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Impedimenta

March 07, 2014 By: Meg Nickles Category: Articles, Education

Updated March 29

Impedimenta are the things that impede our freedom and weigh us down. In this season our challenge at St. John’s is to slough some of that off by getting rid of 40 things in our household during the 40 days of Lent. Our economy and culture demand that we have more stuff to be more like ourselves, but the opposite is true. Kathleen Norris writes to this point in The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and Women’s Work.

I sense that striving for wholeness is, increasingly, a countercultural goal, as fragmented people make for better consumers, buying more bits and pieces – two or more cars, two homes and all that fills them – and outfitting one’s body for a wide variety of identities: business person, homebody, amateur athlete, traveler, theater or sport’s fan. Things exercise a certain tyranny over us.  Whenever I am checking bags at an airport, I recall St. Teresa of Avila’s wonderful prayer of praise, “Thank you God for the things I do not own.”

For the next six weeks, we will offer encouragement, information, useful links, and resources of letting go of clutter and cumber that clog our homes and daily living. In doing so, we can make room for right relationship with the items that really do matter to us, and with the people we care for and the God who loves us.

Like all Lenten practices, it is meant to make room for the new life we celebrate in Easter. But general housekeeping is a spiritual practice for the whole year, as tedious as it can often be. Again, Kathleen Norris:

Things are truly baggage, our impedimenta, which must be maintained with work that is menial, steady and recurring. But, like liturgy, the work of cleaning draws much of its meaning and value from repetition, from the fact that it is never completed, but only set aside until the next day. Both liturgy and what is euphemistically termed “domestic” work also have an intense relation with the present moment, a kind of faith in the present that fosters hope and makes life seem possible in the day-to-day.

It isn’t always easy, to be sure, to have the kind of faith that fostesr hope when sifting through the piles of paper and mis-matched socks. Keep these things in mind: 1. Prepare to feel worse before you feel better. When you get rid of things, you’ll focus on what you paid or you may feel shame about the money you’ve wasted. Breathe in, and release both the negative feelings and the item to the universe and to God, and then 2. Forgive yourself. When the feelings of shame surface, take a moment to say, “I forgive myself” and then keep going. Finally, if you need it, get help. Do you have a friend who can sit with you while you work? Or who can cart the bags and boxes to the car and haul them away? Companionship can make any job a cheerful one. Just ask the ladies at the Thrift Shop.

And too, as we heard on Ash Wednesday, God is with you, sitting on chair reading a book while you work.

The full text of the reflection from Ash Wednesday is available here.

Let It Go

Lent  4:  Getting to more difficult areas
– kid’s rooms and toys, electronics, and unfinished projects; the garage, and the attic.

Yikes.  That’s a lot to think about.  These are where serious emotional landmines can be hidden, and the sheer volume of stuff to handle, sort, clean, cart off and put away can be daunting.  There is lots of help available on line – here are a few links to good practical information for these areas.

Toys

Children’s Toy Room

Declutter with your Kids

Electronics

Recycling For Charities

How to Dispose of Unwanted Electronics

Unfinished Projects

How to Declutter Projects

Garage

15 Steps to an Organized Garage

4 Steps to an Clean Out Your Garage!

Attic

Organize Your Attic

 

Getting over mental road blocks can often be the hardest part of delving into these jobs.

If you feel discouraged just thinking about starting on these areas, know that you are not the only one.  And know that that letting go of things that no longer bring you satisfaction or joy, or are not useful to you, is a spiritual practice.  Go easy on yourself with the harsh self-criticism and guilt, and strive to accomplish something; do not strive to be perfect.

Try these tips when you’re trying to attack an out-of-control area with lots of clutter.

Force yourself to actually look at individual items, even picking them up one by one to help you focus.

Start with the first item you see that you know what to do with. If it’s trash and you’re going to put it in the garbage can, or it belongs in a certain drawer or file elsewhere in the house, grab it and put it in the can you have for trash or the “Relocate” box. You are using the Three Boxes and a Can method, right?

Spread things out a little. Then force yourself to look at individual items. When you’re looking at a pile or stack of stuff, you can be overwhelmed and see the forest rather than the trees.

Pray.  Close your eyes and ask God to bless your work for the good of the Kingdom and for your place in it.

Try using these questions to help decide what’s important and what’s not.

