From Fr. O’s corner………
Time flies. It is Tuesday in Holy Week already. As I was working on the several services for this week and Easter, it occurred to me to point out a few important things about Holy Week and Easter.
For me, without Holy Week, there would be no Easter. That is, without our Lord’s crucifixion, there would be no resurrection. Another way of saying this might be that without true pain, there would be no true Joy of New Life.
True pain occurs when we are able to walk the walk with Christ, trying to imagine and feel the pain He went through this week. He suffered such pains as abuse, false accusations, ridicule, torture, insults and finally, the agony and pain of being nailed alive on a wooden cross.
It is more poignant for us to also remember that Our Lord freely suffered all this because of His sacrificial LOVE for you and me.
We should not only feel our Lord’s pain, but our own as well, by honestly giving ourselves, and all that impedes us from being faithful and closer to God; to die on the cross with Him.
It is when we can truly feel His pain, our pain, to die with Him that we will truly resurrect with Him on Easter Day.
The power and gift of the Resurrection is given by God, based on God’s ongoing LOVE for us. We are given this New Life through God’s love to start anew, to be the Light of Christ to the world. We are given the power we need to be Light of Christ to the world through the resurrection, that is, the power of the Holy Spirit.
In this New Life we become a Resurrected People, as well as a Resurrected Church.
What then are the characteristics of a Resurrected People and a Resurrected Church? From my perspective they are one and the same, namely:
- We must become the Light of Christ to the world.
- We must forgive all who offends us as well as accept the forgiveness of all those we offend.
- We must love all other by seeing the Christ in them.
- We must be hospitable by inviting, welcoming and connecting with all whom we come across.
- We must love God with all our souls, strength, mind, and spirit.
- We must also live a lifestyle that exemplifies love for our neighbors as ourselves, irrespective of who they are.
- We must always give thanks to God for all of His blessings freely bestowed on us daily.
- Most importantly, we must live a lifestyle based on our Baptismal Covenant.
Above all, let us accept this powerful, enriching and gracious love from God, bask in it, thereby allowing it to flow through us to others in ways which will bring us all closer to God.
Through this Love, let us love one another as God Loves us, irrespective of who they are, where they come from, what they look like, and regardless of their color, remembering that we are all created by the same by God.
Finally my friends in Christ, let us truly welcome the gift of this New Life, with happiness and joy, giving thanks to God for His ongoing love for us.
May we as individuals and as a Church be ever blessed by the joy of Easter and all the blessings that come with it. Amen.
Cómo vuela el tiempo, parece que acabamos de recibir en el año nuevo y aquí estamos ya más de la mitad del segundo mes de 2019… y contando!
Mientras seguimos contando nuestras bendiciones, reflejamos que todavía tenemos mucho que agradecer a Dios, ya que continuamos nuestro viaje juntos este año apoyándonos en la guía del Espíritu Santo para trazar nuestra dirección.
Agradecemos a Dios por nuestra exitosa reunión anual, donde pudimos escuchar y compartir los diversos desarrollos positivos en nuestro nuevo, resucitado y vibrante St. Edwards. Como un feligrés compartió conmigo recientemente, y cito: “me encanta mi iglesia más ahora que antes, porque es animado, más amistoso, más acerca de la felicidad, la acogida y la participación que antes. Definitivamente nos estamos moviendo en la dirección correcta. Gracias a Dios. ”
Buenas noticias de hecho. Sin embargo, ambos hemos reconocido que no podemos esforzarnos por descansar en nuestros logros, pero debemos permitirles que nos inspiren a continuar seguir adelante bajo la guía del Espíritu Santo, nuestro amor por los demás y por esta iglesia que todos amamos.
Mirando hacia adelante, el mes que viene comenzaremos nuestra temporada cuaresmal el 6 de marzo, miércoles de ceniza. En un par de días publicaremos un calendario completo de todos nuestros programas cuaresmales que conducen a la Pascua. Espero y ruego que todos ustedes se esforzarán por participar en todos, si no, en la mayoría de los eventos ofrecidos.
