And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.”
– Mark 9:23
When one enters an Episcopal parish, one of the first things that is noticeable is an altar and usually a cross above it or near it. In Roman Catholicism, it is traditional to have a crucifix (cross with the body of Jesus). These things remind us that Jesus was slain by means of crucifixion for our sins. Good Friday is the day that this event known as the Passion takes place.
Good Friday remembers the passion of Christ and the last events of His mortal life before He was sacrificed for us. It is an emotional day as every word that is heard brings us closer to Christ. One can almost feel what Christ felt. A man who knew no sin has died in your stead. But it is a day of sadness but it is also a day of rejoicing because St.Paul reminds us that there can be no forigveness of sins without the shedding of blood.
On Good Friday, the Passion Gospel is read and then meditations follow that are about the last events of the life of Jesus. Each event brings us further into the story and further to our ultimate redemption.
In Leviticus 16, we read of a lamb that is slain for all of the sins of Israel. The High Priest makes atonement for their sins through this sacrifice. Good Friday makes us remember that Jesus was both the High Priest and the lamb who would be slain. He had to die for our sins in order to reconcile us to God just as Aaron, the High Preist, did for the children of Israel. Please join the Church Catholic at your local parish for this ultimate service in remembrance that Christ died for you!
During the Eucharistic Rite, the celebrant lifts up the priest host (bread) and speaks of the night before. What happened during this most important night? The answer is Maundy Thursday.
Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper where Jesus washed the fert of his disciples, broke bread with them and then resigned himself to the Garden of Gethsemane and prays the famous high preistly prayer in John 17.
What do we do? We do these same events on this night. The clergy wash the feet of the congregation and they do this in humility. Jesus was the King of Kings, yet He washed feet as if he were just a servant. It is a reminder to us all that we are here to serve and not to be served. Then, we celebrate the Eucharist. This is extremely powerful because we are actually doing it on the same night that Jesus instituted this sacrament. Then, the altar is stripped. Jesus is going to be given up to be sacrificed for us.
Please come celebrate in a local parish and remember that Christ gave up His life for you.
“Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter celebrating Jesus’ triumphant arrival in to Jerusalem mentioned in gospels (Mathew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11a, Luke 19:29-40). The observance of Palm Sunday in Jerusalem was witnessed by the pilgrim Egeria in about 381-384. During this observance there was a procession of people down the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem. The people waved branches off palms or olive trees as they walked. Shouting the antiphon, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” The Palm Sunday observance was generally accepted throughout the church by the twelfth century. In the 1979 BCP on page 270 the day is known as “Sunday of the Pashion: Palm Sunday”, services for this Sunday start with blessings of palms followed by a procession into the church.
Some symbolisms observed from the gospels include Jesus riding on a donkey not a horse which can be seen to signify an animal of pace and not of war, others include the use of Palm branches as a symbol of victory, triumph, peace and eternal life.
What Does it Mark?
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” 11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Palm Sunday marks the start of Holy Week. Palm Sunday is meant to be both happy and sad dad, singing praises for Jesus but sad knowing his death within a week by the same people singling praise.
Did You Know?
The palms used during a Palm Sunday service are saved to be burnt for use during the following year’s Ash Wednesday.
3 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. Ecclesiastes 3:20
Ash Wednesday is the first of the forty days of Lent and is one of the most important holy days in the liturgical calendar. Ash Wednesday opens Lent “a season of fasting and prayer”. The ash of Ash Wednesday refers to the ashes that serve as a sign of penitence and a reminder of mortality that are placed on one’s forehead in the shape of a cross during the Ash Wednesday service with its service being found in the BCP (p. 264).
First Day of Lent and Fasting and Fasting
19 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Ash Wednesday serves as the first of the forty days of lent, as an act of purification and enlightenment acknowledging the ways we have turned from God in our lives, and how we can focus on turning our hearts and minds back towards God. By focusing on prayer, fasting, and almsgiving can help us turn away from whatever has distracted us from God. When you make the decision to give up something for lent this season as a way of “fasting” think about some aspect of your life that is controlling and distracting you for this time of Lent and allow God’s grace in.
