Blog

Ministries, Prayer Services

Good Friday April 10, 2020

The order of service for the Good Friday liturgy from Church of the Annunciation.  Click HERE for a printable version (formatted for letter sized paper).



 

The Liturgy

A period of Silent Prayer is observed. 

Celebrant Blessed be our God.
People For ever and ever. Amen.

Let us pray.

Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Isaiah 52:13-53:12

See, my servant shall prosper;
he shall be exalted and lifted up,
and shall be very high.

Just as there were many who were astonished at him
–so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance,
and his form beyond that of mortals–

so he shall startle many nations;
kings shall shut their mouths because of him;

for that which had not been told them they shall see,
and that which they had not heard they shall contemplate.

Who has believed what we have heard?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;

he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejected by others;
a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;

and as one from whom others hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him of no account.

Surely he has borne our infirmities
and carried our diseases;

yet we accounted him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions,
crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
and by his bruises we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have all turned to our own way,

and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;

like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.

By a perversion of justice he was taken away.
Who could have imagined his future?

For he was cut off from the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people.

They made his grave with the wicked
and his tomb with the rich,

although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain.

When you make his life an offering for sin,
he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days;

through him the will of the Lord shall prosper.
Out of his anguish he shall see light;

he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge.
The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.

Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;

because he poured out himself to death,
and was numbered with the transgressors;

yet he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

Psalm 22

Deus, Deus meus

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? *
and are so far from my cry and from the words of my distress?

2 O my God, I cry in the daytime, but you do not answer; *
by night as well, but I find no rest.

3 Yet you are the Holy One, *
enthroned upon the praises of Israel.

4 Our forefathers put their trust in you; *
they trusted, and you delivered them.

5 They cried out to you and were delivered; *
they trusted in you and were not put to shame.

6 But as for me, I am a worm and no man, *
scorned by all and despised by the people.

7 All who see me laugh me to scorn; *
they curl their lips and wag their heads, saying,

8 “He trusted in the Lord; let him deliver him; *
let him rescue him, if he delights in him.”

9 Yet you are he who took me out of the womb, *
and kept me safe upon my mother’s breast.

10 I have been entrusted to you ever since I was born; *
you were my God when I was still in my mother’s womb.

11 Be not far from me, for trouble is near, *
and there is none to help.

12 Many young bulls encircle me; *
strong bulls of Bashan surround me.

13 They open wide their jaws at me, *
like a ravening and a roaring lion.

14 I am poured out like water; all my bones are out of joint; *
my heart within my breast is melting wax.

15 My mouth is dried out like a pot-sherd; my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; *
and you have laid me in the dust of the grave.

16 Packs of dogs close me in, and gangs of evildoers circle around me; *
they pierce my hands and my feet;
I can count all my bones.

17 They stare and gloat over me; *
they divide my garments among them;
they cast lots for my clothing.

18 Be not far away, O Lord; *
you are my strength; hasten to help me.

19 Save me from the sword, *
my life from the power of the dog.

20 Save me from the lion’s mouth, *
my wretched body from the horns of wild bulls.

21 I will declare your Name to my brethren; *
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.

Hebrews 10:16-25

The Holy Spirit testifies saying, “This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds,” he also adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”  Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching. 

John 18:1-19:42

The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John.

Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” They answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus replied, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they stepped back and fell to the ground. Again he asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.” This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken, “I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me.” Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

So the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him. First they took him to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was better to have one person die for the people.

Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in. The woman said to Peter, “You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the slaves and the police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were standing around it and warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself.

Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. Jesus answered, “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.” When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” Jesus answered, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?” Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, “You are not also one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.

Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” They answered, “If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.” The Jews replied, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death.” (This was to fulfill what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.)

Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”

After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, “I find no case against him. But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” They shouted in reply, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a bandit.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and striking him on the face. Pilate went out again and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.” So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.”

Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate therefore said to him, “Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.”

When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, “Here is your King!” They cried out, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but the emperor.” Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.'” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.” This was to fulfill what the scripture says,

“They divided my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.”

And that is what the soldiers did.

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, “None of his bones shall be broken.” And again another passage of scripture says, “They will look on the one whom they have pierced.”

After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Hymn Were You There (Hymnal 172)

The Homily

Anthem There is a Fountain 

The Solemn Collects

All standing, the Deacon, or other person appointed, says to the people

Dear People of God: Our heavenly Father sent his Son into
the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world
through him might be saved; that all who believe in him
might be delivered from the power of sin and death, and
become heirs with him of everlasting life.