Nuestro tema cuaresmal de este año es “una manera cristiana de pasar de la muerte a la resurrección”. Basándonos en Quiénes somos como cristianos, Miraremos el tema de la muerte, biológica, filosófica, física y espiritualmente. ¿Cuáles son los efectos de cada uno de estos aspectos individuales sobre nosotros, y cómo manejamos las situaciones de una manera que nos conduzca a la resurrección.
Si usted piensa en ello, St. Edwards pasó por un período que podría describirse como morir (muerte) y ahora está experimentando un período de rejuvenecimiento o resurrección.
Terminaremos la serie semanal examinando el significado de la resurrección y cómo vivir una vida centrada en la resurrección—con los desafíos inherentes que plantea, puede cambiar y mejorar nuestra perspectiva como cristianos.
Por favor, recuerden que siempre están bendecidos con el amor y la gracia infinita de Dios, sean un recipiente dispuesto para este amor, lo acepten, se deleiten en él y lo compartan de manera significativa y fiel con los demás.
How time flies, it seems that we just welcomed in the New Year and here we are already more than halfway through the second month of 2019… and counting!
As we continue to count our blessings we reflect that we still have a lot to thank God for as we continue our journey together this year leaning on the guidance of the Holy Spirit to chart our direction.
We thank God for our successful Annual Meeting, where we were able to hear and share the various positive developments at our new, resurrected and vibrant St. Edwards. As one parishioner shared with me recently, and I quote: ” I love my church more now than before, because it is lively, more friendly, more about happiness, welcoming, and engaging than before. We are definitely moving in the right direction. Thanks be to God.”
Good news indeed. However, we both acknowledged that we cannot effort to rest on our achievements but must allow them to inspire us to continue to move ahead under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, our love for one another and for this Church which we all love.
Looking ahead, next month we will be starting our Lenten Season on March 6th, Ash Wednesday. In a couple of days we will be publishing a complete full schedule of all our Lenten programs leading up to Easter. I hope and pray that you will all endeavor to participate in all, if not, in most of the events offered.
Our Lenten Theme this year is “A Christian Way of Moving from Death to Resurrection.” Based on who we are as Christians, we will look at the issue of death, biologically, philosophically, physically and spiritually. What are the effects of each of these individual aspects on us, and how do we handle situations in a way that will lead us to resurrection.
If you think about it, St. Edwards went through a period that could be described as dying (death) and is now experiencing a period of rejuvenation or resurrection.
We will end the weekly series by looking at the meaning of resurrection and how living a resurrection-focused life —with the inherent challenges it poses, can change and enhance our perspective as Christians.
Please remember that you are always blessed with God’s infinite love and grace, be a willing vessel for this love, accept it, bask in it, and share it meaningfully and faithfully with others.
From Fr. O’s corner………Counting Our Blessings and Respond Faithfully…
What a glorious 50th Celebration!!! All the activities before the Gala and the finale, that is, the finale on Sunday October 14, made all of us at St. Edward’s proud and thankful to God. God has truly blessed us for the last 50years.
Let me use this opportunity once again to thank everyone who participated to make the events and the celebration meaningful and successful, especially the 50th Anniversary Celebration Committee. They were diligent in prayer and dedicated to every detail, with faith that all would come out gloriously. And it did! Let me also say special thanks to Fr. Fabio and our Latino Mission for their tangible contributions. For those who may not know, our brother and sisters from the Latino Ministry painted the Parish Hall and the Breezeway, manicured the grass, and jet-washed all the major buildings on the campus, at no cost to the parish. Thanks and praise be to our Gracious and loving God. We have many good reasons to continue to count our blessings, because God continues to bless us abundantly.
The challenging we face going forward and the question we need to ask ourselves as we begin the next 50 years is: how do we respond faithfully to all these blessings as well as look forward to many more blessings from God?
