“Church at Home” Updates and Resources

2 April 2020 — Two Songs Times Two

One of the byproducts of cleaning my study is that I can now actually get to my old record albums. (You younger members may want to look up “Vinyl Records” through your favorite search engine to see what they look like!) Naturally, I have picked out a few and played them, and found myself on a reverie that reaches back about 45 years.

Here are two songs that I remembered that I think are worth sharing with you because they express a strong measure of hope and faith in difficult times. (There are many more songs like this in my audio library, but I will share some others as the weeks go by, not to overwhelm anyone all at once.)

First, there is “Fashioned in the Clay,” one of a handful of songs written in the 1970’s and 80’s by Elmer Beal, Jr., a farmer from Blue Hill, Maine. Here are two versions, shared from YouTube — mostly because that’s the easiest way to hear them, though the sound quality is poor. The first version is by Sarah Stockwell, a very clean cut and easy to hear the wonderful lyrics. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHexIKIGYII

The second is the version I learned from Gordon Bok, Annie Muir, and Ed Trickett — friends of mine from college days. The recording is a little muddier, but their signature harmonies come through clearly. I love the sense of the future that this song presents. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9s2YLH4fK-k

The second tune comes from Stan Rogers, a Canadian singer-songwriter whose repertoire spanned everything from sea shanties to English music hall novelties. “The Mary Ellen Carter” is about the resurrection of Great Lakes cargo ship, and as a meditation about bringing  the dead to life it is superb, to say nothing of the power of human beings who are dedicated to their cause. But the description of the adversaries to what amounts to a sacred endeavor will remind you of too many recent news accounts.

Watch this version first,  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uirXFig0IQ with the lyrics projected over the song.

Then steel yourself, and watch him play it live, just five days before he died in a tragic plane accident in 1983. The video will pay tribute to his last hours. You’ll need a tissue or two. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GunKHre-nZo

All three of these artists have many more songs that are worth exploring in these trying days, and I invite you to enjoy a deep dive into the rabbit hole that is the internet to find songs of encouragement. Let  us know what you find!

The Rev’d Canon Dr. Mark Gatza,


28 March 2020


We are ready to broadcast our Sunday service tomorrow, 29 March 2020, at 11:00 AM. If you are a Facebook user, you should already be our “friend,” and you will be able to click quickly to the Facebook Live link. If you are not connected that way, you can still see us by going to https://www.facebook.com/EmmanuelChurchBelAir/ . Here is the bulletin for the service, which includes the full text of the prayers, the lessons, and the music. (You’ll need to click twice.)

Word: 29 March 2020 A Lent 5 MP Service

.pdf: 29 March 2020 A Lent 5 MP Service

The lesson I plan to preach on Sunday is Ezekiel’s vision of the “Valley of the Dry Bones,”  and in particular the question the angel asks the prophet, “Can these bones live again?”

I though of two movie clips that might put you in the mood for the sermon. The first is from a movie I loved as a child, Jason and the Argonauts. It includes a remarkable bit of “stop action animation” — the highest tech special effects of the time — in a scene that will bring the idea of dry bones to life. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfedvthepRs

You can watch the whole movie here, or on your favorite streaming service. If you haven’t seen it, or seen it in a long while, you will be delighted to sample or remember what good entertainment was two generations ago.

The second is for a little fun. What if, as the dry bones come alive, some parts get mixed up? What do we do then? This little bit of Star Wars humor should bring a smile to that question. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUDXdyRoQH4

Watch next week for an update on Lentmadness.org, and some questions and thoughts about what happens to The Trumpet newsletter after this long hiatus.

Finally, a quick reminder to keep up with your pledge this season, if circumstances allow. We are saving a little money on heat and copier costs, but we still have salaries to pay and general building upkeep to be concerned about. Plus our income from groups using our building has stopped for the time being. Please consider using our PayPal button from the website to contribute, or send us your check in the US Mail, which still works fine. Once a week we will make a bank deposit, and we continue to record your contributions as usual for tax purposes.

Keep praying for us as we are praying for you!

25 March 2020

Today is the Feast of the Annunciation, the day when the Angel Gabriel visited Mary and offered her the good news that she would become the mother of the messiah. This painting, by Henry Ossawa Tanner in 1894, combines realism and impressionism in one glimpse. Mary, sitting on a bed in a room that seems right for the the first century, is gazing with some apprehension at the column of light that represents the archangel’s appearance. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago in a comment about a bulletin cover featuring his art, this African-American artist has been underappreciated for decades, but may finally be having a moment.

There is a description of the angel of similar appearance that greets the character Ransom in C. S. Lewis’ novel Perelandra — something I have read in sermons several times over the years. At any rate, if you are clever, you have already figured out that the 25th of March is exactly nine months from the date we celebrate the birth of Jesus, Christmas!

