A Note from the Rector – 3/24/19

I love Lent.  I also love Spring.  I love watching early Spring flowers—crocuses, irises, tulips—as they begin to break through dirty snow, dark muddy soil, rotting leaves.  They are glimmers of hope cracking open the gloom of winter.  But, you can’t rush Spring.   It is easy for me to get impatient.  One beautiful Spring day may be followed by a week of storms and terrible weather.  It is hard for me to remember that all are part of the process of new life being birthed again in the world.  It is all part of an incredible miracle, but one that requires patience and attention in order to experience. 

Lent and Spring are both times of rebirth and growth, and this growth can be subtle.  You don’t always notice a crocus growing until one day your whole yard is full of beautiful purple flowers.  This is also true of spiritual growth.  God surprises us sometimes with our own spiritual growth, with the insights and joys, with uncomfortable realizations, and strange, unexpected consolations.  These all come to us, not from within ourselves or own intellect, but from God. They are arriving to us from God’s merciful excess.  So, this Spring and this Lent don’t forget to be surprised, to be taken aback by the wonder that God is bringing into this world, as gloomy, imperfect, or hopeless as it may seem.  God is in the business of surprises.  Let us keep our eyes open for wonder, even in this slog of early Spring and mid-Lent, lest the grace of God spring on us like a trap and catches us unprepared to give God thanks.   

In Christ,
James+

A Note from the Rector – 3/17/19

Welcome to the Second Sunday in Lent, which also happens to be St. Patrick’s Day.  Except for major feasts of Our Lord, whenever a saint’s feast day falls on a Sunday, it is transferred to the next day.  So, in the church’s mind, St. Patrick’s day is celebrated tomorrow (in case you want to wear your “Kiss Me I’m Irish” shirt tomorrow also).  This is because Sunday is always a major feast of the Resurrection.  Every Sunday is Easter Sunday, in other words.  As awesome as St. Pat is, he doesn’t hold a candle to the glorious resurrection of our Lord and Savior.  It also means that while it is a Sunday IN Lent, it is not really a Sunday OF Lent, because Sunday is always Easter.  In fact, the 6 Sundays that occur during the season of Lent are not counted in the 40 days of Lent.  Do with that information what you will.

After today’s 10AM service we are holding an Anglican Prayer Bead workshop in the Memorial Room.  Let me tell you about prayer beads.  First, it is interesting to note that the English word “bead” descends from the medieval Old English word “bede,” which means “prayer.” This testifies to how important prayer beads have been to the spiritual lives of many.

They are an aid to help us focus in prayer.  Being human means that we are spiritual and physical beings.  Many of us find it helpful, then, to have physical components to our spiritual prayer.  Prayer beads give our hands something to do, which somehow frees up some mental and emotional space and helps to focus and concentrate our prayer.  Body, mind, and spirit are connected in mysterious ways.

This embodied, contemplative practice of using objects to count prayers is very old—probably first developed in the Hindu religion over 5,000 years ago.  Many major world religions have their own version of prayer beads.  In the earliest days of Eastern Christian monasticism, monks used pebbles to count their prayers.  This practiced developed over time (4thand 5thcenturies) into beaded or knotted ropes that monks would hold and use to count their prayers. Made out of wool, and tied with a special (and very complicated) knot, prayer ropes (commonly called after their Russian name “chotkis) are still very much in use in the Eastern Christian world.  The prayer used most often with these prayer ropes is called the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”  This prayer is based on several passages form the Gospels, mainly from Luke 18:38 when a blind man outside Jericho cries out to Jesus as he passes by: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”

In the West, this practice showed up first in Ireland, in the 9thcentury monastic communities of St. Columba.  It spread throughout Europe and developed in the later middle ages into the Rosary—the “rose garden”, that is still in common use by Roman Catholics, as well as Anglicans and even a Lutheran or two.  The traditional use of the Rosary calls for three main prayers: the “Hail Mary” (derived mostly from several passage of the Gospel of Luke chapter 1), the Lord’s Prayer, and the “Glory Be” (Glory be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit…).

