Continuing Home

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

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Not quite so far away

Although I received an e-mail 11 days ago that the latest newsletter (vol.1 no.5) of the Province of Christ the King, Christus Rex, had been posted online, I only just now downloaded it... and wow! Under Dr. Stanford's direction this has really grown from the occasional black&white newsletter from "headquarters" to a real channel for education, and for learning about and keeping up with other parishes, priests and parishioners all across the province.

With the reduced costs of publishing it in an online format (PDF, so it can be printed for those without computers or internet access), we get a full-color newsletter too.

But the best two items, for me, are buried in the back on pages 7 and 8. First is news of "Augie's", a coffeehouse outreach to Chico State (CA) students run by St. Augustine's. I remember visiting when it was under construction but didn't expect it to be decorated with Celtic artwork -- that must have taken a LOT of time, but it's beautiful!

The second is the opening of three new congregations in the Diocese of the Western States, particularly St. Jude's Anglican in Grants Pass OR and St. Paul's Anglican in Bend OR. Sometimes I've felt like St. Bartholomew's was way out on the frontier because reaching the next nearest parish (St. Luke's, Redding CA) required a long day's drive; now we're not quite so far away.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Thanksgiving Canticle

At Morning Pray + Holy Communion this morning I was once again surprised by the Opening Sentences for today, not to mention the Thanksgiving Day Canticle (p. 264). I didn't note Thanksgiving Day in this blog last year but did the year before, when I encountered for the first time ever.

The sentences:

  Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the
Thanksgiving Day.   firstfruits of all thine increase:
so shall thy barns be filled with
plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.
Prov. iii. 9, 10.
  The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by
understanding hath he established the heavens. By his
knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds
drop down the dew. Prov. iii. 19, 20.
And this canticle replaced the Venite (slight trap for the unwary -- the rubrics in Morning Prayer do not explicitly call out this substitution):
¶ Instead of the Venite, the following shall be said or sung.
O PRAISE the LORD, for it is a good thing to sing praises unto our God; * yea, a joyful and pleasant thing it is to be thankful.
The LORD doth build up Jerusalem, * and gather together the outcasts of Israel.
He healeth those that are broken in heart, * and giveth medicine to heal their sickness.
O sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; * sing praises upon the harp unto our God:
Who covereth the heaven with clouds, and prepareth rain for the earth; * and maketh the grass to grow upon the mountains, and herb for the use of men;
Who giveth fodder unto the cattle, * and feedeth the young ravens that call upon him.
Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem; * praise thy God, O Sion.
For he hath made fast the bars of thy gates, * and hath blessed thy children within thee.
He maketh peace in thy borders, * and filleth thee with the flour of wheat.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, * world without end. Amen.
This morning we were blessed to welcome a visitor who just thought it right to attend a service on Thanksgiving morning, but her church wasn't holding one. So, this was a small outreach to the community.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Choral Evensong

Tonight's Choral Evensong was, as expected, beautifully done and the choir was in fine voice. The turnout was a little low and this year, unlike last, we had no visitors -- a small disappointment but then again there isn't much tradition (yet) of a church service the evening before Thanksgiving. But they passed out the loaves Kathy had baked for the gift bags among the parishioners present and on this chilly evening we all enjoyed Claire's hot apple cider, poured in the Narthex.

Per Fr. McGrath's request I set up the digital camera to photograph the service for posterity, 1 frame per minute, starting a half-hour before the service. I thought a frame a minute would be sufficient to catch everything, but we must move a lot faster than I thought. One frame is clearly before before the procession out began, in the next the Sanctuary is empty, and in the third the candles are out and people are getting up.

Next year we should record the service.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Internet Age

The Rev. Dr. Daniel McGrath and Dr. Josephine McGrath (both doctorates in music -- are we blessed? Am I bragging?) have put together what sounds like a wonderful program for tomorrow's Thanksgiving Eve "Choral Evensong," which will certainly include our choir. Some of the rest of us have more minor parts to play (I think I'm being asked to help set up "entranceway lighting" and maybe another minor duty or two, commeasurate with my abilities).

