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Posts Tagged ‘Prayer’

“No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.” -Matthew 22:46

I found myself this morning at a church where, just a mere 4 months ago, I never would have imagined myself worshipping. Having been raised Roman Catholic, my only experience with the Lutheran church came from my uncle, who was Lutheran pastor and a very conservative one to boot. Upon my return to the faith, I gravitated to the Episcopal church without much of a second thought. However, thanks to the brilliant work of Meredith Gould and the Church Social Media (#chsocm or @chsocm on Twitter) chats, I have met many people across denominations including Pastor Keith Anderson who have opened my eyes. After pouring over the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s website, I ordered a copy of the Evangelical Lutheran Worship prayer book & hymnal. Having read over it, the liturgies, the hymns, etc, I was determined to visit Pastor Keith and his flock this morning.

I arrived early this morning at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, so early in fact that I was one of the first in the parking lot. If I haven’t mentioned it before, I cannot stand being late for church, so much so that I have attended later services or services at a different church if I am late. After killing some time I went into the church about 20 minutes ahead of the service start time, and was warmly greeted by the ladies in the entry area. I had arrived ahead of the usher, but one of the ladies grabbed a bulletin for me (her niece was one of the scheduled ushers). I entered the church proper and was excited to see Pastor Keith at the pulpit (ok, not sure if it is deemed a pulpit, but you know what I mean). I had given him the heads up that he would know me first by my beard, and when he looked up, I knew he had made the connection! We chatted for about 10 minutes, which was wonderful! He walked me through the order of the service and we talked about my journey in general and our Church Social Media connections. I can’t wait to have coffee/lunch with him in the future! Before the service started, Deacon Diane approached me to ask if I would read/lead two of the prayers of intercession! She knew I was visiting and was present from my Facebook post and check-in! Talk about a testimony to the brilliance of church social media!

The service was very familiar and very different all at the same time, and a wonderful and holy experience. Pastor Keith and Deacon Diane entered the church without any fanfare or procession. Pastor Keith welcomed us and instructed us briefly concerning the order of service. We began then with the Confession and Forgiveness, devoutly kneeling. I really appreciated the instruction to kneel during the confession. After, I stood for the Gathering Song (Love Divine, All Loves Excelling!) and a fellow pew mate kindly let me know I should sit during the prelude and then stand. He really was kindly about it, and I really appreciated that help!

The Greeting followed, and then we sang the hymn Now the Feast and Celebration. We proceeded to the Prayer of the Day, which in the Episcopal tradition would be the Collect, and then to the readings. The Gospel acclamation followed, and then the Gospel. After the Gospel reading, something very awesome happened. Pastor Keith invited the kids to come up, and talked to them in their terms. It really was a delight to witness how he engaged them and associated our faith in terms and ideas that they could understand.

At this point in this post, I am probably running a bit long, so I will sum up the rest. Pastor Keith’s sermon was awesome. I now understand the Communion liturgy better after seeing it prayed in person. Finally, I look forward to returning at some point soon to this church and thank God for this landmark in my journey.

Peace

Chris

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“We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” -1 Thessalonians 1:2-3

This morning marked my second time serving on the altar at our 8am service. One of the duties of the Lay Eucharistic Minister at our church is leading the Prayers of the People. The Rite I Prayers of the People are such an amazing joy to read, and they are the prayers we say every week at our 8am service. We tried using the prayers written for the 10am Rite II service for a few weeks once, but the consensus was that the Rite I prayers were beautiful and kept the linguistic flow of the service intact. I wanted to take this opportunity to share the Rite I Prayers of the People with you. One note, between each prayer the leader says “Lord, hear our prayer” and the response is “And let our cry come unto thee”.

The Prayers of the People from the Rite I liturgy in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer:

Let us pray for the whole state of Christ’s Church and the
world.

Almighty and everliving God, who in thy holy Word hast
taught us to make prayers, and supplications, and to give
thanks for all men: Receive these our prayers which we offer
unto thy divine Majesty, beseeching thee to inspire
continually the Universal Church with the spirit of truth,
unity, and concord; and grant that all those who do confess
thy holy Name may agree in the truth of thy holy Word, and
live in unity and godly love.

Give grace, O heavenly Father, to all bishops and other
ministers [especially ], that they may, both by
their life and doctrine, set forth thy true and lively Word,
and rightly and duly administer thy holy Sacraments.

And to all thy people give thy heavenly grace, and especially
to this congregation here present; that, with meek heart and
due reverence, they may hear and receive thy holy Word,
truly serving thee in holiness and righteousness all the days
of their life.

