Category Archives: liturgy

Blue blue Christmas

According to the liturgical calendar:today was supposed to be a Sunday of rejoicing.

No one at Small Parish felt like rejoicing this morning. :o/

Due to the recent events happening in the nation, today was not a day to celebrate. At Small Parish, we grieved & remembered the victims of the Newtown school shooting. We started the Mass with reading responsively the Great Litany. After the Lessons were read, our priest helped us address the sadness that we collectively feel about what happened on Friday morning.

We also prayed for the victims by name . That was really hard for me, as I’ve spent some time working in a public school system & many years working with and among children & youth of the Church. I noticed that the fellow & sister educators of m parish are especially affected by this tragedy. We never thought about a scenario such as this when I was working at an elementary school.

As I’ve already said, these things just should not happen.

I keep thinking about the families of the slain kids & the Christmas that won’t happen for so many people in & around the Newtown, Connecticut area. :O(

Years ago, my Presbyterian minister offered a ” Blue Christmas” service in December for anyone & everyone who might be grieving during this ” most wonderful time of the year”. I’d lost my beloved paternal grandfather that August, so I went to church on that designated Sunday evening. It was a time for we Christians to grieve in community & it was very cathartic.

This morning’s Mass at Small Parish had the same cathartic effect for me{ and probably for others in attendance , too} Grieving in community is healthy , both for the mind & soul.

Today I am grateful for the Church Universal’s gift of ” presence” & community.

Amen.

Morning Prayer- I love it!

This morning I led Morning Prayer at Small Parish . Our priest is on vacation & I was recently certified by our Bishop to lead Morning & Evening prayer in the absence of clergy.

It went well– I remembered all the parts of the liturgy & did not falter while reading today’s Gospel Lesson.  We had four souls attend this morning’s worship. All in all:  my first experience with leading Morning Prayer by myself was good.

Alleluia!

I do not understand why some people think that we Anglicans only have ONE form of corporate worship– Eucharist. While Holy Communion is very special—I do not deny at all the importance of weekly Eucharist– our Book Of Common Prayer is full of other liturgies that are just as meaningful to me.  Many Episcopalians I know won’t stay for a mid-week Morning Prayer & I do not understand their reasoning. Worship is about giving thanks & Glory to the Triune God{ as a matter of fact, the very word ” Eucharist” is derived from a Greek word meaning ” thanksgiving”.}

I’ve never gone to church to ” get” anything: when I worship the focus is on praising GOD.  I hate to sound as cynical as to think that some people see Eucharist as a commercial commodity. But as a former Presbyterian with a Roman Catholic background{ yes} I’ve always felt that: “For where two or three are gathered in My Name, there I am in the midst of them..”{Matt. 18:2o}  constitutes worship.   Attending a worship service is not, at least to me, a means for an end.

I realize that everyone has personal preferences when it comes to worship, but we Anglicans are so blessed with many ” tried & true” liturgies.  The Daily Office, from which Morning & Evening Prayer originate, comes from  the monastic schedule for daily corporate prayer. 

This evening I am VERY grateful for the Book of Common Prayer–in its entirety.

Amen.

Healing & Helping while looking towards to the future

My bishop issued a pastoral letter that was read in all churches in my diocese yesterday. He explained what had happened at General Convention and how he voted , alongside with his reasoning for the way he voted. He also told us how this resolution to allow liturgy for same-sex blessings will ” play out” here in my Diocese .

I am saddened by the actions of General Convention, as this is affecting people in my parish & diocese whom I know & love . Inasmuch as I find myself disagreeing with people who are shaken by the idea of same-sex couples now having a channel for the Church’s blessing upon their relationships, I want them to still feel loved by the changing Church. It will break my heart if I lose ANY of my sister & brother Episcopalians over what { to me} is a trivial issue. I want to minister to and with these folks, but I do not know how to proceed.

I am sad, because I want to help those who are hurt the most by he passing of this resolution but I cannot.

While I rejoice at the fact that a portion of our Church will finally be permitted to have their relationships blessed in the Church, my main concern is how this motion affects my parish & Diocese NOW. I realize that not everyone interprets Scripture & Tradition as I do & know that this passing of the same-sex blessing liturgy has shaken some people’s very faith. I pray for them & for our entire Church I pray daily that somehow God will show us how to BE Christ’s hands & feet here at this time & place .

Amen.

After GC77: Onward Together

If you have read or listened to the news media this morning, you are aware that the Church voted to allow liturgy for same-sex blessings { a BLESSING is not the same thing as a marriage, by the way} for same-sex couples.

I actually read the news via Twitter from a clergy Twitter pal of mine who was a deputy to GC77 last evening. I’ve had some time for this news to ” sink in” my mind. I know I should be celebrating the social progress the Church has made this year, but part of me is weary. I am wary of the backlash that this new resolution will bring both nationally & within my own Diocese.

