Continuing Home

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

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

It's a girl!

I almost missed the announcement. I was leaving work a little early (to go home and test a work laptop WiFi problem I can't test at work and besides I'd been in a bit early all week, 6 AM and thereabouts), and while shutting down the computer I saw an e-mail pop up with the title above. Okay... gotta fire up the computer again and get the particulars.

Fr. Daniel and Josephine announced the arrival of baby Gloria Christi this morning; mother and daughter are doing well. Fr. Daniel did not report on the father's condition, though I am guessing tired, frazzled and full of joy and wonder.


Sunday, January 27, 2008

An Expectant Pause

Everything, it seems, is somewhat in limbo at St. Bartholomew's right now as we await the arrival of the next two additions to the parish roster. The very form of the services, and who will be the servers (I stood in for one today, apparently kept up by the contractions that subsequently stopped - and spared him a difficult reading), is indeterminate right up to the start of the service, because we have two about-to-be newborns due any minute.

Elements of last weekend's baby shower were in evidence this morning, though by the time I got the camera out most of the hints that two babies are expected were gone.

Anglican Camp II

The Tomlinsons have announced the time and location for this year's diocesan campout. It's not going to be the Rogue River in Oregon (noted in this blog entry) after all, but the location, Patrick's Point State Park, looks wonderful! And it's probably an hour or so less driving than last year's for those of us in the Pacific Northwest.

Last year's was a lot of fun, so I am looking forward to this year's. I've even noted it on my work calendar and hopefully that time will remain free.

I say that because so far this year my travel, for all that it is only one trip a month, is managing to interfere with all sorts of things at church. Last weekend I missed two of the three Evangelism Group classes and the Men's Fellowship breakfast because I was away. My flight home was scheduled to come in so late (it came in even later) that I decided against trying to get to Oakland CA in time for Archbishop Provence's enthronement the following morning, for all that I really wanted to be there. (Along with everything else, to meet a fellow Anglican blogger in person.)

In about 2-1/2 weeks I head out for a week, which means I will miss the Annual Parish Meeting and a church planting seminar. My trip early March conflicts with a diocesan retreat. My meetings in April coincide with the diocesan Synod, which we are hosting and I am supposed to be arranging. Other conflicts, such as my turn to read the Epistle, are not such big things. New York, Bangalore, Munich, D.C., Frankfurt(maybe), Berlin/London, Salt Lake City... by July I will be ready for a long stretch home until the travels pick up again in September.

And the campout will definitely be something to look forward to through all of this. Being right on the coast it will be a bit less dry and definitely cooler than last summer's, which will be just fine with us Pacific Northwesterners. I hope we can get more folks from St. Bartholomew's to come, though I'll certainly understand it if the addition of a baby (due any time now, if not already arrived) means the subtraction of a family.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

St. Thomas and Webster Groves MO

Attended St. Thomas' Morning Prayer & Eucharist, for the last time because I fly home this evening.

The service is interesting: Fr. Jonathan Erdman reads through the entirety of Morning Prayer before proceeding into Holy Communion, but manages to keep the entire service under 40 minutes. It may help that he seems to be a master of the short but pithy homily; in just a very few minutes today we learned about Pride and Envy (which Rome and the Orthodox respectively ascribe to Satan's fall) from today's readings, as well as elements of the story of the Tower of Babel (I'd never known what bitumen was and had always thought of coal, but he noted the Hebrew was clearer on this).

In a brief chat before my departure he noted that their services can be heard online. I checked and sure enough, you can hear the service I heard last night online.

Interestingly, his online bio says he's from Webster Groves, Missouri. I wonder if he knows Anglican blogger andcommentator Christopher Johnson, who lives in Webster Groves?

