Bulletin Insert – August 26, 2018

The Way of Love: Practices for Jesus-Centered Life - Part II

Early in his ministry, Jesus of Nazareth was surrounded by crowds. He turned and asked, “What do you seek?” (John 1:38). For more than a thousand years, monastics have greeted pilgrims knocking on their doors by asking: “What do you seek?” Today, each of us can pause with the same question. As much as the world has changed, the fundamental human hopes and yearnings that draw us to faith may not be so different. For so many,

We seek love. We seek freedom. We seek abundant life. We seek Jesus. Come and follow:

TURN
Pause, listen and choose to follow Jesus
Like the disciples, we are called by Jesus to follow the Way of Love. With God’s help, we can turn from the powers of sin, hatred, fear, injustice, and oppression toward the way of truth, love, hope, justice, and freedom. In turning, we reorient our lives to Jesus Christ, falling in love again, again, and again.

LEARN
Reflect on Scripture each day, especially on Jesus’ life and teachings.
By reading and reflecting on Scripture, especially the life and teachings of Jesus, we draw near to God and God’s word dwells in us. When we open our minds and hearts to Scripture, we learn to see God’s story and God’s activity in everyday life.

PRAY
Dwell intentionally with God daily
Jesus teaches us to come before God with humble hearts, boldly offering our thanksgivings and concerns to God or simply listening for God’s voice in our lives and in the world. Whether in thought, word or deed, individually or corporately, when we pray we invite and dwell in God’s loving presence.

WORSHIP
Gather in community weekly to thank, praise, and dwell with God
When we worship, we gather with others before God. We hear the Good News of Jesus Christ, give thanks, confess, and offer the brokenness of the world to God.  As we break bread, our eyes are opened to the presence of Christ. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we are made one body, the body of Christ sent forth to live the Way of Love.

BLESS
Share faith and unselfishly give and serve
Jesus called his disciples to give, forgive, teach, and heal in his name. We are empowered by the Spirit to bless everyone we meet, practicing generosity and compassion and proclaiming the Good News of God in Christ with hopeful words and selfless actions. We can share our stories of blessing and invite others to the Way of Love.

GO
Cross boundaries, listen deeply and live like Jesus
As Jesus went to the highways and byways, he sends us beyond our circles and comfort, to witness to the love, justice, and truth of God with our lips and with our lives. We go to listen with humility and to join God in healing a hurting world. We go to become Beloved Community, a people reconciled in love with God and one another.

REST
Receive the gift of God’s grace, peace, and restoration
From the beginning of creation, God has established the sacred pattern of going and returning, labor and rest. Especially today, God invites us to dedicate time for restoration and wholeness – within our bodies, minds, and souls, and within our communities and institutions. By resting we place our trust in God, the primary actor who brings all things to their fullness. 

Learn more about the Way of Love at episcopalchurch.org/wayoflove.

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Bulletin Insert – August 19, 2018

The Way of Love: Practices for Jesus-Centered Life

“I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

— Ephesians 3:17-19

In the first century Jesus of Nazareth inspired a movement. A community of people whose lives were centered on Jesus Christ and committed to living the way of God’s unconditional, unselfish, sacrificial, and redemptive love. Before they were called “church” or “Christian,” this Jesus Movement was simply called “the way.” Today I believe our vocation is to live as the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement. But how can we together grow more deeply with Jesus Christ at the center of our lives, so we can bear witness to his way of love in and for the world? The deep roots of our Christian tradition may offer just such a path. For centuries, monastic communities have shaped their lives around rhythms and disciplines for following Jesus together. Such a pattern is known as a “Rule of Life.” The framework below – The Way of Love: Practices for Jesus-Centered Life — outlines a Rule for the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement.

