Continuing Home

The ongoing saga of a Continuing Anglican church home, as seen by a member of the laity.

Monday, March 27, 2006

On the road again

Things will likely be pretty quiet here until Sunday. I leave early tomorrow for a business trip and won't be home until Saturday evening.

It's a pity: this week's Wednesday night class (Lenten Series IV) is on "Jeremy Taylor: The Christian's Conquest." I don't quite recall if this one is Deacon Ed's class or Fr. Daniel's, but it doesn't matter.

The turnout for these classes (plus Evensong plus supper) has not been huge, probably due in varying degrees to Seattle traffic, dislike of / inability to drive at night, our being so widespread (see: "Seattle traffic"), and perhaps because we've not had much in the way evening activities for a long time.

It's sad, because those who haven't come don't know what they're missing. It's not just the class, it's the fellowship. For my part I guess I will have to wait to learn whether Wednesday's class is about this (just-Googled) Jeremy Taylor or some other. I am guessing he is not this Jeremy Taylor, though.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Today's Epistle

It seems like ages since I last served as Epistolator, so I was very happy when Fr. Daniel asked me to read today. To tell the truth I was missing being of service, but I understand too Fr. Daniel's concern of not burning people out and he does not have our previous Rector's preference for numerous servers, almost of "filling the sanctuary."

Nevertheless, it was like old times: light the candles at 10 minutes before the service (our acolytes were absent today), then retreat to the Sacristy to read through the Epistle.

In reading the Epistle in advance I'm not just familiarizing myself with the text and making sure I get the pronunciations correct, though I certainly flubbed the latter today: it is difficult to remember to pronounce "Agar" as anything other than the American pronunciation of the name of that stuff I encountered in high-school biology class.

What I think is most important is to understand what's being said so that the meaning can be conveyed in the reading. I've sat through too many readings where at the end, I'm still in the dark about what was said.

It's a difficult task: we don't write or speak today the way they did then. They clearly did not have grammar school teachers drilling them in the need for short sentences. And the myriad directions the readings sometimes go within the space of just a single sentence... I'm sure (at least I hope!) the clergy have training in reading for clarity, at least in seminaries preparing them for the use of the 1928 BCP and the KJV Bible, but too little seems to get passed on to us lay readers.

Today's Epistle was not one of the easiest (Gal. iv:21), particularly when one reaches the "allegory" clause. It took some study to get the various parts in their proper perspectives, but when I was done I just knew this was going to be one of "those" readings, what typically results when there's no time for preparation, because it remained fuzzy.

So I was surprised when I launched into reading the Epistle, the whole suddenly laid itself out more clearly than I'd ever seen it. Fr. Daniel appeared pleased, and the usual review with my wife on the way home from church was also quite positive.

Now if I can just hang on to that understanding for next year...

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Lenten Series 3: John Donne

Tonight, after Evensong and a supper of Kathy's delicious lentil soup (even little Danny loved it!) and cornbread, Fr. Daniel led the third of our Wednesday evening Lenten classes, building on A Time to Turn: Anglican Readings for Lent and Easter Week, with daily readings from "the best sermons, books, poems and hymns of Anglican writers throughout the centuries" which, one hopes, the rest of the group has been more faithful in reading and pondering daily than yours truly. (But yours truly gets there most days...)

Some of the names of those Anglicans from whom material are drawn are a surprise to some of us -- or at least to me: Harriet Beecher Stowe, for example, who provided Monday's compelling reading on discipline from her Earthly Care.

Another surprise (at least to yours truly) was the subject of tonight's class: John Donne. I knew the name, I could add "poet", if really pressed I could perhaps associate "No man is an island" and "send not for whom the bell tolls"... but that would be all. But the day after Ash Wednesday the reading (on sin) was from a sermon(!) by John Donne. It was all made clear tonight, when we learned about the life and times, and trials and tribulations, of John Donne, poet and priest. Along the way we had to learn definitions of "metaphysical" (delving once again, as we do in Sunday Bible Study Class, into the Greek) and "conceit" (quite different from modern American usage).

