Bishop Sean's Ash Wednesday letter to the diocesan community

Ash Wednesday 2015

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
Today we pray together the familiar words of the Book of Common Prayer:

“I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy Word.” (BCP 265)

Lent is meant to be a time of preparation, a time of focusing our minds and hearts on what God has done for us and what God intends for us. The Scriptures tell us what God has done for us, but the question of how we should respond to this tremendous gift can be hard to answer. So many of us approach Lent wondering what we should “give up” or “take on” to enter into the spirit of this holy season and to draw closer to God.

I don’t have an answer. Or, rather, I don’t have your answer. But when I meditate on God’s holy word, as the church asks us to do, I notice that after 40 days in the wilderness, 40 days of fasting, praying and wrestling with temptation, Jesus returns to the world he has always known, and this is what he says:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
   because he has anointed me
     to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
   and recovery of sight to the blind,
     to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
— Luke 4:18-19

As you prepare to observe the holy season of Lent, I invite you to meditate with me on how we as individuals and as a people can bring good news to the poor, to consider whom we ourselves oppress and how they can be set free, and to join with me and with the other members of our diocese in proclaiming in words and in actions the year of the Lord’s favor.
 
Faithfully,
 
+ Sean

The Rt. Rev. Sean Rowe
Bishop Provisional


Bishop Sean Rowe: Use Lent to become 'fully alive'

[Published in the Wilkes Barre Times Leader on Ash Wednesday]

The Christian season of Lent, which begins today, is a hard sell. In the darkest, coldest season of the year, the church calls people together to put a smudge of ashes on their foreheads, remind them that they are going to die and turn to dust, and suggest that now might be a good time to repent of their sins and amend their lives.

Unlike a Presidents Day weekend car sale, Lent doesn’t promise big financial savings. Unlike the opening of baseball’s spring training camps, Lent doesn’t reassure us that the pleasures of spring will soon be upon us, and that all we have to do is wait. Yet there is more to Lent than a command to eat your spiritual spinach.

Only seven short weeks ago, many of us made New Year’s resolutions. We were going to eat less, drink less and exercise more. We were going to seize control of our runaway schedules, screw up our courage and confront that challenge that we’ve been putting off, maybe for years. New Year’s resolutions are a kind of repentance – the word in the original Greek means “turning” – a deliberate decision to live some part of our lives in a different way.

In their way, New Year’s resolutions aren’t that different from the practice of “giving something up” for Lent. Irenaeus, a second century theologian, wrote that the glory of God is a human being fully alive. Weighed down by work or financial anxieties, health issues or pressing family concerns, few of us are as fully alive as God intends us to be. On some deep level we sense this, and so we make resolutions and fast on things such as sweets and alcohol.

But I am sure that I am not the only person to wonder whether getting out of bed on a cold morning to exercise, or letting a tempting tray of food pass me by untouched, is worth it. Are the things I do to become more fully alive, to become the person God is calling me to be, actually working?

The Bible offers some surprising and conflicting guidance. Jesus certainly fasted and practiced self-denial. The 40 days of Lent are modeled on the 40 days that he spent in the wilderness after he was baptized by John. Yet the prophet Hosea says that God desires “mercy, not sacrifice,” and Hosea’s words made such an impression on Jesus that he repeats them to those who criticized him for counting outcasts and sinners among his disciples.

I take this to mean that God is not interested in sacrifice for its own sake. The fact that you’ve gone 40 days without a Bud Light doesn’t make God smile if the way you treat your family, your neighbors or people who live on the margins of our society makes God weep. Our disciples and resolutions are effective if they help to deepen our awareness of God’s love, clarify our sense of the things that God is calling us to do, and make us more willing to serve God and one another

None of this is to say that we shouldn’t go easy on the sea salt-and-vinegar potato chips for the next six or seven weeks. But we shouldn’t confuse means with ends.

The prophet Micah had a ready answer for those who asked him what kind of sacrifice God wanted from them. Was it rivers of oil? Thousands of rams? First-born children? No, Micah says. God wants you “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”

If you are better able to do these things on Easter Sunday than you are today, you will have made good resolutions and had a holy Lent.

[Sean Rowe is the provisional bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem, which includes more than 10,000 Episcopalians in 60 congregations across Northeastern Pennsylvania, including Wilkes-Barre, Scranton and Hazleton. He is also bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania, headquartered in Erie.]


Diocesan Life March/April 2012

You can download the publication from our issuu site or Download DL0312FinalCORRECTSmall

Lenten Evensong at Mediator, Allentown on March 4

By Clint Miller

Lenten Evensong
March 4, 4:00 p.m.

