Patience and Faithfulness – Caitlin Farrington ’18

2 Corinthians 4: 7-18

When I was a little girl, my mom used to tell me that someday, on the most ordinary of days, maybe tomorrow, maybe 50 years from then, or maybe in neither of our lifetimes, Jesus would come down from the heavens with trumpets blaring and angels all around to save us. Accordingly, I would wake up almost every morning expectantly waiting for Jesus to come down and shower the world with light that very day.

At some point, I must have realized that I wouldn’t be able to predict when that day would occur or what it would entail. I must have understood that it isn’t realistic or particularly satisfying to sit around and wait for the future, unwilling to proceed with life until curiosity and stubbornness subside.

We all wait, every moment of every day. In fact, most of the time, we have no choice but to wait. We cannot will the passage of time any more than we can change the orientation of the stars. We wait for specific things- to get exam scores back, to hear that our loved ones arrived home safely, to find out if we landed the job- and we wait for complex, abstract things- success, love, happiness.

Sometimes we don’t know what we are waiting for. We know that there will be something in the future. We know that between time A and time B, things are probably going to change. We have so many questions and so few answers. Life is, as a whole, completely unpredictable. Yet, we wait.

I grew up in a family of 9 people. Seven rambunctious kids and two parents who were extremely dedicated (and probably a little crazy). I was just 9 years old when my father passed away. At age 11, I was placed into foster care along with my siblings. In just a couple of years, everything I had ever known and cared about was taken away from me. I didn’t understand why these things were happening and I was far from convinced that anything about the situation would ever result in an outcome that would be considered “happy.” I didn’t want to wait to see my dad again someday. I didn’t want to wait to see my brothers and sisters and mom. In fact, I didn’t want to wait to see what God had “planned” for me. I refused to believe that things could change, let alone get “better.” (more…)

Published in: on March 7, 2018 at 9:48 am Comments Off on Patience and Faithfulness – Caitlin Farrington ’18
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Peace – Liam Butchart ’18

Liam Butchart
February 2018
2/11 Chapel Reflection – Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5)
Hello, everyone. First, let me thank Kurt for inviting me to reflect on today’s reading, and all of you for being here. Hopefully my thoughts make some semblance of sense and are of value to you.

Some of you know me; some of you do not, so let me quickly introduce myself. My name is Liam Butchart, and I am a senior here at Colby studying music, philosophy and chemistry and going to medical school next year; I also lead the Catholic community here on campus, so that is the perspective through which I will be offering these thoughts.

The Galatians 5 reading includes a number of different “fruits of the spirit:” love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Each of these is important in its own way, but the one that really leapt out to me was peace.

As a Christian – and, further, as a Catholic – I put a lot of faith in God: that he will protect me during each day and through each night; that he will watch over those whom I love; and that, finally, I will come into his glory once I have died. To me, this really exemplifies the good news proclaimed through the Gospel: that, through Jesus’ death, I and everyone else may be raised up into God’s complete and perfect love. For me, this knowledge brings peace. I feel at rest when I remember that the Spirit leads me, that Jesus walks besides me and that God watches over me. I feel at peace through the knowledge that I am never forgotten or ignored, and that I will some day come into a place with love and joy beyond what I can comprehend. (more…)

Published in: on February 18, 2018 at 10:27 am Comments Off on Peace – Liam Butchart ’18
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Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day







February 14, 2018

Let’s pray:
Gracious God,
In this noisy and crazy world, much is asked of us by many.
Help us to slow down for a moment,
and catch our breath,
and listen,
for your still, small voice,
for your subtle, but persistent call.
Listen for the silence and music and wonder around us.
And listen to our neighbors,
calling out for help.
Help us in this season,
to pause and prepare,
knowing that we are loved,
that you are love,
and that that is enough.

Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day today,
as you’ve likely noticed.
and Easter is on April fools.
I suspect the universe is trying to tell us something,
but I can’t quite put my finger on what it is.

Today, Christians everywhere,
mark themselves with dust and ash.
Tonight, perhaps,
we will still gorge ourselves on candy hearts,
and chocolates.

And we might wonder,
what has Ash Wednesday to do with Valentine’s?

We could go the morbid route,
I suppose, as Cardinal Timothy Dolan did,
in his admonition to Catholics,
that they should indeed fast today,
because, after all, the real St. Valentine,
lost his life – rather gruesomely – for the gospel,
some 18 centuries ago.
So we might be able to hold off on finishing those candies.

But I think actually,
the connection is far simpler –
we have, in life and on Valentine’s day,
filled empty spaces
with hollow fluffy stuff.
There’s no better example than those tasteless,
candy hearts.
those silly greeting cards –
which we’re mandated to give to every classmate.
those stale flowers –
smelling almost like real flowers,
but really, on second whiff,
like they’ve been sprayed with flower scent.
All of which are meant to point us toward love,
but instead leave me,
leave us, I suspect, unsatisfied.

