Monday, December 10, 2012

Baptism as Conception, Gestation, and Birth of the Church...

The following comes out of an Abductive Reasoning Exercise on the core parts of the Episcopal Baptismal Rite. The point of such an exercise is not to make definitive linear statements but to allow possible systems to manifest out of a gestalt. To this end what follows is one of many possible conceptualizations of the rite in order to gain perspective not definitive theological statements.

“Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body the Church. The Bond which God establishes in Baptism is indissoluble.”[1] This opening rubric defines the essential role of the Baptismal Rite. To perform this role the Rite presents a certain structure and thus creates a system of limitations and roles on certain theological concepts. The structure takes the form of a conception, gestation, and birth narrative for the church and thus allows for the initiation of new members.

“There is one Body and one Spirit; There is one hope in God’s call to us”.[2] The transcendent nature of the church is considered to be singular having one Body, that of Christ, and one Spirit, that of the Paraclete. The practical nature of the church, however, often seems far from such, especially during the time of change involved with its growth through new membership. The Sacrament of Baptism is the bridge between these two realities; there is the “inward and spiritual grace” of the transcendent singular church and the “outward and visible” sign of that, baptism, to overcome the division often experienced in communities.[3]

The Persons of the Trinity come actively into play in the Rite in the common order of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. At the very opening of the Rite there is acknowledged “One God and Father of All”[4], there is a turning to Jesus Christ by the initiates during the examination,[5] and then the introduction of the Holy Spirit during the thanksgiving over the water.[6] The progression mimics the metaphor, limited but useful, of a time of the Father, followed by the earthly ministry of Jesus, which is concluded with the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The rite uses this metaphor in its structure, but recognizes its limitations with its prose when it notes “the Holy Spirit moved in the beginning of creation”.[7] This internal notation, that any singular metaphor cannot contain the reality of the Trinity, is important in its own right.

At the moment it is first necessary to ask how is the rite using this metaphor of linear history. The broad metaphor is that of the creation of the world by the Father, the reordering of the world by Jesus Christ, and the birth of the Church by the Holy Spirit. At any specific Baptism there is the part of the Creation, the initiates leave one space and are received by the Church, the church then reorders itself by entering into its vows again as a new whole with the initiates turned members of Christ’s Body, the Holy Spirit then enters and the new life is bestowed upon the initiates and the church recognizes its unity with the newly baptized. In this last step the church goes through a practical rebirth and is brought closer to the Transcendent church at the same time that the initiates gain new life, are born again, themselves.

This new life imagery, that in Baptism “we are reborn by the Holy Spirit”,[8] is essential to the rite. To expand this birth metaphor back along the already presented linear metaphor would give the following sequence: The Father initiates a conception, Jesus Christ is essentially present for a gestation, the Holy Spirit then induces and the water breaks and it is then that the birth occurs. Throughout the process the Priest acts as midwife.

God the Father is present as progenitor. All the people present, initiates and baptized, are expected to pronounce “One God and Father of All” even before the examination much more the Baptism.[9] This is an acknowledgment of the preexisting connection between all involved inherent to being part of creation. It is an initial echo of the ever building connectivity of all involved as family. The conception occurs during the presentation and examination. The initiates are first named and recognized by individuals from the community, at this point they are at the edge of the church’s space. During the examination the initiates “renounce” the space they are in and “turn to Jesus Christ”, towards the Body of the Church.[10] This is the moment of conception, where outlying parts are brought into contact and pass through a barrier. It is important to note that God is equally “Mother” here having created both that which is entering and that which is being entered. The stress on “Father” is traditional but also a focusing on that which is entering, the initiates, over that which is being entered, the community. This stage is finished when the Priest commands, “Let us join with those…” at which point the initial union is complete.[11]

The new forming community as a whole then commits themselves to Christ, every one renews.[12] This is the Body of the Church, the Body of Christ, stating who and what it is and noting its growth as such over time. The Baptismal Covenant begins with the Apostles Creed, a statement of beliefs from the early church with its own history of growth from the Roman Symbol. The creed is then followed by five additional expectations that the community has added. The people then pray seven prayers that parallel the six questions of the examination, thus taking up the for the initiates, and viably each other also, the burden of walking away from that which is evil and turning towards Jesus Christ. The priest then brings this stage to an end with a prayer that shows an interesting blending of the groups: “Grant, O Lord, that all who are baptized… may live…”.[13] This single prayer has two equally viable readings. In one reading it is a projection for those about to be baptized while in the other it is a statement for all who are baptized. This is the blurriness held by all at this moment of great transition before the initiates are fully part of the community and a new understanding of church, a church reborn, comes about.