“An Outline of The Faith”-BCP 855 the catechism was primarily intended for use by parish priests, deacons, and lay catechists, to give an outline for instruction. Though not intended to be a complete statement of belief or practice the Catechism provides us with a brief summary of the Church’s teaching. Found between paged 845-862 in the 1979 English book of common prayer the Catechism provides a great starting resource for inquirers or veterans in our faith to learn what we believe.
How can it be used?
The catechism is written in simple question and answer format to allow for easy referencing. Additionally, it can be used to form a simple service by taking a heading appropriate for the service and introducing payers and hymns as necessary.
You can find the catechism near the back of all book of common prayers, for example, starting on page 845 for the current 1979 BCP. You can also find the full catechism in our MyEpiscopal mobile app on iOS and Android, on mobile an additional feature includes our C.O.W. or catechism of the week where we provide one piece of the catechism a week like a verse of the day to help learn it by memory.
In the simplest form, a Cathedral is a church that contains a cathedra which is Latin for a seat, specifically a bishop’s chair. The cathedral is the principal church in a diocese from which the Bishop is the rector of. As the principal church in the diocese, it is often where diocesan events and special services are held.
Although not all cathedrals are parishes, the many that are offer services such as worship services, classes, outreach missions, weddings, funerals and more. Characteristic of a cathedral they usually draw more parishioners then surrounding parishes allowing for the funding of parish schools, daycares, and senior homes that can grow into their own organizations.
What Is A Dean
While traditionally the rector of a parish is responsible for the pastor care for congregations as the Bishop has many responsibilities for the diocese as a whole an appointed clergy member is assigned to the pastor care of the cathedral parishioners with the title of Dean in the bishops sted. In many cathedrals, the dean is who many consider being their pastor, however, the bishop is formally the rector. The dean of a cathedral may be assisted by additionally clergy who hold the title of sub-dean and canons depending on the size of the congregation.
Would you like to know more about cathedrals such as the history of specific cathedrals, or their unique architectures please let us know by emailing [email protected]
“Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body the Church.” (Book of Common Prayer, Pg 298) A church is like your family, you’ll have people who will feel like extra parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. Baptism is your “birth” into a family that no matter where you go, you will be loved by those around you and by God.
In the Episcopal Church baptism is done with water and must be by the full trinity – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Usually, it is an infant being baptized, but older children and adults are as well. People who were baptized young, usually go through the rite of Confirmation when they approach 16 years of age or older. But we’ll talk more about Confirmation another time.
Personally, I think the most powerful moment in a baptism is not when the water or oil is anointed. Rather, I believe it is the part just after that where the whole congregation present welcomes the newly baptized with these words:
“We receive you into the household of God. Confess the faith of Christ crucified, proclaim his resurrection, and share with us in his eternal priesthood.” (Book of Common Prayer, Pg 308).
It is at that point in the service where the powerful voice of the whole family of God acknowledges that we have witnessed the new member’s joining and they instantly receive a whole slew of new parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents and siblings. And, like any family, we won’t always get along and won’t always agree – but we are a family and we got each other’s back and are connected forever in the love of God.
For more information about baptism in the Episcopal tradition please check out these links, and contact your local Episcopal church.
18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1st Corinthians 1:18
The sign of the cross is an ancient Christian practice of marking the shape of the cross of Christ upon one’s self or upon another person or object as an expression of our faith. Cyril of Jerusalem couldn’t have said it any better “Let us not be ashamed to profess the Crucified One; let us confidently seal our forehead with our fingers, let us make the sign of the cross on everything, on the bread we eat and over the cup we drink. Let us make this sign as we come and go, before sleeping, when we lie down and when we arise, while traveling and while resting.” In this practice, we are in an act of sanctification meaning “setting us apart” our souls, our bodies, and our lives are sanctified set apart for Christ.
What Do The Gestures Mean?