Mediator’s choir will sing Choral Evensong on the afternoon of March 4 at four o’clock. Of special interest for this Lenten Evensong will be a performance of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis composed by our own Neil Farrell. We are, indeed, fortunate to have Neil, his wife, Leslie, and their two sons, Liam and Jack as members of our church family. 

Neil and his family arrived in the Lehigh Valley from New York City a few years ago where Neil had a distinguished career as a professional musician, composer and singer. He was a frequent tenor soloist with most the city’s best professional and volunteer choruses; among the most notable being the renowned Renaissance ensemble, Pomerium,  Voices of Ascension and the New York Virtuoso Singers, to name only a few. For five years he was a member of the choir of The Cathedral of St. John the Divine and has also been featured as soloist on numerous recordings by these and other prominent musical ensembles. As a composer and arranger, his works have been performed and recorded by the above ensembles as well as The Western Wind Ensemble, Canticum Novum, and Equal Voices, among others. He has written more than a dozen anthems for the Choir St. Ignatius of Loyola, of which he was a member for 18 years. The Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis were his first adult compositions written while he was in the choir at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Neil still travels back and forth to New York to perform with several of these musical ensembles, most recently with Pomerium. He also occasionally sings with our choir when his schedule permits and when we are in need of his enviable talents. 

The Choir will also sing Maurice Greene’s (1896-1755) wonderful anthem, “Lord, let me know mine end”, one of the choir’s favorites, which they last performed a couple of years ago. Greene succeeded to every major musical post in England becoming organist of St. Paul’s Cathedral (1718), organist and composer of the Chapel Royal (1727) and Master of the King’s Music (1735). He was also professor of music at Cambridge. 

Sadly, Gerre Hancock, the distinguished organist and Choirmaster of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Manhattan for over three decades, died last month, January 17, in  Austin, Texas where he was Professor of organ and sacred music at the University of Texas. He was renowned in the profession for his skills of improvisation, virtuosity at the organ and his superb skills as choir trainer. Writing about the St. Thomas choir in The New York Times in 2004, the music critic, Allan Kozinn, said, “ It produces a polished and beautifully balanced sound that for sacred music ….. is about the best that New York has to offer. The concluding voluntary on March 4 will be his organ composition “Aria” composed in 1963 and dedicated to his wife, Judith, also a distinguished organist and musician. 

As is our custom, a gala reception will follow the Evensong in the Commons Room so mark your calendars and invite a friend. 


I Saw You Kneeling There

Bishop Paul Marshall

[Frst published in the February 2012 edition of Diocesan Life, the newspaper of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem]

In a few weeks it will be that time again.

What will you be thinking? How do you suppose people the age of toddlers, teens, seniors, and so on will hear the Ash Wednesday words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you will return?” We will all hear them as we gather later this month, February 22, for the beginning of Lent, and it might be interesting to imagine for a moment what you and the people next to you could be thinking. Here are some possibilities that occur to me.

Three to six
I suspect that for young children, three to six years old, going up to the rail and being smeared with ash is a new part of their exploring and experiencing the world. The words may not mean very much, but doing all this with parents or grandparents says that something important is going on, a part of what it means to be big. Impressions are being stored, and the intent to be big is forming. This is a bank of experience that cannot be made up later.

Six to twelve
For a six-to-twelve year-old, busily gaining competences in the world but also wondering if they can make it, the words may have some meaning to add to the by-now familiar act of coming up, kneeling down, and being smudged. By this time a great-grandparent or other important figure has died, and the years of awe are tainted with other, darker, realities.

How good to be in a place where this is not denied, and people can be open about reality without freaking out! The calmness of it all. We accept reality and also go forward. As the child’s conscience develops during this period, the calm acceptance of responsibility and comforting words of forgiveness provide a note of balance. Taking on a Lenten discipline of some appropriate kind can be a way of gaining the “mastery” in life that this age group seeks.

Teens
For teens, life’s big question is “who am I?” with “what can I become?” as a close second. Perhaps the last thing teens want to hear is that they are mortal and limited, but they do know about frustration and perhaps rage against it as they seek to become their own person. Perhaps in the midst of that they can also hear that even when they are most alienated they are still God’s person. Finding out who they are involves taking moral responsibility on their own—and beginning to experience that they can mediate as well as receive grace.

Adults through middle age
If we can generalize about adults from their twenties through middle age, big questions form about the ability to love and be loved. Questions of vocation and of financial survival enter along with reproduction and the increasing interest in “what it all means.”