Before this rebirth can occur, however, the essential element, water, must be included and with it comes the Holy Spirit. The prayer begins by explaining the place of water in history which details both the Holy Spirit moving over it at creation as well as its central roll in Jesus’ baptism where he was “anointed by the Holy Spirit as the Messiah.[14] The water is then sanctified “by the power of your Holy Spirit” and a distinct doxology follows “To him, to you, and to the Holy Spirit” that names only one member of the Trinity.[15] While the birth metaphor calls for a “water breaking” moment this is truly a breaking into the rite by the physical world through water. This physicality, through water, is one of the “essential parts of Baptism”.[16] The Baptism is complete when the sign of the cross is made upon the initiate and they “are sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ’s own forever” and with that last action, invoking the Holy Spirit, the initiates are fully part of the Body of Christ.[17]

The process concludes with all the baptized acknowledging that the new individuals now “share with us in [Christ’s] eternal priesthood”.[18] In so doing they recognized a new equality that is then played out in the sharing of the peace by all on a new level. It is here that the gathered Body of Christ engages with itself for the first time. The practical reality of what is the Body of Christ gathered at that moment for worship has changed. The whole Body of Christ, the Church as a whole, has also changed. The final charge of the Priest is "Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom every family in heaven and earth is named, grant you to be strengthened with might by his Holy Spirit, that, Christ dwelling in your hearts by faith, you may be filled with all fullness of God. Amen"This is a statement to all the church to keep growing, to become more full, to turn more towards Jesus. It is a call to do exactly what has just been done, again and again. It is a call to enter into the process of growth and rebirth, for both individuals and the church, anew through baptism.

[1] BCP 298
[2] BCP 299
[3] BCP 857
[4] BCP 299
[5] BCP 302
[6] BCP 306
[7] BCP 306
[8] BCP 306
[9] BCP 299
[10] BCP 302
[11] BCP 303
[12] BCP 303
[13] BCP 306
[14] BCP 306
[15] BCP 307
[16] BCP 308
[17] BCP 308
[18] BCP 308

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Widow's Change, a sermon on Mark 12:38-44

This was my first sermon in my field placement site. It brings up some interesting liturgical history specific to the parish.

Mark 12:38-44

Teaching in the temple, Jesus said, "Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! They devour widows' houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation."
He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on."

The widow comes to the edge of the temple grounds...

She is not allowed to go any farther...

She is allowed to go in just far enough to give her gift, to make her peace with God and show her love.

The temple barely notices it, such a small gift.

The temple does not see what her gift means for her.

The temple devours her and moves on.

Jesus notices it, such a great gift.

Jesus sees what her gift means to her.

Jesus connects with her and loves her.

Jesus responds to her gift just a few days later... On the cross... Giving up his life, his all, for her, for all the widows not allowed inside the temple door, for all of us.

There is no doubt that each of us is called to struggle with how to enter into this call to give, and give fully, and follow the example of the widow, of Jesus.

We are also, however, called to notice the gifts of others, see what those gifts mean to them, connect with and love them for their gifts...

And respond to those gifts... To give also of ourselves... To change...

Jesus' response, Jesus' giving, Jesus' changing was anything but easy...

Maintaining the status quo, not noticing, not seeing, not connecting... Not Loving... would be so much easier...

As Christians we are called into the difficult road of Love... Called to be in the midst of authentic relationship with others... Called to let the widow in... Called at points to change...

Which does not mean we like to do it very much... But we do enter into it.

Look at the stain glass windows, we would not think of changing them... But they are not original to the building... At some point the parish decided to add them, decided to change.

Consider where you are sitting, you probably sit about where you are sitting now most Sundays... If we moved all the pews think of the chaos... But the parish has done that, look down and at the centre of your pew, see the wood running in the opposite direction towards the altar?... Those are the original aisles, all the pews have been moved....

Look at the altar space... would we think for a moment to tear it all down and replace it?... But the parish did just that, took out the entire rear wall... Risking the structural integrity of the entire building... To change the central focus of our worship space...

We have entered into change... change that for an outsider might seem small or insignificant... No more significant than the small change of the widow... But for the worshipers in this space it was a significant change a radical change... Change we celebrate every time we enter into this space for worship...

 And we keep doing it...

The prayer book, it is the 1979 book of common prayer... But St. Peter's been using it since 1971... St. Peter's took up the change in the Prayer Book at the first possible moment...

