Sunday, September 27, 2015

At the Episcopal Church in Thomaston, Maine

This morning I met Phil and Deborah McKean at the Episcopal Church of St. John the Baptist in Thomaston. It is a small congregation, and a fairly elderly one, but the church was comfortably full. They have a very nice pipe organ, and the man who played it, Dr. Anthony Antonini, is on the faculty of the Music Department at Bowdoin College, so the music was good, a good selection of hymns and chants in a traditional Episcopal liturgy. There was no choir, however. I think they may have a choir for special Sundays like Easter and Christmas. The Rector, Rev. Peter Jencks, gave a thoughtful sermon on a passage from Mark which has Jesus saying, among other things, "if your hand offends you, cut it off - better to be missing a hand than to be cast into hell with your whole body!" Now one cannot argue with the logic of that text, but the image is pretty horrendous. Rev. Peter affirmed that it was silly to think that your hand could be responsible for a moral failure. If you are trying to lose weight, and you open the fridge, see a piece of pie, and reach out for it, you can't really say, "that wasn't me - that was my hand that was at fault." So he went on to talk about getting things right "inside us" at the seat of where we make decisions. But what are we to make of Jesus saying something like that - if indeed he really said it! If I had been preaching on the text, I would probably have wrestled with that question a bit more.

Adorning the wall in the sanctuary was a very striking image of the Madonna and Child. Deborah pointed out to me that years ago, she had been a Deacon in this church, back when she and Phil lived year-round in nearby Cushing, Maine. During that time, she made a mission trip to Haiti, to visit a "sister church," in Fiervil, Gros Morne. While there, she acquired this painting of the Madonna and Child, and another of the Last Supper, painted by Haitian artists, and brought them back to present to the church in Thomaston.

Dr. Antonini at the organ
The altar at St. John the Baptist in Thomaston
"Madonna and Child" by a Haitian artist
"The Last Supper" by a Haitian artist
We'll be meeting Phil and Deborah for supper tonight at a restaurant in Rockland for a last visit before we go home. They will be heading back to Claremont, CA on Wednesday.

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