Ash Wednesday reminds us,
ever so directly,
ever so succinctly…
that we are dust.
That this life is finite,
indeed, quite short.

And so,
we can push through the fluff,
and get to the things that matter.
We pray and practice,
and remind ourselves,
especially in this season,
that we are mortal,
so that we can,
for a brief moment,
stop trying to fill our lives up,
and start noticing,
that there’s already good all around us.

So we can center not on us,
not on filling ourselves up,
but on the real, good stuff:
prayer and love (not of the Valentine’s sort)
and friendship,
and service.
The joy of learning,
and so many more.

And there is joy here in this season.
Stern, quiet joy.
Of a good Mainer sort.
But real joy.
and grace and hope.

Which will overflow, in 40 days,
on Easter.
The most foolish holiday ever invented.
Which says though this mortal life may be short,
and though we’d better get to the good stuff now,
perhaps that’s not the end of the story.

TS Eliot said it thusly:

This is the time of tension between dying and birth
The place of solitude where three dreams cross
Between blue rocks
But when the voices shaken from the yew-tree drift away
Let the other yew be shaken and reply.

Blessed sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the garden,
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
Sister, mother
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated

And let my cry come unto Thee.

For a few moments,
let’s sit still together,
and listen, and wonder,
and give thanks.

Published in: on February 14, 2018 at 12:33 pm Comments Off on Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day


Waiting for what?
Mark 1:1-8

I am reasonably terrible at waiting.
blessed as I am with a short attention span,
I like to start things on time,
and end them early.
It is my solemn promise,
to get you in and out of these services,
in half an hour,
and I take it very seriously.

I judge restaurants
about 25% on the quality of their food,
and about 75% on their ability to get it to me in a timely fashion.

Sometimes, though,
we just have to wait.
Wait at doctors offices,
wait at mechanics.
wait for news.
wait for diagnoses.
wait for results.
waiting to hear back from applications.
wait for others to do their bit,
before we can move forward.

A number of guests from the Homeless Shelter came and joined us last evening,
for Carols & Lights.
And, as is often the case in Waterville,
they got stuck waiting for their cab.
If you’ve ever been stuck in central Maine,
waiting for a cab,
you know,
that it could last literally forever.

In short, waiting sucks. (more…)

Published in: on December 13, 2017 at 2:36 pm Comments Off on Waiting?
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What about the End?

Colby College Chapel, 12/3/17

Mark 14: 24-37

Mark is a book in a hurry.
There’s no time for birth stories,
angels or shepherds or Magi
or family trees,
he just jumps in, “The beginning of the Good News of Jesus Christ,
the Son of God.”
There’s no need to convince or explain,
this was written for people who already knew something about this guy,
and wanted to remember it and pass it on.

There’s not time for many parables (4)
There’s not even time for a sermon on the mount.  Buechner outlines this well.

It’s a fast moving story,
of miracles, and healings,
grinding toward Jesus’ death.
obsessed with it, really.
And rightly so,
because messiahs aren’t supposed to die.

Mark loves the word “immediately”
and uses it often…
as Jesus scatters manifold miracles,
and brief snippets of teaching into the wind,
as the story races on.

But then we get to the end,
and it lingers.
Not on the crucifixion so much,
and certainly not on resurrection,
Mark, you may remember ends with an empty tomb,
a request to not be afraid,
and some disciples who are afraid.
And that’s it.
No need to wrap things up neatly,
because frankly,
life wasn’t neat for these early disciples.

Instead, Mark lingers on the troubles of the end of the world,
and the return of the Son of Man,
Mark’s Gospel is a race from beginning to end,
with the exception of this one,
long, lingering, second person speech.
About the end of the world.
We read a bit of it today.
And we’re meant to pay attention. (more…)

Published in: on December 4, 2017 at 9:48 am Comments Off on What about the End?
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What, then, shall we do?

Colby College Chapel 11/5/17
Luke 3:2-16
John 2: 13-17

We have pondered out loud thus far,
this semester,
questions of
sin and suffering.
redemption and justice,
accepting grace,
pursuing our call in the world.
Perhaps many more we have wondered internally,
as we pause together for prayer and reflection.
We’ve even approached a couple of concrete big answers.

But I find myself wondering,
fairly often,
the question of doing.
It’s all well and good to have our big questions,
lined up.
but what then, do we do?
Occasionally – frequently perhaps,
I am known to pray silently during my evening prayers,
a classic of the Christian prayer lexicon:
“Just tell me what to do”
Rarely, I’m afraid, have I yet received total clarity.

This is the same question people of all stripes,
asked John the Baptist,
in the 3rd Chapter of Luke,
before we even get to meet Jesus.
John proclaims,
that every valley shall be lifted up,
every mountain shall be made low,
Everyone will see the glory of God.
He warns them:
Repent for the Kingdom has come near.

