Happy Mother’s Day! This week I will continue a series describing the meaning and purpose of the vestments used in our worship. Vestments are garments set aside for use in liturgical worship. Last week I wrote about the white robe called an alb, and its sister garment, the surplice (riveting stuff, I hasten to add if you missed it). By virtue of its connection to the meaning of baptism, albs and surplices can be worn by any Christian who is engaged in a liturgical function during the service.
Traditional style albs, like the one I wear, do not cover up the collar of the shirt underneath. When a priest who is to celebrate Eucharist wears an alb, it is desirable to cover up all parts of the priest’s “street clothes.” This is because at the Eucharist, it is not about the individual who celebrates. Rather, the individual priest is a symbol and a representation of the entire congregation. In this sense, vestments are meant to cover up the individual beneath them. So, to cover up that collar I wear what is called an amice. An amice is rectangular piece of white cloth with two long strings attached. It functions like a detachable hood for the alb. It looks pretty funny when I put on the amice because I put over my head as if I am wearing a hood. I secure the amice to my chest with the strings and then I put the alb on and bring the amice down around my collar and neck. It has ample material to cover what I am wearing beneath. When putting on the amice, this is the traditional prayer that I pray: “Lord, set the helmet of salvation on my head to fend off all the assaults of the devil.” This prayer connects the amice to the “armor of God” that is spoken of in Ephesians 6:
10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For ourstruggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 15 As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. 16 With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication.
It is a beneficial spiritual practice to remind ourselves daily of our salvation won for us by the cross and resurrection of Jesus and conferred to us at baptism. That’s part of what the amice does for me. This passage from Ephesians can be meaningful to us, especially when we are feeling overwhelmed or “attacked.” How can we put on the armor of God in our own lives? You probably don’t need a physical symbol like an amice (although you get them at St. Jude’s shop in Havertown if you want!). Rather, putting on the figurative armor that is spoken of Ephesians has to do with verse 18: prayer. Wrap yourselves in prayer like armor protecting you from the attacks of the enemy. Pray for righteousness, faith, and the ability to proclaim the Gospel of peace. Stand firm in prayer knowing that you are God’s own child.
Holy Week and Easter Day
Palm Sunday – April 14
Morning Prayer – 8:30AM
Holy Eucharist with Blessing of the Palms, Procession, and Passion Reading – 10AM
Tuesday – April 16
Morning Prayer – 9:15AM
Wednesday – April 17
Morning Prayer – 9:15AM
Tenebrae – A service of readings and growing darkness – 6:30PM
Maundy Thursday – April 18
Morning Prayer – 9:15AM
Agape Meal, Holy Eucharist & the Stripping of the Altar – 6:30PM
The Altar of Repose—from 9PM-9AM Friday
Good Friday – April 19
Morning Prayer – 9:15AM
Children’s Stations of the Cross – 10AM
Egg decorating at the Rectory (children of all ages invited) – 11AM
Good Friday Service – 12PM
Good Friday Liturgy – 6:30PM
Holy Saturday – April 20
Easter Vigil followed by Champagne Reception – 8PM
Easter Sunday – April 21
Morning Prayer – 8:30AM
Festival Choral Eucharist with Baptism – 10AM
Easter Egg follows Easter service!
† Palm Sunday is next week! The service will begin in the Parish Hall with the blessing of the Palms. Healing Prayers will be the following Sunday.
† Holy Week Schedules have been sent by mail, they are also in the back of the “Holy Week & and the Mystery of Easter” booklets. Extras can be found on the Connect table.
† Morning Prayer is offered at 8:30AM on Sunday mornings and at 9:15AM Tuesdays through Fridays. Anyone can pray the service privately using the Book of Common Prayer or one of a number of smart phone apps! See the last section of the digital edition of the “Acts of the Apostles” for details.
† We are collecting non-perishable food items for the food pantry of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. Look for the collection box in the hallway outside the parish hall.
† Our next all-church Darby Mission Meal: 9/17/19.
† Montgomery County will be using the back portion of our parking lot on Sunday, April 28th for a Bike Safety Rodeo in conjunction with the Penn Wynne Civic Association Earth Day Celebration (in the park). We need volunteers to help welcome people onto our property and to do crowd & traffic control. Sign up on the bulletin board outside the church office, or email the office. Free T-shirt for all volunteers who sign up by April 11! Also, note this will affect parking for church on that day.
† Save the Date: Haverford Heritage Festival – Sunday, June 2. The church will have a booth.
Children and Youth
† Next week is Palm Sunday! All families are encouraged to attend the 10AM service. There will be fun opportunities for children to participate in the service. Family Evening Worship will also be offered at 5:30PM for those who want to come to church twice!
† Nursery Childcare is available during the 10:00AM Sunday service for children ages 3 and younger in the Godly Play Room.
† Sunday School: Children Preschool – 2nd grade and 3rd – 8th grade attend Sunday classes at 10:00AM, the same time as the church service starts; children join their parents in the church in time for communion. Classes are held on the 1st, 3rd, & 4th Sundays of the month. On 2nd Sundays children attend church with their parents, either the 10:00PM Holy Eucharist service or the 5:30PM Family Worship Service. When there is a 5th Sunday, children attend church with their parents, with some of the children taking part in leading the service.
† The Holy Apostles Choir School is looking toward it’s grand opening in the Fall of 2019. If you have a potential student, apply today. More information is available at holyapostlespa.org/choir-school/. Please forward this information to friends and neighbors who may be interested. Contact Deb Stambaugh if you have any questions.