The other side of the coin of the downturn in the economy is that some people are sensing the difference between having and being and are re-examining what it means to be human. Remembering one’s dustiness is remembering that he who dies with the most toys is still dead, and that nobody on their deathbed ever wished they had spent more time at work. Repentance for adults may be about choosing meaning, maintaining balance.

Older adults
Older adults are seeing their parents die.  That is profoundly sad, but not unanticipated. The shock is that one’s friends are dying off.  The world is becoming a lonelier place. The concept of being dust that we’ve lived with all our lives comes closer to home: I start to feel the dust, and some of it is in my hip joints.  I can and--I suspect--will die.  How do I tell the story of my life? How will I use the time I have left? Will I choose to contribute what I can or will I withdraw?

Looking for the end
And there are those who are waiting to die. For them the words may speak hope and release. They are given little permission to have or express their feelings in our life-affirming culture, and they are a little tired of hearing about plans for their 115th birthday party when they know they are done and now wish for stillness and rest. At least God is honest with them and will be there to receive them. It is OK to say “Lord, now let your servant depart in peace.” These ashes may be the only affirmation they get this season as they prepare for the last transition, and the agèd eagles spread their wings.

The gifts of Lent
One sentence in a long liturgy, a liturgy about mortality, repentance, forgiveness, and rebuilding the self, and so many ways to hear and respond. These reflections have been in the long run about my awareness that while we are all so different, we are all embraced in a single set of symbols that carry us through life, and beyond it.

As you look at the people around you in worship (and that’s OK to do!), let your imagination go and see if one of the gifts of Lent isn’t increased empathy and prayer for those who stand around the table with us. See if the other gift is not a greater sense of our own belonging to the human community that Christ came to redeem.


Lent and Holy Week Offerings around the Diocese of Bethlehem

The following are events and programing planned at various parishes throughout the diocese during Lent.

All through Lent
During Lent Trinity ECW in Carbondale will be selling Welsh cookies $5.00 per "baker's dozen." Call 281-3205 or 785-5673 to place order. Also we will be selling homemade soups: Red Clam Chowder, Pasta Fagiole, Broccali Cheese and Potato Leek  $4.00 per pint and $8.00 per quart on Sundays after the Eucharist (12:00) during coffee hour. Soup will be frozen...just heat and serve!

February 21st: Shrove Tuesday
Shrove Tuesday Pancake and Sausage Supper, Trinity, West Pittston, 3:30 to 7:00 P.M. Cost is $6.00 for Adults and $4.00 for ages 10 and under. Tickets can be purchased from the church office by calling 570-654-3271 or at the door.
Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Supper, St. John's, Palmerton 4:00 to 6:00 P.M. Cost is $5.00 for adults and $3.00 for children.
Dave's Special, Annual Pancake and Sausage Supper, Grace, Allentown, PA 4:30pm to 7:00pm. The cost is $8 for adults, and $4.00 for children ages 6-12. Children ages 5 and under are free. This is an all you can eat event some come early, sit long, and talk endlessly with your friends. Takeouts will be available! Please plan to attend and join us for a good meal, fun and fellowship! There will be Mardi Gras beads, coins, music and of course DOUGHNUTS! DOUGHNUTS! DOUGHNUTS!
Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper, Christ, Towanda 5:00 P.M. Free will offering for supper.
Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper, Church of the Ephiphany, 25 Church Hill, Clarks Summit 5:00 to 7:00 P.M. Free will offering benefits Dalton Food Pantry. For any questions, please call 570- 563-1564.
Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper, Nativity, Bethlehem 5:30 to 7:00 P.M. Cost is $5.00 and benefits Nativity’s Youth Camp. Entertainment by the Dixieland Five.
Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper, Mediator, Allentown 5:30 to 7:00 P.M. Cost is $4.00 for adults and $2.00 for Children.
Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper, St. Stephen's Pro-Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre 5:30 P.M. Suggested donation is $3.00.
Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper and Prayer Service, St. Anne's, Trexlertown 5:45 P.M.
Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper, St. George’s, Hellertown 6:00 P.M. $8.00 adults and $4.00 children under 10.
Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper, St. Brigid’s, Nazareth 6:00 P.M.
Shrove Tuesday Mardi Gras Pancake Supper, Grace, Honesdale 6:00 to 9:00 P.M. We will have games for the whole family.  Our featured event is the traditional pancake races.  Any males wishing to compete in the pancake races must wear the appropriate attire of a kerchief and apron.  There will be games for the little ones, teens and adults. Free will donation for the dinner.  Bring your change for the games.  All proceeds from the games will go towards our purchase of an AED (Automated External Defibrillator). Costumes are encouraged.
Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper, Grace, Kingston 6:30 P.M.