Sometime in the 1980s an Episcopal priest along with the contemplative prayer group at her parish, developed a simplified version of the Rosary.  They called it the Anglican Rosary.  It uses 33 beads to signify the 33 years of Jesus’ life.  Diverse prayers have been used with the Anglican Rosary, but they have always been closely derived or inspired by Scripture (as, indeed, all the prayers mentioned so far have been).  Our workshop is going to be fun for all ages.  This is a great way to teach children about prayer.  See you there!

A Note from the Rector – 3/10/19

Today is the first Sunday of the season of Lent.  This morning we join in the prayers of the Church using a very ancient form of prayer—the Great Litany.  The Great Litany is the real deal; the big time; the major leagues of prayer.  This prayer was first assembled in response to a 4th century volcanic eruption.  It was further shaped by political uncertainty, war, and medieval outbreaks of the Black Plague in Europe.  In 1544, the Great Litany was the first part of the Liturgy to be translated (and heavily edited) into vernacular English by Thomas Cranmer.  Five years later Cranmer finished the first Book of Common Prayer, which stands at the fountainhead of our own style of worship.  Cranmer’s version of the Litany melded medieval catholic spirituality with the theological concerns of the Reformation.  Martin Luther’s hand can still be detected on the version of the Litany that is in our prayer book.

At one time, the Great Litany was prayed by every Anglican parish every Sunday.  These days, even though it is included in our version of the prayer book, it has fallen into disuse.  This is a real shame. As one scholar writes, the Litany is “a most careful, luminous, and comprehensive collection of the scattered treasures of the Universal Church.”  It holds together the reformed and catholic strands of our tradition, and it articulates the needs, anxieties, and suffering of humanity with a power that is rare.  More than that, the Litany is a profound reminder that we need to rely on the grace and mercy of God.  This is equally true today as it was in the 4th century, or the 14th.  Our life depends on God, whether we recognize it or not.  And the fact is, we often don’t recognize it.  Lent is a good time to correct that, so let’s do it with style.

This morning’s service is going to feel different.  We will begin the service by chanting together this ancient, beautiful prayer. The choir is going to march around the church really slow, and any children present might feel like joining in the march, which would be ideal as far as I am concerned.  My experience is that children intuitively understand the grandest and most sublime parts of liturgy, even if their response to them don’t always strike us adults as appropriate.  It’s going to take some time to chant the Great Litany, which is okay.  Don’t be anxious.  This is an opportunity to lose yourself in the mystery and the majesty of something bigger than you, something more important (really, it is) than the busyness and anxieties and luxuries of everyday life.  I promise it will be worth it.  I also promise to keep my sermon short.  🙂

For more on the history and use of the Great Litany see this excellent article from the Living Church magazine.

Announcements for 3/3/2019

Worship

† Today is World Mission Sunday in the Episcopal Church.

† March 6th is Ash Wednesday.  The following services are offered:

7:30AM—Imposition of Ashes; no Eucharist

9:15AM—Imposition of Ashes; no Eucharist

12:15PM—Holy Eucharist with the Imposition of Ashes

6:30PM—Holy Eucharist with music and the Imposition of Ashes

† There are many opportunities to participate in a holy Lent this year.  Please pick up a Lenten booklet this morning, or look for the online version on our website soon.  Feel free to take a booklet for a friend or neighbor, it would be an easy way to invite them to church!

† 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.

Outreach

† We will be hosting our next Darby Mission meal on Tuesday, March 19th.  We will be cooking chili and need food preparers (main dish, cornbread, mac & cheese, salad, dessert) and people to join in and serve the meal.  We will meet at the church at 5PM to driver together, or 5:30 at the Darby Community Center (1021 Ridge Ave., Darby PA).  A sign-up sheet is posted in the parish hall, find the online sign-up sheet here.

Children and Youth

† 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 begins its pilot program in late February.  If you have a potential student, apply today.  Applications are available on-line or on the “connect” table. The Choir School will accept only 20 students for the pilot semester. Placement preference will be given to members of the Church of the Holy Apostles. 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.

