The week preceding Easter observed throughout catholic Christendom both in the East and the West is a period of devotion to the Passion of Christ. The traditional rites associated with this week probably began to develop in Jerusalem in the 4th century as pilgrims began to re-enact the last scenes of the life of Christ in liturgical drama.  Their liturgies became refined during the next few centuries and the Holy Week liturgies that we will celebrate at St. Paul’s on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday in the Great Vigil of Easter are these very liturgies. There is an extraordinary witness of millions of Christians in our catholic Traditions who have and continue to celebrate these last scenes in the earthly life of Christ. Will you join in that witness?
Palm branches, singing and procession initiate this most holy time of the Christian liturgical year. From Palm Sunday we move to a new place on Wednesday in Holy Week. The Women of the Passion provides us with a dramatic enactment of the events of this week. The Sacred Triduum (Sacred Three Days) begins on Maundy Thursday. We remember the First Eucharist and Jesus command to all of us to be persons of love, service and acceptance. At the conclusion of our worship we remove all traces of our Christian heritage from the sanctuary and strip the altar. This dramatic symbol reminds us that Christ was stripped and beaten for our sakes. The stark look of the focus of our worship is also stripped bare.
Clergy in all catholic Traditions are forbidden to celebrate Holy Eucharist on Good Friday. At St. Paul’s we will not have Communion distributed from Reserved Sacrament. This one day of the Christian year we abstain from taking the Body and Blood of our Lord into ourselves and we mourn along with the mother of Jesus and his disciples. What those early disciples did not know, we know! At the Great Vigil (also known as the Paschal Vigil) we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the Principal Celebration of Easter! Unfortunately, in many Christian traditions, including ours, the significance and meaning of this powerful celebration was lost for a long time. It has been revived and we will celebrate it at St. Paul’s for the first time in several years. The celebration of the Great Vigil is called the principal celebration of Easter because it re-enacts in liturgical drama Christ as the new light, reminds us of our long journey through Salvation History as we remember our commitment to Christ in our personal spiritual death and resurrection in Baptism. Our worship concludes with Holy Communion in a moving liturgy. Christians who gather for the Great Vigil come away refreshed and renewed!
Please make every attempt to avail yourselves of these liturgies and the dramatic reading of The Women of the Passion. These gatherings can be deeply meaningful to each of us as we end our Lenten journey to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus, our Lord!
 The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church
~ Fr. Al Jewson
I subscribe to a blog named “Growing Healthy Churches. Together.” by Thom S. Rainer. The following was written by a Millennial, Jonathan Howe.
“Five Reasons Why This Millennial Still Likes Using Hymnals”
I might lose my Millennial card for admitting this, but: I like hymnals. A lot. Yes, I realize I’m supposed to want to worship with fog machines and song lyrics on projector screens with cool moving backgrounds. And sometimes I enjoy that too—but not all the time. So why would a 36-year old Millennial enjoy hymnals? Here are my five reasons:
Read more: https://thomrainer.com/2017/03/five-reasons-millennial-still-likes-using-hymnals/
To all of our members no matter what term describes your age (Boomer, Gen X, Gen Y, Millennial, Gen Z, etc) is there someone with whom you can share Jonathan Howe’s blog. Maybe sharing might get that person to think about the benefit of our style of worship.
~ Fr. Al Jewson
Women of the Passion A Journey to the Cross
On Wednesday, April 12, during Holy Week, St. Paul's will offer the very special reading of Women of the Passion A Journey to the Cross by Katie Sherrod.
Voices of women in Scripture are so often unexplored. This is an opportunity to broadens our spiritual experience with these unique and inspiring voices.
“So here they are, the stories of the women who witnessed the Passion of Jesus Christ. Scripture tells us of several women whose lives were touched by Jesus – the bent-over woman, the woman with the flow of blood, the Syrophoenician woman. I always thought the women whose lives were touched in such a powerful way by Jesus would not simply have said, “Thank you,” and gone home and resumed their everyday lives.” (From the Introduction of the book)
The book begins with three meditations: the anointing of Jesus by a woman, the denial by Peter of Jesus, and a dream of Pilate’s wife. Followed by the 14 stations of the Cross, we travel with the women and with Jesus on his journey to the Cross, ending at the tomb where he is laid. The stories of these women offer a unique perspective into this man we call Jesus and the lives of the people he transformed.
