Let's read the Bible together

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For the last couple of weeks, we’ve been writing about reading the Bible. On Monday, October 1, St. Michael’s is offering a way for us as a congregation to read through the entire Bible over the course of a year. We have a program we will follow that appoints three passages per day: the first is the main section for the day, beginning of course at “In the beginning;” the second and third passages are much shorter and will come from one of Paul’s letters and from the Psalms. The intent is to make this process as much devotional and inspirational as it is informative and educational.

We’re asking folks to sign up for this, so we know how many people are going to participate; there will be a list available in church on Sunday, and you can also call or email the office and sign up that way. You can use any translation or edition of the Bible you prefer. If you’d like some suggestions, you can ask Nathan or me on Sunday, but i highly recommend this one. It’s an excellent study Bible that uses the NRSV translation, the same one we use in church on Sundays.

If you have any questions, please let us know. See you on Sunday, and in the mean time, please keep in your prayers all those affected by Florence. I’m sure in the days to come, we will have opportunities to offer additional help, but until such time we can always offer our prayers.

"The Word of the Lord"

 The Book of Common Prayer opened to p. 853

The Book of Common Prayer opened to p. 853

In last week’s blog post, Fr. Kelly announced that we are planning to read the Bible in a year as a church. We will begin on the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, which we will celebrate September 30.

As we prepare for this journey, perhaps a good question to ask is “What is the Bible?” It may seem like a basic question, but many have become so familiar with the Bible that we need to take a step back and think about a basic question like this. The Bible is a collection of writings by various and differing authors that have been gathered together and edited over the course of several centuries. Christians do not always agree what books should be included in this collection. However, all of the books considered canonical by various Christian communions come from people of God’s covenant.

In many ways, this collection seems messy. Differing accounts of events are included. The various authors do not always seem to agree. Despite this, after a reading for this collection in a service, the reader says, “The Word of the Lord,” to which we respond, “Thanks be to God.” By saying this, we are affirming that God has been at work through the whole process: the writing, collecting, editing, and reading. We believe that God uses the text to speak to us today. The same Spirit that inspired the ancient authors guides us as we read.

The goal of reading through the Bible is for us to have a more intimate connection with God. We also hope that we will grow closer with each other as we engage one another in discussing what we have read and discovered in Scripture. After all, the Bible is best read in community with others.

"to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest..."

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As a member of the Standing Committee I regularly meet with and interview Episcopalians who believe themselves called to ordained ministry. The role of the Standing Committee in these cases, along with the Bishop and the Commission on Ministry, is to help discern what sort of vocation might have in mind for these individuals and to oversee their continuing formation for ordination. It's a daunting responsibility. I previously served in a similar capacity in West Virginia for several years, so i've met with a fair number of folks who feel called either to the priesthood or the diaconate. One of the traits that these folks often say they lack is a sufficient knowledge of Holy Scripture. While that might surprise you, maybe it shouldn't. I find that many - maybe even most - Episcopalians simply do not know our Bible as well as we could.

That's a shame, really, and I don't mean that in an emotionally manipulative "you should love Jesus more" kind of way. Immersing ourselves in the stories of our faith is an incredibly effective way for us to deepen not just our knowledge about God but our relationship with God as well. The Holy Scriptures are the Constitution of our faith, but they are also the love story between God and creation. If we undertake the process described in those words from the Book of Common Prayer, "to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest" the Scriptures, I suspect that more than anything else we will find ourselves falling deeper into love with the God encountered within them.

To that end, this fall St. Michael's will be undertaking a year-long effort, to read the entire Bible over the course of a year. We will begin on Monday, 1 October, the day after we celebrate the Feast of St. Michael. Between now and then, you'll hear lots more about this process: how it works, how to participate, what you will need, etc. Don't be afraid - we can do this! It won't be difficult or tedious, and the process is designed to help us find our way through the more drudgerous and dry parts, like the "begats." In addition, we will be offering a weekly Bible Study at St. Michael's to go along with our year's journey through the Bible.

I hope you'll take part - stay tuned for more details!!

The Book of Common Prayer, again continued

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Recently we have been talking a lot about the Prayer Book both in our blog and around the church. This week is no different.

