Did You Know
Did You Know. . . about the many ministries of St. George's?
Read more about them here!
St. Thomas Parish, South Africa
Our Little Roses, Honduras
Prayer & Healing
Did You Know...about the Easter Season?
The Easter Season: Resurrection of the Lord
by Dennis Bratcher
Easter or Resurrection Sunday is the day Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus the Christ from the dead. This event marks the central faith confession of the early church and was the focal point for Christian worship, observed on the first day of each week since the first century (Acts 20:7; Sunday was officially proclaimed the day of Christian worship in AD 321). Easter as an annual celebration of the Resurrection that lies at the center of a liturgical year has been observed at least since the fourth century. Even in churches that traditionally do not observe the other historic seasons of the church year, Easter has occupied a central place as the high point of Christian worship.
Prior to the fourth century, Christians observed Pascha, Christian Passover, in the Spring of the year. Adapted from Jewish Passover, Pascha was a festival of redemption and commemorated both the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus as the vehicle for God’s grace. While historical records are not clear, it is likely that early Jewish Christians observed both Passover (Pesach) and Pascha. However, many Gentile converts were hesitant to adopt the Jewish festival, especially since the Jerusalem Council had decided that Gentile converts to Christianity did not have to observe Jewish religious practices (Acts 15). Gradually by the fourth century, with an increasing emphasis on Holy Week and Good Friday, Easter moved into a distinctively Christian celebration of the Resurrection, with Good Friday commemorating Jesus’ crucifixion and death.
Easter, like Passover, is a movable feast. That is, the date of Easter (and Passover) is not fixed but is determined by a system based on a lunar calendar adapted from a formula decided by the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. In this system, Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the Spring equinox (the day when the sun’s ecliptic or apparent path in the sky crosses the equator, thus making days and nights of equal length). This usually occurs on March 21, which means the date of Easter can range between March 22 and April 25 depending on the lunar cycle. Since Jewish Passover is calculated differently, the dates for Passover and Easter do not correspond, although often the first Day of Passover falls during Holy Week. Much of the calendar of the Church year is determined by the date of Easter.
In the Christian church year, the two major cycles of seasons, Christmas and Easter, are far more than a single day of observance. Like Christmas, Easter itself is a period of time rather than just a day. It is actually a seven-week season of the church year called Eastertide, the Great Fifty Days that begins at sundown the evening before Easter Sunday (the Easter Vigil) and lasts for six more Sundays until Pentecost Sunday. These seven Sundays are called the Sundays of Easter, climaxing on the seventh Sunday, the Sunday before Pentecost Sunday. This is often celebrated as Ascension Day (actually the 40th day after Easter Sunday, which always falls on Thursday, but in churches that do not have daily services it is usually observed the following Sunday). Ascension Day marks not only the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, but his exaltation from servanthood to Ruler and Lord as the fitting climax of Resurrection Day (Eph 1:20-22).
These special days and seasons are a means to shape sacred time, a structure in which to define what it means to be Christian and to call God’s people to reverent and faithful response to God. Easter encompasses a time of preparation (Lent; as Advent does for Christmas) as well as a following period of reflection on its significance for the life of God’s people (Pentecost; Epiphany for Christmas). However, while Epiphany following Christmas focuses on the mission of God’s people to the world, the Pentecost season following Easter focuses on the church as the witness to the resurrection. In anticipation of this emphasis at Pentecost, the Scripture readings during the Sundays of Easter are different, with readings from the Acts of the Apostles replacing readings from the Old Testament. This emphasizes that the church, as empowered by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, is the best witness to the resurrection and the work of God in the world in Jesus the Christ.
Did You Know. . . about Advent?
The word Advent means “coming” or “arrival.” It is the beginning of the Church year. The focus of the season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent.
In this double focus on past and future, Advent also symbolizes the spiritual journey of individuals and a congregation, as they affirm that Christ has come, that He is present in the world today, and that He will come again in power. This acknowledgment provides a basis for Kingdom ethics, for holy living arising from a profound sense that we live “between the times” and are called to be faithful stewards of what is entrusted to us as God’s people.
The Advent wreath is a popular symbol of the beginning of the Church year. It is a circular evergreen wreath (real or artificial) with five candles, four around the wreath and one in the center. The circle of the wreath reminds us of God Himself, His eternity and endless mercy, which has no beginning or end. The green of the wreath speaks of the hope that we have in God, the hope of newness, of renewal, of eternal life. Candles symbolize the light of God coming into the world through the birth of His son. The four outer candles represent the period of waiting during the four Sundays of Advent, which themselves symbolize the four centuries of waiting between the prophet Malachi and the birth of Christ. The colors of the candles vary with different traditions, but there are usually three purple or blue candles, corresponding to the sanctuary colors of Advent, and one pink or rose candle. Many Christians have small Advent weaths at home during the Advent season. One of the purple candles is lighted the first Sunday of Advent, a Scripture is read, a short devotional or reading is given, and a prayer offered. On subsequent Sundays, previous candles are re-lighted and an additional one is lit. The pink candle is usually lighted on the third Sunday of Advent and symbolizes the joy of the impending birth of Christ. Devotionals and prayers are read each Sunday.
