Home for Christmas at All Saints

Steve O'Connor casual

By Steve O’Connor, Director of Music Ministries

Some of my fondest memories of growing up in a small town Rectory, were Christmas Eve’s every year.  Our family usually invited guests for an early dinner.  Then my sister and I were allowed to open one gift from under the Christmas tree (usually selected by my mother and almost always contained a new pair of pajamas – we were a very practical Mid-Western family).  We then had to move pretty quickly to get dressed for Christmas Eve services at church.

As the service began, the choir began to gather, the candles were lit and the intensity of the wonderful aroma from the holiday greener seemed to intensify.

Then we stood and began to sing John Francis Wade’s most important work, O Come All Ye Faithful.  I remember the great swell of unified voices from the congregation, and the antiphony of choir member’s individual voices as they passed in procession toward the altar.  Then came the words of the Opening Collect, “O God, you make us glad by the yearly festival of the birth of your only Son Jesus Christ…”

Now THAT’S HOME FOR CHRISTMAS!

Every year, with Christians all over the world, we at All Saints celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord, on Christmas Eve.  Once again, this year, we’ll raise our voices in singing O Come All Ye Faithful, Joy to the World, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, and a host of our most cherished Christmas Carols from the great tradition of the worshiping Church.

This year, I’d like to make Christmas Eve at All Saints a real HOME FOR CHRISTMAS celebration, by inviting anyone from the congregation to join us in an All Saints’ Community Choir.  Our anthem will be a lovely and simple setting of one of the Christmas Carols, accompanied by the string ensemble, and rehearsals will be minimal and easily accessible the week or two prior on Sunday mornings.  You may sing at whichever service you plan to attend (or both if you are inspired), and you’ll have the opportunity to help lead the family of All Saints in one of its most important worship celebrations of the entire year.

Our December 24th evening services (7 and 9:30 p.m.) will also feature the musical support of the Santa Barbara Strings, Mezzo-Soprano and UCSB Professor of Music (and member of All Saints), Dr. Linda Di Fiore, as well as other local professional musicians.  Wouldn’t you just love to sing with these artists?

Will you join us?  I hope so.  If you’d like more information, catch either Don Ziehl or me on the patio after church some Sunday soon, or give me a call at the Church Office.  I can’t wait to make music with you!

God’s peace,
Steve

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Reflection on the Ordination of Women

Rev.-Vicki-Mouradian


The Rev. Vicki Mouradian, Associate Rector

The Episcopal Church in the United States recently celebrated the fortieth anniversary of the ordination of women to the priesthood.  My, how times have changed in forty years!  The church went from a time of turmoil and indecision over this issue in the sixties and seventies to a time of general acceptance by the twenty-first century.  The times of argument and angst faded into the background as the church moved forward to address other issues of intolerance, peace and social justice, environmental stewardship, and more. Bishops and clergy who refused to abide with the national church decision over women and the priesthood went their separate ways, some peaceably, others leaving the wounds of schism in their wake.   Predictions for an overwhelming exodus of Episcopalians from the fold proved not to be prophetic.  The Episcopal Church did not fold nor did it go to “hell in a hand-basket.”   In fact, the Episcopal Church moved on and now women count for more than one third of its priests.  One of the most meaningful outcomes of the church’s recognition of women was the election of Katharine Jefferts Schori as Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in 2006.

Growing up, the path to becoming a priest was closed to me.  Girls couldn’t even be acolytes.  Therefore as a child, I never dreamed of becoming a priest.  It was simply not “the done thing” to question the male role of priest.  My parents were very traditional and I was expected to marry well, have children, and fan the flames of charitable organizations.  I was to be gracious above all else.  Also, my mother hated me in black.

I cannot help but wonder what it would have been like if I had been able to have such a career choice as a child or young adult.  While earning my BA in Art History, I also pursued numerous classes in Religion.  After graduation, I contemplated graduate work in Art History.  That desire morphed into Church History.  I was constantly asked, “But, what would you do with it?”  I caved to my traditional upbringing and decided on Event Coordinating.  I mean really, how could anyone traditional decry planning weddings and fundraisers for charitable organizations? (At least no one in my family.)  Off I went into a very creative side of business but my career lacked depth.  I thought I could make up for that by worshipping on Sunday and being involved with charities.  Try as I might, something was still missing.  Marriage and family eventually overtook my career path.

