Given the Blizzard Warning we are under until 7AM Sunday, the first two questions may come to mind: What's Happening? Worship. Even if it's just Boone and I praying the Daily Office by ourselves, we always have worship at Christ Church on Sundays. So, if you can get out safely for worship, I look forward to seeing you at 8 or 10a.m. tomorrow. Sheward says our paths, sidewalks and driveway will be clear. The Town is doing the same to Park Street and the Town/Parish parking lot.
What's Not Happening? Our snow policy is to follow the Guilford Public Schools: If the Schools are closed or delayed, then our morning programs do not meet. The Guilford Schools are now closed for community events at least until noon on Sunday. So, Sunday morning education programs for adults and children will not meet. And, the Newcomers' Brunch, scheduled for this Sunday, has been postponed.
And then comes a more challenging question: What's Up With the Primates? Even before I returned to Guilford from my "El Nino Inspection Tour," I heard that some of you were asking this question. It refers to one of the statements issued by the Primates of the Anglican Communion at the conclusion of their meeting in Canterbury, England, earlier this month. (The Primates are the leaders of the 38 "provinces," i.e. regional or national churches of the Anglican Communion; they gather once every three years or so, for prayer, consultation and mutual support.) While affirming their "unanimous desire to walk together," a majority of the Primates "required" that members of the Episcopal Church not participate in decisions regarding "policy or doctrine" within the Anglican Communion, or represent the Communion in ecumenical dialog for a period of three years.
To be clear, The Episcopal Church is still very much part of the Anglican Communion. The Primates specifically rejected the notion of "kicking out" the Episcopal Church. And they noted "Possible developments in other provinces..." referring to the likely adoption of Equal Marriage by other provinces; the Episcopal Church is not alone. We remain in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and all of the other Anglican, Episcopal and Lutheran churches just as before.
Although most provinces are led by a Primate with the title of "Archbishop," the Episcopal Church is led by a Primate whose title is "Presiding Bishop," reflecting the more democratic than hierarchical organization of the Episcopal Church. Our Primate and Presiding Bishop, +Michael Curry, participated in the Primates Meeting. He recorded a typically gracious and insightful response which you can view here. In the accompanying article are reflections from our Bishop Diocesan, +Ian Douglas.
Bishop Douglas and Bishop Suffragan Laura Ahrens have also issued a statement in which they explain further the structures of the Anglican Communion and remind us that Bishop Douglas is one of the representatives of the Episcopal Church to the Anglican Consultative Council(ACC) and was elected to its Standing Committee. The next meeting of the ACC is scheduled for this coming April; and Bishop Ian will be there. As all our Bishops, and the Presiding Bishops note, it will be the ACC which will determine the actual impact of the Primates' statement.
While our Bishops and Presiding Bishop Curry are all clearly disappointed by parts of the Primates' statement, they all encourage us to respond graciously, in a Christ-like manner: To renew our commitment to God's Mission of reconciliation and restoration with partners in other provinces of the Anglican Communion. (Our Sunday School's projects for Holy Trinity School in Port au Prince, Haiti is one example; our bishops would encourage us to think how we might engage in building a more personal relationship.) Presiding Bishop Curry encourages us to love all the more -- to love those who disagree with us as Jesus loved those who resisted his expansive and inclusive incarnation of God's love.
With prayers for you and yours, that you are safe and warm, I look forward to how we can participate ever more fully in the Jesus Movement.
In faith and hope,
P.S. This is my first opportunity to thank all of you who helped make our Epiphany Evensong such a splendid occasion of worship and fellowship! We certainly entered into the hospitality of the Kings and the Holy Family. Special thanks to those who helped set-up for, served during, and cleaned-up after the dinner!
Happy 9th Day of Christmas! For twelve days the Church celebrates the wonder of God coming to dwell among us. It takes us twelve days to celebrate the wonder of the "Incarnation," the theological word for the mystery of God taking on human flesh. It also takes us twelve days to tell all the stories connected to the Incarnation. On Christmas Eve and Day we told the stories of Jesus birth. Last Sunday we heard the moving Prologue to John's account of the Gospel; in it John tell us how he understood the Incarnation. This Sunday we will hear about the Holy Innocents of Bethlehem and the Holy Family's flight into Egypt. Although next Sunday actually follows the Epiphany, we will postpone telling the story of the Twelfth Night until Evensong on January 10. More about that below.
It also takes us all of Christmastide, twelve days and more, to sing most of the carols we love. Our hymnals have more beauty to share than we can manage even with our extended celebration of Christmas! I enjoy reading through all the texts to see how poets have heard the Christmas stories speaking to them and their situations. Although I have sung most of the Hymnal 1982, it still holds surprises for me. I'll share once such surprise in this Sunday's sermon.
Annual Pledge Appeal Update: Pat Wakefield, our Parish Administrator, reported Thursday that as of that day's mail we had received 58 pledges for 2016! That puts us over halfway to our goals for participation and financial support for 2016. Many thanks to those who have made their pledges for 2016. A reminder note went out today to those whose pledge packets may have gotten lost in the holiday rush.
The gifts the Three Kings gave to the Baby Jesus remind us of the gifts we pledge for Jesus' Mission through Christ Church. So that we can celebrate your pledge, along with the gifts of the Kings and the pledges of fellow parishioners, please return your pledge card on or before Sunday, January 10.
Speaking of Sunday, January 10, please plan to join the Epiphany Celebration in a special Evensong at 4 p.m. that evening. With the help of the Sunday School, we will hear the story of the wise watchers of the stars, and sing their songs. Our celebration will continue with an Epiphany Party and Rector's Roast Beef Dinner. Please bring an appetizer or dessert to share, and any adult beverage you would like share with your table. Among the sign-up possibilities is King's Cake, the special dessert for Epiphany.
Sign-ups remind me: Please consider signing up, perhaps with another household or group, to host Coffee Hour in the coming months.
In faith and hope,
P.S. #1 January 3 is the last Sunday to "decorate" the Mitten Tree with new or as-good-as-new mittens, gloves, scarves, hats, caps and coats to help keep our neighbors warm as winter temperatures arrive. The tree has been a real delight to the eyes this season; its "decorations" will be distributed through the Guilford Food Bank.
P.S. #2 A December/January issue of "Glad Tidings Online," is now available. In it you'll find information about our Daytime and Evening ECWs, Reports on our diocesan convention from our delegates Jean Valentine and Caroline Herrick, and terrific photos of acolytes at "work.".
We feature various authors from around our parish, commenting on topics of interest to our community. Enjoy! Comment if you are so moved!