Continuing Home

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

Saturday, April 28, 2007

At Evensong: Incense & Organ, Unexcelled

Please forgive the "AEIOU"; it's late (for me) and I shouldn't be posting but I wanted to say a few things about this evening before I forget.

We arrived just before Evensong, which kicked off the evening (for us). It was beautiful!

We don't usually have a procession from the Narthex for Evensong but this was a special occasion, and Banning and Stephen did an excellent job as Lucifers (I can tell Acolyte Master Ranjit has been working with them). Already I've got things out of order, because we were treated to more of Josephine's excellent organ work for the prelude, procession, and throughout the service. She doesn't usually play for Evensong but that's okay because I also like the a cappella singing -- we're in good hands with Fr. Daniel, George and Kathy, and (though I admit I'm there but rarely) it's getting ever better. And with all the folks we had this evening, more than we'd have for a Sunday service some years back (estimating by voices, because I was in a pew up front), the accompaniment didn't swamp us.

And as we do on special occasions, the thurible and incense were brought out. Drew has quite some practice at this, I could tell, far more than me. Then again, my main experience is on Sundays with parishioners present with breathing problems so I have to try to limit the "emissions."

But overall, tonight's Evensong was, in my experience, unexcelled.

Afterwards, we retired to the Parish Hall for final dinner preparations. During this hour Bishop Provence was meeting individually with a couple of men from the church. Downstairs, we realized that we're likely to have an overflow crowd tomorrow so one of the group decided to bring a number of folding chairs up in advance and set them up outside the pews and I volunteered to help.

When we got upstairs I saw one of the men sitting in the front pew, and realized he was likely reflecting and praying before his interview. The minimal noise (initially) and social situation "required" him to interrupt that for greetings, etc. I felt bad about that, and worse that another present missed the whole thing, with the result that the quiet of the church was completely disrupted for this fellow. And it got worse when I brought some "spare" folding chairs to be stored in the Narthex in case they were needed and they wouldn't go into place without more crashing noise.

With that done, I went back down to the Parish Hall and considered how to spend the rest of the remaining hour before dinner. One idea I've been kicking around lately was a montage of photos, "The Flowers of St. Bartholomew's", featuring the wide variety of flowers that bloom in our gardens. A big reach for a thoroughly amateur photographer, but "nothing ventured, nothing gained." All I had was the point-n-shoot pocket camera, but it was good enough for a test run. So I went around taking some test shots and ran into the fellow we'd disturbed in the Narthex, now out in the parking lot. We talked briefly and he apologized for interrupting my photography. He didn't know that that I was praying for the interviews, including his, at the time.

In any event the interviews were soon done, and dinner began. We'd looked at "catered" dinners in local restaurants as we've done in recent past, but they tend to be expensive and hard on folks' budgets, so per Mary Ellen's and Fr. Daniel's suggestion Kathy arranged a dinner in the Parish Hall. This was not "potluck" but organized from appetizers through dessert, to accomodate various known dietary restrictions. With the many good cooks we have, it came off splendidly well. (Ranjit came up with a pasta dish that I really liked, and I don't usually care for pasta at all.)

After dinner we were treated to a sonata for piano and cello, performed by Josephine and Ruby. Sammartini? Sonata in G something? My notes were not clear -- unlike theirs. Just beautiful!

A wonderful evening. Waiting to see what tomorrow brings...

The Bishop is Coming

If the blog's been a bit quiet lately, it's only because I was on the other side of the country for the week, having finally arrived back home about 1 AM last night.

The Bishop has it easier; he's only flying in from Sacramento and if he's not already at the church he's probably on his way from SeaTac airport as I write.

But he has a busier than usual schedule this year. He'll be meeting with the Confirmands' Class plus there will be a tea which includes those being received into the church. That will be followed by Evensong and interviews with some of the men considering ministries, then it's dinner with the Vestry and others at 7.

Tomorrow's service sounds interesting, from what I've heard. Between all the various servers and the Girls' Choir, the Sanctuary is going to be a bit crowded.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Instructed Eucharist

Yesterday as the last element of the Catechism Class, Fr. Daniel conducted an instructed Eucharist at the 10:00, apparenyly with an almost-packed house (will it be standing-roon only next week, when the Bishop is here?).

