Continuing Home

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

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Gates of Paradise

I needn't have worried. Although more snow came down overnight, to where part of the drive to church this morning looked like the photo to the left, we had no problem. (Still, in my 25 years in the Seattle area I've never seen this much snow this time of year.)

I was also able to fulfill my duties as Crucifer, Server and Epistler, the latter being relatively short but to the point, beginning at I St. John v.4, about the central importance of faith. I wonder how many of us (Americans) really have our faith tested these days and are maybe a bit lukewarm as a result.

Then again for all my own trials I'm only a degree or so above lukewarm, except that I now am pretty certain I know the grounding of my own belief.

I was a little concerned when snowflakes began falling again during the service, but they were temporary.

So after the service a group of us made our somewhat scattered way down to Redmond and thence west to Seattle, in particular the Seattle Art Museum, in an outing organized by Bob & Diane (thank you SO much!!!) to see the art exhibit "The Gates of Paradise," as they were dubbed by none other than Michelangelo! Lorenzo Ghiberti created a masterpiece of scenes from the Bible for a "baptistry" in Florence. Three of the ten scenes, restored gilt brass, are on display -- when they return to Florence they will remain there. 27 years went into the making of these works, restoration has already taken 20 years and continues.

If they come to your area, go see them.

Our group (pictured) did. Looking at the works, I considered the faith that could produce such and left... humbled.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Global warming

Well, we may be experiencing global warming but tonight's late-March snowfall (image of rear deck an hour or more ago) makes me wonder if I'll be able to fulfill my designated duties (Acolyte & Lay Reader) tomorrow.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Discovering "something precious and new"

Two hectic days of a local conference are over and now catching up on the world. First item up was an e-mail from Fr. Daniel to the "St. Bart's Evangelists" list noting and linking an article on David Virtue's website VirtueOnline-News. Now I quit reading VirtueOnline-News and all the other Anglican-related blogs and news sites for Lent last year and never got back into that routine, but from what I recall of David Virtue's postings this was a small but welcome surprise.

He writes in part:

[W]e have a gift that we can give these young men and women across the campuses in the United States, and that is the gift of the orthodox Anglican Faith via the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, that has venerable prayers that can be traced to the 3rd century, but are applicable for today, as well as the Holy Bible. We can begin to turn the tide and win these young people in His Holy Name. I cannot tell you how many times many people when they see and read the prayer book as well as the Bible feel that they have discovered something precious and new, like a fine and beautiful stone.
I can appreciate that. I spent some years of my life (age 16 to 31) away from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. When I re-encountered it at St. Bartholomew's, it was like finding something precious and beautiful, something that had been long lost and almost forgotten.

In the '28 we do have a gift, one that is particularly beautiful, worshipful and (to me extremely) precious, but I will issue a caution, based in part on my experience in January of St. Thomas 5th Ave (New York), a church with a most awe-inspiring liturgy: A beautiful liturgy will attract some folks but our Anglican evangelism cannot rely on that, beginning or especially end. Mostly one will get spectators -- not saved souls.

Monday, March 24, 2008

"Continuing" Home

Folks savvy about the current situation within North American Anglicanism will recognize that the name of this blog has multiple meanings, invoking the concept of a church "continuing" to remain true to its faith and tradition, the idea that this particular parish continues to be this blogger's home parish, and several other concepts as well. (Maybe if I ever write them all down I can call this name an "[N]-entendre."

The first sense of "Continuing" was applied to several church jurisdictions formed by those who left the American Episcopal church (a.k.a. PECUSA or ECUSA, today TEC, "The Episcopal Church"), of which St. Bartholomew's is a member. It's been a quarter-century since I left (P)ECUSA, but it was with delight last summer that I read statements published regarding church unity between our jurisdiction and two of the other large ones.

This blog is fully intended to remain outside the fray within and without the Episcopal church and the Anglican churches in the English-speaking world, but an e-mail from a fellow (sister? thanks, Nancy!) parishioner last weekend alerted me to the fact that the word "Continuing" has been co-opted (see Language Games; those choosing to remain in the Episcopal church despite its major changes are now calling themselves "Continuing Episcopalians."