First, I believe we have to continue to wrestle with who are we as a church, and of whom are we, and supposed to be, and what is God’s plan, mission for us as a Church?
Let me once again share what I see and think — knowing full well– that what matters most is not what I think, but what we think together as a worshipping community. I see a church that is a true Ecclesia, that is, one that has almost all the faces of God’s creation, trying to live together in love and with love as God loves us. That is a relationship that demands and entails a sacrificial love for one another irrespective of who we are, or how we look. This is, of course, not an easy way to walk, yet we all know that it is what God calls us to do and be. This is an example of what I mean by finding out and facing the reality of who we are as Church. What does it really mean to be a Multi-Cultural Worshipping Community where everyone feels they truly belong? For those who may not know, we are one of the leading Churches in this Diocese that can genuinely claim a rich multiculturism. This is a great blessing to us all. This is a well- known fact in our diocese — and not surprisingly, there are some churches that are curious and want to learn from us.
The other important aspect of who we are and of whom we are is that we are called to be the light of Christ to our neighbors, families, community, and the world. With our multicultural diversity we should be able to spread Christ’s light to the ends of the earth.
So from my perspective, not only are we blessed, but we already have many gifts, talents and time to faithfully respond to our blessings in significant ways for the next fifty years.
So my friends in Christ, as we move forward experiencing upcoming events in the life of the Church Universal, and our part of it as St. Edward’s, let us cherish the events, see them as God’s continual blessings and a challenge for us to respond to faithfully.
I am referring to the following:
1. Our Harvest Ingathering, with the Taste of St. Edward’s cuisine and luncheon.
2. The season of Advent that starts on first Sunday in December.
3. The ingathering of our Stewardship Campaign on December 2nd when we bring for to the altar our pledges of Time, Talent, and Treasure to a loving God who continues to bless us with our faithful response of THANK YOU.
4. But most important of all is the season of Christmastide, when we expect and welcome the greatest gift God can ever give us, that is, God Incarnate through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
For me each of these events is a reminder — and evidence of God’s continual blessings, that challenges me to faithfully respond as I share the blessings with all persons I meet.
Lastly, but certainly not the least, Jean and I truly appreciate and thank you for your love. We recognize and accept this love as part of our blessings. THANK YOU!
We also like to say that we truly love everyone in our parish and our worship community.
May our gracious God continue to bless us all abundantly.
The Rev. Canon Dr. A Gordon Okunsanya
…But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
Ysantificarás el quincuagésimo año y proclamarás la libertad en toda la tierra a todos sus habitantes.
( Levítico 25:10)
St. Edwards como parroquia tiene 50 años de edad … ¡GUAU! … desde una iglesia que comenzó en la sala de estar de Hal y Mary Kerkhoff en 1968 hasta la gloriosa dedicación del 16 de septiembre de 2001 como un Día de Acción de Gracias a Dios — a pesar de la horrible nube de ataques terroristas en el World Trade Center, el Pentágono, y el consiguiente accidente aéreo en Stonycreek, Pensilvania, que solo unos días antes había sacudido todo el país hasta el fondo. Todo el país se tambaleaba, pero esta pequeña comunidad tomó tiempo para reconocer que, en medio de una pérdida y destrucción catastróficas, nuestro Dios es un Dios amable y fiel que nos otorga nuevas misericordias diariamente y nos bendice con la vida, la fuerza y la fe que nos permiten elevarse por encima de nuestra fragilidad humana y continuar buscando su rostro. Esta iglesia ha seguido sobreviviendo a la tragedia y la lucha, los altibajos mundanos que nos aquejan, los sacrificios que ni siquiera sabíamos que teníamos la fuerza para hacer, todo esto para alcanzar triunfalmente la edad madura de 50 años. ¡Qué bendición!
