August 2018

Dear Friends,

       I’m including in this newsletter a cute article from The Wall Street Journal on the joys of having grandchildren. Conni and I have five grandchildren now ranging in age from 5 years to 2 months. But this summer has been the first time we have had them to ourselves for a while. It’s been a joy and an education. We kept two of the boys for 48 hours so that our son and his wife could have some time to themselves. I hate to admit it, but after two days alone with the boys, ages 3 and 1, we both felt like we’d been to Marine boot camp for two weeks. There is no let up for parents of young children. You have to watch them all the time. They simply demand your attention, which doesn’t sound like it would be that hard to do, but no matter how careful you are you inevitably hear yourself saying things like, “No, no honey don’t put sand in your mouth!”  And “Please don’t take things that belong to other people. Your brother has a right to hold that blanket; you have your own blanket!” Everything you say is followed by an exclamation mark; it’s constant crisis.

       There is a reason why God designed us to have children when we’re young—we still have the energy to do it. After a certain age, raising kids just becomes plain hard work and we run out of energy faster. On the other hand, it’s hard at any age to raise children. When my son and his wife returned from their 48 hours off, we asked them what they did. They said, “We slept for twenty hours!” And so you’re drained all the time and you never know what to expect. I heard our one boy, age two, complain to his dad as they sat in our living room, “The internet here is too slow!” I felt like saying, “It seems fast enough to me.” On the other hand, what do I know about internet speed? It’s terrible to discover that a two year old knows more about internet speed than you do. He also asked his dad, “Why doesn’t grandpa have an iPhone?” to which my son replied, “Because Grandpa is technologically backwards.” To which my grandson replied sadly, “Oh."

       I may be behind the times but some things never change. Boys will be boys. A Ravens pre -season game was on the other night and our two-year-old grandson crawled up beside me in the chair and watched the game with me shouting, “Football! Football! I need a helmet!” I asked our granddaughter to join us in watching the game and she said, “I don’t like that!” She prefers playing with Barbie. We visited a petting zoo where our two-year-old grandson took a pony ride. As soon as the pony began to walk he yelled out at the top of his voice “Yee! Ha!” His mother fell over laughing. “Where did he learn that? “ I asked her. “I have no idea,” his mother said. Human nature is what it is. Well, the children have left. Conni and I need several weeks at a spa to recuperate. On the other hand, we already miss the grandchildren. I can hardly wait for next summer when we’ll have them to ourselves again!

Faithfully,

Fr. Jansen String

 

Dates to Remember

Sunday, September 23;  Holy Eucharist at 9am.   Bishop Sutton will make his annual visit. He will meet with the vestry following the service. So, vestry, please plan now to be present on that day. Unfortunately, I will not be in town, Fr. Tobias Haller will supply. Our son Jean Luc is getting married on September 8 in Lake George, New York, and following the wedding Conni and I are taking a tour with National Geographic Expeditions to Switzerland and Italy. We planned this trip a year ago, long before we knew the date of the bishop’s visit. I’m sorry for the conflict, but having hosted many bishops over the years, I’m sure you all know perfectly what to do. You’re the best congregation ever. I thank you in advance for faithfully handling this situation.

Saturday October 13, 1–5pm.  The Bull and Oyster roast. This year it will be held at the Knights of Columbus hall (by the Dundalk Firehouse and Dundalk Middle School). Tickets are $45.

June 2018

Dear Friends,

       Enclosed with this newsletter is a copy of the sermon from last Sunday (June 24, 2018). It was a happy occasion for me personally to have the privilege of baptizing my two grandsons. It was wonderful to do it at our beautiful church with so many of you present. We tend to take baptism for granted, a little tradition we keep of thanking God for the birth of a child. But baptism, properly understood, is much more than that and is anything but a common everyday experience. Baptism, like marriage, establishes a bond with another that is forever. In this case, the bond established in baptism is with our Lord Jesus Christ, who makes us his own in baptism. We may turn away from him, but like the perfect spouse He is, He will be ever faithful to us. Always thank God for your baptism, because in it God gives us the greatest of all gifts: His own Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).