We pray, therefore, for people everywhere according to their
needs.

Let us pray for the holy Catholic Church of Christ
throughout the world;

For its unity in witness and service
For all bishops and other ministers
and the people whom they serve
For N., our Bishop, and all the people of this diocese
For all Christians in this community
For those about to be baptized

That God will confirm his Church in faith, increase it in love,
and preserve it in peace.

Silence

Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole
body of your faithful people is governed and sanctified:
Receive our supplications and prayers which we offer before
you for all members of your holy Church, that in their
vocation and ministry they may truly and devoutly serve you;
through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Let us pray for all nations and peoples of the earth, and for
those in authority among them;

For N., the President of the United States
For the Congress and the Supreme Court
For the Members and Representatives of the United Nations
For all who serve the common good

That by God’s help they may seek justice and truth, and live
in peace and concord.

Silence

Almighty God, kindle, we pray, in every heart the true love of peace, and guide with your wisdom those who take counsel for the nations of the earth; that in tranquility your dominion may increase, until the earth is filled with the knowledge of your love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Let us pray for all who suffer and are afflicted in body or in mind;

For the hungry and the homeless, the destitute
and the oppressed
For the sick, the wounded, and the crippled
For those in loneliness, fear, and anguish
For those who face temptation, doubt, and despair
For the sorrowful and bereaved
For prisoners and captives, and those in mortal danger

That God in his mercy will comfort and relieve them, and grant them the knowledge of his love, and stir up in us the will and patience to minister to their needs.

Silence

Gracious God, the comfort of all who sorrow, the strength of all who suffer: Let the cry of those in misery and need come to you, that they may find your mercy present with them in all their afflictions; and give us, we pray, the strength to serve them for the sake of him who suffered for us, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Let us pray for all who have not received the Gospel of Christ;

For those who have never heard the word of salvation
For those who have lost their faith
For those hardened by sin or indifference
For the contemptuous and the scornful
For those who are enemies of the cross of Christ and persecutors of his disciples
For those who in the name of Christ have persecuted others

That God will open their hearts to the truth, and lead them to faith and obedience.

Silence

Merciful God, creator of all the peoples of the earth and lover of souls: Have compassion on all who do not know you as you are revealed in your Son Jesus Christ; let your Gospel be preached with grace and power to those who have not heard it; turn the hearts of those who resist it; and bring home to your fold those who have gone astray; that there may be one flock under one shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Let us commit ourselves to God, and pray for the grace of a holy life, that, with all who have departed this world and have died in the peace of Christ, and those whose faith is known to God alone, we may be accounted worthy to enter into the fullness of the joy of our Lord, and receive the crown of life in the day of resurrection.

Silence

O God of unchangeable power and eternal light:
Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery;
by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquility the plan of salvation;
let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up,
and things which had grown old are being made new,
and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made,
your Son Jesus Christ our Lord;
who lives and reigns with you, in the unity
of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

Hymn Sing my tongue the glorious battle (Hymnal 166)

Adoration of the Cross

Anthem 1

We glory in your cross, O Lord,
and praise and glorify your holy resurrection;
for by virtue of your cross joy has come to the whole world.

May God be merciful to us and bless us,
show us the light of his countenance, and come to us.

Let your ways be known upon earth,
your saving health among all nations.

Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.

We glory in your cross, O Lord,
and praise and glorify your holy resurrection;
for by virtue of your cross joy has come to the whole world.

Anthem 2

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

If we have died with him, we shall also live with him;
if we endure, we shall also reign with him.

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Anthem 3

O Savior of the world, who by thy cross and precious blood hast redeemed us:
Save us and help us, we humbly beseech thee, O Lord.

Hymn Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle  (Hymnal 166)

The Lord’s Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, we pray you to set your passion, cross, and death between your judgment and our souls, now and in the hour of our death. Give mercy and grace to the living; pardon and rest to the dead; to your holy Church peace and concord; and to us sinners everlasting life and glory; for with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, one God, now and for ever. Amen. 

Father Mark, Reflections

Fr. Mark and Kathy are…

Greetings brothers and sisters in the Spirit.