De ahí mi título: Contando nuestras bendiciones. Nuestro gracioso Dios a través de su amor encarnado continúa mostrándonos el poder de su nombre “Emanuel”, es decir, ‘Dios con nosotros’. Mirando hacia atrás a través de todo lo que ha pasado esta iglesia, bien, y no tan bien, el miedo a cerrarse. a un proceso continuo de resurgimiento y crecimiento que ahora incluye una misión latina próspera, nosotros sabemos que hemos sido bendecidos.
Al celebrar los últimos 50 años, tomemos un tiempo para reflexionar sobre cómo hemos sido maravillosamente bendecidos, hemos tenido la oportunidad de revisar lo que Dios ha hecho aquí con su pueblo. Hemos sido verdaderamente bendecidos con el clero que ha pastoreado este rebaño a través del sol y las tormentas. Hemos tenido algunos ministerios maravillosos y liderazgo laico, proyectos de servicio juvenil alegres, adoración inspiradora y compañerismo, todas estas bendiciones en los últimos cincuenta años… Sí … esto es lo que celebramos. Celebramos la fidelidad de Dios a su pueblo y ministerios de los últimos 50 años.
Somos conscientes de la realidad. Como muchas otras iglesias, enfrentamos desafíos y un futuro incierto. Creemos que Dios no construyó nuestra iglesia solo durante los primeros 50 años. La supervivencia no es el único propósito de Dios para su iglesia. Elegiremos la luz de la vida sobre la oscuridad de la desesperación durante los próximos cincuenta años y brillaremos Su luz en el mundo.
La gran pregunta es qué y cómo agradecemos a Dios por todos los miembros del clero y los laicos que han participado y siguen participando en el crecimiento continuo de San Eduardo.
Para mí, la respuesta es que cada uno de nosotros, individual y colectivamente, como iglesia, debemos continuar siendo la “Luz de Cristo” para nuestra comunidad y para el mundo. En otras palabras, cada uno de nosotros debe vivir de tal manera que otros puedan ver la luz de Cristo brillando a través de nosotros. Así también nuestros ministerios aquí en St. Edward también deben reflejar esa luz a nuestros vecinos, nuestras comunidades y al mundo.
Nuestro viaje aún no ha terminado. Debemos continuar trabajando juntos para construir esta iglesia para que se convierta en la bendición en el mundo que Dios pretende para nosotros al encontrar nuevas formas de hacer la iglesia, llegar a los perdidos y transformar nuestra comunidad y el mundo.
Este año, al celebrar nuestro 50 aniversario, proclamemos un nuevo comienzo de nuestro ministerio. Dios nos está llamando a esta nueva aventura. Como dijo Jesús: “La cosecha es abundante, pero los trabajadores son pocos. Pida al Señor de la mies, por lo tanto, que envíe obreros a su campo de cosecha. ”
Se puede hacer esto? ¡Absolutamente sí! ¿Por qué? Porque cada uno de nosotros ha sido bendecido con el poder del Espíritu Santo para guiarnos y guiarnos en todo lo que decimos y hacemos. Todo lo que necesitamos hacer es aceptar el poder y usarlo para la gloria de Dios, abrazarlo con un sentido de alegría, libertad y renovación.
Todo lo que estamos llamados a hacer es sembrar las semillas y Dios las hará crecer abundantemente.
The Rev. Canon Dr. A Gordon Okunsanya
And you shall hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. (Leviticus 25:10)
St. Edwards as a parish is 50years old… WOW!… from a church that started in the living room of Hal and Mary Kerkhoff in 1968 to the glorious dedication on September 16, 2001 as a Thanksgiving to God — despite the horrific cloud of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center the Pentagon, and the ensuing plane crash in Stonycreek, PA, that only days earlier had shaken the entire country to the core. The whole country was reeling but this little community took time to acknowledge that in the midst of catastrophic loss and destruction our God is a gracious and faithful God who grants us new mercies daily and blesses us with the life, strength and faith that allows us to rise above our human frailty and continue to seek His face. This church has continued to survive tragedy and struggle, the mundane ups and downs that plague us, the sacrifices that we were not even aware that we had the strength to make – all of this to triumphantly reach the ripe age of 50 years. What a blessing!