† Get your official Church T-Shirt! We are ordering T-shirts (made in the USA; no sweat shop). If you would like one sign up and list shirt sizes on the bulletin board outside the office. The shirts will be deep blue and will have the “A place to belong” logo on them. Cost: $17 – Earth Day Volunteers are Free!
† Easter Flower Memorials– It is our custom to remember deceased loved ones in the light of Christ’s Resurrection with a stunning array of flowers on Easter day. A letter was sent out this week. Let the office know if you didn’t receive yours. The suggested donation is $8.00 per name. Extra envelops can be found on the Connect table.
† Don’t forget to enter the church through the Parish office door and grab a “Church Member” badge from the office during Daycare hours (7:00AM – 6:00PM Mon-Fri)!
† The Cash for Causes Program at Giant Supermarket:
-Purchase through JT Wertz
-5% of card value is given to Holy Apostles operating fund.
-Can be used in store or when ordering Giant groceries through peapod online delivery service.
† This Wednesday at 6:30PM is your last chance to join our Lenten “soup group” which has met Wednesday nights in Lent! Come for the soup and stay for a lively discussion about faith and life (or come for the discussion and stay for the soup!) This year’s topic is:
“Good News & God’s Mission”
† Bible Study is held on Thursdays at 11AM.
† Mainline Reform Synagogue is hosting a Women’s Interfath event today Sunday, April 7 from 3-5PM. The event is entitled: “Refugees and Asylum Seekers Share Their Stories of Exodus: A Women’s Interfaith Gathering.”
I am getting excited for Holy Week and Easter! Holy Week (the week before Easter Sunday) is April 14-20. As it approaches, I want to highlight some of the deeply meaningful practices that make it the culmination of the Lenten season, and—If you include Easter itself—the culmination of the entire Christian year. The week is a huge marathon of church (trust me, I know), but I cannot stress how valuable, transformative, and excited it can be when you throw yourself into it wholeheartedly. My heart is racing just thinking about it (seriously).
Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil (Saturday Night) are all uniquely tied together. They even have a special name as a group: The Tridiuum (tri-dee-um). In some senses they are each different movements of the same service. Maundy Thursday (6:30PM, April 18), doesn’t have a dismissal at the end. A normal service ends with “Go forth in the name of Christ” or something like that, but Maundy Thursday just cuts off. Likewise, the Good Friday liturgy (6:30PM, April 19) does not have the normal beginning to a service—there is no Procession, song, or even opening acclamation (normally services begin with: “Blessed be God…”). The Good Friday liturgy just jumps right in. And then there’s the Easter Vigil (8PM, April 20). Don’t even get me started right now on the Easter Vigil. Next week I am going to gush over the Easter Vigil, but suffice to say that the hair stands up on the back of my neck and my eyes get watery every time I even think about it.
I want to circle back to Maundy Thursday, the night we celebrate Jesus’ last night before his death. He sits down to one last meal (the Passover Seder) with his disciples. He washes his disciples’ feet. He institutes Holy Communion, the Eucharist. He adjourns to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray with his disciples, who can’t stay awake, and he is betrayed and arrested. These events are re-membered and made alive in our own lives in a number of ways:
1. We will have an Agape meal with each other. Agape means “love” and it is about the love that Jesus has for his disciples (us). Various elements of that meal will have symbolic value and will remind of us of the story in various ways.
2. Next, we will wash each other’s feet. This is awkward and weird, and it’s supposed to be. That’s the point. Jesus demonstrated that in his Kingdom the King himself is a servant to all, and that we, as disciples, must learn to serve each other. Gross feet? Don’t care. Jesus—in the visage of one another, his body—is going to wash them anyway, if you let Him.
3. Next, we will have a Communion service that re-members (yes, I’m putting the dash there on purpose) and celebrates the first Lord’s Supper in a special way. This will be the last time we say the Eucharistic prayer together before Easter, although extra elements will be consecrated (see below). This will be followed by the Stripping of the Altar, a devastating ritual, where just about everything ceremonially removed that can be removed from the chancel (the area around the altar). This symbolizes the movement of Jesus to the garden of his betrayal, and sets the stage for the starkness of Good Friday.
4. New to us this year is a practice called the Altar of Repose. At the Stripping of the Altar the extra bread and wine, including that which we always keep in the Ambry (that special wooden cabinet to the left of the altar) will be carried to a special altar outside our normal worship space. Since we believe Christ is truly present in the bread and wine of Eucharist, this movement symbolizes Christ’s removal to the Garden. Here, Christ prays in agony and asks his disciples to keep watch with and pray. In the story (Mark 13:32-42), the disciples can’t do it. They fall asleep. Jesus returns and wakes them and says, “Could you not keep watch with me for one hour?”
At the Altar of Repose, we are listening to Jesus’ call to us to keep watch and pray with him. You are invited to sign up (alone or in pairs) for an hour-long time slot Thursday night and the early hours of Friday morning for which you can return to the church, to the Altar of Repose, and pray with Jesus. There will prayers, readings and devotions available for you if you wish. This is can be an especially meaningful time to take your own agony, or the agony of those you love to the presence of Christ and offer it there to him to be taken up into his passion & death and be transformed by his Resurrection. On Good Friday, we will consume this reserved Sacrament with which we’ve prayed all night. Even on the darkest day, the day when God dies on the cross, Jesus is still present to us in our own lives.