Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Table of Grace

It's pretty normal for Ash Wednesday services to include the Eucharist as well as imposition of ashes, but the particular order of service at my church tonight stood out to me. We confessed, blessed the ashes, and then before imposition of ashes, spoke and sang the Great Thanksgiving. We came forward to receive ashes and then went straight to the table to receive communion. I had noticed when reading the bulletin before service that this would be the case, but it didn't really sink in until I took communion.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

For *All* the Saints

This is a re-post of something I wrote two years ago. I started to write this story again today and then realized that I had, in fact, already written it.

This year, this is in memory of both Charlotte and Lindsey, who confirmed and strengthened me in the faith in the simple and quiet ways.

For all the saints who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confess,
Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest,
Alleluia! Alleluia!

- William W. How

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Daily Prayer Resources

This is a set of resources for establishing a practice of daily prayer, especially morning and evening prayer.

The first section has prayers and prayer services. Many of them are written to be done communally but can also be done individually. The second section has resources for various elements of a prayer service, like readings or Prayers of the People.

The last two sections are more relevant to individual reading and prayer. The third section has suggestions for how to choose shorter texts to focus on, and the fourth section has suggestions for daily prayer focuses or short daily prayers.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Link Dump, Recent Reading: Early June 2016

A few links from what I was reading in late May and early June!

Jeremy Steele on hope and the UMC
Was beautiful, actually made me cry.

April Fiet's Trinity Sunday sermon about the difficulty of trying to understand the Trinity and the point of Trinity Sunday.
This. Just all of this. Love talking about the white paraments and looking directly into the sun. Love the focus on community and light. Love ending up talking about singing.

Morning and Evening Methodist Prayer
This delights me. I've been singing the Psalms with the Seedbed metrical psalter instead of just reading them, and some of the time I've used the Prayers of the People booklet I made a while ago to do the intercession bit of the prayer service. I also love that it incorporates Wesley hymns, most of which I've never seen before. (I do wish they came with tunes/suggestions for tunes, though. Sometimes I can figure out a reasonable meter to use, and sometimes it's much harder.)

Friday, May 20, 2016

Link Dump: Recent Reading, May 2016

It's been a while since I did a links post, but there are a couple of things I wanted to share, so here's what I've been reading lately.

The past couple of weeks have been General Conference, which I've followed pretty closely, so a lot of what I've read for the past couple of weeks has been about goings on at GC.

Short summary: it's been rough. There are still some things from GC that I want to share.

First, Bishop Gregory Palmer gave the Episcopal Address. Bishop Palmer spoke at New England Annual Conference last year, and it was incredible. This address was, as well. The text is here, but if you have the time, I'd really recommend listening to it; here's the video. I love what he says about humility and about prayer, and then there's this: "Everyone here is a child of God; hard stop; period. Any behavior to the contrary of that truth undermines the Gospel and a choice to live beneath our privilege."

I also really appreciated this blog post by Rev. Katie Dawson from a couple of days ago. This was written after the body had asked the Council of Bishops to come up with a proposal for moving forward but before the bishops had come back with a statement. The post talks about blessing in unity and blessing despite separation, and it ends with excerpts from the covenant prayer. Yes.

Quick squee: we are now in full communion with the Moravian Church! (And also the Uniting Church of Sweden.)

Not related to General Conference: This article appeared in the Boston Globe, and it's about Sanctuary United Church of Christ in West Medford, MA. It's beautifully written, and it's so true to the stories I have heard and lived of Mainline churches in New England.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing

Written for today's service at church, which was led by the graduating seniors.

I believe in singing our faith.

I believe in singing the Psalms, the ancient songs of anger, lament, and praise. In the Psalms we sing with David, sing with the Jewish people on the way to the festivals, sing with a people in exile. Sing with a people who know that God is still with them and God is still for them.

I believe in singing the songs that the church has raised together through history. ``Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might." ``Glory be to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit." ``Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy."

I believe in singing the songs of the great hymn writers. Proclaiming God as a mighty fortress with Martin Luther. Rejoicing with God's saints with Fred Pratt Green. Believing in the promise of new life that God alone can see with Natalie Sleeth. Calling a thousand tongues to sing our Redeemer's praise with Charles Wesley. Being assured with Fanny Crosby that this is our story and our song.

I believe in singing the hymns that tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love. I believe in singing songs that work on us, that lead us back to God when we are lost, lead us to God as revealed in Scripture and God working in the world. In the times when I have most questioned the importance of Scripture, it was hymnody that helped me state my faith, hymnody that helped me grow, hymnody that brought me back to belief in the word of God as a firm foundation for faith. Even in our doubt -- especially in our doubt -- singing shapes us.

I believe in singing the songs of the seasons. I believe in singing the songs of a people waiting for a savior, of God Incarnate born to a young woman, of Jesus blessing, breaking, and giving bread. Songs of our mourning beneath the cross, our rejoicing at the empty tomb. Receiving the Holy Spirit. Being sent forth. And once again, waiting -- waiting for Christ who will come again.

I believe in singing the songs of the sacraments. I believe in singing songs of new life and baptism, recognizing that God claims us and that we are children of blessing and promise, proclaiming that children belong among us. I believe in singing songs of Christ welcoming us to God's table, of God meeting us in bread and cup, of being made one with Christ and one with each other.

I believe in singing as we work, singing as we wait, singing as we watch, singing through dim and bright.

I believe, above all of this, in singing the songs together. Building up each other's voices. Teaching each other to sing. Singing for each other when we falter.

We are bound together by Christ's death and resurrection. We are a thousand voices, but we are one Church. There is one bread, one Body, one Lord of all.

That is why we sing.

Monday, April 4, 2016

To Tell the Old, Old Story

I love to tell the story, 'twill be my theme in glory,
To tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love.

On the night of April 2nd, two friends and I held Easter vigil at school, starting at sunset and going a bit past sunrise on Easter morning. We were all exhausted by the end of Easter, but holding vigil was undoubtedly worth it. That's a night I'll remember for a long time -- more than eleven and a half hours of prayer, reading, singing, and discussion together. More than eleven and a half hours of telling the story.

Because that's what Easter vigil is about. It's about the story, the story that begins with the creation of the world, the story that tells of God delivering God's people time and time again, despite creation's seemingly constant apostasy. The story that leads to an empty tomb and Jesus, God incarnate, risen from the dead.

I love to tell the story of unseen things above,
of Jesus and his glory, of Jesus and his love.

We held a love feast as well, after all the Easter vigil readings except the gospel lesson. The love feast was a natural fit; it's also a service of reading, singing, and testimony, oriented around the breaking of bread. So after reading about God's salvation through history, we read about love and service and bread. We sang love as we had sung salvation. It seemed right, right to tell the story and then to explore why. Why God creates. Why God pursues, saves, over and over.

And then we were an hour and a half away from dawn. So we renewed our baptismal vows together, prayed and sang a litany of saints, and then reached what we had awaited all night: the reading from Luke, the story of the women and Peter finding an empty tomb, the story of "Why do you look for the living among the dead?"

He is not here, but has risen.

Christ is risen!
Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!

I love to tell the story, for those who know it best
Seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.
And when in scenes of glory, I sing the new, new song
'Twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long.