Fr. McGrath also put together a very nice-looking flyer (which I'd previewed on the 7th at lunch with him), which has been distributed in some locales.

But yesterday I realized I have a lot of "Internet" contacts, folks to whom I'm not even sure how I'd send paper mail, a few of which might be interested in attending. So for them I created an electronic copy of the flyer (in .gif format) and placed it online in case they were interested from a one-line blurb.

It could be better, but this "electronic flyer" was done last-minute and minimally-sized for low-speed connections:

Monday, November 24, 2008


The next chapter in Heresies and How to Avoid Them, on Nestorianism, reads in some ways like an Advent reflection. Having determined that Christ was neither wholly divine nor wholly human (please don't split hairs on these summations) Nestorianism says he had both natures -- but distinct. The human was born of Mary, but the divine could not be born.

Once again, as the authors patiently explain over and over, these heresies are not born out of a desire to be novel or to create something new. They seek to refine orthodox belief, make a logical, theological or philosophical misstep along the way... and the result is (so far) usually named for them. The book does not tell whether the authors of these heresies recanted or not, but it's clear that such theological explorations go down some very, very stony roads. (In other words, "Don't try this at home.")

But the areas the chapter on Nestorianism goes into -- the nature of the Christ-child, whether Mary is the Theotokos (Mother of God), the Annunciation and her acceptance, and as Dr. Anna Williams put it, "in that single moment, everything changes", a study of this heresy definitely provides a reflection for Advent.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Crazy Cellist

It looks like a busy week for the McGraths. On top of the Choral Evensong (6:30 PM Wednesday evening, public invited), 10 AM Matins & Communion on Thanksgiving Day, Thanksgiving dinner and so on, is this item announced today:
Tuesday, 1 pm Musical Recital at Brittany Park in Woodinville
Josephine & Ruby will be presenting a program of works for piano and cello; composers will include Bach, Lallo, Rachmaninov and Schubert.
I don't know if Josephine and Ruby were practicing after church today, but Ruby did show up with her cello.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Littlest Acolyte

The turnout for the Mens' Breakfast (and Fellowship) was probably at an all-time low this morning, at least it was for those I've attended. But folks are busy, and some are already traveling in advance of the coming Thanksgiving holiday, so I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised. But a few of us showed up -- and were delighted at the preparation for Matins when Fr. McGrath guided Danny through lighting the candles. I barely grabbed my camera in time.

And though I couldn't hear it --my ears are still a bit plugged from my cold-- I gathered Danny was reciting some of Matins, at the very least the Lord's Prayer, right along with us. We PKs ("Preacher's Kids") get some of this early.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


"Is Jesus Christ really human or did he just appear to be so?" is the subtitle of the second chapter, by the Rev. Canon John Sweet. And this eclipses the first chapter for difficulty.

As stated in the opening, "Most heresies look all right and have a degree of truth in them, or else they would not catch on." This heresy is named for its fundamental element, "appearance," rather than a prime proponent because the latter did not exist (though there were offshoots). But like Arianism there seems to be element of ancient Greek philosophy behind it.

The key element was: Was Jesus fully human, or only partially so (and how does one reconcile that with His divinity)? The discussion covers three prongs of this question, noting that it came to a head with promoter Apollinarius of Laodicea, a friend of Athaniasius the defender against Arianism.

Many takes on this. The one that resounds with me is: "Try thinking in verbs, rather than nouns. The Hebrews thought primarily in terms of activity, of doing: the Greeks in terms of being..." (with illustrations from the Fathers). The author notes that (the former) "is still a part of Eastern Orthodoxy. We in the West need to recover it."

Being versus doing. From one who in retrospect sometimes sits on one side and sometimes the other: Is this central to the catholic - protestant divide?