Last week we shared an article by Calvin Lane on how the liturgical movement shaped the 1979 BCP. This week we offer another article discussing more about the liturgical movement and how key figures of the movement thought about liturgy. A key point in the article is "the Liturgical Movement wasn’t about living in the past, but about the past living with us."

The Book of Common Prayer, continued.

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Earlier this week I was asked by our Bishop to help design the schedule and offerings for our fall Clergy Conference. Unlike recent conferences - which i always enjoyed - this one will not employ an outside speaker to present us with an idea for a new program or something similar. Instead, it's going to be primarily a time for us to worship and pray together and to meet in small groups for discussion and reflection. Each group session will be led by members of our own clergy; I have been asked to lead one on developing and maintaining a Rule of Life.

Some of those conversations, including my own, will involve delving into the richness of our Prayer Book, an exercise I truly enjoy (in case you haven't noticed that). For those of you who may similarly be enamored with or just interested in the Book of Common Prayer, we are discussing it in the rector's forum each Sunday. I wrote some about that last week, and this week i want to offer you this article, the first of two that deals with the centuries-long process that produced the Prayer Book we use now.

The Book of Common Prayer

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The General Convention this year considered several resolutions concerning The Book of Common Prayer; the one drawing the most attention was the call to undertake an entirely new revision to be completed and approved by 2030. The General Convention did not vote for a new Prayer Book but instead called upon the church to examine and study the one we currently have. (This is the shortest explanation of what happened; the full version would take far too long to discuss here.)

First published in 1549, The Book of Common Prayer is far more than just a collection of services that Anglicans follow; it lays out the rhythm of daily, weekly, and yearly prayer cycles; sets forth what we believe and why; and, if we will allow it, helps to pattern our life as faithful and effective disciples of Jesus. The current revision, approved in 1979 and now in use for some 40 years, retains much of the first version but obviously with significant changes.

I am delighted and comforted by the wisdom of The General Convention's decision, and I want us to respond to their call to move more deeply into the richness of our Prayer Book. To that end, we are studying it in our Rector's Forum every Sunday morning at 9:30. We started a couple of weeks ago with the simple question, "What are some of your favorite parts or passages of the Prayer Book?" I hope you'll come be part of that discussion and share with us your favorite parts of The Book of Common Prayer.

Pilate asked Jesus, "What is truth?" - John 18:38

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We seem to have entered a time in our lives where the truth holds little to no meaning. Truth seems to have become whatever we hear that appeals to us or confirms what we want to be true. When confronted with a truth that challenges or discomforts us, we ignore it, brush it aside, or call it "fake." We manufacture a narrative of the world that conforms to "the devices and desires of own hearts," and avoid at all costs any call to self-examination.

As Christians we are not permitted this dubious luxury. We have one Truth - Jesus Christ; if we are uncertain about how that Truth looks or what it says, we turn to the Gospel. If, like me, you find yourself searching for some clarity about the Truth, about what Jesus might say to us in these uncertain times, I offer you the following passages from the Gospels. They are not the whole Truth, but they are a better place for us to seek the Truth than many other options currently before us. We may not like what the Gospel tells us; it may challenge and unsettle us; we are not, however, allowed to ignore or change it.

 

His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation. 

He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly; 

he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
     Luke 1:50-53

 

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

 

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.    John 15:10-12

 

Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”     Matthew 25:34-40

The Daily Office

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"Pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

This seems like an impossible task at first. There are many ways Christians have tried to pray without ceasing. One way is to set aside different times during the day for prayer. This creates a pattern of going between work and prayer until work and prayer flow seamlessly together. All of our life becomes prayer.

These set times of prayer are known as the Daily Office. In our Prayer Book, there are currently four offices: Morning, Noon, Evening, and Compline. Praying the offices was once considered the job of clergy and monks. However, since the time of the Reformation, the Anglican tradition has encouraged all Christians—clergy, monks, and laity alike—to pray the offices. It is a great way to intentionally meet God throughout your day.

While you can pray the offices by yourself, it is better to pray it with a community. Morning and Evening Prayer is prayed at St. Paul’s on weekdays. If you are not able to come in person, a great way to join is through the Facebook page Morning Prayer in GA. Morning Prayer is streamed live at 9 each morning, so you can join in as the prayers are being prayed (you can also join in praying at a later time if you are not able to at 9).

