Join us at Bethany House for...

Mass on Saturdays - at 5:00pm (casual attire is our style)!

Rosary Prayer Group - at 6:00pm on the first Wednesday of the month!

Bible Study - at 6:30pm on Thursdays (the Life of Jesus - Serendipity Bible Study)!

Come and join us!

Click the picture for directions...

Click the picture for directions...
We’re located at 408 Levee Road in Mount Sterling, across from the MCHS football stadium.

Contact us at...

Saints Mary and Martha Church
at Bethany House
PO Box 502
Mount Sterling, KY
40353

859-404-8374
mamachurch4you@yahoo.com

Monday, November 30, 2015

A Wonderful Word...


From the vicar...

MAMA Church friends, this was written by a friend of ours (Emily's and mine) from seminary. Her name is Allison Farrar Milliron. Allison's husband, Josh Milliron, is also a friend of ours from seminary. I think you will find this to be a blessing...

“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them.” - Isaiah 9:2, a prophecy of the Christ Child.

Like many of you, we put up our Christmas tree on Saturday. Because my son and husband struggle with allergies, all we can do in our home is a synthetic tree. Even the fake tree can be hard on them, so my daughter and I are usually the ones that pull it out and put it all together. This year, after assembling all the parts and hooking together the ends of all the strands of lights somewhere in the center of the tree, I plugged it into the wall outlet. The tree lit up, all except three portions…the top portion, a section in the middle and a section on the bottom. So out came the extra lights. Two strands of them also didn’t work, but 3 more did, so my daughter and I worked to patch the dark places with light.

And that got me thinking.

Isn’t that what we are called to do? Patch the dark places with light? We often prefer to hang out in the already lit places, but we are called to go into the dark places and shed some light. So I mentioned that to my daughter and with the typical 14-year-old-eye-roll I get, “Mom, you don’t have to make everything into a Bible lesson!” But that is just the thing…everything already is!

God’s story is so intimately wrapped up with our story that we cannot separate it out. Everything cries out with the Truth of Christ. God came and jumped inside flesh and intimately wrapped Himself up in us. He took on flesh so that He could walk among us and light the dark places. It’s the story of Christmas.

In John 8:12 Jesus says, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life," and John 12:46 says, "I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness." Jesus came to be the Light, but He didn’t stop there! Even now He calls us to be light-bearers and to continue His work. Ephesians 5:8 says, “for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light.”

This Advent season, lets walk a little farther - out past the comfort of our already lit churches and circles and into the dark. Walk as children of Light and help patch the dark places!

Advent at Bethany House...



Sunday, November 29, 2015

Merry Christmas or Blessed Advent?


Dear friends,

I'm conflicted about something.  With the exuberant expectation of any child of Christ, I can't wait to begin celebrating the Feast of the Holy Nativity (what we commonly call Christmas).  I love throwing myself into saying "merry Christmas" (especially since the people on Madison Avenue have unilaterally deleted it from all television commercials).

But there's something not quite right about my desire to say "merry Christmas" before Christmas actually begins on the evening of December 24 (at the vigil Mass on Christmas Eve).  You see, as a Christan, I'm supposed to be spending the four weeks prior to December 25 in a season of preparation called Advent (which means "the coming" of Christ).

So what will I do?  Will I go around saying "blessed Advent" to my friends who are not Christians (or to my friends whose Churches don't partake in the riches of Advent)?  No.  I'll probably say "merry Christmas" to them, understanding that it may be (in the case of my non-Christian friends and strangers) the only time they'll hear anything about Jesus during the month of December.

But, when December 25 comes round (that is, when Christmas actually begins), I'll be saying "merry Christmas" with all the gusto I can muster!  Why?  Because the Church will be in the midst of the full-throttled celebration of God becoming man in the Person of Jesus Christ (what we call the Holy Incarnation).  And I'll be saying "merry Christmas" throughout the Twelve Days of Christmas (from December 25 until January 5, because Christmas ends on January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany, when the Wise Men came to adore the Christ Child).

So, if you hear me say, "blessed Advent" don't think twice - I'm liable to forget that I'm not with my Church family.  The important thing is Jesus.

Father Todd

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Call to Prayer from Archbishop Foley Beach...


Archbishop Foley Beach issues a call to prayer for refugees during Advent and Christmas...

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ,

As we travel the season of Advent, preparing for our Lord’s return, I am writing to ask you to pray daily for God to intervene in the horrific persecution and refugee crisis facing the world.  Nearly 12 million people have lost their homes, possessions, jobs, and sense of belonging as they desperately migrate for safety.  7.6 million are displaced within Syria, and 4 million are in neighboring countries.