More to ponder.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Score one for my Greek Orthodox friend Jack. I just finished the first chapter of Heresies and How to Avoid Them, on Arianism, by the Rev. Dr. Michael B. Thompson -- and find I not only have to re-think my whole notion of heresy and heretics but discover there's so much I don't know and if I don't, what about other Christians, other Anglicans?

I think this is going to be a useful study and if the other chapters are like this, it fits into today's rushed American lifestyle, this chapter having required only a half-hour or so to read and digest. (Though probably a lot more time to ponder again after.)

The question posited in the chapter heading, "Is Jesus Christ divine and eternal or was he created?", made no sense to me. Created? What does that mean? But as I read I learned about Arius, a well-educated priest apparently of "strong faith and orthodoxy," "a stubborn man of principle" -- characteristics that are not what one generally thinks of heretics today.

The author shows how Arius arrived at the heresy that bears his name, why the orthodoxy remains important to this day, telling Bible scriptures that weight against the heresy, and how to avoid (and recognize!) the heresy today.

(In VERY short form, per request, that heresy says Jesus is external from and a creation of God for the purpose of our redemption, instead of being God himself who has done what is needed for our deliverance. I'm not going to put it down all here, though.)

I cannot but think I am a bit better armed than before against this one. I'm sure (at least I hope!) our clergy are all well aware of all this, but laity like me sometimes might be a different matter.

So, Jack, if you happen to read this -- thank you!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Home, sweet (church) home

It was a joy to be back at St. Bartholomew's this morning, for what might be the third Sunday since Labor Day! Other than the change of season (it's looking like winter now) nothing much has changed, and that is nice.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Continuing heresies

Well, okay, that's nowhere close to any title I'd imagined for this blog entry. But on the way back from today's event Fr. McGrath suggested the title should contain the word "Continuing." And so it does...

But not for the reason suggested. The "event" was a "Church Leaders Forum" at Seattle Pacific University featuring the Rev. Dr. Michael Ward, an Anglican priest and C.S. Lewis scholar, speaking on "The Continuing Relevance of C. S. Lewis for the Church Today" -- and if he appears in a venue near you, do attend!

I have to confess there isn't a lot I can relate about his talk. As Deacon Ed noted, this was delivered at a pretty high intellectual level and as I wasn't taking notes (my fault, I'd come prepared to do so) and my brain just wasn't quite up to par thanks to illness, for all I followed him through I didn't retain enough even to summarize now. Maybe others can chime in through the comments.

But in any event, shortly before his talk and during the lunch, our St. Bartholomew's group was joined by a couple of young women who worked for the university's newspaper. They asked about our group and when we said we were from St. Bartholomew's Anglican one asked about "Episcopal" versus "Anglican", and so we educated them about "Continuing Anglican" churches, the history and convention of the names and so on. Thus the "Continuing" in the title.

Shortly before the Rev. Dr. Ward's talk a sheet was passed out, noting among other things the availability of a book titled "Heresies and How to Avoid Them", with the Rev. Dr. Ward as an editor. This caught my eye, based on a remark a few years ago from Jack, a Greek Orthodox friend, to wit: "There are no new heresies."

I'm not sure I am ready to buy into that, but his remark made me very aware that I know very little of the OLD heresies. Speaking as an engineer it's always a good idea to learn from others' mistakes -- so I bought the book. (And I have no doubt that at some point Fr. McGrath will probably ask me to lead a Wednesday evening series on this topic, especially since I have raised this issue before.)

I haven't read past the Foreword yet, but I'm already hooked:

"Given the diminished state of the Church some Christians might even believe that if we would gain more members by being heretical so much the worse for orthodoxy."

"The Church seldom knows what it believes until someone gets it wrong. Indeed, often it is not even clear at the beginning what has been got wrong. So those who get it wrong are blessed just to the extent that they help us discover what it is we must faithfully say, to be adequate witnesses to God."

I am looking forward to reading "Heresies and How to Avoid Them: Why it matters what Christians believe."

