We are in the season when we celebrate our on-going fellowship with All the Saints; and, we are also about to observe Consecration Sunday. Admittedly, the connection between the two may not be immediately obvious, but I think it is very real. As we celebrate the Saints who have gone before us, we give thanks for how their lives reveal the love of God to us. Their loving devotion to God's purposes was their consecration. On All Saints' Sunday we will celebrate our place in their company by consecrating a portion of our income to manifesting God's love in 2017 through the life and witness of Christ Church.
The Consecration Sunday program brings a spiritual focus to our stewardship education. We are stewards of all the gifts God entrusts to us. The Consecration Sunday spiritual insight is that as we grow as disciples of Jesus Christ, God calls, encourages and enables us to grow in our response to the love lavished upon us. Most of the year, we focus on how we grow through worship, education and service to respond to the love of our Incarnate and Risen Lord Jesus Christ.. As we prepare for Consecration Sunday, we are being asked a God-question about our financial giving: "What portion of our 2017 income do we think God is calling us to give for the work of the Church?"
In keeping with this spiritual focus, Consecration Sunday invites us to respond in worship, and then celebrate over lunch! And instead of "Pledge Cards" -- which strike too many as a contractual obligation -- we will be invited to complete "Estimate of Giving" cards in the context of prayer and worship. The Consecration Sunday ritual will follow The Great Thanksgiving: We will be invited to complete our "Estimates of Giving" for 2017, place them on the altar, and then move into the parish hall for a buffet lunch.
I trust that everyone has received the invitation to lunch, whether during worship, by mail and/or by a call. If by some bizarre happenstance that didn't happen, please know you are invited to lunch! Laurie Varley and Abbie Vander Wyden will lead a lunch program for young children -- including music time with Mark Sullivan.
On Sunday, we will pray the Collect for All Saints, recognizing that we have been "knit together ... in one communion and fellowship" with those we love but see no longer. In the Great Thanksgiving, we will name the particular saints in light who left our immediate company in the past year and are now numbered among "the company of heaven." And if that weren't enough, we will also sing three of the great All Saints hymns during the 10 a.m. service!
Our Sunday observance will be preceded by our Recollection of the Faithful Departed on Thursday, November 3 at 5:30 p.m. This is an opportunity to gather in the sacred space of the church chancel to share memories of those who have died -- especially those who died within the past year, in the context of prayers, holy silence, and a concluding blessing.
As if I needed to remind you, Tuesday, November 8 is Election Day. There has been a groundswell movement across The Episcopal Church for prayer vigils prior to and including election day. Our own Connecticut Bishops, +Ian Douglas and +Laura Ahrens, have invited us to join this movement. You can read their letter here. In response, I will offer brief services of Morning, Noonday, and Evening Prayer on Monday, November 7, at 9:30 a.m., Noon:30, and 5:30 p.m., respectively; on Election Day November 8, we will have our mostly silent time of Meditation & Prayer at 9:30 a.m. as usual, then Noonday and Evening Prayers as on Monday. Please feel free to join in these services in the church, at home, or work. Speaking of work, I know that several of you will be working all Election Day at polling places; please know that you will be kept in our prayers!
Whether in church or at home, I continue to recommend Forward Movement's Prayer Book-derived resource, "A Season of Prayer: For an Election."
In faith and hope,
p.s. The October-November issue of Glad Tidings Online is available on our parish website. There's news from the Sunday School, ECW, Vestry, about the Tag Sale, and an introduction to Rectory's newest resident. Check it out here.
We feature various authors from around our parish, commenting on topics of interest to our community. Enjoy! Comment if you are so moved!