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Posts Tagged ‘worship’

“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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“‘But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?” And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” For many are called, but few are chosen.’” -Matthew 22:11-14

I am impressed and inspired by the sermons that I have heard and read today, particularly after learning that Martin Luther did not like to preach on this Gospel, calling it the terrible Gospel. My favorite one, at least in the title, came from Bishop Stephen Lane of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine, titled “God’s grace demands a response”. I also heard a wonderful sermon from Fr Paul at St Peter’s Episcopal Salem that was summed up by the proclamation that empires have come and gone, but the Kingdom of God has been a constant, thus we should abandon the golden calf, or the bronze bull, and embrace God’s call for the love of our neighbor and God.

In Rev Nash’s sermon, she speaks to the anxiety that we feel, and the focus that we have on the not so pleasant outcome of the silent man who was not wearing the wedding robe. I can certainly relate to her words. I have yet to be able to overcome that banal anxiety in my journey, and I know that it keeps me from serving God to the fullest. Sometimes I feel like I am dangling on that precipice of faith, that edge of feeling the need to keep everything in my purview, as opposed to trusting that God will provide what we need. Some days my faith feels like a gamble, despite the ways in which I do see God in so many things. Perhaps I classify my faith as a gamble some days because I not willing to accept the challenge that my faith puts forth to me.

Regardless, I know what God has called us to do is the right thing to do. I want more who are called to listen and do it, even if it is just a small step. We are not here to serve ourselves, we are here to live and love in community and share our gifts. I will proclaim that message in the streets, on the social media airwaves, and I will reflect that message in my daily life. Then, perhaps, just perhaps, I will let go of the edge of that precipice and fall into the bounty of God’s love and my faith.

Peace

Chris

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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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“For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’” -Matthew 18:20

As my church nears the end of the year, the big transition period, I find myself dwelling on our 8am Rite I said service. We really do have three services in three languages, each with a different liturgy, Elizabethan English (our 8am Rite I), Contemporary English (our 10am Rite II), and our Spanish service (our noon service). That line-up of services is a tall order for any priest, and we currently have two plus an assistant!

Our 8am Rite I said service is, like most I would imagine, the one that carries the lowest, but most consistent, attendance. We are fiercely loyal in our attendance for the most part. It also occurs to me that we are the most likely service to be targeted for change. (more…)

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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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