The pulpit I am standing in is a change, a change we have only been working with for two Sundays.

The Gloria and Sanctus we have been singing... They are still new to us, they are a change... They are ones I love and have been excited to sing... but in a few weeks advent shall begin and with it shall come different service music...

Things we take as certain set things... Have changed... At points St. Peter's has jumped at the chance to take part in extreme risky change... We worship in a cycle that brings us to constantly shift and change... Change is a constant part of our lives, as individuals and as a community.

I came to St. Peter's to be changed, to be challenged, to be formed... This will happen as I notice what gifts this community has, see why these gifts are important to you, make connections with you, and enter into the Love of Christ that is embodied inside and outside of these walls by you... As I journey with you over the next months it is possible you might find yourself changing just a little as well...

We must celebrate the change St. Peter's embraced to become and remain a successful parish... We need to remain open to the change that will continue to make us Bearer's of Christ's love to all who enter our red church doors and all we meet outside them... We cannot fear change...

Because to fear change is to not let the widow, the other, the outsider in...

To fear change is to not notice the gifts others bring us...

To fear change is to not see how important those gifts are...

To fear change is to devour the others gift and move on...

Jesus calls us to notice the gifts others bring...

Jesus calls us to see how important those gifts are...

Jesus calls us to connect with and to Love those around us...

And to enter into the change those relationships bring... No matter what the cost...


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Resolutions for Change: The Parish Call Process

During my morning run the idea for the following resolution to diocesan con/cans for the calling of an ordained minister to a parish came to me...

Be it resolved that the (appropriate section of the con/can of the diocese regarding the deployment of ordained ministers to a parish) be amended to include:

When a parish has decided upon its list of finalist for the call of an ordained minister those finalist will be provided with letters of recommendation for the parish from three of the following five categories of individual:

1) A member in good standing of the parish who is in High School.
2) A member in good standing of the parish who is between the ages of 21 and 35.
3) A minister of a local congregation that is not part of the Episcopal Church.
4) A director of a local non-profit that is in a ministry relationship with the parish.
5) An individual who regularly takes part in a ministry of the parish but does not regularly attend worship.

These letters of recommendation are to be held to the same standards of confidence as those provided by the applicant.

If a parish is unable to provide such letters it will be required to submit a report on why such a recommendation is not currently possible on one of the above categories for each letter it cannot provide. This report will be submitted to both the applicants as well as the diocesan TMO officer.

The above resolution's purpose is to provide a window into the parish for the applicant that might not be part of the normal search process. The specefic inclusion of youth and young adult reccomenders is not to place extra value upon them but to recognize that their voices are often not an active part in the call process. The inclusion of individuals from the greater community allows for a voice that is regularly not heard at all in the call process. These letters also recognize points of engagement that are crtical for a vital ministry. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A little sermon dealing with law and gospel...

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Followers of the law from every nation had gathered in Jerusalem, had witnessed the descent of the Holy Spirit, the miracle of Pentecost.

Three thousand of them had been baptized and become followers of Christ. And now they were living together in harmony under the law. They had declared a year of Jubilee and those who owned much had sold it and all had been redistributed. They went to the temple devoutly, prayed the traditional prayers with full hearts. Any Prophet of Israel or Judah would have walked into their community and found nothing wanting, nothing to rail about, they lived fully into both the spirit and word of the Law. Their works were a beautiful utopia on earth. A beautiful self sufficient insulated egg.

And God, the brooding mother hen, she looked down and said its time for that egg to hatch.

I am sure at the moment, however, it felt more like God the Master Chef looked down and said, time to make an omelet.

Because where is God’s action in this passage… “the Lord added to their number those who were being saved…”

Uh Oh

God’s Grace, the Full Gospel, enters stage left and everything falls apart. God’s Grace, the Gospel shown forth in full, is not an easy thing, its not a happy thing, it is a terrible thing, a terribly good thing, but a terrible thing none the less.

Kumbayah time is over for the first Christians… because the Full Gospel is arriving. The Lord is sending them those who have been saved.

And those who have been saved by God’s grace are not always followers of the law. They will be non-Jewish widows, uncircumcised men, gender non conforming Ethiopians, a man who sought their complete annihilation, and so many others.

The comfort zones of the early Christians will be violated. They will have to eat odd disgusting food with odd disgusting people. They will find themselves forced to touch and comfort menstruating women. They will be forced to look down at their genetalia and ask “wait that is not what defines me as God’s?”. 
This is God’s grace, this is the movement of the Gospel. This is God breaking into the laws and rules we surround ourselves with to make ourselves feel good and righteous and comfortable. This is God destroying our self-assurance and calling us to something fuller, the Assurance of Grace.