       This month marks 24 years that I have served as your priest, pastor, “father,” and friend. I thank all of you for your faithfulness and friendship, which mean everything to me. Our family will be “on vacation” for the next three weeks. Fr. Bill Dunning will be with you on two Sundays, July 1 and July 8. Fr. Tobias Haller will be with you on Sunday, July 15. They will celebrate Holy Eucharist on those dates at 9 a.m. Nevertheless, in case of a pastoral emergency, you may always reach me on my cell phone.

       Our good friend, Judy Martin, is receiving hospice care at home. Her daughter and our good friend, Ginny Prietz, lives with her and is taking good care of her, but Ginny needs surgery for breast cancer herself. She hopes to have that surgery this month. Please keep the two of them in your prayers. Our dear friend and acolyte, Byky Hipp, lost her mother last week after a long struggle. Please keep Byky in your prayers, that God will console her and fill her heart with new joy.

     Because of rain, we rescheduled the flea market for this coming Saturday (June 30) 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., on the rectory lawn.

      God bless you,

May 2018

Dear Friends,

         The Institute for Religion and Democracy (a non-profit group that resists the encroachment of liberalism in the churches) reported last week that Grace Cathedral in San Francisco recently held what they billed as a "Beyonce Mass." They conducted the Eucharist using music from the group Destiny’s Child. Now, don’t get me wrong. I like Beyonce. I actually saw her in concert once in Baltimore. She is a wonderful performer and gifted songwriter. She was not at the event. They simply used her music. I have no criticism of her. My criticism is reserved for the organizers of this event. As part of the “liturgy," the organizers of this gala composed a new version of the Lord's Prayer to be used during the service in place of the “old Lord’s Prayer." The Lord’s Prayer is called the Lord’s Prayer because Jesus, Our Lord, taught it to his disciples. It is, therefore, the sacred responsibility of the church to preserve His prayer and to pray it. But liberalism in religion is all about doing new things. The first premise of liberalism in religion is that if the church isn’t changing, it isn’t growing; and a church that isn’t growing is dying. By this reasoning, therefore, the more the church changes the better. So, if we can change the Lord’s Prayer and make it better, make it more “relevant” to the modern age, why not? The modern age is a feminist age. We have emerged from the prison of sexism and male chauvinism in which we were confined for so many centuries. Would not Our Lord, were he living today, also be a feminist? Would he not want us to have a prayer free from images of male dominance?  Of course he would. Knowing this, the gurus of Grace Cathedral composed a new feminist or “womanist” version of the Lord’s Prayer. It goes as follows:

Our Mother, who is in heaven and within us,
We call upon your names.
Your wisdom come, your will be done
In all the spaces in which you dwell.
Give us each day sustenance and perseverance.
Remind us of our limits as we give grace to the limits of others.
Separate us from the temptation of empire,
But deliver us into community;
For you are the dwelling place within us
The empowerment around us and the celebration among us,
Now and forever.

       I am sure that many people think that this is wonderful prayer that brings a much needed change to our religion; call it progress. There is a lot we could say about this prayer; blasphemy is a word that comes to mind. Let me just make two points. One is that we have a Mother in Heaven and she does go by many names. Her name is Mary but she is also known as Our Lady of the Rosary, Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Lourdes, The Immaculate Conception, Mother of Mercy, Queen of Heaven. The list goes on. Unfortunately, the gurus who composed this neo-pagan prayer to the goddess whom they believe dwells within us, were not thinking of her. There’s really no telling what or which deity they were thinking of or whether they were thinking at all. If they were thinking, they might have seen that this prayer is pure pantheism, a belief in the universal Spirit and in all spirits except the one and only Holy Spirit. They could never believe in Him; that would be too old fashioned. Either way this peon to new age narcissism is from liberals who are so anxious to change that they fail to see the heretical monster into which they have changed.

       Or maybe they do see, but just don’t care. I have been waiting for a letter from the bishops denouncing this mockery of the Holy Eucharist, announcing that those who did this have been defrocked and sent packing. But I have not seen it yet. My guess is that we never will.  Those who did this will no doubt be praised for their courage and prophetic voice and will soon be seated in the house of Bishops where they will be among other like–minded souls who also have been separated “from the temptation of empire,” whatever that means.

