A Christmas Message from Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton

Christmas, 2018

The season of Christmas is above all a season for giving and receiving gifts. In Christmas, we celebrate the most important gift of all, the gift of God’s coming into the world in human form to point the world toward wholeness, justice, healing, salvation and peace.

When I look at our beloved Diocese of Maryland, I always see an abundance of gifts. Not just the hundreds of individual financial contributions that we receive in this holy season – for which we are immensely grateful. But rather, I have the abiding sense that we are all surrounded – literally engulfed – by gift, manifested by the valuable gifts of love, of family and friends, of food and shelter, and of life itself.

Sadly, though, I am also painfully aware that for far too many of us there is little evidence of the gift of Christmas. For many people throughout Maryland this season, there will be no chestnuts roasting on the open fire, no colorful presents displayed under beautifully decorated trees, no warmth of a cozy home with a fireplace, no gathering of family and friends bringing boxes of satin-wrapped presents. Not this Christmas, nor any other for the foreseeable future.

That’s why I’m so passionate about what we are doing every day in this Diocese to spread the love of God in concrete ways to those in need. And that’s also why I am so passionately grateful for you making it possible for us to do so through your support of the Bishops’ Annual Ministries Appeal.

If in this season you or those you love are experiencing a heavy burden or loss, here is my Christmas hope for you: that you’ll discover that you are not alone. God himself stands with you. The mystery of the Incarnation is that God chose to become poor in human form for our sakes. My prayer for you is that you will find in an Episcopal Church community a circle of love that will surround you with the grace, mercy and comfort that you desire.

And for those of you who lack no material comfort this year, but are spiritually poor – that is, you feel empty of the love and generosity that only God can give, then help is on the way. Jesus has come to be incarnate in you! For Christmas is not for those who have everything, and want everything; rather, the power of Christmas is its power to lift up those who havenothing.

In fact, the greatest gift that you can possibly receive this day is the gift of you…the real you, the one whom God has come to save and to make whole again. You are the gift! Your presence, your prayers and your generosity is an incredible gift for me and many others. Thank you for being the gift you are, and may you and all you love have a very Merry Christmas this year!

Faithfully yours,
+Eugene

The Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton
Bishop of Maryland

Baltimore Ravens social justice program to benefit Sutton Scholars

A message from the Director of Development in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, Kathy Grayson:

It is with deep gratitude and a burst of excitement that I announce that the Baltimore Ravens has named the Sutton Scholars® High School Enrichment Program as one of their nine Baltimore organizations to receive a donation from their Social Justice Program. I want to take this opportunity to thank our board member, Chad Steele, VP of PR for the Ravens, for his dedication to the Sutton Scholars program. “It takes a village to raise a child” and together, with the Ravens and all our other generous supporters, the village is mending and becoming stronger than ever.  Thank you, Chad, for believing that we can and will make a difference in the lives of our Sutton Scholars…the future leaders of our Baltimore! And thank you to all our generous donors and supporters of Sutton Scholars. We couldn’t do it without you. With gratitude and appreciation, I wish you the happiest of holidays, a Merry Christmas and a fruitful New Year!

Please see the story released by the Ravens today describing the nine organizations who will benefit from their social justice program, including Sutton Scholars.

Sutton Scholars® is an annual four-year program that recruits rising ninth grade Baltimore city public high school students, equipping them with essential life skills that prepare participants to lead productive and successful adult lives. The program includes a five-week summer session consisting of eight hours, five days per week of instruction and activities, as well as one-on-on year-round mentoring and support programs.

 

A Christmas message from the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, The Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry

“In the Third Chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus says at one point, ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that all who believe in him should not perish but have everlasting life’…That’s what love is, to give and not to count the cost, to give, not for what one can get, but for what the other can receive. That’s what love is. God so LOVED the world, that he gave…”

Choral Evensong in Thanksgiving for Bishop Chilton Knudsen’s Ministry—Sunday, December 16

From the Archives: Advent Poem

By Mary Klein, diocesan archivist

 

“Advent Poem”

By

The Rev. William Augustus White

“O Christian souls, mark now the time: –

High time to wake from sleep;

The night is past; the day-spring dawns,

Let us our vigils keep.

Awake, awake, though all around,

Are lost in slumbers deep;

Arise, and with repentant heart

O’er sin and folly weep.”

 

One verse of a 40-stanza poem written by the rector of a country parish on Maryland’s Eastern shore about 1850, “Advent Poem” numbers among the many pieces of poetry, devotional tracts, books, articles and pamphlets penned by the Rev. William Augustus White. White came from Pennsylvania to Spring Hill Parish in 1844, at a salary of $350 per year. In 1845, the Rev. J. A. McKenney wrote to Bishop Whittingham saying, “Our brother White and company passed through here (Cambridge, MD.) on Tuesday. Poor fellow! I trust he is not entirely dependent on his salary at Salisbury to supply seven mouths with food and seven bodies with raiment.” (White and his wife Catherine had six children: Herbert, Alice, Clement, William, Augustus and Laura.) In 1847, White organized the Claggett Society of Salisbury, and said he wished the Society could obtain Claggett’s mitre, and that he would write a poem about it if they did.

 

Like many of his fellow High-Churchmen, White came under attack for practices which, in the eyes of some, smacked of “popery and unsafe Romanising”. Bishop Whittingham, in an 1855 letter to the Episcopal Recorder, defended White, saying that reports of “profuse decoration of the altar with flowers” have been exaggerated, and that “flowers have been used only on Christmas, Easter and Whitsunday,” and few at those times. As for “wax candles on the altar,” they were in reality “fluid lamps conveniently arranged for the night services the rector must have in Salisbury since the other five churches in the rector’s care are being served in the day time.” The charges of “chanting and singing” by the rector were defended by the bishop who said White was merely singing “the customary chants and metered Psalms of the Prayer Book.” White was even charged with “ringing the Angelus” with the church’s bell. Whittingham’s explanation was that the bell was rung morning, noon and night, as a condition of the donor, and that “For the name ‘Angelus’ and the innuendo which it conveys, the malice of the popish spy is unanswerable.” In the most damning accusation, the paper reported that Mr. White dressed in “soutane and surplice with something like a stole around the neck;” but Whittingham replied, “Neither he nor his parish know what a soutane is.” During the service, the rector wears the common surplice and scarf, and nothing else.” The furor seems to have died down, and in 1861, William Augustus White left the Eastern Shore to become rector of St. James’, Monkton, where he stayed until 1865 when he returned to Pennsylvania. He retired to Philadelphia in 1896, and died about 1899.