Sermon by Canon Kitch at the funeral of Marilyn Croneberger

A Celebration of the Life of Marilyn Croneberger
Christ Church, Reading PA

A sermon preached by The Rev. Canon Anne E. Kitch
January 4, 2014

There is no getting around the fact that today is difficult. We gather today to celebrate life—in particular the life of Marilyn Cronberger. There is indeed much to celebrate. But it would be wrong, and a kind of a lie, not to acknowledge that this celebration takes place in the midst of grief.

The landscape of grief is somewhat like the desert (or a winter blizzard). When the wind blows, the sands shift and the terrain changes. It can look and feel different from day to day, or even hour to hour. Under such circumstances, it is easy to lose our way. No person’s grief is the same as another’s. And not only is grief different for each person, it’s changing topography can be unfathomable for any individual.

Regardless of how we approach grief—whether we try to circumnavigate it, and perhaps some find this necessary and successful; or face it head on, bowing into the gale forces and forging ahead; or wander in the midst of it, opening ourselves to both its ravages and light caresses—neither it nor the power it works on us can be completely avoided. We are changed by grief. And what most of us find so difficult about change is the fear of loss.

But what is true about a life in Christ is that we know that we do not travel alone…ever. Even when it comes to grief and sorrow and pain, God has been there before us. So we do not travel without hope, and we do not travel without love. Clearly, Marilyn traveled with love.

Forty-­‐eight years ago, in the Church of the Good Shepherd in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Marilyn and Jack pledged their love to one another. They promised, that forsaking all others, they would choose to be faithful to one another. And so they have, making loving choices over and over again. In the current marriage rite in the Episcopal Church, these words are prayed over the newly married couple:

Make their life together a sign of Christ’s love to this sinful  and broken world, that unity may overcome estrangement,  forgiveness heal guilt, and joy conquer despair.  (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 429)

These words were not yet in use when Marilyn and Jack were married, but Marilyn and Jack had such a marriage. The love they shared with each other did not remain a private thing. Rather it radiated, so that their life together became a sign of Christ’s love. Their love added love to the world. Look around this church today and see the evidence of their love. Look how it has multiplied.

 You do not need to be long in the presence of any part of Jack and Marilyn’s family to know this love. Together they raised five children who are kind hearted, who care for others and look to make the world a better place, who love their parents, are willing to struggle with difficulty, and who laugh well. In turn, Amber, Judy, Rebecca, Tim and Jen, along with their partners and spouses and children, have chosen to add to the good in the world.

Marilyn’s love was evident in her inspired leadership of Cursillo in the Diocese of Bethlehem and the Diocese of Newark. It was apparent in her commitment to justice by founding a PFLAG chapter. It was obvious in the hospitality she loved to lavish so beautifully on friend and stranger alike, and in her ability to welcome others. Her children’s friends still speak of that welcome and even the friends of her grandchildren were not excluded from her exuberant embrace in recent years.

The gifts of love and faithfulness that Marilyn nourished year after year were so great that even when adversity hit full force she continued to build on her legacy of service to God and others. The welcome that is part of Marilyn’s legacy is surely a reflection of the love of Christ. Jesus promises to welcome anyone who comes to him and Jesus promises us that nothing is lost, “Anyone who comes to me, I will never drive away,” proclaims the Savior of the world, and it is God’s will “that I should lose nothing of all that God has given me.” (John 6:37-­‐40)

This is the promise: that nothing will be lost. There is no place we can be, where Christ is not. Nothing is lost.

Clearly the love Marilyn had for the world, for Jack, for her children and grandchildren, has not been lost. But it is more than that. In God’s economy, her voice has not been lost, her soul has not been lost, her laughter has not been lost. “I shall lose nothing of all that God has given me,” promises Jesus, “I will raise them up on the last day.” This is the promise we hold on to now as we celebrate the life of Marilyn—that she is already partaking in the resurrected life of Jesus. We can imagine her not just being at the banquet table in the heavenly court, but hosting the event.

And this is also the promise that we grasp for ourselves: that we too are God’s beloved. Our lives, our voices, our laughter, our struggles and tears, our grief and our joy, are all precious to God. We too share in the promise of the resurrected life in Christ. There is a place for each of us at the banquet table—and Marilyn is there already, waiting to welcome us.

On Irenaeus, a sermon by Anne Kitch

Diocesan House, Bethlehem
June 28, 2012

Last night our Diocesan deputies to General Convention enjoyed a wonderful dinner hosted by our Bishop. The evening was part of our preparation for General Convention, which begins in a few days. It was a delightful gathering. And while we did discuss issues and schedules and the place of our diocese in the larger Episcopal Church, perhaps the most important part of our preparation was the fellowship, laughter and camaraderie we shared. I can truly say I am grateful for my companions as we travel to Indianapolis next week to take our part in the counsels of the Church.

