We have invited Olan Mills photographers to take portraits for a new Christ Church color Parish Directory. A flyer will be included in the Sunday bulletin this week (11/20-21). Olan Mills will be at church from January 4th through January 8th. Photo sessions will take place from 2 to 9 PM on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The photographers will also be here from 9 AM to 5:15 PM on Saturday. Next weekend (11/27-28) we will begin scheduling appointments for photo sessions. **Note: if you are unable to come to have your portrait taken, you may submit a current picture that you may already have, this way you will be included in the directory and receive the free directory**. If you should have any questions, please contact Kathy Okarski at (610-368-2176) or Floss Rhine (610-534-9621). We invite you to participate! We would also appreciate a few “volunteers” to be here during the picture sessions. If you would be able to give about an hour to greet members coming to have pictures taken, please contact Kathy or Floss at the above numbers.
Archives for November 2010
Year C, Proper 29: Last Sunday after Pentecost: Christ the King Psalm 46 or Canticle 4 or 16; Jeremiah 23:1-6; Colossians 1:11-20; Luke 23:33-43
This is the last Sunday of this church year. Next week we begin the season of Advent, the season of anticipation and of waiting for the birth of the Christ child, and with the inception of that time-before-the-dawn season that is Advent, we will leave Year C and begin Year A, and go from readings based largely on Lukeâ€™s gospel to ones reliant, for the most part, on Matthewâ€™s.
Consequently this Last Sunday After Pentecost is, in some way, the crowning Sunday of the church year. It is also known as Christ the King Sunday, which may sound appropriately royal and majestic. So it may seem odd today to return to Good Friday and Jesusâ€™ execution. Luke describes a helpless man pinned with cruel, bloody spikes to a cross being slowly executed by order of the state. The only reference to his royalty is a mocking sign that proclaims him â€œthe King of the Jewsâ€.
But what kind of king is this?
The bystanders certainly regard him with no deference or awe–in fact, they feel very free to mock him. Even one of the other men dying this death by torture alongside him derides Jesus. Heâ€™s suffering, heâ€™s dying, just like any other man. If he is Godâ€™s anointed, the Messiah, the Christ, where is the evidence of Godâ€™s favour? What kind of king is this?
Not an earthly king, certainly. The child whose birth we will begin to look for again next week did not come to a palace. He was not lapped in purple silks and fed pomegranates and ices carried by runners from distant mountains. He was born in a stable to very simple folk. He worked with his hands, and he never had a proper place to lay his head.
What kind of king is this?
His courtiers were mostly fishermen and assorted other rag-tag and bobtail folk, including an unaccountable number of women. He consorted with the lame, the halt, the blind, the mad, the diseased, the rejected and the despised. He never carried so much as one coin, and he told the rich to give away their money. He told the poor that God was on their side, and he told everyone who would listen to love their enemeies and to do good to those who hated them. He turned all the categories of power upside down, and he underlined his intention by saying, at every possible point, â€œThe last will be first and the first will be last.â€Â
What kind of king is this?
If you were standing there watching him die, you might have thought you were seeing, not a kingly triumph, but bitter failure and defeat.
His only army had been the crowd that had waved branches and hailed him at his coming. The mob had, perhaps, seen this as a bid for power. A failed bid at power, efficiently crushed by the grinding machine that is Rome.Â For Judea is a Roman colony, and crucifixion is a Roman death, one reserved for rebels or political criminals. That is one reason that there is that sign over the cross: â€œThe King of the Jews.â€ The Roman message is crystal clear. In Roman eyes, any would-be messiah is a rebel and any rebel is an enemy of the Rome, and will be dealt with summarily and bloodily. The sign is not meant to honour him, but to crush him in his last hours, and to ruthlessly extinguish any flickering hopes his followers might still have nurtured.
What kind of king is this?
That is what the sneering spectators are asking. If this is the Lordâ€™s Messiah, what is he doing, bleeding, suffering, dying, naked and alone?
But this is the very moment of Jesusâ€™ kingship.