       What it means to me is that this denomination called “Episcopal “has lost its mind. But that is old news. Anyone who has ever compared the 1928 Book of Common Prayer to the new one recognizes that this church lost its marbles long ago. Those of us who have stayed the course are like good sons and daughters. You don’t abandon your mother when she has dementia. But there are nights when you sit alone on the couch and cry and wonder aloud, “How much longer can this go on? How much worse can it get?”

Faithfully,

 

Fr. Jansen String

 

Dates to Remember

Friday–Sat. May 11–12  Annual Convention of the Diocese of Maryland at Turf Valley ( George Miller will attend as our delegate. Anyone who is interest is welcome to come and be present )

Saturday May 12   Flower Sale on Rectory lawn 8 am–1 o’clock (Tom Collins does a great job organizing this event. Please come and buy flowers to support your church)

Sunday May 13, Mothers' Day   Holy Eucharist 9 am, special Coffee Hour to follow

Sunday May 20, Day of Pentecost   Holy Eucharist 9am (Please wear red in honor of the Holy Spirit)

 Vestry Meeting to follow

Sunday May 27, Trinity Sunday   Holy Eucharist 9 am ( Please wear white in honor of the Holy Trinity)

Pastoral notes; Keep the following people in your prayers:

 Ed Kopicki is finally able to shake hands again! After four months in rehab Ruth Bunting is home, Tom Ogden is doing a great job caring for her; Judy Miller and her daughter Ginny Prietz are both at home fighting breast cancer and caring for each other; Dolores Bartol has not been able to get out and come to church in several months; it will be a year next month that Wes Green suffered a heart attack , he is still using a trach to breathe; Randy Harrison is still recovering from heart surgery with a wound that is slow to heal; a year later Pam Mancuso is still cancer free but Tony Mancuso had back surgery about six months ago and has not been able to return to work because of complications;  Dr. Elise LaDouceur  (Conni String’s daughter is due to give birth May 21, they’re expecting a boy to be named “Mel”! ).  Some of you may remember Heather and her 12-year-old daughter Serenity, the last we heard Serenity has been taken to foster care and Heather is back on the street; keep them both in your prayers. Remember, if you have a prayer need you may call Cindy Kopicki 410 284 1665 and she will start the prayer chain for you.

April 2018

Dear Friends,

                     One of the problems I have with the culture warriors in our society who are intent on defining America as a racist, sexist, homophobic, and generally evil nation is that those who seek to erase from the public square all monuments to our past which offend them, have yet to persuade me that they are themselves morally superior to the past generations that they so passionately excoriate. I grew up in Ohio and was raised to admire General and then President Grant. I later learned after reading his biography and his memoirs of the war that, although he was an exceptionally eloquent writer and gifted speaker, he may have on occasion used the “n” word. Should we not demolish Grant’s tomb because of that? Given time, maybe our moral superiors will. And on that day maybe they will also for similar reasons demolish Jefferson’s memorial and while they’re at it tear down Washington’s Monument too. I would be okay with that. After all, Jefferson was an agnostic Unitarian who literally cut up the Bible and edited out all the supernatural parts of the gospel in which he didn’t believe. And despite the propaganda of Parson Weems, who portrayed our first President as a saint, we know that in reality Washington was not a particularly reverent or religious man. Since what matters most to me is the Christian faith, I see no reason to memorialize two men who were little more than liberal pagans. Let’s bury them in the dust bin of history, what do you say? And as we rid our society of the memory of men who fell far short of glory of God, should we not extinguish the eternal flame on Kennedy’s grave and abolish the national holiday to Martin Luther King Jr.? Both of these men were adulterers. Is their sin not an offense to married women and to family life? Are they really deserving of the nation's honor?