It’s been a little over a week now since we’ve been creating holy space between C-19 and ourselves.(I am tired of writing “COVID”).  One of the spiritual mysteries is that we can be connected to one another even though we’re not physically visible to one another.  Spend a moment and close your eyes and recall a special time with a special person.  In the world of the Spirit we are not time-space bound.  Relive the memories and allow them to nourish you.
Kathy and I spend time discussing C-19 from the research (not the news) we read.  We may discuss it 3 or four times a day for a few minutes but limit it to this.  We try to focus on what we want instead of what we don’t want.  So what else are we doing?
Work wise, I have been researching the C-19 and our response to it.  I have been working with our new technology committee ( Vanese Blackmar, Kelly Allen, Paige Johnson and Lindsey Wallace) who are coming up with ways to offer spiritual food and maintain connections over the internet.  I know enough tech to get by and so I’m learning new skills at something that does not come natural to me.  I am also making phone call contacts and will continue to do so.
As far as family life, this is what Kathy and I are doing, realizing that these areas can overlap:
Spiritually
Kathy is off work this month and this gives her more time for spiritual reading and meditation.  I have been taking advantage of the silence to practice the stillness of contemplative prayer and have been reading Biblical word studies to enrich my understanding of the scriptures.   Sometimes I sit still, scan my body for tension and then let it go.
Mentally
Kathy and I have had more time to visit with each other over the last week than since our last vacation.  We speak of memories, people, spiritual experiences,, what we’re learning and sharing moments when we become restless.  We spend some time apart in different rooms for personal space is important to both of us (I recommend it to you and this is a time to teach your children and grandchildren about learning to spend time alone).  We experience time alone not as isolation but as solitude, which is a positive experience.  I am reading more spiritual and mental health articles and books along with some history. which I never get enough time to read.  I am calling my children and my brother and have reached out to a few old friends. .
Physically
Kathy and I have a little more time to think creatively about what we want to cook rather than the usual of hurriedly throwing something together.  We’re savoring what we eat and its goodness, especially since we have more time to prepare it.
Exercise is a challenge for me because I was dependent on the gym.  Kathy and I walk in Patton Park and I am trying to figure out how to transfer exercise from free weights and machines to other methods.  Kathy has had more time for her yoga, exercising and stationary bicycle riding.  If the weather changes, I plan to ride around and photograph a few wildflowers.  I enjoy sitting and resting with no TV or radio and we’re watching a few old movies we like on DVD.
We’re looking into expanding our time into other ventures.  What are y’all doing during this time of what I see as a prolonged retreat?  Let us here from you!
To everything there is a time and season under heaven, (Ecclesiastes),
Fr. Mark and Kathy
COVID-19 Update
Events, News, Wednesday Supper

Changes – online services eff. Mar 21, 2020

Members of Annunciation,

Bishop Reed in conjunction with the latest medical and government information has given us guidance that we should not have any group activity worship and otherwise until April 1 at the earliest.  This date is subject to extension depending on the outcome of how the virus is being contained.  I am behind Bishop Reed’s advisement and believe his guidance is based in wisdom and sound medical information.

Your vestry will meet by internet Sunday to discuss ways of moving forward as creatively as possible.  God has given us his Spirit, a Spirit of Wisdom, the saints would say and can imagine an infinite number of ways how his Will can be created in the midst of this challenge.

In the meantime, Morning Prayer will be held live on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube at 10:30 on Sundays.  I am learning how to imagine that I am conversing with you through a tablet screen so please be patient with me.  Our technical committee is working to find ways to increase our communication and you will be informed as things progress.  We will also read the Office of Compline at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesdays.  I am looking at on online format for Bible Study that I have used before on another diocesan ministry committee.  I’m sure we can work the bugs out quickly and find ways to nurture ourselves in the Presence of the Lord and one another.

We will be in touch with you again soon.  Please contact me via my cell phone at 423-509-2674 with questions, concerns, needs or reports of anyone who might need of pastoral care.

Peace be with you,
FR. Mark

News

Body Language in Prayer

Resting in the Heart of God

OK.  I need a favor from you and allow me one of my idiosyncrasies to explore something with you.  So please bear with me and feel free to offer your thoughts.  I am wondering if any of you have pondered this before. 

Scripture reveals the history of God both being transcendent (universally present and “out there”) and imminent (very close, within).  I have a hypothesis that our body language in prayer reflects the way in which we perceive God in the present moment of our prayer.   Neither is “right” or “wrong” so let’s leave this dualistic thinking in the trash bin. 

