Week of June 2

Dear Friends:

 This Sunday June 2nd at the 10:30 a.m. service we are delighted to be joined by Rabbi/Cantor Shira Sklar in worship. Shira is the Cantor at Temple Shalom in Norwalk. If you are unfamiliar with the role of a cantor, typically the cantor is an ordained clergy member and trained vocalist who leads the congregation in song and prayer throughout the service, and presides over the religious life ceremonies including weddings, funerals, bar/bat mitzvahs. Cantors are also professional educators-- teaching and preparing the congregation, and often running the synagogue's music programs.

It will be a gift to have Shira in worship, and I encourage you to attend the 10:30 am service if you are able. (I heard Shira singing the other day, and her voice is utterly transporting.) In word and song, Shira “will share the message that so beautifully and powerfully guide the identity of her community. In faith, hope and love, we will hear how the Jewish tradition remembers God’s salvation and redemption, and how each generation prepares to receive the divine gifts of law and love so that they can be share in the world around us.” (check out our Instagram post…)

As Christians, our faith is grounded on and built upon our Jewish roots.  When we forget that Judaism is our mother religion, we miss out on one of the richest aspects of our faith, and lose sight of who Jesus really was.  When asked in Mark what the great commandment is, Jesus answered with that which is at the very heart of Judaism: " Hear, O Isreal the Lord our God, the Lord is One; you shall love the Lord your God with all thy heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength’… and you shall love your neighbor as yourself."

Hope to see you in worship on Sunday!

 Yours on the Journey,




“If you don't know history, then you don't know anything.

You are a leaf that doesn't know it is part of a tree.” 
― Michael Crichton

 “To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history?”

― Marcus Tullius Cicero

Week of May 19

Dear Friends:

Connecting, exploring and discovering.  

This past Wednesday a group of sixteen Talmadge Hill folks joined Danny Martin at the Mercy Center in Madison, CT for a full day retreat to delve more deeply into the topic of Mindfulness Dialogue.  It was a rich and productive day of learning how to engage in dialogue with those in our lives, and with the wider culture, in ways that foster a deeper, more attentive and fruitful connection. 

On an individual level, our lives can be transformed as we engage more intentionally and thoughtfully with those we encounter day-to-day. Lisa Michalski beautifully wrote: “We are each getting glimpses of the possibilities offered by a new awareness, ever-renewing ways of seeing, and new ways of listening and relating.”  

But there is urgency, too, that we allow this kind of mindful engagement to move beyond our individual worlds, and into the wider culture.  Danny reflected on why this work of mindful dialogue is so vitally necessary: “We desperately—and urgently—need a new culture that reflects our global circumstances and provides expanded values, principles, beliefs, and structures, and a new high culturethat would deep and refine these values and beliefs…  It was my privilege to walk a little of the way with you as you explore how to take the Talmadge Hill community (as well as your own personal lives) to a new level. This will surely include finding ways of addressing the challenges we all face today and doing so on behalf of a culture that is itself struggling to do so, and perhaps thereby contributing to the development of a new and adequate culture for today’s world: an awesome - but completely real – challenge.”

As Christians, all that we learn and absorb as a faith community is neverintended to stay within the walls of our church.  We are always meant to take our deepest convictions and most precious gifts into the wider, waiting, hungry world.  While it is not easy work, when we bring the skills of deep and generous listening, a willingness to examine one’s assumptions, and an empathic presence to our conversations, we begin to build connections characterized by creativity and love. More than ever, our culture needs people to model interactions defined by empathy, attentiveness and openness.  This is, in fact, the very work Jesus did, and exhorts us to do.  May we be open to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, however challenging. 

Yours on the Journey,



“Faith is an expression of the fact that we exist so that the infinite God can dwell in us and work through us for the well-being of the whole creation. If faith denies anything, it denies that we are tiny, self-obsessed specks of matter who are reaching for the stars but remain hopelessly nailed to the earth stuck in our own self-absorption. Faith is the first part of the bridge from self-centeredness to generosity.” 
― Miroslav Volf, Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace.  

Week of May 12

Dear Friends,

The church is an interesting institution.  It has a long history.  That same history is complicated.  To be fair, one must acknowledge ALL of the good done by the church. To be honest, one must also acknowledge the trail of corruption, greed and violence.  

Many church historians believe that Constantine (Roman Emperor) ruined Christianity in the 4thcentury when it became the official religion of the state.  Listen to what Soren Kierkegaard says:

As the Christian faith was adopted by the Empire, it lost its heart. The clergy got into the position of themselves being controlled. So there was nothing to do but to water down Christianity. And so they continued to water it down till in the end they achieved perfect conformity with an ordinary run of worldly ideas - which were proclaimed as Christianity. That is more or less Protestantism as it is now.

 That is a provocative idea with countless implications.  Christianity is not primarily about being a good citizen.  It is not primarily about preserving the status quo as defined by the rulers of the day.  It is finally not about being a “pretty” good person.  As Kierkegaard suggests, all of these notions are watered down versions of faith.  Faith has a radically different view of reality.  It sees differently.  It calls out the inevitable corruption of power.  It mocks the idols of the dominant culture.  It calls for peace, kindness, forgiveness and sacrificial generosity.  Anything less is not Christianity.  Call it something else.

Institutions have a way of sliding weakly towards self-preservation.  Our Mother’s Day celebration has nothing to do with that old, predictable impulse. It began with a particular vision. It was about throwing open the doors. It was about celebrating a different genre of music.  It was about outreach, collaboration, diversity, and service.  It was about the loaves and fishes. 

We have not lost our heart.  Please come on Sunday morning to hear the Good News Gospel Choir, and see once again a new way of being in the world.