Continue reading "On Irenaeus, a sermon by Anne Kitch" »

Diocesan Life March/April 2012

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Christian Formation Specialist Adds Days to Calendar

Editor's note: This was recently submitted by the head reporter for Noino. All attempts at verifying the new calendar have met with worldwide committee requests for clarification at the UN.

In a bold move, The Rev. Anne E Kitch, Canon for Formation in the Christian Faith of the Diocese of Bethlehem, presented a new calendar late last week. Known as The Calendar 2012 (but to be referred to as the New Calendar for the next 30 years), its main feature is the addition of three days to the month of March.

“It’s quite straightforward,” said Canon Kitch from her office in Bethlehem. “This year March has 34 days.”  Kitch claims this is hardly an innovation, but rather a formation opportunity (or as others call it, a learning experience). According to the sometimes clamorous canon, both the Julian calendar adopted in 46 BCE and the Gregorian calendar of 1582 only approximate the solar year. “Every 400 years or so, we need to add three days. I thought this was the year to do it,” she articulated.

Tax accountant Royce Beiner was grateful. “We are always so crunched at tax time,” he said, “having these extra days sure makes a difference. I got right down on my knees and thanked her.”

Major John W. Pittston was also enthusiastic, “Wow! I had no idea she was that clever. I’m hopeful she can find some extra days in August too. I could really use them there, September rolls around so swiftly.” Effects were noted as far away as Moscow, where a minor noble hoped all would “use the extra days wisely.”

A venerable official from Diocesan House, who spoke on condition of anonymity, voiced a note of caution. “This does raise some serious issues. For example, where will the Ides of March fall?”

Some speculated that the choice of March for the additional days was not related to ancient precepts but merely because it is Kitch’s birth month. Her Bishop could not be reached for comment.

*****Responsive Reports
Episcopal Laity and Clergy Protest Additional Three Days of Lent

The announcement of an additional three days added to March, and and extension of the already lengthy period of Lenten disciplines was greeted this afternoon by protests among both laity and clergy of the Episcopal Church.  A march on the Cathedral is planned for February 21 (the day before the Christian celebration of Ash Wednesday) and marchers have told Episcopal News Service that they will be wearing green, yellow, and purple in honor of Mardi Gras, and will be presenting Canon Kitch (who allegedly initiated the extended Lent) with a King Cake.  Their shouts of "let her eat cake" are expected to fill the corner of Bridge St. and Third St. around the Cathedral.

While some persons are reported to have jumped for joy at the new March calendar, and others are said to have gotten "down on [their] knees" in gratitude, most Episcopal laity and clergy feel differently, according to Episcopal cafe blogger, Gerns DrewAn.

"Why couldn't she have extended Easter Season to 53 days?  Why Lent?" he wrote.  "Is she some kind of killjoy?  We think she may be allergic to celebration, and hence she extended the season of Lent rather than Eastertide."

Gerns DrewAn suggested that Canon Kitch might want to consider taking a sabbatical on the Neuropsychology of Fun.

Diocesan Life for December 2011/January 2012

Open publication - Free publishing - More floods

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Diocesan Life for November 2011

Open publication - Free publishing - More bluegrass

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Resolutions of Courtesy from Diocesan Convention

By Canon Anne Kitch

May it be resolved, that we who are gathered in this place do most graciously give voice to our joy in thy worshipful servant Bishop Paul, and that we offer unto him deep gratitude for that he hath led us on to ponder "whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report;” and for that he doth continually translate God’s Word for us.

Resolved, we salute Bishop Jack for being an all around holy man and for proving that it is possible to take our faith seriously while maintaining a light heart.

Resolved, we admire Canon Jane Teter for knitting the Diocese together through the warmth of her spirit and the multitude of her ministries.

Resolved, we humbly honor Stephen Tomor, the New Hope Campaign Coordinator in Kajo-Keji, and offer heartfelt gratitude for his faithful oversight of the construction of the schools in South Sudan.

Resolved, we applaud and support the deep Christian compassion manifested by the spontaneous outpouring of aid from parishes and individuals in our Diocese in response to those grievously afflicted by the recent flooding.

Resolved, we celebrate The Congregational Renewal Committee, for establishing the Diocesan Renewal Assemblies, summoning us to lives of prayer, showing us how to celebrate our blessings and inviting us to connect the dots.

Resolved, we marvel at Tom Lloyd, who has given 50 years of service on the Peace Commission of this Diocese and been a stalwart champion for matters of justice and peace.

Resolved, we glorify the Holy Spirit who has inspired us to bear a common witness in a hurting world with our sisters and brothers of other denominations and other faiths thereby finding strength in unity.