I notice that when I “look up” or heavenward as the Good Books says, that I am acknowledging God’s transcendence and universality “out there.”   My eyes, usually being closed, still gaze heavenward.  Of course I want to make sure that we don’t get the mistaken idea that heaven is “up there” somewhere because Jesus teaches us that the Kingdom of God is in our midst or within us (Luke 17).  When we are under stress or somehow feel distant from God, my prayers tend to be “looking” for the Divine Presence as I feel out of touch.   So my eyes usually follow an upward path, looking for God. 

However, when the Presence of God feels near, my eyes usually maintain a forward glance or look downward to connect more deeply within my body where the Spirit dwells.  Breathing to relax, I rest more into the presence within me.  The Kingdom of God is indeed, incarnated in our flesh within us. 

The Mystics, those who spend a majority of their day in prayer and solitude, have often encouraged us to pray in the heart of God.  Well, where exactly is the heart of God?   If we trust that God is immanent, living and present where we are, then it would make sense that the heart of God lies within our own heart (along with everyone else’s).   If we want to pray out of the heart of God then, why not focus our attention and eyes (half open or closed depending on what works for you) on our heart while we pray and pray to the One living within our heart, thus being invited and welcomed into the heart of God ourselves. 

Try this.  I have and the experience of the Divine Presence moves deeply within the heart.  Sometimes the Presence rubs up against some conflict lodged there but it’s good because whatever is there, God will release it from our hearts so our heart space is filled totally by the Spirit. 

Looking up or down no matter.  Looking for God is always good.  But let us remember that God is already here.   Once looking upward to find God when feeling distant can transition to the descent into the heart where we meet in the heart of God face to face.  There’s no words for this. 

Look into your own heart for the heart of God.  Therein lies our eternal home available to us right now.

Blessed be your heart,

Fr. Mark

News

Once Upon a Time …

What narrative would you write about yourself?

Once upon a time…we were born. Much has happened in our lives since then. so much in fact that we’re rarely aware of all that has happened and how it has affected us. We all have a “story” (life history) made up of many stories or narratives. Throughout life we create narratives out of the events that happen to us or the events that we observe. We learn the components of a story either in direct contact with people, places and situations or by observing others. We then interpret the events that happen to us or that we observe with the information, intelligence and insight that we have at the time. Sometimes when we were young, we believed what others told us because we were unable to verify the validity of the narrative given to us.

The longer we believe in a narrative, the more they define us: our identity, thinking and behavior. Narratives can be either helpful and life giving or destructive and life disabling. We make our life choices by the narratives we believe and which modulate our behavior, thus often reinforcing the narrative.

Narratives exist everywhere: in our families, schools, occupations, places of businesses, social clubs and organizations, churches, communities, states, countries. We are often driven by our internalized narratives without even knowing it. We just “do what we do” because it’s a part of who we’ve been and who we think we are.

Difficulties sometimes occur when our narratives become challenged. Changing part of or all of a narrative can be extremely disturbing when we’ve lived our lives by them for extended periods of time. This is why adolescence is so difficult. The narratives believed in childhood make way for a life that is more complex than we once thought. Education after high school can also be even more challenging as all are narratives can be challenged by other narratives and information. The key here however is discerning if the information challenging our narratives is reliable and valid. Much suffering is created (look around you) by narratives grounded in unreliable and invalid, incomplete information. Trouble can come when we cling to our narrative out of fear without examining it.

As a priest, one of my responsibilities is to support people whose narratives have been shaped by teachings or events that have been interpreted with a lack of valid and reliable information. If someone shamed us when we were younger, do we accept their perceptions as the authority to determine that our worth is compromised? On what authority does this narrative stand? As I said above, there are many narratives from which to choose. Are the authorities behind the narratives valid and reliable? In this case, no. By what authority does this person have the power to judge and condemn? By his or her say so? Unfortunately there is a phenomenon called religious abuse. One of our tasks as people of faith is to challenge this and support their healing.

What narratives are worth believing in–worth betting our life on? Which narratives are most grounded in reality–that are reliable and verifiable? There is one narrative for me that rises above all narratives and which is subject to none. This is the narrative of “I am the resurrection and the life,” says the Lord. This narrative permeates and transforms every nook and cranny of my life. The resurrection is a living, breathing, heart-beating moment to moment reality breathing on all of us, all of the time. This resurrection peels of the false narrative of shame and enables us to love more as God loves. Resurrection manifests into the narrative of Jesus’ “way” of life in the Beatitudes in Matthew 5.