Thursday, November 13, 2008


No news is... no news. By Sunday morning it was clear I needed more time for recovery so I stayed home -- and sadly, I missed another performance by our choir. Maybe it was best I didn't know in advance. As it was, I had another 2-1/2 days at home ahead of me.

Today was my first full day at work in a while and it started off with a quandary. Tomorrow is a special event, "The Continuing Relevance of C. S. Lewis for the Church Today," A Church Leaders Forum, with The Rev. Dr. Michael Ward, C.S. Lewis scholar and priest in the Church of England. I very much want to attend this event and even swapped meeting times at work tomorrow meeting so I could take the rest of the day off as vacation to attend. I thought more of the household was going to go also, but an early-morning exchange of e-mails with Fr. McGrath just left me confused -- none of the pre-arrangements except my registration had been made.

Later, when everyone at home was up, I was reminded that the ACW's (Anglican Church Womens') annual bazaar (a real one again, not the fun if bizarre No-Bazaar Bazaar of one recent year) is tomorrow and Saturday. Many in the ACW also wanted to attend the event -- but if everyone went nobody would be available to run the bazaar. So, faced with this conflict, most if not all had decided in favor of working at the bazaar.

I commend their sense of duty, and the sacrifice.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Right on past the end

About 8 AM this morning Matt sent an e-mail asking if I'd stand in for him as Epistler and server this Sunday. I'd missed enough of my scheduled turns this fall I knew I was in somebody's debt so I agreed, figuring a little more recovery from my cough and I'd be fine. (Our little group of Lay Readers don't really make a big deal of "duty" -- I think we all enjoy serving. At least I hope we do!)

3 hours later, on my way over to the British Pantry to have lunch with Fr. McGrath (something we haven't done for months now), I was less sure. The cough was back though different, and the cough syrup that had been working wonders wasn't doing a thing. During lunch I felt some illness definitely coming on so after lunch I went back to the office, packed up and came home. (In case you're reading this, Claire, the previous bug caused a slight fever but this lowered my temperature -- it's something different and I think a cold. Too much travel with a compromised immune system? We'll see. Please don't worry -- nobody in Vienna seemed to have anything like this and it's not a relapse.)

But I had mentioned 'reading' to Fr.McGrath, and he noted that we'd run on past the end of Trinity, at least as it appears in the lectionary in the 1928 Prayer Book, that I should prepare to read the Epistle for the Fifth Sunday after Trinity, and pointed to me to the "lengthy" rubric following the 24th Sunday after Trinity, to wit:

If in any year there be twenty-six Sundays after Trinity, the service for the Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany shall be used on the Twenty-fifth Sunday. If there be twenty-seven, the service for the Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany shall be used on the Twenty-sixth, and the service for the Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany on the Twenty-fifth. If there be fewer than twenty-five Sundays, the overplus shall be omitted.
All of which is a little confusing (and clearly not written by a software engineer nor is it in good Standards English -- "overplus"?), because the next Collect, Epistle and Gospel (oops -- there's a word for those collectively, Fr. McGrath used that in a class this summer, and I have forgotten it!) is for the Sunday Next Before Advent. But an annotated online copy of the BCP notes that that used be the 25th Sunday and with a different set of rubrics. I think I see why the change was made -- those are an excellent lead-in to Advent, as Fr. McGrath noted.

But however things go Sunday, we're coming to the end of this church year and I find I'm really looking forward to the new church year.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Newsletter news

While updating the church website today, I realized how disconnected I've been lately when I got to the latest Earth and Altar newsletter from Fr. McGrath. For example, it notes that as of September 12th, Josephine McGrath had completed all requirements for her Doctor of Musical Arts degree from UC Santa Barbara. (Congratulations, Dr. Josephine McGrath!)

And I see from the newsletter plenty of planning for services and events from now through Holy Innocents has been going on. I guess in the past I'd at least been aware of the planning, but this year it was done and published before I even knew of it. It looks like an exciting time ahead and I'm glad to be home for it all.