Parish Life

† March 5 we will celebrate Shrove Tuesday with a pancake dinner at 6:30PM in the parish hall.  Children in the parish are encouraged to come help James lock up the “Alleluias” until Easter morning.  Todd Delevan is providing some of his legendary homebrewed beer for the adults.

† If you enter the church building when the Little Friends Day Care is in session (7:00AM – 6:00PM Mon-Fri), and are anywhere other than in the church itself, please obtain a “Church Member” name tag from the Parish Office and wear it while you are here. This will show the teachers and children at the day care that you are a person who belongs here. Any workers/maintenance people or visitors who come into the buildings are required to wear a “Visitor” name tag to identify themselves to our own staff as well as to the day care staff and children.

† 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.

Education

† You are invited to join our Lenten “soup group” which meet Wednesday nights in lent, beginning on March 13.  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.

Diocesan Events

† Next Saturday, March 9, 2019 at 2:00 PM: Bowling with the Bishop at Wynnewood Lanes. Youth across the Diocese are invited for a day of pizza and bowling.

 

 

Announcements for 2/24/19

Today

The Seventh Sunday after Epiphany—

Holy Eucharist, Rite II, 10AM

Celebrant & preacher, The Rev. James Stambaugh, Rector

Holy Apostles supports Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) with loose plate offerings collected on the fourth Sunday of each month.  Thank you for your contributions.

Upcoming Events

March 3 -World Mission Sunday

March 5 -Shrove Tuesday Pancake Dinner

March 6 -Ash Wednesday

March 13 – “Soup Group” begins

Announcements

Worship

† Next week is World Mission Sunday (see this week’s edition of A Note from the Bishop).

† March 6th is Ash Wednesday.  The following services are offered:

7:30AM—Imposition of Ashes; no Eucharist

9:15AM—Imposition of Ashes; no Eucharist

12:15PM—Holy Eucharist with the Imposition of Ashes

6:30PM—Holy Eucharist with music and the Imposition of Ashes

† There are many opportunities to participate in a holy Lent this year.  Please pick up a Lenten booklet this morning, or look for the online version on our website soon.  Feel free to take a booklet for a friend or neighbor, it would be an easy way to invite them to church!

† There will be no morning prayer February 26-28.  Morning Prayer will resume March 1.

† 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.

Children and Youth

† 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 begins its pilot program in late February.  If you have a potential student, apply today.  Applications are available on-line or on the “connect” table. The Choir School will accept only 20 students for the pilot semester. Placement preference will be given to members of the Church of the Holy Apostles. 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.

Parish Life

† March 5 we will celebrate Shrove Tuesday with a pancake dinner at 6:30PM in the parish hall.  Children in the parish are encouraged to come help James lock up the “Alleluias” until Easter morning.  Todd Delevan is providing some of his legendary homebrewed beer for the adults.

† If you enter the church building when the Little Friends Day Care is in session (7:00AM – 6:00PM Mon-Fri), and are anywhere other than in the church itself, please obtain a “Church Member” name tag from the Parish Office and wear it while you are here. This will show the teachers and children at the day care that you are a person who belongs here. Any workers/maintenance people or visitors who come into the buildings are required to wear a “Visitor” name tag to identify themselves to our own staff as well as to the day care staff and children.

† 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.

Education

† You are invited to join our Lenten “soup group” which meet Wednesday nights in lent, beginning on March 13.  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”

† There will be no Bible Study this week.  Bible Study is normally held on Thursdays at 11AM.

Diocesan Events

† Save the Date! March 9, 2019 at 2:00 PM: Bowling with the Bishop at Wynnewood Lanes. Youth across the Diocese are invited for a day of pizza and bowling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lenten Offerings 2018

Dear Friends,

Lent is a season of preparation and repentance leading up to Easter.  This year Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on February 14, and continues until the Easter Vigil on the night of Saturday, March 30.

As your priest, it is my sacred obligation to call you to a holy Lent during this time.  Lent is an opportunity, perhaps, to fast from something or give something up.  It is also a time, perhaps, to take up something new—some new spiritual practice, study, scriptural or devotional reading.  Below you will find information about the Lenten services, and practices that are available at and through Church of the Holy Apostles.  You may choose to do one or more of these activities, or they may simply serve to spark your imagination.   Whatever the case, I implore you to make Lent something special.  Make it personal to you and your spiritual journey.

