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Worship and the Arts at St. Peter’s

O God, the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven: Do not leave us comfortless…. – From the Collect for the Seventh Sunday of Easter, Book of Common Prayer 1979

These words, from the opening Collect of this final Sunday of the Easter season, fix with precision our current spiritual and liturgical coordinates. We rejoice in Christ’s ascension, yet there is a sense of waiting, expectation, and perhaps even of nagging uncertainty as we wait for the other comforter, the advocate, the Spirit of truth and understanding. To what, as Father Jacob asked us in his sermon this past Sunday, is the Spirit calling each of us? To what is the Spirit calling St. Peter’s? In more than two years working alongside Paul Keller as a vestry liaison for worship and the arts at St. Peter’s, I have seen how a few of those callings are being worked out in our midst.

Worship feeds us in times of uncertainty. As we wait for the coming of the Spirit in our own lives and in our broader community, we come to church and find in the worship of God something of what we were searching for. Whether it be through hearing a favorite hymn or anthem, an ear-catching phrase in the lectionary, the message of the sermon, or participation in the Eucharistic feast, we are filled with the love of Christ.

As we are filled with the love of Christ, we reflect it into the world. Worship is the source and the expression of our ministries as a parish. When we are joined together in Christ’s love, we are called to show that love in the wider world. Our outreach, our strivings for social justice, our artistic endeavors all find their inspiration in our collective worship. We support the Choir School at St. Peter’s and Center City Concerts because we know that these organizations feed souls and bring joy. Whether we feel ourselves to be bold followers or slightly timid ones as yet, we are called to do Christ’s work in the world.

Worship leads us to a life of dedication. Whether in service to our parish or to the wider community, members of St. Peter’s show their dedication. A conservative estimate of the hours members spent volunteering just in liturgical roles was 9,000 hours in 2016. The Spirit calls lectors to read the Word of God. The Spirit calls members of the Flower and Altar Guilds to bring beauty to our church building each week. The Spirit is calling the choir not only to weekly offerings in worship, but to take a pilgrimage to St. Alban’s, England in August to grow as an ensemble and to bring back to St. Peter’s a renewed sense of dedication in worship and the arts.

As you contemplate your life at St. Peter’s, to what is God’s Spirit calling you?

Abigail Cudabac, Vestry Member

May 24, 2017

Ascension Day service this Thursday at Noon. Multi-lingual readers sought for Pentecost. Parish Picnic set for June 4.

Ascensiontide

Before the 1979 Book of Common Prayer the Episcopal Church observed an older Kalendar which ended the Easter Season on Ascension Day, forty days after Easter Day. Ascensiontide, as it was known, was the ten days of celebration which marked the Ascension of our Lord into heaven until the Even of Whitsun, an older Anglican name for the Day of Pentecost. The Day of Pentecost is fifty days after Easter Day, hence the name.

The 1979 Book of Common Prayer sought to reclaim an older tradition of the Great Fifty Days of Easter, from Easter Day to Pentecost Day. An unintentional consequence was the lessened significance of Ascension Day and the loss of Ascensiontide. There are nine hymns in The Hymnal 1982 appointed for Ascension Day, and The Book of Common Prayer lists Ascension Day as one of the seven Principal Feasts of the Church.

So, what is so important about the Ascension and what theology is undergirding our observance of this day?
Ascension Day held significant meaning for the early Church who believed that the physical ascension of our Lord into heaven was a visible reminder of God’s authority in Christ. The Ascension means that God has not only raised the crucified Christ from the dead, but that God has also given the crucified Christ authority and power. Just as God chose to become human for our sake, to take the form of a baby and to live, die, and be raised for us, God has also chosen to take our human form to God’s self.

Imagine for one moment, what it means for the creator of the universe, who formed us from the dust of the earth, to take our human form into the Godhead. If Christ is ascended to God’s right hand, then God’s very nature is changed for all time, and in God’s nature there is a human body.

In the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus we see God’s never-failing love towards us. In Christ’s ascension, we lift our eyes to the same God, who took our human form to himself and reveled a love that will not cease, until all of creation is reconciled in Christ.

Join us for an Ascension Day service of Holy Eucharist with organ and hymns on Thursday, May 25 at Noon.

The Reverend Jacob E. Pierce, Associate Rector

Caring for Our Flock

Last Sunday, we heard the Reverend Dr. Leòn preach movingly on Christ as a shepherd. Indeed, in foretelling Christ’s coming, Isaiah (40:11) tells us that “He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.” How does St. Peter’s try to live up to Christ’s example for the flock who are our congregation?
Informally, we all demonstrate our caring for one another by reaching out and checking on how we can help one another.

The formal aspect of our caring is coordinated through the Pastoral Care Team. The clergy and lay team coordinates the efforts of ministry groups ranging from those who provide assistance to families celebrating a birth to families grieving a death. Ministry groups offer a homemade meal or a handmade shawl when it is a reminder of the congregation’s, and God’s, love. Volunteers reach out to homebound parishioners and celebrate eucharist when receiving it at St. Peter’s is no longer practical. Those who would like additional prayers for healing or hope are welcomed each week for intercessory prayer. Clergy and laity also offer a safe place for caregivers and those living with chronic illness to express their joys and challenges.

We recognize that the confidentiality offered in these services sometimes means that they can become hidden. It is my hope that this message can shine a light on their availability.

To learn more about these services, call the church office at 704-332-7746 to speak with a member of the clergy. If it is after hours, call the Clergy-on-Call number at 704-749-6175 where a member of the clergy is always available. We urge you not to rely on email or word of mouth in the hopes that clergy will get the message, as these are not always reliable and parishioners are sometimes upset that the church didn’t respond to a need it didn’t know existed.

If you would like more information about volunteering with a pastoral care ministry, please contact me.

John Hall
Vestry liaison to Pastoral Care Team