The light of the candles itself becomes an important symbol of the season. This light reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world that comes into the darkness of our lives to bring newness, life, and hope. It also reminds us that we are called to be a light to the world as we reflect the light of God’s grace to others (Isaiah 42:6). The light that has come into the world is plainly visible as the Christ candle is lighted at Christmas, and we rejoice that the promise of long ago was realized in the coming of Jesus.
Source: Excerpts from The Voice-Biblical and Theological Resources for Growing Christians
Consider making the weekday and Saturday 7am Eucharist service part of your observance of Advent. It will add more depth and meaning to this special season before Christmas.
Did You Know. . . about Confirmation?
Some people are surprised to discover that confirmation is very much an adult rite, not just for young people.
Confirmation, as the Book of Common Prayer tells us, is the sacramental rite whereby people publicly “express a mature commitment to Christ, and receive strength from the Holy Spirit through prayer and the laying on of hands by a bishop.” This may happen for youth who grow up in the Episcopal tradition, but most assuredly not always. For those of us who have not grown up in the Episcopal Church (a group that includes me!), confirmation is the corporate and sacramental “entry point” into the church. It also provides an opportunity to publicly reaffirm the Christian faith.
In the confirmation service, which this year at St. George’s will be held in early May, candidates reaffirm the baptismal vows made in the past, or made on their behalf by parents. Confirmation also allows a bishop, part of the apostolic stream of the church through the ages, to lay hands on those baptized (or perhaps confirmed) in other church traditions. What many people don’t realize that if they wish to join St. George’s and have never been confirmed by a bishop in an Episcopal or Anglican church, we ask them to be confirmed (and in turn to attend preparatory classes leading up to confirmation). Those who have been confirmed in the Catholic or Orthodox traditions are asked simply to be “received,” which also takes place during the service when the bishop does confirmation.
Of course, for adults who have not been baptized, we will happily provide that opportunity sometime before confirmation.
Classes for this preparation begin at St. George’s each January at the 10:05am Sunday school hour.
Did You Know. . . about those little black boxes?
Often, immediately after communion, the Celebrant will walk to the altar rail and distribute one or more little black box(es) to individuals with the words, “In the name of this congregation, I send you forth bearing these holy gifts that those to whom you go may share with us in the communion of Christ’s body and blood. We who are many are one body because we share one bread and one cup.”
Did you ever wonder what this is all about? The people who come to the rail to receive the boxes are Lay Eucharistic Visitors (LEV). They have been trained to take the blessed wine and bread directly from the altar of St. George’s to members of our congregation who are homebound, in rehabilitation facilities, nursing homes, or in the hospital. Since the wine and bread have already been blessed by a priest, the LEV conducts a very short service (see page 398 in the Book of Common Prayer) and then provides communion for our St. George’s member from the “little black box.”
We reach out in the name of Christ by bringing body and blood of our Lord to our members who cannot come to church. If you would like to learn more about this important ministry, please contact Lynn Ragland at email@example.com.
Did You Know. . . about hospital admissions?
The church needs to be contacted whenever you or a loved one is admitted to the hospital. Although the hospital admission clerks may ask specific questions about your religious preference, church, or if you would like to be visited, they will NOT notify St. George’s to let us know you are there. Governmental regulations (HIPPA) prohibit release of health information to third parties. Please get in touch with the church as soon as possible at 385-2150 and let us know which hospital you are in and the room number. If it’s an emergency, you can still call this number and contact a priest via the pager. Please call us! We care.
Did You Know. . . about prayer lists?
There are two different prayer lists at St. George’s: the Sunday Prayer List and the Weekday Chapel Prayer List. You may add names to one or both lists at any time. It’s easy! Here’s how:
Submit a prayer request on the information form (located in the pews) and put it in the collection plate on Sunday. Or contact Lynn Ragland at 385-2150 x 247 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Indicate the list (or both) on which you would like the person’s name to appear. That’s all you need to do!
Those on the Sunday Prayer List are prayed for during the Prayers of the People and the names are printed in the Sunday bulletin so that the congregation may pray for them as well. Individuals on the Weekday Prayer List are prayed for at the 7:00am weekday Chapel services. Please be sure the person we are praying for knows that their name is included, especially for the Sunday list.
Unless otherwise indicated, we will pray for each person four consecutive weeks. The person placing the name on the list is then contacted by the Church office to determine if the name should remain on the list another four weeks. Of course, a name may be removed at any time. Please let us know how the person is doing. We care and God is healing people in our midst. One final note: letting the church office know about a hospitalization or illness does not mean automatic inclusion on either prayer list as often this information is confidential. Individuals are not placed on the public prayer lists without their permission.
