Distractions: Approach or Avoidance?

I recall travelling before my graduation from high school with a friend to Mackinaw, Michigan.  Being history buffs we visited Fort Michlimackinaw on the northern tip of the state’s Lower Peninsula: a French later occupied British fort established before the French and Indian War.   The area had extensive archaeological digs which intrigued us and the museum recreated the digs showing some of the artifacts that were discovered at different depths.   What surprised me was one faded card discovered from a lost deck of playing cards.   The signs read that life on the fort was extremely boring and soldiers were always about attempting to find distractions to ameliorate it.

When is the last time you felt bored?  Boredom is a restlessness in the mind and soul and has been described by mental and spiritual health professionals as when a person’s “center is not holding.”  What does one do when they’re bored?   Most people attempt to stay busy.  We can be extremely busy and still be bored–the busyness distracting us from our boredom.

I often ask myself if my activities are more of an approach to that which is meaningful or a distraction which will push away boredom a little while longer.  There is nothing wrong with distractions.  I enjoy a good game of cards like anyone else does.  The question I ask myself is, “Do I keep seeking stuff on the outside of me to attempt to quell the boredom that comes from the inner part of me?”

I often tell parents when it comes to raising children, to focus more on what they want to approach, say “yes” to, than avoid, say “no” to.   Sometimes “no” is very appropriate such as “don’t touch that hot stove!”  More often than not we can reframe situations for what choices children can approach for a positive outcome than to focus on what to avoid for a negative one.   We can never really learn what to do when we’re focusing on what not to do.

I have found it helpful to listen to the restlessness or the boredom within to hear what the Spirit might be telling me (but it’s not always easy).  One factor in being more restricted in how we’re spending our time during the COVID-19 event is that we will have more time for boredom and restlessness to arise.  Many things we enjoy have been suspended for awhile which can contribute to boredom.  Listening to our restlessness well enough to enter it in all its unpleasantness is a way we can approach the Spirit rather than to avoid what we might really need to hear and know.   Approaching the unrest can be the Voice of the Spirit calling us to Himself, to approach God at the same time to quench the spiritual thirst that lies at the core of our boredom.   Resting in God is never boring.  Resting in God is the place where we receive new direction to leave the enclaves of the fort in which we now find ourselves, know as the “four walls” or “cabin fever” in new ways.

Restlessness and boredom are gifts.  They are the Spirit’s message that calls us to a mutual  Zoom meeting–but the meeting won’t be virtual.  God isn’t limited by a six foot rule.

Give thanks for your restlessness and boredom: they are a path on our way home to God.


Fr. Mark


An Order for Compline – March 25, 2020

Join us on FB Live! for Compline Wednesdays at 7 p.m.  Here is the liturgy:

The Officiant begins

The Lord Almighty grant us a peaceful night and a perfect
end. Amen.

Officiant Our help is in the Name of the Lord;
People The maker of heaven and earth.

The Officiant may then say:  Let us confess our sins to God.

Silence may be kept.

Officiant and People:

Almighty God, our heavenly Father:
We have sinned against you,
through our own fault,
in thought, and word, and deed,
and in what we have left undone.
For the sake of your Son our Lord Jesus Christ,
forgive us all our offenses;
and grant that we may serve you
in newness of life,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.


May the Almighty God grant us forgiveness of all our sins,
and the grace and comfort of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The Officiant O God, make speed to save us.
People O Lord, make haste to help us.

Blessings on Annunciation Day, the day Gabriel visited Mary with the Good News and Mary said, “Yes!”

I was walking on my alternate C-19 Route this morning and it “dawned” on me, on this special day, let’s enact Gabriel’s visit to Mary by a visitation to the homes of our members.  So as I passed the Ward’s, Clark’s, McVea’s, Bullock’s, Robbin’s, and Wallace’s on my walk, I stopped and pronounced a blessing upon them.

Our Book of Occasional Services has a prayer in the Blessing of a Home which I believe is most appropriate for us at this time:

Visit, O blessed Lord, this home with the gladness of your presence. Bless all who live here with the gift of your love; and grant that they may manifest your love [to each other and] to all whose lives they touch. May they grow in grace and in the knowledge and love of you; guide, comfort, and strengthen them; and preserve them in peace, O Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen

Perhaps this prayer might be a benefit to say together with your family or friends on the phone.

This morning and afternoon I will be walking through town and stopping on your sidewalk to offer this prayer and a blessing to you.  For those of you further away, I will either drive out or pray the prayer for you from the church.  This may take me a couple of days.