Here is the URL of the Diocese of Maryland Youth Group conversation that happens on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Middle and High School students are cordially invited to join in. http://episcopalmarylandyouth.weebly.com/

You will also find an exceptionally comprehensive collection of internet resources for young people and their families there as well. Try this for a “treasure hunt:” ask your young people to find the “Wiggly Squiggly Blessing,” and then offer to share it with them (younger ones, at least) each night before bed.

As we are learning to communicate in new ways, I am becoming familiar with — and enthusiastic about — zoom.us and it’s ability to bring people together in ways that leave other applications wanting. I think it may be an interesting solution to the internet traffic congestion that plagued so many congregations last week as so many took to Facebook Live and YouTube. I have signed up for a personal account — it’s free — and we are looking at the possibility of having the church register for a more fulsome package.

And finally, on a much lighter note, a group of musicians called Festina are renowned for putting all manner of everyday conversations and commentaries into Anglican Chant. Here is their rendering of the rule of Social Distancing: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=z-G49BKiumw&feature=youtu.be



21 March 2020

Here’s where we stand as of this weekend.

  • Bishop Sutton continues to follow the CDC guidelines as he considers what action needs to be taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among parishioners. His current statement can be found here: https://episcopalmaryland.org/covid-19-response/ .
  • We have begun to experiment with Facebook Live broadcasts. Our Senior Warden, Sandy Cormack, and I have posted the first of these here , and as we get comfortable with the process we will post more, so stay tuned if you are a Facebook user.
  • This Sunday, 22 March 2020, I hope you will join many of the roughly 40,000 Episcopalians in the Diocese of Maryland and tune into a service at our Cathedral of the Incarnation in Baltimore at 11:00 AM. Bishop Sutton will be the celebrant and preacher, and he has indicated that he will focus his remarks on the Psalm for the day, Psalm 23. You can link to the service here: 22 March 2020 A bulletin for the service is included at the link. 
  • If you look carefully at the bottom of that page, you will see a link to “Contribute to Your Congregation.” Any donations received here will be directed back to your home congregation — in this case Emmanuel Church. We’ll have more to say about supporting Emmanuel in a future posting, but for now just know that this button will work, as does the PayPal button on our own home website.
  • Here are some links to previous local sermons for the Fourth Sunday of Lent in Year A, just in case you need a break from virus-focused preaching. The lessons can be found at The Lectionary PageHere is Joan Kelly’s sermon as a Deacon Intern from 2017; Here is the Rector from 2014, comparing the story of Jesus healing the man born blind with a recent account of a woman whose new cochlear implants enable her to here for the first time.
  • I continue to pray for those who are on our prayer list each week. If you know of someone who should be on it — or better, someone who can be taken off it because things are better — please email the office and let us know. I am monitoring that account from home. And if you find a prayer for the circumstances that we find ourselves in, please share it with me so that I can share it more broadly. We might end up with a whole gallery of good prayers — and praying works!
  • Please remember to call me on the cell phone for any business that you might have. I’m trying to stay out of the office as much as possible. We’ve turned down the heat in all of our buildings to save some money during this time.
  •  Thanks to Christine Moser for pointing this out. A Simnel Cake recipe was included in the Emmanuel Church cookbook. (Did you know that we published a cookbook several years ago? Copies of Food for the Soul are still available to purchase.) This is what I will be making this weekend! You’ll need a stand mixer, or really strong children to stir, and a couple of loaf pans are a fair substitute for a spring form pan.
2.5 cups flour               1 cup mixed candied fruit
1/2 tsp salt                 10 candied cherries
1 cup butter                 1 Tbsp orange peel
1 cup sugar                  1/2 cup slivered almonds
5 eggs                       3 Tbsp milk
1 tsp baking powder          Apricot preserves (Optional)
1/2 cup currents           
1/2 cup raisins
Grease a 9" spring form pan. Preheat the oven to 325. 
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy; then add eggs, 
one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Combine flour, salt, & baking powder. Add flour mixture to egg
mixture at low speed, then add milk.. Fold in currants, raisins,
mixed fruit, orange peel, and almonds. Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes,
taking care that it doesn't become too dry. Cool on rack for 15
minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely. Brush cake with
melted apricot preserves if desired. Roll out almond paste into a
thin sheet to cover the cake, reserving some for decorative shapes
to be added on top. 


 17 March 2020


Some of you are home alone, some of you are with a spouse or partner, and some of you are trying to keep chaos at bay with children in the house with you. God Bless You All!

Let me suggest that you add a little internet prayer time to your time at home. Most of these resources have audio tracks so that you will hear another voice or voices praying with you. Sometimes I read along in the Prayerbook, but more often I just listen and let the voices take me to heaven for a little bit.

If there are children in your household, let me encourage you to have them listen with you. That’s a challenge, I know, since sitting still and listening without the visual activity that a screen provides is not a typical experience for them. Asking them to draw or doodle while the audio is on may be helpful. At the very least, letting them know that there are other places besides church to pray and think about God is a good thing.

