Continuing Home

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

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Mist and Angels

During the retreat yesterday I suddenly noticed that autumn had arrived. The leaves on the ground were not a tipoff because some trees start dropping leaves in August, sometimes early August in drier summers. But I suddenly noticed that the cedar fronds were turning orange at the retreat center, a little bit sooner than here at home. This morning's drive to church reinforced the observation with a chill low autumn fog/mist that took on spectacular presentations along the way -- and I without either time and camera to record the visions.

But if I were to name this paticular Sunday it would be "Angel Sunday." We celebrated the "Festival of St. Michael and All Angels", translated from tomorrow. Scripture study focused on angels in the Bible, including the Apocryphal-only appearance of Raphael. (Hm. Micha-el, Gabri-el, Rapha-el -- is there a significant pattern there?) The hymns were clearly selected for the occasion, including one of my favorites, #197:

Let all mortal flesh keep silence, and with fear and trembling stand;
ponder nothing earthly minded, for with blessing in his hand
Christ our God to earth descendeth, our full homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary, as of old on earth he stood,
Lord of lords in human vesture, in the Body and the Blood
he will give to all the faithful his own self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven spreads its vanguard on the way,
as the Light of Light descendeth from the realms of endless day,
that the powers of hell may vanish as the darkness clears away.

At his feet the six-winged seraph; cherubim with sleepless eye,
veil their faces to the Presence, as with ceaseless voice they cry,
"Alleluia, alleluia! Alleluia, Lord Most High!"
All the hymns fit the theme -- Fr. McGrath clearly put a lot of work into planning today's service. I hope we will learn more in future celebrations of this occasion.


We held our annual retreat Saturday, in the same location as last year. I confess that I did not want to go, having returned home late Wednesday evening from two weeks travel with much work to be done (I thought I was five minutes from finishing a conference powerpoint when I did leave -- it turned out to require two more hours' work). But I am glad I did.

I found slowing down to be very difficult, and maybe it wasn't just me because Fr. McGrath apologized in one of his remarks about the morning being harried. In fact, thinking back on it, a lot of us were hurried and harried yesterday. The rest of my household arrived late and had to leave early for a musical performance up north. It was enlightening, though, to have my wife arrive in the middle of Matins in a "state," insisting on a seat behind us as a self-imposed penance whereas we were just glad she had arrived and wanted her seated right with us. Is this how arrival in Heaven will be?

But the silent times helped. And the booklet "The Fruits of the Spirit", a collection of writings by Evelyn Underhill, provided much on which to meditate. Although, while reading it I suddenly felt guilty for having one of my better cameras with me -- I had not, as she noted in the first reading "Alone With God," gone into the closet with God and "Shut the door."

This may be why I came away with far fewer pictures than usual (this one shows Ranjit meditating, while a ferry passes in the distance).

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Visit to Smokey Matt's

I guess it's an indicator of how busy things have been that I wrote a review of my visit to St. Matthias Anglican in Dallas Sunday afternoon and I'm only now posting it Friday evening. Before I posted, though, I had to figure out where I got the nickname "Smokey Matt's" -- and it turned out to be my old Anglican blogger friend Mark at Wannabe Anglican! I thought I'd known someone there.

But on to what I wrote Sunday:

Today this Wandering Anglican took advantage of being in Dallas on Sunday with no demand on my time until the afternoon and went off to visit a church I've known about for a while, St. Matthias Anglican or, as I've heard it called, "Smoky Matt's." And I am glad I did!

I don't recall the context where I first heard about Smoky Matt's, but I do know it was on the Internet. It may have been from the time when I was following the turmoil in the Episcopal church, perhaps through comments on some report or another, or even possibly private messages with a member in a religion forum. It was a while ago, and if it was through private messages I'd only have known that person's "screen name." In any event I arranged my travel plans so I'd be in Dallas with Sunday morning free.

Getting there was not too difficult; a 40 minute bus ride and a half-hour's hike of a bit over a mile and I was there – if a bit the worse for the unaccustomed heat and humidity. Fortunately I was 45 minutes early so I had time to cool down before folks started arriving for the service.

First impression: such a beautifully-done church! Our humble little St. Bartholomew's is almost spartan by comparison.