We beseech thee also so to rule the hearts of those who bear
the authority of government in this and every land [especially
], that they may be led to wise decisions and right
actions for the welfare and peace of the world.

Open, O Lord, the eyes of all people to behold thy gracious
hand in all thy works, that, rejoicing in thy whole creation,
they may honor thee with their substance, and be faithful
stewards of thy bounty.

And we most humbly beseech thee, of thy goodness, O Lord,
to comfort and succor [ and] all those who in this
transitory life, are in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, or any
other adversity.

Additional petitions and thanksgivings may be included here.

And we also bless thy holy Name for all thy servants
departed this life in thy faith and fear [especially ],
beseeching thee to grant them continual growth in thy love
and service; and to grant us grace so to follow the good
examples of [ and of] all thy saints, that with
them we may be partakers of thy heavenly kingdom.

Grant these our prayers, O Father, for Jesus Christ’s sake,
our only Mediator and Advocate. Amen.

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If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.” -St. Francis of Assisi

“‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” – Matthew 5:5

Prior to Wednesday, I had not been to the Taize service at St Peters in quite a while. This week, I decided that if I was going to go, I was going bring my little guy Renard (pictured upper right) to the service with me. Normally he and I don’t go out without my wife and my other little guy Fernando (see my gravatar and my header photo) unless I am taking him to the vet, so I was hesitant. I worried openly that it would be stressful for him. My wife made a very good point, telling me that if I was nervous or stressed about him being that way, he would be that way for sure. So we suited up, got in the car, and went to the church.

Arriving at the church, I scooped Renard up out of his car seat and carried him into the chapel at St Peters. One of the perks of having chihuahuas is that they are easy to carry. Both of my boys are bigger than most chihuahuas, not overweight mind you just with bigger frames, but 8.8 pounds is still quite manageable! The folks at the service were delighted to see us, especially delighted to see Renard! Before the service, Fr Paul asked us to come up to the front and he gave Renard a blessing and Renard was totally fine with it! For about the first 20 minutes, Renard looked back at the doors, I think he was wondering when my wife was going to show up! Once the music started, he seemed very interested in our music director Joe and he seemed to like the music. I was singing the songs and massaging him, which seemed to work out well for both of us. We were both pretty chill.

The pinnacle of the service was during the last song, Surrexit Christus, as I was singing he looked up at me and gave me kisses. The simple affirmation that he was comfortable and even perhaps enjoying himself. And so was I.

Our pets are a gift from God. We should always, always remember to treat them as such.

Peace

Chris

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Over the last month and a half or so, I have disciplined myself to a commuting regimen of sacred music. I ride the train into work, so I have the blessed luxury of taking time to think, pray, read and write during my commute. At least, I do when I don’t have to work on the commute. Anyhow, my regimen has consisted of the Taize Community Choir’s album Songs of Taize – O Lord hear my prayer, always starting with Bless the Lord, in the morning. I find that listening to Taize music before I get to the office puts me in a very faithful mindset, and focuses me to pray on any of the challenges I know I will face.

The commute home has generally consisted of a Mass in one form or another, or a few hymns and then a Mass. Lately, I have been quite fond of Quire of Voyces’s Latin Mass album, which begins with the Missa Pange Lingua. The Kyrie begins with the opening verses of this blog’s namesake hymn, and proceeds into a beautiful Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus Dei. I usually make it through a Mass and a half before I arrive at the train station. On the flip side, when I listen to Bach’s Mass in B Minor, I think I barely make it through all of the different parts of the Gloria! 🙂 However, not too long ago I loaded Bach’s Mass in B Minor and Vivaldi’s Gloria into my car’s CD player, so I am never without sacred music when I am on the road!

Would love to hear from my readers on what you listen to!

Peace

Chris

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“If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.” -Philippians 2:1-4

This morning marked my first time serving as a Lay Eucharistic Minister (LEM), as well as my first time in nearly a year serving as a Lector at St Peters Church. I served as the LEM at our 8AM said service, guided by the wonderful Jinny Lavoie, who along with Jim Sweet are the LEMs at that service. I awoke this morning at the first beep of the alarm clock at 6:15, a rare occurrence for me, as I normally snooze the alarm more than a few times. I often find it funny that Sundays are the days that I normally wake up the earliest! I made it to church at 7:45, Jinny found an appropriate alb for me, and she walked me through the setup routine for which the LEM is responsible. Lighting the candles on the altar, opening the doors, placing the elements on the Baptismal altar down back.

The time came for the service to begin. I proceeded over to the lectern to get the cross for the processional. The weight of the cross carried a symbolic aspect to it, one I didn’t realize until just now. Fr Paul said the prayer, and I led the procession to the sanctuary. At the appropriate time, I bowed before the altar and proceeded to lectern to read the lessons and Psalm.