When my children were young and my marriage was history, I found myself once again in a position to think about a career path.  Before me now was a choice of opportunity that I had never known.  I was heavily involved with lay ministry and the more I gave of myself the more I felt that all of my work time should be placed in the hands of God.  I felt compelled to baptize and celebrate the Eucharist.  I felt compelled to teach and preach and walk beside others.  I could actually now dream of becoming a priest.  But, only God could offer that to me through the gift of the Holy Spirit.  And so it began – my journey to the priesthood; it took a decade.

Sometimes I think, if only I could have been ordained sooner, I could have done so much more in God’s service.  And then reality sets in and I know I have always been in God’s service; just the format has changed.  I may have had fewer years to dream the dream of priesthood but then I think back on all the beautiful things I have accomplished that have led me to that threshold.  I will always thrill to my memories of lay ministry, my search for a personal relationship with Jesus, my years of exploring church history, my years of serving through charities, and the exquisite experience of being a mother to my children.  I realize that God calls us for specific reasons at specific times, his time.  I would not be the priest I am today without all I have lived through and guess what?  Event planning proved great preparation to become a priest!

I thank those women who pioneered through the years of turmoil to make women’s ordination to the priesthood possible!  It was just not in God’s time to call me then.  It was in God’s time to call those who were gifted in making such a tireless effort to bring about that change.  I am forever grateful that the perseverance of the Philadelphia Eleven paved the way for me to be called to serve all of you at All Saints by-the-Sea.

 

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The Many Sides of All Saints

Rev.-Bob-HoneychurchThe Rev. Dr. Bob Honeychurch, Interim Rector

Many of us have heard of societies or organizations or clubs where it seems like the only way you get to become a member is if someone ahead of you dies.  There are probably even groups like that right here in Santa Barbara.  The good news is the All Saints is not one of them!

Within All Saints there are a wide variety of ways to engage in the life of this community… and all of them have room for you if you’re interested. Although I fear that I may fail to identify them all, I want to give you at least a sampling of ways you can become more involved in the life of this community, along with a brief description of what that group does.  If you’d like to learn more, or get involved in one of these activities, speak with one of the clergy, or call the church office.  We will get you connected with the various ministry leaders who coordinate these activities.

Acolytes:  Assist with the Sunday morning worship as you serve at the altar, carry a torch, or be the crucifer… especially for kids.

Altar Guild:  The quiet “behind the scenes” workers who make sure all of the countless details related to setting up and cleaning up the altar for worship happen.

Bible and Babble:  Come for great conversation and great Bible Study every Monday morning.

Casa Esperanza:  Join the team that provides dinner once a month for the residents of the Casa Esperanza homeless shelter.

Centering Prayer:  Find that quiet place within where God speaks to the deepest part of your heart.

Choir:  Martin Luther said that those who sing, pray twice.  Double your prayer life by joining those who lead our Sunday worship with their voices each week.

Coffee Hour Hosts:  Yes indeed we do drink coffee at All Saints.  Lots of it!  We can always use more help putting together the treats following worship each Sunday.

Cleveland School:  The major outreach effort for the next few years focuses on partnering with Cleveland School in Santa Barbara. There are lots of ways to pitch in and help.

Eucharistic Ministers:  Would you like to be a part of the team which assist with worship each Sunday and distributes communion?  This is the place for you.

Eventide:  Join us every Wednesday night for a quiet service of music and reflection… all followed by dinner.  Just the mid-week moment you may be looking for.

Family Feast:  At 10 a.m. on the first Sunday of each month, join us for a special service designed especially for kids.

Flower Guild: Do you enjoy arranging flowers?  Or would you like to learn?  Be a part of the team that assembles our altar flowers each week, and discover your own green thumb.

Healing Touch:  Experience the power of healing prayers which can touch your heart and change your life

Heritage Society:  Have you named All Saints in your estate planning?  Would you like to learn how?  Make a mark that lasts longer than a lifetime.

Holy Huddle:  An occasional gathering of men to reflect on current topics of interest, and how they relate to a life of faith.

