Bulletin Insert – May 27, 2018

Armed Forces and Federal Ministries: The Frontline of the Jesus Movement

Almighty God, we commend to your gracious care and keeping all the men and women of our armed forces [and federal ministries] at home and abroad.  Defend them day by day with your heavenly grace; strengthen them in their trials and temptations; give them courage to face the perils which beset them; and grant them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may be; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (from The Book of Common Prayer)

The office of the Bishop for the Armed Forces and Federal Ministries was established during the turbulent time of the Vietnam War, when our country was divided politically and socially. The Episcopal Church discerned a call to establish a dedicated episcopacy to tend to all members of the church who served in the military. Over the decades, the ministry has grown to include veterans’ hospitals and the Bureau of Prisons.

The Bishop for the Armed Forces is a suffragan who works directly for the Presiding Bishop. Our office supports ministry to the military and oversees the Episcopal chaplains who care for our servicemembers, veterans, and federal prisoners. We equip our chaplains to preach the loving, liberating, and life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ in some of the most challenging locations and demanding situations. It is not an understatement to say that our chaplains serve on the “frontline” of the Jesus Movement.

We currently have 110 chaplains serving in the active duty military, reserves, VA Hospitals, prisons, Civil Air Patrol, and Coast Guard Auxiliary. Their ministry spans the globe. Our Episcopal tradition is uniquely able to respond in Christ’s name to people of different backgrounds, cultures, and gender-identity at a time when ma ny denominations will not. Our priests are empowered to minister to all of God’s children, no matter the situation. It is the greatest honor to serve Christ in that freedom of witness in a world that so desperately needs to hear that Jesus is for them –  no exceptions.

There are some ways that you can support us in our work:

  • Support and encourage priests to consider the call to Federal Chaplaincy
  • Be a parish that calls a clergy person who also serves in the National Guard or Reserves
  • Look for ways your parish might support its local community through affiliation with the Guard, CAP, Coast Guard Auxiliary, local military base, or VA Hospital.
  • If you feel moved to do so, you may make donations to this important ministry by sending a check to “DFMS,” with “Bishop for Armed Forces” in the note line, to: Episcopal Church Center, Attn: Controller’s Office, 815 Second Ave., New York, NY 10017

For more information and links to the various federal branches, visit our website at www.episcopalfederalchaplains.org

The Rt. Rev. Carl W. Wright
The VII Bishop for the Armed Forces and Federal Ministries

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Bulletin Insert – May 20, 2018

Day of Pentecost

Pentecost Episcopal Bulletin

St. David’s Episcopal Church, San Diego – Diocese of San Diego

Today we mark Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit among the apostles and followers of Jesus. Celebrated 50 days after Easter (including the day of Easter itself), the name of the holiday comes from the Greek Pentēkostē, which literally means “the 50th day.”

The events of the day are foretold by Jesus in the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, just before his Ascension. While his followers were with the risen Christ, he tells them, “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:5, NRSV). He goes on to say to them, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

The followers would not wait long for the promised Spirit. The author of Acts, traditionally believed to be Luke, recounts:

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each” (Acts 2:1-6).

We celebrate Pentecost as the inauguration of the Church’s mission in the world. Empowered by the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are to go out into our neighborhoods and the wider world—to Jerusalem, to Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth—witnessing to the risen Christ.

The Day of Pentecost is identified by the Book of Common Prayer as one of the feast days “especially appropriate” for baptism (Book of Common Prayer, p. 312). Because of this, Pentecost is also known as “Whitsun” or “Whitsunday” (“White Sunday”), a term used to describe the white baptismal garments worn by those who were baptized at the Vigil of Pentecost and then worn to church on the Day of Pentecost.

Collect for Pentecost

Almighty God, on this day you opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promised gift of your Holy Spirit: Shed abroad this gift throughout the world by the preaching of the Gospel, that it may reach to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen (Book of Common Prayer, p. 227). 

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Bulletin Insert – May 6, 2018

Ascension Day

The Feast of the Ascension of Jesus Christ is celebrated 40 days after Easter Day, marking the conclusion of Jesus’ postresurrection appearances and his ascension into heaven.

Celebration of this holy day dates back at least to the late fourth century, and scriptural references to Jesus’ ascension occur in both The Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel of Mark:

“So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven’” (Acts 1: 6-11, NRSV).

“So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19, NRSV).

The Ascension of Jesus is also professed in the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed: “He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father” (Book of Common Prayer, pp.120, 358).

Collect for Ascension Day

Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things: Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his promise, he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end of the ages; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen (Book of Common Prayer, p. 226).