I missed it, because I was on final approach into Atlanta at the time. Perhaps somebody who was there could fill us in?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Mount Gordon

As was evident from the tools littering the parking lot (well, behind Paul Jr.'s car anyway), the Men's Breakfast and Fellowship was followed once again by a work party, scheduled from 10 AM to 2 PM, the idea being to spruce up the place in advance of next week's visit from Bishop Provence -- and some longer-range general sprucing up, particularly in the area facing Avondale Road.

There was certainly no shortage of things to be done. Paul did some great work with the brushcutter getting the hillside by the road cleaned out, and pulled out more brush -- this looks like great preparation for the "native plant" plantings planned by Dee, Joanne and others as part of the five-year transformation plan. (It's going to take a long time to be completely rid of the blackberries --a nasty invasive species here-- though.)

I re-raked some of the gravel, ran a weedwhacker around the perimeter of the parking lot and then, per Junior Warden's suggestions, went to work on the unwanted trees that were starting up -- particularly the maples, but others also. It was interesting to see all the stumps, cut in years before, growing again. As Paul noted, it'll have to be repeated until the roots are exhausted. I wasn't certain about all the saplings so I left some, but I could see that the woods will look a lot nicer with the unwanted trees out and the Oregon Grape covering the ground.

It was great to have John present too. He was one hard worker; I felt embarrassed to quit sometime after noon (and lunch) when he was still going, but I was not feeling well at all and still had to swing by the office to pick up same papers I'd left behind and go home and pack for my week away (to the D.C. area for 4-1/2 days of technical standards committee meetings).

Lunch. When it was announced last week that the men would provide lunch for the workers, my immediate thought was "Yeah, right..." Appropriate for me, I guess: my contributions included potato salad from a nearby supermarket. I've cooked for myself in the past (before getting married): it's, well, it's not great, but it's definitely a weight-loss program. Haven't learned how to burn water yet, but I'm working on it.

But we do have some great cooks/chefs in our church, and the sandwich-makings were excellent. For all that I couldn't eat much for feeling ill.

But during lunch the function of the pile of gravel mysteriously left near the Ark when we'd re-graveled the parking lot was revealed. It turned out it's part of the toolshed project Gordon's been working so hard on. And not only that, but the children playing on the Ark (thank you, Eagle Scout Ian!) have been told that they are not to play on "Mount Gordon" -- and they are now enforcing that themselves.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Evangelism for Anglicans

In a discussion with Matt a while back, I mentioned a document, a class on evangelism for Anglicans, I'd seen on the Internet a few years back. He expressed interest so I went to look it up... and it was gone. But fortunately I had a copy so I e-mailed it to his work address. A couple of weeks later I discovered it had been rejected due to the file type, and my e-mail system had dropped it into the Junk folder.

So I dug it out, changed the file type and forwarded it, with a copy to Fr. Daniel for evaluation.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Low Sunday

The Sunday following Easter is traditionally called "Low Sunday" (our Ordo Kalendar even noted it, parenthetically). I couldn't find an origin for the name, just a few suppositions that managed to avoid the one I've heard most: that the turnout for church services the First Sunday after Easter is significantly low.

That was not the case today, though I have seen it in the past. I was not only pleasantly surprised by the turnout, but saw that today on "low Sunday" we had more folks present than we would have had on a normal Sunday not so very long ago.

Of course, we'll have a lot more in just a couple of weeks when Bishop Provence comes to visit.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The CABR reaches 20!

Caught up on my Continuing Anglican Blog Ring maintenance this afternoon. A few new blogs have been added of late; resolved a couple of technical issues and added two more this afternoon, bringing the ring's total to 20 blogs.

Just took a spin around it. It's interesting to see the variety of the blogs.

Take a look, but a bit of advice: the links are all there, though you'll find some at the very bottom of the blog page, and a couple are in small text in the right-hand column.

Update: Finally got around to adding Fr. Daniel's and Drew's blogs to the list on the right. Sorry, guys, for being so slow.

The ACW and hand-written HTML

Ever since I received a new wide-screen monitor at Christmas, I've been slightly annoyed at the fact that the website's top banner centered itself on the screen, but the material following (set in a table) was left-justified. This morning I finally put together the new page Anglican Church Women asked for, with their logo and in their colors, learning some more (grrr) about font and table HTML tags in the process.

In the final pre-publication preview, I suddenly noticed it was all centered, unlike the other pages. Studying the differences in the pages' source code I realized all I had to do was to move one tag and things would work the way I wanted. Happy day!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Moving help

Kathy followed up on what she'd heard and learned that professional movers had been hired for tomorrow's move. Seems a little odd, though there haven't been many "moves" here. Not like a former church where they did it so often they'd become fairly professional -- though I'll never forget moving the baby grand out of a second-floor apartment!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A well-deserved break

Fr. Daniel called this morning and said he was going to be taking a couple of days off, through Friday night. I'm glad to hear it; he has been running pretty hard and needs some R&R. (2 days? I'm still going through "decompression" in that amount of time.)

But it was not before he'd started making arrangements for one of our parishioners who needs to move to an "assisted living" apartment for a while. The women of the church are asked if they help pack some things to be moved Thursday and Friday, and the men to load (and presumably unload, too) a U-Haul truck on Saturday.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Salve Festa Dies!

4:40 AM arrived right on time and way too early. But we were up and off to church on schedule. I vested in the Sacristy since I was to be Epistler for the Sunrise Service. I opened a prayer book to preview the Epistle and Drew noted how, after all the long Epistles we've read, this morning's was so short -- it was barely longer than the Collect!

When we exited the Sacristy to walk around and enter in the Narthex, I noted there was just the beginnings of light in the sky, but the birds were already providing a dawn chorus and not quietly. Inside, Kathy provided the service music with her harp, which made it a rather different and quieter Easter service from those I'm accustomed to with a church full of voices belting out "Hail Thee, Festival Day!" (#86, 1940 Hymnal).

By the end of the service it was full daylight outside. No sunrise per se, due to the overcast skies. But they started opening up during breakfast in the Parish Hall; it appeared the 10 o'clock service would have bright sun.

I was tempted to stay -- after all, most of the parish would be there and the Girls' Choir would be singing, but I was already fading and needed to get home. I can't even imagine how tired Fr. Daniel must be!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Easter Even

What a difference from yesterday, and not just the church! To start off with, the weather was lousy. I have a magazine article due Monday, and Friday's weather was perfect: just warm enough, nice sun... I find it most enjoyable to write in such weather, at the picnic table out back, sheltered under the umbrella canopy. But of course yesterday was the Vigil and nothing got written. Next best is when it's slightly cool and pouring down outside, windows open so I can hear and smell the rain. Nope, none of that either. Just overcast and a lot of glare, the kind I close the blinds against, the kind that induces my writer's block.

I struggled against that for a few hours, finally breaking through and finishing the first draft with a few minutes to get dressed and head to church for the Easter Even services. That's when Fr. Daniel called and asked if I was coming and could I help out because there'd been a change in plans? (He called earlier in the day but the phone was on my dresser and I'd left it on vibrate, so I missed that call.) Well, of course I could: to serve is a joy.

But it meant I had to leave Right Now. So I dressed quickly and dashed out -- almost forgetting my trusty little camera in the process.

I didn't realize what I'd let myself in for. Suddenly I would be leading Evening Prayer. Not all that difficult, but I don't remember when I last (if ever) led it. And right after that I'd be helping Fr. Daniel at the Easter Even service: the Lighting of the New Fire followed by the Ante-Communion and the Renewal of Baptismal Vows.

It was fine for all I felt a bit like I was racing from one thing to the next (my fault, not Fr. Daniel's!), and trying to read Evening Prayer in light that was a bit dim.

And it was more than fine; especially by contrast with yesterday the Sanctuary was gorgeous, with the one element to be completed being the still-empty Aumbry. And I will stand by my statement Monday about Fr. Daniel's flair; those who did not attend this evening missed something special.

I'm on deck to serve at the 6 AM sunrise service (looking online for the time it appears sunrise will be partway through the service) and though it probably means a 4:40 AM alarm, I'm up at that hour often enough for business trips to the East Coast, as I will do again two weeks hence.

At least this time I won't have to deal with airport security and airport/airline food: thank you, Lord!

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Good Friday Vigil

This must have been a test, to have weather like this on Good Friday! This morning it was sunny, gorgeous and warm -- the first morning like this this spring. Blue skies with a few wisps of clouds, a day to spend outside... not inside a darkened church. Especially since the forecast is for cloudy and rain from here out. But we went to the Vigil anyway. (Of course, it was probably either the Vigil or all that yard work that's awaiting.)

The altar had been stripped, of course, the crosses shrouded, the Aumbry empty with its light extinguished, and the sanctuary bare. This set the tone despite all the bright light streaming in.

Fr. Daniel had prepared a Vigil different from any I recall. We started with the 'Good Friday Service Proper." Then the next hour and 45 minutes were as follows (from the bulletin):

The Words
on the Cross

Each Word will be followed by a
Brief Sermon,
the corresponding part of
Hymn 82,
then a period of further
Silent Meditation

Each of these were timed for 15 minutes. Then at 2:30 we read the Order for Evening Prayer.

And then we walked out the Narthex door into summer.

Update: I almost forgot: It was a delight to hear, during Evening Prayer, 3-year-old Pru(dence) trying hard, and at times succeeding, to recite the Lord's Prayer along with the rest of us. Drew and Dee must be proud; I know I would have been.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Maundy Thursday

Fr. Daniel keeps on throwing me curves, I'm beginning to feel a bit like fellow Anglican blogger Wannabe Newbie Anglican in his first year as an Anglican. (Truth in advertising says he ought to rename it to "Pundit Anglican" or some such now, but in any case I'll soon be able to revisit his and other blogs when my self-imposed disconnect from the wider world of Anglicanism ends.)

In any case, after a long hard day at the office where I didn't exactly go backwards but I didn't really advance either; more work just piled itself up in front me with an unyielding deadline, so I had to miss the noon service. I arrived for Evensong and Holy Communion with my brain aching, exhausted and almost nervously twitching as it prepared to, um, yield up the ghost.

I knew I was on deck for one of the services this evening but to do what at which, for the life of me I couldn't remember. And of course my notes were at home. It was probably best that I wasn't serving at Evensong; I was sufficiently recovered to be Epistler for Holy Communion.

In any event, I remember Maundy Thursday Holy Communion services and so I fully expected the Mass of the Pre-sanctified Elements (or something like that -- my brain is still a bit fuzzy). And so I wasn't surprised when Fr. Daniel brought out the Elements from Aumbry. But I was quite surprised when he launched into the Consecration. Definitely different: was he re-consecrating consecrated elements? were there unconsecrated elements in the Aumbry? All of a sudden I was lost.

I asked him about this right afterwards. It turned out he had unconsecrated elements present so that the words of the Prayer of Consecration could be said. An excellent point: when, pray tell, in the year would they be more poignant than on Maundy Thursday?

Live and learn. This old grasshopper thanks you, Fr. Daniel.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Wednesday before Easter

Our numbers were down a little bit more at today's service, but as Kathy noted here last evening it was a spot of peace in a busy day.

Today we began hearing The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to St. Luke, per the Gospels appointed for this week. There is a special power in hearing these accounts one after another, day by day, like this; I'm sure that was very deliberately done by the compiler(s) of the Lectionary.

Yet another treasure bound up in our 1928 Prayer Book, unknown I guess but to the clergy and someone who attends Mass every day in Holy Week.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Tuesday before Easter

Our turnout was a bit smaller today than yesterday, though it probably wasn't due to all the sunshine since some of the attendees were different. Another short, simple service albeit with a bit of confusion over "The Continuation of The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to Saint Mark": it's the reading appointed for the Gospel, but the service is not The Order for... Holy Communion, so: do we sit or stand?

On the other hand, the congregation all stood when the silent procession from the Sacristy around to the altar began, and that just seemed right.

During the service, when I was looking for the appointed hymn (#75, Passion Chorale), my eyes latched on #76 Mainz and it looked rather a bit like what we used to sing during the transitions between the Stations of the Cross. I had to wait until I got home this evening to check -- but it's not. Somewhat similar, but it's not it and what we sang is not in the Hymnal, 1940. (Unless maybe in the material added later, but I don't have an up-to-date hymnal at hone.) I remember the readings and singing for the Stations... but every church and every priest is different and if we tried to do everything everybody remembers fondly, we'd just have a confused muddle.

The readings for today were considerably shorter than yesterday, so we reached the end of the service in short order. Today, against my better judgment because I was under a lot of pressure to complete preparations for a technical class I'm conducting at work (and online, with attendees from India and the UK) early tomorrow morning, we stayed for lunch in the Parish Hall as suggested in the bulletins. At a last minute's decision we packed humble, ever-reliable PBJ sandwiches.

Fr. Daniel seemed surprised when I said I was planning to come tomorrow, I think because I'm not on deck to read, but these little services marking Holy Week are a compelling draw. It was difficult for me today because I could not manage to SLOW DOWN! before it began. But by tomorrow noon I'll be so worn out it might be a struggle to stay awake instead. Not sure if I'll stay for lunch, though -- I have next week's class to prepare plus a magazine article to write, and Friday is a company holiday (which means I can write at home, where I write best.)

Monday, April 02, 2007

Monday before Easter

It was chilly this morning, but I didn't realize how chilly until I saw some cars coming into town this morning with snow on them. When I arrived at the church maybe ten minutes before the 12:05 PM service I detected a bit of a chill inside, though it quickly passed because Fr. Daniel had turned the heat on and I suspect the rest, who arrived later, would have been warm.

I had tried to get there about 15 minutes before, because I was reading the lesson today, but traffic held me up. (It's only 5-1/2 miles from work, and usually takes about 12 to 15 minutes, but today the stoplights were worse than usual.) Fortunately I'd thought to read it earlier and though my prayer book was missing from the office I had an electronic copy on the laptop and I was able to read that.

Fr. Daniel had put together a nice little bulletin (2.75"x8.5", in the photo -- the back side has the schedule of services through Easter Tuesday). "They keep getting smaller," he said, but clearly he forgot yesterday's "4 page" bulletin: at 4.25"x11" per page twice the size of the usual Sunday bulletin.

Nicer than the bulletin was the service itself. Fr. Daniel has a flair for simple liturgies that just... work! I confess I'd been groaning a bit inside about the time out of the office for the two such services I'd agreed to read, but this was just delightful. Well, maybe that's not the right word at all, considering, but suffice it to say I'm making the time for the rest of the week.

As you may be able to see in the photo the service was simple. I will summarize it here:

Collect of the Day, BCP 138
Lesson from Isaiah, BCP 138-139
The Passion according to Mark (I), BCP 139-144
Hymn 341, "Beneath the cross of Jesus"
Collect for Holy Week, BCP 134
Look these up and you'll find they are from the Collect, Epistle and Gospel appointed for the day.

Simple and powerful. Ouch! You can feel Peter's shame.

The attendance wasn't too far different from what I'd expected. Kathy observed that the "notorious three geeks" (ahem, "techies") were all there -- Drew, George and myself, the former two having escaped their small giant corporate employer (smaller than mine) to attend, and they will read later in the week. Today's reading, Isaiah 63, should have been done by George though; he has a gift for this that I do not.

But we were quite delighted to see Ann in the congregation today. I was afraid we'd might not see her since Adrian's passing, but... here she was! Ann (I'm sure you read this blog), you are loved here, and welcome anytime.

Just looked out the window and it is snowing again. But the chill is merely physical.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

No foolin', it's Palm Sunday

When folks arrived this morning, there were reminders everywhere that this was Palm Sunday, in the form of this notice on the doors. Nearly everybody gathered in the Parish Hall, where Fr. Daniel opened with a prayer, read from the Gospel according to St. Mark, and blessed the palms.

Then it was out the door and up the walk. As usual, we had a little difficulty staying in sync with the organ -- because we couldn't hear it. Once again, I forgot to suggest that we open the windows on that side of the church for the duration of the procession; maybe one of these years I'll remember to suggest that. (Or maybe when they install the organ speakers they can put a small one outside, with a switch so we can turn it on for the procession only.)

Everything went fine after that -- between Fr. Daniel's and Josephine's hard work, the services are beautiful. (Some pictures from today are here.)

We have a busy time ahead. I hope Fr. Daniel's planning to take some time off after it all. Especially with Deacon Ed away, he's going to be busy!