The Rector’s June 2010 Newsletter Article

From the Rector’s Desk

Dear Members and Friends of St. Paul’s:

This month I offer a few different items for your consideration.

Spring is sprung

The grass is riz

I wonder where the pledge cards is?

A. I hope you will have already received my stewardship letter. If you have not, please ask one of the wardens, Florence Strang and David Graham, or the financial secretary, Wendy Harris, for a copy. The theme of this year’s financial drive is God’s active presence in the world, even in the midst of suffering and failure. It is important for the local church – your church – to be a strong witness to the Grace of God. To do this we need your full support. Please make a financial commitment to St. Paul’s Church.

B. The new phone system has been operating since November of 2009, and it seems that most folks are quite happy with how well it is working. If you know the extension number of the person you are calling, you can reach that person by pushing the extension number as soon as the outgoing message starts. The clergy and staff are available to talk on the phone most of the time, and can be reached on their private phones simply by pressing the correct extension number. The phone system is designed to allow you to speak directly with a person – not just leave a message with a receptionist, or deal with voice-mail. During the last few years we have been inundated with nuisance calls from companies that use automated systems to make recorded solicitations. The new phone system allows our financial secretary, for example, to do her work without unnecessary interruptions. Of course, if a person calls and would like to speak with Wendy Harris, she is available at her extension. Here is the list of extensions: Fr. Gorchov (ext. 1); Dcn. Todaro (ext.2); Brian Hoffman, Music Director (ext. 3); Marjory Roddy, Flower Memorials (ext. 4); Wendy Harris, Financial Secretary (ext. 6); Upcoming Events (announcement only – ext.7); Weather Related Information and Cancellations (announcement only – ext.9). You do not need to wait – just press the extension number and you will be connected to your party. Of course, if you would just like to leave a message, you can wait for the tone at the conclusion of the outgoing message, and then leave your message.

C. A Liturgical FAQ (frequently asked questions) – re: Manual Acts

Q. Why do you cross yourself at the words “resurrection of the dead” during the Nicene Creed?

A. For me it’s a public confession of faith in the General Resurrection. It is a sign of hope.

Q. Why don’t you cross yourself at the Benedictus Qui Venit? Isn’t that a traditional thing to do?

A. Yes, it is very common to see Episcopalians make the sign of the cross at the words “Blessed is he who comes in the name of Lord.” I think it is a good thing to make the sign of the cross, but even a good thing can be overused. In medieval times it was common for the people to cross themselves any time they heard the word “blessing” during the service, which is probably the beginning of the practice at the “Benedictus.” Also, in some experimental liturgies there is an attempt to make the “Benedictus” gender neutral (“Blessed is the one who comes in the name of Lord”). The original text is from the New Testament though, and the words specifically refer to Jesus Christ, not to just anyone. I have seen people at these alternative liturgies “bless” themselves as “the one who come in the name of the Lord.” In this case the symbolic action has become confusing, and it isn’t really clear at all what is meant by the gesture. I have decided not to cross myself during the “Benedictus.” However, if this is your practice, and you are more comfortable in crossing yourself at the Benedictus, please continue to do what is familiar for you.

Q. During the Prayer of Consecration you make a lot of symbolic gestures. What are these supposed to do?

A. Throughout the ages the Church has employed all manner of ways to communicate the Gospel (stained glass, music, incense, vestments, candles, etc.) I think the “manual acts” of the priest are just one more way to tell the story of Jesus – and to pray – at the same time. At some time in the future, we will schedule an “instructed Eucharist,” during which a narrator explains the many symbolic acts that are performed.

My rowing shell languishes in our driveway awaiting her first launch of the new summer season. Hopefully next week I will be ‘on the water’ and officially welcome summer. May your summer days be filled, by God’s grace, with much fun and sun!

Blessings, Michael+


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