Hence my title: Counting Our Blessings. Our gracious God through His incarnate Love continues to show us the power of His name “Immanuel” that is, ‘God with us.’ Looking back at all this church has gone through, good — and not so good, fear of closing moving to an ongoing process of resurgence and growth that now includes a thriving Latino Mission us– we know we have been blessed.
In celebrating the past 50 years let us take time to reflect on how we have been wonderfully blessed, we have had a chance to review what God has done here with His people. We have been truly blessed with clergy who have shepherded this flock through the sunshine and the storms. We have had some wonderful ministries and lay leadership, joyful youth service projects, inspiring worship, and fellowship — all these blessings in the past fifty years… Yes…this is what we celebrate. We celebrate God’s faithfulness to his people and ministries from the last 50 years.
We are aware of the reality. Like many other churches, we are facing challenges and a somewhat uncertain future. We believe that God did not build our church only for the first 50 years. Survival is not God’s only purpose for His church. We will choose the light of life over the darkness of despair for the next fifty years and shine His light into the world.
The big question is what, and how do we thank God for all the Clergy’s and Lay persons who have participated and still participate in the ongoing growth of St. Edward’s.
For me the answer is that each of us individually and collectively as a church must continue to be the “Light of Christ” to our community as well to the world. In other words, each of us should live in such a way that others can see the light of Christ shining through us. So also our ministries here at St. Edward’s should also reflect that light to our neighbors, our communities and to the world.
Our journey is not done yet. We must continue to work together to build this church to become the blessing in the world that God intends for us by finding new ways of doing church, reaching out to the lost and transforming our community and the world.
This year, as we celebrate our 50th year let us proclaim a new beginning of our ministry. God is calling us to this new adventure. As Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field”.
Can this be done? Absolutely Yes! Why? Because each of us has been blessed with the Power of the Holy Spirit to guide and lead us in all we say and do. All we need to do is accept the power and use it to the glory of God – embrace it with a sense of joy, freedom and renewal.
All we are called to do is to sow the seeds and God will make them grow abundantly.
The Rev. Canon Dr. A Gordon Okunsanya
“Cuenta tus bendiciones, cuéntalas una a una…” este himno antiguo nos recomienda… Pero somos conscientes de cuánto hemos sido bendecidos por la gracia infinita de Dios? Y si nosotros creemos que somos bendecidos… estamos viviendo una vida que es reflejo de estas bendiciones? Ahora que nos acercamos a la celebración de nuestro cincuentavo aniversario, este es un tiempo muy oportuno para contar nuestras bendiciones – y quizá reflexionar de cuánto nosotros pensamos que nos lo merecemos. Nosotros somos una iglesia construida aquí para vivir la palabra de Dios, para mostrar al mundo su amor, como ejemplos vivos de cuánto su gracia nos ha bendecido – a través del clero que El ha llamado a guiarnos, en los lideres laicos que El ha llamado dentro de nosotros, en nuestras vidas diarias, en nuestras familias, en nuestro trabajo y sí, incluso en nuestra diversidad.
El salmo 78 recuenta las obras todopoderosas de Dios hechas al pueblo de Israel. El salmo comienza con un llamado a no olvidar las obras de Dios. El salmista cita el ejemplo de Efraín. Efraín falló en el día de la batalla, no porque le hacía falta armas, sino por el olvido que Israel hizo del milagro del amor de Dios y de sus obras. La falta de creencia del pueblo, su inhabilidad para confiar en Dios y contar sus bendiciones aun después de la milagrosa salida de Egipto y su bondad en el desierto del Sinaí. Dios continúa bendiciéndolos aún en sus infidelidades – su inhabilidad para confiar en su gracia salvífica. Es una derrota espiritual – la falta de fe y el rechazo a amar como Dios ama produce resultados desastrosos… Pero Dios nunca les vuelve su espalda – Aun cuando ellos a El lo abandonen.
