Monday, July 31, 2006

Behold, All Things Are New

The lake finally warmed up enough for swimming and my first ventures in were enjoyable, though the water was a bit murky with pollen. Just a day later, it was less pleasant: not only were there undulating layers of pollen, algae, and milky streams of who-knows-what, but when I got out, there was a distinct odor of fish/frog eggs. I was glad for a hot shower back at the cabin.

My swim happened to coincide with an annual spring occurrence. I'm sure there's a scientific name for the phenomenon, but around here we say the lake is "turning over". When I went for a swim two days later, the water was clear, clean, and odorless. It was, as always, a marvel to me.

Why does a lake "turn over"? How does it know when to do it? Is there a point beyond tolerance of its condition which triggers it? Is a lake programmed to cleanse itself?

A thought occurred to me--what about us? The times when we sense that our current state is unsatisfactory and wish for change. We can't "turn over", but we are urged to turn about, to repent. We hear it in the psalm, (51), "Cleanse me, and I shall be clean...create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me". And, aftermath, " Behold, all things are new."

- Marian Stewart

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The DaVinci Opportunity

There has been so much talk about the DaVinci Code already that I should probably leave it alone, but I can't. I read the book when it came out, I went to the presentation by Carol Beightol, complete with a slide show of the art portrayed in the book, and I went to the theater with 'Film Friends' to see the movie.
And I loved it all. I was also amazed at how many people complained about it's theme. So I keep reading what people write about it. First, I found the article by Fr. Harer. Then I came across this article by Bishop Paul. So I wanted to share them.
"Pointing out the endless 'errors' of the Code misses the point and misuses this godsend of publicity for the Church. The real question is: Why is the book, and presumably the movie, such a hit?" [Column by Bishop Paul Marshall]
Read the article here.
Re-printed with permission.

Women, the DaVinci Code, and the Church

As the DaVinci Code fever has spread across the land like a pandemic, I decided that maybe it was time for me to devote some of my jealously guarded reading time to dig into this most recent phenomenon of the popular culture. Being somewhat slow in the popular culture realm (I only just watched my first episode of Seinfeld a few months ago—in rerun, of course), as well as being reluctant to spend hard earned money on cultural “fluff” (my description), a generous parishioner loaned me a copy of Dan Brown’s screamingly successful best seller.

Even though it is a riveting read, especially towards the middle of the book when the DaVinci Code is explained, I am a bit perplexed as to what all the fuss is about. The whole plot of the book is so implausible that anyone who takes it seriously must also be afraid of their own shadow. Oh, I can understand how the book might raise some eyebrows in the Roman Catholic Church due to the book’s blending of a smidgen of fact with a huge dose of fantasy. That can be a dangerous combination to the credulous. But I suspect that rather than exhibiting an anti-catholic bias, as some allege, Dan Brown more than likely wrote the book with his tongue-in-cheek—much the same way that he suggests Leonardo DaVinci painted many of his masterpieces, including the Mona Lisa. I only wish that I had an imagination as vivid as Dan Brown’s.

Like many people, I too like a good thriller (although I usually consign them to my summer vacation reading list). The DaVinci Code is just that—a good thriller. Its literary value, if any, is for others to judge, though I personally fail to see any. In my humble opinion, it is hardly even in the same league as The Tales of Narnia. But let’s face it, in our consumer society, the bottom line of dollars and cents speaks louder of a book’s success than its literary merit.

All this is to say that I was disappointed in the book as something that would contribute to literary or even spiritual insight. There are shades of such insight in the book, such as its treatment of what it describes as the “sacred feminine.” But this is presented in such a facile and sensational way, that it seems more ridiculous than helpful. Still, it is true that Christian theology has stressed the masculine nature of God and utterly dismissed the possibility of a feminine nature of God. Some argue that this is because it’s the way God “really” is. This position also underlies arguments against the ordination of women and the equality of women in society.

Obviously, I do not agree with these points of view. I personally believe that the presence of women in the clergy has greatly benefited the ministry of the church. The election of our first female Presiding Bishop in the Episcopal Church is an exciting development to my mind. I know this election already has sparked protests from those who believe it violates the purposes of God. In my humble opinion, that is an anachronistic position. I believe that God can and does do a “new thing” in the church and in the world.

So as completely fictional as the plot of the DaVinci Code is, its focus on Mary Magdalene and the importance of women to the life and ministry of Jesus touches on a long neglected area of interest. For that, I am grateful. The fact that the DaVinci Code was also a fascinating read didn’t hurt either. If you haven’t read it, you might want to add it to your summer reading list.

Fr. Peter Harer
Prince of Peace Episcopal Church
Dallas, PA

Re-printed with permission.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Peach Festival and Yard Sale

The second annual Peach Festival and Yard Sale will be held at St. Margaret's Church on August 19, 2006, from 9:00 am until 2:00 pm.