Men’s Bible Study: What better way to start your Wednesday than with a group of guys reflecting on the scripture readings for the upcoming Sunday!

Office Volunteers:  There are always ways to help around the busy parish office.  Come lend a hand and enjoy a great way to pitch in.

Outreach Committee:  Want to make a difference in Santa Barbara and beyond?  This is an amazing group of folks whose impact is beyond measure.

Parish Socials:  Several times each year the members of the parish are invited to gather at a member’s home for fun, fellowship, and great hospitality.

Parish Visitors:  Do you have a heart for serving those who are aged, or ill, or home-bound?  This may be just the slot for you.

Readers:  Do you like to read the scriptures?  Do you like to read aloud?  Then combine your two passions and do it in church during our Sunday morning worship.

Sunday School Teachers:  If you love kids, and if you love seeing them shaped as Christians, join in this most holy endeavor that can change your life.

Ushers:  A ministry of hospitality, the ushers are often the first friendly face one sees at church on Sunday morning.  Share in the joy of incorporating people into our Sunday morning worship.

Vestry:  The elected church council has the responsibility for the oversight of the life and ministry of the congregation.

Welcomers and Greeters:  This is the chance to put on your best smile, and connect with newcomers and long-timers before and after each service.

Wise Women:  Not for women only, this group hosts monthly events to enrich the lives of all of the All Saints members.

Young Adult Group:  Are you in your 20’s or 30’s?  Do you want to hang out with others in their 20’s or 30’s for fun and fellowship?  This is the place for you.

You made it to the end of the list! I hope you have found something that sparks your interest and please get in touch with us if that’s the case – we’d love to get you involved.

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Pentecost: Birthday of the Church

Rev. Bob HoneychurchThe Rev. Dr. Bob Honeychurch, Interim Rector

Most of our Christian holidays have some antecedent in some other religious tradition.  The date of Christmas is tied to the beginning of the season of winter and the shortest day of the year, as Northern European cultures celebrated the return of the light.  Easter is tied to the Jewish festival of Passover.  The Christian feast day of Pentecost also has its roots in the Jewish tradition.  The Jewish name for the festival we call Pentecost is Shavuot, and commemorates the time when God gave Moses the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai.  The Greek name for that Jewish festival was “Pentecost”, meaning “fifty”, since Shavuot always falls fifty days after Passover.

As recorded in the second chapter of Acts, Jesus’ disciples (remember, they were all Jewish, just as Jesus was) had gathered for the festival of Shavuot (or Pentecost) fifty days after the Passover celebration during which Jesus had been crucified on a Friday (what we Christians call Good Friday) and resurrected two days later (on what we call Easter).  It was during their celebration of Shavuot (or Pentecost) that the Spirit of God descended on them like tongues of flame, and they were “in-spired” (that is, filled with the spirit), and began speaking in ways that they were understandable to all of the people speaking different languages who had gathered in Jerusalem for the festival.

Thus began the connection today for people who have a “Pentecostal experience” and “speaking in tongues” (or “glossolalia”).  So while “speaking in tongues” is not a broadly experienced phenomenon in the Episcopal Church (although it does indeed have a long history in our denomination), it does have a rich and biblical heritage extending back for many years.

Pentecost is sometimes referred to as the “birthday of the church”, as it is often understood that Jesus “completed” his work with his disciples by sending the Holy Spirit, and now it was their job to continue that work, empowered by the Spirit.  In any case, it truly is a day to see that God had empowered the disciples – just as God continues to empower us today – to carry forward the message of God’s redeeming love to a world so desperately in need of receiving those healing words.

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Music of the World-Wide Anglican Communion comes to All Saints.

Steve-O'ConnorSteve O’Connor, Director of Music Ministries

Recently I attended a national conference of Anglican Musicians, celebrating the enormous diversity of musical cultures within our international Communion.  As we began our opening Morning Prayer celebration, we were greeted with the sounds of Caribbean Steel Drums and the sight of beautifully costumed African dancers in procession.  The delight among the worshipers was palpable, as we broke into a standing ovation.

As we approach the Feast of Pentecost, I’m reminded how Christians from many lands and tongues gathered in one place to worship and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  I often wonder what the music of that day must have been like.

