Community Garden Update: August 18, 2016

Our plants are growing amazingly well.  View some of the “firsts,” below:  First sunflower,  first pumpkin, first cucumber, first herbs, first salad….


Note Franklin Square Community’s colorful sunflower mural in far background.



By August 16, the sunflowers were taller than our volunteers! Quite an accomplishment!

St. Luke’s Back to School Rally Wish List

The St. Luke’s Post Back to School Rally is taking place on Saturday, September 10, 2016 from 12-3pm on the church grounds and we need your help to make this event a success. This is an opportunity for our youth and community to celebrate a successful start to the 2016-2017 school year. It will be open to the public and there will be food, music, and activities for attendees to enjoy. Here’s how you can help:

Donations will be accepted for:

  • New, unopened school supplies
  • New and gently used elementary and middle school reading books
  • New and gently used uniforms of all colors and sizes
  • Charcoal and lighter fluid for grill
  • Garbage bags
  • Gloves for handling food
  • Refreshments
  • Face painting kit

Volunteers will be needed the day of to (volunteer for an hour or two or the whole event):

  • Man the grill
  • Man the cotton candy machine
  • Man the popcorn machine
  • Set up and break down tables
  • Photograph the event
  • Face paint
  • Man the giveaway table(s)
  • Man the food table(s)

Sponsorship opportunities (cover the cost of one of these and have your name or organization name highlighted as an event sponsor):

  • Snowball stand $250
  • Moon bounce $400
  • Supplies for cotton candy and popcorn machines $150
  • DJ $ 150

Thank you in advance for your generosity. Please contact Shannon ( or 410-710-4018) or Trivia ( or 410-523-6272) to donate, volunteer, sponsor, or for more information.

Shannon McCullough

Sermon – August 7, 2016

Homily: August 7, 2016
John M. Hayes

The monk Thomas Merton died 48 years ago, and would have been 100 this past January.  Some of us are of an age to remember his autobiography The Seven-Storey Mountain was an unlikely best-seller in the 1950’s, the chronicle of the conversion of a pleasure-loving, agnostic, Manhattan intellectual – a hip member of the lost generation – to a devout Trappist monk.

Merton became a catalyst to the recovery of the almost lost Christian contemplative tradition and one of the first Christian monastics to find common ground with the contemplative traditions of the East.

On the way to the Trappists, Merton first attempted to join the Franciscans, but was rejected. Merton taught at their St. Bonaventure University in western NY and was well known by many of the friars. I’ve always enjoyed the irony that those  who found me for religious life thought that Merton wasn’t.

If you read the early Merton, he was a bit rigid and self-important, kind of a self-involved prig, a convert much too enamored and uncritical of certainties of the pre-Vatican II Catholicism.

What I love about Merton is that he was willing to change or rather –willing to be changed. He was open to the Holy Spirit and he had in fact many conversions – to deeper and deeper levels of conscious awareness of God’s presence, his own flawed humanity, and greater and more expansive compassion for the suffering of the world.

In his Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander Merton describes yet another moment of conversion not long before the end of his life. Like most authentic mystical moments it was actually a blinding vision of the ordinary and the obvious:

In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness… This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud… I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.

It is this vision of the ordinary and obvious big picture that Jesus wants us to get. God breaks into the human heart and mind in God’s good time, suddenly and without warning – not with brand new revelations – but to wake us up to the really real reality, to help us to see things as God sees them:  that we are God’s children and that God lives in us deeply and intimately – that reality we so soon forget and so blindly ignore: that we are creatures of a God who calls us again and again to wait and expect God’s  arrival, to wait on God patiently with lamps lit against the darkness.

Jesus tells us when God comes and finds us ready, God proceeds to feed us, the God of mystery and power serving us like a servant. And God indeed feeds us with his very self, his very being, indeed his very body and blood.

To live this new life ever ready with expectation of God is, as the author of Hebrews tells us, to be a stranger and a foreigner on the earth, to live with an expectant desire for “a better country, a heavenly one”. This is not talk of real estate. This is not talk of escaping this world for the “by and by when we die”. We are called to live in this world with faith in the unseen promise of God and a transfigured awareness of God’s presence in us that reliably breaks through and shines through the surface ugliness, tawdriness, self-centered pettiness of our all-too-human lives.

All the grand cathedrals, elaborate liturgies, dramatic sermons, and multiplied prayers and litanies cannot redeem the dark and secret idolatries that mark the unconverted heart. God sees through the thinly disguised pride and self-congradulations that passes for religion. The word of God from the prophet Isaiah: “When you stretch out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you ; even though you make may prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Cease to do evil, learn to do good. Seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.”

Conversion has two sides. It is a turning towards the glory of God’s presence and a realization of our true nature, and it also a turning away from the idolatries and attachments to what is not God. Our waking up to the undeserved and unmerited presence of God in our deepest interior must also wake us up to the dignity and belovedness of every human being.

Love always turns outward. Our love of God and our love of each other are of a piece. Love and justice are of a piece. And only in God is authentic human flourishing to be had. This is as true in our individual lives as it is true in our communal and national life.

Merton goes on:

“At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us. It is so to speak God’s name written in us, as our poverty, as our indigence, as our dependence, as our son-ship and daughter-ship. It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely . . . . I have no program for this seeing. It is only given. But the gate of heaven is everywhere.”

