Sunday, the Feast of Pentecost, we’ll celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church, the Body of Christ in the world. How are we called to be Christ’s hands and feet to our sisters and brothers, our neighbors, and all of creation? This is the question that we’ll spend the rest of our lives answering. And we’ll begin (again) that answer on Sunday when we gather at the Table for the Heavenly Banquet. During the service, we’ll have special rites for welcoming those who’ve joined the St. Mark’s family since last year’s Feast of Pentecost, and we’ll commission our new acolytes and Wardens/Vestry members. Wear red–the liturgical color that represents (among other things) the Holy Spirit, described in Acts 2 as resembling tongues of fire in its descent upon Jesus’ friends.
After we are fed at Christ’s table, we’ll adjourn to the lawn for a potluck picnic. Please join us, even if you can’t bring a dish to share. We’ll have an abundance. We are children of an Abundant God!
How true, how true…and over the summer you can count on seeing many changes at this site–an upgrade in design and content. Please let us know what you’d like to see here.
We’ll introduce a link to our Sunday sermons, an event calendar, and our comments on some of the issues of the day–who knows what else? Come back now and then, and see what’s up at St. Mark’s.
This week at St. Mark’s we celebrate the Rogation Days and the Feast of the Ascension. The Rogation Days focus on the theme of our faithful stewardship of creation. During these days (Monday the 18th through Wednesday the 20th), we offer special intercessions for our gardens–and the crops in the fields of the Palouse. We sing The Great Litany–a special liturgy of responsive prayer–during Morning Prayer, Monday through Thursday at 8 a.m.
Thursday, May 21st is Ascension Day (forty days after Easter Day), one of the church’s principal feasts. We’ll celebrate Holy Eucharist at 12:10 p.m. On this day, we recall and celebrate Jesus’ ascent “far above all heavens that he might fill all things.”
We will offer our usual mid-week Eucharist on Wednesday, May 20th at 12:10 p.m. By scheduling the celebration just after noon, we offer an opportunity for a worshipful break from the rigors of the workday. Please join us.
We are a Prayer Book people. We of the Episcopal Church—with others who count the Church of England as its “Mother Church”—rely upon our Book of Common Prayer (BCP) to define our worship, and upon our worship to define ourselves. As we pray, so we believe; and the foundation of that life of prayer is set in corporate (communal) worship: we are a people who discern our life in Christ and our ministry to the world in community.
It is not only in the text of the liturgies of the Prayer Book that our theology is articulated, but in the rubrics (the italicized material in the BCP which provides “directions” for the celebration). And the book contains the “catechism” which succinctly provides, as the title describes, “An Outline of the Faith.” Finally, there are tables, calendars, historical texts, and other material which inform our self-identity—and inform our expression of that knowledge through corporate worship.
And yet the bounds of our knowledge of the BCP tend to be defined by frequency of usage: that is, we know something about the liturgies we use regularly and less about the ones we use less often, or not at all. Several of you commented, with some surprise, at the power of the liturgies we used during the Triduum, the final three days before Easter Day. You asked how I “came up” with those liturgies. These were “Prayer Book” liturgies celebrated, almost without exception, following the BCP text and rubrics of the liturgies for those most special days. They are services shared by all Episcopalians and most other Anglicans.
How did we come to have this particular Prayer Book, the 1979 revision of the BCP? Many of us were members of the church in the 1970s when 50 years of study gave way to proposed revisions. These were disseminated among congregations in “trial liturgies” providing—over a decade—the opportunity for members to give feedback to the liturgical commission responsible for the revisions. But even if we were participants in that process, how much do we know about how the texts evolved? And why?
Because 2009 marks the 30th anniversary of the current Prayer Book revision, this is an apt year for us to spend some significant time exploring this book—learning about not only its history, but the wealth of material in its 1001 pages. This is our history and inheritance—delving into its riches will deepen our worship experience, expand our understanding of its possibilities, and broaden our knowledge of ourselves.
You are invited to join us for the next several weeks [starting May 6] during “Wonderful Wednesday” for an exploration and study of the Prayer Book. The number of sessions we have will be defined by your interest—up to four weeks. We’ll begin to gather and set up at 5 pm; potluck dinner begins at 5:30, and the program starts at 6:15. Bring your curiosity, your questions, a prayer book (if you have one), a pen, and a notebook. Let’s see how we are reflected in this “family album.”
Won’t you please come and explore with us,
–The Rev. Robin Biffle