With all of that under our belts, we were then prepared to revisit "Thoughts on the Sacredness of Vocation," extracted from the sermon in our book, on the following three highlights:
- Divine Origin of Vocation
- Integrity of Vocation ("There is no lawful calling in which you may not be honest")
- Donne's conceits ("Is there no way to be a silversmith, without needing to make shrines to Diana of the Ephesians?")

A lot to digest -- or perhaps "consider," seeing how it's Lent...

(UPDATE: I forgot to post the link for the online collection of sermons by John Donne, Dean of St. Paul's London:

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Who fixed the bells, and when?

For what seems like years now, the sanctus bells have never rung quite right. One of the clappers sticks, requiring an extra-heavy twist so that the whole just sounded a bit noisier than I liked. I always had it in mind to take a look at the problem but by the end of the service the issue would be forgotten.

So it was with quite some surprise Sunday that I noted the bells rang like they should, much more musically than I'd recalled. I finally looked at them after the service and found that one clapper stem had been replaced with a piece of wire, twisted around.

I remember mentioning the trouble with the bells to Fr. Daniel a few days earlier, but he says he didn't fix them.

So now the puzzle: did somebody just fix them, or were they "fixed" a long time ago and was the wire clapper-stem replacement part of the trouble?

450th Anniversary of Cranmer's Martyrdom

Fr. Daniel reminded us a few days ago of today's anniversary. Here are a few blog entries regarding it:

450th Anniversary of Cranmer's Martyrdom, meam commemorationem

The 450th Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Thomas Cranmer,WannabeNewbie Anglican

Thomas Cranmer’s Martyrdom Anniversary, Drell's Descants

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Recognition and Reception

As noted earlier in this blog, Bishop Provence came to St. Bartholomew's today (he and Mrs. Provence having flown up from Sacramento yesterday), in order to personally recognize the three winners of the province's Junior Writer Contest, Ruby, Callum and Rose, and to present their awards. (Ruby and Rose are in the Girls' Choir and sang today.)

The service today led off with the Office for the Reception of New Members in which Bishop Provence formally received new members to St. Bartholomew's. We are all delighted to welcome George and Carrie!

Before the service we did something new, a "Question and Answer" session with Bishop Provence in the Parish Hall. My opinion is that this was excellent, even if we didn't get beyond the first question (and to none I'd prepared), if I remember right something regarding the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, which sent us off on a crash course on the history of the Book of Common Prayer and the 39 Articles. It went so fast and took so many turns I was unable to keep up in my notes. I have no doubt we could have gone on for hours more than the one alloted. Thank you, Bishop Provence!

(Many thanks to Nancy for the photos!)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Evensong and Andrewes

In an effort to expand our musical range, Fr. Daniel led us in sung Evensong. I will confess right up front that this is something new to me; Evening Prayer has for me traditionally been a quiet said service. But some of what we sang came out of the 1940 Hymnal (in the 640s, I don't remember exactly), and some from a booklet Fr. Daniel has prepared for us. I suspect from his announcements that this is something completely new, and perhaps tonight's performance wouldn't have won any awards (I was certainly not in my best voice) -- but it was lovely nonetheless. Those who missed this evening's service... will have to play catch-up next week.

Following a delicious supper provided by Rhonda, Barbara and Fr. Daniel, we attended the Rector's Lenten Class. This week (I am sorry to say I missed last week due to business travel) Deacon Ed led a discussion of Lancelot Andrewes, his times and his contributions to the Anglican church.

I came away just thinking there is so much we don't know, but ought to... How do we pass all this on? Confirmation classes are too short to embody, to pass on, the entirety of our faith. A lot of this is stuff we should all know, not just the clergy. An Anglican blogger today asked: What is an Anglican? I suspect too many Anglicans couldn't answer the question well.