Second impression: such tall candles on the altar! The acolytes must receive a lot of training to light these candles.

Third impression: People started arriving a full half-hour before the service and seated themselves in the pews, quietly and worshipfully! These people are serious (as we all should be).

Fourth impression: Bells and smells galore! Quite a far cry from my church as a youth, where we held Holy Communion the first Sunday of the month only, the only bell was to note the start of the service, never any incense, we did not cross ourselves, etc. And here "Smoky Matt's" lived up to its nickname, though they must have been using very high-quality charcoal and incense to get such an intensity without it being problematic.

Fifth impression: the singing! They sing more of the service than we do, and both choir and congregation were in fine voice.

And lest one think it was all about the ritual, Fr. McBride delivered a powerful sermon for St. Matthew's Day, including(I paraphrase here, so any error is mine) Jesus as the healer and several cases of healing (including the woman who touched his garment and was healed – and an education about the awful predicament she was in in her society as a result of her affliction), how Matthew the tax-collector suffered from a soul-disease common today –materialism— and the corrosive effects of that we see today, without recognizing the cause.

The better part of a week later, I still treasure the visit. The gift bag alone was something: a copy of the latest newsletter, "The Antiphon"; a booklet about the church, the various opportunities for service, and other things; another booklet about Anglicanism; "Solemn High Mass explained"... they have supplied much if not all what a visitor might want to know about their church. What a great example!

And I really have to thank Fr. McBride for his gift of a lift back to my hotel, allowing me to remain a while for the coffee hour and visit instead of rushing off to catch the last bus into town before my afternoon pre-conference meetings.

What can I say but I cherish my visit to "Smokey Matt's," and hope my travels will make future visits possible.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

LA Train Wreck - prayer request

Fr. McGrath sent a note to folks all around the province last night with a "close to home" element of the LA train wreck, including:
Many of you may have heard about the train wreck in L.A. yesterday (Friday, Sept. 12) in which a commuter train collided head-on with a freight train on the same track in Los Angeles. The death toll at this hour has risen to 17.

Fr. Donald Ashman (Church of Our Saviour and the Holy Apostles) was on the commuter train returning home from his high school teaching job. He was injured (back injury) and was treated at the hospital and sent home where he is now recovering.

Before he was taken to the hospital, Fr. Ashman administered last rites to eight or nine of those killed, including the engineer.

Please pray for Fr. Ashman, his family (his wife Ellen and children Erin and Matthew), and for those killed and injured in the wreck and their families.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Selah (again)

Just a note that I'm out on the road again tomorrow, first for a week and a half of techincal committee meetings in Atlanta followed by a few days for a conference in Dallas, returning two weeks from tonight. I'm going to miss a few events at St. Bartholomew's including the Mens' Breakfast for September, so I won't be able to report on them.

For my travels I took a look at "communion" (ACC, APCK, UECNA) churches in both locations (this coming Sunday in Atlanta and the following in Dallas) but none of the churches in the areas are reachable by public transit so there will likely be no reports on same from this Wandering Anglican.

Don't know about "Smoky Matt's" in Dallas (?), but a church that goes that heavy on incense might be an experience to be reported, if I can get there... prior caveats apply.

In any event this blog is likely to be somewhat quiet for the next couple of weeks. If so, it's only temporary.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Not just Ed & me

It was beginning to look like a repeat of last week, with hardly any of the kids present and only one of the torch-bearers (Lucifers). So Deacon Ed and I decided we'd do it ourselves again, I lit the candles (including the torches in-place), got the cross and headed outside.

There, at three minutes before the service (Deacon Ed is quite punctual), Lucinda announced that all today's servers were present (she'd rounded them up, bless her) and robed in the Sunday School building. So we got the torches and headed over for the prayer before the procession.

Our new Crucifer was a little uncertain about what to do for the Gospel procession, so I walked alongside to guide him. Perfect job!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Farewell, La Llorona

I didn't know it until just now, but reading Fr. McGrath's e-mail to the parish for this week and next I learned that our old coffee-pot La Llorona has apparently, um, given up the ghost. I've written about this pot before, with a follow-up a few months later.

DJ and Silvia have donated a new pot but I am sure it will not produce the characteristic loud sighs, cries and mournful moans we would hear from La Llorona as she heated water for tea.