When interpreting the motions we are asking God to be in our heads when touching our forehead, we are asking God to be in our hearts when touching our hearts, and we are asking God to be in all of who we are when we touch our shoulders.
When Might It Be Used?
Anytime! By remembering that we are in Christ’s and his cross is with us at all times. During daily life, you might sign the cross when first waking up or going to sleep, during the readings of the daily office, or any time of prayer within the day. During the service, we most open sign when hearing the Trinitarian “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”, for prayers of absolution and forgiveness, and before receiving communion.
During the summertime vacations, events, and activities draw congregation members away from church life especially prevalent on Sunday mornings. Many churches at this time see attendance drop by nearly 50% and combine their services times to mask this effect. As an individual, you start the summer with good intentions of sticking to your bible readings, attending more church functions but as kids go off to summer camp and vacations plans are made you find it hard to stick to your spiritual goals. We all know that it is hard to recharge your spiritual battery alone, but it’s easier to do it in a group!
Just as a general would “rally” their troops right before a battle so do we as Christians set aside a special day at the end of summer to “rally” members for the new church year. During this Rally Day its goal is to seek the Holy Spirit to renew our energy for service, worship, to pray, to study, and to witness the good news! Parishes across the nation celebrate this day in their own unique way but common characteristics include music, games, food, outside speakers, and ministries recruiting for the new year. Whether you stuck to your goals and wish to celebrate in the name of the lord, be spiritually energized, or join a new ministry this year we encourage you to attend your local Rally Day!
How The Church Is Structured How The Church Is Structured You may have heard people talk about General Convention or seen the hashtag on Twitter #GC79. But you may not be sure what it is. You may also wonder about how the rules or, Canons, of the Episcopal Church get passed into law.
Early Episcopalians modeled the governing body of church after the newly minted American government. We have a senate (House of Bishops), and a house of representatives (House of Deputies). We also have a president called the Presiding Bishop. These groups, along with the Executive Council, work to guide the Episcopal Church through our church’s constitution and the canons (laws).
This is where the Executive Council comes in. They meet four times a year (quarterly), and their job is to make sure that what got decided at GC is actually being carried out. The council is made up of four bishops, four priests or deacons, and twelve lay people elected by GC and eighteen members elected by the Episcopal Provinces.
Why so many laity, you may wonder? That’s because lay people come first in the order of ministry in the Episcopal Church, and it’s the job of the laity to go out into the world and do the work of God. Bishops, priest, and deacons have their roles within the Church, but they aren’t the ones who are out working in offices and restaurants and schools and every other non-church place to spread God’s love.
The Episcopal Church is broken up into Provinces (regions) and Diocese. A Diocese is governed by a Bishop, much like a governor of a state. The laity and clergy ultimately report to the Bishop of their diocese. Each church/parish in a diocese should have a priest in charge called a rector, and a governing body made up of lay people called a vestry. The rector and vestry of a parish work together to ensure that their parish is growing and the ministries of its congregation are flourishing. They also work to ensure that the constitution and canons of the Episcopal Church are being upheld, as well as any Diocesan canons or bylaws.
Think of the GC like congress that passes federal laws, and the Diocese like states that have their own laws that only affect their Diocese. The diocese meets every year to discuss the canons and bylaws for that diocese. The diocesan convention is made up of the clergy from each parish, and elected lay delegates. The number of delegate per parish is determined by the average weekly attendance number that gets calculated and reported to the National Episcopal Church via the Parochial Report.
Now this is just an oversimplified explanation of the governance of the Episcopal Church, and I left out a lot of details. But, this should offer a basic understanding of how it works. To get a better understanding, or if you are interested in becoming involved at your parish I recommend talking to your vestry members. They are often listed on your church’s website, or you can call the office and you should be able to get a list of vestry members and how to contact them.
If you don’t like a canon or by-law and want to change it, talk to your parish diocesan convention delegate or work to become elected. Don’t be afraid of getting involved and don’t just expect the church to change without you being involved. Be the change you want to see in the church.