As most readers already know my mom, Ann Fontaine, passed away earlier this week.
To say I will miss her greatly is an enormous understatement. I don't think I even realize how much I will miss her. I know from the many cards, emails, texts, and social media contacts that I am not the only one.
Her favorite hymn was Come Thou Font of Every Blessing". It is where she got the title for her book of reflections on daily office and it captured her feeling of being found by God.
In one of the last in-depth conversations I had with her she said she felt that her entire life, especially in the church, was all about the serendipity that was created by her relationships.
All of the opportunities she had to be active in the church came from people she already knew either inviting her to join a project or introducing her to other people.
She built relationships all her life. I knew she was ready to go the day she told me she couldn't have any more visitors.
She also said, about politics in the church, to fight the good fight for what you believe in but never make it personal and always do what you can to keep or restore relationships with people.
Her vision of the church was that you are beloved of Jesus no matter what; and there is always a place at the table for you.
She worked to help the church be a place where people could build intentional communities. She worked hard to bring Education for Ministry (EFM) to even more people through on-line gatherings, she was a strong supporter of the movement to allow for the ordination of local priests who are raised up to serve small communities that would never be able afford a full-time priest. When she ran HR Camp in the 1980's she had the kids design the rules they would live under; in the process, teaching them that many of the 'rules' in society that we take for granted can actually be changed through human effort.
The reading from the New Testament for today, speaks to the idea that it's not a bad idea to question the rules we make for ourselves, or that we become enamored of:
...why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations, “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch”? All these regulations refer to things that perish with use; they are simply human commands and teachings.
As I go forward in to the world without my mom, I hope to carry with me her understanding that much that seems fixed in the world can actually be changed with effort; that people and relationships are precious; and that standing up for what you believe in is difficult but worth doing.
I leave you with the text to her favorite hymn. She wanders no more. She is deep within God's infinite love and grace.
Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.
Here I find my greatest treasure;
hither by thy help I've come;
and I hope by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood.
O to grace how great a debtor
daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for Thy courts above.
~Robert Robinson set to Nettleton
Hymn #686 1982 Hymnal
All bible quotes are from the NRSV text at Bible Gateway.
A pdf of the Book of Common Prayer which contains both the lessons for Sundays and the Daily Office can be found at: https://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/book_of_common_prayer.pdf
Mission Clare is a good resource for daily morning and evening prayer online.
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