Share with us, a fun day of peach pies and cobblers, ice cream, hot dogs, and drinks, as you browse through the yard sale tables around the church. Parishioners and neighbors will have tables of "gadgets" and "old things" for you to look at and buy.

There will be a representative from Usborn Publications selling brand new children's books and Bible stories. Part of the proceeds from these books will go to the church. Allison Fritchman is an Independent Educational Consultant for Usborne Books At Home. Her goal is to sell as many new educational children's books as she can. If she can sell $200 or more, St. Margaret's will get a percentage in the form of a cash donation, or books for our nursery, or both. It will be to our benefit to visit her table on the 19th. If you want to preview her books, or order ahead of time, you can look on her web site. She will also have a St. Margaret's link where you can place your order if you can't make it to the festival. We will still get credit for the books sold. If you have any questions or want more information, contact Carol Beightol at

There will also be a face painter for the children. When you get thirsty, stop into the kitchen for ice cold drinks, hot dogs, peach pie and ice cream. And don't forget to buy one of those delicious peach cobblers to take home.

We had a great time last year. It was a lot of fun. We met a lot of neat people. Let's work to make this year's event even more fun, and more successful!

Emmaus Heritage Days

St. Margaret’s Church joined the Emmaus Heritage Days celebration again this year. The Renewal & Evangelism Committee sponsored the Ice Cream Float stand again. They also sponsored face painting by Crystal Klein. Both were attracting crowds when the rains came. The heavy deluge soaked the tables and all the volunteers. The Float Stand had to be shut down early so we could get our freezer unplugged and back to church before the rain got to it. The Face Painting was able to continue once the rains stopped.

Thank you to all the volunteers who helped bring the face of St. Margaret’s Church into the community.

EpiscoPals Annual Picnic

The EpiscoPals held their Annual Summer Picnic on Saturday, July 15th , at the home of Mark & Jill Tillotson. There was great food, drinks, desserts, and friends – but highlighting the event was the First Annual Ray Allen Bean Bag Toss Tournament. Those who attended that afternoon anxiously awaited picking up those bags filled with beans and tossing them some 25 feet away into a small hole inside a wooden box. WHAT EXCITEMENT! WHAT COURAGE! WHAT A MESS!

Seven teams were formed that day to compete for the grand prize of an Armetta’s Gift Certificate, some bragging rights and an original poster of “Bill” before he became “Waffles by William.” The competition was fierce – sometimes paring husband versus wife and 8am parishioners vs. the 10:15am crowd. As the first round ended, those bean bags got very heavy for some of the participants as we watched many start rolling them across the lawn towards the box. By-standers cheered-on their favorites to win the competition. Some people even began performing the “wave.” But in the end, Karl Burkhardt & Sue Schaffner took home the Grand Prize with a victory in the final round.
As the winners walked-away, some people heard them say “I’m going to Disney World.”

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A Trip To Scotland

I just returned from a fabulous trip to Scotland - absolutely stunning geography, forests, castles, restaurants, etc.

We visited Roslyn Chapel, a location in the Da Vinci Code, which was in incredibly bad taste - frescoed and decorative plaster to the max.
The most interesting and funny aspect of the Chapel was the sign a Scot entrepreneur had next to the parking lot- "Da Vinci Code bull... - Ten pound bags for fifty cents"

While at Edinburgh Castle I visited St. Margaret's chapel, which was stunning in its simplicity.

Located at the very centre of Edinburgh Castle and at the highest point of Castle Rock is the tiny Norman Chapel dedicated to St. Margaret (1045-93) wife of King Malcolm III (c.1031-93). The chapel was most likely completed between 1110-20 by her youngest son, King David I (c.1080 - 1153), but there it is some evidence that it was built on top of an earlier chapel in which Margaret herself may have worshipped.

If you would like to hear more about this wonderful trip, send an e-mail to
Kathy Shannon Koehn

St. Margaret's Newsletter - July 2006

The July 2006 St. Margaret's Newsletter is now available.

St. Margaret's News

I Am Thankful

- For the wife who says it's hot dogs tonight, because she is home with me, and not out with someone else.
- For the husband who is on the sofa being a couch potato, because he is home with me and not out at the bars.
- For the teenager who is complaining about doing dishes because it means she is at home, not on the streets.
- For the taxes I pay because it means I am employed.
- For the mess to clean after a party because it means I have been surrounded by friends.
- For the clothes that fit a little too snug because it means I have enough to eat.
- For my shadow that watches me work because it means I am out in the sunshine.
- For a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning, and gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home.
- For all the complaining I hear about the government because it means we have freedom of speech.
- For the parking spot I find at the far end of the parking lot because it means I am capable of walking and I have been blessed with transportation.
- For my huge heating bill because it means I am warm.
- For the lady behind me in church who sings off key because it means I can hear.
- For the pile of laundry and ironing because it means I have clothes to wear.
- For weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day because it means I have been capable of working hard.
- And finally, for the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours because it means I am alive.

What are you thankful for?