So just for the record let it be known that in the U.S. "Continuing Anglicans" are something quite different from "Continuing Episcopalians." I firmly believe we Continuing Anglicans continue to hold "The Faith Once For All Delivered To The Saints" -- and with that said, this blog returns to its function of chronicling the day-to-day life of our little parish.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Day

A service not to be missed this morning with Choir, Flute and Harp, not to mention Josephine's signature pyrotechnic postlude -- okay, maybe substitute "professional" for "pyrotechnic" today, but I note that more and more folks don't leave their pews until the postlude is concluded. And for good reason; few churches are blessed with such professional talent.

About the only thing missing was the incense, but then we have some folks for whom incense is a problem.

"The Choir and Ministers" sang Easter Anthems for the processional instead of having a processional hymn, something that seemed to confuse folks for a few seconds, but they caught on quickly enough. And after our spare Lenten services, this was celebration indeed.

The Miller Menagerie prepared the excellent brunch afterward, followed by "panangelicum" (Kathy's word) upstairs with an Easter Egg (and candy) hunt in the Nave, it being a bit on the wet side outside. I wonder how much more candy will turn up next Sunday.

Easter Birthday

Today is the greatest day of the year. Without Easter, Christmas would be nothing more than "Winterfest", Good Friday would be at best a bummer, but today completes it all.

Today is also a special event for your blogger, one I have literally looked forward to for decades: It's my birthday, and to have it land on Easter is for me a once in a lifetime event. Even if it's raining this morning (as it is) -- if you're going to live in the Pacific Northwet, you better learn to love the rain.

But back to Easter, last night my father e-mailed me a copy of his sermon for today, "Hail Thee, Festival Day," with something new to ponder, excerpted as follows. I commend it to you:

I have been studying the Bible intensely for the last 60 years. After many years it finally has become clear to me that one needs to pay attention to the small details in Scripture, if you are not to miss important and enriching aspects of the Bible’s message. Our Gospel lesson for today contains one of those small details that adds much color to John’s story of his own and Peter’s discovery of the empty tomb.

The detail I have in mind this morning is a single Greek word that the King James translates "rolled-up," and that the NIV translates as "folded." It is referring to the napkin which had covered Jesus’ face and that Peter saw placed separate from the rest of the grave clothes. As with so many New Testament Greek words, this word has a range of possible meanings, but more than that, it is associated with customs and meanings that are different from our everyday experience. The word is related to the word for "command," as a king or teacher commanding something of his followers. It can perhaps be translated "ordered."

In ordinary Roman and New Testament banquets, people didn’t have individual plates, but ate with their fingers from common platters and bowls. Large napkins were therefore obviously necessary. The host or head of the family was in charge of the meal, and when he judged that the meal was over (there were no desserts), the host would gently throw his napkin on the table in front of him, perhaps upon some bones or grape stems. This was a sign that the meal was finished, and the servants (usually women) could remove all platters and napkins.

If the host were called away from the table before the meal was completed, the host would carefully fold or roll his napkin, and place it in a clear area to the side of his place (that is, it was said that he "ordered" his napkin.) This was a clear sign that “I am not finished yet.” “I am returning.” A carefully arranged napkin in a place by itself was the non-verbal message that it is not yet over.

When Peter and John saw the napkin “ordered” in a place by itself, they had seen that arrangement so often at meals that the symbolism couldn’t be missed. It said, loud and clear, “I am not finished yet, I am returning.”

John writes that he saw, and believed. He believed instantly, for he got the message instantly. Even before the first resurrection appearance, Christ has already delivered His message of resurrection, and John believed. Now, nearly 2000 years later, we join him in belief. There is a lot of skepticism going around concerning the resurrection. All honest questions have honest answers available. But we join St. John and “Hail Thee Festival Day.”