What are the narratives of your life? Where did they come from? Are they reliable and valid in the light of the Resurrection? The process of allowing our narratives to be transformed by the Resurrection narrative is called, sanctification. God’s love transforms us to love as God loves. There’s freedom in this.

The Resurrection Narrative is not just a happy ending, but a real life in the here and now.

Peace,

Fr. Mark

News

What’s in a Word?

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.    Psalm 19:14

Sometimes I don’t think we give thoughts to what words really mean and the power behind them.   Preachers tend to “play” with words, attempting to understand their origin and deeper meaning.  I know that people, whether they’re married, live across the street or from a varied level of education, struggle with communication because words mean different things to different people.   I often find myself between attempting to understand other’s meaning found in words while attempting to understand the roots of the meanings where the words originated.

The old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me,” is a bit of a ruse.   Words can hurt…and deeply so.   There have been times in my life when a word slips out and I wish I could grab it and put it back in my mouth because the damage control from the confusion or hurt they can cause can be exhaustive. 

David, if he wrote Psalm 19, was wise beyond his years.   He doesn’t just look at the words, he connects them to his heart from whence they were launched.   Our hearts and minds choose the words we speak so really the issue at hand is what within my heart and mind is motivating our word choice?   What’s inside pushing my buttons or running the show?   As Jesus said, “it’s what comes out of a person that defiles them” because the words reflect the content of the mind and heart. 

No doubt, though, words create.  What comes out of our mouths creates whatever it is that is within us, for good or not so good. 

This is why silence, is sometimes far better.  When anxious, our minds and hearts are conflicted and attempt to blurt out something to respond to wherever we find ourselves or with whatever situation we have created.   We all have felt when words from another are sincere, having weight and life behind them, and when words are feeble and empty, sometimes deceiving.

If one is careful to be sensitive within, it is possible to feel one’s body receive words, or to resist them by the level of tension we experience.   This is why people who are living a lie tend to become defensive, sometimes violently so, when a word contradicts what is in their heart and mind.   Screaming matches generally have no veritas.   I’ve seen a lot of screaming matches lately when one person tries to communicate and another screams back at them.   So as the psalm goes, what’s going on in the heart and mind that yield such a vociferous reaction?  What are they hiding from? 

Words create, but they don’t always create reality.  They do create that which is in our hearts and minds.  And if our words are fraught with emotion, it might be good to put the horse in the stable to cool down and find out what kind of stone is stuck in the hoof causing so much consternation.   It’s good to examine ourselves from time to time as to what’s lurking in our minds and hearts to discern what’s driving our bus.  Else we mind end up running someone over or find ourselves in a tight spot because we could drive right off the cliff. 

Holding up our heart and mind thoughts to God can leave us running like a purring cat on the inside.   I allow my mechanic to tune up my truck because I don’t have the equipment to do so.  This is why it’s good to give God a chance to look under the hood of our hearts and minds.  Our words will come out better because of it—and so will the quality of our days and relationships.

What’s in a word?   We are. 

Peace,

Fr. Mark

Father Mark, Sermons

Tests

The author facing his test of his fear of heights

Proper 8C; Pentecost 5; Genesis 22; 6/28/2020

How many of you have never ever experienced test anxiety?   Life is full of tests from the time we learn to walk,

maintaining our balance, learning how to tie our shoes; learning not to sneak the cookies from the cookie jar,

school tests, achievement tests, tests to certify licenses and certifications for our vocations.

Remember your driver’s test?   Athletic and musician tests of skill and endurance.

Then there are those tests we experience in relationships which involve a dual focus.   We are tested in being a means of grace for living with other’s faults while at the same time attempting to reduce the number of our own faults so that the relationship can grow. 

We are in the midst of numerous tests to our lives such as how we face the COVID pandemic.

So when people ask me does God test people, the first thing that comes to mind that is that life itself is a series of tests or if you’d rather, challenges.   Forks in the road are a common occurrence.  Every choice we make is in some way a test.   Tests are a part of our spiritual, mental and social development.

Our choices in response to life’s tests questions come from the authority on which we choose to base our lives. 

The authority we choose determines the guidance we receive and values inherent in that authority by which we make our decisions.  The God or gods that we choose determine our response to the tests we take in life. 

There are courses in test taking—how to take tests—that I have attended.  Sometimes it can be helpful to learn how others take tests.  The story of Abraham is one example.