Did You Know. . . about Vergers?
The office of Verger has roots in the Anglican Church as far back as the 16th century in the great cathedrals of England. The verger was not an ordained minister, but a member of the laity who assisted the clergy in public worship, especially in organizing and leading processions.
In the 16th century, the vergers were responsible for guarding the clergy during public processions, upkeep of the church building, preparations for the liturgy and grave-digging [an honor historically shared with sextons]. The clergy and others assisting in the worship service would gather at an appointed spot in the town and be led by the verger to the cathedral.
The verger carried a staff called a “verge” which would be used to clear the path ahead. The verge could also be used as a weapon to fend off people who were not very fond of the clergy. During the early days when the struggle for church property between Rome and England was at its height, the clergy were not popular and had to be protected when out among the general population. Once at the cathedral, the verge was useful in clearing a path through the nave to the sanctuary where the mass was celebrated. In those days, the main part of the cathedral also served as marketplace and public square.
Today the office of verger is experiencing a rapid expansion within the Episcopal Church. Differing from the Church of England, where vergers are often full-time paid employees of the church, American vergers are usually volunteers with a special calling to the ordering and conduct of the church’s liturgy. Clergy throughout the American Episcopal Church have come to appreciate the ministry of vergers. Vergers can relieve the clergy of the burden of liturgical detail so that they can concentrate on their priestly duties to preach the Word and administer the Sacraments. No longer found primarily in cathedrals and large parishes, vergers are a presence in any worshipping community that has an active parish program.
Vergers at St. George’s
Traditional duties of the verger include ensuring that there are lay-readers (Lectors) and Lay Eucharistic Ministers (Chalice Bearers) and organizing the procession and communion responsibilities for the 8:45am and 11:15am services. Soon, the St. George’s vergers will wear a distinguishing vestment of a black cassock and a long gray vest. They will also carry the traditional verge. Look for the new vestments in the worship procession soon. Source: Ministry of the office of the verger
Did You Know. . . about the Way of the Cross?
The Stations of the Cross (or Way of the Cross; in Latin, Via Crucis; also called the Via Dolorosa or Way of Sorrows, or simply, The Way) refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion. The tradition as chapel devotion began with St. Francis of Assisi and extended throughout the Roman Catholic Church in the medieval period. It is also observed in the Anglican/Episcopal and Lutheran churches. Although people may walk the Way of the Cross anytime, it is most commonly done during the Season of Lent, especially on Good Friday and on Friday evenings during Lent. The object of the Stations is to help the faithful to make a spiritual pilgrimage of prayer, through meditating upon the chief scenes of Christ’s sufferings and death.
Some Christians maintain that the traditional Stations of the Cross are incomplete without a final scene depicting the empty tomb and/or Jesus rising from the dead (the Resurrection).However, advocates of the traditional form of the Stations ending with the body of Jesus being placed in the tomb point out that the Stations are intended as a meditation on the atoning death of Jesus, and not as a complete picture of his life, death, and resurrection.
Out of the fourteen traditional Stations of the Cross, only eight have clear scriptural foundation. Stations 3, 4, 6, 7, and 9 are not specifically attested to in the gospels and Station 13 (representing Jesus’s body being taken down off the cross and laid in the arms of his mother Mary) seems to embelish the gospels’ record which state that Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus down from the cross and buried him.
Source: Ann Ball, 2003 Encyclopedia of Catholic Devotions and Practices
Did You Know. . . You Can Pre-Plan Your Funeral?
You are looking down from heaven, watching and listening to your own funeral. Suddenly you wonder, “Why in the world did they pick THAT hymn? I never even liked that song!” Or maybe you are looking up from…well, we won’t go there. Actually, it’s doubtful that one observes their funeral from heaven or hell. However, selection of hymns and scripture verses for a funeral or memorial service is often very difficult for a family reeling from the death of a loved one. There are a great many decisions to be made in a very short period of time. Fortunately, the church has an answer for this dilemma: planning your own funeral in advance.
Funeral pre-planning is not as gloomy or depressing as it might sound. The procedure is simple. You and perhaps a loved one set up a time to meet with a priest and usually the organist or music director to make hymn and scripture selections from the hymnal and Bible. There are a number of hymns and Scripture verses which are particularly appropriate for funerals as they are very comforting and reassuring for the family and friends.
You can also decide if you wish to have Communion at the funeral, Rite 1 or Rite 2, etc. The priest and musician will gently guide you through the process, answer all of your questions, and complete a form which will be kept on file at the church. You will also receive a copy for your records. Then, when the time comes, your family will not be burdened with trying to decide what you would like. They know.
If you have any questions or would like to make an appointment with a priest for funeral/memorial service pre-planning, please contact the church office at 385-2150. You need not be at death’s door to pre-plan your funeral. Sooner is better.