Please pray for these refugees daily, and in your corporate worship on Sundays.  Please pray for the leaders of our nations as they seek to do the right thing in the right way.  Please pray for their persecutors - that they would be stopped, and that they would encounter our risen Lord Jesus.

I would also ask you to let your congregation know how they can help with resource needs.  The Anglican Relief and Development Fund has partnered with World Relief which is providing help on the ground to those in need.

Below is a prayer that I am asking to be prayed in our churches during the Seasons of Advent and Christmas:

LORD JESUS CHRIST our Refuge and Deliverer, Who as a child sought refuge in Egypt while fleeing from those who would persecute and harm You.  Remember those today who must flee in the same manner, and find themselves in foreign and strange lands, granting them your Presence, your protection, and your provision. Illuminate us to be a shining light upon a hill amidst the dark evil in our world, that we may do our part with hospitality and resources, and that all who are refugees might be led to the brightness of Your redemptive love made present by Your glorious Incarnation, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Thank you for your prayers!!!

Your brother in Jesus Christ,

The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach
Archbishop and Primate
Anglican Church in North America

Friday, November 27, 2015

Welcome to Advent!


Friends,

Please join us at MAMA Church for Mass during Advent - Sundays (November 29 and December 6, 13, & 20) at Bethany House (408 Levee Road in Mount Sterling - across from the MCHS football stadium) at 10:30am!

As we enter the Christmas season (and find ourselves pushed and pulled by the demands of the season - not to mention the entanglements of shopping, baking, and running here and there), we can forget why God chose to give us the gift of the Baby in Bethlehem.

Advent (the four Sundays preceding Christmas) is the Church's way of reminding us to prepare in heart and mind to come to the manger.  It's a preparation that's very different from what the screaming advertisements on television would have us think.  It's a preparation that requires us to sit quietly, to hear God's reasons for sending us a Savior, and to take an inward inventory of the places in our lives that need more of Jesus and less of self.


Advent is also the Church's way of reminding us to prepare in heart and mind for the return of Jesus in great glory at the end of time.  We not only hear of God's design in sending us a Savior, we also hear of our soon-coming King.  We ask ourselves where and how we can be more intentional about our work in God's kingdom, the ways in which we can join Jesus in his work of calling the lost, feeding the hungry, and freeing the oppressed.

Come and join us as we mark these four Sundays by hearing God's plan of salvation, by singing the ancient hymns of Advent (that put the message of active waiting into song), and by lighting the candles in the Advent wreath.

May God bless your preparations for his coming, both as a Child in Bethlehem and as our soon-coming King!

Father Todd

Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Happy Thanksgiving to You and Yours!


May your Thanksgiving Day be blessed with gratitude to our Lord, the love of family and friends, and the desire to share what has been shared with you!

An Anniversary...


Dear Friends,

Yesterday (November 25) was the eighth anniversary of my Ordination as a priest.  I'll never forget that day, the love that was shown, and the tears of joy that were shed as the Holy Spirit swept in and changed who I am.  Through the laying on of hands by my bishop and the anointing of my forehead, ears, eyelids, lips, and hands, I was set apart to become a priest for ever.

What I thought would happen to me (and through me) from that point forward has been eclipsed by the gracious leading of the Lord.  Some of the things I thought would happen, did (what I have come to understand about what it means to be a priest has grown - as it only could by being a priest).

And so much has happened that I never could have foreseen!  I serve as vicar of an Anglican mission parish and I work for the Department of Corrections as a full-time prison chaplain.  I can't even begin to tell you how full my heart is.

As I drove home yesterday (more stressed out than I would like to be), the Lord reminded me of the fact that I had begged him to let me serve in full-time ministry!  What I could not have understood all those years ago (almost twenty-five years ago, now) is how deeply he would choose to use me and ask me to empty myself.  (I'm so glad he fills me up when I'm empty!!!)

Thanks be to God for that wonderful day eight years ago, and thanks be to God for today and whatever tomorrows he may give me!

Father Todd

Monday, November 23, 2015

Is It Time to Cook Something Up?!


MAMA Church Friends,

Is this another way we can reach out to people and help our community?  We might be a small group, but we're loaded with extraordinary cooks!

Father Todd

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Oh, Boy!!!


From the vicar...

Oh, boy!!! Have I told you lately what Thursday evenings at MAMA Church (Evening Prayer and Discipleship with Desserts) do to me?! Okay, okay, I'll tell you: I go in feeling tired, I come away feeling like I'm on top of the world! I go in thinking about me, I come away thinking about Jesus! I go in needing to be with family, I come away feeling like I have the best brothers and sisters in the world!!! In a word, I get geeked!

