A Note from the Rector – 9/20/20

Last Thursday, September 16, the Church celebrated the life of St. Hildegard of Bingen who lived from AD 1098 to 1179.  She was the founder and abbess of a Benedictine monastery in what is now Germany.  As a theologian, politician, monastic leader, natural philosopher (scientist), mystic, poet, and musician she was incredibly accomplished; a true polymath.  She wrote many books including an encyclopedia of medicine and medicinal plants, several saint’s lives, and mountains of correspondence.  Her magnum opus was a massive three volume work that detailed her visionary prayer experiences, which, as she reflects on the visions and their meaning, unfold as a complex and detailed work that could be described as a systematic theology.  Though not recognized until later and still underrated, Hildegard’s work is on par with other great medieval (male) theologians of the church, like Bonaventure and Thomas Aquinas. 

The first volume of Hildegard’s visionary work, called (in English translation) Know the Ways of the Lord, is preserved in several medieval manuscripts, including one that was prepared under Hildegard’s supervision at her monastery near the time of her death.  This manuscript included a number of unique illustrations and illuminations created by nuns in the monastic workshop.  On its own merits, Hildegard’s writing is important and fascinating.  Her writing and the unique manuscript that was created was also important as perhaps the only surviving medieval illuminated manuscript entirely written and produced by women.  Alas, during World War II, the manuscript resided in Dresden and was lost during the bombing of that city.  By that time, a detailed copy had been made by German Benedictine nuns, preserving its illuminated contents for us (see the illustration below).  Other copies of the text also still exist.

Here is a portion of one of her visions in which she saw a representation of God as Trinity, along with its accompanying illustration.

“Then I saw a bright light, and in this light the figure of a man the color of a sapphire, which was all blazing with a gentle glowing fire.  And that bright light bathed the whole of the glowing fire and the glowing fire bathed the bright light; and the bright light and the glowing fire poured over the whole human figure, so that the three were one light in one power of potential.” 

(Hildegard of Bingen. Scivias. Trans. Columba Hart and Jane Bishop.  Classics of Western Spirituality.  New York: Paulist Press (1990), page 161)

Hildegard was also a composer of music and accompanying lyrics.  Many of her chants have survived.  Here is an example:

A Note from the Rector – 5/17/20

Today we observe Rogation Sunday, which is always the Sunday before the Feast of the Ascension (Ascension is this Thursday, May 21st).  Rogation comes from Rogare which is the Latin verb “to ask.”  Rogation is a time to ask for God’s blessing on agriculture and the resources of creation.  It recognizes these resources as gifts from God upon which all humans rely for life.  This aspect of Rogation days has often been marked, especially in Anglicanism, by a special form of procession called “beating the bounds of the parish” in which the parish congregation led by the priest would encircle the boundaries of the parish (usually a defined neighborhood or village), stopping at points to read Scripture and pray.  Especially In rural areas, an important part of these processions was to visit and bless farmlands and agricultural operations.  

This forms a Spring bookend to traditions of Autumn harvest blessings and of offering a portion of the fruits of our labor to God in thanksgiving for God’s blessings.  The Rogation Day trip around the parish is probably the origin of the Easter home blessing tradition.  For the last several years, our version of the Rogation Day celebration has included a procession to Wynnewood Valley Park next door, where we’ve read Scripture and offered prayers and blessings over God’s good creation that is represented there. 

Rogation-tide has also been a time to ask God for protection from calamities, including the ending of plagues and protection from natural disasters.  Here, it is important to remember that the Church has weathered many a pandemic in its 2,000 years history, and much more besides.  A special form of prayer arose in response to these calamities called the Litany.  The Litany as we know it originated probably in the 5th century.  Some scholars trace both the Great Litany and the first Rogation procession to a bishop named Mamerte who lived in 5th century France and held a Rogation Day procession with a call and response type prayer to ask God’s protection during a looming disaster.  The exact nature of the disaster, interestingly, is contested.  Some contemporary sources say it was a volcano threatening to erupt, others that it was a series of calamitous earthquakes.  One source claims it was an on-going attack on the city of Vienne by a demonic pack of wolves.  Whatever the case, the Rogation procession around the town and the tradition of praying the Litany as a petition for God’s protection has long been a tool in the Church’s toolbox of prayer.  It’s sort of like that giant monkey wrench you pull out when your home plumbing project takes a serious turn and you don’t have time to mess around anymore–that’s the Great Litany.  Rogation processions and litanies were common in Europe during medieval and early modern outbreaks of the Black plague.  In 1544, the Great Litany was the first part of the Latin Liturgy to be translated (and heavily edited) into vernacular English by Thomas Cranmer.  Cranmer was in a hurry to bring his version of the ancient prayer to the public as a response to England’s devastating wars with Spain and France.  Five years later Cranmer finished the first Book of Common Prayer, which stands at the fountainhead of our own style of worship.  

