re: Rector’s newsletter article for April, 2009

So much has been happening at St. Paul’s it is hard to keep up.

Information Concerning Holy Week and Easter Services

  • We begin Holy Week with the Liturgy of the Palms on Palm Sunday. This is a kind of prelude to Holy Week. The service commences in the Great Hall of the Guild House with the distribution of palms. During the procession from the parish hall and into the church there is a dramatic change in the service. The celebration of the waving palms suddenly gives way to the realization that Jesus is going to allow himself to be handed over to the murderous desires of an angry mob. The music in the church changes key, the vestments are now colored red. We are moving from Palm Sunday into Passion Sunday. Once we begin reading the Passion Gospel we know that we have definitely entered into Holy Week.
  • On Thursday evening in Holy Week we will hold a traditional Communion service appropriate for the day. Members of the choir will be in attendence to provide choral music to complement the celebration. Maundy Thursday liturgies attempt to honor all the events that are associated with that day. It is a difficult undertaking. This is the night that Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, washed the feet of his disciples, and instructed them to love one another (the new commandment, or Mandatum, from which we take “Maundy”). Thursday in Holy Week is also the night Jesus was betrayed, arrested, and taken into custody. The Maundy Thursday service ends with the dramatic ‘Stripping of the Sanctuary’ and the extinguishing of the Tiffany “Christ Lamp’ over the altar. Both of these actions signify the impending death of Jesus, and in symbolic terms transform the church into a tomb while we await His glorious Resurrection on Easter Sunday.
  • This year on Good Friday we have planned a worship service with music provided by our Organist and Choirmaster, Brian Hoffman, and a special choral group. The Liturgy of the Passion begins at 1:00PM, following the annual downtown Walk of the Cross (11:45AM, starting from Barker Park).
  • Easter Day at St. Paul’s begins with the Great Vigil at 5am. If you have not attended this beautiful service please consider doing it this year. Our regular services on Easter Sunday remain at 8 and 10AM.

Music School

  • The Music School at St. Paul’s is really going strong! The kids love coming to school each week. The parents are supportive and some have even volunteered to make and serve meals to the children during the dinner break between classes. We are truly following Jesus when he said, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14). I can confidently say this is a great inaugural year for the Music School, and I look forward to great blessings to come from this ministry.

Sunday School

  • We have done a remake of our Sunday School. The new format has the kids assembling in the parish hall between the Sunday services. Right now John Strang, Janeen Paul, Adrain Clayton, and Melissa Enslin are taking turns teaching the new classes. We are using a Bible-based curriculum, and the children learn Bible stories and remember important Bible verses each week. We only have a few kids right now, but they are having fun while they learn. By the way, parents are invited to attend the Sunday school with the kids!

Adult Education:

  • I have enjoyed immensely the opportunity to participate in the sermon forums this year. The dialogue we had on my sermon on the “Binding of Isaac,” (Genesis 22) was a great give-and-take event! I have also heard that the presentations on the parables of Jesus were interesting and informative. Many thanks to Bob Kearney and the Adult Ed committee for continuing to provide excellent adult learning opportunities for the parish.
Redesigned Web Page

  • Many thanks go out to Karen Strang, and former member Jason Burks (now in Maine), for doing a great redesign of the parish web page. New photos of the church have been added and the pages have been given a needed face-lift. Check it out: http://www.stpaulstroy.org.

Lenten Cleaning and Polishing

  • A crew of faithful members guided by David Graham and Florence Strang did a great job on a recent Saturday in the church. The pews and various nooks and crannies have been cleaned of accumulated dirt and ‘dust bunnies. Well done!

Shelter Project

  • April is our turn to become a downtown shelter for the homeless. If you would like to volunteer, please contact Karen Strang.

Safeguarding God’s Children and Safeguarding God’s People:

  • Along with my ministry partner and spouse, Marianne, we continue to provide child sexual abuse prevention training (Safeguarding God’s Children) throughout the diocese. We were in St. John’s, Ogdensburg in early February and at Good Shepherd, Elizabethtown at the end of March. On April 25th we are scheduled to be at St. Michael’s, Colonie. We also will be presenting the seminars on June 5th as part of the Diocesan Convention in Speculator, NY. All church staff and volunteers who regularly work with or around children should take this training. A new training program designed to prevent adult-on-adult sexual harassment and exploitation is now available in the diocese (Safeguarding God’s People).  I have completed the train-the-trainer program to become a certified trainer, and on February 19th I presented the first training seminars in the diocese to the staff at Christ the King Spiritual Life Center.
Blessings, Michael+
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