Hail Thee, Festival Day!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Lighting of the New Fire(s?)

It's Easter Even, and what a difference between the church this evening and 24 hours earlier (picture 3 postings down). The heady scent of the flowers wafted out the door, then the cheerier scene inside when one entered. It's much the same every year, yet it still strikes one. We were early, there being a light supper beforehand apparently primarily for the Girls' Choir. (I can't call it the Girls' Choir anymore, since Fr. Daniel has recruited a few mens' voices also.)

Matt and I were asked to serve -- to which I happily accepted. Matt failed in Fr. Daniel's request a few hours ago to grow a beard (near white, I added) so we'd be matching bookends, sort of the the way Deacon Ed and I are. (Matt would have had to add some extra pounds too.) We sorted out the duties in the Sacristy just before the service -- I'd be the "objects" guy and Matt the "books" guy. In other words, candles and associated stuff were my responsibility and anything related to books, including reading the Epistle, were Matt's.

We started out in good order with the church darkened and the The Lighting of the New Fire and its procession through the Nave, once again with me (nervously) carrying the lit Paschal Candle. Then Fr. Daniel sang the Exultet and I was faced with the task of lighting All Those Candles (keep the order correct, there are 4 sets of candles!), the number of which I haven't had to deal with since my teen years as an acolyte, much less the number of sets.

From there all went swimmingly (so to speak) until the Baptisms... and the discovery that the Baptismal Font was dry. Oops.

Being a good Irishman, as he noted, Fr. McGrath took the opportunity to say a few words whilst the Font was made ready.

Then we proceeded with the baptisms, babies Gloria Christi and Rudyard Elwyn. I can't profess to know what it must be like to baptize your own child, as Fr. Daniel did for the second time here at St. Bartholomew's. But I was happy to be present and serving for the occasion -- is it appropriate to think "New Fires" with infant baptisms? Maybe, but one can hope... and pray.

Serving... once again, the camera intervened. Note to self: never ever volunteer to be "photographer" -- you'll never be happy with any of the photos however much others like them. At least I was able to take these in "raw" mode so many of the shooting sins can be covered.

Continuing Anglican BlogRing

Some time ago I set up the "Continuing Anglican Blog Ring", a web-ring of blogs by Continuing Anglicans. By clicking on the "Next" button on the "Navigation Bar" on a page (usually located on the right-hand side or at the bottom) one can go to the next page in the ring. There are currently 20 pages in the ring, with a few to be added once they have Navigation Bars installed.

It's been months since I checked up on the ring and sure enough, it was broken -- some sites had removed their Navigation Bars. It's fixed now.

Found an interesting if largely ignored poll here. You still have a few hours left...

Nostalgia for Heaven

One of the little services to St. Bartholomew's I enjoy doing is being webmaster. It has its downsides during periods of travel, because things get a bit more out of date than I like (i.e. it can get more than a week out of date, but then again I see church websites that haven't been touched in years).

Still, even when scrambling to catch up, as I just did this afternoon, there are positives that come to the fore. In this case it was publishing Fr. Daniel's Lenten sermons.

In the process of publishing them (turning them into PDFs among other things) I end up reading them too, and while I think they're always quite good sometimes he hits a note even higher than his usual high standard. I think he did so with his Lent IV: "Nostalgia for Heaven", which I missed hearing because I was... somewhere away. But I got to read it today.

Well done!

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Office of Tenebrae

One of the interesting things about having a blog that spans back a few years is that one can check back to answer the question, "What DID we do [when]?" This evening Fr. Daniel led us in the Office of Tenebrae ("Shadows"). An appropriately somber service, opening with an "Address" by Fr. McGrath, followed by Hymn 75, then sets of Psalm readings, Lessons and more, with the church lights being dimmed in stages through the service, concluding in the somewhat gloom with no lighting. (I say "somewhat" because it was unusually sunny outside -- maybe if we'd started later, say at 7 PM when rush hour is slackening, it would have been more so.)