Father Todd

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Wonderful Burst of Energy...


A reflection from the vicar…

“Lead, or get out of the way” the old saying goes.  I might amend it, in the context of parish ministry, to say, “actively support those who are willing, or see it die a slow death.”  There is clearly a deep desire in MAMA Church, borne of what the Lord is doing in our midst and through our discernment, to do the work of Kingdom building.  I am invigorated by what’s happening!  I’m beginning to understand what our fathers and mothers in the faith sacrificed – very willingly – so that the Church could be handed down to us.

Those old, grainy, black-and-white pictures taken in the late 1800’s showing some of the early members of the congregation I was raised in mean more to me now than they ever have.  Why?  Because I stand on their shoulders – and the shoulders of all who followed them in their labor of love.  It’s hard for me to imagine that a hundred years from now, someone might gather the photographs of MAMA Church and caption them with “Some of the early members of Saints Mary and Martha Anglican Church.”  But, I suppose, my forefathers and mothers in the faith, whose pictures I treasure, never thought that either.

These days, my heart and mind are consumed with wanting to see how the Lord is going to lead us, with wanting to know what he wants us to do, and with an almost breathless excitement over what is happening and what is possible.  For me, there’s an electrifying sense of holy possibility.  Every time I enter Bethany House I feel the anticipation (I also feel the confirmation that Bethany House is itself a gift from the Lord to be used sacrificially in his ministry).  I sense that that house will soon breathe with holy activity – with ministry, witness, and outreach.

Truly, serving Jesus with you is becoming a magnificent obsession for me.  And that’s just as it should be!  To know him is everything.  To serve him is perfect joy and peace.

May you walk fully in his Presence!

Father Todd

Saturday, November 14, 2015

A New Ministry...


Dear friends,

There's a real sense that something wonderful is happening at MAMA Church.  Our initial mission of prayer, study, and service is giving rise to a deepening vision and vocation.

First we began gathering around the Holy Table on February 13, 2011, at the vicarage.  Then we moved to the Herald & Stewart Chapel where new family members joined us.  Not long after, we began asking where and how we could be of service in the Kingdom and how we could grow - both spiritually and numerically.  We sensed that part of the answer would be found in our own home - and the Lord led us (and tested us) to Bethany House.

Now, as we've begun laying our hearts before him in the process of vocational discernment as a community, it would appear that he's asking us to seriously consider something that was first laid on our hearts back in 2011 - not long after we began meeting at the Herald & Stewart Chapel: To take steps in using our gifts and skills (as well as Bethany House itself) in hosting a support group for the parents and grandparents of those who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol.

Two of our members have volunteered to undertake the initial research into how we might do this - and I have pledged my time and energy, as well.  As we continue the broader discernment process, please keep this potentially powerful ministry of caring and hospitality in your prayers!

If you haven't been with us since last August, please come and join us for Mass!  The changes already undertaken at Bethany House are stunning - the Lord has bountifully provided for us through the talents and time of many souls!

God bless you!

Father Todd

Please Pray for the Middle Eastern Refugees!


From the vicar...

I think there is more - MUCH more - going on than meets the eye within and among the refugees from the Middle East now flooding Europe - at least, much more than what the secular media is sharing with us.  I've now seen several reports that look very similar to this - especially within Germany.  Please read this account from the Lutheran Church The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod​...

From Pam Nielsen, Associate Executive Director - LCMS Communications.  Good news of the Gospel going out in Germany during these trying times in Europe.

"I am sitting in a Lutheran church in Berlin on a Saturday afternoon and watching the most incredible thing - more than 150 people, mostly from Iran, have come for the weekly Catechism/baptism class - a course that runs for 3 months. This is more people than attend my home congregation on a Sunday morning for the gifts given in the Divine Service! They are hungry for the Gospel. Tomorrow 10 will be baptised here. I have been interviewing a young man - close in age to my own children, about his life in Iran and his journey here. You cannot imagine the mental and physical pain and terror he has experienced and the peace that the Gospel has given him as he recalls the past and prays fervently for his mother and siblings still in a refugee camp in Iran, suffering all manner of cruelty. He cannot communicate with them and in the camp they are separated from each other and not allowed to connect. Here's an iPhone picture - we'll post more and better ones later today on LCMS Facebook.

One man brought seven others along tonight who wish to begin preparation for Baptism. When we arrived earlier today there were five meeting with the pastor with same desire. He says this happens every single day here. He can hardly keep up with it."

Please pray for many more conversions to Jesus Christ!