Alguno de nosotros merecemos una bendición? Por supuesto que no. Tampoco hicimos algo que mereciéramos la gracia. Es únicamente por la bondad de Dios y su gracia que El nos bendice, aun a aquellos que no lo conocen, así como Jesús dice que Dios “…hace salir el sol sobre buenos y malos, y envía la lluvia al justo y al injusto.” (Mtt. 5:45). También el Apóstol Pablo nos lo recuerda, “Qué tienes tu que tu no lo hayas recibido? Y si lo has recibido, por qué te enorgulleces como si este no fuera un regalo?” (1 Cor. 4:7) Pablo usa la expresión, “En Cristo Jesús” muchas veces. Dios nos ha sostenido y colocado en Cristo. En Cristo, hemos recibido ‘toda bendición espiritual’ (Ef 1:3).
Nosotros sólo podemos sobre mirar las dificultades cuando contamos nuestras bendiciones, todo bien viene de Dios, y aún el mal en nuestras vidas es algo que Dios puede usar para el bien. (Gen 50:20) Contamos nosotros nuestras bendiciones? Amamos a los demás como El nos ama – en esta iglesia, en el mundo? Estamos enseñando a nuestros hijos sobre sus bendiciones en sus vidas, acerca de la obra milagrosa de Dios en el mundo –y, estamos mostrándoles a través del ejemplo el cómo ser vasijas de la gracia que se nos ha regalado?
Con todo lo que esta iglesia ha vivido en estos cincuenta años pasados, debe ser suficiente para nosotros el contar las bendiciones que nuestro Dios de amor nos ha dado. Regocijémonos, demos gracia, dejemos ir todas aquellas acciones que nos hacen –y nos harán sentir las bendiciones como superficiales o falsas. Por el contrario, deberíamos contar las bendiciones en formas que nos hagan sentir el amor de Dios por y con nosotros, de tal modo que hagan de nosotros el verdadero ejemplo y la luz brillante de Cristo para nuestra comunidad, nuestra nación y nuestro mundo.
Quisiera usar el mes de septiembre como un experimento para expandir nuestra fe en diferentes maneras. Las tradiciones de la Iglesia Anglicana son ricas y variadas, así que en este mes que iniciamos exploraremos juntos la liturgia de nuestra iglesia como es celebrada en algunas de nuestras Iglesias hermanas dentro de la Comunión Anglicana. Este experimento no es el anticipo a un cambio significativo sino que es una manera de vivir la gran riqueza de nuestra herencia Anglicana –otra manera de contar nuestras bendiciones al unirnos con otros de nuestra fe en todo el mundo. También experimentaremos con diferentes maneras de comunicarnos la paz y los anuncios. Siéntanse libres por favor, de compartir sus ideas acerca de estas nuevas iniciativas, conmigo, con el Consejo Parroquial (vestry) o los miembros del comité litúrgico.
Al acercarnos a este hito en la historia de esta iglesia abracemos la fortaleza que nuestra fe nos ha dado para reflexionar de qué manera podemos bendecir a los que serán la iglesia de San Eduardo en los próximos 50 anos.
Paz y bendiciones…
“Count your blessings, count them one by one…” the old hymn sagely advises us…but are we aware of how richly we have been blessed in the unsought Grace of God? And if we truly believe that we are blessed – are we living lives that reflect this. As we approach the culmination of our fiftieth anniversary celebrations it seems an opportune time for us to count our blessings – and perhaps to reflect on how much we take for granted. We are a church planted here to live out God’s word to show forth His love in the world by being living examples of how His Grace has blessed– us in the clergy He has called to lead us, in the lay leaders He has raised up amongst us, in our daily lives, our families, our work and yes, even in our adversity.
