Thursday, April 25, 2013

April 25, 2013
Feast of St. Mark the Evangelist
From the Rector

The Urgency of Hospitality

In 2009 I received a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc. of Indianapolis (a legacy of the Episcopalian Eli Lilly pharmaceutical family fortune) to take my first-ever sabbatical leave. I had written a grant proposal based on a visit to New Orleans in the early years after Hurricane Katrina. In the days and weeks after the storm, The Times-Picayune newspaper served as a voice for the city and its urgent need for recovery. A recipe exchange was launched by the paper that invited readers to "rebuild New Orleans, Recipe by Recipe." With so many cherished recipes lost in the flood waters, the exchange served as a vehicle for sharing and healing. A local food writer wrote at the time that "in New Orleans, food is culture. Food is family. Food is comfort. Food is life." Already in my time here at Christ Church I sense that many would agree that food has a powerful way to gather and sustain us in times of celebration and loss.

During my sabbatical I traveled across the country with my family by train. What a thrill! We ran through our shared Bucket List and visited great American cities and treasured national parks. And we experienced really good food: Kansas City barbeque, high-end organic in Berkeley, California and giant steaks in the Big Sky Country of Montana. I returned to the French Quarter of New Orleans on my own for some oysters and po'boys -- and of course a side serving of jazz.

What I gathered together along with my wife Leslie are some of our favorite recipes that we (Leslie really) like to cook for family and friends. It is our hope that this little book encourages us all to think about our favorite recipes and food stories.  Write them down. Share them.  Feel free to pick up a copy of the booklet (purple cover) in the Narthex or in the Parish Hall.


The Rev. Mark B. Pendleton

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

First Week as Rector: Hope and Tragedy

The Third Week of Easter
April 18, 2013

From the Rector    
A First Week: Hope and Tragedy

I had not yet gotten through my first official day in the office this past Monday when I took a phone call late in the afternoon: "have you heard the news?" I had not. Yet I had heard those words before. We all have. I heard them in December while I was in Connecticut to hear the horrendous news of the deaths of so many little ones and their courageous teachers in nearby Newtown - an event that shook the state and nation to our core. The bombings this past Monday at the Boston Marathon brought back a flood of memories to this nation and caused life-changing injuries and life-ending anguish.  No words, beyond the timeless and sacred words of our faith tradition, can meet such losses and even try to make sense of them to cobble together any understanding of the "whys?" we all ask during these times.

As I begin my ministry as priest, pastor and fellow Christian on a shared journey with you, I confess that chances are that there will be other phone calls and text messages in the years ahead: "have you heard the news?"  May they be rare in number. May any nightmare calls that come our way be outnumbered by joy-filled ones like: "I am a new grandparent... we are expecting our first child... my daughter got accepted into college... the lab results are clean... or I found a job after looking for far longer than I had imagined." May our hope and joy outweigh any darkness that covers us during times of tragedy, death and loss.  And yes, that is the Easter message, isn't it?   God's love trumping the shadow of death: love more powerful than the acts of those who would diminish goodness and defile life.

I look forward to my first Sunday with you on April 21. The Search Committee is graciously planning to host receptions after the two services to welcome my family and me. I thank them for one more act of service after this prolonged period of transition and search.

May our prayers this week reach the One to whom we pray and from whom all is given. May God heal those shattered by the events in Boston.  And may God remind us all always - always - that we live and rest in God's eternal presence.


Mark B. Pendleton

Follow me on Twitter @MarkBPendleton
Christ Church in Exeter, New Hampshire