Father Todd

Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken!


by Father John Newton

Glorious things of thee are spoken,
Zion, city of our God.
God, whose word cannot be broken,
formed thee for his own abode.
On the Rock of Ages founded,
what can shake thy sure repose?
With salvation’s walls surrounded,
thou mayest smile at all thy foes.

See, the streams of living waters,
springing from eternal love,
well supply thy sons and daughters,
and all fear of want remove.
Who can faint while such a river ever
flows their thirst to assuage?
Grace, which like the Lord, the giver,
never fails from age to age.

Round each habitation hovering,
see the cloud and fire appear
for a glory and a covering,
showing that the Lord is near.
Thus deriving from their banner
light by night and shade by day,
safe they feed upon the manna
which God gives them when on their way.

Savior, since of Zion’s city
I through grace a member am,
let the world deride or pity,
I will glory in your Name.
Fading are the world’s best pleasures,
all its boasted pomp and show;
solid joys and lasting treasures
none but Zion’s children know.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Please Pray!


Lord God, Father of humanity, we weep with you tonight as many are terror-stricken, injured, and dying. Give wisdom to the French authorities, that they may know how to respond, rescue, and bring hope. Miraculously move in the hearts of those undertaking this horrible act of terrorism: Open their eyes, move in their hearts, and bring them to immediate repentance for this act of degradation against your children. We ask this in the Name of Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A New Season with New Opportunities!


From the vicar...

Sometimes Divine appointments come at the oddest times, and sometimes they come at the "just right" times.  Tonight, just before Evening Prayer, was just such a time.  What's happening at MAMA Church is amazing me!  As we continue our vocational discernment process, "Becoming a Church for the Sake of Others", watch for word of God's unfolding purposes for MAMA Church at Bethany House in the coming weeks!

Father Todd

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Thank you, Veterans!


Thank you, Veterans.  Thank you for doing what others would not.  Thank you for giving without thinking about the thank you's you might never receive.  Thank you for serving a cause bigger than yourself.  Thank you for enduring (both then and now) what no one should have to endure.  Thank you for being there for us.  Thank you.


For Veteran's Day...

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest: Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, or have served, that they, being armed with thy defense, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honor and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

For the wounded...

O Lord, we pray thee to have mercy upon all who are this day wounded and suffering.  Though kindred and friends be far away, let thy grace be their comfort.  Raise them to health again, if it be thy good pleasure; but chiefly give them patience and faith in thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

For Peace...

Almighty God, from whom all thoughts of truth and peace proceed: Kindle, we pray thee, in the hearts of all men the true love of peace, and guide with thy strong and peaceful wisdom those who take counsel for the nations of the earth, that in tranquility thy kingdom may go forward, till the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of thy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Who's to Blame for Our Sin?


It's 2:30am.  I can't sleep.  Since I've been re-reading Chuck Colson's "Born Again", I decided to pick it up tonight.  I'm at the point where his friend shares his testimony about Jesus.  Colson shares his inner thoughts about this.  Having been raised in the Episcopal Church (which was still orthodox at that point), he has some interesting things to say - things that denigrate the Church he chose to ignore while heading down the path to perdition.

I wonder why it is that people who ignore the witness of the Church they were raised in suddenly blame that Church, once they've acknowledged their sinful ways, for their propensity to sin?  Shouldn't the blame lie with the individual who chose to ignore the Gospel and the witness being shared through that Church?  It seems to me to be a continuing lack of personal responsibility before the Lord to point the finger at a faithful group of believers rather than at the prideful self.  Can one really be repentant if he blames others for his lack of faith or his desire to sin?

While I believe that Chuck Colson did finally turn his life over to Jesus, I wish he also would've repented of ignoring the witness that was before him during his childhood, youth, and early adulthood.  Had he not ignored it maybe he wouldn't have had the mentality to commit the sins he committed in the Nixon administration (and, as he points out, elsewhere).

Father Todd

Friday, November 6, 2015

What Is Anglo-Catholicism?


What Is Anglo-Catholicism?
A Response in Six Parts

by the Rev'd. Fr. John D. Alexander, SSC 

One of the parishioners at my parish came into my office a week or so ago and asked me this question.  In the process of working on moving tables in our parish hall, I mentioned to him that I considered myself an Anglo-Catholic.  Coming from a Presbyterian background, he had never heard this term and I bumbled through a quick history lesson, but came to these points, which are so much more eloquently put than I did in that moment:

1. A High View of God.  Anglo-Catholic worship at its best cultivates a sense of reverence, awe, and mystery in the presence of the Holy One before whom even the angels in heaven veil their faces.

