Click on the picture for directions...

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

You can contact us at...

MAMA Church at Bethany House
PO Box 502
Mount Sterling, KY
40353

859-404-8374

Monday, September 28, 2020

The Sunday Mass...

A NEW VIDEO from BETHANY HOUSE!!  :)

Dear Friends,

To view Father Todd’s sermon only, go to the 4:35 minute mark.  To view the complete Mass, go to the 25:05 minute mark.



We pray that this video will be a blessing to you!  Maybe you aren’t able to physically attend worship right now (especially as we continue to deal with the Corona Virus).  If so, we’d be very pleased to know that you’re worshiping Jesus with us “virtually”!  This in-person Mass at Bethany House was celebrated on the Sixteenth Sunday of Trinitytide – September 27, AD 2020.

This Mass contains the sixth in Father Todd’s series of sermons looking at Rod Dreher’s book “The Benedict Option”.  If you have questions you’d like to ask Father Todd or points you’d like to raise, please e-mail us at mamachurch4you@yahoo.com!  Father Todd is producing a weekly “Chapter Meeting” video in which he answers those questions and deals with the points you raise.  He would love to have your input!

Even though we are again celebrating in-person Mass (with Social Distancing), not everyone is comfortable attending in-person – whether for health reasons or other concerns.  So, even if you aren’t attending in person, you can still watch this video of Mass and receive Spiritual Communion.  At the point when you would normally receive Holy Communion, you can pray the following prayer to receive Spiritual Communion...

“Dear Jesus, I believe that you are truly present in the Holy Sacrament.  I love you above all things, and I desire to possess you within my soul.  And since I cannot now receive you sacramentally, I beseech you to come spiritually into my heart.  I unite myself to you, together with all your faithful people gathered around every Altar of your Church, and I embrace you with all the affections of my soul.  Never permit me to be separated from you.  Amen.”

If you feel comfortable doing so, come and join us sometime!  We are socially distancing and always wear our masks.  We gather for worship at 10:30 on Sunday mornings!  :)

Always remember – We love Jesus and we love you, too!

Your Brothers and Sisters at Bethany House

Friday, September 25, 2020

This Week’s Chapter Meeting...

“The Benedict Option” – Chapter Five…

Hello, Brothers and Sisters of Mary and Martha (and special friends, too)!

Something has surprised me as we study “The Benedict Option” together.  I began by thinking that it would be, perhaps, dry and legalistic.  What I’m finding, though, is that it has within it the seeds of a new flourishing of the Church – in a word, the seeds of revival!  This week’s chapter – Chapter Five – is no different.  What Rod Dreher is sharing is nothing less than the ancient vision of the Church truly living as the body of Christ.  Whether it’s the issue of remembering the past and preserving everything that helps God’s people to grow or understanding how the Liturgy and Sacraments keep us grounded in the truth, “The Benedict Option” seems to be a reliable guide for calling the Church to come “home”.

To help us further explore how “The Rule of Saint Benedict” can help us individually and communally, I’ve included a couple of video links below that give us a glimpse of how this happens.  The first is, of course, this week’s Chapter Meeting at Bethany House.  The other is another video in which the members of a Franciscan community are living together as a monastic community and ministering to the world around them…



Our copies of “The Rule of Saint Benedict” that I ordered for us have arrived!  I’ll have them available for pick-up in the narthex on Sunday.  Two copies are spoken for, but five are still available (at no cost) to all who would like one!!  And, for those who are interested going deeper with this study, I heartily encourage you to invest in a copy of Rod Dreher’s “The Benedict Option” (I believe it’s $11.00 on Amazon).  I also encourage you to have your own copy of Esther de Waal’s “Seeking God: The Way of Saint Benedict”!

I eagerly look forward to worshiping with you on Sunday!!

Until then…

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and for ever!  Amen!

Father Todd

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

This Week at Bethany House...

Hello, Brothers and Sisters of Mary and Martha (and special friends, too)!

I apologize for the tardiness of this weekly update!  Things have been quite busy – especially at the prison and for the saddest of reasons.  If you would, please keep the men in your prayers – especially those who have had to receive news that’s caused them to grieve.