Resolved, we express copious gratitude to the people of the Cathedral Church of the Nativity for lavishly hosting us and for inspiring us by their gallant example of how we might cope gracefully with all impediments—scaling new heights and crossing hazardous terrain with confidence.

Resolved, we praise our merciful God for gifting us with new ministry, new schools, and new hope in our Diocese and for the favor poured out upon this Convention evident in the first four consecutive days in four months without rain. May God bless us and give us the courage to climb the mountain and the inner silence to hear God’s word.

Respectfully presented by the Committee on Resolutions of Courtesy

The Rev. Canon Anne E. Kitch, chair
The Rev. Earl Trygar
Ms. Melody Lewis

Diocesan Life for October 2011

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Diocesan Life for September 2011

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Diocesan Life for July/August 2011


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Diocesan Life for June 2011

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Diocesan Life for May 2011

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Diocesan Training Day on April 2nd

Registration opens today and closes March 23rd. Cost is $17.50 and includes lunch.

A day set aside for learning about opportunities and resources for ministry in congregations, and celebrating ministries we share. There will be 13 different workshops spanning all aspects of ministry to select from this year. Please plan to join us for a wonderful day of learning.

Workshops include:
All Day Workshops (one workshop in both sessions)

#1 Ministry of the Lay Eucharistic Visitor (all day workshop) - The Rev. Edward Erb -- Two-part course leads to licensing. Morning session - Biblical, theological, and historical background. Afternoon session - resources and practical considerations (ex. HIPAA rules, safety, and health concerns)

#2 Understanding and Working with ChurchPost (all day workshop) - Mr. John Goodell, Owner of ChurchPost -- A hands-on guide to using ChurchPost, our electronic newsletter platform, to communicate effectively and immediately with your members and visitors.

Session I - 9:45am to 11:15am

#3 Wardens/Vestry 101 - The Rt. Rev. Paul Marshall and The Ven. Howard Stringfellow - Introduction for new wardens and vestry members or a refresher for experienced vestry members to the roles, responsibilities, and realities of parish leadership.

#4 Bringing Financial Sanity to the Family - Mr. Dan Charney - The program, Financial Sanity, designed by Nathan Dungan, founder and president of Share Save Spend, consists of four one-hour sessions.  This training helps you to become familiar with the program, and will cover session one of the program to give participants a feel for what it is all about.

#5 Transitional Formation in Parishes - Ms. Kim Rowles - In periods of individual transition it is especially important to support and lead members in our communities to an intentional life with Christ, this session will help outline a plan for individual parishes dealing with middle to high school transition, high school to college transition, and couples to family transition.

#6 - Come Let Us Worship - A Workshop for the Laity and Clergy - The Rev. Laura Howell & The Rev. John Francis - This session will explore some of the tools the Book of Common Prayer gives us for daily worship.  It will provide some practical suggestions for parish prayer that may be led by the laity as well as the clergy.

#7 - Evangelism as Prayer and Faith Sharing - The Rev. Jane Bender, The Rev. Doug Moyer,  and Mrs. Carol Keane - The Unbinding the Gospel series doesn't give answers as to how, when and where.  Come learn how many ways this lively resource can be tailored for your use.

Session II -- 1:15pm to 2:45pm

#8 Enabling Ministries: Forward Life Planning - Mr. Charlie Barebo - Develop your parish's capabilities to deliver ministries by strengthening its approach to Forward Life Planning.

#9 Treasurers’ Workshop - Mr. Bruce Reiner -- This workshop will focus on cash receipts, cash disbursements, internal controls, and audits.

#10 - The Confirmation Conundrum - The Rev. Canon Anne Kitch - Explores the rite of Confirmation and the many questions it raises.  Includes an overview of the history of Confirmation in the Episcopal Church and the theology of Confirmation as it is express in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.

#11 - Health Ministries - Mrs. Diana Marshall - Health ministry plays a unique and critical role in facilitating the health of clergy, staff and congregations.  Health ministry looks different from congregation to congregation, reflecting the unique needs, interests, and resources of the faith community.

#12 - Incorporating New members into the Episcopal Church - The Rev. Canon Andrew Gerns- The course will introduce a simple, easy-to-understand, process of incorporating new members into a congregation. It will also describe various kinds of visitors and newcomers and show how to integrate the worship and theology of the Episcopal Church into our evangelism.

#13 - Training for Regional Discernment Teams - Members of the Commission on Ministry - This training session is designed to help both clergy and laity understand the purpose and structure of regional discernment as practiced in the Diocese of Bethlehem.

You can click here to register. Download the Diocesan Training Day brochure on our web site here.