This is a good time to reflect on the above title of this journal entry.  I didn’t think of this idea.  It was revealed to me.  Another way of defining what prayer is that we spend our time emptying our mind of the “stuff” that keeps us from hearing the still small Voice (I Kings 17) attempting to reach us.  My thinking isn’t transformational.  God’s Voice is.   The best my thinking can do (on a good day) is to remember the past history of Divine Wisdom imparted in God’s revelations and attempt to align my thoughts with them.  Every day we make hundreds of choices automatically, sometimes without reflecting on the source of the criteria by which we make these choices.  Ideally, we can receive fresh revelations which are more finely honed to meet the new situations of the present day.  We never know when Gabriel or Michael, Raphael, Uriel (the Archangels), or the Holy Spirit will stop by for a visit to birth the Word in us anew.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as
it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

One or more of the following Psalms are sung or said. Other suitable
selections may be substituted.

Psalm 31  In te, Domine, speravi

  1. In you, O LORD, have I taken refuge;
    let me never be put to shame: *
    deliver me in your righteousness.
  2. Incline your ear to me; *
    make haste to deliver me.
  3. Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe,
    for you are my crag and my stronghold; *
    for the sake of your Name, lead me and guide me.
  4. Take me out of the net that they have secretly set for me, *
    for you are my tower of strength.
  5. Into your hands I commend my spirit, *
    for you have redeemed me,
    O LORD, O God of truth.
At the end of the Psalms is sung or said

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

One of the following, or some other suitable passage of Scripture, is read

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will
give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me;
for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for
your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Matthew 11:28-30

People Thanks be to God.
A hymn suitable for the evening may be sung.
Then follows

V.    Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit;
R.    For you have redeemed me, O Lord, O God of truth.
V.    Keep us, O Lord, as the apple of your eye;
R.    Hide us under the shadow of your wings.

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Officiant and People

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those
who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

Officiant Lord, hear our prayer;
People And let our cry come to you.
Officiant Let us pray.

The Officiant then says one of the following Collects

Be our light in the darkness, O Lord, and in your great mercy
defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the
love of your only Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the hours
of this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and
chances of this life may rest in your eternal changelessness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Look down, O Lord, from your heavenly throne, and
illumine this night with your celestial brightness; that by
night as by day your people may glorify your holy Name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Visit this place, O Lord, and drive far from it all snares of the
enemy; let your holy angels dwell with us to preserve us in
peace; and let your blessing be upon us always; through Jesus
Christ our Lord. Amen.

One of the following prayers may be added

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or
weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who
sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless
the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the
joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.

or this

O God, your unfailing providence sustains the world we live
in and the life we live: Watch over those, both night and day,
who work while others sleep, and grant that we may never
forget that our common life depends upon each other’s toil;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Silence may be kept, and free intercessions and thanksgivings may be

The service concludes with the Song of Simeon with this Antiphon, which
is sung or said by all

Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping; that awake
we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace.

Lord, you now have set your servant free *
to go in peace as you have promised;

For these eyes of mine have seen the Savior, *
whom you have prepared for all the world to see:

A Light to enlighten the nations, *
and the glory of your people Israel.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

All repeat the Antiphon

Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping; that awake
we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace.

Officiant Let us bless the Lord.
People Thanks be to God.

The Officiant concludes

The almighty and merciful Lord, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
bless us and keep us. Amen.


Fr. Mark and Kathy are…

Greetings brothers and sisters in the Spirit.

It’s been a little over a week now since we’ve been creating holy space between C-19 and ourselves.(I am tired of writing “COVID”).  One of the spiritual mysteries is that we can be connected to one another even though we’re not physically visible to one another.  Spend a moment and close your eyes and recall a special time with a special person.  In the world of the Spirit we are not time-space bound.  Relive the memories and allow them to nourish you.
Kathy and I spend time discussing C-19 from the research (not the news) we read.  We may discuss it 3 or four times a day for a few minutes but limit it to this.  We try to focus on what we want instead of what we don’t want.  So what else are we doing?
Work wise, I have been researching the C-19 and our response to it.  I have been working with our new technology committee ( Vanese Blackmar, Kelly Allen, Paige Johnson and Lindsey Wallace) who are coming up with ways to offer spiritual food and maintain connections over the internet.  I know enough tech to get by and so I’m learning new skills at something that does not come natural to me.  I am also making phone call contacts and will continue to do so.
As far as family life, this is what Kathy and I are doing, realizing that these areas can overlap:
Kathy is off work this month and this gives her more time for spiritual reading and meditation.  I have been taking advantage of the silence to practice the stillness of contemplative prayer and have been reading Biblical word studies to enrich my understanding of the scriptures.   Sometimes I sit still, scan my body for tension and then let it go.
Kathy and I have had more time to visit with each other over the last week than since our last vacation.  We speak of memories, people, spiritual experiences,, what we’re learning and sharing moments when we become restless.  We spend some time apart in different rooms for personal space is important to both of us (I recommend it to you and this is a time to teach your children and grandchildren about learning to spend time alone).  We experience time alone not as isolation but as solitude, which is a positive experience.  I am reading more spiritual and mental health articles and books along with some history. which I never get enough time to read.  I am calling my children and my brother and have reached out to a few old friends. .
Kathy and I have a little more time to think creatively about what we want to cook rather than the usual of hurriedly throwing something together.  We’re savoring what we eat and its goodness, especially since we have more time to prepare it.
Exercise is a challenge for me because I was dependent on the gym.  Kathy and I walk in Patton Park and I am trying to figure out how to transfer exercise from free weights and machines to other methods.  Kathy has had more time for her yoga, exercising and stationary bicycle riding.  If the weather changes, I plan to ride around and photograph a few wildflowers.  I enjoy sitting and resting with no TV or radio and we’re watching a few old movies we like on DVD.
We’re looking into expanding our time into other ventures.  What are y’all doing during this time of what I see as a prolonged retreat?  Let us here from you!
To everything there is a time and season under heaven, (Ecclesiastes),
Fr. Mark and Kathy