New Parish Intern

I am Nathan Wilson, the new parish intern. Here are a few facts about me so y’all can get to know me a little better: I am originally from Eagleville, TN. I have three siblings—an older brother and sister as well as a younger sister. I enjoy Star Trek (I am currently re-watching Deep Space 9) and The Lord of the Rings (I recently finished reading Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-Earth). I have been a vegan for the past four years, which began after giving up meat for Lent.

I was raised in the Church of God (Anderson). If you are not familiar with the Church of God, it is sufficient here to say that it is quite different from the Episcopal Church. If you want to know more, ask me. I am happy to talk about it; I love exploring the differences in the various Christian traditions.

 I was baptized on March 12, 2000. When I was in Middle School, I first sensed a call to ministry. It happened one Sunday morning as a missionary couple spoke about their work. My sense of calling has as evolved over time. My current sense of call is to the priesthood. Ultimately, I believe that each of us in our calls to various ministries are being called to God and to live deeper in God’s life.

I attended Mid-America Christian University in Oklahoma City for my undergraduate from 2011-2015; I majored in Bible/Theology/Pastoral Care. While at Mid-America, I began my journey to the Episcopal Church. This academic setting created room for me to explore questions about my own spiritual life. My understanding of faith was broadened as I delved deeper into the Tradition of the Church. I found life in the Sacraments and the Liturgy. In 2014, I joined the United Methodist Church, which proved to be a transitional space for me; however, I never quite felt at home there.

I went to Duke University for my Master of Divinity (MDiv). After my first year, I joined the Episcopal Church. I found that the Episcopal has a greater liturgical and sacramental life. It was also important to me to be a part of a community that offered full inclusion of LGBTQ+ persons. On April 15, 2017, I was confirmed at the Easter Vigil. I graduated from Duke last month.

I am excited about my time at St. Michael’s. I look forward to working with you all and getting to know y’all better.

Danny Hill, requiem aeternam

 Danny and his wife, the Rev'd Deacon Susan Hill

Danny and his wife, the Rev'd Deacon Susan Hill

Dear Angels,

It's with a deep sadness that we share the news of the death of Danny Hill. Danny died Wednesday morning with Susan and their daughters at his side. He had recently been diagnosed with cancer and developed complications from it and from treatment he was receiving for it.

Danny's funeral will be Friday, June 8 at 2:00pm at All Saints' Episcopal Church on Tybee Island. A "visitation" will be held (in typical Tybee fashion, as Susan put it) the following day, Saturday, June 9 from 2-4pm at the American Legion.

I'm sure many of you will want to attend one or both events. If you are planning to go to the funeral, remember that All Saints' is small, and they have even less parking than we do, so you might want to get there early, and you definitely want to carpool if you can. We are waiting to hear if they need help with food for the reception; if so, we will get that word out as soon as we have it, so that our Angels here can contribute.

If you were here when Danny and Susan were, you know what a kind and gentle soul he was, always with a quick smile and a hearty laugh. Please hold Susan and all the Hill family in your prayers in the coming days.

Rest eternal grant to Danny, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon him. May he rest in peace and rise in glory. Amen.

Show People Who We Are

 Pentecost 2018, our graduates and, at the bottom of the screen, our newest member Wendell Tanner and his mom, Kim.

Pentecost 2018, our graduates and, at the bottom of the screen, our newest member Wendell Tanner and his mom, Kim.

By now you've probably either seen the most recent royal wedding, or you've at least heard about it. There's quite a lot of buzz about it, not just because of the wedding itself (always a big deal) but because of the preacher, our own Presiding Bishop, The Most Rev'd Michael Curry. If you missed it entirely, here's a link to his sermon at St. George's Chapel.

 

Of course, many of us got to hear him live just a few months ago, when he preached at our own Diocese of Georgia Revival, held at Honey Creek. If you missed that, here's the video from it.

 

While Bishop Curry might not be a typical example of preachers in the Episcopal Church, he does make clear what our approach to "church" is - that we are called above all else to love one another as Jesus loved us. I included the photo of our graduates and their families from this past Sunday because that day showed me again how the congregation of St. Michael's seeks to live out that call. We sure aren't perfect, so we often fall short of the mark of Jesus' love, but this past Sunday showed me again what even imperfect lovers can do when God is in our midst.

