Grace Episcopal Church
23 February 2012
Rite I, the service of Holy Eucharist which begins on p. 323 in the prayer book, has not been used at Grace for a long time. So why are we going to use it now, for the season of Lent? The reason has a lot to do with our “comfort zone”. The word liturgy means “the work of the people,” which means that we are engaged in worship that is not passive. When we do the same thing over and over again there is a danger of passivity, of reciting words in the absence of a fully-formed intent, of a fully-formed offering of self. Changing the words (albeit only for a season) forces us to think about what we mean when we say a prayer.
Lent is about examination of conscience; about looking at all the ways in which we separate ourselves from God, who at all times reaches out to us. Examination of conscience can be facilitated when we examine what we do, what we say, and why. That’s why we recently celebrated an instructed Eucharist. That’s one reason why we will change the rite for Lent. But, it’s not the only reason.. Living into the joy of new life in Jesus Christ–which the language of Rite II is probably better at facilitating–cannot be complete unless we realize that we stand before God, that our Lord and Savior is also our Judge. In Lent we remind ourselves that judgment is real, and that we need salvation. The language of Rite I probably does a better of job of articulating our need for salvation.
What is the possible downside? Some people will not like Rite I because it is different from what they know. Some people will not like being reminded that judgment is real. Some just won’t like the use of the old informal “thee” and “thy”. But before you start asking yourself whether or not you like the rite (or any liturgy), remind yourself of what we do in liturgy. We come before God to offer Him worship and praise, and sometimes we need to remind ourselves that “church” is not about us. The very foreignness of Rite I (to many; and to many it is as familiar as an old glove) can serve to remind us that no matter how good, smart, blessed, diligent, and even “lucky” (“blessed,” thank you!) we may be, we are saved not by our own efforts but by Jesus Christ. Jesus stands before the judgment seat for us, and we are justified by virtue of His righteousness and our own faith in Him. That free gift of God is as “foreign” as anything in Creation. It is as unexpected and unmerited as can be imagined. Jesus does not come to us when we are reconciled to God, when everything is OK, but when we are fallen. So, in Lent, remember that we stand before God, and God says (as found in the “comfortable words” of Rite I) “Come unto me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you” (Mtt. 11.28).
Thanksgivings: Thanksgivings are offered to Katy Prange, for coordinating the planning for Vacation Bible School with St. Dominic Catholic Church and St. Peter Lutheran Church.
Please take the opportunity to notify the office of any member or friend of the parish to whom we owe thanks, in order that we can publicize this in the weekly newsletter.
Please Pray: Please keep Kaleigh Kraft and the entire team for Faith Alive in your prayers. They will be leaving for Kearney, Nebraska on Friday, March 2 and will be gone for the whole weekend witnessing to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church about how to live out ones faith in community and to speak about their own personal walk with Jesus. Please pray for safe travel and an openness to the Holy Spirit.
This newletter is extralong this week, to allow for a description of, and invitation to, the practice of Lenten devotions. This description will also appear in the March edition of The Angelus. Parish annoucements are found this week after the Lenten devotions narrative.
Lenten Devotions & Practices:
Fasting: The weekdays of Lent are fast days, meaning that the amount of food is reduced. A good (if modern) rule is no snacks, no seconds, no desserts, and no alcohol. If you don't normally eat snacks or drink, you may consider giving up some favorite food. The idea is to undertake something sacrificial, yet not overwhelming. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are strict fast days: one full meal in the evening, a very light one in the afternoon and generally nothing before 3 p.m. Those who are ill, elderly, pregnant or nursing as well as small children are excused from this discipline (BCP 17).
Abstinence: Abstaining from flesh meat on Fridays (as required by the Prayer Book) is a common discipline for Lent. The Ancient custom is to abstain from flesh meat on Wednesdays as well as Fridays. Flesh meat includes all meat except fish. Going vegetarian these days is also an option (BCP 17).
Holy Communion: Lent is a good time to add an additional service to your usual Sunday attendance. The weekday liturgies are of a rather more intimate and quiet nature than those on Sunday, which can be a great blessing.
Daily Office: If you do not now read Morning and/or Evening Prayer from the Prayer Book, Lent is a good time to begin doing so. If you can attended the morning or evening office in the chapel at the parish, that would be ideal, but if not many people certainly pray this alone or with their families. It takes some effort and discipline to get the habit established, but once accomplished, it can bear great fruit in your spiritual life. Each Office takes 10-15 minutes a day. The clergy are available for help in the mechanics of the rubrics and lectionary. There are also many websites that can help you with this. Either do an online search for “Daily Office” or just try http://www.missionstclare.com/english .
Spiritual Reading: An ancient custom is to take a spiritual book for regular reading during Lent. This can be a book on the Scriptures, or one of the spiritual classics. Many are available in the parish library or you may see the clergy for suggestions. One great idea is to take The Bible Challenge (found on the parish website) as a Lenten discipline, and then continue throughout the year.
Confession: A sacramental confession, in private to a priest, is not only an opportunity for a thorough self-examination, but also a powerful weapon against the temptations which come our way in Lent. The priests of this parish are available for this sacrament (The Reconciliation of a Penitent, BCP 447), as are other priests in the area. Although the Anglican Communion does not require Sacramental Confession, it is recommended, and helpful.