       The answer, of course, is that they are, as are Jefferson and Washington, Grant and even Robert E Lee for that matter. Their monuments deserve to stand because even, if by our standards today, these men seem less than heroic to some of us, previous generations admired them, not for their sins but for the good they did despite their sins.  And those previous generations who also built this country for us are allowed, in a civilized nation, to have a voice. That’s called preserving tradition. By allowing a memorial to Grant or Jefferson to stand, we are not condoning use of the “n” word or advocating for slavery. We are accepting the fact that there was a country here long before we came along, and we owe a great debt to those previous generations who gave us great nation despite their obvious imperfections.  

         I raise this subject with you, because I find the latest salvo in the culture war to be particularly noxious. The city of Arcata, California, is going to take down a statue to President William McKinley because of the cruel treatment that some of the native Americans faced during his administration. There is no doubt that that generation cheated and cruelly mistreated native Americans. There’s also no doubt that had we left the West to the natives and not moved out to Hawaii, (there’s even a statue to McKinley in Hawaii) that those primitive pagan people’s would have been much happier. But their joy would have ended suddenly in 1941 when the Japanese Imperial Army would have invaded and conquered them and taught them a real lesson in the nature of racism and cruelty. No one wins when we try to rewrite history. Communists do this whenever they take over a society. Where has it gotten them? Where is the perfect society that communism has promised to build? McKinley was a civil war veteran who put his life on the line in the effort to end slavery. That took courage. And then in 1901, three years into his presidency, he paid the ultimate price in service to his country. He was assassinated in cold blood. Are we really so small that we don’t get how great a sacrifice a man makes when he dies for his country?      

       Millions of people hated Lincoln and for good reason. Hundreds of thousands of Americans died in a war he pursed relentlessly that could so easily have been avoided. And many despised Kennedy for all kinds of reasons. We live in a fallen world and in a very messy democracy. No one in politics or the military is a saint. But we honor these men because they served us in the highest office, and gave up their lives in the cause of defending our constitution. And even if we don’t like them anymore and can’t see why anyone ever did, we let their memorials stand because previous generations thought it was important to honor them. If the people in California want to make a statement about their modern values, let them build a monument depicting Colin Kapernick taking a knee and then set it directly across the street from McKinley’s statue. I would find that repulsive, but so be it. This is a big country and big people find a way to deal with things sanely. Condemning our history by tearing down memorials to past heroes is not the kind of thing big people do. It’s what communists do. And they are the last people on earth from whom we should be taking lessons in morality.

Faithfully,

 

Fr. Jansen String

 

 

Dates to Remember

Sunday April 22  Holy Eucharist 9 am

Sunday April 29  Holy Eucharist 9 am

I would like to reorganize our Bible Study group. My suggestion would be to meet on Sundays after church from 10:30–11:30. Once Ed Kopicki is fully recovered, we may begin again to have monthly breakfasts on the first Sunday. We could have Bible Study on the second, third, and fourth Sundays. In order to have a good class with enough give and take discussion, we need about six to ten people. If you would have an interest in this, please let me know.

March 2018

Dear friends,

       We are saddened by the tragic news that a gunman once again walked into a school, this time in Florida, and began shooting students. He left 17 dead. The usual calls for more gun control immediately followed along with the demonization of the NRA and anger pointed at politicians who take money from the gun lobbyists. The solution to the problem of gun violence seems obvious and simple enough. Take away the guns and there will be no more mass shootings.  When emotions run high, people naturally tend to grasp at straws and to look for easy answers. But the solution to the problem of gun violence is not as simple as it seems. How do you get rid of the guns when there are more guns in this country of 300 million people than there are people?  

       Australia confiscated firearms in a nationwide buy-back program and made gun ownership illegal but shootings still continue in Australia much as they did before. Why? We can answer that question by asking another. Why didn’t prohibition work in the 1920s and '30s? Laws were passed to make the production and sale of alcohol illegal but people kept drinking all the same. Prohibition had to be repealed, because it gave rise to organized crime; a worse evil than the one it sought to end. Likewise, in the 1980s we appointed a Drug Czar to fight the war on drugs. How well has that gone? Sadly, we have lost that war. Why? Because, organized crime will not be deterred by laws and because there is a great demand in this country for pot and crack cocaine. People who want to get high will find a way to do it; as every teenager in this country crying now about gun control knows.