It is designed to be spare and spacious, so that individuals, ministry groups, congregations, and networks can flesh it out in unique ways and build a church-wide treasure trove of stories and resources. There is no specific order you need to follow. If you already keep a Rule or spiritual disciplines, you might reflect and discover how that path intersects with this one. By entering into reflection, discernment and commitment around the practices of Turn – Learn – Pray – Worship – Bless – Go – Rest, I pray we will grow as communities following the loving, liberating, life-giving way of Jesus. His way has the power to change each of our lives and to change this world.

Your brother in the Way of Jesus,

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

Next week: Go deeper into the Way of Love

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Bulletin Insert – August 12, 2018

The Feast of St. Mary the Virgin

On August 15, the church celebrates the Feast of Saint Mary the Virgin. Mary, the mother of Christ, has been celebrated since the earliest days of the Christian church.

Stained glass depiction of St. Mary the Virgin from the Episcopal Church Center, San Diego, Diocese of San Diego

The Gospel of Luke contains a “Song of Praise” that was sung by Mary when her cousin Elizabeth recognized her as the mother of the Lord (Luke 1:43). Elizabeth was pregnant with John the Baptist when her cousin Mary, who was pregnant with Jesus, came to see her:

“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy’” (Luke 1:41-44).

“Mary’s Song of Praise” is also called “The Magnificat” because its opening line in Latin is: “Magnificat anima mea Dominum,” “My soul magnifies the Lord.”

Mary’s Song of Praise (The Magnificat)

My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.
Luke 1:46-55

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Bulletin Insert – August 5, 2018

The Feast of the Transfiguration

August 6 is the Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which commemorates Jesus’ unveiling as the Son of God, and his radical change of appearance while in the presence of Peter, James and John on a mountaintop.

The Gospel of Matthew records that Jesus “was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light.” At this moment Moses and Elijah appeared, and they were talking with Jesus. Peter, misunderstanding the meaning of this manifestation, offered to make three “booths” (or “dwellings”) for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. A bright cloud overshadowed them and a voice from the cloud stated, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” The disciples fell on their faces in awe, but Jesus encouraged them to arise and “have no fear.” When the disciples looked up, they saw only Jesus (Matthew 17:1-8).

The Transfiguration is also mentioned in two other gospel accounts (Mark 9:2-8 and Luke 9:28- 36) and is referred to in the Second Letter of Peter, which records that “we were eyewitnesses of his majesty” and “we were with him on the holy mountain” (2 Peter 1:16-18).

The Transfiguration is a pivotal moment because it revealed Christ’s glory prior to the crucifixion, and it anticipated his resurrection and ascension. It also prefigures the glorification of human nature in Christ. Some think that the setting on the mountain is significant because it becomes the point where human nature meets God, with Jesus acting as a point of connection between heaven and earth.

Celebration of the Transfiguration began in the eastern church in the late fourth century. The feast is celebrated on August 6, which is the date of the dedication of the first church built on Mount Tabor, which is traditionally considered to be the “high mountain” of the Transfiguration. There are scholars, however, who believe the Transfiguration occurred either on Mount Hermon, which borders Syria and Lebanon, or on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.

Collect for the Transfiguration

O God, who on the holy mount revealed to chosen witnesses your well-beloved Son, wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistening: Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may by faith behold the King in his beauty; who with you, O Father, and you, O Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen (Book of Common Prayer, p. 243).

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Bulletin Insert – July 29, 2018

The Feast of William Wilberforce

On July 30, the Episcopal Church remembers William Wilberforce (1759 – 1833), along with Anthony Ashley Cooper (1801-1885), prophetic witnesses of the Gospel of Christ. Wilberforce was a British statesman and evangelical Anglican who used his position as a Member of Parliament from the Yorkshire area to advocate for the abolition of the slave trade throughout the British Empire.

Noted for personal charm and great eloquence as a public speaker, Wilberforce was elected to Parliament from his home town and district of Hull at the age of 21. After a conversion experience in 1784, he joined the evangelical wing of the Anglican church and became interested in social reform movements.