What are you doing at home?

While we are all trying to maintain social distancing, a lot of good can be happening. Spending time catching up on the long list of “to-do” items can get a lot of stress out of our lives. Spending time with immediate family and with our pets also can reduce stress. Isn’t it funny that something so stressful, Covid-19, is actually making us do things that will end some stress. There really is a silver lining to every cloud.

I am decluttering, going through my closet and removing clothes that don’t fit, sewing, chatting with friends on the phone.

What are you doing?


Order of Service: 4th Sun in Lent, 3/22/20

Welcome!  We thank God for you and the Spirit that led you to join us in worship.  To prepare for online worship, have ready

+Your Book of Common Prayer; OR

+ Morning Prayer Rite II on your device screen (See:

+ Your device, set to the Church of the Annunciation FaceBook page, or YouTube channel.

The Daily Morning Prayer, Rite II

The Word of God

Opening Sentences……………………………………………………………………….. BCP Pg 76

Confession of Sin………………………………………………………………………….. BCP pg 79

Invitatory………………………………………………………………………………………. BCP pg. 80

Jubilate …………………………………………………………………………………………… BCP pg 82

Psalm 23

1 The Lord is my shepherd; *
I shall not be in want.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures *
and leads me beside still waters.

3 He revives my soul *
and guides me along right pathways for his Name’s sake.

4 Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I shall fear no evil; *
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

5 You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me; *
you have anointed my head with oil,
and my cup is running over.

6 Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, *
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:*

As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.  Amen.

The Lessons:

Old Testament:  1 Samuel 16:1-13

The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you, and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you.” Samuel did what the Lord commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, “Do you come peaceably?” He said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the Lord.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.” Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.

Canticle 14………………………………….. Song of Penitence:  BCP pg. 90

The Gospel:  John 9:1-41

As Jesus walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”

They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided. So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” He said, “He is a prophet.”

The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.

Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him. Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.

Canticle 16…………………………………. Song of Zechariah:  BCP pg. 92


Welcome + Greetings + Announcements

The Apostles’ Creed…………………………………………………………………….. BCP pg. 96

Prayers ………………………………………………………………………………………….. BCP, pg 97

The Lord’s Prayer……………………………………………………………………….. BCP, pg. 97

Suffrage A……………………………………………………………………………………… BCP, pg 97

Collect for the 4th Sunday in Lent:

Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Prayers and Intercessions……………………………………………………………. BCP Pg. 98

The General Thanksgiving……………………………………………………….. BCP, pg 100

Prayer of St. Chrysostom………………………………………………………….. BCP, pg 102

+ The Blessing +

+  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +



† The No Strings Supper continues, but is serving only to-go plates until further notice.  At this point, shopping for and obtaining the food and quantities required to serve almost 100 meals every Wednesday is proving a challenge.  Stay tuned for details on how you can help us work around quantity limitations, shortages, etc.  Questions?  Talk to any coordinator:  Debbie/Ed Moses, Connie Conley/Bryan Banks, Ann Gaines/Rudy Rodriguez, Vanese Blackmar/Lindsey Wallace.

† On the calendar:  The vestry meets today by Zoom at 11:45 a.m.

Coming up at Annunciation:

* Compline on Wednesday evenings at 7 p.m.  Once again, we will gather in spirit, while remaining physically separated.  Check FaceBook Live or YouTube to join the service.

* In the works:  our online version of Godly Play for Annunciation’s young people.  Stay tuned!

To get the most out of online worship, be sure to like, comment and share the FaceBook and Instagram posts.  Fr. Mark is making regular blog posts on the Annunciation website, links to which can be found on the Facebook page.  Regular email messages to the congregation will also continue.  All of these changes are difficult, and require us to be deliberate and intentional to stay connected until we return to the comfort of gathering together physically.  We can do this!

CoA on Facebook:  Church of the Annunciation

CoA website:



Contact Info:

Fr. Mark Bigley:                                  Cell: 423-509-2674



Ron Hagelman, Sr. Warden                             Cell:  830.708.1333



Greg Wallace, Jr. Warden                       Cell:  512.618.3236