While the world is still talking about the wedding of Meghan and Harry and wondering who this preacher was, we can take the opportunity to show them not only who he is but who we are as well. Our little corner of God's Kingdom at Washington and Waters has much to offer the world; it is up to us to make sure they know who we are.

Congratulations, Graduates!!!!!

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Congratulations to all our 2018 St. Michael's graduates and their families!! Below are the names of those whom we know are graduating this year. Please keep them in your prayers as they begin the next part of their journey.

 

St. Michael & All Angel’s 2018 Graduates

 

Colleges and Universities

Matthew Lemley, Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering (Georgia Fogarty)

Ben Smith, The University of Mississippi (Charlean Smith)

Andrew Vassil, Mississippi State University (Georgia Fogarty)

 

High School

Jacob Brown (Jean Brown)

Olivia Heintschel (Jean Brown)

Sophie Horan, Savannah Arts Academy (Rob and Robin Horan)

Jack Kelly, Savannah Arts Academy (Kevin and Christine Kelly)

John Simshauser, Islands High School (John and Kim Simshauser)

Julia Elizabeth Vassil, Blessed Trinity High School (Georgia Fogarty)

 

Middle School

Luke Farmer (Terry and Julia Timmons)

Zachary Farmer (Terry and Julia Timmons)

 

A Blessing for our Graduates

All wise, all loving God, we thank you for all your gifts to us; for making us, for saving us in Christ, for calling us to be your people. Look with love on our graduates and bless them as they complete their years of school.May your Spirit give them many skills and talents, and help them to use these gifts for your glory and for the good of all people. In your kindness, guide them along paths that are level and smooth. We ask these blessings through Christ our Lord. Amen

The Feast of the Ascension

 The Ascension window at St. Michael's.

The Ascension window at St. Michael's.

This past Thursday was the fortieth day of the Easter Season, the day we celebrate Christ's ascent into heaven. The timing of the Feast of the Ascension, as it is known, has long created confusion about Easter Season. The season itself, known as the Queen of Feasts, is fifty days long, lasting from Easter Day until the Day of Pentecost. Ascension is always on a Thursday and comes ten days prior to Pentecost, but it is not the end of the Easter Season.

The old rubrics of the church, those instructions that tell us how to structure our worship and thus much of our doctrine, instructed that the Paschal Candle was to burn for all services from Easter Day until Ascension Day. During the reading from Acts on that day, when it mentions Jesus ascending into heaven and being taken from the sight of the disciples, the Paschal Candle was extinguished. While that is certainly a striking visual, it does give the sense that Jesus isn't just gone from our sight but is gone from us entirely. That's not what Jesus said, though, when he promised to be with us always, "even to the end of the ages." The Church decided to separate the putting away of the Paschal Candle from the Ascension, and to have it present and lit throughout the entire season of Easter.

This may seem a small thing and not worthy of much mention, but I would disagree. Jesus is always present with us, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, and we need to remember that. We have not been abandoned, and God has not moved on from us. That is not in keeping with anything we know about who God is or how God works. We do not always keep our promises, but thankfully, God does.

Third Sundays

 One of the best parts of belonging to St. Michael's...

One of the best parts of belonging to St. Michael's...

Last week I wrote about a new parish initiative, a ministry to our local police officers. I'm delighted to say that's underway. We think we have identified a space; now it's a matter of figuring out how to arrange and set it up. We also have a potential donor for the keypad entry lock for our doors. Stay tuned as details unfold about that.

This week I want to tell you about something else new at St. Michael's - Third Sundays. Okay, third Sundays, in and of themselves, are not new; we have one every month. What we do with them will be, though. On first Sundays we celebrate birthdays and anniversaries for the coming month (that will happen for May this Sunday, by the way); on second Sundays we gather and bless the food for the I AM Food Pantry (that particular ministry features prominently in this Sunday's sermon). Third Sundays, however, have sort of gone on without anything really special about them. We're going to change that.

Starting this month, Third Sundays will be our day to celebrate or mark something special going on in the life of congregation. It might be a ministry or a program - our children's formation program or the handbell choir; it might be a particular birthday or anniversary - someone's 50th wedding anniversary, perhaps; or it could be a special event in the general life of our congregation. It might also be a time to share a concern one or more of us is facing, though, one that needs us all to hold the people concerned in prayer for a time. It might be that someone is grieving a loss or will be taking leave of us because they're moving away. These are all things that happen in every home, in every family, in every congregation, but not every congregation seems to take to heart the joys and sorrows of its members the way St. Michael's does. We are a community of faith deeply connected to one another; Sunday mornings aren't just a time for us to pray or worship individually in the same room. There is a real sense that when something is happening to one of us, all of us are concerned with walking together through that event, no matter if it is cause for rejoicing or for mourning.

