February 23, 2019
Thanks to our InReach group for hosting last Sunday's Breakfast Conversations. The tables were beautifully set, the breakfast casseroles and pastries were delicious, and the conversations lively!
Watch your inbox this week for the debut edition of our new Parish ENewsletter. Edited by Communications Director Donna LaFata, this e-letter includes articles about the range of activities in the life of the parish. For each article there's an illustrative photo or graphic; so, the e-letter starts off looking back at what we've been up to since the first of the year: The Epiphany Evensong -- with a photo of the "Holy Family," the "Guiding Star," and the "Kings." a great photo of some of our Chapel-on-the-Green servers, and news about Acolytes, the Altar Guild, Annual Parish Meeting, and what-to-do about trouble spots on the Sunday School carpet.
Since Lent begins on March 6, most of the newsletter is about our Lenten activities: Shrove Tuesday supper, Ash Wednesday, Lent Madness, Lenten Forums and Suppers, and the Sunday School's annual Helping Hands for Haiti Fundraiser. There's also news about the Evening ECW, the daytime ECW, Disciple Dinners, and the Men's Group, Thanks to all the contributors to the E-Newsletter; thanks to Donna for putting it together in an easy-to-read fashion, and thanks to the benefactor who has underwritten Donna's work!
Our Sunday School and Youth Program return on February 24 from their Presidents' Day break. The Sunday School will be focusing on Jesus' teachings -- especially the Sermon on the Mount. That's the Gospel according to Matthew's version of what we're reading now in worship from the Gospel according to Luke. Luke's version is called the "Sermon on the Plain." As I noted on February 3, the "mount" and the "plain" are right next to each other on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.
The Rectory Forum will also return on Sunday: We'll be focusing on Presiding Bishop Michael Curry's address to the "Episcopal Revival" at last summer's General Convention of the Episcopal Church. Hosted by the Diocese of Texas, this event was attended by some 5,000 folks from the Convention and the larger Austin community. His topic: "The Good Life."
I'm going to ask your forebearance this Sunday. On some Sundays, Music Director Mark Sullivan and I slip in one unfamiliar hymn that we think would be good for us all to know. Our reasoning is that there's something noteworthy about the text and/or the music which illuminates the season or the readings of the day. It's usually the Communion Hymn, which is sung mostly by the Choir, and with their leadership, it sounds as if we've been singing this previously unknown hymn for years..
This week there are two unfamiliar hymns -- at least I think they're unfamiliar. Don't blame Mark; this is all on me. The first is the Sequence hymn, the one before the Gospel reading: Praise to the Holiest in the height. The text reinforces the epistle reading from first Corinthians about how Jesus redeems humanity from our wayward sinfulness; both St. Paul and John Henry Newman, the author of the text, use the expressions "Adam" for humanity, and the "second Adam" for Jesus.
John Henry Newman (1801-1890) began his ministry as a priest, poet, and theologian of the Church of England, Newman was among those who worked to restore pre-Reformation sacarmental theology and liturgical practice to the Church. Resistance to this High Church movement, also known as the Oxford Movement, led Newman out of Anglicanism and into the Roman Catholic Church which he served as both priest and cardinal. There is a charming, and perhaps apocryphal story, about Evensong services in Westminister Abbey during which Cardinal Newman in his later years, could be glimpsed, hiding in the shadows, and in tears. He is the author of a favorite prayer, #63 In the Evening:
O Lord, support us all the day long, until the shadows lengthen,
and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed,
and the fever of life is over, and our work is done.
Then in thy mercy, grant us a safe lodging, and a holy rest,
and peace at the last. Amen. (BCP, p.833)
The other unfamiliar hymn (#677) will be the Communion hymn: it begins, however, with what I think is a familiar line:
God moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform.
The tune may be a challenge, but again the text speaks to our readings, and will be part of my sermon.
I look forward to our Sunday morning together.
In faith, hope, and love,
We feature various authors from around our parish, commenting on topics of interest to our community. Enjoy! Comment if you are so moved!