Service and Old St. Paul's

Old St. Paul's Church Before I took off for a conference in Baltimore last week, Fr. Daniel suggested I visit Old St. Paul's; a church dating back to 1692. He had gone there, while working on his doctoral dissertation on church choirs, because of their reknowned boys' and mens' choirs. I had some free time the morning of my flight home, so I walked the three or so blocks from the hotel up to Old St. Paul's.

Unfortunately, at that hour of the morning it was all closed up. So upon my return, Fr. Daniel loaned me a glossy full-color booklet from Old St. Paul's. Apparently they were in a search for a new Rector at the time the booklet was published, because that was noted in the booklet. But what was interesting also was the following column on page 13:

Opportunities for Lay Service
Acolyte Guild including Junior Acolytes
Altar Guild
Brotherhood of St. Andrew
Choir Parents
Diocesan Delegates
Flower Guild
Hospitality Committee
Lay Eucharistic Ministry
Lectors, Lay Readers & Chalice Bearers
St. Luke's Guild
Sunday Forum Committee
Sunday School Teachers
Transitional Housing Program Committee
Ushers Guild
Some of these we have, such as Altar Guild and Sunday School Teachers. Some we've discussed, such as the Brotherhood of St. Andrew. An Ushers Guild sounds a bit big and formal for our little parish -- but maybe not a bad idea. We, of course, do not have the office of Chalice Bearer; that is left to the clergy. St. Luke's Guild -- that was a puzzler until I did an Internet search: it turns out to be a home for more lay ministries (including some of the above).

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Ecumenical Excursion, or, A Visit to Trinity Anglican

Today instead of attending St. Bartholomew's, my wife and I made a long trek north to visit Trinity Anglican, an Anglican parish in Mount Vernon, WA, and to meet a couple of "Internet friends" there for the first time face-to-face.

I have been following the progress of Trinity Anglican ever since they were formed by a group leaving ECUSA some two and a half to three years ago, as reported by and in many discussions with "Mother Jean."

I watched as they started out as "church in a box," meeting in a library in Anacortes then for a short time in a Masonic hall. (The reports brought back my memories of St. Bartholomew's days as "church-in-a-box" -- arriving early to set up the hall for the service, lugging in our portable sign, altar, lectern, altar rails and sometimes organ; then after the coffee hour tearing it all down and repacking everything into our cars.) They were blessed more recently with the contribution of space (4,000 sq. ft. of it!) which with much members' labor they have converted into a quite attractive church facility.

Over the past couple of years "Mother Jean" and I have discussed visiting the other's church as we are only an hour and half or so drive away, but it was not until Fr. Daniel and Josephine's arrival that it became really possible without affecting the service of Holy Communion at St. Bartholomew's. With advance arrangements, at home and up north, we were free to go.

We were blessed with clear, sunny weather for the journey, and the mountains were spectacular.

We were also impeded by several mapping services that all incorrectly mapped Trinity Anglican's location, but a short trip west from Stewart Rd. (to, perhaps, W. Stewart Rd?), brought us to their actual location, well in time for 10:30 Holy Communion.

Once there, their welcome was most inviting.

This being my first visit to an Anglican church in a jurisdiction (APA) different from ours (APCK), I confess I felt a bit awkward. Doubly so due to conversations that hinted that our province would look askance on our taking communion within another jurisdiction. Call it premonition.

But the service itself -- it has been a long time (decades!) since I have attended a service of Holy Communion that began with with sung Morning Prayer: it was a delight to sing the Venite and the Jubilate Deo again. And another advantage: instead of two Bible readings we got three: the Old Testament lesson along with the Epistle and Gospel.

I noted differences: the sanctus bells were rung differently and at somewhat different times, the announcements at the end of the service instead of preceding the sermon hymn, and a few other mostly insignificant things, but what I noted most was just how familiar the service felt. In my days as an Episcopalian I visited many churches and what I felt most were the differences between their services and those of whatever church in which I was at the time a member; but in this case it was the familiar that presented itself foremost.