The caption of the photo above, "one of the best parts of belonging to St. Michael's," points to our common life together. If you are here, you belong to us because we all belong to Christ, and in him we are knitted together as one body, to live with, love, and serve one another. I hope that you'll help with this new approach to Third Sundays - not just taking part (I already know you'll do that without being asked) but by helping to identify those moments and happenings in our lives that need or deserve our attention. Please help us identify those parts of belonging to St. Michael's that need a space on a Third Sunday.

St. Michael and Law Enforcement Officers

 St. Michael's medallion from Rugged Rosaries

St. Michael's medallion from Rugged Rosaries

Did you know that St. Michael is the patron saint of police officers (among several other groups and individuals)? I only recently found that out. Because we live next door to the church, our family is quite aware of how often we hear police sirens zooming down either Washington or Waters Avenue. Putting those two pieces of information together has led to an idea forming in my head, one I have shared with our Vestry.

I'd like to create a space at St. Michael's for our local police officers to come when they are on duty and need a break. That might be simply a quiet place to sit and write a report, a place to have a moment's solitude and a hot cup of coffee, or a place to come in and pray if they need to. Following a tradition of our I AM Food Pantry, i also envision a place for them to leave prayer requests for us, so that we can hold them in our own prayers.

I wonder what it would mean to our local police force to know that there was a place at a church just for them whenever they needed it? To know that this parish was holding them, their work, and their families in our prayers, even if we've never actually met them? What might that mean for them as they go about their duties of keeping us and the rest of our community safe and protected?

I've found the St. Michael's medal pictured above for a pretty reasonable price. I'd like to offer it to the officers if they'd want one, as a tangible sign of our prayers for them and a reminder that St. Michael is watching over them as they work. In addition to that, there are a few other things we'd need to start this ministry. The first is a place inside our building that we could set aside for them; we'd need a Keurig and some supplies to go with it, so they could make a fresh cup of coffee; we'd need to replace the keyed lock on our Waters Ave door with a numeric entry lock, so that we could give them a code to enter the building at night. There are probably some other items we would want, but those should get us started.

If you're interested in helping start this ministry or in donating some of the items we need, please let Fr. Kevin know. We'll keep you posted as it unfolds and let you know when we launch it.

Ad Orientum

 Celebrating the Eucharist facing East or  ad orientum .

Celebrating the Eucharist facing East or ad orientum.

A couple of you have asked why the altar at St. Michael's is now "against the wall." It's a good question, and while I may not answer it satisfactorily, let me at least offer some thoughts. In liturgical language, this posture is referred to as ad orientum or "towards the East." A celebration of the Eucharist where the priest stands behind the altar, facing the congregation is known as versus populum, or "having turned towards the people."

Celebrating ad orientum is an ancient Christian practice, as St. Augustine references, "When we rise to pray, we turn East, where heaven begins. And we do this not because God is there, as if He had moved away from the other directions on earth..., but rather to help us remember to turn our mind towards a higher order, that is, to God." Since the sun rises in the East, that direction has long been associated with the resurrection; in CS Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia, it is the direction in which Aslan's Country lies. When celebrants of the Eucharist face the the altar, they are also facing the same direction as the congregation, and doing so does enhance the notion that they are praying with the congregation as opposed to praying at them.

Versus populum also has its benefits. When the church is oriented that way, we are given a lovely image of the People of God gathered around the Table of God, but it is worth noting that this way of thinking implies a shift in theology about the nature of the altar itself. That's a lengthy subject best left to another article of its own. There is something moving about priest and congregation being able to see one another's faces during the celebration, but at the same time, doing so can lead us to believe that the priest is saying those words to the congregation rather than to God, on the people's behalf. I often see clergy deliberating making eye contact with the congregation during the Words of Institution, and I'm always reminded that at that moment they're supposed to be speaking for me, not to me. By the way, it seems versus populum came into being sometime during the sixteenth century, so while certainly not new, it was not part of the early Church's practice.