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Bulletin Insert – April 29, 2018

The Feast of St. Catherine of Siena

Today the church celebrates the Feast of Catherine of Siena, a fourteenth-century mystic and spiritual writer.

Caterina Benincasa was born in Siena, Italy, in 1347 and experienced her first religious vision when she was only 6 years old. Holy Women, Holy Men describes how, as she was walking along the road one day, Catherine looked up and “beheld our Lord seated in glory with St. Peter, St. Paul, and St. John” and in her vision “the Savior smiled on her and blessed her.”

St. Catherine of Siena, Baldassare Franceschini, 17th century. Dulwich Picture Gallery.

Despite her family’s objections, at the age of 16 she joined the Third Order of the Dominicans and spent her early life serving the poor and converting sinners, according to An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church: A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians, edited by Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum.

Catherine worked courageously to help the ill during the black plague and visited prisoners condemned to death. She also arbitrated feuds and attempted to help restore the schism in the church at that time between the popes in Rome and Avignon by writing letters to political leaders and traveling to plead for unification in person.

Holy Women, Holy Men explains that, in Siena, opinion about Catherine was sharply divided as to whether she was a saint or a fanatic (p. 350), but she eventually won the full support from the Dominican Mother House.

In 1377-1378 Catherine wrote her famous, mystical Dialogue, which she dictated to her secretaries while in an ecstatic state. Here is one of its better-known passages:

“You are rewarded not according to time or work, but according to the measure of your love. Many are placed in their childhood to work in the vineyard; some enter later in life, and others in old age; sometimes these latter labor with such fire of love, seeing the shortness of the time, that they rejoin those who entered in their childhood, because they have advanced but slowly. By love of obedience, then, does the soul receive her merit, filling the vessel of her heart.”

Catherine died in Rome on April 29, 1380, at the age of 33, and became a saint in 1461, canonized by Pope Pius II.

Collect for Catherine of Siena

Everlasting God, you so kindled the flame of holy love in the heart of blessed Catherine of Siena, as she meditated on the passion of your Son our Savior, that she devoted her life to the poor and the sick, and to the peace and unity of the Church: Grant that we also may share in the mystery of Christ’s death, and rejoice in the revelation of his glory; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Special Bulletin Insert – April 1, 2018

The Presiding Bishop’s Easter Message

There is a passage in the 27th Chapter of Matthew’s gospel where religious leaders, political leaders come together once again after Jesus has been crucified and executed, after he had been buried in the tomb. Once again they come together to seal the tomb, to make sure not even a rumor of his resurrection will happen. And this is what some of them say:

“Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may go and steal him away and tell the people he has been raised from the dead. And the last deception will be the worse than the first.”

It is easy to overlook, and sometimes convenient to forget, that Jesus was executed, Jesus was crucified by an unholy alliance of religion, politics, and economic self-interest.

Politics represented in Pontius Pilate, governor of the Roman Empire, representative of that very empire and all of its power. King Herod, who heard Jesus at one of the trials, representative of the Herodian and economic self-interest at the time. The Chief Priest, representative of religious aristocracies who had a vested interest in the status quo. These three powers came together – economic, religious and political – to crucify the one who taught love the lord your God, love your neighbor, and actually live that way.

The truth is the message of Jesus was unsettling to the world then as it is unsettling to the world now. And yet that very message is the only source of hope in life for the way of the cross, the way of unselfish living, the way of sacrificial living, seeking the good, the welfare of the other before one’s own unenlightened self-interest. That way of the cross is the way of love. That is the nature of love. And that way is the only hope for the entire human family.

The reality is the way of Jesus was a threat to the way that the world is, and hope for the way the world can and will be.

Quote Easter Message EpiscopalBut on that third day after the crucifixion, when by the titanic power of God, by the power of the love of God, Jesus was raised from the dead. God sent a message and declared that death does not have the last word. Hatred does not have the last word. Violence does not have the last word. Bigotry does not have the last word. Sin, evil do not have the last word. The last word is God, and God is love.

On our pilgrimage here, we stopped and spent two days in Jordan. In Amman, Jordan, we were able to spend some sacred and blessed and painful time with Iraqi Christians. These are Christians, many of whom are Anglican, who have fled their country in Iraq because of war and violence and hatred and desecration. They have given up everything, refusing to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ. And there in Jordan, with the help of the Anglican Church there and many other relief agencies, they are at least safe, hoping to find safe and permanent homes in other countries.

