Giving Tree Updates!

Thanks to all who generously have agreed to help support kids in need this Christmas Season. If you have your gifts and can bring them back on Sunday we would appreciate it. If you are still looking to purchase a gift there are a few items that still remain unclaimed, and a few high- dollar items we would like your help purchasing, including a number of tablets, a bicycle and a laptop for an older child. The total cost for these is $500 dollars and if you would like to make a contribution please click the following link and select: ‘gift to memorial’ from the drop down menu

The other items needed are roller skates (size 6 girls), A baby alive doll, baby light up toys, Tech Deck https://www.amazon.com/dp/B019K8KZSO/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_PlweCbX01VPT6

And Minecraft https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BJ4HG84/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_EmweCbZ2TQJJ9

As a reminder no need to wrap gifts, and if you can please drop them off Sunday or early next week we would appreciate it!

Link: 

Contribute here for the Gift Fund https://onrealm.org/memorialepiscopal/Give/LIGWXJYMVY

Ministry Spotlight- Green Team

On November 16th, Memorial Episcopal’s Green team joined students and staff from Mt. Royal Elementary to dedicate the new pollinator Garden and Outdoor classroom generously supported by Memorial Episcopal Church.  A large group of kids packed the garden on a very cold day to lay the final ‘stepping stones’ in the Garden, to hear from Green Team Chair Dick Williams, from School Principal Skeen, and PTO President Kim Canale, along with other supporters including Blue Water Baltimore and interfaith partners for the Chesapeake. 

This outdoor classroom offers a new way for students to engage with their science curriculum and with the natural world.  It is a tremendous gift for all the students at Mt. Royal and they had a great day celebrating. Here are some pictures from the big event, including the Mayoral Proclamation Dedicating the Garden! 

The View from Bolton Street

“On Jordan’s Banks the Baptist’s Cry”


This week in the Gospel of Luke we are reminded of John the Baptist’s Ministry with his famous line ‘you brood of vipers’.  Not everyone is very comfortable with John, and honestly that makes sense. He is a bit of a wild man, he has no problem calling out the truth and he sees them, and despite all the bathing a ‘Baptist’ would do — he does sound like he’s probably a little smelly.


But this week John is there at the Jordan proclaiming the following:

"Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise." Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, "Teacher, what should we do?" He said to them, "Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you." Soldiers also asked him, "And we, what should we do?" He said to them, "Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages."

We could use a few more John the Baptist’s these days, if the news headlines are to be believed, couldn’t we?  Someone to call out corruption, to call out inequality, to call out poverty and to instruct us to share our food, or clothes and our wealth with each other. And not just on the Jordan River either. But on the Mississippi, the Colorado, the Potomac and even here on the Patapsco River and the Chesapeake Bay.   


Instead we often get the opposite.  Wealthy businessmen saying we should arrest panhandlers; The Governor seeking to give away park land for a football stadium; political leaders looking the other way while corruption and self dealing becomes more and more of a reality in Washington; a local police department that continues to push back against any kind of civilian oversight.


As followers of Jesus, we should remember that Jesus was a follower of John the Baptist.  And if there is no one to cry on the banks of the Patapsco about land give-always, or on the banks of North Avenue about the treatment of the poor, then perhaps it is on us to do it?  To bring fresh eyes, fresh hopes and fresh dreams to places that is sorely lacking in all three.

Advent may be a good time for you to find your own river to cry over. Your own ministry to bring about.  Your own dream to fulfill.

 


Samaritan Food Drive - Sunday December 9 and 16

This Sunday, December 9, from 12:30 to 1:30 pm, volunteers will be going through Bolton Hill collecting canned goods and non-perishables from our neighbors. Members of the congregation will have a second chance to participate the following Sunday, December 16.

On the 16th everyone is encouraged to bring a donation of canned food or non-perishables to church and place it on the glass table in the back. Here are some of the things needed:

  • Canned chicken or fish

  • canned or dry soup

  • coffee

  • tea

  • hot chocolate

  • cooking oil

  • any and all shelf staples (flour, sugar, etc.)

  • laundry and dish detergent

  • bath soap

  • deodorant

  • toothpaste

  • toilet paper

can drive 2018_0001.jpg

The View from Bolton Street

“How the faithful city has become like an unfaithful spouse, wanton and astray from God. 

She that was full of justice, righteousness lodged in her — but now murderers!”

Isaiah 1:21

Isaiah does not pull punches. The language here is very harsh (see note below), BUT I encourage you to read this whole section of Isaiah (link http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=410940080) because perhaps Isaiah is speaking not just to Jerusalem, but to Baltimore as well. “Everyone loves a bribe and runs after gifts.” “They do not defend the orphan.” “Your silver has become dross.” It does seem when we read the local headlines that things are getting worse and worse, doesn’t it? A Good Samaritan stabbed at a stoplight. Five-year old-children shot in the street. Teachers attacked in schools. Neighbors shaken down for pocket change. Police absent. Leadership unresponsive, more interested in parties and fundraisers than confronting the problems we see every day. The call of “Come, Lord Jesus” sounds better every day, doesn’t it?  

If your everyday reality feels like your worst day, if the struggle for existence finds you confronting the powers and principalities of government large and small, then the promise of Advent, of the second coming of Christ, is a hopeful one. 

And if you live in a city that seems beset by a never-ending stream of bad news, bad actors, and little hope, then the Advent promise is Good News. 

