Beginning on Sunday, May 13, we will begin a four-session “Inquirer’s Class,” from 9-10 a.m. on Sundays in the Parish House. The class will be held on May 13 and 20, and June 3 and 10. There will be no Christian Formation classes on May 27, the day before Memorial Day.
Having an annual (or occasional) Inquirer's Class is a tradition in many Episcopal churches. The class serves as a brief course on the Bible, church history, and some basics about faith and the structure of the Episcopal Church. Everyone
is welcome to attend—whether you are new to the Episcopal church or a fourth-generation (or more!) Episcopalian looking for a refresher course! If you are an adult or teenager who wishes to be baptized or confirmed, or if you have been confirmed in another denomination and wish to be received into the Episcopal Church, this class serves as your preparation.
Even if you’re just thinking about being baptized, confirmed, or received, I encourage you to attend the four sessions of this class—it may help you decide!
We will use the book Your Faith, Your Life: An Invitation to the Episcopal Church
by Jennifer Gamber and Bill Lewellis as our text. The church has purchased four copies, which can be checked out by anyone taking the course, but I encourage you (particularly if you are preparing for baptism, confirmation, or reception) to purchase the book for yourself.
You can buy a new copy online from Cokesbury (www.cokesbury.com
) for under $13 or from other booksellers for around $16. The Kindle edition from amazon.com is $9.99, and used copies can be found online from around $9. If you need more information about purchasing a copy, or if you would like to reserve a church copy to borrow for the class, please call the church office at 837-1112.
Bishop Ted Gulick will visit us on Sunday, September 9, at Old Chapel. If you wish to be baptized, confirmed, or received at Bishop Gulick’s visitation, come to these classes and contact the church office to let us know of your intention. If you cannot
attend these classes, please call the church office to make other arrangements for your preparation. Faithfully,
Easter Day is the primary feast day of the Christian year. On Easter morning, we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the victory of God’s love over sin and death. Although we see more and more a non-religious, popular celebration to this day—egg hunts and Easter bunnies, often in stores just after Valentine’s Day!—Easter is still so connected to the Resurrection that churches see worshippers on Easter Day that they don’t see any other Sunday of the year. Easter is a wonderful Sunday to welcome home those who have been away, and to welcome for the first time those who have never visited before. I hope you come to church on Easter for this glorious celebration!
We will have two services to celebrate the Sunday of the Resurrection. The Great Vigil of Easter will be held at Old Chapel at 6:00 a.m., and we are delighted that the Shape Note Singers will provide the music for our worship at that service. We will continue the celebration with an Easter Festival Eucharist at 10:30 a.m. at Christ Church.
In addition to the beauty of our Easter services, I encourage you to join us for Holy Week. We celebrate Maundy Thursday at Christ Church with our annual Seder Supper (reserve your seat now!). In order to deepen your celebration of the Resurrection, I also encourage you to come to church on Good Friday, when we commemorate the Crucifixion.
Crucifixion and Resurrection go hand in hand—Jesus was first killed before he could rise again. The Good Friday Liturgy and the celebration of Easter Day mean more when they inform each other and when we are present in church to participate in both. Our Good Friday service at Christ Church will be at 7:00 p.m., and Maddie MacNeil will again sing for us at this service. (Check out a review of Maddie’s performance at the recent Winter Festival of Acoustic
Music in Irving, Texas here: http://www.dailycomet.com/article/20120301/ARTICLES/120229547?p=1&tc=pg
If you are in Berryville at noon on Good Friday, please also consider attending the ecumenical Good Friday service at Berryville Presbyterian Church.
Thank you to everyone who will be participating in worship and hospitality during the busy days of Holy Week and Easter. I look forward to being with you during this most holy time.
How do we make Lent fresh, when we’ve been through so many Lents before?