Lady Margaret Middleton, the wife of another Member of Parliament, approached Wilberforce as a likely person to work within the government for the abolition of the slave trade. The enormity of the task was daunting to Wilberforce, who wrote, “I feel the great importance of the subject and I think myself unequal to the task allotted to me.”

But Wilberforce accepted the mission. “God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of manners,” he wrote in his journal in 1787. His health, however, had never been good, and illness prevented him from immediately taking on the challenge. It was May 1789 before he made his first speech in the House of Commons on the subject of the slave trade.

When Wilberforce formally proposed abolition of the trade in 1791, his fellow members voted against his motion by nearly two to one. Wilberforce continued to press the matter, making similar proposals some nine times by 1805. During that time, due to the efforts of many reformers, the British people learned about the horrific conditions endured by enslaved Africans, and public opinion gradually turned against the slave trade.

It took longer to convince Parliament, but the Abolition of the Slave Trade bill was eventually passed in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords by large majorities and took effect in March 1807. Although the successful bill was introduced by another Member of Parliament, Wilberforce received full credit — and a rare standing ovation from the House of Commons — for his untiring efforts. Unfortunately, the 1807 bill did not immediately stop the slave trade. Seafaring traders flouted the law, sometimes covering this illegal commerce by throwing their captives overboard to drown when ships of the British navy approached. Many people became convinced that only the abolition of slavery would stop the trade.

Wilberforce at first resisted calls for outright abolition, writing in 1807, “It would be wrong to emancipate [the slaves]. To grant freedom to them immediately would be to insure not only their masters’ ruin, but their own. They must [first] be trained and educated for freedom.” But he eventually came to support full emancipation and worked to bring public opinion and political will together to that end. He continued to serve in Parliament, supporting a variety of causes, including overseas Christian mission, increased education, and greater freedom for Roman Catholics. He retired in 1825 due to ill health but continued to campaign for an end to slavery.

Wilberforce saw his efforts rewarded when Parliament passed a law in July 1833 outlawing slavery throughout the British Empire. He died three days later at age 73. In honor of his service to the nation, he was buried in the north transept of Westminster Abbey.

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Bulletin Insert – July 8, 2018

The Feast of Nathan Söderblom

Swedish bishop Nathan Söderblom was the first member of the clergy to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Born Lars Olof Jonathan Söderblom, on January 15, he graduated from Uppsala University in 1883 and was ordained a priest in the Church of Sweden (Lutheran) in 1893. He earned his doctorate in theology at the Sorbonne and taught theology at the University of Uppsala until his appointment as Archbishop of Uppsala in 1914.

During the First World War, Archbishop Söderblom called on Christian leaders to work for peace and justice. He believed that all Christian church communities were called to fight unhealthy nationalism, racism, militarism and the oppression of minorities. At the same time, he proposed that Jesus’ message of love disseminated from pulpits, in newspapers, and in schools to create a powerful body of Christian opinion across national borders in favor of peace.

He famously wrote in his work, The Content of Christian Faith:

“For me everything is absorbed by the one big question – the question of reconciliation and healing [restoration.] Do we see God’s way in the terrible chaos of this world; the way which for the human reason is a source of offense, but remains the only possible way? This way does not avoid the tragedy of human life but goes through the very middle of it.”

Archbishop Söderblom took great interest in the early liturgical renewal movement among Roman Catholics, Anglicans and Lutherans. He saw a profound connection between liturgical worship, personal prayer, and social justice. In 1925 he invited Anglican, Reformed, Lutheran, and Orthodox leaders to Stockholm and together they formed the Universal Christian Council on Life and Work. His ecumenical work led eventually to the formation of the World Council of Churches in 1948.

Söderblom’s advocacy for Church unity as a means toward to accomplishing world peace earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1930. After his death in Uppsala, Sweden, in 1931 his body was interred in Uppsala Cathedral. He is commemorated in the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church on July 12.