Update: Many, many thanks to the (presumably) regular parishioners at Morning Prayer + Eucharist who made this unnamed stranger feel welcome. The message in St. Thomas this week of (desired) "unity" came through loud and clear.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Return to St. Thomas'

The major portion of my business done on this trip, with only a late-morning seminar, I was able to return to St. Thomas 5th Avenue this morning for Morning Prayer and Holy Eucharist at 8 AM. The doors to the central aisle in the Nave were closed with signs directing entrants to side aisles with no clear indication where Morning Prayer was to be held, but there was a note about the Chancel Chapel, and once I had got over the confusion of seeing someone sitting in the main Nave (in retrospect I think he was the sexton), I figured out that the Gospel-side Chapel with its lit candles and other indicators of an Eucharist about to be conducted was where I should be.

Soon enough a priest (younger than Fr. Daniel, I think, but I could be wrong) entered for some final preparations. I got the impression he was surprised to see a stranger there (or maybe to see anyone there, though I was soon disabused of that when a couple of others showed up, a wee bit late but apparently regulars).

For the first bit of it, when it was just the priest (and I am sorry, I have always been terribly forgetful of names) and me there, I have to wonder how the service goes when the priest has to read the responses himself. Maybe this is part of why Fr. Daniel is happy to have more than "the squirrels" in attendance.

For my part it was sheer delight to celebrate Communion among total strangers who also recite this (1928 BCP) liturgy from memory, who apparently hold this liturgy in their heart. It meant nothing to me when I grew up with it, but after losing it for 15 years and then re-discovering it at St. Bartholomew's, an isolated island a long way from the next nearest such church, I guess I have become sensitive to the issue.

There is a double irony that St. Thomas (and [P]ECUSA?) is this week celebrating / honoring / praying-for "Unity." Unity. There are a whole bunch of issues bound up with that, entirely outside the scope of this blog, so I will say nothing beyond my expression of delight.

I had with me the worst of my cameras for dim light situations, so here's the best of the Chapel. It is beautiful.

Later I was free again to visit St. Thomas for "Choral Evensong and Holy Eucharist." Both were a surprise. "Choral Evensong" was almost more a concert, and with exquisitely-executed music including the organ.

Disappointing to me that most present departed before (the abbreviated) Holy Eucharist began, but... one never knows. The music is only the surface -- call it evangelism of a sort. Even if they're only there for the music and pageantry, they're hearing the Word.

It's my hope to return tomorrow morning for one last visit before I return home to my humble little parish.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


I hadn't planned on going to St. Thomas' today, given my usual meeting schedule, but long about quarter past ten this morning I realized that I didn't really need to be in any of my committees' working group meetings until 1 PM, so I left my gear in the hands of a trusted colleague and attended the 11 AM "Choral Eucharist" at St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, New York City.

Seeing the ushers in morning-coats set me back a bit as I was dressed rather more informally for my meetings (corporate-logo tan sweater, registration name-tag, black slacks, black walking shoes and winter jacket), but I was assured I was fine. And certainly welcome, though the usher seemed slightly surprised at the distance I'd come.

\ The instant I set foot inside, though... well.. some might consider it profane were I to spell out my internal reaction to the beauty of the church ("OMG!"). I've not seen its like in North America, and to my eye it far surpasses my several decades-old memory of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco (about which I'll say no more).

Still, I was prepared for the worst.


The only BCP in the pew was the 1928 Book of Common Prayer! I do not know how this could be, given the general banishment and/or abandonment of the 1928 all across the Episcopal church, but there it was. This delight was a bit diminished by finding the 1982 Hymnal instead of the 1940, but maybe one can't always have everything and I was after all just a visitor.

The usher/greeter had told me, in our conversation, that St. Thomas had one of the four top boys' choirs (or schools?) in the world: two in the UK, the Vienna Boys' Choir and St. Thomas, but this still didn't fully prepare me for the service.