The one difficult time was during Communion; we simply crossed our arms on our chests and received a blessing instead. I have never before felt the effect of being "out of communion" and in a situation such as this -- it hurt! I hope the good people of Trinity Anglican understand; our province is pretty strict (but I also understand why they are strict so I compy). But to me this also points out the need for the various Anglican jurisdictions to reunite... but my bishop has heard this enow from me so I shall harp no longer upon that string.

Later we had lunch (well, an afternoon breakfast) with our Internet friends Jean and Bob, Trinity Anglican's Senior Warden, and several other Trinity Anglican parishioners. A delightful time, extending until 3 PM, during which we shared much, learned much, and the two Senior Wardens present discussed Senior Warden issues. (Why is it there is no Guild of Senior Wardens? There is so much we can share with each other, and pooling our experience would be invaluable!)

Bob and maybe Jean are planning a "return" visit, though it clearly won't happen until after Easter. I hope we can present a welcome at least on a par with what they gave us.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Plans for the Bishop's Visit

Fr. Daniel has announced the particulars of Bishop James Provence's visit Sunday the 19th.

Saturday evening the Clergy, Vestry, Sunday School teachers and spouses will have dinner with Bishop Provence. At the time the restaurant was booked we were the only group to have made reservations so hopefully we'll avoid the confusion over seating that reigned the last time Bishop Provence visited.

At 9:00 AM Bishop Provence will conduct a "Question & Answer Session" downstairs in the Parish Hall; everyone is invited to come and ask questions of the Bishop. This will be a great opportunity to learn about what's happening elsewhere in the diocese and province. (The Bible Study class, normally held at 9, will resume the following week.)

At 10:00 AM Bishop Provence will preside at Holy Communion and preach. He will also present the awards to our Junior Writer contest winners, and officially welcome new members who have formally joined St. Bartholomew's.

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Bishop is coming!

In the Vestry meeting after the service yesterday Fr. Daniel reported that Bishop Provence would like to come visit and personally award the cash prizes to our Sunday School students Ruby, Callum and Rose for winning the province's Junior Writer Contest (as noted here February 5th).

The only date he had available before Easter was March 19th; the Vestry agreed that that would be the best and set things in motion -- something extra for the coffee hour, arrangements to be made for the Vestry and spouses' dinner with the Bishop on Saturday, and all else that's to be done.

Theological Conference

This is a little bit outside the day-to-day life of St. Bartholomew's, but I think I would be remiss if I failed to note that last week three of us attended Yesterday’s Formulation And Today’s Truth: The Pastoral Dynamics Of The Classic Anglican Formularies, a theological conference in Seattle featuring the Rev. Dr. Peter Toon, president of The Prayer Book Society of the U.S.A.. (Their journal, The Mandate, recently featured St. Bartholomew's and is publishing a six-part article by Fr. McGrath on the 1940 Hymnal.)

In the course of the conference Dr. Toon delivered four lectures. Although I am familiar with his writings (I recognized a number of his key points from them), these lectures assembled them into something of a much larger unified whole. The experience for this member of the laity was somewhat akin to drinking from a firehose: I know I absorbed only a bit of what was said and my efforts at note-taking became a semi-futile exercise because there was so much coming so fast... but... it was worth it.

Through it I came to a new appreciation for our 1928 Book of Common Prayer: the careful construction of its services, the lectionaries, the Ordinal, and of course the 39 Articles. There was much not taught in my Confirmation Class, so many years ago, and much that probably a lot of Anglicans don't know. (Perhaps any attendees with better notes can add to this?)

His lectures were recorded and a DVD will be made this week. We have ordered a copy for the church library and if/when it becomes available on the Society's website, I recommend it.

(Update: The Rev. Dr. Toon has apparently published a booklet from his notes for the four lectures: Doctrine as Doxology, a 44-page booklet in PDF format.)