Collect for the Feast of Nathan Söderblom

Almighty God, we bless your Name for the life and work of Nathan Söderblom, Archbishop of Uppsala, who helped to inspire the modern liturgical revival and worked tirelessly for cooperation among Christians. Inspire us by his example, that we may ever strive for the renewal of your Church in life and worship, for the glory of your Name; who with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Bulletin Insert – July 1, 2018

Independence Day

On July 4th, The Episcopal Church joins the United States in celebrating Independence Day, marking the day the country declared independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1776.

Collect for Independence Day

Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn: Grant that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain our liberties in righteousness and peace; 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. 242

Collect 17: For the Nation

Lord God Almighty, you have made all the peoples of the earth for your glory, to serve you in freedom and in peace: Give to the people of our country a zeal for justice and the strength of forbearance, that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will; 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. 258

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Bulletin Insert – June 24, 2018

The Nativity of St. John the Baptist

This year, the church celebrates the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist on June 25. John was Jesus’ cousin and a prophet with a large following when Jesus began his ministry. Although many of John’s followers believed him to be the Messiah, John recognized Jesus as the true Messiah, called for the world to “prepare the way of the Lord” (Mark 1:3), and baptized Jesus.

The Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist is one of the oldest Christian festivals, dating back to 506, and was first included in the Book of Common Prayer in 1549. It was decided to observe this feast six months before Christmas because Elizabeth was in her sixth month of pregnancy with John at the time of Jesus’ conception. This date in June also coincides with the summer solstice, a pre-Christian festival, which is now dedicated to the Nativity of St. John the Baptist in much of Europe and the Mediterranean and widely celebrated.

The Gospel of Luke describes John’s miraculous birth to an elderly, childless couple, Zechariah and Elizabeth, who was a cousin of the Virgin Mary. When the angel Gabriel told Zechariah that Elizabeth would bear a son who would be named John, Zechariah did not believe it was possible, so he was made mute. Zechariah’s speech was restored to him on the eighth day after John’s birth, when the baby was circumcised and named. With his newly regained voice, Zechariah then proclaimed the canticle known as the Benedictus Dominus Deus:

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a mighty savior for us
in the house of his servant David,
as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
and has remembered his holy covenant,
the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,
to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,
might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness
before him all our days.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
by the forgiveness of their sins.
By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace’ (Luke 1:67-79).

Collect for the Nativity of St. John the Baptist

Almighty God, by whose providence your servant John the Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of your Son our Savior by preaching repentance: Make us so to follow his teaching and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and, following his example, constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth’s sake; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen (Book of Common Prayer, p. 241).

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Bulletin Insert – June 17, 2018

TEConversations

A highlight of General Convention 2018 will be The Episcopal Church Conversations (TEConversations), three innovative, inspirational and informative sessions featuring brief talks, videos and engaging interludes. TEConversations will be part of the three Joint Sessions of General Convention, each focused on one of the three priorities of General Convention – Racial Reconciliation, Evangelism and Care of Creation.

TEConversations will be presented during Joint Sessions of the House of Bishops and House of Deputies which include visitors, volunteers and others in attendance at General Convention 2018. For those not attending, the TEConversations will be livestreamed and available for viewing on the Episcopal Church website (www.episcopalchurch.org) and the General Convention website (www.generalconvention.org). The TEConversations will include simultaneous Spanish interpretation.

“The team has shaped a truly interactive festival of ideas,” explained the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, Presiding Bishop’s Canon for Evangelism, Reconciliation and Creation Care. “Deputies, bishops and guests will experience compelling talks, along with music, poetry and robust social media that extend the learning and engagement from Austin out to the whole church and beyond.”

Each TEConversations session will be 90 minutes and will include three speakers, videos, music interludes and deeper small group engagement. The speakers represent international leaders, well-known Episcopalians, and rising voices in the church. The TEConversations will be facilitated by David Crabtree, News Anchor at WRAL-TV in Raleigh, NC and a deacon in the Diocese of North Carolina. The TEConversations topics, times and speakers are:

Racial Reconciliation
Friday, July 6 from 10:30 am – noon Central
Speakers:

  • Arno Michaelis, a former racist skinhead who examines aspects of his past in his books, including My Life After Hate.
  • Catherine Meeks, founder of the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing in Atlanta, GA.
  • The Rev. Nancy Frausto, a “Dreamer” from the Diocese of Los Angeles who came to the United States from Mexico as a child.