The procession set the tone, and I've not seen its like before. Crucifer and Lucifers (both of whom were almost hugging the Crucifer -- note to Ranjit: we need better organization :-) led the way followed by the boys' choir and possibly mens' also. (My voice was in exceptionally good order this morning, but thoroughly outdone by the choir.) Then came something new: a *second* Crucifer and Lucifers followed, if I remember aright, by a Verger (an office I held once, many years ago in another church) preceding the clergy.

Was I in High Church? Definitely, and loving it. This isn't quite the image of Heaven we hear from Fr. Daniel and our readings -- but it's close enough.

The service... it was wonderful to be able to recite in such a venue from memory, though two jarring notes were the minor translation of the Creed, and the detested (by me) "Peace": ameliorated only by the fact that folks stayed in their pews -- this wasn't the usual Episcopal "pre-coffee-hour social event."

I was surprised too by the number of people who left when Communion began but I've read before of those who love the high art of the Anglican liturgy, the beauty of its music and the language, and I can only guess that there are many such in New York.

Count me among them now. Though I'm not there for the "art" I love this expression of our Anglican liturgy.

When it is possible in the next few days (and it won't be often), I'll be returning for Morning Prayer or Evensong.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Selah, The Trees of St. Mary's redux, and St. Thomas'

Well, as noted a couple of posts ago I am now on another of my lengthy trips away, this time a full week in New York City. Not so full that I didn't have a couple hours free this afternoon so I could take a trip up the Empire State Building (to the 83rd floor, but that was quite enough for me) right at dusk -- not the best time, but it's what I had.

Of course, longtime readers will know "Selah" in the subject line means there will likely be no postings while I'm away -- and I had intended to post such before I left, but with my work laptop going kaput the day before I flew out and suddenly having a trip to India approved the evening before I left, I got tied up with so much unexpected activity I didn't have time to post. But right now, this evening, I do.

Interestingly, last month's posting The Trees of St. Mary's does not seem to be fading away. In conversation with my colleague Graham at lunch today, he noted that the posting created a small stir at St. Mary's, and in fact a version of it is appearing in a newsletter just about to be published, possibly in time for his wife to bring a copy of it with her to New York. (I personally think the stir should be in the other direction -- I'm merely reporting on a great Christian witness in their own community, and you did an excellent job, Bill T., in organizing this.)

Back to the present, the easy part of my schedule is over. But Fr. Daniel had mentioned a church I should look up if I had time, St. Thomas' Episcopal (apparently one of the faithful remnant). He had visited there while pursuing his doctorate in (choral) music. I looked up their website and sure enough, they appear to have quite a choral program. AND... they are exactly one block from my hotel! There are two or three services I may be able to attend, one of them a Choral Evensong & Eucharist.

Stay tuned...

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Short Epiphanytide

As Fr. Daniel noted in the announcements today, this year we have a very short Epiphany season due to the unusually early Easter (which occurs on my birthday this year, for the first and probably only time in my life). Next Sunday is Septuagesima, beginning the countdown to Lent.

Bible Study will resume next Sunday too -- and maybe in place of the two Bibles I bought almost two years ago when my wife was in the hospital with a critical condition, I will bring the belated Christmas present that arrived today, a combination Book of Common Prayer (1928) plus KVJ Bible+Apocrypha. Now if somebody would publish that PLUS the Hymnal 1940, we'd have everything we need in a single volume.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The last of The Litanies

Although I'm pretty close to another of my quarterly "week chock full o' meetings" trips (I fly out Wednesday) --and they just keep getting longer and busier-- for some reason the workload in preparation is less than it usually is, for all that I've spent maybe half my time this year so far in advance preparation of "publication submittal packages" for material my main committee will be voting on. I finished that effort early this morning, and by 11 AM or so it was clear I had just a little bit of work to do to be ready for the meetings -- barring the usual late submission of material. So I felt free to go join Fr. Daniel in the Friday Litany at noon.

