Do you remember the first time in your life when you were aware of feeling scared?

My first memory of feeling scared is from my childhood in the Philippines, visiting relatives. Auntie Ems rented living quarters in the back of her property to various boarders, one of whom had a child with whom I sometimes played. We were running around one day when my playmate decided it would be funny to lock me inside their small, two-room home and not tell anyone. I remember hearing the door lock and looking outside the window just in time to see her running away, laughing, with her house key in hand and no one else in the house. I couldn’t figure out a way to get out. I began to panic. I felt so scared, so alone, and I didn’t think anyone would ever figure out how or where to find me. (Eventually another boarder saw me banging on the window and ran to get my aunt, to let me out. I told Auntie Ems I didn’t want to play with that particular playmate anymore!)

Last night in the Parish Hall, 75 folks from a variety of denominations and faiths heard a man from another country tell his own story of being scared: a story not from his childhood but from the present day. He recently left his homeland, fearing and fleeing for his life; as a journalist and radio personality in his country, he had dared to speak bold truth to corrupt power. He hoped to feel a sense of safety and sanctuary here in America. He hoped to feel a sense of security. He hoped to feel hopeful, for life and for living. As he spoke last night, it was clear that today, here in America in our own city of Baltimore, he feels none of these things.

What he does feel is scared.

Today as followers of Christ we celebrate our Lord’s ascension, an oft-neglected feast of the church. But as one contemporary biblical scholar reflects:

 … it’s worth retaining and remembering, because Ascension Day reminds us that we cannot limit God. For while God came to us in the flesh in the person of Jesus, Jesus’ ascension reminds us that we can’t restrict God to any one place. Jesus’ ascension, then, isn’t about his leaving – his disciples, us, the world – but rather is about the simultaneous confession that 1) God has chosen to be located in our physical world so that God may be accessible to us, and 2) God refuses to be limited even to those important places.

No building, no people, no book, no religion, even, can limit God’s ability to be accessible to others.

Who are we to say God resides “here” but not “there”? Who are we to proclaim salvation to some – some people, some religion, some faith – and not to all? And if we are all truly God’s children – kin to one another, bound by our common humanity, made of flesh and spirit, each of of us capable of feeling fear, anger, sadness and joy – are we not bound to treat one another as we ourselves would want to be treated in similar circumstances? To free a scared child, locked inside a building without her consent? To give hope and to provide a sense of safety and security to a fellow human being, fearing and fleeing for his very life?

All things are born of you, O God.

We carry within us your light and your life.

In the mystery of matter

and deep in the cells of our souls

are your longings for oneness.

The oneness of the universe

vast and vibrating with the sound of its beginning.

The oneness of the earth

greening and teeming as a single body.

The oneness of the human soul

a sacred countenance in infinite form.

Grant us your longings for oneness, O God,

amidst life’s glorious multiplicities.

~John Philip Newell

Grant us your longings, O God, and grant us the courage, the will, to act.


Sabbath is that uncluttered time and space in which we can distance ourselves from our own activities enough to see what God is doing.
—Eugene Peterson

 As the dawn of my sabbatical is on the horizon starting Monday, I find myself beginning to reflect about the upcoming reality. This will be a new experience. I have not taken a sabbatical before….ever.  I am reminded of one of my favorite prayers in our Book of Common Prayer: This is another day O Lord. I do not know what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be. If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely. If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly. If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently. And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly. Make these words more than words and give me the spirit of Jesus. Amen

While I do not know exactly what this time “will bring forth”, what I do know is how grateful I am to David and the Vestry for this gift of time.  I feel fortunate to be entering this period that all is well with my mind, body and spirit. That sense of well-being will be a affirmative foundation on which to navigate how I spend my days, focused on being vulnerable to and curious about deepening my relationship with God. Leading up to my unexpected call to ministry 17 years ago, I had chapters of passion that included gardening, photography, painting and building stone walls. (Yes, you read that right!) During those periods I became aware that they were not just ‘pastimes’ but rather experiences of the spiritual. Claiming them as “holy” and not “hobbies” at the time was a huge insight for my personal faith journey. Therefore, I want to return to those areas (well maybe not the stone walls!) in order to reengage with that which gave roots to my pilgrimage. In addition I plan to spend extended quiet time at our cottage in Tidewater Virginia. The view of the Chesapeake Bay is my sanctuary which provides a tranquil sense of being.

I want to thank you, this wonderful congregation, for all the support I have received since my sabbatical was announced. Your well wishes, your enthusiasm, your prayers have meant so, so much. Being on sabbatical does not mean I will leave ‘you’ in my office until I return. For me, it means holding all the relationships in my heart. It reminds me of a mother who goes on a trip away from her children….she does not put away her caring for the children….they are always right before her….and so will  you be as well.

I end with the following quote that seems so fitting:

Sabbath means to cease not only from work itself, but also from the need to accomplish and be productive, from the worry and tension that accompany our modern criterion of efficiency, from our efforts to be in control of our lives as if we were God, from our possessiveness and our enculturation, and, finally, from the humdrum and meaninglessness that result when life is pursued without the Lord at the center of it all.
—Marva J. Dawn

I look forward to reuniting with you all during the 2nd week of August.