From first to last, he has turned upside-down every other category of power. God became flesh–not just weak, but baby-weak. But God became flesh to enter fully into human life, so that we might enter into the divine life. Christ the King is not a king of earthly power who stands over and against ordinary, common human life, but a king of heavenly power who accompanies us in every moment of our lives, who knows what it is to be human in all its guises and faces.
What they do not see is that our king is right there, right in the very heart of all human suffering and all loss, plunged into the profound depths of all human loneliness and wretchedness in this desolate and desolating dying and death. For it is precisely this death that seals and confirms Christâ€™s kingship. His self-giving life pours forth onto all.
And one of the two men dying with him sees Jesus as he is. Not as a failed king, but as the only true king that ever was. In the midst of his own suffering and agony he understands: Only a crucified Messiah can enter even the deepest of human abysses and lead us to safety and salvation, for Godâ€™s power is utterly the opposite of human power. Godâ€™s power is the power of love and peace and justice and beauty and self-giving. The Kingdom of Heaven could never be seized by force. A kingdom of peace and wholeness can not be created by acts of murder and vengeance.
The dying man confesses his faith in the last words he may have ever spoken when he gasps out: â€œJesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.â€
And the only true King answers: â€œTruly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.â€
So what kind of king is this?
A king whose victory is the greatest reversal of all, for this time, death itself has been reversed. A king who has thrown open the doors of the Kingdom. A king who asks us to invite him into our hearts, that he may dwell here with us, just as he invites each and all of us to bide in his kingdom with him, for all time and eternity.
Christ Church Ridley Park
Year CÂ Proper 28
November 14, 2010
Jesus said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.”
Bill Nickerson and I were walking around the church on Friday. (Bill is the chair of our Property Committee.) As I looked up and noticed the mortar that was coming loose around the windows at the back of church. A strip had separated from the window frame and hung precariously, announcing its imminent collapse. Walking a little further I looked up again and pointed out to Bill a chunk of stucco that had fallen away from the side of the parish house, no doubt the victim of a gutter that had failed to do its work. And then later that day I was walking down the aisle and made the mistake of looking up again, searching for the little sparrow that had flitted through the healing service, having come to say its prayers. I saw that there was still that pesky hole in the roof where some industrious carpenter bee had bored its way through, also looking for a nice place to come pray.
(Not only do people like to come pray here in this beautiful sanctuary, but the birds and the bees think this is a pretty special place as well. They have good Episcopalian taste!)
â€œAll will the thrown down.â€
Aside from being reminded that looking up in an aging church creates more jobs for the Property Committee, the crumbling mortar also reminded of the transitory nature of buildings, of temples, of kingdoms, and indeed of life itself.
The lections for these last couple of Sundays of the church year depict a gathering storm. We are hurtling toward the last Sunday of the Church year with dire predictions of the close of the age. The stories grow darker and darker, as if in sync with the narrowing light of these autumn days. The end, the close, the grand finale, the big oneâ€¦ It is coming.
The gospel is unflinching in its insistence that we keep looking up â€“ at the crumbling mortar, the sagging cheeks and jowls and breasts, the collapsing culture, the waning kingdoms of this world. It is unremitting on its insistence that we lose our innocence and never forget the direction all things belonging to the temporal order are heading.
On the one hand we might say â€œhow depressingâ€! Who wants to have their nose rubbed in it?
We might imagine that was the sensibility of the priests and nobles of Jerusalem who preferred not to acknowledge the impending crisis foretold by the prophets. Then, as if on cue, there arrived the mighty Babylonians who strode in and torched their temple, carting the naÃ¯ve residents of Jerusalem off to Babylon by whose rivers they wept and wept, lamenting what was no longer theirs. Â Yes, they would rebuild once their exile was ended. There would be a new temple, a gleaming, glorious replacement. But once again, some centuries later in 70 A.D. the Romans who had conquered the known world entered Jerusalem, and, as predicted in our gospel for today, would bring it all down again.