So why are we doing it as St. Michael's right now? We generally orient our liturgy this way during Holy Week, as one way of setting that time apart from the rest of the year. This year I've found the experience of celebrating ad orientum so profoundly moving that I haven't yet been able to bring myself to change back. There is a moment during the Words of Institution when I lift the chalice up over my head. At that moment, if i look at the chalice, in the curved surface of the cup, I can see the entire congregation, choir, acolytes, and Eucharistic Ministers reflected in its surface; that has come to be one of the most powerful moments of Sunday morning for me, as it gives me a glimpse of all of us, in St. Augustine's language, remembering to turn our minds toward God.

I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts and experiences of our Eucharistic celebration facing East. Please share them with me.

Easter Alleluias

 The light spreads during the Easter Vigil, just before the first shout of "Alleluia" announces the end of Lent and the start of Easter.

The light spreads during the Easter Vigil, just before the first shout of "Alleluia" announces the end of Lent and the start of Easter.

As Episcopalians (and many other Christians, too!), Easter isn't simply a day; it's a season. Called The Queen of Feasts, it lasts fifty days until the Day of Pentecost. Longer than any other season outside of Ordinary Time, Easter is the most joyous time of the year. The church is decked in white; the readings are all about resurrection and renewal, life and hope.

Easter is also full of Alleluias, the great shout of praise. Alleluia, or hallelujah in Hebrew, translates as "Praise ye the Lord!" There is always an implied exclamation point at the end, for we do not mumble Alleluia; we shout it. It returns to the fraction anthem in the Eucharist where it had been omitted during Lent, as well as taking its place in the opening acclamation - "Alleluia! Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!"

In Easter - and only in Easter - Alleluia is added to the dismissal. Some parishes have adopted the custom (in direct violation of Prayer Book rubrics) of adding those Alleluias to the dismissal year round. I know some of our parishioners favor this practice as well. We don't do it, though, for the same reason we don't celebrate our birthday every day of the year. While we hopefully are thankful every day for our lives, and it's probably a safe bet that other people are happy we're around, too, we know that the celebration of our birth comes around once each year, on its anniversary. There is a different quality to our thanksgiving on that day, as there should be. Doing so marks that day as different from the rest of the year. The same applies for Easter. Yes, each Sunday is a feast of the Resurrection, and so in some sense each Sunday is a "Little Easter," but not every Sunday falls within Easter Season, that Queen of Feasts, and those that day deserve a little special treatment.

The Sacred Triduum

 Clockwise from upper right - Maundy Thursday, Holy Friday, Easter Vigil

Clockwise from upper right - Maundy Thursday, Holy Friday, Easter Vigil

As we make our way through Holy Week we find ourselves in a time known as The Sacred Triduum - Holy Three Days - spanning the time from evening on Maundy Thursday through the Great Vigil of Easter. While Christmas generally gets the most attention as far as church days go (at least here in America), these three days are the holiest time of the year for Christians.

Maundy Thursday  - called that from the Latin mandatum,  or commandment, is the celebration of the institution of the Lord's Supper, the washing of the disciples' feet, and the New Commandment given by Jesus - that we are to love one another as he loves us. All these are driven by the coming Passion of our Lord. All that we are as Christians takes its meaning from the events of this evening.

Good Friday - or more appropriately, Holy Friday - is the day we remember the crucifixion and death of Jesus. All decorations have been removed from the church, and our mood is somber and reflective. We are called simply to draw near to the cross of Christ and remain there with him. It is a difficult day, not only because we are commanded to be present to the sufferings of Jesus but to be reminded our our own part in causing them.

The Great Vigil of Easter, the first celebration of the Easter season, is our Passover. It is the night Christ passes over from death into life, the night we are joined in that holy journey as well. The Great Vigil starts in darkness; the new fire is then kindled, so that the Light of Christ may shine brightly in our lives and in the world.

These three days are really one event, and when we take part in that event we are joined to the life, death, and new life of Christ. In other words, we are changed and are never the same again. At this writing, we are squarely in the middle of the Sacred Triduum. Holy Friday services continue with Stations of the Cross at 6pm and the Good Friday liturgy at 7pm. We celebrate the Great Vigil of Easter at 8pm on Saturday evening. You are invited to join in this most holy of times as we witness and take part in the new life of creation once again.