Diocesan Life February 2011

Hello everyone! Here is the latest edition of Diocesan Life. We are now wrapping around a new, independent paper called the Episcopal Journal. Of course, our online version doesn't include that news, but you should receive it in your mailboxes this week. As always, if you have stories, photos, news, please pass them along to Kat Lehman. The file is in .pdf formate and is 2.3 MB in size.

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Sermon for Diocesan Training Day by Canon Anne Kitch

What makes your heart sing?
by Canon Anne E. Kitch
St. Stephen’s Pro-Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre, PA
April 24, 2010
I Peter 4:7-11
Matthew 16:24-27

What makes your heart sing?

I have a friend whose gift is hospitality. She and her husband happen to run a retreat center, and you would expect such a place to be hospitable. But what Wendy and Jon offer is something more than welcome and comfort. It is grace and respite for travelers and strangers, imbued with a vision of what a redeemed world might look like. Theirs is a hospitality grounded in a holy desire for God’s justice, unrelenting in it’s endeavor to continually grow and deepen, and embodying a love of God’s creation and the people who inhabit it. This makes what they offer extraordinary.

I am convinced that Wendy’s gift for hospitality is part of her spiritual formation. But the fact that she wields it so exquisitely is a matter of honed skills, learned leadership, and hard work. She navigates all the intricacies of providing for her guests with a sense of humor, a deep love for God, and the seeming effortlessness that comes from being extremely well prepared. No guest ever knows the behind-the-scenes work that goes into every detail. This is her gift. And because she employs her gift gracefully, she deeply embodies the love of Christ and that spreads to others just as abundantly as her hospitality. Like a good steward of the manifold grace of God, she serves others with the gift she has received.

This is the ministry to which we are each called. Not to run a retreat center, or offer exquisite hospitality, or work behind the scenes. But to recognize and use our gifts with love, and in doing so, to glorify Christ. This is the exhortation found in the First Letter of Peter, “Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.”

So, who are the ministers of the church? This is not a trick question. The answer is right in front of you…and to your right and to your left and behind you. You will also find the answer on page 855 in the Book of Common Prayer. Our catechism tells us the ministers of the Church are lay persons, bishops, priests, and deacons. And what is the ministry of the laity? That too is readily accessible, not just because you can look it up in the BCP, but also because it is evident here today. First and foremost, the ministry of lay persons (and bishops, and priests, and deacons) is to represent Christ and his Church. After this, each order has some distinct work. Lay persons are to 1) bear witness to Christ wherever they may be, 2) according to the gifts given them carry on Christ’s work of reconciliation in the world, and 3) to take their place in the life, worship and governance of the Church.

According to the gifts given you. This phrase tells us at least three things: we each have been given gifts, we do not all posses the same gifts, our gifts are meant for Christ’s work of reconciliation. How do you know what your gifts are? Well, what makes your heart sing? Debra Farrington, Episcopal author, once taught me that one way to recognize your gifts is to distinguish them from skills. A skill is something we learn to do well. We may receive satisfaction from using that skill, but it doesn’t necessarily make our day. But a gift is given. When we employ our gifts they energize us and bring us joy. So what are your gifts? Well…what makes your heart sing, and brings you joy in the doing and energy in the making? Teaching? Parenting? Exercising administrative oversight? Budgeting resources? Creating? Healing?

I believe using the gifts God has given us to serve others is the goal of lifelong Christian formation. You may have come here today to be informed. I hope that has happened and continues to happen this afternoon. But you are also being formed in your faith life today. The people you encounter, the worship we share, the gifts offered and received can effect changes in you that deepen your connection to God.

“Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.” We base our life in Christ on the assumption that God has showered grace upon grace upon us. With this grace, we are to serve one another. Not out of a sense of burden, not out of an attitude of limited resources, but with our gifts. The Christian response to service is not one of burden, but one of joy. Having freely received the grace of God, our response is to sing with our hearts, use our gifts, become our best.

We can easily be led astray into seeing the cross of Christ as a burden to be endured. But it is not that. It is the way of life—joyful life, gifted life. This is perhaps what lifelong Christian formation is: to replace in our understanding the burden of the cross with the grace of the cross. Use your gifts, lift up your hearts to God, and let them sing!

perhaps you came here today to be informed

            and that may happen

                        especially if you approach what is offered with an open mind

            what you may not realize is that you are also being formed

                        especially if you open your soul

that is not to say you are each here like a lump of clay waiting for some epert ot make you tinot something

you get to do the making

we are neither blank slates waiting to be written on

            nor empty vessels waiting to be filled

                        we never were

from the moment we were born

            we were complete

                        completely human

                                    fully created in God’s image

the moment we were reborn by water and the spirit in baptism

            we were complete

                        completely Christisn

                                    and gifted