In Psalm 78 recounts the history of God’s mighty acts on behalf of Israel. The psalm begins with a call not to forget the works of God”. The psalmist cites the example of Ephraim. Ephraim failed in the day of battle, not because of a lack of weapons, but because of the Israelite’s forgetfulness of God’s miraculous love and works. The people’s unbelief – their inability to trust in God and count the blessings they had been given even after experiencing their miraculous deliverance from Egypt and God’s goodness to them in the desert of Sinai. God continues to bless them even in their faithlessness –their inability to trust in his saving Grace. It is a spiritual defeat — their lack of Faith and refusal to love as God loves them produced near disastrous results…but God never turns his back on them – even when they deserted Him.
Do any of us deserve any blessings at all? Of course not. Neither did we do anything to earn God’s Grace. It’s only because of God’s goodness and Grace that he blesses us, even those who don’t know Him, as Jesus says God “…makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). So too the Apostle Paul remind us, “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift.” (1 Corinthians 4:7. Paul uses the expression, ‘in Christ Jesus’ over and over again. God has taken hold of us and placed us in Christ. In Christ, we have received ‘every spiritual blessing’ (Ephesians 1:3).
We can overlook our difficulties if only we would count our blessings, all good things come from God, and even the evil in our life is something that God can use for good (Gen 50:20) . Do we count our blessings? Do we love others as He loves us – in this church, in the world? Are we teaching our children about His Blessings in their lives, about the miraculous works of God in the world –and, are we showing them by example how to be willing vessels of the Grace so freely given?
With all that this Church has gone through these past 50 years it should be enough for us to count the blessings our gracious and loving God has bestowed on us. Let us rejoice, give thanks, let go of all actions that makes –and will make — our thanksgiving perfunctory and false. Rather, we should count our blessings in ways that make us feel the love of God for and with us, hence making us the true example and shining light of Christ to our community, our nation and the world.
I would like to use the month of September as an experiment in expanding our faith in new ways. The traditions of the Anglican Church are rich and varied so during the upcoming month we will explore together the liturgy of our church as it is celebrated in some of our sister churches within the Anglican Communion. This experiment is not a prelude to any significant change but is simply a way for us to experience the richness of our Anglican heritage – another way to count our blessings as we bond with others of our faith worldwide. We will also experiment with different ways of enacting various rituals such as the passing of the Peace and announcements. Please feel free to share your thoughts about these new activities with me, the vestry or members of the worship committee.
As we approach this milestone in our church’s history – let us embrace the strength our faith has given us as we reflect on how we can bless those who will be the Church of St. Edward the Confessor in the coming 50 years.
Peace and Blessings…
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In this time of uncertainty for many churches, St. Edward’s is celebrating 50 years! We encourage our members to invite friends and family to come and celebrate this once in a lifetime opportunity.
Come join us to greet new and returning friends.
Come home to St. Edward’s and share our story.
If there is a reason you may not attend, such as cost, what to wear, unable to drive at night, prefer not to dance or listen to music, no one with whom you can sit at table, please note there are answers to these concerns!
There will be a time for fellowship and eating before the music and dancing, there are ways to help find you a ride at night, there are many who will attend alone to welcome you at table, and there are ways to help with the cost.
Please contact Fr. Gordon or Fr. Fabio if you need to be assured that this celebration is for everyone and, if at all possible, they will help remove any obstacle preventing you from making plans to attend!
Fr. Gordon and Fr. Fabio can be reached through the office, 770-963-6128.
My dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
I greet you and your loved ones in the Blessed name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
For me, communication is at the heart of what the parish (and the Church) is about. We have good news to share: we have a faith worth imbibing — and we are being offered God’s encouraging Word to take to heart and understand. Communication is at the heart of this and must involve all available media, as it is as fundamental to what the Church is about as is the bread and wine used at the altar – (and like our Eucharistic bread and wine it should be made readily available to all who wish to partake). This is the first of a series of monthly missives designed to share relevant information, keep our parish up to date on community and local events and provide a forum through which we can expand our understanding of the liturgy and our faith.