A parishioner shared a blog entitled “Grow Christians” to pass on to the families who receive our Children and Youth weekly e-mail updates.  The title is intriguing, and perhaps so are the images that it conjures up for you.  The blog is directed at how families go about living out their faith in their homes in our challenging times.  But what exactly does it mean to grow a Christian?

From the Children’s Ministries perspective…I have found the members of the Redeemer community of all ages to be an important part of that growth for me – I hope that it has been that for you as well.  Less than a year ago, Paul and I were given the opportunity to grow even more by taking on the challenges of the roles of Director of Children’s Ministries and Director of Youth Ministries.  It has been and continues to be a powerful experience.  Every day I get to think about how to share with our children in some small way the love of Christ and the richness of our tradition, as well as opportunities to think about how to be their best selves.  Right now, our Sunday School classes are looking at the story of “Joseph and His Brothers.”  What a compelling story! It is full of opportunities to talk about families, feelings and forgiveness, how God acts through all our brothers and sisters and how we can choose in any situation to be our “best self”.

And from the Youth Ministries perspective…While many of our families with older youth are feeling overwhelmed by the culmination of school, sports, extra-curriculars, and all the other events that seem to pile up in May, we encourage our youth and families to embrace the chaos together.  Redeemer will contribute to the number of activities by celebrating our children and youth this weekend, by welcoming our confirmands into the church next weekend and then sending off our RYG seniors!

Speaking of seniors, a coach I worked with early in my career shared a nugget of wisdom that has stuck with me through the years, which was, “Players never get another senior year.” I’ve aspired to uphold that standard and the accompanying responsibility when leading youth.  I’m excited that our youth programming is becoming more and more engaged with our own community, as well as greater Baltimore, and that our youth are making the connections between faith, action, service and love.

Our hope is to continue to grow these ministries, and we also hope that the families of our parish will find them to be a help as they go about “growing Christians”.  If you agree about the importance of this task, we would love to talk more with you – there are so many opportunities to volunteer!

The latest “Grow Christians” blog by Rachel Jones begins, “You know that old saying about how it takes a village to raise a child? It doesn’t just take the hands and feet of the village – it takes the love and prayers and best hopes of a village to raise a child, too.”  This Sunday at 10:00 during our Children and Youth Service, we will acknowledge and celebrate the youngest members of our parish.  Let’s also celebrate the village of Redeemer – all those who love them and pray for them and place their best hopes in them.   We look forward to seeing you there!

~Kathy LaPlant and Paul Smith

Dear Folks,

As we reported at the Annual Meeting last Sunday, 2016 was a strong year by almost every measure.  We saw dramatic increases in mid-week events and measured increases in weekend attendance; generous 2016 financial support and careful stewardship resulted in a $155,000 surplus, which will be directed toward the endowment; relationships with the wider community were deepened through a shift in perspective from “outreach” to “engagement,” and regularly gathering parish leaders for mutual support and information-sharing; adult education programming significantly widened our reach, attracting hundreds of people to hear speakers, meet authors or enjoy a silent retreat, and many of the participants we’ve welcomed are brand new to Redeemer.

Thank you for your good questions on Sunday: Is there similar growth in Sunday School families… How are we doing with children’s programming… What kind of resources do we need sustain our parish growth and build on it?  What does Redeemer look like in 3 years, 5 years, 10 years, and how are we charting our path to get there?

The staff debriefed the meeting on Tuesday, and along with Vestry leadership, we will use your questions to shape our work going forward.  As I said on Sunday, we have room to grow in the numbers of children and teenagers, young families, un-partnered adults, and millennials we serve at weekend worship services, but we are very excited about the large numbers of those folks we are attracting to our other offerings… and all of that is Church!  Important questions remain about how best to nurture those relationships and facilitate Redeemer’s mission to build the broadest possible community in Baltimore.

Thank you for your patience, too, since the service was longer than intended!  Next year we will print more information for you in the service leaflet, tighten our meeting agenda, and move the time for questions and discussion to a Rector’s forum following the service.

I also reported that 2017 pledges are not yet where we hoped they would be.  The shortfall as of April 30 is $80,000 (the overall goal for pledges is $1.275 million), and the gap is due primarily to the deaths of several long-term parishioners.  Churches like us which are growing in mission must consistently build their base of contributing members, inspiring visitors to become members and long-time supporters to become even more engaged.  I ask you to return thanks to God through your robust support of Redeemer.

The good news is all the ways that Redeemer is thriving today.  Our challenge is that the church we are called to build is for the future: for children and neighbors and strangers that we do not yet know.  That exciting task will require leadership gifts from all of us, in time and talent and treasure.  Ahead for us is a continued focused mission that draws Redeemer more deeply into Baltimore,  inspired programming and worship that nourish an evolving community, planned giving that enables the current generation to support the ones that follow, and inspirational annual support that responds to the Biblical call.

I am inspired and nourished by you, thankful for you, and so blessed to be on the journey with you.



P.S. Click here to make a  2017 pledge or increase your current pledge.   Click here to make a gift to Redeemer  through our online giving program.