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Potpourri III

Yet again, there is an embarrassment of riches to be reported.

Fr. Daniel delivered another excellent homily today, On Fasting. He introduced it with his typical humility: "I am not the world's greatest 'faster' so this homily is aimed at me -- but you all can listen in." He noted that Anglicans are expected to fast, as any other catholic Christian, and noted the oft-forgotten "A TABLE OF FASTS" in the (1928) Book of Common Prayer, p. li, following the better-remembered "A TABLE OF FEASTS" p. l. Among the things he noted was that fasts should be done "simply, safely and appropriately": not ostentatiously, in ways that could harm one directly or indirectly (interference with employment, for example -- a helpful comment to the hypoglycemic), and really should not be "self-improvement projects" (such as quitting smoking), however laudable the goal.

In terms of returning to the rubrics, today's service included The Exhortation (BCP p. 85), which had disappeared from our parish's practice so long ago I do not recall it at all. (I did note that today we did not read the Decalogue, our recent reintroduction per the rubrics, usually the first Sunday of the month; likely this will be done next Sunday?)

For "Parish Notices" we have been asked to assemble another Care Package for our province's seminarians in Ber(ser)keley, CA, much as we did last autumn -- they are giving up much in order to pursue their studies at the seminary; we should be providing them with support. We at St. Bartholomew's are requested to fill the box the next couple of Sundays with items including Seattle-related products. (Salmon and coffee are two obvious items.)

Fr. Daniel noted that this coming Wednesday, March 8th, will be the first of the Lenten Series of classes. 5:30 Evensong, 6:00 Supper (please let Fr. Daniel know if you are planning to attend so he can gauge the amount of food necessary), followed by discussion on Thomas Cranmer on Regeneration.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Forty days and forty nights / thou wast fasting in the wild

Today, as I've done for years, I took advantage of my workplace being near the church and a flexible work schedule in order to attend the 10:00 AM Ash Wednesday service (one of several services conducted today). I'm not sure why, but the sanctuary seemed so bare this year. Maybe, in part, it was from looking up at and seeing the hymnboard reading rather starkly just "Ash Wednesday," with no hymns listed beneath.

But Fr. Daniel announced that we would begin Holy Communion singing, a capella, the most appropriate Hymn 55:

Forty days and forty nights
thou wast fasting in the wild;
forty days and forty nights
tempted, and yet undefiled.
A little bit austere, it seemed, and so fitting.

(But I wonder: was this done because at the end of the Pancake Supper last night two of our members, Nancy and Kathy, sung the first verse so well together from memory? Neither of them were in attendance at this service...)

Pancake Supper

Our Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper went well, if not exactly according to plan.

Our expert pancake flipper wasn't able to make it after all, so a couple of others of us had to punt. We started trying to cook up the sausages and pancakes a bit before 5, so as to be ready when Evensong ended and everyone came downstairs to the Parish Hall.

But we were having a lot of trouble with the electric griddles. They just didn't seem to get very hot, and substituting other griddles (we seemed have several around) didn't make matters better -- in fact, some didn't even seem to work. It took a little while before we realized that a circuit breaker had popped. Oops.

A bit of juggling outlets and five breaker resets later (note to self: we need to map out which breakers serve which outlets in the kitchen), we had two working griddles and were well underway with blueberry and plain pancakes when the service ended. In short order we were done, and after a blessing by Fr. Daniel all sat down for supper.

Except... we weren't done after all. More people arrived over the next hour -- in part one can thank Seattle traffic for this, and some visitors got directions turned around so they were way off in Monroe instead of Wooodinville! So we wound up firing up the griddles and pan again, making up more batter and serving up more and more pancakes and sausages.

We had plenty of volunteers for cleanup (fortunately for me, because jet-lag exhaustion was setting in by then); the kitchen was almost standing-room-only at times and in short order, long after our planned closing at 7:30, the place was clean.