All that to say, it seems especially appropriate to keep the tradition of Rogation Day this year during this pandemic.  As part of our 10AM service this Sunday, we will have a small Rogation procession led by me and my quarantine-mates (my children).  I’ll pray the Great Litany–you’ll be able to follow along at home–while the kids march along with a processional cross and Deb records the whole thing on a camcorder.  It could be a solemn moment, a bizarre spectacle, or a complete disaster.  Probably it will be a little bit of all three.  However, pleading for the renewal of all creation and asking God for protection against grave dangers and an end to our affliction–all this is not a joke, and our intentions will be in the right place.  

There is another way you can participate in the celebration of the Rogation Sunday from your own home. Below is a short Scripture reading and prayer that you can pray alone or with your quarantine-mates in your own garden.   

Rogation Sunday Garden Devotions

Leader                          Blessed be the God of all Creation

Others (if present)       The Lord, our God, makes all things new

A reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans (Romans 8:19-23)

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.

Thanks be to God.

Let us pray

Gracious God, along with all your creation we wait with eager longing.  Help us to be revealed as your children. Let us fulfill our small part in the great work of reconciling all things to you.  Let this garden be a sign of that day when creation is freed from its bondage to decay.  Bring order, growth, and tranquility to this place.  Send your blessing on this garden, on all the plants in my [our] care, and in all the creatures who visit and whose lives are sustained here as I am [we are] sustained here.  This we pray in the name of the Resurrected Lord, whom Mary Magdalene recognized as a gardener on Easter morning, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.  

Coronavirus Update from the Rector

Dear Holy Apostles,

Grace and peace to you from God.  The consensus of the CDC and other health officials is that, along with washing your hands, social distancing is a vitally important part of mitigating the spread and severity of coronavirus (COVID-19) in our community.  Social distancing means keeping away from large gatherings and creating a wider “personal bubble” when you are out in public.  And most importantly, it means staying home and away from others when you are sick.  These steps are essential parts of taking care of ourselves as well as loving our neighbors as ourselves. 

However, the danger is that in the process of social distancing we will end up emotionally and spiritually isolating ourselves.  In other words, I worry our reactions to the COVID-19 health crisis—especially reactions that are driven by fear—will only add to one of the pandemics that has gripped our society for some time, the virulent and insidious pandemic of loneliness, isolation, and despair. 

Emotional and spiritual distancing isn’t going to help anyone.  There is, in fact, a direct link between spiritual health and physical and emotional health.  This essential connection has not diminished because there is a new and scary public health emergency.  We need to maintain our spiritual connection to God and each other.  The question is:  how do we as a church take prudent precautions against the spread of infectious disease while maintaining a sense of community and spiritual care which imbues life with meaning and makes it worth living in the first place?  This is a difficult but not impossible balance.  I wrote last week about the precautions we are taking at church including wiping down high-touch surfaces before and after services, exploring alternatives to handshakes and hugs during the Peace, and increasing the amount of hand washing that goes on before Holy Communion.  I also wrote about the sufficiency of only taking Communion in one kind, the bread.

At this time I want to reiterate what you have undoubtedly heard from many sources: please stay home if you are sick.  Also if you are sick, let me know so that your faith community can provide you with support.  This is a time for solidarity not stigma.

If you are a member of a group that is particularly at risk of serious health complications, please consider your options for spiritual and emotional support carefully.  If you feel comfortable coming to church, please do so, as long as you are not sick.  A second option is that I am more than willing to bring the Holy Sacrament to you in your home.  I am currently healthy and will be monitoring my health carefully.  With God’s sustaining help, I will be available for eucharistic visitation, pastoral visits, and prayer.