As the Gospel became manifest, as the Grace of God abounded, fighting and struggle came into full bloom within the early Christian community. The book of acts, the letters of Paul, report again and again the struggles, friction, and pain involved in entering into the Grace of God, of taking part fully in the Gospel. These times of struggle, the places where conflict occurred, is again and again where God was and where the church was growing.

Throughout history we find again and again humans laying down laws to make themselves feel comfortable and righteous: free will or predestination, real presences or remembrance, homoousios or homoiousios. Grace, the Full Gospel, attempts to break through, fighting breaks out. Sadly, more often then not, at the end of the fighting what results is two groups of humans less open to grace but more feeling very comfortable and righteous within their laws.

Our churches have seen so much fighting over the past years. The comfort zones of many have been violated. Why? Because for centuries we had gotten comfortable, gotten righteous, in our laws, in our insulated egg. A self-sufficient community dependent on certain turns of phrasing in the English language, dependent on a certain form of gender conformity, dependent on defining relational love in a very limited way. It was time to make an omelet.

And God, the Mother Hen, she knew it was time for that egg to hatch.

And so Grace is breaking through… it is not comfortable… it is at points terribly frightening… but it is also terribly good… it is the sign of a world relating more and more to the Full Gospel…

The question before us now is that can we keep fighting, can we keep struggling, can we keep getting uncomfortable… or will we simply start feeling comfortable in our new laws around the turns of phrase in the English Language… feel assured by not allowing those who do not fit into our new laws of gender conformity to have a place… feel righteous in our new limits on relational love… will we simply seek some consensus that creates some new self sufficient insulated community all nestled and happy and kumbayah…

Or will we continue to be a community that struggles, that fights, that at points gets a bit violated… so that we can continue to be sufficient on a Grace that comes from a place completely beyond us.  

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Jesus Stood Still, sermon preached at St. Luke's Cathedral, Portland Oct. 24, 2012

Jesus and his disciples came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" Jesus stood still and said, "Call him here." And they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take heart; get up, he is calling you." So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, "What do you want me to do for you?" The blind man said to him, "My teacher, let me see again." Jesus said to him, "Go; your faith has made you well." Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

 Jesus stood still. In the midst of the chaos around him... he stood still.

 And it was a chaotic early morning in Jericho. The streets are packed with pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem for the Passover. The disciples are still a bit ruffled from last nights chastisement, that they were not to seek to be powerful leaders but humble servants. Internally I can only imagine that Christ's mind and heart were heavy with the his next steps, that afternoon he would ask his disciples to find him a colt and ride into Jerusalem as the people shouted Hosannah in the highest and laying palm branches down for him to ride upon... Starting a chain of events that would culminate in his trial and crucifixion. The various shouts for mercy and coins from the outer edge of the crowd were an added source of confusion... Summarily being hushed.

 In the midst of his thoughts, in the midst of the disciples who surely want to get as far away from last night as they can, in the midst of the crowd of pilgrims pressing them from all sides towards Jerusalem... Jesus stood still, Jesus required the outsider to come in, and Jesus listened.

 Being able to stand still, place aside the flurry of thoughts and emotions, and listen, truly listen, to another human being is an essential skill for Christian living.

 It is a skill used by those who volunteer at st. Elizabeth's food pantry; a skill used by those who in a little while will be listening to those seeking prayers of healing in the side chapel, a skill used by those who will share our communion with those who are sick and shut in.

 It is an essential skill that you are practicing right now.

 It happens in that crucial moment when you stop saying "I know about that" and start saying "I am curious about that". It happens when surety of knowledge is recognized for the dangerous thing it is. 

One night this summer when I was on call in the ER a trauma came in. A highschooler had broken his leg during soccer practice. When his parents arrived I was surprised to find that they had brought their own pastor with them. The youth was quickly found to be in good stable condition and I quickly found myself on another call. I continued to check on the soccer player throughout the night and every time I came by there seemed to be another pastor, or sometimes even a pair of them, visiting his room. I eventually found out that one of his grandfathers had been a leading pastor in the area and all of his protégés were coming by to lay hands on the boy and call down the healing power of Jesus Christ. It was a veritable parade of pastors.