The people are worried and excited,
as ask him
in the old King James language:
What then shall we do?

His answer, you may have noticed,
is surprisingly mundane, (more…)

Published in: on November 12, 2017 at 5:01 pm Comments Off on What, then, shall we do?
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What is wrong with the world?

What is wrong with the world?
Romans 3: 9-21

There was a time,
not so very long ago, I think,
when someone in my position
standing up to discuss today’s question,
‘what is wrong with the world?’
would have had to make a case
that there was, in fact,
something wrong with the world.

At various moments,
from the 20s to the 50s to the 90s,
the country has suffered from what we might call false optimism.
“Make America Great Again”
suggests it must have once been, right?
Speaking to Congress in 1990,
then president George HW Bush declared,
after the fall of the Soviet Union,
a “new world order.”
The old enemies of Fascism and Communism were dead (it seemed).
And many people felt existentially optimistic.

In January and February of 1999,
over 70 percent of Americans polled,
indicated general satisfaction with the direction of the United States.

Now, to be sure,
this optimism is reserved,
particularly for white people.
particularly for wealthy people.
and particularly for men.
The post war era could and should be known,
as the Jim Crow era of course.
And the 90s ought to be considered
the height of the War on Drugs,
which tore apart families,
and communities.

But still,
at various moments,
we have believed –
perhaps even in our individual lives –
that everything was pretty much okay.
And that the things that weren’t okay,
were going to get better. (more…)

Published in: on November 2, 2017 at 4:38 pm Comments Off on What is wrong with the world?
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How long, oh Lord?

How Long?
Psalm 22

Today’s question,
“How long oh Lord?”
Comes from the 13th Psalm.
And also from the prophet Habakkuk.
who’s wildly underrated in the biblical lexicon,
just FYI.
And though the words don’t appear as such,
the sentiment is captured exceptionally well, I think,
by Psalm 22.
which we just read.

I have never experienced a season like this,
with so much to mourn globally.
We had horrific mudslides in Sierra Leone,
and a devastating earthquake near Mexico City,
and they barely even moved the needle,
on our collective grief scale,
as Charlottesville gave way to Houston,
and Houston to Florida,
Florida to Puerto Rico,
and Puerto Rico, now,
to Las Vegas.

And with the colossal loss of life,
the only names I can remember now are Maria, and Harvey and Irma.
When we know,
that real names, stories and lives were cut short,
by violence and disaster.

It’s too much to take in.
It’s too much.
My mourning muscles are worn,
and my spirit is weary from too much suffering in the world. (more…)

Published in: on October 10, 2017 at 12:13 pm Comments Off on How long, oh Lord?
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What is truth?

October 1, 2017
“What is Truth?”

John 18:36b-38
1 John 3: 18-19

“What is truth?”
is certainly a big enough question for the day.
And the Gospel of John is deeply concerned with the word truth:
“the way the truth the life”
“the truth will set you free”
If you know a bible quote about truth,
it’s probably from John.
Including this little exchange between Pilate and Jesus,
in which Jesus says he has come to “testify to the truth”
and that “everyone who belongs to the truth listen to his voice.”
Pontius Pilate – the cruel Roman overlord – responds,
“what is truth?”
Jesus responds with silence.

From where I sit,
we use truth to mean at least 2 or 3 different things.
there is truth by definition.
2+2 = 4 because we define it as such.
Propositional truths, we might call them.
If I’m being honest,
these truths don’t interest me much.

Then there are truths we learn from observation,
and investigation.
Often, through the scientific method, or historical research.
Newton uncovered a truth about gravity,
and Einstein about relativity.
We call these truths ‘facts’ or ‘theories,’
(which is admittedly confusing),
and they do interest me.
Particularly as they inform the way we ought to live.

(as you may have noticed)
is disputed. (more…)

Published in: on October 8, 2017 at 3:23 pm Comments Off on What is truth?
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What is family? – Rev. Lauren Seganos Cohen

What is family?
Guest Reflection from the Rev. Lauren Seganos Cohen,
Director of the Wilson Center at UMaine Orono
Matthew 12:46-50

When you learned that the topic of tonight’s service was family, what went through your mind? For some, the word family reminds you of childhood, of crowded Thanksgiving dinners and birthday celebrations, of support, love. For others, family is a loaded word, rife with painful memories or strained relationships. Sometimes, we choose our family. Most of the time, it seems our family is chosen for us.

As Christians, we turn to the life and teachings of Jesus to give us direction and meaning in our lives. Other than the stories of his birth found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, Jesus’ family pops up only occasionally in the narratives of the New Testament. The passage today from Matthew is an interesting one, often seen as confusing or at least unusual. (more…)

Published in: on October 1, 2017 at 5:06 pm Comments Off on What is family? – Rev. Lauren Seganos Cohen
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