Another option is to participate in our worship services digitally.  We are working to make digital options available by this weekend for those who are sick or who want to stay at home.  Digital interaction is not the same thing and face-to-face interaction and participation, and it is not sufficient or sustainable in the long-term.  But as a short-term stopgap it may be the best option for some to connect.  Be on the lookout for links to livestreams of services and other activities. 

Unless the bishop tells me otherwise, I will not be cancelling Sunday Eucharist or weekday Morning Prayer.  During this difficult time we need more prayer and more sacraments, not less.  As one of my friends put it, the prayers of the faithful are the most powerful tool we have in times of crisis.  I stand firm in my conviction that the sacrament of the Eucharist is given by God for the healing of the whole world.  It is more important than ever to continue to offer our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to God and pray for grace and healing on behalf of a broken and anguished world. 

In consultation with the vestry, I will be making decisions about whether to cancel other church activities on a case-to-case basis, including Lenten group activities, Bible Study, and various committee meetings.  I spoke with the Rev. Doris Rajagopal today about the Darby Mission Supper next Tuesday night.  She has not cancelled the supper at this time.  Assuming nothing changes in the next several days, I would like for us to go forward with providing the meal.  However, I am strongly discouraging folks who are at high risk of health complications due to coronavirus from attending the meal.   When the time comes we will decide with Doris whether to deliver the food and leave, or to stay with a smaller group of volunteers and help serve.

Most importantly, don’t isolate yourself from this lifegiving body, our church.  Even if you cannot be physically present please reach out.  Call me if you need to talk.  Call each other.  Let’s check in on each and make sure we’re okay.  Above all else, pray for each other and for the safety and well-being of our community. 

Know that God is with us in difficult times.  God has not abandoned the world.  Jesus came into the world as a human to live among us and to demonstrate that God’s love is in solidarity with human suffering.  We are Christ’s body.  We are called to demonstrate to a suffering and fearful world that God is still present with us now. 

Peace & Good,
James+

Announcements – 2/2/2020

Worship

† We will bless candles for Candlemas immediately following Morning Prayer this morning, which begins at 8:30AM.  Blessed candles will be available at the 10AM service of Holy Eucharist (see today’s Note from the Rector for more information).

† Healing Prayer will be offered today, February 2, at the 10AM service.

† Are you friendly?  We need you! Our greeter ministry is one of the key ministries of our church.  Greeters welcome visitors, make people comfortable, hand out service leaflets and take up offering.  They make sure the service runs smoothly. Starting in October, we will be organizing a monthly Greeters breakfast with the Rector, probably at a local restaurant.  If you’re interested in serving God in this way, talk to Jim Jervis or Fr. James.

† 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 smartphone apps!  See the last section of the digital edition of the “Acts of the Apostles” for details.

Outreach

† Our annual Connect by Night shelter program concluded last month. We made over 1,500 lunches and provided many different gifts to our guests, who were very thankful for the support. Thanks to all the many people who took part this month, and particularly to our weekly supply captains: Peter Patton, Lyn DeSilets, Michelle Gallagher and family (thanks also for the socks), Judy and Jim Jervis and Beth Johnson. Thanks also to the Philadelphia Bible Reform Church, the Woestmanns (who organized a book distribution), and the Gentiles (who covered Christmas and New Year’s Eve).

† There are lots of opportunities to participate in Holy Apostles Outreach through our various programs:

      – Delivering items to a food pantry in Northeast Philadelphia

      – Meals at Darby Mission (3/17). Other ideas are welcome.

Children and Youth

† Nursery childcare is available during the 10:00AM Sunday service for children ages 3 and younger in the Godly Play Room.

† The Holy Apostles Choir School is off and running.  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.

Parish Life

† Please don’t miss the Annual Parish Meeting and luncheon after our 10AM worship, Sunday, February 2.  We’ll review our budget for the year, elect new vestry members, and praise God for all the wonderful things happening in this place. In an effort to cut down on paper waste, print copies of reports will not be provided at the meeting. We will digitally project information during the meeting. Print copies of the 2020 Budget will be provided. You can also print your own: Visit the Annual Meeting page to access the budget and all reports in a printable format.

† If you have an announcement to be included in Acts of the Apostles, please send it to holyapostlescomm@gmail.com before Thursday at noon of each week.

† 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.