In the course of our conversations, and listening to them, at one point I found myself quoting a hymn, a song that many folk have heard around Easter, certainly in our country. And I didn’t expect a response. You probably know how it goes – it says, “because he lives,” referring to Jesus and his resurrection, “because he lives, I can face tomorrow.” When I quoted that song, those who have lost their homes, people who have lost everything except life itself, those who have lost loved ones, actually responded to the words of that song. When I said, “Because He lives I can face tomorrow.” When I said Jesus is alive, He’s been raised from the dead, I saw them lift up their heads and respond with the words amen, hallelujah.

My brothers and sisters, evil could not stop him. Death could not stop him. Violence could not stop him. For the love of God, the heart of God, the reality of God is stronger than anything else. And Jesus really rose from the dead on that first resurrection morning.

God love you. God bless you. And, may this Easter season be the first day of the rest of our lives.

Amen.

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

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Bulletin Insert – March 25, 2018

The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday

“Let these branches be for us signs of his victory, and grant that we who bear them in his name may ever hail him as our King, and follow him in the way that leads to eternal life.”

Today is the first day of Holy Week and the last Sunday in Lent, known as Palm Sunday or the Sunday of the Passion. The day begins by marking Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Many churches participate in the Liturgy of the Palms, first offered in The Episcopal Church in the 1960 Book of Offices. In this liturgy, the celebrant blesses palms or other branches, and, following a reading from the Gospels, leads the congregation in procession into their church—often singing “All Glory, Laud, and Honor” or “Ride On! Ride On In Majesty!”

This liturgy evokes the early observances of Palm Sunday. According to Armentrout and Slocum’s An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church (Church Publishing, 2000), by the year 381, the faithful would process from the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem, waving palm or olive branches. As they processed, they sang songs from Scripture – including the exultant antiphon of Psalm 118 sung at Christ’s entrance into the city: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

When the Palm Sunday service includes the Eucharist, the Liturgy of the Palms is followed by the salutation and the collect of the day. Afterward, the tone of the service shifts noticeably. In contrast to the earlier song of joy, Psalm 31, appointed for today, cries, “For I have heard the whispering of the crowd; fear is all around; they put their heads together against me; they plot to take my life.” The Gospel reading is likewise sorrowful, recalling the events of Jesus’ Passion (that is, the events and suffering before and during his death). Still, we are reminded throughout the difficult days ahead that this is not the end of the story.

Despite the Savior’s death on the cross, he promises to rise again. The Man of Sorrows remains the one at whose name, “every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, [and] every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11).

Collect for the Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday  

This prayer is a contemporary version of the collect for “The Sonday next before Easter” in the 1549 Book of Common Prayer. The day was not referred to as Palm Sunday in an official capacity until the 1928 Prayer Book added “Commonly called Palm Sunday” to the prayer’s title. The doxology at the end of the prayer was appended in the 1979 Prayer Book.

Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen (Book of Common Prayer, p. 219).

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Bulletin Insert – March 18, 2018

The Good Friday Offering

“Christian Presence”

Most of us are not concerned about Christians being present where we live. Most of us take it for granted that Christians have been and will continue to be a part of the fabric of our neighborhoods. This is not the case in what we often call the “Holy Land”. We have seen the results of enormous pressure brought upon Christians in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere to leave their homes under the onslaught of fundamentalism. Tens of thousands have become refugees. Political realities in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza have limited access to education, health care and opportunities which have prompted some families to re-locate. Numbers are very politically charged, but it is safe to say that something far less than 10% of the population in the region are made up of indigenous Christians.

The importance of Christians living and working in the region is essential to a civil society. Christians provide a vital bridge between Muslims and Jews through organizations like the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land, meeting in Jerusalem, which brings together leaders of all three Abrahamic faiths for discussion on topics of common concern.

Education, health programs and pastoral care are the essential tools which are used throughout the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East which bring people together and provide examples of day to day cooperation and efforts to build a shared future to benefit all. Teachers and students; doctors, nurses and patients; clergy immersed in an inter-faith context all bear witness to the love of Christ in their relationships throughout the region.

The Good Friday Offering is a response from throughout the Episcopal Church in support of Christians in the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East. Our church-wide effort to provide meaningful support for these “living stones” of the faith we share in Jesus Christ gives them hope for a future where perhaps, by God’s grace, we will no longer have to be concerned about the ongoing presence of Christians throughout the region where our Lord lived, died and rose again.

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Bulletin Insert – March 11, 2018

The Feast of St. Patrick

Each year the Episcopal Church celebrates the Feast Day of Saint Patrick, fifth-century bishop and missionary of Ireland, on March 17, the day of his death in 461.

