A Note from the Rector – 26 January 2020
Can you believe how good the floors look? We can be grateful to NBC Environmental who removed the old tile, and to Smith Flooring Incorporated for installing the new tile. They did a great job with a very tight schedule and they even finished with hours to spare. They are finishing up the project this weekend in the front area of the Parish Hall and the hallway outside the bathrooms and Memorial Room. If all goes according to plan, we will have access to the bathrooms and Memorial Room for our Sunday morning services. The vestry with the help of the property committee and the finance committee have done a lot of work to make this project happen, and I am extremely grateful to everyone who has contributed. A special mention needs to go to JT Wertz and John Day for leading the planning and logistics. One or both of them were here the entire time that the contractors were working. Thank you very much for your dedication! Thanks also, to the huge crew of people who moved all furniture out of the Godly play room and back.
This morning we will bless the new set of green paraments and vestments that were commissioned in loving memory of Jane Sibley, and use them for the first time. Paraments refer to decorative cloths that hangs on the front of the altar (called a frontal), the pulpit, and the lectern. Made to match these is a veil, the cloth that covers the chalice and communion paten before they are used; and the burse, which is a little envelope that holds extra linen cloths. Those are the paraments. The new vestments that were created for us are a chasuble, two stoles, and a maniple. All of these were beautifully designed and executed by a liturgical artist named Davis d’Ambly. Davis lives in the Philadelphia area and is a parishioner of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Center City. Without exaggeration, he is one of the most well-known and sought-after designer of liturgical appointments in the United States. He is frequently commissioned by Episcopal and Roman Catholic churches around the country and beyond for major projects including large-scale paintings, carvings, and liturgical furniture, in addition to sets of vestments. I was overjoyed that he agreed to create this special set of vestments and paraments for us in honor of Jane. They were created prayerfully, and with the highest quality materials and craftsmanship, and are, I hope, a fitting tribute to Jane’s many years of service to the worship of God in this place.
You may remember that last April and May I wrote a series of articles on the meaning and symbolism of vestments. Those articles can be found on our website here, here, here, here, here, and here. To end this week’s note in celebration of our new paraments and vestments, I will provide an excerpt of something I originally wrote about vestments for Sunday, April 28, 2019:
“Christians are set apart; made holy by virtue of our baptism into the life and body of Christ. Scripture puts it this way: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). All Christians are priests. Vocational priests and other ministers are called and ordained (set apart) merely as symbols and tokens of that fact.
Priests, deacons, and bishops wear vestments in that capacity, as symbols and signs of the priesthood of all Christians. Vestments are not about setting the minister apart from the congregation in some qualitative sense. They’re not just meant to be fancy clothes in order to make me feel fancy. Rather, vestments are symbolic of the fact that liturgy itself is a time, place, and activity which is set apart, demarcated from other time and other activities. Liturgy, the worship of the church, is special. It is holy. The priest is a symbol for the whole people of God, and vestments are symbols of the set apart-ness of the activity in which we come together to participate on Sunday mornings (and other times!).”