Education

† Join us for BASICS class, every 3rd Sunday at 9AM.

· Third Sunday Basics Class will continue February 16 with a class called “What is liturgy?”

† Bible Study on Deuteronomy, Thursdays at 11AM.  All are welcome.

† FacePsalm online study of the Psalms: bit.ly/2ndKq9o

Announcements – 10/13/19

Worship

† Our preacher next Sunday, October 20th will be Jeremiah Mustered, postulant for holy orders sponsored by the parish.

† There will be an Altar Guild Meeting next Sunday, October 20th immediately following the 10AM service.

† Please submit names of beloved deceased persons to be prayed for at our annual All Souls Day Mass (Holy Eucharist).  You can email them to holyapostlespa@gmail.com

† Are you friendly?  We need you! Our greeter ministry is one of the key ministries of our church.  Greeters welcome visitors, make people comfortable, hand out service leaflets and take up offering.  They make sure the service runs smoothly. Starting in October we will be organizing a monthly Greeters breakfast with the Rector, probably at a local restaurant.  If you’re interested in serving God in this way, talk to Jim Jervis or Fr. James.

† 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 smartphone apps!  See the last section of the digital edition of the “Acts of the Apostles” for details.

Outreach

† There are lots of opportunities to participate in Holy Apostles Outreach through our various programs:

               –     Delivering items to a food pantry in Northeast Philadelphia

               –     Organizing supplies or gifts for our own Connect by Night shelter program coming for the month of December

               –     Meals at Darby Mission (3/17) or our annual holiday meal with the East Parkside Community Association (12/9). Other ideas are welcome. Please contact Joe Zorc (zorc@email.chop.edu) or see the sign-up sheet in the parish hall.

Children and Youth

† Nursery childcare is available during the 10:00AM Sunday service for children ages 3 and younger in the Godly Play Room.

† The Holy Apostles Choir School is off and running for 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.   

Parish Life

† Year-to-date statements for 2019 Stewardship pledges are available, pick yours up from the table in the hallway.  Those not picked up will be mailed.

† We are getting ready to refresh the hallway outside the church offices including some new paint, new furniture, and eventually new flooring.  As a result we have been moving some things around. The Lost & Found box is now located in the church office.

† If you have an announcement to be included in Acts of the Apostles, please send it to holyapostlescomm@gmail.com before Thursday at noon of each week.

† 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.

Education

† Fall Soup Group: We are studying the lives and teachings of the Fathers and Mothers of the Church.  All sessions begin at 6:30PM

               October 23: Leaders of the Early Church

               October 30: The Seven Ecumenical Councils

               For a full list see our website: holyapostlespa.org/soup-group

† Join us for BASICS class, every 3rd Sunday at 9AM.  There will be a cycle of four classes, the first, Sunday Oct. 20, is on the Sacraments.

† Bible Study on Deuteronomy, Thursdays at 11AM.  All are welcome.

† FacePsalm online study of the Psalms: bit.ly/2ndKq9o

A Note from the Rector – 5/12/19

Series on Vestments: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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.    

A Note from the Rector – 3/31/19

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.   

Announcements – 3/17/19

Worship

† There are many opportunities to participate in a holy Lent this year, and it’s not too late!  Please pick up a Lenten booklet this morning.  There are also Lenten activities available for children and youth on the table in the office hallway.  

† 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 in the digital edition of the “Acts of the Apostles.”

† 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.

Children and Youth

† Our Sunday School students are hosting a CRAFT FAIR on Sunday March 24 during coffee hour.  The crafts have been created by our children and all proceeds will go toward a donation for the children we sponsor through Child Fund International.  The students have decorated “A cross in my pocket”, prayer bracelets, and re-useable shopping bags.  Bring lots of money. 

† 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

† This morning, after the 10AM service (and coffee hour) we will hold an Anglican Prayer Bead Workshop.  We will make and learn how to use Anglican prayer beads.  This is an all ages event!  

† 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.  Don’t worry if you can’t make every class.  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.

Community Events

† Mainline Reform Synagogue is hosting a Women’s Interfath vent on Sunday, April 7 from 3-5PM.  The event is entitled: “Refugees and Asylum Seekers Share Their Stories of Exodus: A Women’s Interfaith Gathering.”  Look for flyer in the parish hall or email the church office for more information.

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!