February 22nd: Ash Wednesday
Impostion of Ashes, Grace, Kingston 7:00 A.M.
Ash Wednesday Eucharist, St. Anne's, Trexlertown 10:30 A.M.
Lenten Organ Recital, St. Stephen’s Pro-Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre 11:30 A.M. A community soup and sandwich lunch follows.
Ash Wednesday Service and Imposition of Ashes, St. Anne's Trexlertown 12:05 P.M. with Lenten Luncheon.
Imposition of Ashes, St. Stephen's Pro-Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre 7:30 A.M. and 6:30 P.M.
Ash Wednesday Eucharist, Grace, Kingston 6:30 P.M.
Ash Wednesday Service, St. Brigid's, Nazareth 7:00 P.M.
Ash Wednesday Eucharist, St. Anne's, Trexlertown 7:00 P.M.
Ash Wednesday Eucharist, St. Paul's, Troy 7:00 P.M.
Ash Wednesday Service, St. Peter's, Tunkhannock 7:00 P.M.
Imposition of Ashes, Prince of Peace, Dallas 7:00 P.M.

February 24th
Stations of the Cross, Christ, 700 Delaware St., Forest City 8:30 A.M. includes pizza sale.
Stations of the Cross, St. Stephen's Pro-Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre 6:00 P.M. Followed by a movie series exploring "The Evil in Film" and potluck supper.

February 29th
Lenten Organ Recital, St. Stephen’s Pro-Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre 11:30 A.M. A community soup and sandwich lunch follows.
Taize Service, St. Peter's, Tunkhannock 5:30 P.M. St. Peter’s Church, Tunkhannock, will offer soup suppers and Taize services during Lent this year.  Supper is at 5.30 pm. service at 6.00 pm.  Come as you are, if you wish you may bring a meatless soup to share, or a loaf of bread. A Taize service starts with love for God and one another, and through prayer, meditation, chant, and song, the gathered community may enter into the joy of God’s presence, and return to the world refreshed and eager to share community with one another.
First Lenten Soup/Bread Supper and Program: “Trials of Jesus:  Voices of the Prosecution”, St. Brigid's, Nazareth 6:00 p.m.
“Teach Us To Pray” – St. Andrew’s Lenten Series, St. Andrew's, Allentown 6:00 to 8:00 P.M. Each Lenten gathering will start with our meal at 6:00 pm. The program begins at 6:30 pm. We promise to end by 8:00 pm.
Stations of the Cross, Grace, Kingston 6:30 P.M.
Lenten Program and Book Discussion, Redeemer, Sayre 7:00 P.M. Refreshments served.
Lenten Program: "Making Time for God", St. Anne's, Trexlertown 7:00 P.M.

March 2nd
Stations of the Cross, Christ, 700 Delaware St., Forest City 8:30 A.M. includes pizza sale.
Stations of the Cross, St. Stephen's Pro-Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre 6:00 P.M. Followed by a movie series exploring "The Evil in Film" and potluck supper.

March 7th
Lenten Organ Recital, St. Stephen’s Pro-Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre 11:30 A.M. A community soup and sandwich lunch follows.
Taize Service, St. Peter's, Tunkhannock 5:30 P.M. St. Peter’s Church, Tunkhannock, will offer soup suppers and Taize services during Lent this year.  Supper is at 5.30 pm. service at 6.00 pm. 
Second Lenten Soup/Bread Supper and Program: “Trials of Jesus:  Voices of the Prosecution”, St. Brigid's, Nazareth 6:00 p.m.
“Teach Us To Pray” – St. Andrew’s Lenten Series, St. Andrew's, Allentown 6:00 to 8:00 P.M. Each Lenten gathering will start with our meal at 6:00 pm. The program begins at 6:30 pm. We promise to end by 8:00 pm.
Stations of the Cross, Grace, Kingston 6:30 P.M.
Lenten Program and Book Discussion, Redeemer, Sayre 7:00 P.M. Refreshments served.
Lenten Program: "Making Time for God", St. Anne's, Trexlertown 7:00 P.M.


March 9th
Stations of the Cross, Christ, 700 Delaware St., Forest City 8:30 A.M. includes pizza sale.
Stations of the Cross, St. Stephen's Pro-Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre 6:00 P.M. Followed by a movie series exploring "The Evil in Film" and potluck supper.