It's a good thing I did, because he said this is likely to be the last of the Litanies for a short while. Fr. Daniel named several people, groups and situations to keep in prayer during the Litany; not least among these sundry difficulties and other issues were our two expectant mothers-to-be(-again), both due any time. (Interestingly, I do not recall any pre-natal prayers in our Book of Common Prayer, though we do have the Churching of Women, more formally known as "The Thanksgiving of Women after Child-birth.") Fr. Daniel anticipates being unusually busy for a time.

But it will only be for a time. After the Anglican Evangelist Group meetings/classes come to an end (and yes, Father, I intend read through John Stott's Why I am a Christian before I leave on this trip and miss the last two sessions) we'll be resuming the Sunday morning 9 AM Bible Studies. And a while after that, the Litany and the rest.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Epiphanytide Evangelism Class

Tonight was the first of the next series of classes on Anglican Evangelism, held on Wednesday evenings through January 23rd. Matt was quite delighted to see the parking lot holding so many cars when he arrived -- although to be sure, a few of us came from situations dictating that family members arrived separately. Still, our numbers were up from the "Evangelism for Anglicans" class held last summer.

We began with a light supper during which I enjoyed conversation with Chris, who has recently started attending and who right off decided he'd join this class. It was quite interesting for me, the oldest computer geek ("geezer geek") and engineer here, exchanging views and experiences with one much the same but so many years younger. I've always wondered what things look like to the younger engineers. (In my day... but no, this blog is about St. Bartholomew's so I'll drop that line.)

Eventually Fr. Daniel was able to herd this clowder of cats post-supper for the class. He began with a little history of last summer's class, which began with Matt's question about evangelism followed by a remark from another parishioner that he'd found online and saved a course curriculum designed for American Anglicans (whose usual method of evangelism, as Fr. Daniel somewhat accurately quoted to us, consists of placing a fishbowl by the ocean and waiting for fish to jump in).

But then it got serious, starting with the first two chapters of John Stott's "Why I am a Christian." Most just received the book tonight, so they hadn't had opportunity to read those chapters in advance, but Matt led an excellent discussion starting with "The Hound of Heaven" by Francis Thompson, and others who's been "hounded" into belief, particularly Saul, Augustine, Malcolm Muggeridge and "the dejected and reluctant convert" C.S. Lewis.

Our class clearly has a broad range of experiences, many of whom "fell away" mostly during their late teen years and returned, some of whom came from other churches with different practices and expectations, and at least one who never quite "fell away" in practice but had times of uncertainty.

The second chapter was on the claims of Jesus -- was he lunatic, liar or savior? We had discussed this, I'm certain, in last summer's class but several folks brought new aspects to the discussion.

We closed with Compline, the Parish Hall dark but for hand-held candles. I wonder if those driving by on Avondale Way wondered at seeing the Nave upstairs illuminated but empty, while the downstairs was dark with folks holding candles.

And at Fr. Daniel's suggestion regarding monk's practice of Compline, we all left quietly. And I have probably violated the request by posting this report, albeit without speaking a single word.

This is the only one of the three classes of which I can report. I will be away the next two Wednesdays.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

It's a small world (online)

Just had my church and work worlds intersect this morning. I've been a subscriber to an unofficial APCK e-mail list (which is now shutting down) for some time, receiving a daily digest. This morning's digest had a link to a blog entry titled Where Did You Get That Hat?, which began:
Various blogs have provided links to a comprehensive site (in German) offering an impressive photo gallery of different types of ecclesiastical headwear...
And continued with a couple of examples, including this one:

I was certain I knew this guy, and when I clicked through I found I was right! Prof. Ole Fanger (RIP), a longtime member of one of my committees, in the academic dress of the University of Coimbra. Showing up on an Anglican e-mail list...

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Epiphany and customs

Today, per custom, the three Wise Men finished their long journey across the various window sills of the Nave and arrived at the creche -- "guided" this year by Kavya, also today's Sunday School Banner Bearer.