 Near the end of the night I found myself walking the soccer player's grandmother out to the lobby. "None of them get it" she said. "Get it?" I queried... "He is not worried about his leg, he knows the type of injury he has, he knows it will heal, he is upset because the soccer team is his social life, it is where all his friends are, and now he is going to be cut off from that. But none of the pastor's prayed with him about that, none of them asked what he was concerned about, they just came in to call down God's healing. He talked to me about it, we prayed about it, but he is so frustrated with all these pastors." The frustration of not having a voice, the frustration of having someone else assume what your needs are, the frustration of not being heard. Over the past two days at diocesan convention the Bishop charged the parishes to name the spaces, the lines, where the church was engaging the world. He asked us to consider not how can we engage those lines but instead consider what do we need to engage those lines. My suggestion, my charge, is that in order to truly engage those lines we need to be able to stand still, allow the outsider in, and listen. Before we can do anything else we must be ready to stand still, allow the outsider in, and listen. Bartimeaus sought mercy. It could have been the mercy to share a knowledge he knew because he understood the world beyond the sense of sight. It could have been the mercy to point out an injustice of the society around him. It could have been the mercy to have his sight restored. These are all mercies that Jesus provides throughout his ministry. Jesus, stood still, allowed Bartimeaus to come close, and listened... Bartimeaus was given a chance to state what he believed, what mercy was longed for... And Jesus responded with God's grace. This Grace of God, this stuff that Miracles are made of, is alive and well in the world. God is working in the life of every person we meet no matter who they are or where we meet them. The question is do we have the strength to place aside our presumptions, our assumptions, our supposed knowledge and definitions of what grace is and instead be curious, can we move away from the thoughts and emotions whirring away inside of us and all of the pressures and conflict around us for just a moment and stand still? can we forget about what we want to say for just long enough so that we can listen? If we can do that on that line where the church is meeting God's world, truly do it, then we will have regained our sight and be ready to follow Jesus on the way.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012



All coordinated movement of worship leaders are processions. Processions happen to the church and to the world and to parts of the church. A general rule is that processions happen in order from individuals with the least specific duties in the worship to those with the most specific duties in the worship. Below is a general outline for an opening and closing procession. Individuals in [brackets] are less normative.




Torch                     Torch


[Choir Banner]

[Choir Verger]


[Parish Banner(s)]


[Second Thurifer]

[Second Crucifer]

[Second Verger]

[Visiting, Vested, but non-assisting Laity (ordinands)]

[Visiting, Vested, but non-assisting Deacons]

[Visiting, Vested, but non-assisting Priest]

[Lay Minister(s)]

[Lay Eucharistic Minister(s)]

[Lay Preacher]

[Gospel Bearer (subdeacon)]


[Subdeacon (alt.)]           Celebrant            [Deacon (alt.)]

[Visiting, Vested, but non-assisting Bishop(s)]

[Bishop’s Chaplain]


[Third Verger]


Generally any procession in the church follows that pattern with whatever people necessary for the function that is occurring at the arrival of that group. The above allows for a full pomp and circumstance ceremony. Vergers are basically brought in when traffic control is necessary but should be as invisible as possible.

The three main exceptions are Gospel processions, Baptismal Processions, and Funeral Processions.

Gospel processions from the altar flow out normally: [Verger] [Thurifer] [Crucifer] [Torches] [Gospel Bearer] Deacon/Priest. BUT return with the Gospel Book at the front of the procession, generally in reverse order.

In Baptismal Processions baptismal candidates, families, and sponsors follow the rest of the procession.

When a procession is occurring with the remains at the end of the funeral from the church to the graveside/hearse or from the hearse to the graveside the following order is followed: Presiding Minister, Remains, [Crucifer], [Torches], immediate relations, [Assisting Ministers], [Choir], Mourners.

Marriage processions are a matter for another day.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Prayers of the People for Social Justice

I put these prayers together for an Integrity Eucharist in Maine several years ago. They are not specific to the LGBTQ community and its needs but speak to social justice and community division as a whole.

Prayers of the People and the Confession of Sin

Bidder            Creator God, you made each of us in love and for love. In baptism we were anointed as prophets and you call us to live holy lives and to participate in the mission of justice.

People            Grant us the grace, O loving God, to be attentive to your call, to be sensitive to injustice whenever we encounter it, and in all things to act justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly with you, our God.

Bidder            We are weak, limited, fallen, O God. We fail to acknowledge the inherent worth of each person as a child of God. We focus on what divides us and makes us different rather than on the great truth that unites us – that we are one body in Christ.

People            We come before you, O God, parent of us all, asking your grace to appreciate the beauty of our diversity and to celebrate the gift of God incarnate in every one we meet.