March 14th
Lenten Organ Recital, St. Stephen’s Pro-Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre 11:30 A.M. A community soup and sandwich lunch follows.
Taize Service, St. Peter's, Tunkhannock 5:30 P.M. St. Peter’s Church, Tunkhannock, will offer soup suppers and Taize services during Lent this year.  Supper is at 5.30 pm. service at 6.00 pm.
Third Lenten Soup/Bread Supper and Program: “Trials of Jesus:  Voices of the Prosecution”, St. Brigid's, Nazareth 6:00 p.m.
“Teach Us To Pray” – St. Andrew’s Lenten Series, St. Andrew's, Allentown 6:00 to 8:00 P.M. Each Lenten gathering will start with our meal at 6:00 pm. The program begins at 6:30 pm. We promise to end by 8:00 pm.
Mid-Lent Retreat Soup and Bread Meal with Stations of the Cross, Prince of Peace, Dallas 6:00 P.M.
Stations of the Cross, Grace, Kingston 6:30 P.M.
Lenten Program and Book Discussion, Redeemer, Sayre 7:00 P.M. Refreshments served.
Lenten Program: "Making Time for God", St. Anne's, Trexlertown 7:00 P.M.

March 16th
Stations of the Cross, Christ, 700 Delaware St., Forest City 8:30 A.M. includes pizza sale.
Stations of the Cross, St. Stephen's Pro-Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre 6:00 P.M. Followed by a movie series exploring "The Evil in Film" and potluck supper.

March 21st
Lenten Organ Recital, St. Stephen’s Pro-Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre 11:30 A.M. A community soup and sandwich lunch follows.
Taize Service, St. Peter's, Tunkhannock 5:30 P.M. St. Peter’s Church, Tunkhannock, will offer soup suppers and Taize services during Lent this year.  Supper is at 5.30 pm. service at 6.00 pm.
Fourth Lenten Soup/Bread Supper and Program: “Trials of Jesus:  Voices of the Prosecution”, St. Brigid's, Nazareth 6:00 p.m.
“Teach Us To Pray” – St. Andrew’s Lenten Series, St. Andrew's, Allentown 6:00 to 8:00 P.M. Each Lenten gathering will start with our meal at 6:00 pm. The program begins at 6:30 pm. We promise to end by 8:00 pm.
Stations of the Cross, Grace, Kingston 6:30 P.M.
Lenten Program and Book Discussion, Redeemer, Sayre 7:00 P.M. Refreshments served.
Lenten Program: "Making Time for God", St. Anne's, Trexlertown 7:00 P.M.

March 23rd
Stations of the Cross, Christ, 700 Delaware St., Forest City 8:30 A.M. includes pizza sale.
Stations of the Cross, St. Stephen's Pro-Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre 6:00 P.M. Followed by a movie series exploring "The Evil in Film" and potluck supper.

March 28th
Lenten Organ Recital, St. Stephen’s Pro-Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre 11:30 A.M. A community soup and sandwich lunch follows.
Taize Service, St. Peter's, Tunkhannock 5:30 P.M. St. Peter’s Church, Tunkhannock, will offer soup suppers and Taize services during Lent this year.  Supper is at 5.30 pm. service at 6.00 pm.
Fifth Lenten Soup/Bread Supper and Program: “Trials of Jesus:  Voices of the Prosecution”, St. Brigid's, Nazareth 6:00 p.m.
“Teach Us To Pray” – St. Andrew’s Lenten Series, St. Andrew's, Allentown 6:00 to 8:00 P.M. Each Lenten gathering will start with our meal at 6:00 pm. The program begins at 6:30 pm. We promise to end by 8:00 pm.
Stations of the Cross, Grace, Kingston 6:30 P.M.
Lenten Program and Book Discussion, Redeemer, Sayre 7:00 P.M. Refreshments served.
Lenten Program: "Making Time for God", St. Anne's, Trexlertown 7:00 P.M.

March 30th
Stations of the Cross, Christ, 700 Delaware St., Forest City 8:30 A.M. includes pizza sale.
Stations of the Cross, St. Stephen's Pro-Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre 6:00 P.M. Followed by a movie series exploring "The Evil in Film" and potluck supper.

April 1st: Palm Sunday
Holy Eucharist with neighborhood palm procession led by Henry and Honey Bun, the Grace adopted donkeys, Grace, Kingston 10:00 A.M.

April 4th
Taize Service, St. Peter's, Tunkhannock 5:30 P.M. St. Peter’s Church, Tunkhannock, will offer soup suppers and Taize services during Lent this year.  Supper is at 5.30 pm. service at 6.00 pm.
Stations of the Cross, Grace, Kingston 6:30 P.M.