  • How long has it been since I used this?
  • Do I like it?
  • Does it work properly – is it broken?
  • Do I have more of this kind of thing? How many do I need?
  • If I keep this, what will I get rid of to make room for it?
  • Can I locate this information somewhere else (probably on the Internet) if I need it?

There are other, mental roadblocks that may be buzzing around in your head, like

I know how to do this, and I should be able to do it, but somehow I just can’t make myself.

I can’t put it away – I’ll never find it again.

I can’t get rid of this. It cost too much!

I don’t know where to put this.

I am afraid I’ll need something right after I get rid of it.

Suggestions for dealing with these issues and more is here

Barriers to Getting Organized

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Lent 3:  Small areas — junk drawers, night stand, medicine cabinet, the car

Start small, with one particular area. Begin with whatever irritates you most. OR begin with whatever seems the easiest.  A simple, manageable job completed quickly will be motivating and rewarding.  But start.

  1. Empty everything from the drawer or cabinet or car and then clean the drawer or cabinet or car.
  2. To sort items, use the Three Boxes and Can method: one box each for things to keep, to relocate to another room, to give away/sell/recycle, and the can is for trash. 
  3. For the things that don’t fit into any of the sorting guides, use the “hide it” method.  Dump the pile into a box or paper bag, tape it shut, label it and hide it for 30 days. If you didn’t miss it, release it to the universe by throwing it away.  Don’t peek to try and remember what you might have forgotten.  Too scary?  Then hide it for 3 months and take another look before getting rid of things – but make sure it is a hard, ruthless look.
  4. If you need tubs, bins or baskets to tidy the items you keep, measure your drawers, cupboards and shelves before you go to the store.  This step is done ONLY after you sorting is complete.
  5. Clean up items before putting away – the mirrors on make-up compacts, the buttons on the calculator, a new rubber band around the tape measure.
  6. Take out that trash.  No stalling on this important step.

The Car:

Store the following in the glove compartment: vehicle registration information, proof of insurance, auto club information, notepad, pen, disposable camera (to document an accident), flashlight, tire gauge, owner’s manual, maps. Combine paper napkins, straws and packages of ketchup in Ziploc bags or boxes and store them elsewhere in the car.

An emergency kit includes booster cables, a tire gauge, flares, reflective tape, a help sign, a screwdriver, pliers, a first aid kit, work gloves, a blanket, an old towel or rags, a jug of water and motor oil.  An old, clean shower curtain stored in the trunk comes in handy as a cover for a summer picnic table, a drop cloth for changing a tire or a protective tarp

Bathroom and medicine cabinets:

Three bottles of shampoo with 1 inch of product in the bottom?  Combine all three into the hand soap dispenser.   Get rid of expired prescription and over the counter medicines.  Check with your pharmacy or doctor to see if they have medication disposal receptacles. Do not flush unused or expired medications down the toilet as they may contaminate the water system.  Consider storing these items in another area of your home where heat and humidity are lower.

More on bathrooms at Organized Bathrooms: Clean and Clutter-Free

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Lent 2:  Another Easy Week — Food

The purpose of a pantry is to be ready to cook dinner – ideally, several dinners as well as lunch and breakfast through the week.   A well-ordered pantry saves money, saves last-minute trips to the grocery store and reduces the 4:30 what-to-fix-for-dinner panic. A pantry, or any food cupboard, serves its purpose best when it’s organized and everything is used regularly.

But this area of our house often goes awry.  You know things have gone south into the clutter zone when your pantry is full of food, but

  • you look in there and decide you have nothing to eat.
  • that you would rather not eat it as long as there are other choices available.
  • Even though it is “good to have,” your family doesn’t eat it, and you won’t use it in a normal week.

Working to de-clutter the pantry is fairly easy:  toss old food, toss food you won’t eat.  If it has expired or has not been used in the last 6-12 months, out it goes (exception:  holiday decorating supplies).  Duplicates could be consolidated into glass or plastic containers.  Pay close attention to bags of grains and flours and discard anything with pantry moths or other kitchen pests.  Please bring any fresh, edible food you find to the church for the Loaves and Fishes basket.