Abraham discerns God’s calling him in a dream to walk a three day journey to a land called Moriah, which 1000 years later would be the location of Jerusalem and the Temple.  He hears the words, take your son.  The words in Hebrew do not indicate a command but more of an appeal to sacrifice Isaac.  This request gives Abraham a choice without the fear of guilt for not doing so.  This must have been mind boggling and agonizing for him. 

Abraham left and lost his home and extended family in Haran for the promise of a new land and extended family and nation that would become as numerous as the stars. Sacrificing Isaac, would nullify everything that God had promised.   It didn’t make any sense.  Since guilt had been removed from the equation, Abraham faced a free choice to walk away or sacrifice Isaac.  Abraham’s response indicated the depth of his faith.  The angel’s intervention, and the provision of a ram indicates God’s distaste for child sacrifice which was a common practice during those times.  

The story may also reveal how difficult discernment can be.  Understanding God’s movement in our lives can be difficult to ascertain.  Cultural influences can contaminate our receptivity.  In Abraham’s case, child sacrifice was not uncommon in those times.  Could the child sacrifice in the culture have influenced Abraham’s dream?

God’s loving corrective nature adjusts our vision and behavior as we move along.    Discerning unexpected changes in direction is not out of the ordinary.  Often times when God calls us to move we aren’t given the total blueprint in how everything fits together and how the finished product will look. 

Following the trail for the Holy Grail takes time—the Grail meaning Christ himself.  The Grail is the vessel that contains the presence of God.  We are now that vessel.   

The three days in the story did not represent a specific 72 hours but signified a long period of time.  

How difficult it is for us to take “three days” to sit in prayer and to listen for the voice of God moving in us and to move out in the direction we are being led?  

I believe we’re in a similar situation to Abraham in that we are being tested during this COVID pandemic.

Our “three days” are faced with the limitations it places on us and how we are to respond to those limitations. 

How do these limitations, and the impact they have on us, affect our physical, mental and spiritual lives?  

What message might an angel of the Lord bring to us in the midst of all this as the virus drags on and on and on and on?   As the psalmist (137) said, “how do we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” when the people of Israel had been exiled to a different country. 

Our “exile” is of a different nature.    Where in our lives do we experience a sense of exile?    Where do we experience a sense of exile within? 

We as Abraham can respond to God, by saying, “Here I am.”  We’re in this situation we really don’t like. 

What path do you want us to take in our minds, hearts, and spirits?   Help us to listen.  Help us to hear.  Help us to follow. 

Amen.

News

4th Sun. after Pentecost, Morning Prayer Rite II, 28 June 2020

[Click HERE for printable PDF of this order of service.]

Opening Sentences:

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.    Psalm 19:14

Confession of Sin

The Officiant says to the people

Let us humbly confess our sins unto Almighty God:

Silence may be kept.

Officiant and People together, all kneeling

Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.

The Priest alone says
Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you all your sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen you in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep you in eternal life. Amen.

The Invitatory and Psalter

Officiant Lord, open our lips.
People And our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Officiant and People

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Alleluia. The Spirit of the Lord renews the face of the earth: Come let us adore him. Alleluia.

Jubilate      Psalm 100

Be joyful in the Lord, all you lands; *
serve the Lord with gladness
and come before his presence with a song.

Know this: The Lord himself is God; *
he himself has made us, and we are his;
we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise; *
give thanks to him and call upon his Name.

For the Lord is good;
his mercy is everlasting; *
and his faithfulness endures from age to age.

Psalm 13

1 How long, O Lord?
will you smite me forever? *
how long will you hide your face from me?

2 How long shall I have perplexity in my mind,
and grief in my heart, day after day? *
how long shall my enemy triumph over me?

3 Look upon me and answer me, O Lord my God; *
give light to my eyes, lest I sleep in death;

4 Lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” *
and my foes rejoice that I have fallen.

5 But I put my trust in your mercy; *
my heart is joyful because of your saving help.

6 I will sing to the Lord, for he has dealt with me richly; *
I will praise the Name of the Lord Most High.

Genesis 22:1-14

God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and set out and went to the place in the distance that God had shown him. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place far away. Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go over there; we will worship, and then we will come back to you.” Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. Isaac said to his father Abraham, “Father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together.

When they came to the place that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

Here ends the Reading.