The Banner Bearer is a relatively new custom; one of the younger children carries the Sunday School banner in the procession and leaves it in the Sanctuary, returning to retrieve it and lead the Sunday School out after the announcements and before the sermon, while we sing one of several single-verse hymns in the Hymnal. It is always amazing to me how suddenly the pews look empty when the children depart.

But along the line of customs: after the service DeeDee commented on yesterday's blog entry, surprised that somebody got the 12 Days of Christmas right, and in a TV ad to boot! She noted one priest who had placed Twelfthnight on Epiphany, not the night before. Well, some other remarks caused me to look up customs for both Twelfthnight and Epiphany. Very interesting -- I had not thought our tradition of taking down the tree and decorations on Epiphany the avoidance of bad luck, for example. And the "journey" of the three wise men at St. Bartholomew's seems to echo in a way the Mexican festival Las Posadas, which re-enacts Joseph's search for room at the inn.

But in any event, the priest is exonerated! It turns out that, depending on which custom of counting the "days" of Christmas is emplyed, the 12th night could fall on Epiphany.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

12th day of Christmas: "The Holidays Aren't Over Yet"

..says a television ad I've seen a couple of times today watching the "wildcard" football games (only because I learned Seattle's Seahawks were playing, I had no other commitment, and didn't they play well!).

What an irony to hear this on the last day of Christmas, when to most folks around here Christmas ended sometime late in 2007. But today is the last day of Christmas, this evening is Twelfthnight, and the last selection of the book "Love Came Down: Anglican Readings for Advent and Christmas" is scheduled for tomorrow -- Epiphany.

Friday, January 04, 2008

The Trees of St. Mary's, revisited

Another comment appeared in the wee hours of the morning (Seattle time) on the blog entry The Trees of St. Mary's, and I thought the blog's readers should all see it:
Thank you for your kind and encouraging remarks. With hard work and wonderful support we were able to raise the sum of £6000 for the terminally ill Children of the Chestnut Tree Children's Hospice. For us this was a magnificent sum for such a short event. I send good wishes for a happy and healthy New Year.
For us Americans, that's over US$12,000 that St. Mary's raised for the the Chestnut Tree Children's Hospice, and if I remember correctly the hospice operates completely on charity, it has no government funding. What an excellent example St. Mary's set, and imaginative too!

(I keep trying to think how we at St. Bartholomew's might shamelessly "borrow" the idea, but here the trees would have to be outside in the cold Seattle rain -- and our occasional autumnal windstorms. Even firmly rooted trees don't always survive the latter.)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Outreach Study

Matt has e-mailed our "Evangelism Group" about the upcoming three-week study centered around (or based on) John Stott's “Why I am a Christian,” starting next Wednesday evening. I do not have a copy of the book yet so I have no idea what's ahead, but I am delighted -- even if my travels mean I will only be able to attend the first session.

I commend Matt for his efforts! Having spent most of my life on the West Coast, and the majority of that in the Pacific Northwest, I am thoroughly imbued with this culture's prohibition against evangelism -- if you are a Christian; most anything else seems to be okay. It's hard to break out of that mold, especially when the only Christian models available around here are brash in-your-face Evangelicals (who may or may not do more harm than good, but then again if they're the only ones trying who can complain?).

Those of us on the more Anglo-Catholic wing ("God's Frozen Chosen" -- but I don't think we at St. Bartholomew's are all that frozen) are not especially known for evangelism, so I think this a Good Thing that Matt is doing.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Bliadhna Mhath Ur!

Okay, St. Bartholomew's isn't much into things Celtic or Gaelic, but as your blogger I thought I'd offer you all this Gaelic wish. It translates as "A Good New Year!" and is pronounced (in American: "blee'-ah-nah vah oor!"

Nancy & family put on a great New Years' get-together, and I have to say Paul has a GREAT skill with egg-nog (I know, I've tried and failed)!

Workaday world resumes tomorrow.