Letter from Our Minister

Letter from Rev. J. Carr Holland III

May 2022

Dear Friends of the Chapel,

The Chapel is focused on prayer and formation. We reopen each summer to offer a space where people may gather to support each other in the journey to know God, reflect on our lives in relation to Christ and tailor our responses to the ways and love of God.

Decades ago I met my first Anglican nun, Sister Judith, and ‘Yes’ there are protestant nuns. I asked, “Why this life of prayer, why five times a day, why a lifetime?” She rather simply said, “Many do not pray, so we carry their share and lift their burden even though they are unaware. We give glory to God where they may forget.” Every now and then I remember that the heart of the Christian journey is held in her words. We carry each other, aware or unaware. And we carry each other best when we turn Godward and open our deepest being, seeking wisdom for our lives and the lives of others.

As we gather on Island this season, many come to relax from the normal run of the world. Just the same our minds/hearts are occupied with much that follows us. Perhaps we carry fear around COVID, or are occupied with family needs, or are concerned about war in Europe. Perhaps we have opened ourselves to aid the burdens of homelessness, hunger, fear, loneliness; or we find that the politics of our country frustrate us. In our daily conversations we carry these concerns and other concerns. We might relish or resent that. As people of faith we are invited, even schooled in bringing these very concerns to our prayer.

By prayer we pause, open Godward, we open and seek to lighten the load we carry, seek a Word that guides and heals. This is prayer, changing our rhythm, pausing in the light of God’s purpose. We thus choose to hope in our higher power and seek Jesus and wisdom for daily life. We do so not to escape but rather to encounter meaning, to shift from the place where we may be overwhelmed to the place where we hope to grow wise, healed, joyful or forgiving perhaps.

There is an exchange in John’s gospel that has played over and over with me lately. It occurs on the night of Jesus’ arrest and trial. It is important to remember that this was a night of deep prayer on Jesus’ part. The exchange occurs in the hours when Jesus was removed from his followers, from his task of making God’s ways and love known. It is part of the Passion reading of Good Friday. Jesus stands before Pilate who asks, in essence, “What is your purpose?”

Jesus replies, “For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” (John 18:37-38) The question hangs in the air and yet the whole of John’s gospel is focused on it.

The truth here is not a collection of empirical facts, like the temperature of the air or the number of visitors in my household just now. Truth is deeper. The truth is that Jesus Christ came to restore us to God, to undo the sin that hangs close to life — Adam’s sin, and yours, and mine. The truth is caught in Jesus’ teaching, in his manner of being, in God the creator whom He calls Father, whom He represents as He lives among us. The truth is that He died in faithful embodiment of God’s will and ways. The truth is that He rose into God to offer us a path, a forgiveness, a wisdom for daily life and hope, drawing us Godward. How? “Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” The art is in the listening and creating space to do so.

That is the life of this Chapel. We gather here to listen, to turn Godward, to go quiet, to become attentive. As we listen, we can grow in awareness and hope, pehaps, to heal and see how we might serve God’s purpose. Here we grow in love, connection, and service. We seek to embody a moral life, learn the art of forgiveness, taste kindness and lighten our burdens.

Each season the Chapel reopens with an invitation to create a community of prayer, or care, of further formation in following God whom we know in Christ. Usually this is by times of prayer, public worship and through our effort to identify and serve the ongoing needs of the community around us.

This season we will add to our life a children’s program — a way to deepen the youngest among us, to invite them into the Truth that they are the beloved of God. It is an effort to help them playfully listen to the deeper notes of life. There is joy in this just as there is joy in many other aspects of Chapel life. 

As you read further in this newsletter you will find many opportunities to engage in the life of the Chapel. There will be times of prayer, of deeper listening, of stilling and unburdening. There are also ways to serve, to respond with listening hearts to the needs around us daily. For when we listen to Christ, we are soon called to act on what we allow to take root in our lives. 

Welcome back in this summer of 2022.  

In Christ’s love,
The Rev. J. Carr Holland III

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