Evangelism
Saturday, July 7 from 2:30 pm – 4 pm Central
Speakers:

  • The Rev. Lauren Winner, an Episcopal priest and popular author who bridges faith and culture.
  • Bishop Alan Scarfe of the Diocese of Iowa, who led revivals in every diocesan congregation in 2017.
  • The Rev. Daniel Vélez-Rivera, a church planter from the Diocese of Virginia.

Care of Creation
Tuesday, July 10 from 10:30 am – noon Central
Speakers:

  • Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of the Anglican Province of South Africa and a leader in the Anglican Communion on climate change.
  • The Rev. Stephanie Johnson, co-chair of the Episcopal Church Stewardship of Creation Advisory Council.
  • Bernadette Demientieff, leader of the Gwich’in Steering Committee and defender of Alaska’s Arctic Refuge

The 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church will be held Thursday, July 5 to Friday, July 13 at The Austin Convention Center, Austin, Texas. For more information on TEConversations contact Sarah Alphin at salphin@episcopalchurch.org, 212-716-6012.

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Bulletin Insert – June 10, 2018

The Episcopal Asset Map Relaunch

The Episcopal Asset Map, found at www.episcopalassetmap.org, is an online platform showing the location and ministries of Episcopal churches, schools and other communities. The map has been revamped and refreshed with more-detailed information, easier access and ease of navigation.

A joint project of the Episcopal Church and Episcopal Relief & Development, this innovative partnership tracks local ministries and shows the location and the array of ministries and programs offered by Episcopal congregations, schools and institutions throughout the church. Nearly every diocese of the Episcopal Church is represented on the map as well as over 20 networks, such as Jubilee Ministries, the United Thank Offering, Ethnic Ministries, and Episcopal Camps and Conference Centers.

“With the Episcopal Asset Map, you have the opportunity to tell the Church and the world about how your congregation is being called to serve God and neighbor,” explained Tamara Plummer, Asset Map Coordinator for Episcopal Relief & Development. “The Asset Map site will share the many ways you are engaging in the important work that God has called us to. It also helps us assess the gifts of our Church as we prepare to respond to the needs of our vulnerable neighbors after a disaster.”

On the map, Episcopal Church institutions appears as pins, linked to a profile page with additional information about location, hours, facilities, programs, and any photos or videos that have been shared and approved. Because the map is grassroots-populated, local congregations are able to post the most relevant and up-to-date information such as summer worship schedules or special programs that respond to the needs in their communities.

“A website is a tool, but it takes you sharing the stories of our worship communities to make it effective and useful,” said Christopher Sikkema, Coordinator for Digital Evangelism. “We are excited to announce that in the weeks ahead, the Find A Church on www.episcopalchurch.org will be updated by the Asset Map. This move strongly demonstrates our focus on evangelism: every Episcopalian taking the responsibility to tell the story of this diverse church of ours.”

Among the many updates to the Episcopal Asset Map are: an updated user interface; enhanced search capabilities; improved abilities for networks across the Episcopal Church to display their data; and dedicated pages for Episcopal dioceses and networks to tell their stories and connect people with important contacts

“What remains the same is that the map allows us to tell the stories of the whole church, highlight new and exciting ministries, and begin to understand more fully the ways the Holy Spirit is moving through the congregations, dioceses, and networks of the Episcopal Church,” noted Katie Mears, Senior Director of Episcopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster Program. “I’m so excited that this map continues to highlight the presence, ministry and capacity of the church both on normal days, but also after a disaster. We are already seeing diocese and regions use this information as they plan disaster responses.”

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