Self-Denial: You may want to give up some special pleasure or recreation for Lent (tobacco, sweets, television, Facebook), and perhaps give what you would have spent on it to charity. This can be done in conjunction with other practices: if, for example, you give up an hour of TV every day, you might use it to read Evening Prayer and some Scripture.
Service: As well as “giving up” something in Lent, some wish to “take on” some special service, such as visiting a shut-in parishioner, volunteering at the hospital or a nursing home, running errands for an elderly neighbor, or some special project at the parish.
Scripture Reading: Delving into the Word of God is never out of season. Even if you do not take The Bible Challenge, Lent is a good time to establish (or re-establish) the discipline of a daily time of Scripture reading.
Educational Opportunities: Take the opportunity in Lent to join the Adult Education Class on Sundays at 9:00am. Even if you do not take The Bible Challenge, participating in a discussion of the Scripture will be informative, and may interest you in further study.
Corporate Special Devotions: There are numerous opportunities for your spiritual growth throughout Lent. In addition to the Sunday morning Liturgies, on Friday’s at 5:30 p.m. the parish will gather for Stations of the Cross, followed by a light supper and adult education. Lent is a good season to explore the additional litrugies offered on every weekday.
Evangelism: Lent is a good time to renew one’s commitment to sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with friends and neighbors, and to invite them to worship with us here at Grace. Even if someone say’s “no,” your risk of disappointment is itself a Lenten sacrifice.
Lenten study: On Friday, 24 February, we will begin our Lenten study suppers. Stations of the Cross will be offered at 5:30 p.m. in the nave, followed by a pot luck supper and discussion in St. Nicholas Hall. Study will follow Richard Foster’s book Celebration of Discipline. This is an easily-readable and yet profound to the practice of spiritual discipline, of putting God first. Many of you have this book. If you do not, please alert the parish office, so we can order the necessary number of copies.
Music this week:
Prelude: Two Chorale Prelude on Out of the depths I cry to thee Max Reger
The Great Litany, sung
Offertory Hymn 143 “The glory of these forty days”
Communion Motet Lord, for thy tender mercy’s sake John Hilton
Communion Hymn: 1940 Hymnal no. 209 “O saving Victim, opening wide”
Closing Hymn 150 “Forty days and forty nights”
Postlude Prelude and Fugue in D Minor J. K. F. Fischer
§ Tripartite Ministry: The Tripartite Ministry we share with St. Dominic Catholic Church and St. Peter Lutheran Church will meet here at Grace on Thursday, 1 March, at 5 p.m. to plan the details of Vacation Bible School and our joint service on Good Friday. We will also explore how to work together in youth ministry. If you are interested in VBS and/or youth ministry, please plan to attend.
§ Friday Evenings in Lent will begin this Friday, February 24th with Stations of the Cross at 5:30pm followed by suppers and study. We will be study Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. We have several copies for available for purchase at a cost of $15.00 each. Please speak with Deacon Michele if you would need a book.
§ Cooking on Friday Evenings in Lent: If you are interested in cooking and hosting a dinner on the Fridays during Lent, please sign-up on sheets in the Narthex. All of the Fridays are still open except the first one. Thank you for your willingness to serve in this manner.
§ Potluck Dinner and Compline: Bring a dish to pass and join us next Sunday, March 4th at 6:30pm, for a potluck dinner and fellowship. At 8:00pm the men will sing Compline, a beautiful restful service full of candles and music.
§ Adult Formation: Classes take place in St. Nicholas Hall, at 9 a.m. We will launch The Bible Challenge on the First Sunday in Lent (26 February). If you take this challenge, you will find that in one year you will read all of the Bible! This will require less than an hour of your time, six days a week. A schedule of readings will be provided on the parish website, along with weekly study summaries. During Lent we want to focus on parish participation, and so our Sunday morning adult education hour will involve review and discussion of the Bible readings for the week. After Lent we will revert to our education hour covering a variety of topics, with the first focus being on how to defend our faith against worldly attacks. If you need a good study bible for the challenge, contact the parish office. When we immerse ourselves in Scripture, the mantle of the Lord does fall upon us. We are equipped to discern God’s will and to lead others to know and love and serve the Lord.
§ Women’s Bible Study: The Women’s study has been postponed until sometime after Easter. The class will study Beth Moore’s “Stepping Up: A Journey Through the Psalms of Assent” a study of Psalms 120 through 134. Please watch for details in the future.
§ Scout Appreciation "Pancake Breakfast": Sunday March 4th Please mark your calendars to stay a few minutes, after each service, to savor a down home Pancake Breakfast. Scouts will supply all the know how for the event. As an added bonus, Maple Syrup will be supplied by the Drewry Farms of Plymouth. This award winning Maple Syrup is served at all the major restaurants in the area and beyond. The Scouts will also have available Maple Syrup gift assortments.
§ Needed: Bernie and Jessica are looking for some BADLY NEEDED shelving or storage units to better organize two rooms in the basement. Does anybody have some unused ones sitting around anywhere? Please contact them or Ed Clabots if you do.