surrounded by rays of strong white light. Dominions travel in groups or teams, but the angel I picture flies alone, or sometimes appears at the four corners of the earth in old maps, as if to say your thought is not lost, it’s here in the known world, whose edges we have pinned down with our bodies so it won’t blow away.

Seraphim with their sparkling energy, have more wings.  And some claim the Archangel’s forehead emits a soft glow of Divine consciousness that calms the mind. But my angel revels in blowing billows of words through her brass trumpet.  She’s a folk art angel wearing polka dot knee socks and nubby mittens.  She has wings, and wears a white robe, the hem circled by mismatched red hearts.  Mischievous, she snatches words right out of our mouths with William Blake’s magically tapered angel fingers then spirits them away, abandoning us on the lip of the unimaginably wide and deep abyss which has opened up between us — the one we meant to camouflage with our banter and chatter.

Now, while she cavorts with clouds, our gathering fears flood what seemed at first a cavernous emptiness inside.  Was it her impish intent to leave us drenched in loneliness and loss? Then my weather vane angel swivels her wings and ever graceful, circles backward, flips in the air and dives like a sprite, laughing as she spits our words back scrambled.  Letters come twirling down whirligigs in Spring, and somersault back inside us until Oh my cerulean angel with windy wings, we make poetry of the jumbled muddle and find ourselves by saying what we long to say.

By Sheila Bonenberger

Rowena+

I Am Standing Upon the Seashore

April 29, 2016

For the past few weeks, I have been confronted by death: diligent parishioners sitting with me to document their funeral arrangements with the church, the death of beloved parishioners with whom I had formed relationships, grieving families who needed answers and comfort at the death of a loved one, and more personally, attending and participating in the funeral services of two of my own family members.  All these losses and impending losses have been difficult and yet, as a Christian, the Good News of the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ is that death is NOT the end!  Eternal life has been granted to all of humanity because of our Savior’s sacrifice on Calvary’s cross.  So why can’t we, like those in Van Dyke’s poem, look with faith to that other shore where the saints wait to welcome us home to be with our Lord?

I am Standing upon the Seashore

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,
spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then, someone at my side says, “There, she is gone”
Gone where?
Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me — not in her.
And, just at the moment when someone says, “There, she is gone,”
there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, “Here she comes!”
And that is dying…
Death comes in its own time, in its own way.
Death is as unique as the individual experiencing it.
Henry Van Dyke

Rowena+

A Sonnet for St. Peter

April 10, 2016

This week’s Gospel text comes from John 21:1-19 where for the third time the Risen Savior appears to the disciples who have finally left the locked upper room.  They have joined Peter on the Sea of Tiberias for a day of fishing and they catch 153 fish!
Wouldn’t we all be so fortunate to have a friend or colleague like Peter?  When the going gets tough and we don’t know where to turn or who to turn to, Peter reminds us that we return to our daily routines.  We go back to the familiar because it is in the ordinary routine of life, where we too, like Peter and the disciples, will meet the Risen Lord.

A Sonnet for St. Peter
Impulsive master of misunderstanding
You comfort me with all your big mistakes;
Jumping the ship before you make the landing,
Placing the bet before you know the stakes.
I love the way you step out without knowing,
The way you sometimes speak before you think,
The way your broken faith is always growing,
The way he holds you even when you sink.
Born to a world that always tried to shame you,
Your shaky ego vulnerable to shame,
I love the way that Jesus chose to name you,
Before you knew how to deserve that name.
And in the end your Savior let you prove
That each denial is undone by love.
-Malcolm Guite

Rowena+

What Thomas Wants

April 3, 2016

(John 20: 19-31)

What Thomas Wants

Thomas knows all about crucifixion.
Knows the nails driven into the victim
really tear the flesh,
damage the bones.
And he knows that this
is a crucifying world,
with all its violence,
greed and oppression
still hammering nails into the hands of justice,
still thrusting spears through the ribs of love,
still hanging mercy and kindness to die
and sealing up the tomb.
Thomas knows all about it.
So he knows that any real resurrection
will have to come out of ruin,
will have to come out of suffering,
will have to come out still bearing the scars
inflicted by the unjust world.
Ask him not
if he believes in
merely a God
who is greater than suffering or death;
any God worth the name
would surely prove immortal,
who may be able to pretend our pain
but could never share it in truth.

 

 

 

No, what Thomas wants to see
is the Lord who rises from
death by crucifixion,
who rises
from the worst that our world can do:
who rises
from hells of corruption and cruelty,
who rises
from violence and terror and hate,
who rises
from rape and torture and war,
who rises
from hunger and disease and squalor,
who rises
torn and terribly scarred
yet walking among us still,
who will touch us in
our woundedness,
who will hold us in
our brokenness,
who sees in us
the prints left by the nails,
who will put his own hurt hand upon
our heartache, fear and despair
and breathe his healing peace
into our souls.
This is who Thomas wants to see – the only
Lord he wants to believe in.
Thomas just wants to see
Jesus.

Copyright ©2016 by Andrew King

May we too want to see Jesus like Thomas.
Rowena+