Our Church, the Anglican Communion, is likewise broad and marked with enormous diversity.  “Glory to God in the highest, and peace to God’s people on earth…” is sung across the world each Sunday morning to the music and rhythms of thousands of local cultures.  From the sounds of American gospel to chimurenga of Zimbabwe, bomba and plena of Puerta Rico, reggae of The Caribbean and the reels of Ireland, Anglicans lift their voices in song and surround their worship with the joyful sound of music in a multiplicity of ways.

This summer, we at All Saints will have a chance to experience some of these styles as part of our summer Arts in Worship Series.  For the next three months, we’ll hear and sing music of the Anglican Communion, from around the world.  We’ll kick off the summer on Pentecost Sunday, June 8.  We’ll feature the music of American gospel and welcome a Bluegrass band.  June 15, 22 and 29, the music of Latin America will be the focus.  July 6, 13 and 20 will bring us the music of Celtic lands.  We’ll feature Celtic harp and Irish fiddle.  July 27, August 3 and 10 will feature music of “the Islands.”  We’ll hear the Caribbean sounds of reggae, jazz, as well as Hawaiian folk music.  Finally, we’ll come full circle in August, as we welcome an American Gospel/Bluegrass band.

These professional guest musicians are a particularly welcome addition during the summer when our All Saints Choir rests, but of course, they come at a cost.  The fee for these highly trained, professional artists is approximately $300 for a Sunday morning, which is paid for in whole by your financial support of our All Saints Special Music fund.  Your generous contribution to the Special Music Fund enables us to invite a wide variety of artists to our worship each year.

Join us, as we worship well this summer and bring to All Saints the spirit of the Season after Pentecost.

I can’t wait!!  See you in church.

Steve O’Connor

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A Thought For Mother’s Day

Rev. Vicki MouradianThe Rev. Vicki Mouradian, Interim Associate Rector

We have come to that time of the year in our country, the second Sunday of May, when most pause to honor their mothers and mother figures.  Through the efforts of Anna Jarvis, Mother’s Day began in 1907.  Anna wanted to honor her own mother, Ann Jarvis, who had died on May 9, 1905, and tirelessly pursued the cause of making Mother’s Day a national holiday.  She succeeded when Congress passed a law in 1914 designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.  Seeds of hope for this holiday had first been planted in the nineteenth century to honor those mothers who had lost sons to war or who were at risk of losing their sons to war.  As time passed the thought behind such a day was broadened as Ann Jarvis wanted to include all mothers.  Carnations and church have become associated with the day because Ann Jarvis delivered 500 white carnations (her mother’s favorite) to the first official Mother’s Day celebration at St. Andrews Methodists Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia in 1908.  Ann was not prepared for the onslaught of commercialism that would associate with the holiday within nine years of the first official day.  As we know, card companies, florists, jewelers, and restaurants are especially grateful for her efforts.  She spent the rest of her life and her inheritance protesting against the commercialization of Mother’s Day which she saw as an abuse of the celebration.

In spite of the commercialism associated with the holiday, most of us sincerely wish to honor our mothers, and those we hold dear as mother figures, with some show of love and devotion.  We consider them a blessing in our lives and are grateful for the love, guidance, support, and inspiration they have given us, most times tirelessly, over the years.  As we move through life and spend our days in routine and business, it is often easy to take such love for granted.  With that in mind, I have always been grateful for the commercial aspect of Mother’s Day because it is a wake-up call for me to be mindful.  In spite of my failings, there is a very public reminder for me to honor someone I hold dear.  Does that mean that I buy into the commercialism? No, it helps me ask myself when I last expressed my love and gratitude and how now to proceed thoughtfully.  Mother’s Day is what we make of it, and being a mother, I fully recognize that no sum or commercial venture can equal the words or thoughtfulness of my children.  With them I feel richly blessed..

May Mother’s Day for you be a matter of the heart whether in giving or receiving.

 

Biblically Inspired Litany for Mothers

Eve our first mother – thank you for stepping out and being the first to understand the complexities of life.

Sarah, Hannah and Elizabeth – thank you for your patience and courage in waiting for a miracle.  May all people longing for children be strengthened by your stories and comforted in their pain.