We might say â€œhow depressingâ€, thinking of them sitting by the rivers of Babylon weeping as they remembered Zion.
That is certainly a very human response. No one likes to think about the close of anything, not the age of innocence, nor the teen years, nor the child-bearing years, not the heady days, the carefree times, the healthy years, the irrational exuberance of shop till you drop spending sprees.
But maybe we are just looking such times with far too narrow a point of view, like the blind men touching the parts of the elephant describing an elephant from his own rather limited perspective.
Looked at from Godâ€™s point of view, what appears to be end of the world is, at the same time, a grand opportunity. It is the clearing away of what is no longer viable, what is worn out and no longer of use. Looked at from Godâ€™s point of view it is the dawning of a new age.
Hear the words of the prophet Isaiah:
For I am about to create new heavens
and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered
or come to mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever
in what I am creating;
for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy,
and its people as a delight.
Isaiah would foretell of such a time of lasting peace, one in which there was no longer weeping or the cry of distress. Out of the defeat which resulted in the exile, there would be a new order of things belonging to God. In such a new order the wolf and the lamb would feed together, no more hurt or destruction on Godâ€™s holy mountain.
And in our Gospel for today Jesus would echo Isaiahâ€™s prediction of a new world order, a coming kingdom of Godâ€™s reign, one inaugurated by the Son of Man. There would arrive the close of the present age and the welcoming of the new.
Getting there would be ugly and it would be messy. Wars, insurrections, nations against nations, kingdom againstÂ kingdom, earthquakes, famines, plagues, not to mention dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.
Oh, yes, there would also be a time of testing of the faithful. Those who belonged to this coming order would be handed over to those belonging to the old order. They would be thrown in prison, betrayed, even by parents and brothers, by friends and relatives, and some even put to death.
For those who belong to the old order, the old way of doing things, the old ways of thinking or consciousness, who are not imaginative enough to live into Godâ€™s new order do not take kindly to being challenged in any way. They always put up a fight, and do their darndest to make it all go away, even as the mortar is crumbling all around them.
And of course such resistance is not only without. Perhaps even more perniciously it is that resistance that comes from the emperor within, the strong man holding on for dear life, defending a crumbling empire, unable to accept what must be, unable to trust that God might show us another way, a better way, a kingdom of a very different order.
Against such change we make quite a stink and put up quite a fight.
No wonder Jesus would warn the faithful.
But also encourage them, telling them â€œby your endurance you will gain your souls.â€
Thanks to all who set up our Christmas Fair on Sunday, November 14, following the 1o:00 a.m. service. Many volunteers were on hand, including Bill Nickerson and Dave Roman shown in Bill’s truck.
Lots of tables to set up, including those for the Deppich Room. Thanks to all the ladies who assisted, including Rev. Judy, Floss Rhine, Carol King, and Marlene Nickerson.
This Sunday begins our 2011 Every Member Canvass. Packets will be available at the back of church to be picked up every member of Christ Church. Those that have not been picked up on Sunday will be mailed on Monday, November 15th.
The theme of our canvass this year is “Knit together in one communion and fellowship”, a reference to the collect for All Saint’s Day when we remember our participation in a larger communion with all the saints and our responsibility as members of that greater fellowship. All members of Christ Church will be asked to pledge to the mission and ministry of Christ Church, filling out a card and returning it by November 28.
Our speaker this Every Member Canvass speaker this Sunday will be Amy Lovenguth, chair of Pastoral Care, a member of the choir, and former vestry member of Christ Church.
The Every Member Canvass is the means by which we determine our budget for the upcoming year and plan for our program and ministries. We invite your generous support, returning a share of your own resources for God’s work in the world. Please keep the canvass in your prayers.
Year C, All Saintsâ€™ Day
Job 19:23-27a; Psalm 149; Ephesians 1:11-23; Luke 6:20-31
Today is the celebration of All Saints Sunday. Saint Paul referred to all his fellow-ChristiansÂ as â€œsaintsâ€–meaning by that one who had been made holy through baptism and membership in the body of Christ. And so it is appropriate that we often baptize, and make â€œlittle saintsâ€ on this day.