Bidder            God of peace, you made us to live in harmony and community, not in chaos and violence. So much of our world is torn by strife, there are so many divisions among us that result in a lack of freedom.

People            We ask the grace and strength to be instruments of peace in our hearts, our homes, communities, nations, and the world.

Bidder            O God, the cross we bear precedes the crown we wear. To follow you we must take up our cross, with all of its difficulties and agonizing and tension packed content and carry it until that very cross leaves its marks upon us and redeems us to that more excellent way which comes only through suffering.[i]

People            God of the oppressed and suffering, we pray for all those who suffer in any way. Grant us the strength to bear whatever crosses are in our lives and the grace to know our losses, grief, and pain as part of the mystery of your love for us.

Bidder            The lives of your saints stand as a reminder of what it means to belong to God, to be persecuted for justice’s sake, to live and to die for God and for God’s people.

People            We give thanks, O compassionate God, for the lives of the holy and prophetic leaders of our time and ask you that we can become in our various ministries of serving others the living presence of your son and our brother Jesus. We bring these and all our own needs and the needs of our families and communities to your loving care.[ii]

Bidder            We acknowledge that it is your mercy that lifts us up beyond ourselves.

People            God of all mercy, we confess that we have sinned against you, opposing your will in our lives. We have denied your goodness in each other, in ourselves, and in the world you have created. We repent of the evil that enslaves us, the evil we have done, and the evil done on our behalf. Forgive, restore, and strengthen us through our Savior Jesus Christ, that we may abide in your love and serve only your will. Amen[iii]

Presider            God forgives you, restores you, and strengthens you. Abide in the love of Jesus Christ and serve the will of the Holy Spirit.

[i] This section of the prayer is adapted from the words of Martin Luther King Jr.
[ii] Adapted from a Movement Toward Reconciliation a liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church (Evans, Abigail. Healing Liturgies for the Seasons of Life. WJK Press. London, 2004. page 398)
[iii] From Enriching our Worship 1 (Webber 480)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Gluten Free Communion Bread Recepe and Discussion

As a general rule I consider myself a purist when it comes to communion elements.

The question that comes up, however, is to what am I to be pure.

When it comes to communion bread I generally feel that loafs of bread made by a member of the community by hand is the best option. There  is something dynamic for a community to be able to truly know where and how this bread came into being.

I generally espouse wheat bread because that is the basic type of bread used by everyone in our society, the bread used should truly reflect the daily bread of the people. This was the case in the time of Jesus and continues to be so today. This ancient commonality is important.

The other deal, especially in small communities, is that everyone should be taking part in the same bread. The earthy, dirty, possibly unhygienic reality of a common bread is actually important and forces us to live out a reality that should permeate all aspects of our lives.

My community is faced with the reality that we cannot come together and share a common bread together if that bread involves gluten. So I have spent a bit of time over the past few days experimenting and have at this point created the following viable recipe. It is a work in progress and if you experiment with it or have some great insight to make it better let me know.

Practice loves have been given to priest to check for ability to be broken during ceremony and other needs.
Gluten Free Communion Bread (makes two circular loaves each good for 25 people)

2 Cups Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Flour (the multi source variety)
2 Teaspoons Xanthum Gum
Sprinkle of Salt
1 Tsp Baking Soda
5 Tbls butter
5 Tbls Heavy Whipping Cream
2 Eggs
1 Tbls Honey
Sprinkle of Vanilla

Preheat oven to 400

Grease a circular baking mold (I use a cast small cast iron skillet)

Whip the Cream until stiff. Add eggs and beat until blended. Add honey and vanilla and beat until blended.

Sift the Flour, Xanthum, Salt, and Soda in a bowl. Blend in the butter as if it was biscuits. With as little mixing as possible blend end the wet ingredients and knead two or three times. Divide dough in half.

Place one half of dough in pan. Gloss with egg white if desired.

Score dough with a cross.

Bake for fifteen minutes or until golden brown and knife comes out clean. 

Repeat with other loaf.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Our God is an Awesome but not quite so offensevily described God...

So for a project I needed to reform "Our God is an Awesome God" to make the lyrics approachable to a broader group of Christians... here is said remake... This remake refashions the warrior God imagery, takes away the male exclusive language, and recognizes trinitarian  and incarnational doctrine.