And the promise of Isaiah is also good news. Isaiah does not leave us alone in the broken city. “Afterwards you shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city. Zion shall be redeemed by justice, and those in her who repent, by righteousness.” God promises that those of us who remain faithful to God’s justice, who seek to embody it in our lives and who seek to make it a reality on the streets we walk will indeed enjoy the fruits of the faithful city. And Zion, Jerusalem, and Baltimore will all look more like the Kingdom of God sooner than later. 

But for many of us, this may not look like Good News. It would be easier to leave Baltimore. It would be easier to go somewhere “safer.” To not have to answer the questions from family and friends ... “Baltimore, is it safe?” Many of you have expressed to me how frustrated you are. How heartbroken you are with the state of affairs in the city.  And I am, too. I am tired of feeling that I’m always looking over my shoulder. Tired of wondering when the heat will be fixed. When the playground will get rebuilt. When the water will be drinkable. 

In Isaiah our attention is drawn to the important distinction between “waiting” and “preparation.” We do “wait” for the coming of Christ, but we can’t JUST wait.  If we aren’t actively working to clean up our act, our neighborhoods’ act, and the act of our whole city —  then we are waiting for naught. We will be thrown out with all the other rebels and sinners that Isaiah condemns.     We can’t just wait! We have to be involved in the change. Be involved in the preparation for what is to come. 

You are tired of waiting. 
So let’s stop waiting and start preparing.  After all Advent is a season of preparation. 

How can we prepare for a police commissioner that takes reform seriously? By engaging with groups like the No Boundaries Coalition that are working to create safe neighborhoods and better relationships between institutions and neighbors block by block, person by person. 

How can we prepare for a school budget that adequately serves our kids? By engaging with PTOsand the city to hold leadership accountable for the money they do manage and to proactively do the little things we can do to improve schools. How much would it cost to bring clean water to one school? Two schools? Ten? 

How can we prepare for a city that takes ending 21st-century segregation, inequality and white supremacy seriously?  By serving as an example in our own neighborhoods and micro-communities. By seeking to grow a church that intentionally diverse along race, class and identity lines. By developing relationships with Black and Hispanic churches, with synagogues and mosques that may be just as homogeneous as we are and looking to demonstrate a better way to show God’s love. 

We can prepare for a better Baltimore by working to make what we can better. Because there is a lot of good here.  We have vibrant communities and strong community leaders who are improving schools, fighting food desserts, and investing in children and returning citizens. We have thriving businesses and committed business owners  who invest in this city and its people. We have top flight medical and educational institutions, historic homes and neighborhoods, and a beautiful waterfront. A lot of the preparation is already done for us!  But there is still more to do. 

This Advent I encourage you to begin to put into action your own preparation for a better neighborhood, a better Baltimore, and the better world to come. 

 

NOTE: Isaiah is translated as using the word “harlot,” which is archaic to our ears, or “whore,” which is vulgar and offensive to our ears, to refer to Jerusalem. Following some other scholars, I have retranslated this term as “unfaithful spouse wanton and astray from God.” I hope this gets at the meaning without stigmatizing those who must monetize their bodies. Isaiah and other prophetic texts frequently use this metaphor of “the city as a prostitute,” which is effective but problematic imagery.  If this bothers you, I apologize.  

Here is a twitter thread which gets at this issue more directly: https://twitter.com/carolhoward/status/1069991973170409473?s=21

The Children's Corner

Children’s Corner

This month in Children’s Chapel we will be very busy! We have so many things to learn and do during Advent. The kids received their Advent to-go jars this past Sunday! Inside the jars was an information sheet that had the prayers and instructions on them. Each jar has a tea-light candle, star sticker, felt heart, a gold pipe-cleaner, and a rock with a painted swaddled baby Jesus on it. Every Sunday in Advent the families will gather around the lit candle and read the prayers associated with each week.

Advent is also the time of the year that we begin to practice for our pageant! We have started practicing and I am really excited to see the final product at 5:00 on Christmas Eve! Throughout the Advent season we will be adding to our ribbon prayer wreath. Each week there is a different color ribbon and a different person to pray for in your life. This is a community prayer so while the children start the prayer in Children’s Chapel the rest of the community adds to it during coffee hour.

-Hannah :)

Director of Youth and Community Engagement

“For those who are led by the spirit of God are the Children of God.” Romans 8:14

First Step Act - a report from the Justice Committee

By Dick Williams, Justice Committee

“Ravens players back criminal justice reform,” read The Sun headline on Tuesday, November 27th.  In the article, reporter Jeff Barker, using the most general terms about the legislation that’s passed the House but has been stuck in the Senate for months, opined: “The legislation would give judges greater latitude to depart from mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug violations, and would bolster rehabilitation programs.”  Later in the article, he states: “The legislation’s broad aim is to minimize warehousing of prisoners and make it easier for inmates to succeed once released.”

The Justice Committee voted Monday night to recommend that Memorial parishioners consider and support this bill regardless of Sen. McConnell’s “nose count” of those Senators in favor of bringing the bill to the floor and those opposed, planned for yesterday (Tuesday).

Linked here is a website where you can very easily evidence online your support to your legislative reps in Congress.  I’ve done it.  Simple.  There are a number of articles about the bill that you can search for on the Internet.  Linked here is one opinion. 

At the same Justice Committee meeting, a question was asked about Maryland’s incarceration rate recently.  Earl Huck addressed the question.  Linked here and here for your interest are two articles that report on the question.  

If this legislation interests you, consider attending a meeting of your Justice Committee; usually the first Monday of the month from 6:30pm.