Advent is not about Christmas Ads

The Rev. Claudia Smith Rector St. Francis by the Sea

The Rev. Claudia Smith
Rector St. Francis by the Sea


Dear friends,

Welcome to the four-week period leading up to Christmas – a season in the church that we call Advent. At no time in the entire year is the counter-cultural nature of the church made clearer than during Advent. You see, now that we have checked Thanksgiving off the calendar, it seems the entire world is focused on Christmas. Beginning with all the marketing hype about making sure we buy the “perfect” gift so we can have the “perfect” holiday surrounded by our loving circle of “perfect” family and friends. Even if you don’t buy-into that sort of rampant commercial nonsense, there’s no escaping the endless round of Christmas carols on the radio or the plethora of nativity scenes that start popping up all over. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the beauty of the sights and sounds of Christmas, but the church in her wisdom, stands firm on the fact that it’s too soon – we’re jumping ahead of ourselves. We’re not ready for the baby Jesus to be born. We have to prepare.

The First Sunday in Advent 2015

The First Sunday in Advent 2015

Now the secular world will tell you to “get ready” by focusing on Christmas, but the church has a very different idea. Over the four Sunday’s that comprise Advent, we’ll hear a variety of readings that barely even mention Jesus or his remarkable birth. Instead we’ll read a variety of texts that speak about how broken the world is and God’s attempts to raise-up people like John the Baptist to call us into a deeper and different relationship with God. The church’s view of preparation is to spend the next four weeks cleaning house and sorting through those things that are in the way of our becoming the people God created us to be. If we are to truly see the light that God brings into the world with the birth of Jesus, we first must clean our lens. In other words, Advent is a time to break out the metaphorical Windex!

Ultimately Advent is calling us to awaken to our need for redemption and prepare ourselves for a different way of being God’s clip advent preparepeople. You see, God came into the world in the form of the most vulnerable among us – not when the world was a perfect or tidy place, but with all of its pain and suffering and struggle. This year, as we wait for Christmas, may it not be in a passive way of simply marking time until the big day; rather may it be a fruitful time of introspection and spiritual house-cleaning, making space within our hearts for new life to be born yet again.

Advent blessings,



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In Case You Missed It (ICYMI)

Here is the First Sunday in Advent sermon, November 29, 2015, from St. Francis by the Sea and The Rev. Claudia Wyatt Smith:

You may now listen to the full 10 am service for Sunday, November 29, 2015. Simply click on the player below:


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A Celebration of Life and Laughter

On Saturday, November 21, 2015, St. Francis by the Sea said a fond final farewell to one of its most dedicated founders Emily Chaney.

As our rector The Rev. Claudia Wyatt Smith wrote on Nov. 6th: “Many of you knew Emily for years as the stalwart head of communications at St. Francis by the Sea.
As the editor of The Franciscan, she shareIMG_1097d the news of the parish with professionalism and humor as only Emily could. Her work in so many areas of parish life, in fact, became the model of what it meant to be engaged in the life of the parish and community, making her the first recipient of the award that was named in her honor. She moved to a senior community in Topsham to be closer to her daughter and it was there that she lost her battle with cancer on Tuesday evening.”

By clicking below you will be able to hear the Homily by the Rev. Vesta Kowalski:

Click on “Continue Reading” to see the photo gallery from the Celebration of Life of Emily Chaney.

Continue reading

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Twitter All a-Twitter: Passing of the Pastoral Staff

A magical day in DC as Michael Bruce Curry became the 27th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church!

The 2nd Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan,
Todd Ousley ‏@ToddOusley tweeted during the installation inside the Washington National Cathedral:

“Wading in the Water at Installation of Michael Curry as Presiding Bishop”

And our own 9th Bishop of Maine— Stephen Lane (@bishop_maine)  ‘waded’  in on twitter, too!:


“Michael is preaching the Word! What God has done before, God can do among us.”

Our New England neighbor the 10th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont — Thomas Ely (@BishopVT10) shared the big moment:

Thanks to YouTube you may now watch The Right Reverend Michael Bruce Curry’s first sermon as the 27th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church

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And Why Are YOU Here???

It is not a judgemental question. It is just one of the questions embraced by the 2016 St. Francis by the Sea Stewardship Campaign. Co-chair of the committee, Mary Crawford made an emotional appeal to kick off the Campaign.

“Why am I here? What brought me here? What keeps me here?”

Sarah Everdell spoke during the service in the second week, but because of a technical problem we were unable to record it.
Week three was St. Francis Treasurer Kevin Hunt

and as eClare reported:Sarah and Kevin spoke openly about personal great loss and the role of St Francis in their lives as each of them has struggled to regain their footing. “

Week Four brought forth LaLonde Pledgetwo of the biggest and most contagious smiles — John Paul & Milissa LaLone. They shared fun and moving reasons why they are at St. Francis, what brought them here and what keeps them here. which was delivered with the love they bring to our parish.