I know, at last in theory, that the Church shall move onward, regardless of the bellyache that will surely occur among the right-wing faction of our Church. I am praying that we can ALL remember that we are ONE universal Church. I stated last night that belief in our Creeds is what SHOULD be he most important factor in any Church. But humans being who we are, sociopolitical opinions are a powerful force. I pray that the Church can move beyond this GC resolution and remember that being Church is not supposed to be about self-affirmation. Christians of various stripes are united by one thing, our faith in the knowledge that Jesus of Nazareth was born , lived and was killed on a cross and rose from the dead three days later.

We do not attend church in order to validate our own sense of what is “acceptable”. Look in all the Gospels, Jesus tells us to withhold judgement lest we also be judged. No one is perfect, nor is anyone correct about anything 100 percent of the time.

We re the Church & we will continue to do & be Church.

Day 5: What is an ” Abomination?”

Last night I read all of Ezekiel Chapter 8. I’d seen several hash-tag references to this Scripture in several GC deputies’ Twitter feeds, so I satisfied my curiosity with Scripture.

One word that caught my attention as a read & re-read this chapter in the OT was “abomination” I lost count of how many times that the author used that word to describe the ancient temple rituals of the Israelites.

Words are powerful and very subjective.

Even back in OT times, what one group { or individual} considered an ” abomination” might be standard practice for another group. For instance, the author in Ezekiel called the temple rituals used by the Israelites at that time & place” abominations” I noticed that the use of incense was cited in this chapter as ” An abomination” in the eyes of God. I TOTALLY disagree with tis statement— as a high Church Anglo-Catholic the use of images & incense is part of my spiritual heritage. But even now, some Protestant Christians see using incense in worship as { at best} a detractor.

Anyhow, my thoughts ” from the pew” during this General Convention are that we need to remember that words carry loaded meanings. What one person’s ” abomination” is might be someone else’s normalcy. I agree that some behaviors & actions that humans are capable of ARE an abomination. { for instance , murder, rape & other sich violent crimes} Someone else’s different preference for ANYTHING that does not cause harm to others} is really none of my business.

One of the pet peeves I carry concerning all Church conventions is that such meetings tend to polarize attendees { and those of us at home in the pews] in such a way that threatens the unity of our Church. While I admit to my tendency to *always* think that my views on pretty much everything are * correct* I make it a practice to tolerate others’ views. tolerance & unity remain my hope and prayer fo this 77th Convention of The Episcopal Church.

Amen.

Day 1: Baptism & Holy Communion.

Today the bishops & deputies will convene in Indianapolis, Indiana for the 77th General Convention of The Episcopal Church. There is a whole list of resolutions that the Church as a whole must consider this year & some seem to be more ” hot-button” issues than most .

My big concern is the resolution put forth by someone in Oregon that the Holy Communion be totally open to all persons regardless of baptismal status.{ i.e unbaptized persons may receive the Body & Blood of our LORD if they so desire.}

As progressive as I am regarding the Church & social issues, when he subject turns to liturgy I am very traditional. Let me say ‘on record’ that if General Convention votes to change the canons to completely open Holy Communion to unbaptized persons I will be sad.

However, my strong feelings about this liturgical & theological matter will NOT cause me to abandon our Church. The Church is composed of imperfect people & we must allow our leaders to make mistakes without acting on cowardice & running away from our family of faith. If GC votes to open Holy Communion to unbaptized persons, I will quietly live with that change. I will never agree with such a radical change to my understanding of our Baptismal Covenant but I can live wth it.

While I vehemently disagree with the logic behind this resolution, I can see where the people who wish to pass it are coming from. I, too, hope & pray for an inclusive Church. But being a Christian requires some sort of statement of faith & when an unbaptized adult wishes to become a Christian I believe that baptism in necessary for a full membership in the Church.

Inasmuch as I hate to admit it: I hope that the delegates to GC77 vote to uphold our Canons as they are regarding baptism & reception of Holy Communion. There are many reasons why I feel this way.

I do not understand why someone who has never professed belief that Jesus of Nazareth is indeed God’s only begotten Son wish to partake in our sacrament? My mother is Jewish & she has absolutely no desire to come to the altar for even a blessing by the priest on the rare occasions she attends Mass with me.

I do not understand why a non-Christian would want to actively participate in something that is so central to our identities as Christ-followers. My theology of the Eucharist stems from the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ last Supper with His disciples { and yes, I * am* aware that the Last Supper was a Jewish Passover meal.}

At that particular time & place, Scripture tells us :
” Then He took a cup & after giving thanks He said ‘ Take this & divide it among ourselves, for I tell you that from now on I will not drink from the vine until the Kindom of God comes. Then He took a loaf of bread & when He had given thanks, broke it & gave to them saying ‘This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance o Me.'”. { Luke 22:17-19}

To Christians, the elements presented for a blessing at the altar become more than the sum of their parts. To us, partaking in Holy Communion is done to remember what Jesus did for s so many years ago. It is a visceral reminder that WE are Christ’s Body on Earth. While we pry that ALL may come to know about Our LORD, in my opinion baptism is something that one must prepare one’s heart & mind. Our Baptism seals us as Christ’s own forever–thing we do an ever remove us from the family of Christ one we’ve received the Christian rite of initiation at Baptism.

