Lincoln’s Log 8-2-2020

Amazing Grace

“I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present thing, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Rm. 8:39

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come,
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.
                                                                                 Amazing Grace

Every once in a while I get a crazy/fun idea. The last few weeks was one of those times. I decided that I would try to find the “best” version of the song Amazing Grace. I sat down with my phone and our streaming service and started listening. I wasn’t alone, my son, Benedict helped out and the rest of the house tolerated my quirky quest.

First, we narrowed it down to 100 songs, then down to a top 20 and then we put that top 20 in order. It was a fun process and I learned, there are a lot of great versions of this popular song. I also learned about music and style through comparing different versions of the same song. Believe it or not, I’m still not sick of it.

Here are my top 10 in order from #10 to #1. All of these are great and worth listening to over and over again. I also have three instrumental versions that are favorites that I list below as well.

10. Andrea Boccelli, Live in Central Park 2011 (effortless singing)
9. Ralph Stanley (Traditional Bluegrass)
8. Alan Jackson (beautiful bass)
7. Reba McEntire (Powerful female country vocals sung simply)
6. Judy Collins and the Global Virtual Choir (amazing soprano)
5. The Statler Brothers (Christian Barbershop with amazing vocals)
4. Selah (Incredible Gospel and Blues style)
3. LeAnn Rimes (solo acapella – fantastic)
2. Gaither Vocal Band (powerful harmonies, each verses with a unique interpretation)
1. BYU Noteworthy (Wow!)

Incredible instrumental versions
3. Grace Kelly (jazz saxophone)
2. Bow and Ivory (violin and piano duet)
1. Joshua Bell and Friends (Double Wow!)

I’m considering a quest for the best Ave Maria next… any other suggestions?

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 7-26-2020

Deep Listening 3: Meaningful Relationships

“We know that all things work for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.”
Rm. 8:28

What is God asking St. Thomas More to do today and in the months to come?

One of the themes that has emerged from our first listening session on July 12 is the importance and value of meaningful relationships. A sense of hospitality, community, and connection is a core part of who we are as St. Thomas More. A year ago, when I was assigned here, one thing I kept hearing was the hospitality of St. Thomas More. That description has proven to be true. The people of St. Thomas More place a very high value on our relationships and connections with one another. We work to build community by reaching out to each other beyond a friendly nod at Mass. We care for each other. We take the time to make our relationships a priority, even when it is difficult to do.

Relationships are complex, but I think that at St. Thomas More, meaningful relationships have the following characteristics:

  • They are rooted in a shared faith in Jesus Christ and a desire to follow him as his disciple.
  • They recognize the needs of others and strive to meet them in the best way possible.
  • They create intimacy through sharing life and stories.
  • They are built up over time.
  • They are a priority.

These relationships have been tested during the ongoing pandemic. We have not been able to gather in the ways we used to (e.g. limited Mass attendance, no large gatherings, etc… ). The ways we connect with one another have been challenged but these connections make up the heart of our community.

As we listen to our need for meaningful relationships dwelling at the center of our community how are we being called to respond?

There are no simple answers. Relationships take work and time. Jesus spent years with the disciples building relationships with them and bringing them into meaningful relationships with each other.

Looking ahead, the challenges the pandemic presents to our ability to form meaningful relationships are not going away. It is going to take hard work to overcome these challenges. The Reconnect groups are an initial step to help us renew these relationships, but we need to do more. As we plan for the coming months, we are developing ways to help us all grow in having deeper connections and meaningful relationships.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln

Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 7-19-2020

Deep Listening Part 2

“Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
Mt. 13:43

What is God asking St. Thomas More to do today and in the months to come?

Last weekend we had our first listening session. We had 29 participants (6 in church and 23 online). It was a spirit filled time. Here are a few of many comments made by parishioners about what each person heard as we listened to God and one another.

“A continuing online presence moving forward is important to many people.”

“I struck by the need for our parish to be open to the changing world. Maybe we need to be open to how technology can improve our faith and participation.”

“I heard and felt a deep longing for a means to stay connected to the Mass, to the sacraments, and to fellow parishioners.”

“The strong sense of community of STM and the desire to build on that.”

“what I heard was the openness to new ideas and the feeling that we are working together to do the best we can in this troubled time and the future. I am pleased to be a member of this caring parish.”

“The importance of expanding our capacity to gather, in some manifestation, in the virtual world.”

“I heard that virtual connections are important to help people feel connected – and I think that goes beyond the situation of the pandemic. People to be connected and to feel involved in their parish and in their faith.”

“I heard from all the questions and responses….. All of us want to keep Christ alive in ourselves and our world.”

“Relationships and connectedness are very important for our community and that needs to be a central focus on what we do moving forward.”

Thanks to everyone who participated in this first listening session. We will be holding another listening session next month on Wednesday, August 19 at 6:30 pm. Keep praying and listening!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln

Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 7-12-2020

Deep Listening

“Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
Mt. 13:9

What is God asking St. Thomas More to do today and in the months to come?

The world is changing. If you turn on the news it is clear that we are living through a time of intense, deep, and unpredictable change. As disciples of Jesus, we need to respond to this changing reality with bold faith. In order to respond, we need to clearly hear the call of Jesus in the midst of the events happening around us. Jesus is still speaking to His people. He is still directing us to continue His mission in the world to provide hope and healing. The voice of the Lord can be hard to hear in the midst of social upheavals and pandemics, but he is still speaking. But we need to listen extra carefully during times like this. “Whoever has ears ought to hear” (Mt. 13:9).

This weekend (Sunday, July 12 at 11:30 am) we will be holding our first listening session. You can participate in person or online at the STM Facebook page. We will be listening to the voice of God speaking through our community and the events around us. We will be listening for how God is calling us forward in faith.

The process will be simple. We will gather in prayer and ask for God’s guidance and the presence of the Holy Spirit among us. We will then share our responses to the following questions:

  1. What do you love about STM?
  1. What is needed now and in the future at STM?
  1. What would make STM more effective in continuing the mission of Jesus in making disciples?

Everyone will have some time to pray about these questions and then share their responses. There will be other, clarifying questions, if needed to prompt our reflection, but the focus will be on listening to God speaking in our own heart and in the voice of those who are gathered (in person or virtually).

Listening is a spiritual practice. It needs to be ongoing. It is not easy. It is not magic. It will not provide easy answers. But deep listening will allow us to stretch our hearts and minds to hear God’s voice. “Whoever has ears ought to hear” (Mt. 13:9).

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln

Parish Pastoral Leader

P.S. If you can’t make this listening session, we will be holding another one next month on Wednesday, August 19 at 6:30 pm. You can sign up for either listening session by calling the office or at: https://stmparish.flocknote.com/signup/5488