April 5th: Maundy Thursday
Agape Feast in the Nave, Grace, Kingston 6:30 P.M followed by the Holy Eucharist and foot washing.  An Agape Feast recalls an early church tradition where a community gathered for Eucharist shared in a common meal.
Prayer Vigil, Grace, Kingston 8:00 P.M. (24 hour prayer vigil)
Maundy Thursday Service and Stripping of the Altar, St. Paul's, Troy 7:00 P.M.

April 6th: Good Friday
Good Friday Liturgy and Stations of the Cross, St. Paul's, Troy 1:00 P.M.
Good Friday Liturgy with Veneration of the Cross, Grace, Kingston 6:30 P.M.

April 7th: Holy Saturday
Great Vigil of Easter, Grace, Kingston 10:30 P.M.

April 8th: Easter Sunday
Holy Eucharist, Grace, Kingston 10:00 A.M.


Defeating our Enemies

Our Need for Lent
Archdeacon Howard Stringfellow
15 February 2012

The Lord’s words to Cain never quite become silent.  They never leave, and they remind me, as they linger, of the need we have of using every means possible to prefer the good and to leave the evil alone: “If you do well, will you not be accepted?  And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it” (Genesis 4:7).

The choice is ours, of course, whether we do well or do not do well, or whether we master sin or permit sin to master us.  The desire to defeat our enemies as much as anything I know points to our need for Lent—our need to repent and to return to the Lord.

Defeating our enemies clearly belongs to the category of not doing well and letting sin become our master.  As long as we’re clear on that, some room may remain to have a little fun.

Continue reading "Defeating our Enemies" »


Living Islam – Lenten program at St. Andrew's Allentown

1900 E. Pennsylvania Ave., Allentown, PA  18109
South of Catasauqua Rd. between Allentown and Bethlehem
See www.standrewsbethlehem.org for more information.

Join us Tuesday evenings in Lent in the Parish Hall for a supper of soup, bread, and salad. Participants will share hosting the supper.
March 15 – April 12
6:30-7:00 Light Supper
7:00-8:00 Study of Islam based the popular National Public Radio program, “Krista Tippett on Being.”

Supper reservations are suggested: Please call 610-865-3603

The Rev. T. Scott Allen, Rector at St. Andrew’s, will lead the discussion.

Hear the voices and the stories that bring the faith of 1.5 billion people to life. Learn more about the rich tradition and culture of Islam and what it means to be Muslim in America today. Hear Muslim women talk about their roles. Examine the effects of 9/11 on America’s views of Islam. Understand the observance and meaning of Ramadan. Listen to a Palestinian and a Jew who have risen above personal tragedy to join together in an effort to create peace.  

Jean Evans
Vestry, Senior Warden


20 + 1 + 1 = Renewal

[From Mother Laura Howell, Trinity Bethlehem]

Beginning on Ash Wednesday, we will challenge ourselves to pray for 20 minutes each day, to spend one hour a week in worship, and to serve others for one day each month.

Prayer can take whatever form you prefer.  What is important is not HOW you pray, but THAT you pray.  While we hope that you will worship at your home parish, if you are traveling, experiment by visiting another faith community.   Service can be done one whole day a month, or a few hours at a time.  There are always people and organizations who need our assistance--we only have to let ourselves be aware of them.

Anyone, young or old, can participate.  As a way to get started, during the season of Lent, we will post one way to pray or to worship or to serve each day.  Let us know how you are practicing 20 + 1 + 1.

Find the 20 + 1 + 1 blog here.


Lenten Prayer Booklet from Mediator Allentown

Allentown's Church of the Mediator is doing a small group study on the Baptismal Covenant during Lent, Water in the Wilderness. Canon Maria Tjeltveit, rector, put together a prayer journal for the first half focusing on one of the baptismal covenant vows each week. She intends to do the second half soon.

It is in booklet form (to be printed front and back) attached below as Water in the Wilderness, and one that runs consecutively (in case anyone want to keep it on their computer), attached below as Prayers.  Both are word files.
 
Maria says she has not done a prayer journal like this before so, if anyone uses it and wants to pass on feedback, she would appreciate it. Her email is revmaria@episcopalmediator.org

Download WATER IN THE WILDERNESS Part 1

Download Prayers.Part 1

 


'I Think He Colors his Hair"

by Archdeacon Howard Stringfellow
Preached at The Church of the Good Shepherd in Scranton
on Ash Wednesday 9 March 2011

I heard it the other day.  Someone said, “I think he colors his hair.”  And there he was for all the world to see.  A seemingly quiet, unassuming man whose ends were a sort of medium ash brown, and whose roots were as white as a newly-fallen snow in downtown Scranton.  “I think he colors his hair.”  There he was, unmasked, a man different from what he appeared to be.