Holy Women, Holy Men (Church Publishing, 2010) relates that Patrick was born on the northwest coast of Britain in about 390. His grandfather had been a Christian priest, and his father was a deacon in the early Christian church. When Patrick was a teenager, he was captured by a band of Irish slavers and was forcibly taken to Ireland to serve as a shepherd. When Patrick was in his early 20s, he escaped and returned to Britain, where he was educated as a Christian. After taking holy orders as both presbyter and bishop, he had a vision, calling him to return to Ireland.

Sometime around the year 431, when Patrick returned to Ireland, he began converting Irish pagans into Christians by appealing to the local kings, and through them to their tribes. Patrick built Christian churches over sacred pagan sites, carved crosses on old druidic pillars, and protected sacred wells and springs with Christian saints.

Saint Patrick is generally credited with being the first bishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland.

Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17, is celebrated as both a liturgical and non-liturgical holiday. In popular culture, this feast day is often a celebration of Ireland itself.

Collect for Saint Patrick

Almighty God, in your providence you chose your servant Patrick to be the apostle of the Irish people, to bring those who were wandering in darkness and error to the true light and knowledge of you: Grant us so to walk in that light that we may come at last to the light of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Bulletin Insert – March 4, 2018

The Presiding Bishop’s Lent 3 Devotional

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael Curry joined the leaders of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in preparing Lenten Devotions for the season. The full set of devotions, “Set Free by Truth,” can be found and printed at bit.ly/lentendevotional.

“But we proclaim Christ crucified”

Some things just don’t make much sense. Water doesn’t become wine, bread and fish do not suddenly multiply, the lame do not jump up and walk. And most certainly, dead people stay dead, especially those who experience the horrific death of crucifixion!

And yet, where Jesus is involved, all kinds of things that don’t make much sense…happen.

In those earliest years of the Jesus Movement, his followers didn’t wear crosses around their necks or hang them in the homes in which they worshipped. They had other symbols, certainly, but not crosses. Crucifixion was not a historical curiosity, but a still present reality, and an agonizing and shameful one at that. To be crucified was to be executed as a common criminal. Worse, according to the Hebrew Scriptures, cursed was one who hung on a tree, on the wood of a cross.

So to speak of “Christ crucified” didn’t make sense to many. It was a stumbling block, something foolish or offensive. But Paul said otherwise. Yes, Jesus could have avoided the cross, found some other way around it. But instead he faced the worst the world could throw at him, and then broke through death itself, and left an empty cross behind as witness to his astonishing victory.

Some things don’t make much sense. The cross is one of them. But it stands now and forever as our rallying cry that God—not injustice, not suffering, not even death—has the final, victorious word.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry
The Episcopal Church

Prayer

“Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace.”

Prayer for Mission, The Book of Common Prayer 1979

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Bulletin Insert – February 18, 2018

For Such a Time As This: Protect and Support Indigenous People

As Episcopalians, we are taught that it is our duty to not only follow and worship Christ, but also to “work, pray, and give for the spread of the kingdom of God.” Approximately 1.9 million American Indians and Alaska Natives, whose ancestors had taken from them millions of acres of land that makes the United States what it is today, have been and still are subjected to various forms of physical and social injustices.

As Christians and Americans, we have an obligation to work, pray, and give to respond to and end those injustices. Let us lift our voices and ask our members of Congress to protect funding for programs that provide relief, promote public safety, and support a meaningful livelihood for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

On February 21, join the Episcopal Public Policy Network and the Presiding Bishops of the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America as we pray, fast, and act.

Pray for our nation’s elected leaders and for all who struggle with hunger and poverty.

Look with pity, O heavenly Father, upon the people in this land who live with injustice, terror, disease, and death as their constant companions. Have mercy upon us. Help us to eliminate our cruelty to these our neighbors. Strengthen those who spend their lives establishing equal protection of the law and equal opportunities for all. And grant that every one of us may enjoy a fair portion of the riches of this land; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.                    from the Book of Common Prayer, pg. 826

Fast to call attention in our own minds and actions the needs and circumstances of the poorest among us.

Join us on social media using #PrayFastAct and @TheEPPN. On the 21st, post a picture of a dinner place setting with the reason you are fasting this month.

Act: Prepare for action…

  • by reading this one-pager on protecting Indigenous People: bit.ly/FSATindigenous
  • by asking Congress to support programs aimed at reducing poverty and protecting American Indians and Alaska Natives.
  • by reading the testimony of the National Congress of American Indians before the House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies expressing, on behalf of Native Americans and Alaska Natives, expressing the need for public safety and business support: bit.ly/FSATtestimony

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