It was a joy to be with you on Sunday – whether in-person or virtually!!  I sensed again that what we’re receiving in and through Rod Dreher’s book “The Benedict Option” may be truly appointed for us (and the whole Church) at this time.  As he points out in Chapter Five, the Church really does need to become comfortable in her own skin!  We need to live unapologetically Christian lives.  We need to be the peculiar people, royal priesthood, and holy nation that Saint Peter talks about.

As we grow in our unique identity as Jesus-followers, the world around us will not only notice that we are “different”, they will want to know why and how!  And, the truth be told, that won’t be an easy path to follow.  Not only is the world around us no longer a Christian culture, the memory of its having been so is fading.

At our Thursday “Chapter Meeting” I’ll be laying out some of the ideas that Dreher offers on how to form and cultivate a distinctive Christian community within the Church.  Not only that, I’ve been trying to gather ideas from other sources, as well.

In the meantime, here are some videos that I pray will help us in our journey.  The first is last Sunday’s Sermon and Mass.  The second is a talk given by Esther de Waal at Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London concerning the way (Rule) of Saint Benedict and how it’s impacted her life and relationship with Jesus.  The third is a video from Saint Meinrad Archabbey that focuses on how ordinary folks can live their lives in the way of Saint Benedict.  The fourth is from “Mother Miriam Live” and also deals with how ordinary folks can live in the way of Saint Benedict.  And, finally, I thought I’d throw in a “Hymn to Help Us Through”.



So, until Thursday evening…

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and for ever!  Amen!

Father Todd

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Pandemics and Small Churches...

Dear Brothers and Sisters of Mary and Martha, 

This is a difficult article to read, but it’s really worth taking the time to do so.  There are some good insights here (especially following up on the sermon I preached last Sunday – about the Church needing to become comfortable in her own skin again!).

Brothers and Sisters at Bethany House, would you please take a few moments and read this article?  Once you get past the “bad news”, there are some encouraging things to note!!  This is especially true for us as we investigate “The Benedict Option” and ways of being a vital Church community!

Father Todd

 

“The Pandemic and the Demise of the Church”…

by The Rt. Rev’d. David Epps

A recent Barna poll has indicated that, in the next 18 months, 20% of all churches in the United States are likely to close as a result of the pandemic. If accurate, this would mean that, in the United States, 9,491 Southern Baptist churches (out of 47,456 churches as of 2018) would shut down. With 17,000 parishes, the Catholics Church would close 3,400 churches. The Assemblies of God and the Church of God in Christ would both lose 2,400 churches. Other denominations would be similarly affected. Part of the reason may be financial.

An April 24, 2020 article in the Washington Post states that churches, especially small churches, are living week to week, have eliminated much of paid staff, and are struggling to pay their mortgages. Even though congregations may not be meeting as usual, the expenses are virtually the same. A significant portion of church-goers have a “movie ticket mentality.” That is, “If I don’t go to a movie, I don’t pay for a ticket,” which translates as, “If I don’t go to church, I don’t give an offering.” It is a flawed concept of stewardship but is wide spread in some circles.

Another factor may be that only about 20% of churches were live streaming their services prior to the pandemic. The church was, thus, out of sight and out of mind.  Many church leaders were having to learn how and what to do and decide if they could afford to live stream. Most realized that they could not afford to neglect live streaming.

More troublesome, 58% of pastors surveyed believe that their own church will not survive the current crisis. If the pastors themselves have this gloomy viewpoint, it stands to reason that their congregations will likely be affected by their pessimism. Leaders set the tone. Even if they try to hide their true feelings, many people are able to pick up on the non-verbal signals and indicators. If the captain believes the ship will sink, what hope has the crew?

Of course, this phenomenon is not new, even among church leaders. In the Gospels, Jesus himself seems to be regularly chiding his disciples for their lack of faith.  They seem to have forgotten that it is Jesus who said, “I will build my Church,” and that he promised that the “gates of hell” would not prevail against it. The Church has survived Roman persecution, Nazism, Communism, the Black Death, atheism, militant socialism, Fascism, and all manner of unfavorable circumstances. However, faith is required on the part of its members and leaders so it is very possible that some individual churches will not survive. The Church, however, is in no danger.

Another disheartening fact is that, for churches that do live stream, fully 1/3 of the active congregation does not and has not tuned in to watch. It’s hard to argue with politicians who say the church is not essential when that many people who are church members see their own church service as irrelevant.

If churches fail, it will not be the fault of the pandemic. It will not be the fault of the government, as indifferent or hostile as governments can be to spiritual matters. The blame will rest in the hands of its leaders and members who allowed it to die through neglect, apathy, and lack of faith.

I, for one, have a more positive outlook than Barna or the Washington Post. My personal experience is that the church leaders I know are finding ways – sometimes very innovative ways – to minister to their people. Most are working harder than they were prior to the pandemic. In the church I serve, almost all of the people have continued to be faithful in their giving. This summer we received an annual offering to help build churches in this country. Our “pandemic offering” was several hundred dollars higher than in 2019 when there was no pandemic. The offerings on Sundays are down but the checks we receive in the mail and donations online are up.

Churches, including our own, have discovered that the audience they have from live streaming is likely several times larger than in-house attendance prior to the current situation. In other words, people who have never visited their church are visiting for the first time through live streaming.

There is the danger that people who have broken the habit of church attendance may be tempted to stay absent. It is also possible that those who have only been to “virtual church” during this time will want to stay home in their pajamas and drink coffee as they watch church from the comfort of their recliner. This would be a shame.

When Genesis records that God said, “It is not good that man should be alone,” He meant that. Man (or humankind, if you prefer) was not created to be a solitary creature. In the New Testament, the admonition is given to “not forsake the assembling of yourselves together.” When Jesus himself addresses seven churches in the Book of Revelation, those messages are given to the gathered church, not to individuals. Almost all the Epistles are addressed to congregations. There is no such thing as “solitary Christianity.”  There is no, “It’s just me, my Bible, and Jesus.”

The pandemic will pass soon enough and the Church will be changed, I hope and trust, for the better. Already many churches are planning to re-open, new ministries have been created, some programs and ministries have been re-started, and ministries before the pandemic are being re-evaluated as to their current relevance. The Church will be here long after the pandemic and hostile politicians are but a memory.

In the meantime, “having done all to stand, stand therefore.” Have some faith, participate when and where you can, be faithful to give generously to your church, pray often, and read God’s Word. Pastors and priests, please lead—don’t limp—through this crisis. None of this has caught God off guard. It’s His Church, not yours, so adjust your attitude and actions and trust Him. He is faithful when we are not and He has answers when we are clueless. Let’s thrive, not merely survive, during these days!

The Rt. Rev’d. David Epps is the Rector of the Cathedral of Christ the King (www.ctk.life). During the crisis, the church is live streaming at 10:00 a.m. on Sundays. He is the bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-South and can be contacted at davidepps@ctk.life.

This article appeared in The Citizen newspaper, Fayette County, Georgia for the September 23,  2020 edition.



Saturday, September 19, 2020

Christians and Politics...

Hmmm.  Here's some food for thought, especially as we face elections.

This is an article by The Rev’d. Timothy Keller, founder of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.  There are some good insights and reminders here.  Of course, as Anglicans (in the ACNA) we are pro-life and must weigh all of our voting decisions in the light of that most fundamental of human rights.  Without the right to life, no political agenda matters.

Father Todd

How Do Christians Fit Into the Two-Party System? They Don’t


Friday, September 18, 2020

It’s Time to Return to Prayer…

This is some very good food for thought.  What catches my eye immediately is that it calls us to fit our lives into our faith, not our faith into our lives.  Powerful.

(By the way, this is the vision of faith I was raised with - a vision of the faith handed down by Father John Wesley!)

Father Todd

 

Here are Dustin Messer’s thoughts about this picture and its implications for our lives…

I love this picture of John Wesley’s prayer room.

The early “Methodists” were called such because they followed a method, a way of life.  They could have been called “Rhythmists” or “Habitists”.  They didn't fit the faith into their lives, they fit their lives into the faith.  For them, discipleship was a holistic call on their very being, not something that could be compartmentalized or outsourced.