But there is another understanding of saints, which may be more familiar to us.Â In his book, Making Saints, author Kenneth Woodward writes, â€œA saint is always someone through whom we catch a glimpse of what God is like — and of what we are called to be.â€
Â I donâ€™t often preach on the Old Testament but in Job story I think we get both a glimpse of God and a glimpse of what we are called to be. So it fits very well with All Saints Sunday.
Job is a righteous man who has suffered one catastrophe after another. He has lost everything–land, wealth, health, and all his children. The basic understanding among the Jewish people had always been that God rewards and punishes in this life. But if God rewards the good and punishes the bad, how do you understand it when terrible things happen to good people and the unrighteous prosper?Â And was Job only righteous because he thought it would benefit him more to to be righteous than to be unrighteous? And if he were–is that true righteousness?
For that is how the whole story of Job begins, with this question: Who is God for Job if absolutely everything is stripped away?
When all is gone, Jobâ€™s despondent wife tells him to â€œCurse God and die!â€ But Job refuses. He insists he is innocent of wrongdoing and he wants God to show Godself and explain why these dreadful things have happened to a righteous man. Surely he has a right to an answer!
Job is waiting for God in a heap of dung, covered with boils, when his friends show up to comfort him–but their so-called comfort consists in telling him that he must have done something, perhaps something so terrible that he cannot even admit it to himself–and that even his questioning of God is a sin. Job is as adamant in insisting he has no secret sin and that it is not impious of him to ask God to explain Godâ€™s actions.Â Much of the book is an account of the debate rages between Job and his comforters.
And then, abruptly, God comes to JobÂ and speaks â€œout of the whirlwindâ€Â to ask in words of terrible beauty: â€œWhere were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding… who laid its cornerstone when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy… Have you commanded the morning since your days began and caused the dawn to know its place… Have you entered the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deepâ€¦ Where is the way to the dwelling of light?… Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades, or loose the cords of Orion?… Do you give the horse its might?… Is it by your wisdom the hawk soars?… Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up and makes its nest on high?…â€ (Job, 38-39)
As the litany goes on and on, Job is utterly abashed by this glimpse of Godâ€™s Glory. He comprehends both the unutterable majesty and the terrible holiness that is God, and his own littleness. None of Jobâ€™s questions are answeredâ€”the mystery of why bad things happen to good people is not explained in Jobâ€”but there is a promise made, which our reading affirms. And that promise is this: whether we can see it or not, this glorious, holy, awe-ful, mysterious God is always working for Godâ€™s good purposes. ThatÂ those good purposes encompass all that is, including every human being born. And that suffering and death will never have the last word.
Job is righteous, but he is not perfect. An earthly saint is not perfect. No human being is perfect–that is our intended end, that we will be completed and perfected in God. Even an earthly saint may question or doubt or rail at circumstances. But in the end, a saint is one who has learned to live in faith in Godâ€™s promises regardless of circumstancesâ€”just because it is God who has promised.
And the glimpse of Glory that is given, from time to time, is what sustains that saint in all the hardships and trials of this life.
Job himself wishes that he could hold on to this vision of gloryâ€”he knows that while now all is clear to him, there will be times to come when life will again seem very hard and desperate, and he wants to cling fast to this revelation:Â
O that my words were written down!
O that they were inscribed in a book!
O that with an iron pen and with lead
they were engraved on a rock forever!
But he cannot hold onâ€”iron, lead and rock are not heavy enough to hold God in place. God is so much larger than any box we can seek to thrust God intoâ€”we must stand on the promises, with Job:
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that at the last he will stand upon the earth;
and after my skin has been thus destroyed,
then in my flesh I shall see Godâ€¦
These are the words with which we bury our deadâ€”our completed saintsâ€”who go before us into the promises. And these words console us, and remind us, in the times that are as heavy and dull as rock and iron and lead, that God has the last, the Living Wordâ€”and that an eternal promise has been made to the saints of God that will never, never be broken.