As I looked out upon the congregation, I was humbled. After leaving them for nine months, they had welcomed me back with such hospitality and grace. I was serving them by reading the lessons. I am inspired to read for these folks, to tell the stories, lead the Psalm and give a voice to the Epistle in a way that moves them, that resonates with them. Being back on that lectern in this church is a gift from God and God’s people. Thanks be to God for them!

The next significant moment this morning was reading the Prayers of the People. At our 8am said service we use the Rite I liturgy, and we use the Prayers of the People from that liturgy, regardless of what Prayers are used at our principal service. As I opened the first paragraph with “Almighty and everliving God, who in thy holy Word hast taught us to make prayers, and supplications, and to give thanks for all men:”, I found myself choked up. I have heard and prayed those prayers from the pews over a hundred times, but leading them was a whole new, holy and again humbling experience. It was as though I could hear Jim and Jinny’s voices in my mind, guiding my cadence, filling in the optional sections, and I did ok. There is a sort of memorization I have found with the liturgy, like when you can sing along to a song despite not necessarily being able to sing the song unaccompanied.

During Holy Communion, I assisted at the altar and took my cues from Jinny. My first time ringing the Sanctus bell was a bit meek, but by the last appointed ring of the bell I gave it an inspired tap with the mallet. Having received Communion in both kinds after Fr Paul and Fr Dan, I proceeded to follow Fr Paul across the Communion rail as the chalicer. I spoke the words “The Blood of Christ, the cup of salvation”, administered the chalice, and remembered to wipe and turn. Again, I was humbled to serve the people of God.

My first experience serving the folks at this church in this capacity is not one I will soon forget. In fact, I have written on my heart and will cherish it forever.

Thanks be to God!

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I love the wind and string instruments! I love everything about this video! Thanks be to God!

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“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

“But he replied to one of them, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?” So the last will be first, and the first will be last.’” -Matthew 20:13-16

My previous post started out as this post, but went in a different direction so I went with it. I wanted to see this post through, so here it is, enjoy.

I was blessed to hear two wonderful sermons this past Sunday and they have inspired this post. The first sermon I heard was from the new rector at a church in a neighboring town. This church had spent some transitional time with a priest-in-charge, and had made the call to find a new rector. The second sermon I heard was from the Bishop of the Diocese of Massachusetts at my church. We are in a different point in our transition, as both of our priests are leaving and we are seeking a priest-in-charge to lead us through the next phase of our community. Both sermons were aimed at congregations in transition, albeit at different points in their transitions.

Rev. Elledge’s sermon at St Andrew’s Marblehead started with some humor, and progressed into how we stumble on the notion of those working one hour receiving the same compensation as those who worked an entire day in the hot sun. We have this fixed notion of the economy and how it should reward us for our individual contribution. However, the good Reverend then offered us this notion, that God’s economy was wholly different than ours. In God’s economy, it was the community that was the focus, not the individual. I would offer that the community is the whole body of Christ, as I think he would as well. The equity in God’s economy is that the whole community thrives, supported by its members supporting each other. I offer that those who have less in material abundance teach those who have more in material abundance, and the latter are required to support the former with that abundance.

And while it did not hit me fully until today, what I experienced at St Andrew’s Marblehead was the realization of hope for our future at St Peter’s Salem. A man cut from the same cloth that both of our departing priests share. His focus on social justice and collaboration stood out to his new congregation during the search process. Maybe God gave me a peek at what might be in store for us.

Bishop Shaw’s sermon focused more on the aspects of the parable as it related to the changing spectrum of our church community. He spoke of how we had done amazing things in the short time that our Hispanic ministry has been part of our church. He talked about how every time Jesus told a parable, what the Kingdom of Heaven was like was a surprise. How God’s abundance will always surprise us, and how, despite our anxieties, reservation, or trepidation, we should embrace what we have become and God will provide for us.

What I experienced at the service at St Peter’s was more than an inspired sermon though. I experienced a united community of two English and one Spanish language services in church at 5pm on a Sunday. Lay leaders from all services on the altar and on the lectern. One service, one church united as the Body of Christ.

I returned to St Peter’s Salem on faith alone, having experienced an epiphany so powerful that it rocked me to the core of my very being. I didn’t ask what the plan was for next year. I have disciplined myself to trust God on these matters, even if they make me anxious, terrified, or simply question the sanity of them. God has answered me at every turn. Not immediately mind you, but in due time, and I have found peace in being patient. Whether through a sudden realization or through the great spiritual wisdom of my priest, I continue to find that peace. You know, the peace that passes all understanding.

Peace

Chris

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