Hagar – thank you for your resolve in the face of exile.  May all mothers who are forced to flee or are forgotten be given hope in you.

Rebecca – thank you for your flexibility.  Let us remember all mothers who have to raise their children in a different country or far from their relatives and who feel isolated.

Rachel – you carried the burden of grief and wept for your children.  Hold the hands of all those mothers who weep for their children – children who have gone missing, who have died or are lost to them in other ways.

Jochebed – you used wisdom and insight to protect your children.  Give all mothers this wisdom and insight in the bringing up of their children, especially in vulnerable times.

Naomi and Ruth – you showed that love can conquer all trials.  Help all mothers to love constantly when life seems impossible and despair weighs hard upon their souls.

Mary – the new Eve whose ‘yes’ to God changed our world forever.  Thank you for sheltering the Holy One all those years ago, for your faithful love and tender care of God’s most precious Son.  May we never forget that in your giving is our greatest receiving – of the gift of life wrapped in a manger and in a tomb.  May we know the true cost of relationship by holding our faith in Christ deep within our hearts as you once held him deep within your womb.  Amen.

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Holy Week: The Cornerstone of our Year

Rev. Bob HoneychurchThe Rev. Dr. Bob Honeychurch, Interim Rector

Of the fifty-two weeks which comprise the Christian year, none stands out as the cornerstone around which everything else is constructed more than the week which begins with Palm Sunday, and concludes with the celebration of the resurrection on Easter Sunday.  Unlike the date of Christmas, which is fixed at December 25, the date of Easter moves from year to year.  The date for Easter is calculated using a combination of the solar and lunar calendars. So, to determine the date for Easter in any given year, the following formula is used.  Easter always falls on the first Sunday, after the first full moon, after the first day of Spring.  Palm Sunday, and the beginning of Holy Week, always begins the week prior to Easter.

Holy Week might best be described as one long, extended liturgical drama.  Based on the major episodes in Jesus’ life during his final week, it begins with all of the pomp and ceremony of Palm Sunday, as we re-enact Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, being hailed as a messiah, with all of the hopes and dreams of the community caught up in his arrival.

The mood swiftly changes, however, as four days pass, and we arrive at Thursday.  Called “Maundy Thursday”, the name is drawn from the Latin word “mandatum” (the origin of our English words “mandate” and “commandment”).  It was on this night that Jesus instituted the Last Supper (on the night before he was betrayed) and, in John’s gospel, washed the feet of his disciples, giving them a “new commandment” to love one another has he loved them.

The following day brings us “Good Friday”, the day of Jesus’ crucifixion.  The exact origin of the term “Good” Friday is somewhat unclear, but only in English is the day referred to as “Good.”  On this day, we are reminded of the death of Jesus, and of how that act of a self-giving God brought about a saving grace.  In our Prayer Book for this day, we pray: “Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that we all might know your saving embrace.”

Holy Saturday (the day before Easter) brings with it the most powerful service of the church year.  The opening words of our Easter Vigil service begin:  “On this most holy night, in which our Lord Jesus passed over from death to life, the Church invites her members, dispersed throughout the world, to gather in vigil and prayer.”  The great Old Testament stories of salvation history, move us toward the promise of our ultimate story of salvation in the resurrection of Jesus, which happened unnoticed during the night.

Easter Sunday is the culmination of this great week.  Our celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, as recounted by the women who discovered an empty tomb, reminds us of the new life into which all of us have been invited.  It is a celebration of great hope and great joy.

So, there you have it… an overview of Holy Week in just a few words.  Please join us this week for these great gatherings of God’s people as we accompany Jesus through this transformational week in his life, and in ours.

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Palm Sunday Worship – It’s in the Movement!

Steve-O'ConnorSteve O’Connor, Director of Music Ministries

One of the most important documents that describes the early Church’s liturgical activity is the travel diary of the late 4th century woman, Egeria who spent a good deal of time in Jerusalem, documenting Christian worship.  Her account of Palm Sunday is fascinating;

“And as the eleventh hour approaches, the passage from the Gospel is read, where the children, carrying branches and palms, met the Lord, saying; Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord… all go on foot from the top of the Mount of Olives, saying to one another: Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.  And all the children in the neighborhood, even those who are too young to walk, are carried by their parents on their shoulders, all of them bearing branches, some of palms and some of olives, and thus the bishop is escorted in the same manner as the Lord was of old.”