How long do spices last? According to McCormick,

  • Seasoning blends: 1-2 years
  • Herbs: 1-3 years
  • Ground spices: 2-3 years
  • Whole spices (such as cinnamon sticks and peppercorns): 3-4 years
  • Extracts: 4 years (except for pure vanilla, which lasts indefinitely)
  • Herbs and seasonings are food – if they don’t look, smell or taste good, toss.

The same rules apply to the refrigerator and freezer.

  • Ketchup: 6 months
  • BBQ Sauce: 4 months
  • Pure Maple Syrup: 12 months
  • Salsa: 3 days (fresh), 1 month (commercially produced, jarred)
  • Olives: 2 weeks (canned and jarred, airtight, covered in brine), 1-2 months (from the deli)
  • Mustard: 12 months
  • Pickles: 1-2 weeks (homemade or barrel), 2 months (commercially produced)
  • Jam and Jelly: 6 months

An exellent piece about de-cluttering your kitchen is here.  Save Time, Cut Clutter: Kitchen Declutter

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Lent 1: The Easy Stuff – Clothes

Make three piles: keep, give away, and throw away. Get rid of clothes that:

  • Don’t fit or fit poorly. Even the ones you are saving for when you lose weight.
  • Are damaged or stained (these go to the trash, not the give-away pile).
  • You don’t look or feel good in them.
  • The golden rule: If you haven’t worn something in a year then out it goes regardless of condition, price or size. If you haven’t worn it during the year, you probably never will. Exceptions: good suit or dress for weddings or funerals, or other occasional events. But be very honest with yourself on this one.
  • The fact that you were given something as a gift or bought it on sale doesn’t mean that it’s worth keeping. There’s no shame in getting rid of something that doesn’t add anything to your wardrobe. Sentimental clothes that you aren’t wearing should not reside in your closet. Either take a picture of it and preserve the memory or limit yourself to one tote of “clothes to show my kids so they can laugh at me someday.”
  • If it’s waiting to be mended and it’s been waiting for a long time then enough is enough already. If you hate to iron and your ironing pile sits there totally neglected while you wear all your favorite clothing over and over again, why do you still have an ironing pile?
  • Try things on. Do not hold something up and say “Oh this is so beautiful I’m going to keep it.” What you might not remember is that, although it’s beautiful, the buttons gape at the front.
  • Block out some time to do this all at once, or you can do this a parcel at a time, such as one drawer, one shelf or one tote a day, or work for 30 minutes a day until done. Make shopping list as you go if you need to replace items.

There are many good websites with this and additional information:

Clean out your closet

Getting Rid of Clothing

Breaking the Sentimental Attachment to Books

Books You Can Live Without

 

Blessings in a Backpack

October 15, 2013 By: Meg Nickles Category: Local events, Outreach, Projects

Blessings in a Backpack is up and running at all three elementary schools in Powell, feeding 73 kids a week. A small team of coordinators at Union Presbyterian Church keep the project organized, although it is a community-wide effort.

Blessings in a Backpack, a national non-profit, provides elementary schoolchildren who are on the federal Free and Reduced Price Meal Program with a backpack of food to take home for 38 weekends during the school year. Backpack food includes easy-to-prepare, ready-to-eat foods, like granola bars, juice boxes, mac and cheese, and oatmeal. The difference in academics, school attendance, behavior and health between a well-nourished child and a hungry child is profound.

In Powell, each backpack averages about $6.50 per child; or just under $475 per week. Both IGA and Blair’s give food at cost to the program, but several items are only available at WalMart.

In 2012, St. John’s supported this project with $500 from the general budget, and we plan to continue to give to this program in 2013. You may make a donation to the Outreach Committee if you wish to be part of our gift this year, or if you wish to help with packing, come on Thursdays at 3:30 pm each week to the Presbyterian Church.

For more info: blessingsinabackpack.org

Mission Trip to Tanzania

May 31, 2013 By: Meg Nickles Category: Uncategorized

The Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming has partnered with the Diocese of Kiteto in Tanzania in a seven-year relationship. This relationship is reciprocal in design as each diocese will share its gifts and learn from each other. As part of that give-and-take relationship, our very own Rob Rumbolz will be traveling to Tanzania from July 3–19, with a group of 5 other musicians/music educators from the Diocese. The group will be visiting Masai villages within the Diocese of Kiteto, observing their worship practices and working with folks there on music. The hope is to bring back music and ideas to share with our communities here in Wyoming.