The Church of six months ago, by contrast, could be called “Programists”.  In his kindness, God is calling us back to an older, better way.  Today, we’re asking, “What does faith look like if we can’t go to events?”  Maybe at the end of this, we’ll look more like the Methodists of old as we trade in new programs for old habits?

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Strolling to Work…

Hurrying is the enemy of our peace and joy through contemplation.  I know this to be true because I’ve spent untold years hurrying…to catch up, to not be late, to make up for whatever I had not done, et cetera.  I was the kid whose report card always read: “Todd is very gifted, but does not use his time well.  He could achieve more if he would manage his time better.”  (That’s an actual quote from one of my Third Grade report cards.)

So here I am in my early 50’s still hurrying…and I don’t know why.  I find myself hurrying to get out the door in the morning.  I find myself hurrying (and impatient) on my hour-long commute to work.  I find myself hurrying to get things ready for Church.  And the list goes on and on.  And all the while I’m longing for peace.  I’m waiting to “exhale”.  I’m waiting to notice (and live) the beauty of life.

Then it dawned on me (for the hundredth time!): By managing my time better I can free myself from being a slave to the clock.  And this is really important for me.  I’m leading a parish that’s looking at “The Rule of St. Benedict” as a means of going deeper with Jesus.  And you can’t read the Rule without noticing that St. Benedict rightly calls on the brothers/sisters in the monastery to observe the times of the day and the need for quiet and focus in prayer as well as an attitude of quiet and focus in prayerful labor.

So I finally decided to make a change.  After all, I can’t preach what I’m not practicing!  And the change started by “strolling to work” instead of “rushing to work”.  I also serve as a full-time prison chaplain at a prison an hour away from home.  So I have ten hours (sometimes more) in which to find either peace and joy through contemplation each week or stress and tension through hurrying.

I knew that I had to make a change when I began feeling a deeper separation from God.  I knew that I wasn’t caring for myself in the way he asks us to…and I felt it.  So I decided to slow down during my morning commute each day!

On the first morning I tried this (just a couple of weeks ago) it was slightly cool, a little foggy, and such a beautiful morning.  I drive through the hills of eastern Kentucky (part my drive is through the Daniel Boone National Forest, around Cave Run Lake!).  It was like I was seeing everything around me for the first time.  And the thought came into my mind that I was “walking to work” instead of driving to work.

To be honest with you, I have become the driver that I used to get angry with…the one that drives under the speed limit!  I really had the sense that I was strolling to work in a leisurely fashion.  The only thing missing was a neighbor to wave to!  I couldn’t believe the peace and joy that I had been missing.

I’m praying while in the car again.  I’m letting my mind wander with Jesus as he shows me the goldenrod and lets me hear the crickets and birds through the open moon roof.  I’m finding wholeness again.  I’m sensing God’s peace in my heart and mind again.  I won’t regret the years in which I denied myself this blessing, but I’ll do everything I can to not go back to those ways again.

If you can, please “stroll to work” tomorrow!

Father Todd



So Very True!!

Saint Teresa of Calcutta, pray with us!
We need to hear Gods voice!


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Too Tired for Jesus…

I’m sitting in my office, listening to the men gather for worship in the Chapel.  Their voices are full of energy and their anointed singing should be enough to lift anyone who’s feeling down.  But it’s not working for me.  Their energy seems to be magnifying my weariness.  Their faith seems to make me all the more tired.  Their joy makes me want to run away.

I’m busy.  In point of fact, I’m overly busy – between prison, Church, and home.  I never stop.  There’s always something more to be done.  I have less than a one day weekend.  I’m averaging 4 to 6 hours of sleep per night.  My attention is drawn to several things at once each day.  I have no time to reflect.  My nights are short and full of strange dreams – as my brain tries to make sense of all that it’s processing.  I feel like I can’t exhale.  I feel like I’m running to keep up.  I feel like I did when I was working two jobs just to keep the bills paid, the lights on, and a roof over my head.  I feel like the working poor.