When Mary Crawford asked anyone who has ever served on a Stewardship Campaign or the Vestry to come forward and stand with her —
Continue reading

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An UN-Conventional Bishop?

This is how Bishop Stephen T. Lane added a personal “light” touch to the 196th Convention of the Episcopal Church in Maine


For all the conventional actions at the Diocesan Convention simply click here!

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Reaching Out from the St. Francis Fair

This year’s St. Francis Fair partner is more than $9,000 richer as Fair Chair Sarah Everdell presented Nichols Day Camp located on Walker Pond in Sargentville their fair share of the Fair proceeds. Gratefully accepting the check is the executive director Nan Fowler. You can hear the presentation and Nan Fowler’s powerful thank you simply click here:

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Blessing of the Animals Sunday In Case You Missed It!

Here is the Sunday, October 4, 2015, Blessing of the Animals sermon from St. Francis by the Sea Rector, The Rev. Claudia Wyatt Smith.  Just click below:

You may now listen to the full 10 am service for Blessing of the Animals Sunday,October 4, 2015. Simply click below:



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As, Barbara Brady wrote in the Sunday bulletin about the flowers: “After some monkeying around dog-gone-it, Mary Gallant has created the purr-fect arrangements in celebration of the Blessing of the Animals. (catmint; elephant ears; dogwood; foxglove; turtle head; snap dragon; zebra grass; and snake root to name a few)”

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Dog Gone It!

St. Francis by the Sea went to the dogs on Sunday, October 4, 2015 for Blessing of the Animals. There was only one cat, kept in her carrier so as not to scare the pups.  Take a look at some of our furry friends enjoying the 10 am Service!

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And then we all moved outside for the actual Blessing of the Animals!

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Rainy Days and Sundays!

“Prayers in the Park” may have been “rained out” Sunday, September 13, 2015, but the service simply moved indoors. The Prayers in the Park ‘Great Creating Spirit ‘ non-denominational service celebrating the Oneness of God’s creation. Including music by Heather Ford and Douglas Beck (Celtic Harp).

For some pictures follow this: Continue reading

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Mixing Church Business & Pleasure

It’s been such a busy summer that St. Francis tried something new.  Holding the Annual Picnic right after the Annual Meeting that was right after the 10 am service on August 30th.  And it worked!!  We had a wonderful turn-out for everything to the point it was almost a “standing room only” audience.IMG_0301

But with fast-moving volunteers everyone had a seat at the table(s).  The Rev. Claudia Wyatt Smith called the meeting to order by saying “I know that it is warm and everyone would like to move along to the eating part… so, let us pray.”

“Almighty and ever-living God, ruler of all things in Heaven and on Earth, hear our prayers for this parish family. Strengthen the faithful,  arouse the careless and restore the penitent. Grant us all things necessary for our common life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Since everyone had an opportunity to read the annual report in advance, the meeting moved right along approving last year’s annual meeting minutes.   Continue reading

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Prayers in the Park on a Sunny Sunday

It was a picture perfect Sunday morning August 23rd as at least 70 people gathered in Blue Hill Town Park for the first of this year’s two St. Francis by the Sea’s “Prayers in the Park”(really by the sea).image  It was a non-denominational service celebrating the oneness of God’s creation using John Philip Newell’s “Great Gathering Spirit”.  The Rev. Claudia Wyatt Smith Officiating with music led by Heather Ford.
Check out some more pictures Continue reading

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Parishioner Makes Prison News in a Good Way!

And it involves prisons, prisoners, and mothers separated from their children. It was that separation that caught the attention and love of one of our dutiful St. Francis summer parishioners, Judith Dulling who found a way for imprisoned mothers to read to their children. As the Founder and Executive Director of  Women’s Storybook Project of Texas, Judith and her highly successful program were recently featured by both The New York Times and by the Huffington Post on HuffPost Live. Click here to see the view the video and read more about keeping kids and mothers connected despite being separated by prison bars.  Judith told us, “Also, although we record the female offenders in Texas prisons, we send books and recordings to the children; and they live all throughout the country with their caretakers. One time, we even mailed recordings and books to Russia!”

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It was a much better than Fair FAIR!

St. Francis by the Sea’s 26th Fair Day was spectacular weather-wise, which brought in a happy crowd, many of whom left with bulging bags or full hands of great bargains:

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In here you will hear how much was collected at the Fair yesterday as of 10 am Sunday from Fair Treasurer Tim Thomas:

but it is just a preliminary number.  To the point that by the time the 10 am service had ended another $1,000 + had been added.  Of course, this is before all expenses are in.  

Some of the photos are in and up just click here.

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Fair Day 2015 in Pictures!

This gallery contains 41 photos.