I am not saying that we should discourage seekers from coming to church. Quite the opposite: if a seeker comes to one of our parishes & is so moved by the Celebration of The Eucharist, he or she has an option to ask the resident priest to tell him or her more about what it means to BE a member of Christ’s Body { a Christian}

My friend’s Ordination to The Sacred Order of the Priesthood

On Saturday I attended the Ordination to The Sacred Order of the Priesthood of a friend of mine. She served as ” lay rector” of my Cursillio weekend back in April , 2009 & quickly became one of the mot Spirit-filled women I know. Although contact between S & I has been somewhat sporadic while she attended General Seminary in New York City, I’ve always prayed for her { as I do for ALL those seeking ordination} & we exchanged some e-mails during her time at the seminary.

My Cursillio weekend played a huge part in my identity as an Anglican Christian, so it was especially poignant for me to attend my former lay rector’s ordination. several friends from ” my” Cursillio weekend were also there *and* the preacher was none other than the priest who was my rector when I first came to Small Parish. :O) Although she & her husband { who is also an Episcopal priest} have moved to a different Diocese, I am still in contact with them & it was totally a bonus to see them at the ordination.

Although I’ve attended an ordination to the Vocational Diaconate before { Convention, 2011} this was my first experience at any sort of ordination into the priesthood.

I was baptized into the Presbyterian church & during all my years in that denomination I never had an opportunity to attend one of their ordinations. Of course, Calvinist-based denominations hold an entirely different liturgical & theological approach to Holy Orders, but it still would have been inspiring to attend anyhow if I’d had a chance to do so.

The Mass was VERY high-Church {And I LOVED it! In my opinion, the more ” smells, bells & fire” used in a Mass, the more awe-inspiring.} Our Bishop presided & when my friend knelt at the altar in front of the Bishop & he said the Words of Consecration, I actually shed a tear{ and trust me, I am not prone to tears during Mass at all.}

The church is a set of historic lakefront buildings nestled in the centre of a small Southern town in Northwest Florida. According to literature provided by the church, this building was consecrated as a church in 1896 & has undergone several renovations through the years. It is a small-in-numbers parish, with only 67 souls listed on their register. But I know that, God-willing, my friend will be a good & faithful shepherd to these people t this place & at this point in time.

Alleluia. Amen.

Don’t be a mule!

I love how the Spirit works through the lectionary.

And no, for once I am sincere and not sarcastic.

The Psalms, especially, are wonder-full especially since he poetry found here covers every human emotion felt we humans.

Part of the Truth { capital T} of God’s Word as revealed in Holy Scriptures is in its universality

This afternoon When I was reading the lectionary & came upon the first Psalm listed for today, te word ” FORGIVENESS” caught my attention.

Forgiveness isn’t easy for me. Sadly, I can hold grudge & often I do. But the Psalmist says

“Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
whose temper cannot be curbed with bit & bridle”

OUCH!

Have you ever heard of the expression * Stubborn as a mule*? Yep, I’m the proverbial mule. When I am wronged, I hold on to my indignation forever.

I pray for forgiveness for my own sins but I also pray for the grace to forgive others more easily.

Rejoice, Again I say REJOICE! { Phil 4:1-9}

The season of Lent is traditionally a season of quiet reflection. From Ash Wednesday all the way through Easter Sunday, we are in a period of waiting for the inevitable paradox that is Holy Week.  we know that OUR LORD is on His way to His death & there is nothing that His diciples back then could do to stop this fate. But, unlike the first-century disciples, we modern Christ-followers know” the rest of the story”.  We know that Christ dies, but He will be risen from the dead three days later. ristians can rejoice in our faith of God’s Agape love for humanity.

” For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…”

Yes, Lent is a time for quiet reflection. Yet, we can REJOICE in the knowledge of how this story will end—in that Our Lord conquered death on a cross so that WE ma also have eternal life.

Amen.

My Lenten discipline….

This Lenten season I shall blog about one of he readings from the Daily Office each day { except for Sundays,as Sundays are considered feast days during Lent} I wish this was an original idea , I ” borrowed”it from my rector at Small Parish. His blog { also on WordPress} can be reached at http://laydownyournets.wordpress.com .

This past Advent, I tried to stick to the discipline of blogging from ++ Katharine’s book_A Wing & A Prayer_ each day. Well– I did not make my goal of a post per day that time. Since I told my priest AND all 495 Facebook friends of my plan, I better stick to it!

In other news RIP Whitney Houston. her music defines my girlhood ideas of romance.