I’ve often wondered why the poor don’t seem to darken the doors of the Church.  I’ve often wondered why the Churches are populated only by the middle class (what’s left of it, anyway), the retired, and the very religiously committed.  After tonight’s insight, I think I know why.  The vast majority of young families are scrambling to juggle the necessities of daily living.  The vast majority of single moms are juggling even harder.  And now, with COVID-19, families and single moms have added the title of “teacher” to their already over-stretched list.

The Church is offering the working poor, struggling families, single moms and many other stressed people smiles, coffee, doughnuts, and promises of Jesus’ love.  But when you’re over-stressed, it only magnifies your weariness, makes you feel even more tired, and makes you want to run away.  In a very real way, our society is too tired for Jesus.

We’ve got all we can handle with news of riots, fear for our children’s future, jobs being lost, politicians acting like morons, sources of childcare vanishing, wondering how we’re going to make sure that the bills are paid, wondering how we’re going to hold our relationships together, and wondering how we’re going to make sure our kids are adequately learning and growing.  I can completely understand why the working poor and young families are too tired for Jesus.  When you’re in crisis you focus only on the basics, and the Church has failed to offer help with the basics.  The Church is too busy being a club that meets its own needs.

Church, it’s time to think like the working poor and struggling young families.

Father Todd



Monday, September 14, 2020

This Week at Bethany House...

Hello, Companions of Mary and Martha (and special friends, too)!!

Like the rest of the wider Church, we’re continuing to hobble along in the surreal times in which we live!  But we know that God is in control, even if things seem beyond odd.  After looking at the ongoing research into how COVID-19 is spread, we’ve decided to not sing during Mass for the foreseeable future (not least because we have several folks with health issues that place them in the high risk categories).

I’m thrilled to continue sharing my series of sermons on Rod Dreher’s book “The Benedict Option”.  This week I shared from Chapter Four and will continue its theme on Thursday in the “Chapter Meeting”.  Links to video from Sunday Mass and last week’s “Chapter Meeting” (as well as a “Hymn to Help Us Through”) are included below…



Please keep Curt, Linda, Diana, and Jim in your prayers.  They are dealing with health issues.

Until Thursday evening…

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and always!  Amen!

Father Todd

Friday, September 11, 2020

This Week’s Chapter Meeting...

“The Benedict Option” Chapter Three…

Hello, Brothers and Sisters of Mary and Martha (and special friends, too)!

With each passing week, as we continue our study of “The Benedict Option”, I’m becoming more excited about the possibilities and find myself more deeply drawn to Saint Benedict’s way of being a Christian!  My sermon last Sunday and this week’s Chapter Meeting both focus on how and why we’re living fragmented lives (both individually and communally) and how “The Rule of Saint Benedict” can help us draw together those fragmented pieces into a healthy and Christ-centered whole.

I’m stunned at how timely Saint Benedict’s rule is for people living in the 21st century!  But I guess that that shouldn’t be a surprise to us.  After all, Saint Benedict is simply applying sacred Scripture (which is absolutely timeless and always relevant) to the life of Jesus’ disciples.  To help us further explore how “The Rule of Saint Benedict” can help us individually and communally, I’ve included some video links below that give us a glimpse of how this happens.

The first is, of course, the Chapter Meeting at Bethany House.  But the others pertain to living the way of Saint Benedict, both in a monastery and as Oblates (people like you and me who are not monks or nuns, but who wish to include the Rule in their daily lives)…




 


I have received word that the copies of “The Rule of Saint Benedict” that I ordered for us have now shipped.  Two copies are spoken for, but five are still available (at no cost) to all who would like one!!  And, as I shared last week, I’d like to heartily encourage you to invest in two other books.  Please consider purchasing your own copy of Rod Dreher’s “The Benedict Option” (I believe it’s $11.00 on Amazon).  I’d also encourage you to have your own copy of Esther de Waal’s “Seeking God: The Way of Saint Benedict”!

And now it’s time for me to hit the road, but I eagerly look forward to worshiping with you on Sunday!!

Until then…

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and for ever!  Amen!

Father Todd