This is a 10 day working trip, with travel days on either side. Others in the groups are Veronica Schultz, Riverton; Suzie Shatz-Benson, Sheridan; Christine Jacobson, Rock Springs, Harold Schultz, Riverton; Jessica Reynolds, Casper. They will stay at the Kiteto diocesan headquarters in Kabaya, in northern Tanzania, which is also close to many game reserves.

In October, Rob will attend Diocesan Convention and will give a presentation about his experiences there. He will also do a presentation for us here at St. John’s, sometime in the Fall. St. John’s is providing $2,000 to Rob to cover his expenses for this trip.

Rob has his PhD in ethnomusicology and is on the music faculty at Northwest College. Ethnomusicology is an academic field encompassing various approaches to the study of music (broadly defined) that emphasize its cultural, social, material, cognitive, biological, and other dimensions or contexts instead of or in addition to its isolated sound component or any particular repertoire. Rob is also bringing his trumpet with him on this trip.

The diocese of Kiteto was created in 2009. It includes 8 deaneries, 35 parishes, 140 congregations, and over 15,000 members. The languages spoken in this part of Tanzania include Swahili and Massai. More information at the Wyoming Diocese site.

Yeah! I Got the Spirit in Me!

May 31, 2013 By: Meg Nickles Category: Articles

Well, maybe. Just a little.

Pentecostals are part of a renewal movement within Christianity that places special emphasis on a direct personal experience of God through the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Pentecostalism adheres to the inerrancy of scripture and the necessity of accepting Christ as personal Lord and Savior. Its worship is often characterized by a hand-clapping, foot-stomping gestalt with frenzied music and spontaneous testimony, divine healing and speaking in tongues. For Episcopalians, a people of The Middle Way (Via Media), the day and season of Pentecost means something quite different.

Pentecost is deeply rooted in our ancient Jewish tradition. Pentecost is the name Jews gave the ancient feast of Shavuot, which occurs 50 days after Passover. On Passover, the Jewish people remember that they were freed from their enslavement to Pharaoh; on Shavuot they remember that were given the Torah and became a nation committed to serving God. In the Christian tradition at Easter, we remember Christ resurrected; on Pentecost, 50 days later, we remember that the Holy Spirit came down upon us.

It was during the feast of Shavuot that Peter and the disciples were gathered in an upper room. The Pentecost event was the fulfillment of a promise which Jesus gave concerning the return of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost emphasizes that the church is understood as the body of Christ which is drawn together and given life by the Holy Spirit.

Perhaps we are not as lively as Pentecostal Christians. But we are moved, sometimes very deeply, by the Holy Spirit to bring God’s Kingdom to our days and times. Sometimes a little is just what it takes.

Seven Stanzas at Easter

March 28, 2013 By: Meg Nickles Category: Articles

By John Updike

Make no mistake: if He rose at all 
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His Flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that — pierced — died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance. 

From ‘Telephone Poles and Other Poems’ © 1961 by John Updike.

For more on John Updike’s theology, please visit PBS.

New to the website!

February 09, 2013 By: Scott Larsen Category: Uncategorized

Announcing an exciting new feature of the Powell Episcopal website: Sermons are now available in MP3 format. You may listen to recent sermons or search by date or preacher or subject to find older sermons. Sermons are not often available on the same day, but we might get there! In addition, you can subscribe to the sermons and get notifications when a new one is uploaded. To begin, click the “Sermons” tab above.

Our Schedule page has the St. John’s calendar with church events listed. Clicking on an event reveals the list of people assigned duties for that day, or other information. This Google calendar can be sorted by week, month, or in “agenda” format, and can be imported to your computer’s datebook using the links on the page.

If you’d like a short tutorial on any of this website’s features, please contact Scott Larsen.

The Season of Lent

February 09, 2013 By: Meg Nickles Category: Articles

Lent is a season of penitence and fasting in preparation for the Paschal feast, lasting forty days in imitation of Christ’s fasting in the wilderness. Lent extends from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday, omitting Sundays. Christians are invited “to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word” (BCP, p. 265).