As in many things in life so it is for Lent, you get out what you put in.  In this case, if you spend time this February and March making for yourself a holy Lent, spending the extra time on your spiritual journey, you will be abundantly rewarded with a joyous and festive Easter season.  The more intentional the Lent, the more meaningful and joyful your Easter will be.  Remember, Lent may be 40 days, but Easter—the season in which we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus—is a 50 day party!

Ash Wednesday – February 14

6:20AM-8:46AM – “Ashes to Go” – Imposition of Ashes w/out a service at the Penfield station of the Norristown High Speed Line

9:15AM – Liturgy with Imposition of Ashes, no Eucharist

12:15PM – Holy Eucharist with the Imposition of Ashes

6:30PM – Holy Eucharist with music and the Imposition of Ashes

Wednesday Night Study Group

Our Lenten Study Group each Wednesday of Lent (except Feb. 14 & March 28). We will gather, eat a simple dinner, and discuss the inexhaustibly fascinating subject of prayer.  Youth and adults welcome.

6:30PM in the Memorial Room

February 21 – Varieties of Prayer

February 28 – Confession

March 7 – Intercessory prayer

March 14 – Contemplative prayer

March 21 – Prayer with implements (icons, rosaries, etc.)

Lenten Reading

Featured Book: The Practice of Prayer by Margaret Guenther

As a compliment to the Wednesday night study, and as a way to deepen one’s understanding on one’s own, I am recommending the book, The Practice of Prayer, written by the venerable Episcopal priest and spiritual director, Margaret Guenther.  I am buying several copies for the church’s library, personal copies can be purchased from amazon.com for between $10-$15.

Other books on various spiritual themes chosen from the parish library and from Fr. James’ library will be available to borrow and read.  Look for the book table display outside the parish hall.

Seeing the World Aright

The poet, Mary Oliver says, “To pay attention; that is our endless and proper work.” This Lent you are invited to practice the spiritual discipline of paying attention. The idea is that you use your camera phone (or other camera) to take one picture for every day of Lent looking for some little beautiful, or sacred, or holy thing that is breaking into your ordinary life:

the first green shoots of spring, the smile of a child or grandchild, a lovingly prepared meal, a candle lit against the darkness, anything that reminds you that you are God’s and that God is present in the smallest ways, and most ordinary circumstances. There is no need to be a professional photographer, it is about training ourselves to see the divine everywhere. You

will also be invited to share your pictures on facebook and other social media platforms, if you wish.

Daily Devotional

Clergy of the Merion deanery (Episcopal churches in Lower and Upper Merion and surrounding area) are collaborating on a collection of short daily devotional readings.  The devotional will be distributed as a printed booklet to all the congregations in the deanery, as well as posted online in a daily blog format.  This will be a nice way to “be on the same page” with many of our Episcopal neighbors during Lent.

Stations of the Cross

February 23 – Friday, 6:30PM – Multi-media Stations of the Cross

March 11 – Sunday, 5:30PM – Children & Youth Stations of the Cross for Family Evening Worship

March  16 – Friday, 6:30PM – Multi-media Stations of the Cross

March 30 – Good Friday, 7:30AM – Traditional Stations of the Cross

Holy Week & Easter

Palm Sunday –

Holy Eucharist with Blessing of the Palms, Procession, and Passion Reading – 10AM

Tuesday –

Morning Prayer – 9AM

Tenebrae – 6:30PM

Wednesday

Holy Eucharist – 7:30AM

Maundy Thursday –

Holy Eucharist with Foot-washing & the stripping of the altar – 6:30PM

Good Friday

Stations of the Cross – 7:30AM

Potential Ecumenical Good Friday Service

Good Friday Liturgy – 6:30PM

Holy Saturday

Easter Vigil followed by Champagne Reception – 8PM

Easter Morning

Festival Eucharist with Baptism – 10AM

 

The Church office will be closed both Monday & Tuesday following Easter day.