2. A High View of Creation.  At the same time, we delight in the beauty of God’s creation. The Anglo-Catholic view of the world is highly sacramental,seeing signs of God’s presence and goodness everywhere in the things that he has made. In worship, we gather up the best of creation—as reflected in art, craftsmanship, music, song, flowers, incense, etc.—and offer it all back up to God.

3. A High View of the Incarnation.  Our salvation began when Christ took flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary. God became man in order to transform human existence through participation in his divine life. The Collect for the Second Sunday after Christmas expresses the Anglo-Catholic vision perfectly:

O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ…”

4. A High View of the Atonement.  An authentic Anglo-Catholicism looks not only to Christ’s Incarnation but also to his Sacrifice. The image of Jesus on the cross reminds us of the depth and horror of human sin, and of the price that God has paid for our redemption. Anglo-Catholic spirituality entails a lifelong process of turning from sin and towards God. Many Anglo-Catholics find the Sacrament of Penance an indispensable aid in this process.

5. A High View of the Church.  We come to share in the divine life of the risen and ascended Christ by being incorporated through Baptism into his Body, the Church. Thus, we regard the universal Church neither as an institution of merely human origin, nor as a voluntary association of individual believers, but as a wonderful mystery, a divine society, a supernatural organism, whose life flows to its members from its head, Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

6. A High View of the Communion of Saints.  The Church, moreover, consists not only of all Christians now alive on earth (the Church Militant), but also of the Faithful Departed, who continue to grow in the knowledge and love of God (the Church Expectant), and of the Saints in Heaven, who have reached their journey’s end (the Church Triumphant). We have fellowship with all who live in Christ. Anglo-Catholicism thus affirms the legitimacy of praying for the dead, and of asking the Saints in Heaven for their prayers.

7. A High View of the Sacraments.  We believe that Jesus Christ really and truly communicates his life, presence, and grace to us in the Seven Sacraments, thus enabling us to give our lives to God and our neighbor in faith, hope, and love. Holy Baptism establishes our identity once for all as children of God and heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven (although we can by our own free choice repudiate this inheritance). And in the Holy Eucharist, Christ becomes objectively present in the Blessed Sacrament of His Body and Blood. Eucharistic adoration is thus an integral component of Anglo-Catholic spirituality and devotion.

8. A High View of Holy Orders.  Since the days of the Oxford Movement, Anglo-Catholicism has borne witness that the threefold ministry of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons in Apostolic Succession is God-given. The validity of our sacraments, and the fullness of our participation in the life of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, depend upon our faithful stewardship of this divine gift. For this reason, innovations threatening the authenticity of our apostolic orders must be resisted at all costs.

9. A High View of Anglicanism.  We affirm that the Anglican Churches are truly part of Christ’s Holy Catholic Church. The prophetic vocation of Anglo-Catholicism has been to bear witness to the catholicity of Anglicanism. Yet it can be an uncomfortable vocation that requires us to take unpopular stands against developments that threaten this catholicity. Since the days of the Oxford Movement, our standard has been the faith and practice of the ancient, undivided Church. Our vocation as Anglo-Catholics remains one of holding ourselves, and our Anglican institutions, accountable to the higher authority of the universal Church.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Word of Thanksgiving...


A word from the vicar...

My heart and soul are awash in wonderful emotions today.  First, I've gotten some much-needed rest (and I'm still being carried along in the wake of a wonderful Mass with my Church family).

Second, the beauty revealed in God's creation today is simply overwhelming!  Having slept in a bit, I mowed the lawn (hopefully for the last time this year!) before going to Lexington for an appointment.  The scent of Autumn infused everything!  The swoosh of the fallen leaves was mesmerizing!  The sunlight was pure and clear!  It was simply good to be alive!

I'm so grateful for all that the Lord has done in my life.  I so grateful for being able to see and experience (even participate in) his beauty.  I'm thankful for today!

Blessings to you!
Father Todd

P.S. - By the way, the picture is of the Red Cedar River, just behind the Hannah Administration Building on the campus of Michigan State University - my beloved alma mater.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Sermon from the Feast of All Saints...


Dear MAMA Church Members and Friends,

What a joy it was for us to be together on the Feast of All Saints!  The Chapel of Saints Mary and Martha at Bethany House once again resounded with praise for our amazing God.

We heard from his Word what it means to be a saint, and we named some of those whose life and witness are given to us by the Church as outstanding examples of saintly living.  The challenge for us in the Church Militant is to make the daily choice to live as the saints God calls us to be.

On Thursday evening (at 7:00pm) we will gather to mark the Feast of All Souls (normally celebrated on November 2).  We will celebrate a Requiem Mass for the Souls of the Faithful Departed, remembering them in our prayers and offering thanksgiving for their lives.  Please join us!

Father Todd