If you need some help establishing a good Lenten discipline, check out 

old.shipoffools.com/lent

for some creative ideas. Day 1 provides links to a few good sites for daily worship at your computer, including

northumbriacommunity.org

which offers Morning, Midday, Evening and Compline prayers.

at their homepage, click on “Praying the Daily Office

Other suggestions include Don’t Moan Day: “Stop complaining for a whole day. Don’t complain about the weather, the bus being late, your boss, your lack of sleep, the coffee being lukewarm, the state of your daughter’s bedroom, the government… you name it. Instead, smile, pray, or just change the topic.” And Kettle Prayers: “Make something in your ordinary life a prayer time. Try saying the Lord’s Prayer while the kettle boils. Or pray for someone while you’re waiting at the photocopier, or when you’re pulling weights at the gym. Try using prayers that are familiar to you, but in a place where you don’t normally pray.”

Special observations during Lent

At St. John’s, the sanctuary will reflect Lent’s call for simplicity. The chalice on the Altar will not be veiled, and the bread served at Eucharist will be homemade.

Our observances in Holy Week begin Maundy Thursday. “Maundy” comes from the Latin mandatum novum, “new commandment,” from John 13:34. Maundy Thursday celebrations include hand washing, and commemorating the institution of the Eucharist by Jesus on the night he was betrayed with an Agape meal. Following this, the altar is stripped and all decorative furnishings are removed from the church. A sign-up sheet for meal provisions will be posted as Holy Week approaches.

Maundy Thursday Prayer Vigil

A prayer vigil begins immediately after the supper, following Jesus plea to “stay here and keep watch with me.” You are encouraged to sign up for a time to be with Christ through the night. You may pray and sit with a partner; the outside doors will remain locked through the night so each person will allow the next one in at the appointed time. Meditative music will be provided to help with your journey inward, if you choose. The vigil will continue through the night and morning until the Good Friday service at noon.

Good Friday is the solemn remembrance of Jesus’ death on the cross. The liturgy of this day is marked by austerity and silence, and includes a unique responsive prayer called the Bidding Prayer. Holy Saturday observes a simple Liturgy of the Word, with readings commemorating the burial of Christ.

Our principal service for Easter Day will include Baptism and the Eucharist. Easter Day is the annual feast of the resurrection, and the season continues for 50 days, or a week of weeks.

Getting out the Good News Workshop

February 09, 2013 By: Scott Larsen Category: Education

Wondering how we can utilize the latest in websites, blogs, twitter, and other innovative technologies? “Getting out the Good News” is a half-day workshop offered March 9, from 9 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at Thomas the Apostle Center. It is designed for church clergy and vestry leaders as well as leaders in small community organizations that work closely with the churches. Leaders for this workshop will be Werner and Pam Noesner who both have extensive knowledge in making complex communications work for small organizations.

There will be discussion on how to reach the greater community so that what happens in local congregations and organizations can have an impact community wide. Churches have long sought to spread the “good news” to both their parishioners and the wider world. If you have something important to say, this workshop will give you the tools to say it more effectively.

Cost for the workshop is $25 per person at the Thomas the Apostle Center that includes lunch. To register please contact TAC at

thomap@tritel.net 

or call them at 307-587-4400.

Wyoming Diocesan Youth Event

February 09, 2013 By: Scott Larsen Category: Activities, Uncategorized

Wyoming Diocese Youth Event

Calling all young Episcopalians grades 6 through 12! There is a Diocesan youth event at St. James Episcopal Church in Riverton Feb. 22nd to Feb. 24th.

This is the first of four quarterly diocesan-wide youth events for 2013. The event will begin at 7 p.m. Friday night and will include fun activities, reflection, a service project on Saturday, planning time for our next gathering, and worship with St. James on Sunday morning.

This event is built upon the framework of the popular Happenings program. Leaders for this first event are Trent Moore, St. John’s, Jackson; Syd Johnson, HR Camp Director; and Tristan English. The cost for the event is $10.

Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper

February 09, 2013 By: Scott Larsen Category: Inside St. John’s, Local events, Uncategorized

 

February 12 marks the celebration known as Shrove Tuesday. At St. John’s we clean out the cupboards with a traditional pancakes-and-sausage dinner. We’ll begin serving at 5:30 but welcome help in the kitchen beginning at 5. Invite your friends; there’s no cost but donations are accepted. Proceeds are forwarded to the Cathedral Home for Children in Laramie. If you can’t make it at 5, please come whenever you can. We stop serving at 7 and clenup usually is finished by 7:30.