       We can abolish the second amendment but people who want a gun will still be able to get one and shootings will continue. Why? Because, the problem isn’t guns. The problem is sin. Human nature, created in the image of God is basically good. But human nature has been corrupted by sin. Sin, the rejection of truth and the attraction we have to believe and prefer lies, is the root of our problem. Sin can only be controlled and overcome by grace. Therefore, the problems we have, shootings, alcoholism, and drug abuse, can only be solved for us by God. We need God. That’s the truth. And until we turn to God and accept the truth, our problems will only intensify.

      For example: it is a terrible thing when 17 students get murdered for no reason. We all stop as a nation to mourn. But on the same day as those poor children were gunned down, about 100 of our friends and neighbors were killed in car accidents. This mass slaughter gets no notice because the deaths were spread over all 50 states. Were the lives of those victims less important? But where is the call for action? Where is the call for justice? Why is there no passion to end this brutal slaughter on our highways? Most of the accidents are caused by drivers under the age of 25? Isn’t it time that we raised the legal age of driving to 25? Isn’t that an obvious solution; one that would save dozens of lives a day? If guns kill people, cars kill even more people. Should we not make car ownership illegal?

       About 75 people a day die from prescription drug overdoses? Should we not shut down the pharmacies, make opioids illegal and throw the doctors who prescribe this stuff in jail? Why not? It would save thousands of lives a year.

       About the same number of people die every day from overdosing on non-prescription drugs as die from prescription drugs. How is it possible that so many die each day from heroin and crack when we have laws forbidding the sale and use of those drugs? It happens because laws don’t matter to law breakers. God told Adam what would happen to him if he ate of the forbidden fruit but he ate of it anyway. That’s the problem. The problem wasn’t the fruit on the tree. That problem isn’t guns or cars or drugs. The problem was the sin in Adam’s heart. And that still is the problem. People who think that laws are made to be broken are the problem. Restore respect for the natural laws of God and for speed limits and for other civil laws and you will solve the problem.

       Why didn’t we have these problems, at least not nearly as awful as we have them today, in the 1950’s? Back then we left home without locking our doors and walked around at night without fear because the vast majority of people in this country went to church and took their kids to Sunday School. And as a result, the vast majority of Americans had respect for the laws of God and for the civil laws. The whole attitude was different. What’s changed? What’s changed is that there is no “war on women” in this country. That is classic demagoguery designed to confuse fools. But there has been a war on Christianity and a whole sale rejection of Christian moral values propagated by the sexual revolution that has ripped up the fabric of this culture and left us in shreds. Everyone today is “liberated." But the liberation we celebrate today in the secular culture is a false liberation. Jesus Christ is humanity’s Redeemer. We are only truly liberated from sin to the extent that we conform to his word and allow his grace to heal our souls.

        In other words, when this county gave up on Christ in the 1960s and embraced the sexual revolution, we began living a lie. We are all paying today for that betrayal of the truth. That’s the truth. And until America faces up to it, you can confiscate all the guns and pass all the laws you want, but you’ll never solve the problem until you restore in the hearts of the American people respect for the laws of God.

Faithfully,

The Reverend Jansen String

 

Dates to Remember

Sunday March 4   Holy Eucharist 9 am.  Fr. Tobias Haller will preach and celebrate.

Thursday March 8   Easter Egg Making begins, 5pm

Friday March 9   Easter Egg Making, 9:30am–4pm

Saturday March 10   Easter Egg Making, 9:30–4pm

Sunday March 11   Holy Eucharist, 9 am.  Easter Egg Making continues following the service, lunch at noon

Monday March 12 Easter Egg Making, 9:30–4pm

Tuesday March 13 Easter Egg Making, 9:30–4pm

Wednesday March 14   Easter Egg Making, 9:30–4pm

Saturday March 17   Easter Egg pick up, 10 am–4pm

Palm Sunday March 25   Holy Eucharist, 9am

Holy Thursday March 29   Holy Eucharist followed by stripping of the altar, 7pm

Good Friday March 30   Stations of the Cross and prayers, 7pm

Easter Sunday April 1  Holy Eucharist, 9am

       

February 2018

Dear friends,

                      The season of Lent has begun. Ash Wednesday was February 14. Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting. Fasting is neither a punishment nor a torture but a way of prayer; a way of keeping our attention where it first belongs: on God. Self denial is good for the soul. By fasting, we give up something dear to us in imitation of Christ who gave up everything to save us from our sins. In this way the season of Lent begins: a season for looking at the way we live as compared to the example of holiness that Jesus set before us.