You are invited to be a part of this rich, powerful event as a reader or as a listener at St. Paul's Carondelet on Wednesday, April 12, 7 p.m. Please contact Barbi Click (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Fr. Al Jewson (email@example.com) for more information.
Last Wednesday we began our Lenten Study program. This year the “5 Marks of Love” is the theme we are using. It was developed by the Episcopal Monks the Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE) and is based on the “Five Marks of Mission” developed by the Anglican Consultative Council. The 5 marks of love are the manner in which we are to engage in our ministry of mission. They are a checklist for parishes about the peoples’ need to reach out beyond the church to engage the stranger. The five marks of mission are:
Why even refer to ministry of mission as a “need” we all have? Some of us may not recognize this need as his/her own, some may want to dispense with it, some readily engage in it. This “need” to reach out beyond the church community is not something new – it is a command from Christ repeated by him time and again in the Gospels.
In this morning’s podcast, Brother (Br.) Robert L’Esperance explains how the gospel concept of repentance – which literally means having a change of mind – is the essence of the kingdom, because it means that the world does not have to be the way it is. We have the power to change it. He writes,
What Jesus’ message is about is that we can choose to change how we perceive ourselves, and how we perceive one another. And the message is that we don’t have to see ourselves or one another through the lens of alienation or through the lens of being set in opposition against one another. So much of how human beings act, both toward themselves, and toward one another, is a mode of alienation, rejection, caution, suspicion, and Jesus says that there is a different way of being in the world. There is a different way for us to be in the world, with ourselves first to begin with, and once that is effected, then how we interact with one another. It doesn’t have to be—what Jesus is saying is that the world does not have to be the way it is, and we can change it. Human beings have been given the power to change it. So when we see evil in the world, when we see the problems of the world, what's the good news of the message of the kingdom is that you can change that. You have the power to change that.
I have a question for you: How can you make a difference in your life and in the lives of others? by Br. Robert L’Esperance
You know, if you look at this Gospel message from the perspective of its end goal, it appears impossible. If you look at it from inside yourself and then to the next person then there are two people trying to change the way we perceive others and act toward them. Eventually it does multiply. The entire world may not be reached in my lifetime or yours, but oh, what a change we can make in our lifetime. It’s never too late to start.
Please take the effort and time to be part of our Lenten Study on Wednesdays from 7 -8 (8:30) p.m.
Fr. Al Jewson
On Ash Wednesday the Church invited all of us to the observance of a holy Lent. The first directive we are given is self-examination. Self-examination provides us with an opportunity to deeply look at ourselves, that is, our mind-set about self and others and how we act toward other people.
When you and I examine the Bible as a whole and do not select a word or verse to defend our position about self and other persons, we are left with two directives: to love God with all your heart and soul and fellow human beings as yourself. Wow, what a tall order! The Scriptures offer many other examples of what it means to examine ourselves and our action; however, I would like to quote the late Fred Rogers, “Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like ‘struggle’. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and how.”
In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus started his ministry by quoting the Prophet Isaiah’s description of the work of the Servant of God: to bring good news to those who are oppressed, to heal the broken-hearted, and to restore all persons and things to the status for which God created them. Wow, another tall order! In other words, Jesus’ ministry, and now our ministry, is not to invite the “so-called good” in a special club and shut the door on those persons whom society in its distorted attitude considers “unworthy”, but rather seek them out and invite them in.
What this means for the mission of St. Paul’s is to reach out to those who live near and around our church and invite them in not only to join us for worship, but also, for fellowship. It means to be open to all persons including the homeless and poor (actually, especially the homeless and poor). If all of us take on this charge at church and try really hard to accomplish this directive of Jesus, it might just help each of us to become more open and accepting at home, work, school, wherever we find ourselves at the moment. Oh, that’s what Jesus meant!
I’ll end today’s message with a quote from an unknown author, “Diversity is the one thing we all have in common. Celebrate it every day.”
Fr. Al Jewson
Rector's Corner posts written by Pastor Rebecca.