A new session of Yoga classes will begin on Monday, November 15th, and continue for four weeks, through Monday, December 6th. The cost for this session will be $40 if paid on the first night of class, or a drop-in fee of $12 per class. Any questions, please speak with Betsy Kirkpatrick. Yoga is held in Musselman Hall from 7 to 8 PM.
Thanks to our young people for helping bring all the saints to life on this Sunday on which we celebrated All Saints. Complete with two baptisms of Rhys Keegan Hechmer and Colin Patrick Quinney, it was a splendid liturgy and a full church. This day also marked the 131st anniversary of the founding of Christ Church.
The procession up the aisle was accompanied by the congregation singing “I sing a song of the saints of God”
I sing a song of the saints of God,
patient and brave and true,
who toiled and fought and lived and died
for the Lord they loved and knew.
And one was a doctor, and one was a queen,
and one was a shepherdess on the green:
they were all of them saints of God and I mean,
God helping, to be one too.
They loved their Lord so dear, so dear,
and his love made them strong;
and they followed the right, for Jesusâ€™ sake,
the whole of their good lives long.
And one was a soldier, and one was a priest,
and one was slain by a fierce wild beast;
and thereâ€™s not any reason no, not the least,
why I shouldnâ€™t be one too.
They lived not only in ages past,
there are hundreds of thousands still,
the world is bright with the joyous saints
who love to do Jesusâ€™ will.
You can meet them in school, or in lanes, or at sea, in church, or in trains, or in shops, or at tea,
for the saints of God are just folk like me,
and I mean to be one too.
Words by Lesbia Scott (1898-1986)
Photos courtesy of Nancy Kenyon
The children come in, dressed in saintsâ€™ costumes, to the hymn, â€œI Sing a Song of the Saints of God.â€
The six saints featured in the hymn come in firstâ€”for those of you who donâ€™t know, this is who they are:
â€œOne was a doctorâ€ refers to Luke theÂ physician who wrote the Gospel by that name as well as The Book of Acts.
â€œOne was a queenâ€ is for Margaret of Scotland .
â€œOne was a shepherdess on the greenâ€ was Joan of Arc, who was a shepherdess before she became a soldier-saint.
â€œOne was a soldierâ€ refers to Martin of Tours (born a pagan, his name refers to Mars, the Roman god of war, and he was a Roman soldier before his conversion.)
â€œOne was a priestâ€ refers to John Donne. This is one saint you wonâ€™t find in a Roman Catholic calendar of saints, as he was an Anglican priest. He was also a very fine poet. Â It was he who wrote, â€œSend not to ask for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.â€
â€œAnd one was slain by a fierce wild beastâ€ refers to Ignatius of Antioch who died very serenely inÂ the Colliseum, despite being ripped apart by lions at the time. He wrote a series of letters as he was being taken to Rome, and in one he wrote â€œI am dying willingly for Godâ€™s sake, if only you do not prevent itâ€¦I am Godâ€™s wheat, and I am to be ground by the teeth of wild beasts so that I may become the pure bread of Christ.â€
We have costumes in all sizes. We even have animal costumes for Ignatiusâ€™s â€œfierce wild beastsâ€ and Joanâ€™s sheep.
Any child, ages 3 and up, is welcome to be part of the procession. However, please encourage your older child to participate, as the saints go up the aisleÂ separately, and it’s usually best if the child is at least 5 or 6.Â Children who are shy, or very young, or new to the procession, are welcome to come in all together at the last verse, the one that celebrates the â€œThousands and Thousandsâ€ of Â saints who are still among usâ€”people you can meet on a bus or a train or at sea, etc. We have lots of costumes for them as well.
Children who are taking part should come at 9:00 on Sunday morning, Nov. 6 to dress and to practice the procession. It is not complicated and we have adults on hand at both ends of the procession.
Please remember that Sunday, November 6 is the start of Eastern Standard Time. If you forget you will be an hour early!