I began with the story of the descent of the Holy Spirit – Pentecost — because Pentecost marks the end of the season of Easter; it is from the beginning of our journey that our ending comes.
Popular piety often refers to Pentecost as the “birthday” of the Church. The word itself is Greek and is translated as “fiftieth,” and signifies the 50th day after Easter when the Church commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles. This action of the Holy Spirit is described in terms that the Bible often employs to indicate a manifestation of God. It is accompanied by fiery tongues of flame and strong winds. Those who are reported as having experienced this event spoke in a variety of languages, yet everyone could understand what was being said. On the surface it is not obvious what the meaning of this Pentecost event might be. Is there a way that we can make sense of it?
We began the season with the church in flux a state of rebirth/resurrection and here we close the season by celebrating Pentecost with a church again in a state of flux. Here there is no calm, selfless, quiet atmosphere. But it is like the other description because we are back to seeing unmistakable signs of the Holy Spirit. The gathering is filled with power: fire, water, chaos, darkness, blood and smoky mist. And we witness a gathering of people hearing the Good News of the resurrection of Jesus Christ proclaimed in ways everyone can understand—each in his or her own language – a direct appeal in a language everyone can understand. This message is for everyone.
The first congregation was a small group of men and women who had committed to a shared life and purpose:
It is an idealized picture of what life in the body of Christ can look like, at its very best. It is a vision of discipleship that is characterized by selflessness, grace, power, boldness, devotion, compassion, and an unyielding commitment to justice.
Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet and it was distributed to each as any had need” (Acts 4:32-35).
How do we get our church today into this state of flux? Of change? Of growth? How do we claim the power of the Holy Spirit anew? How do we capture the sense of selflessness, grace, devotion, compassion and commitment to justice, and also fuel ourselves with the amazing power experienced by the people who had come from all ends of the earth to gather in Jerusalem for the celebration of the Jewish harvest festival of Shavuot? They had no idea how they were going to be blessed by the Holy Spirit. They were totally unprepared to receive this unexpected gift that would loosen their tongues, open their hearts and minds to bear witness to the apostles’ near apocalyptic frenzy as the Holy Spirit was poured out upon them and they were transformed.
Pentecost is about the moment the church was born. It is about what the church of Jesus Christ is supposed to be. It is about the Holy Spirit bringing people together as one in spite of their differences: different cultures, different languages, different traditions, different beliefs, different interpretations, even different theologies. Pentecost is about being unified in words, and in a salvation that is for all people…it is about Transformation.
As we celebrate Pentecost this year we also commemorate fifty years as a parish planted to thrive in this place –a parish that in 50 years has celebrated growth and accomplishment – but has also faced darkness and chaos and, though not unscathed – has survived to mark a milestone. At 51 will we be celebrating renewal and growth or will we be unable as a body to find a way to reconcile: forgive the debts of those with whom we disagree, restore our lands to their rightful owners, and find a way forward together?
Pentecost invites us to consider our own participation in the fellowship, worship, and mission of the church. It is a time to renew our commitment, to live as an essential member of the body of Christ, using our gifts to build the church and share the love and justice of Christ with the world.
As we commemorate our parish’s birth and work towards it’s renewal, we give thanks for those who have labored to build this Church and we ask that the abundance of the Holy Spirit be poured out upon this parish as we use the gifts of the Spirit continue to do the work of building God’s kingdom here at St. Edward’s and in the world.
Pentecost presents us with an opportunity to consider how we are living each day. Are we relying on the power of God’s Spirit? Are we an open channel for the Spirit’s gifts? Are we attentive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit? Is the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, etc.) growing in our lives, in our Church? The community of God’s people is central to God’s work in the world. Can we start the next 50 years as the apostles did growing our church and welcoming all?
Let us continue to celebrate this church’s beginning as we go forth rejoicing with great hope, proclaiming salvation for all people! Praise be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit!