Continuing Home

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

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Offices of Instruction

As we headed off to church this morning it was a typically blustery, wet, grey Pacific Northwest autumn day. During the service all the candles on the altar made quite a warm contrast to the dark day outside the windows. (We've just added six service candles to the two original communion candles on the altar -- when all lit they make a nice circle of light spanning the altar.)

We'd expected to attend the last of the summer 9 AM Bible study classes, before 10:00 Mass, but when we arrived (a wee bit late) Fr. Daniel was starting a class with the four folks about to be received into St. Bartholomew's. He invited us to join, and we did.

Some of the session focused on the "Offices of Instruction," Second Office (1928 BCP, pp. 290-291) -- mostly review, I think, because at least three of the four come from a longtime Anglican/Episcopalian background. But it was not a waste of time to review the catechism therein, it being decades since I last read it (probably in my own Confirmation Class). I wonder if any churches ever incorporate this, even if only occasionally, into a Sunday service; like the monthly reading of the Decalogue during Holy Communion in the rubrics, this seems like a good and helpful reminder to the congregation. Sometimes maybe less than welcome, to wit:

Question. What is your bounden duty as a member of the Church?

Answer. My bounden duty is to follow Christ, to worship God every Sunday in his Church; and to work and pray and give for the spread of his kingdom.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Fifth Sunday

For some reason all the calendars I have around almost hide the fact that Sunday the 30th is the fifth Sunday in the month. Per the rota that's been drawn up I'm usually the Lay Reader if we have a fifth Sunday in the month, as well as the first Sunday always; I was sort of lamenting the fact that I was going to be away the first Sunday in October -- but it was made almost right yesterday when Ranjit e-mailed his weekly reminder to the servers (or their parents) and, sure enough, I'm on the list.

(I say almost right because I'm still going to miss the first of Drew's special study: "The Flesh & The Spirit in the writings of St. Paul.")

It's a Sunday to look forward to, also. The Seminarian Care Package will be finalized, and we'll welcome four new members to St. Bartholomew's.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Catching Up Is Hard To Do

Just got in the door from the Phoenix conference some 15 minutes ago and am already fully unpacked (with the suitcase back in the closet where it will remain until a week from tomorrow) with conference-related materials repacked to go to into the office tomorrow.

That was the easy part. 85 unread e-mails in my personal Gmail is something else again. Between no Internet access during the conference (except when I could slip away to the nearby Starbucks or to my room), the work e-mails that needed attention, the receptions & group dinners, writing my Tuesday afternoon talk and a powerpoint for this morning's teleconference... there was very little time for personal business.

I see I have a LOT of catching up to do, and there are several church-related e-mails to read still. One I have already read corrects an error on the website: Womens' Night out is Saturday the 6th, not Wednesday the 10th. (I believe I need to be at the airport early Saturday morning for my trip to Germany; it looks like a long day for Kathy.)

The sad part of it all is that when I turned on the computer the editor was still up with the last changes to the website, and sitting right next to the keyboard was Evelyn Underhill's book Abba (from Saturday's retreat) where I had it for reference in the previous posting. Saturday seems like an eternity ago, the slower pace of the day completely forgotten, and I can just hear our friend/guest-speaker admonishing me.

The book is small enough; maybe I'll slip it in my pack for the next trip. I'll certainly have time enough for reflection while seated aboard airplanes.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

An embarrassment of riches

For all I've had little to write about lately, mostly because I have been away due to business travel, today I have way too much! (And though I'm back aboard airplanes tomorrow this is a relatively short trip; I return home Thursday evening for 8 whole days before heading out again.)

Parish Retreat: The obvious place to start is yesterday's Parish Retreat, this year at the Rosary Heights in Woodway, on Puget Sound. The pictures do not do the place justice -- it is beautiful, and I have no doubt but that we'll be returning there next year. Possibly even with an overnight stay.

Every participant received a copy of "Abba" by Evelyn Underhill, meditations on the Lord's Prayer. (Her writings were featured in last year's retreat also, with "The Spiritual Life.") This could be read during the silent sessions, though for me it required the full time of the sessions -- I'm normally a quick reader, but there was a lot to consider in this small book.

We started with Matins and a meditation by a guest speaker who joined us for the day (and I hope he'll join us again next year). Between the meditation and the book, there was a lot to consider. It was a good thing Fr. Daniel had requested we leave our cellphones in the car -- as it turned out I would have been interrupted/distracted at critical times if I hadn't.

There were morning and afternoon "leadership" sessions during the retreat; in the morning one group saw the video "The Case For Christ" (an atheist critically studies the evidence of Jesus' existence and resurrection and becomes a Christian) while Fr. Daniel met with the Lay Readers to conclude the training begun Wednesday evening.

The Lay Readers all received a copy of our provincial Canons, which in Canon 21 spells out the conditions and functions of Lay Readers. We also received a copy of The Service of Holy Communion Annotated, a commentary by the Rev. Dr. Peter Toon (we used this book in a study of Holy Communion a year or so ago), as well as a few pages Fr. Daniel composed titled "Instruction for Lay Readers," including the Canons and suggested forms of a number of services including Morning and Evening Prayer, the Penitential Office, Offices of Instruction, the Burial Offices, and so on, with discussion of how the services were to be modified when a Lay Reader conducts them. I can only hope I'm never called on to conduct The Burial of a Child; that would be hard (but maybe more so as child mortality rates are so much lower today than they once were).

The silent retreat followed the group sessions, and though I'd brought one of my cameras to record some of the retreat (in part an experiment in shooting in digital RAW mode, a capability added using firmware installed on the memory card), it stayed in the "Morning Room" during the quiet times. The book's meditations soon grabbed my attention anyway.

I tried to go outside and read, but fall seems to have come a little early and it was just the slightest bit too chilly for me -- probably because I'd just come back from a week in Atlanta where it was considerably warmer. (But ugh! Nothing like Phoenix, where I'm headed tomorrow.)

Lunch. Wow, what a difference a chef can make! Simple fare, bread and pasta, and though I usually dislike pasta whatever Drew did to it made it good.

After lunch Matt led us in The Litany, we had a second meditation. Included was why being a small parish can be A Very Good Thing, not the least being the parish family element; this was something Kathy & I felt almost instantly when we first visited St. Bartholomew's almost 25 years ago, it is something I hope and believe our visitors these days feel -- it was certain our friend (no longer just "guest") saw it during the retreat. (And it is like a family, including the occasional squabble over this or that, but we go on regardless and whatever it was is soon forgotten.) How to hang on to that as we grow?

The afternoon "group" session had the Vestry meeting in the Garden Room, while I watched "The Case For Christ." The main points I had known, but the additional elements (including the point that the Romans didn't start using crucifixion until centuries after Psalm 22, and here my memory of what was said is a little unclear) make it so much more compelling. Very much worth watching, in my opinion -- the conclusion that, having examined the evidence, it took more faith to be an atheist than to believe in Jesus the Son of God, was compelling. (Was this material for a retreat? I'm not sure, but I'm glad I saw it anyway.)

A sad element came in when we learned that one of our members' cousin was at that time on the verge of death, if he had not already passed away. He had introduced her to sailing, many years ago, and they'd often sailed past our current location. (A prayer for the repose of his soul was said this morning.)

By the end of the afternoon a few people had had to leave, but everyone else clearly wanted to stay on a bit more. Dee and Joanne were more than ready to take up residency in this beautiful facility.

I know I am not the only one looking forward to next year's retreat!

Kairos: Kathy was not able to attend this year's retreat, sadly. Thursday she headed down to Gig Harbor to work "Base Camp" for the Kairos Prison Ministry retreat for women incarcerated at the Womens' Corrections Center of Washington, also known as "Purdy." She was able to take Friday evening off to take me home from the airport, but was back on the job Saturday with primary responsibility for the cookies. (Every day during Kairos, Thursday through Sunday, every prisoner in the prison receives a bag of cookies.)

Although Kathy had not quite reached her personal goal of 100 dozen cookies, there were enough left over that they will be added to those collected for next weekend's Kairos in the men's prison in Clallam Bay. (Several parishioners worked very hard baking cookies -- the night before I understand that DeeDee and Drew were up all night baking, though I don't know how their kids could sleep through delicious smells like that.)

Kathy's part ended this morning, early enough that she was able to join us for the service, and to spell Josephine at the organ during communion as she usually does.

"Palanca"/gifts: Those who've been through Cursillo/Walk to Emmaus/Kairos are often asked for gifts to those going through such. Kathy reported some of the testimonies in some such. I don't know if she can relate the content here, but I hope she will. There's something especially poignant about one convict who became a believing Christian reaching out to another convict.

Seminarians' Care Package: While I was away, Kathy reported that she'd gone out and bought some items for the fall Seminarians' Care Package, to be sent to the seminarians at our seminary. I had wondered at this because I had not seen an announcement from Fr. Daniel, and it was slightly past the Ember Days where we usually conduct such, but an announcement was in the bulletin today and the box to receive such items will be in the Parish Hall through next Sunday. It is suggested that there could be an emphasis on items of a local or regional nature; for the Pacific Northwest this includes Starbuck's coffee (or Seattle's Best), salmon, and so on. The seminarians can relax this time: the stores Kathy hit were out of Space Noodles.

Scripture Study: The summer 9 AM Bible Study class appears to have come to an end. This morning I was racing to get there in time, knowing the best I could was to reduce my tardiness, when I got a text message from Fr. Daniel that the class was canceled. I still don't know why but that's okay because I was able to go back and take care of a couple items I'd left undone in order to get out the door sooner.

But over the four Sundays of October Drew is conducting a class in "The Flesh & The Spirit in the writings of St. Paul," at 9 AM in the Parish Hall. Knowing Drew, this is going to be quite interesting! Unfortunately, about the time he starts the first class I'll probably be sitting down for dinner in Germany. Maybe Kathy can record it for me with tape recorder and camera.

New members: Today's bulletin noted that next Sunday we'll be receiving four new members into our parish family: Christy H., John J., and Bob & Diane F. This must be a formal reception, because several of these folks have been coming for some time. We got to know then-visitors Diane & Bob during the Group Outing: Dead Squirrels Exhibit last January, and I am happy they're joining our little parish family -- though I have to say the same for all four folks!

An embarrassment of riches: There's so much more I could write about here, but there will likely be time for other things later. I think this is enough for one day...

... or maybe not. Fr. Daniel didn't notify me, but in updating the website this afternoon I discovered his latest article on The Hymnal, 1940. Check it out.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Lay Reader training

I'm away so I had to miss out on this session, but I wish I could have been there. For all I've been a Lay Reader for a while a refresher would have been great, as well as to be coordinated with the others.

Session I – Wednesday, September 19
5:30 Evening Prayer (if you can make it)
6:00 Supper (provided)
Overview of Lay Reading, and Reading The Litany, Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer

At least I will be able to make it to Saturday's leadership retreat and Session II. For an extra plus, for some reason I thought I was getting in at 9:15 PM but when I checked my itinerary I found I am scheduled to arrive at 6:45 PM instead. So I may be sufficiently rested the following morning.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A (brief) visit

This trip to San Francisco today was one of those occasions where just about everything threatens to go awry and yet, one stumbles to home plate anyway.

The whole mess began when I submitted my travel request form to my boss. Instead of going up channels as usual it got diverted to some one else and I pretty soon found myself lost in a bureaucratic maze. I got all that cleared out in time to book one of the last available seats on the flights I wanted -- only to have those lost by another SNAFU that left me possibly waitlisted. Nevertheless, I had seats on both flights even before I left for the airport this morning.

As I noted yesterday, it was not looking possible for there to be anything but a short visit. But even that became impossible when my plane was late taking off, even later landing, and I arrived in downtown San Francisco just before noon. After waiting past 12:15 with nobody there, I called the filmmaker. Nope, our meeting time was still 12:45; some wires had gotten crossed. Not enough time, so I left a message for Archbishop Provence.

Our business suddenly wound up, to my surprise, at 4 PM. I realized there was time for a visit if I took taxis both ways. I decided I'm only two miles away, spend the money! So I called, and took a cab. Hmm, rather a bit less than I expected to pay.

Unfortunately exhaustion from the activity of the afternoon crept up on me, so it was less of a visit than it could have been, but at least I got a tour of St. Thomas. Amazing how much they fit into the space they have, and the Nave reminds me much of the church my grandfather built in Mexico. But the one topic we were going to discuss... went forgotten. Still, I learned a lot more about a sister church.

All too soon it was quarter to five and I was getting in a cab to return to the BART (train) station to return to the airport and then home -- but I had paid my visit!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A visit with the Archbishop?

This one needs prayers, it is SO close! I have a day trip to San Francisco tomorrow, and have some down time between the time my flight gets in and when business begins. Since I'll be only 2 miles from Archbishop's office at St. Thomas it seemed like a great opportunity for a visit, particularly since I missed the Synod held there (away on business) last year and have never seen St. Thomas.

We talked last evening, so it's tentatively set up.

Unfortunately, I learned today, the security in the building where I'm headed has been heightened, so instead of showing up at 1 PM the camera crew wants me there 12:15 to 12:30 so we can be through security and ready to start at 1. So I started studying bus schedules intently. It turns out SF Muni's website has a really good trip planner, and so I set up the parameters and started tweaking to see the best way there and back.

If everything goes right -- I catch the first BART train from SFO after anticipated arrival time, catch the first bus from the BART station in SF after arrival there, catch the buses placing me at my business destination at 12:17, and run REALLY FAST to/from St. Thomas, I have 4 minutes for a visit.

I think I can turn it into 20 minutes by taking a taxi to St. Thomas, but wow! SF taxis are not inexpensive, I've learned.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Mountain beavers

Matins went pretty well today, with Drew and me sharing the duties (I was a little worried before the service because I began to feel like I might be suffering a relapse of last week's bug). Good sermon, and a good pitch for his class on St. Paul's writings next month! Sadly, it seems I might miss the first two classes due to travel: I know I'll miss the first.

Nancy and the Garden Guild have been doing a wonderful job on the gardens, and in just two weeks it was very visible! I was amazed and pleased to see the condition of the gardens this morning; things look well-tended, weeded and watered.

But the joke to somebody this morning was that they needed to check the damage from the mountain beavers down by the old signposts. We're not sure if they really are mountain beavers (I'd never even heard of them before), but when that area was overgrown with blackberries something moved in and left holes big enough to trap shoes. We know there were rabbits because we would see them from time to time, but since that area was cleared the rabbits appear to have retreated to the wooded wedge at the south end of the property.

While waiting for the ACW meeting to finish this morning Paul Jr. showed me the damage. It sure looked like something big had plowed through the hillside, but the mystery didn't last long -- the lighting for the old sign had been taken out yesterday.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Little to report

Unfortunately I came down with an especially nasty cold Thursday that has left me flattened, so I was not able to go to church today. It was a shame; Deacon Ed was officiating and preaching, and Christy was on the organ.

Next Sunday brings another annoyance; the annual neighborhood BBQ, it turns out, is set for next Sunday from 11 AM - 2 PM. I'm leading Matins, which means I won't be able to get away until noon earliest. I wish folks wouldn't schedule things for Sunday morning -- one of the downsides of the Pacific Northwest.

(But there was one good thing about the enforced downtime: I finally finished processing the photos from my Paris visit last October, a task difficult to get into because so many were ruined in a number of different ways. The result of having only one day to see everything. The following was a quick shot; with time it would have been more carefully composed.)