I had a memory of us having conducted "The Office of Tenebrae" before, and sure enough we had, as noted in two years ago in a posting with the same title as here. Although the order of the service was quite difference, the dimming of the church was the same -- and as I was handling the lights again this year, I had the same annoyances reported two years ago.

Interestingly, during last year's Good Friday Vigil 3-year-old Pru was trying to say the Lord's Prayer along with the rest of us. This year 4-year-old Pru was trying the Benedictus Es. Amazing.

I will note the church was appropriately spare for the service. I only have this picture, taken well before the service, because I'd brought my camera, tripod and slave flash for some experimental test shots in advance of tomorrow evening's baptisms, in case the parents still wanted pictures. (Sadly my digital SLR is out of commission until the budget has room for repairs but the backup faux-SLR, purchased when the dSLR died the first time on the way to our first Anglican Camp, takes great photos too.)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Palm Sunday

Today is the first Sunday of a stretch of five weeks for which I have no travel plans. Nice, particularly as it's Holy Week, and I now have some time to catch up on what's been happening at St. Bartholomew's, not just the occasional "visit" between trips.

As per our Palm Sunday tradition, we started out in the Parish Hall downstairs with a reading, the blessing of the palms, and then a procession outside up to the Nave. Just a short walk, but this year we were blessed with sunshine and fairly comfortable temperatures (which didn't last; by afternoon it was overcast and chilly). The windows to the church were left open so we could hear the organ -- but we didn't, so we were rather out of sync upon arrival. I think I've mentioned before in this blog that for such occasions we need a speaker outside.

We also had a number of birthdays to celebrate this week. Elle brought a cake for the mass celebration, her daughter being one of the group. (Next Sunday it's my turn -- my birthday will occur on Easter for the first and probably only time in my life, though the pre-calculated schedule for Easter in our Book of Common Prayer ends in 2013.) Little Danny is better known for liking grapes & cheese, but it was amusing to see him eyeing the cake today...


It appears Ranjit has a really good eye for photography. We were both armed with cameras this morning, but my thinking went no further than "event" shots, so I completely missed this one of the palms folded into crosses that Ranjit took.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Touch and Go

"Touch and Go" seems to be my new work "lifestyle," one that's interfering with this blog. Although I enjoyed Munich immensely -- the few hours I got spend to spend downtown, including dinners in the Ratskellar and the famous Hofbräuhaus (in the company of Canadian and Polish colleagues) -- I also got word that I was to be off to the East Coast this week and so I started booking the upcoming trip soon after I arrived in Munich.

("Touch and Go" also describes the experience of the Continental Airlines pilot landing in Frankfurt, Germany about the time I landed in Munich -- apparently there is a frightening video of his dealings with the wind upon landing. What I experienced in Munich was reminiscent of Dec. 2006 here, with trees whipping back & forth in the winds; I'm just glad their trees are so much smaller than ours.)

I'd reset most of the clocks in the house last night so being up in time was no problem. (And hey, it's only a one-hour change -- really easy compared to the 3, 9 and 11-1/2 hour shifts I regularly make.)

But this morning I felt a real sense of disconnect. Two weeks ago (was it only two weeks ago I was last at church?) I'd noticed some shoots coming up in the gardens. Today they were daffodils (Kathy says "jonquil," "daffodil" is a Welsh name but I prefer the Welsh) and I realized I'd missed St. David's Day.

And more. Our Genesis Bible Study for Lent moved on while I was gone (naturally) and so now it's become a series of disconnected stories. I'm saddened for what I've missed because when the Church Fathers are brought in, there is so much more to learn. (It would be unfair to Fr. Daniel to ask for a "self-study" document to play catch-up -- his hands are so full already.)

But even beyond this it was a shock to realize that today is Passion Sunday, next Sunday (I'll be here!) Palm Sunday, and the Sunday after that: my birthday -- first (and last) time for me it will fall on Easter.

After this trip I expect to be home for 5 whole weeks and plan on being here (cameras in hand) for the Easter Even baptisms.