You know that you can tell the truth, and you can use the truth to hurt people.  That’s got to be sinful.  And you can say out in the open what we all know to be true and to the detriment of the person involved.  That’s got to be sinful, too.  You don’t have to live very long or travel very far before you realize that most of us can observe, most of us can unearth, a lot of truth that is hurtful.  We can wield the truth as if it were a weapon.  But in most of our lives there is a lot of truth that we aren’t facing.  There’s a lot of truth about ourselves that we aren’t coming to terms with.  That’s got to be sinful, too.  And it would be hurtful for anyone to urge that truth upon us.  Anyone would be devastated to be told that he is doing something in some area of his life that is very like dyeing his hair.

Today is the day that begins the season when we try to undo a self-deception or two, when we do something very like letting the roots grow out.  We let vanity go, and we let God do the make-over.  We put ourselves in God’s hands, in the hands of Reality Itself, and ask that the truth remake us, reshape us, so that we may more closely resemble God’s truth that lives in us already.  It is the season when we accept that it is God who made us and not we ourselves.  It is the season when we face our dependence on God for our creation and preservation, as well as our redemption and salvation.  To return to that reality, to that relationship with God, we do what we have to do to keep it whole, to keep it intact.  And what we do may concern that funny business about the money.  It may have to do with pretending to pray and pretending to serve God.  It may have to do with exercising our bodies or our minds.  It may have to do with that person not our spouse whom we have on the side.  It may have to do with eating more rather than less if we haven’t been able to accept the waistline God has given us.  It may have to do with tiny and numerous selfishnesses so petty as to seem unmentionable but gathered together may be enough to weigh us down, keeping us from rising to new life in Christ.

Whatever it may be, the point is to let God, God’s reality, in, into our lives.  This is the day for a right beginning, a new start, confident that the God who made us is the God who wants to see us redeemed and wants to see us saved.  Whatever we do, whatever we want, we can let the reality that is God in.  And that requires honesty, an honesty disarming in its force and keenness.  We have to put away the dye, and take on the truth; put away the hypocrisy, and take on humility; put away the self-congratulation, and put on the praise of Christ.


Christ's Own For Ever, by Archdeacon Stringfellow

From the Lectionaries
Christ’s Own For Ever
The Easter Vigil
Romans 6:3-11
By Archdeacon Howard Stringfellow
3 April 2010

At each Easter Vigil, we hear St. Paul’s famous Epistle exploring our union with Christ in his death and in his resurrection through our Baptism: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4).

Over the years, I have so accepted St. Paul’s identification of each of us with Christ’s death and resurrection that I have often thought that at our births and certainly at our Baptisms something of Christ’s dead body lies buried in each of us. And when it is raised in us, when we experience something like the Easter moment, we are raised with it to newness and abundance of life. It is the moment, in the words of the Celebrant’s opening address to the people at the Easter Vigil, that “we share in” the Lord’s “victory over death” (Prayer Book, page 285).

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Lent @ ECVA: Recognition and Return

A visual Lenten exhibition and meditation by the Episcopal Church and the Visual Arts is available on line at the ECVA website and on the Art Blog on the Episcopal Cafe. A new visual work accompanied by a meditation written by the Rev. Ann Fontaine of the Diocese of Wyoming will be available every day.

You may download a PDF booklet of the exhibition or follow it daily on the Art Blog.

ECVA Exhibition
Recognition & Return

Christ bids us follow. Those who try to save their
lives will lose it, but those who lose their life…
who follow after me, will find it.

Having traced the shape of our mortality, fallibilities, and fumblings—of both our failed attempts at self-sufficiency and ego-mind habits which alienate and drain, we recognize the truth of Christ’s summons. And so we dare enter the journey, humbly putting on his story as our own as we did at our baptisms.

The words above, from our Curator, The Rev. Catherine Quehl-Engel (Chaplain of Cornell College & Assoc. Priest, Trinity Episcopal—Iowa City, Iowa), open ECVA's newest Exhibition: "Recognition & Return."

This exhibition launches on Ash Wednesday with spiritually and artistically mature offerings from ECVA artists. To enter the exhibition, click on the lead image seen above (The Humble Servant, by Roger M. Beattie). There is also a link to the exhibition on our homepage at www.ecva.org. Or you may simply click HERE.

A small PDF booklet of Lenten meditations (Lent @ ECVA) anchored by the exhibition art accompanies this exhibition. Click on the following graphic to access the booklet. (The booklet is in two parts; Part One is available now and Part Two will be available later during Lent.)