When God puts on a show
It’s not just putting on the ritz
(Our God is an awesome God)
There's thunder in God’s dancing
And lightning in God’s midst
(Our God is an awesome God)
And the Lord wasn't joking when He came down from heaven
It wasn't for no reason that Christ shed His blood
To share God’s love with all is what we are believing, that
Our God is an awesome God
Our God is an awesome God
Who reigns from heaven above
With wisdom, power, and love
Our God is an awesome God
Our God is an awesome God
Who reigns from heaven above
With wisdom, power, and love
Our God is an awesome God
And when the sky was starless
In the void of the night
(Our God is an awesome God)
The Spirit moved in the darkness
And created the light
(Our God is an awesome God)
Judgement and wrath poured out on oppresors
Mercy and grace is given at the cross
I hope that we have not too quickly forgotten that
Our God is an awesome God
Our God is an awesome God
Who reigns from heaven above
With wisdom, power, and love
Our God is an awesome God
Our God is an awesome God
Who reigns from heaven above
With wisdom, power, and love
Our God is an awesome God
Our God is an awesome God
Who reigns from heaven above
With wisdom, power, and love
Our God is an awesome God
Our God is an awesome God
Our God is an awesome God

Friday, April 13, 2012

If Cranmer wrote in Rite II english

Celebrant:        Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known,
                        and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our
                        hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may
                        perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name;
                        through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Celebrant:            Lord, have mercy.
People:                        Christ, have mercy.
Celebrant:            Lord, have mercy.

All:                        Glory to God in the highest,
                           and peace to his people on earth.

                        Lord God, heavenly King,
                        almighty God and Father,
                           we worship you, we give you thanks,
                           we praise you for your glory.

                        Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,
                        Lord God, Lamb of God,
                        you take away the sin of the world:
                           have mercy on us;
                        you are seated at the right hand of the Father:
                           receive our prayer.

                        For you alone are the Holy One,
                        you alone are the Lord,
                        you alone are the Most High,
                           Jesus Christ,
                           with the Holy Spirit,
                           in the glory of God the Father.  Amen.

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

The celebrant says the Collect for the day.

People:                        Amen.

Celebrant:            O Lord our Governor, whose glory is in all the world:  We
                        commend this nation to your merciful care, that, being guided
                        by your Providence, we may dwell secure in your peace.  Grant
                        to the President of the United States, the Governor of this
                        State (or Commonwealth), and to all in authority, wisdom
                        and strength to know and to do your will. Fill them with the
                        love of truth and righteousness, and make them ever mindful
                        of their calling to serve this people in your fear; through Jesus
                        Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the
                        Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.  Amen.

The people sit. One Lesson, as appointed from the Epistles, is read,

Reader:            A Reading from____________.

A citation giving chapter and verse is added.

at the conclusion of the reading:

Reader:            Here ends the Epistle.

The people stand. The Gospel lesson is read by the priest

Celebrant:            The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ
                        according to__________________.
People                        Glory to you, Lord Christ.

at the conclusion of the reading:

Celebrant:            The Gospel of the Lord.
People                        Praise to you, Lord Christ.

All:                        We believe in one God,
                            the Father, the Almighty,
                            maker of heaven and earth,
                            of all that is, seen and unseen.

                        We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
                            the only Son of God,
                            eternally begotten of the Father,
                            God from God, Light from Light,
                            true God from true God,
                            begotten, not made,
                            of one Being with the Father.
                            Through him all things were made.
                            For us and for our salvation
                                he came down from heaven:
                            by the power of the Holy Spirit
                                 he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
                                 and was made man.
                         For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
                             he suffered death and was buried.
                            On the third day he rose again
                                 in accordance with the Scriptures;
                                he ascended into heaven
                                 and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

                            He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
                                 and his kingdom will have no end.

                        We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
                            who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
                            With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
                            He has spoken through the Prophets.
                             We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
                            We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
                            We look for the resurrection of the dead,
                                 and the life of the world to come. Amen.

A sermon or homily may be preached.

Celebrant:            Let your light so shine before those you meet, that they may see your good                         works, and come to glorify God in heaven. 

An offertory is collected and a hymn or anthem may be sung.

Celebrant:            The Lord be with you.
People:                        And also with you.
Celebrant:            Lift up your hearts.
People:                        We lift them to the Lord.
Celebrant:            Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People:                        It is right to give him thanks and praise.

Celebrant:            It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and every
                        where to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, Creator of
                        heaven and earth.

The proper preface for the day is then read by the Priest.

                        Therefore we praise you, joining our voices with Angels and
                        Archangels and with all the company of heaven, who for ever
                        sing this hymn to proclaim the glory of your Name:

People:                        Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
                        heaven and earth are full of your glory.
                             Hosanna in the highest.
                        Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
                            Hosanna in the highest.