I had been thinking about this question for the past few weeks, as we moved closer and closer to Lent. There’s a beautiful rhythm to the church calendar, but sometimes that rhythm begins to feel repetitive. Advent then Christmas, Epiphany then Lent, Easter then Pentecost. Around and around we go, and the same verses are read and the same prayers prayed. “Lent, again?” I kept thinking.
I called my sister on her birthday, which fell on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday this year. She asked me if I was going to make my children give up something for Lent. “No, I won’t make them give up something,” I said.
But her question got me thinking about perhaps introducing the idea to my six-year-old, to see what he would think. In order to talk to him about giving something up, I needed to start with what Lent is, and why we would want to give up anything in the first place. Suddenly, Lent felt fresh. Trying to explain Lent to a child and help him understand why we would fast before we feast at Easter helped me get out of the “Lent, again?” frame of mind and remember how refreshing and renewing Lent can be.
First I had to clarify that giving something up for Lent means giving up something we have control over and something that we would ordinarily like to do or to have. One way to think about our Lenten fast is to examine any behaviors that draw us away from God or that harm our relationships with other people. Trying to make self-sacrifice of any sort appealing to a child is challenging, but talking about what we gain when we let go of what is unnecessary or destructive helped both of us.
Lent is not just about giving things up, of course. Lent is also time of self-reflection and closer attention to our relationship with God, especially through prayer and Bible study. So we’re adding Bible stories to our nightly bedtime routine and remembering to say “I’m sorry” when we pray—notjust “Thank you” and “Please.” These are good places to start if you’re new to Lent, whatever your age. And if you’re not new to Lent, if Lent has become routine, then they’re good ways to get back to the heart of the season.
How can you make Lent fresh this year?
I grew up in an area of the United States where Episcopalians were few and far between—dry and dusty West Texas. My parish was small, and our youth group was tiny. Most of my friends at school belonged to the big Baptist and Methodist churches around town. Because I went to church with so few other young people who knew what the Episcopal Church was like, I found my real sense of identity as an Episcopalian and really fell in love with the Episcopal Church at diocesan youth gatherings.
Now Virginia is a very different place from West Texas, but particularly in smaller parishes, it is helpful and encouraging for us to find ways to connect with the church beyond our parish. The Diocese of Virginia is one of the largest in the Episcopal Church, and making connections within the diocese is a great way to feel part of something bigger. Visiting Shrine Mont
for our parish weekend (which is scheduled for July 20-22—MARK YOUR CALENDARS!) is one of my favorite ways to do this!
You can also get a better sense of the church outside our parish by visiting the web sites of The Diocese of Virginia
and The Episcopal Church.
Both have excellent resources and information.
This spring, I will use some of our adult education time to lead an “Inquirer’s Class” for those who want to learn more about the Episcopal Church—whether in preparation for baptism, confirmation, or reception, or simply because you are interested! Stay tuned for more information about this class.
Yours in Christ,
Originally posted January 2012
What a wonderful Advent and Christmas we had at Christ Church! Advent Lessons and Carols was a beautiful service, and the adult Christian Formation class gave special attention to the biblical stories of Advent. The Christmas Dinner and Auction was a huge success, and the “Happy Birthday Jesus” children’s party was a fun new endeavor. The Christmas Cheer reception and the services on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning were extremely well-attended and full of the joy of the season. December was a wonderful time in the life of our parish.
January can sometimes feel disappointing after all of the Christmas festivities. The bright lights and warm feelings that take the chill out of December seem to have no remedy in January. But the love of God in Jesus Christ still fills our hearts. And the work of being a Christian, the work begun with that love at Christmas, continues.
American theologian and Baptist minister Dr. Howard Thurman wrote:
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers,
To make music in the heart. [Thurman, Howard. The Mood of Christmas. Indiana: Friends United Press, 1973.]
This is God’s call to us in the name of the Son of God—this ministry of love and reconciliation that came down in the baby in a manger. The ministry of God’s love in Jesus Christ goes on.