May we enter that gate together. May we be – as Jesus intends us to be – light for this broken world.

May it be so. Amen.

Camp Imagination Update: August 5, 2016–Day 5

  1. Day 5:  Field Trip to Visionary Arts Museum and Grand Art Opening

We went by bus to the Visionary Arts Museum early on Friday morning.  The campers created Hope Chests, in which they placed their hopes on slips of paper.  40


“A good future” is the hope

The campers were thrilled to actively explore The Visionary Arts Museum with all its treasures.

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A picnic lunch followed on the top of Federal Hill.  During the visit and lunch, volunteers were busy transforming the undercroft of the church into an art gallery.

After time for a rest back at camp, the Grand Art Opening began at 4:30.  Children greeted their guests and walked them through the amazing display of their work created over the week of Camp Imagination.



One of our campers reading Something Beautiful to her little brother at the Grand Art Opening


Our THANKS to our Director, Amanda Talbot, our Artistic Director and Consultant, Kathy Gardner, and our leader, Father Van Gardner









Campers pictured with half of our volunteers.  Note the saying from the Talmud: “Call them not your children. Call them your builders.”



Camp Imagination Update: August 4, 2016–Day 4

Day 4:  August 4, 2016—The World Changes

When we arrived, the entrance to the undercroft had been changed!  The fence weavings that we completed on Day 3, were hanging at the entrance declaring our theme:  CHANGE


On Day 4, the theme, The World Changes, was illustrated by reading “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss.  Message:  “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not.”

Ms. Kathy demonstrated how to paint clay flower pots and the campers painted them in preparation for planting a philodendron to take home and care for.


After lunch we learned how to make large and small truffula trees from “The Lorax.”   We read “Good People Everywhere,” and made tags for our trees with messages about the good people in our lives, our communities, and our world.  These were gifts to be handed out to our families and guests at the Art Opening on Day 5.


Camp Imagination Update: August 3, 2016–Day 3

Day 3:   Communities Change

When we arrived, we found our art from Day 1 that we had changed into hands with positive feelings on Day 2 had been further changed into  leaves on our tree!  Check out the many positive feelings that fill our buckets.



Click to view full size and see the positive emotions

Day 3 focus for readings and activities was Communities Change.  We began the morning with a story about identifying beauty in the things around us, “Something Beautiful.”  Our five groups embarked on seeking Beauty on a photo scavenger hunt through the neighborhood.  We found beauty everywhere we looked!


Ms. Kathy helped us identify the elements of house architecture, and we drew and developed houses that were our dream houses.  These will become our dream community tomorrow.


Finally, we worked on a weaving project to change the letters, C-H-A-N-G-E, into fabric fence art that will be posted at the church.  By the end of the day, we were well on our way to completion.



Camp Imagination Update: August 2, 2016–Day 2

Day 2:  People Change

We began the day with Team Building activities including introductions with the “Wiggle, Wiggle” song and promenade:


Developing the Day 2 theme, People Change, we discussed positive and negative feelings and emotions and how emotions change.  We read books illustrating how feelings change, including “Mean Jean, the Recess Queen.”  After lunch, Father Van read, “How Full is Your Bucket?” and discussed nurturing positive feelings.  We all chose a positive emotion that we would like to nurture in ourselves and we called it out as we flung balloons filled with paint at a picture on the barn wall.  Stay tuned to see what happens to this tree.



Camp Imagination has been very fortunate to have the help of partner parishes:  St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Woodlawn is providing breakfast and daily afternoon snacks.  Parishioners (seen below) from The Church of the Good Shepherd Episcopal in Ruxton come daily to provide a healthy lunch:

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Community Garden Update: August 1, 2016

What a difference a few weeks makes!  Warm hot weather and our church youth carefully attending to watering has enabled our plants to develop nicely.  Just compare these pictures to the early ones–remarkable!  How can little seeds do that?? Its like a miracle!


Current view of the garden


Corn growing up out of its box


Corn developing “silk”


Hot peppers almost ready for cooking


Two of our young watermelons being displayed with loving care.  How cute!


Third watermelon with yellow “belly”


On a “garden tour” of the neighborhood, one of our gardeners points out a rain barrel system that he envisions for our garden for the good of the plants and the planet


Camp Imagination Update: August 1, 2016–Day 1

Camp Imagination kicked off as envisioned:  An exciting week of reading, art, fellowship and fun!   This year the theme is “Change” and the focus is visual arts.  After an amazing amount of planning and preparation, camp began today with staff arriving at about 8 AM and over 30 campers arriving at 9 AM.

Below are some highlights.

Remember to mark your calendars for the the Grand Art Opening this Friday, August 5th in the Undercroft at 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM.


Ms. Eva welcoming arriving campers


Fr. Van preparing to rid the yard of unwelcome mosquitoes with a home brew, “safe”  spray


List of norms for the week developed by the campers


Ms. Amanda reading to campers


Campers attending to the readings and discussions about Change and about art


Finger painting was among a host of Day 1 art projects


Camper developing his picture of a favorite thing: A bicycle


One of our volunteers angling for the best shot


Exhausted camper sleeping at the end of the day