       Christ has called us to “repent and believe” (Mk.1.15) and to “take up [our] cross[es] daily” (Lk.9.23) and follow in his footsteps. Lent is the season for each of us to renew our efforts to be faithful and do the good works to which Christ has called us, mindful that all good work begins with true repentance, turning away from all that distracts us from the Gospel; and dedication to suffering for the sake of obedience to God’s word.

        Jesus was not an armchair general. He led by example. He gave up the comforts of home to devote himself to the work of forming the church. And He let nothing stop Him from the mission God had given Him to suffer the weight of the cross and sacrifice Himself for our sins on that cross. He calls each us at baptism to be a member of that church that He called “my church” (Mt.16.18) and to look faithfully to the cross for our salvation.  

       As Christians, baptized with the Holy Spirit, we know this. We know what he expects of us and we try. Every Christian I have ever known tries to live for God. Nevertheless, we get distracted. All of us fall away. The world wears us down and before long, almost in spite of our best efforts to hold onto the faith, we lose our focus. We succumb to temptations; small ones at first and then bigger ones. We quit coming to church on Sundays. We stop praying. And before you know it we find yourself saying things like “we’re all beautiful children of God,” “we all go to a better place after we die,” and “all that really matters is that we be the best person we can be” and “do what we can to make the world a better place; God doesn’t ask more us than that.” When you find yourself thinking like that, you know you’ve lost your faith and the liberal culture has swallowed you whole. If any of those platitudes were true, the Son of God would never have had to suffer the strictures of our mortal nature or die on a cross to save us from our sins.

       Use this season of Lent to your advantage. Through prayer and fasting, renew your faith. Come to church each Sunday. Seek anew God’s direction for your life. And together let us focus on what is most important: to love the gospel and to live in such a way that Christ will be proud of us.

Faithfully,

 

 

Dates to Remember:

February 18, First Sunday in Lent: Holy Eucharist 9am

Thursday March 8, Easter Egg making begins

March 25, Palm Sunday

April 1, Easter Sunday

 

Prayer List

At the present time, several of our church members and friends are in need of our prayers. Ed Kopicki slipped on the ice and broke his shoulder. He is at home now recovering from a five -hour surgery. He will be doing therapy for 12 weeks. Ruth Bunting is in the Heritage nursing home on German Hill Road recovering from a fall. Wes Green is still recovering from the heart attack that he had this summer that caused him to need a tracheotomy. He is still suffering with the tube in his throat. Judy Martin has completed chemotherapy and is at home recovering. Ginny Prietz (Judy’s daughter) is in need of a liver transplant. Tony Mancuso injured his back and had surgery before Christmas. He told us in church last week that he is healing but has to use a cane and is still is unable to go to work.

       My friend Rheeta Chetri wrote from Bhutan that the little church to which she belongs was meeting in a home but was forced out and has no place now to meet. Bhutan is a Buddhist kingdom and Christian churches are not allowed to openly organize or own property. Book stores in Bhutan do not even sell Bibles. Please pray for The Living Stones Church that God will provide a meeting place for them.

       Our good friend Joe Casagrande Sr. age 92 ( father of Joe Jr.) died early Sunday morning at home surrounded by his family. The viewing will be at Ruck Funeral Home (on York Rd just south of the  beltway) 2–4 and 6–8 Thursday . The Funeral will be at Ruck Funeral home Friday at 10:30.  May light perpetual shine upon him; may his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace.

       We have a prayer chain ministry of faithful people who pray for others in crisis. If you would like to be part of the prayer chain call Carol Jean Cordle 443 756 2537 and he will fit you into the chain. If you need prayer at any time, call me Fr. String, 410 262 2005 and I will begin the prayer chain for you.