The Song of Zechariah    Luke 1: 68-79

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; *
he has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty savior, *
born of the house of his servant David.
Through his holy prophets he promised of old,
that he would save us from our enemies, *
from the hands of all who hate us.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers *
and to remember his holy covenant.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham, *
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
Free to worship him without fear, *
holy and righteous in his sight
all the days of our life.
You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, *
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,
To give his people knowledge of salvation *
by the forgiveness of their sins.
In the tender compassion of our God *
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
To shine on those who dwell in darkness and the
shadow of death, *
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Matthew 10:40-42

Jesus said, “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple– truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.” “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.”

Here ends the Reading.

The Song of the Redeemed    Revelation 15:3-4

O ruler of the universe, Lord God,
great deeds are they that you have done, *
surpassing human understanding.
Your ways are ways of righteousness and truth, *
O King of all the ages.

Who can fail to do you homage, Lord,
and sing the praises of your Name? *
for you only are the Holy One.
All nations will draw near and fall down before you, *
because your just and holy works have been revealed.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

The Apostles’ Creed

Officiant and People together

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth;
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

Homily

Hymn

The Prayers

Officiant The Lord be with you.
People And also with you.
Officiant Let us pray.

Suffrages

V.    Show us your mercy, O Lord;
R.    And grant us your salvation.
V.    Clothe your ministers with righteousness;
R.    Let your people sing with joy.
V.    Give peace, O Lord, in all the world;
R.    For only in you can we live in safety.
V.    Lord, keep this nation under your care;
R.    And guide us in the way of justice and truth.
V.    Let your way be known upon earth;
R.    Your saving health among all nations.
V.    Let not the needy, O Lord, be forgotten;
R.    Nor the hope of the poor be taken away.
V.    Create in us clean hearts, O God;
R.    And sustain us with your Holy Spirit.

Officiant and People

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those
who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.

The Collect for the Day:
Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone: Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

A Collect for Grace
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A Collect for the Renewal of Life
 God, the King eternal, whose light divides the day from the night and turns the shadow of death into the morning: Drive far from us all wrong desires, incline our hearts to keep your law, and guide our feet into the way of peace; that, having done your will with cheerfulness during the day, we may, when night comes, rejoice to give you thanks; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Quiet Confidence
O God of peace, who hast taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and confidence shall be our strength: By the might of thy Spirit lift us, we pray thee, to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou art God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For a Birthday
O God, our times are in your hand: Look with favor, we pray, on all your servants as they begin another year. Grant that they may grow in wisdom and grace, and strengthen their trust in your goodness all the days of their lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Unemployed
Heavenly Father, we remember before you those who suffer want and anxiety from lack of work. Guide the people of this land so to use our public and private wealth that all may find suitable and fulfilling employment, and receive just payment for their labor; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

For Sound Government.
O Lord our Governor, bless the leaders of our land, that we may be a people at peace among ourselves and a blessing to other nations of the earth.
Lord, keep this nation under your care.

To the President and members of the Cabinet, to Governors of States, Mayors of Cities, and to all in administrative authority, grant wisdom and grace in the exercise of their duties.
Give grace to your servants, O Lord.

To Senators and Representatives, and those who make our laws in States, Cities, and Towns, give courage, wisdom, and foresight to provide for the needs of all our people, and to fulfill our obligations in the community of nations.
Give grace to your servants, O Lord.

To the Judges and officers of our Courts give understanding and integrity, that human rights may be safeguarded and justice served.
Give grace to your servants, O Lord.

And finally, teach our people to rely on your strength and to accept their responsibilities to their fellow citizens, that they may elect trustworthy leaders and make wise decisions for the well-being of our society; that we may serve you faithfully in our generation and honor your holy Name.
For yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Amen.

In Times of Conflict
O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Guidance
Direct us, O Lord, in all our doings with thy most gracious favor, and further us with thy continual help; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in thee, we may glorify thy holy Name, and finally, by thy mercy, obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

We pray for our mission:
L
ord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.     

A General Thanksgiving

Officiant and People
Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love.

We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side.

We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy and delight us.

We thank you also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.

Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast obedience, by which he overcame temptation; for his dying, through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom.

Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know him and make him known; and through him, at all times and in all places, may give thanks to you in all things. Amen.

Alleluia! Let us bless the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God. Alleluia!

Officiant    

May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Romans 15:13

The Benediction
May God the Father bless you, God the Son heal you, God the Holy Spirit give you strength. May God the holy and undivided Trinity guard your body, save your soul, and bring you safely to his heavenly country; where he lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

Hymn