For over a decade now I have been listening to the Rev’d Dr. Chip Lee, from Western Maryland, read Morning Prayer — accompanied by meditative music in a Native American style. You can find each day’s prayers or download the podcast at www.episcopalchurchingarrettcounty.org.

Another venerable source comes from Mission St. Clare, which has expanded their offerings considerably over the years (and since the last time I wrote about it for the newsletter). You can go to the site and click on the picture or the text below it to start.  However, if you have an Android or iPhone, you can scroll down that home page to the Apps link and set it up on your phone or tablet in a snap. www.missionstclaire.com.

Just a couple of days ago, reading the Lentmadness.org blog, I discovered that Forward Movement — the company that publishes the devotional booklets we offer each season — has its own podcast, Morning at the Office, which you can find here.

If a Daily Office is too much, try the weekly broadcast of Compline — the prayers at the end of the day — from St. Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle, WA. This has been a thing for almost 20 years, and they routinely get a couple of hundred people into church for this 30 minute service. It is also available as a video download. Go to https://complinepodcast.org/.

If you find one of these that suits you, let your family and friends know, and encourage them to tune in as well. It is quite a feeling to know that you are still in a worshiping community even if it is connected only through the internet.

Remember to Vote Tomorrow 

Lentmadness began the first round with Thomas More versus St. James the Less — get it? More or Less? Tomorrow’s match-up is clever in a similar way. Click on the link above on Wednesday to go to the Lentmadness site to choose between St. Clare — the Patron Saint of Television — and my personal favorite this year, St. Isidore — the Patron Saint of Computers and the Internet. To the right is a picture of the icon of St. Isidore that lives on my desk in the office. It is the work of Santa Fe artist Barbara Barratt. Visit her website to see (and order copies of!) many other patron saints of note (including St. Clare in the unlikely event that she should win): https://www.thekaleidoscopedesigns.com/

Upcoming Updates: More resources for children & “Refreshment Sunday” Simnel Cake recipes


15 March 2020


While we are “sheltering in place” during these virus-aware times, I promised to post regular updates and offer some resources to nurture your soul as we watch and wait. Here is the first installment. 

Though many local congregations are offering some sort of live streaming service tomorrow, I have opted to encourage you to tune into the National Cathedral Service at 11:00 AM. Our Presiding Bishop, The Most Reverend Michael Curry will be preaching — and if you haven’t heard him before, trust me when I say that he really is the best preacher in America right now, regardless of denomination. The service broadcast can be found here when the time comes.

For those of you interested in a little bible study of your own, take at look at the text and commentary for Sunday’s lessons at the WorkingPreacher.org website.
You can find previous sermons on these texts from Emmanuel’s Audio Sermon Archive. In 2017, I read a short story that I composed in lieu of an actual sermon, intended to give some atmosphere to the encounter. You can find that here.

As you know, I spend a bit of time each week searching for interesting and appropriate artwork for our bulletin covers (130 of which I had printed before getting word of our cancellations this week and next. Above is the image I picked, by one of my favorite contemporary artists, He Qi (pronounced “Hey Chee” in English). I noticed a couple of interesting and thought-provoking elements in this painting. First, the sides of Jesus’ face are decidedly different. The side on the left seems to me to be the proclaiming and teaching Jesus, which the side on our right seems to more compassionate and engaged in listening. The woman (whom later traditions named “Photini”) is clearly hiding one side of her face as she speaks to Jesus. It is interesting to me that the listening side of Jesus and the hidden side of Photini are closest together. Jesus is dressed in a “Gi,” the standard costume for martial arts practice throughout the far east. One of the hands of Jesus is clenched in a fist while the other is open and raised. This pose is iconic for the “Goju Ryu” style of Karate (the only style I know anything about) which teaches that the practitioner must be ready to use hard hands or soft hands at any moment. Jesus holds back the hard hand while reaching out with his soft hand. Finally, the peacock in the background has a long history as a symbol in Christian art, going back to tomb carvings and carvings in the catacombs. It was widely believed that a peacock’s flesh did not decay when it died, and therefore was an easy symbol of immortality. When it was portrayed drinking from a fountain, it is assumed that it is drinking from the waters of eternal life that Jesus offers in the Gospel story. The floral motif of her dress — almost imitating the peacock’s feathers — suggests her eagerness to hear the Good News that Jesus is offering.

Lentmadness.org continues unimpeded by NCAA restrictions. I found the blog post for 14 March 2020 by the Supreme Executive Committee to be very encouraging, and I enjoyed the little bit of humor they managed to squeeze in. I am standing at 9 winners out of 13 contests thus far, a better average than I usually have at this point. Let me know how your brackets are going. I am eager to see how Isidore of Seville does this Wednesday, 18 March 2020. You can always join in at any time between now and Holy Week.

I hope to add some audio and/or video content in later updates — I’m a cable or two shy from making it work right now.


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