Celebrant:            Holy and gracious Father: In your infinite love you made us
                        for yourself; and, when we had fallen into sin and become
                        subject to evil and death, you, in your mercy, sent Jesus
                        Christ, your only and eternal Son, to share our human
                        nature, to live and die as one of us, to reconcile us to you, the
                        God and Father of all.

                        He stretched out his arms upon the cross, and offered himself,
                        in obedience to your will, a perfect sacrifice for the whole

                        On the night he was handed over to suffering and death, our
                        Lord Jesus Christ took bread; and when he had given thanks
                        to you, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, and said, “Take,
                        eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this for the
                        remembrance of me.”

                        After supper he took the cup of wine; and when he had given
                        thanks, he gave it to them, and said, “Drink this, all of you:
                        This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you
                        and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink
                        it, do this for the remembrance of me.”

                        We celebrate the memorial of our redemption, O Father, in
                        this sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. Recalling his death,
                        resurrection, and ascension, we offer you these gifts.

                        Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be for your people the
                        Body and Blood of your Son, the holy food and drink of new
                        and unending life in him. Sanctify us also that we may faithfully
                        receive this holy Sacrament, and serve you in unity, constancy,
                        and peace; and at the last day bring us with all your saints
                        into the joy of your eternal kingdom.

                        All this we ask through your Son Jesus Christ. By him, and
                        with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit all honor
                        and glory is yours, Almighty Father, now and for ever. AMEN.

                        As our Saviour Christ commanded and taught us we are bold to say:

                        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.

Celebrnat:                        The peace of the Lord be always with you.
People:                                    And also with you.

Celebrant:                   Christ our Pascal lamb was offered up for us, once for all, 
                                    when he bore our sins on his body upon the cross, 
                                    for he is the very lamb of  God, that takes away the sins 
                                    of the world; wherefore let us keep a joyful and holy 
                                    feast with the Lord.

                                    Jesus said, “The first commandment is this: Hear, O Israel:
                                    The Lord our God is the only Lord. Love the Lord your
                                    God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your
                                    mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: Love
                                    your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment
                                    greater than these.”   Mark 12:29 31

                                    Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor.

Silence is kept.

All:                                    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.

Celebrant:                        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.

                                    If you seek God then hear the Word of God.

                                    Come to me, all that travail and are heavy laden, and
                                    I will refresh you.  Matthew 11:28

                                    God so loved the world, that God’s only begotten Son was given,
                                    to the end that all that believe in Jesus Christ should not perish, but
                                    have everlasting life.  John 3:16

                                    This is a true saying, and worthy to be received by all who hear,
                                    that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
                                                                                                            1 Timothy 1:15

                                    If any sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus
                                    Christ the righteous; and he is the perfect offering for our
                                    sins, and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole
                                    world.  1 John 2:1 2

All:                                    We do not presume to come to this your Table, O merciful
                                    Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in your manifold
                                    and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather
                                    up the crumbs under your Table. But you are the same Lord
                                    whose property is always to have mercy. Grant us therefore,
                                    gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of your dear Son Jesus Christ,
                                    and to drink his blood, that we may evermore dwell in him,
                                    and he in us. Amen.

Celebrant:                        O Lamb of God,
All:                                    That takes away the sins of the world,
                                    have mercy upon us.
                                    O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
                                    grant us your peace.

The ministers receive the Sacrament in both kinds, and then immediately deliver it
to the people.

The Bread and the Cup are given to the communicants with these words

The Body (Blood) of our Lord Jesus Christ keep you in everlasting life.  [Amen.]

when all have received:

Celebrant:                        The Lord be with you;
People:                                    And also with you.
Celebrant:                        Let us pray.
All:                                    Almighty and everliving God,
                                    we thank you for feeding us with the spiritual food
                                    of the most precious Body and Blood
                                    of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ;
                                    and for assuring us in these holy mysteries
                                    that we are living members of the Body of your Son,
                                    and heirs of your eternal kingdom.
                                    And now, Father, send us out
                                    to do the work you have given us to do,
                                    to love and serve you
                                    as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord.
                                    To him, to you, and to the Holy Spirit,
                                    be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

Celebrant:                        The Peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep you hearts                                                      and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus                                                     Christ our Lord; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the                                                    Son, and the Holy Spirit, be amongst you and remain with you                                                                always. Amen

The congregation departs a hymn may be sung.