RecRetMosaic-150-Lent 





--posted by Andrew Gerns


Lenten reading suggestions

The Rev. Anne E. Kitch,Canon for Formation in the Christian Faith suggests some good books for your Lenten reading.

In these brief meditations, Kate Moorehead (Dean of St. John's Cathedral, Jacksonville, FL ) invites us to keep a Lenten fast contemplating themes of planting, growth and harvest in Jesus' parables.




The Lenten meditations in Kate Moorehead's newest book focus on the nature of sin and repentance in our contemporary context.




 

In A Season for the Spirit Episcopal priest Martin Smith offers daily theological reflections and prayers on themes of compassion, self-knowledge, wholeness and reconciliation. A reflective companion for the 40 days of Lent.

 

 

 

 

Michael Sullivan (rector of Holy Innocents' in Atlanta, GA) invites us to open our souls to God's redeeming love in this Lenten journey of stories and art. Each week is an enlightening exploration of scripture through prayer, story, poetry, and art exercises.



Episcopal priest Christopher Webber provides readings from the Anglican tradition for each day in Lent. This volume includes readings from Christina Rossetti, John Donne, Philips Brooks, Harriet Beecher Stowe and many others.

 


And check out these recommendations from the Episcopal Bookstore in Seattle, WA.

 

 

 

 

--posted by Andrew Gerns


My new understanding of ashes to ashes

By Daniel Gunn

Lent began early for me this year. Rather than being driven into the wilderness for this annual time of spiritual introspection, I was flown into our companion diocese of Kajo Keji. I do not intend to give the impression that the place is desolate or the people uncivilized. Rather, I reflect on what the experience of being with our brothers and sisters meant to me. It was a Lenten journey in which I found a new understanding to an old verse. 

[Download Father Gunn's reflection and a photo story, Download 090405.pdf]


Lenten Quiet Day at Mediator Allentown

Organic God
A Lenten Quiet Day
Saturday, March 14, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Jesus often used images of nature’s organic growth to teach about faith: a sower sowing seeds; a grain of wheat falling into the earth; the smallest mustard seed becoming the largest bush for birds to nest in. This Quiet Day, led by Timothy Bingham, will incorporate readings from Organic God, by Katherine Moorehead, which explores these images, inviting us to reflect the God who gives growth to the earth and to our lives. Tim recently graduated from the Shalem Institue for Spiritual Formation and he and his wife Susan are active members of Mediator.

The format will be to have a 5 to 10 minute reading each hour, then pairing off for a brief period of discussion followed by silence.

Tim says, “I find that in a structured Quiet Day, it is easier for me to have concentrated meditation than when I am alone. The energy of the Church and of the other devotees helps me stay focused.”

Come and discover how the Organic God is creating growth in your life this Lent. Sign up by  email, mediatorec@verizon.net or call 610-434-0155 to register


Noonday Lenten Series, Wednesdays at St. Stephen's Wilkes-Barre

[From Canon Mark Laubach]
I’m pleased to inform you about the 2009 Lenten Series here at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church.

Since the 1920’s, St. Stephen’s has hosted an annual series of weekly Lenten Services for the Community, led by clergy from participating Wilkes-Barre churches of various denominations, both Catholic and Protestant. Over the years, this series has grown in popularity and now includes organ recitals (at 11:30 a.m.) the service (at 12 p.m.), and a soup and sandwich lunch (immediately after the service) for $4.00 in the Auditorium of St. Stephen’s Parish House.

Our organ recitalists this year represent a splendid group of both local and regional performers. The list follows ….

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Tuesday evenings at St. Andrew's

They Like Jesus, But Not the Church
Culture's Objection to Christianity

 St. Andrew's Episcopal Church
1900 Pennsylvania Avenue, Allentown

Tuesday evenings March 3,9.16,23,30 April 7
6:30-7 Soup and Salad Supper
7-8    Program
Admission: Free

This six session DVD based curriculum features Dan Kimball who is author of The Emerging Church and They Like Jesus but Not the Church.  He is also pastor of the Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz, California which is a missional church planted for engaging the post-Christian culture. He has served on the boards of Outreach Magazine and Youth Worker Journal.

The six sessions have the following topics
1)    The Danger of the Christian Bubble
2)    Is the Church Negative, Judgmental and Political?
3)    Does the Church Restrict and Oppress Women?
4)    Is the Church Homophobic?
5)    Do Christians Arrogantly Think All Other Religions Are Wrong?
6)    Are Christians Fundamentalists Who Take the Whole Bible Literally?

Discussion follows the viewing of the 20 minute "launch" DVD presentation by Pastor Kimball.

All are invited!