Here we see liturgical re-enactment.  From these roots we have our modern Palm/Passion Sunday Liturgy, which combines the blessing and procession of the Palms – an emphasis on Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and the reading of the Passion Narrative.

It’s in the movement, the procession from outside to the inside of the church that we participate with Christ as he entered into the city.

This is why the Church still makes a big deal about gathering everyone outside the church at the start of the Palm Sunday service.  We’re not sitting comfortable in church.  We’re surrounded by noise, confusion and a little chaos.  Things are very different and frankly, it’s a little annoying.  That’s what makes our worship significant!  It’s in our participation with the Savior and the crowds of noisy, confused people as they traveled from the Mount of Olives into the city of Jerusalem, that our worship transforms us.

What happens after the Procession of the Palms, and we have moved inside the church?  Almost immediately we are confronted by the Passion Narrative – the Gospel account of Christ’s suffering and death.  One minute we’re having a party – a parade, the next minute – we’re immersed into Christ’s agony on the cross.  The Palm Sunday liturgy, then, is more than just a simple commemoration of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem.   It’s also NOT simply a triumphal march.  The heart of the liturgy is our participation in Christ’s journey, together with his people, the People of God, to Calvary and to God’s great central act of redemption, the Resurrection.

Join us on our journey this Palm Sunday as we participate with Christ.

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Christ be with me, Christ within me: thoughts on St Patrick’s Day

Rev. Vicki MouradianThe Rev. Vicki Mouradian, Interim Associate Rector

Lent is a perfect time of the year to really appreciate the Saints of the Church.  As those who have been participating in Lent Madness have come to learn, Saints are varied and colorful!  We turn to Saints for inspiration for most Saints have endured arduous journeys throughout church history and we can learn and appreciate from their stories of faith.  One such Saint was St. Patrick who we remember today.

In the words of Holy Women and Holy Men, an Episcopal compendium of Saints, St. Patrick was born into a Christian family somewhere on the northwest coast of Britain in about 390, C.E.  His grandfather had been a Chrisian priest and his father, Calpornius, a deacon.  Calpornius was an important official in the late Roman imperial government of Britain.  It was not unusual in the post-Constantinian period for such state officials to be in holy orders.  When Patrick was about sixteen, he was captured by a band of Irish slave-raiders.  He was carried off to Ireland and forced to serve as a shepherd.  When he was about twenty-one, he escaped and returned to Britain, where he was educated as a Christian.  He tells us that he took holy orders as both presbyter and bishop, although no particular see is known as his at this time.  A vision called him to return to Ireland.  This he did about the year 431.

Tradition holds that Patrick landed not far from the place of his earlier captivity, near what is now known as Downpatrick (a “down”or “dun”is a fortified hill, the stronghold of a local Irish king).  He then began a remarkable process of missionary conversion throughout the country that continued until his death, probably in 461.  He made his appeal to the local kings and through them to their tribes.  Christianizing the old pagan religion as he went, Patrick erected Christian churches over sites already regarded as sacred, had crosses carved on old druidic pillars, and put sacred wells and spring under the protection of Christian saints.

Many legends of Patrick’s Irish missionary travels possess substrata of truth, especially those telling of his conversion of the three major Irish High Kings.  At Armagh, he is said to have established his principal church.  To this day, Armagh is regarded as the primatial see of all Ireland.

Of course, what would a proper Saint be without legends or traditions attached to their identity?  St. Patrick is no exception.  One legend credits St. Patrick with teaching the Irish about the doctrine of the Holy Trinity by showing people the shamrock, a three-leafed plant, to illustrate the Christian teaching of three persons in one God.  The shamrock had been seen as sacred in the pre-Christian days in Ireland.  Due to its green color and overall shape, many viewed it as representing rebirth and eternal life.  Probably the most popular and fantastic legend claims that St. Patrick banished all snakes from Ireland by chasing them into the sea after they attacked him during a 40-day fast he was undertaking on top of a hill.  However, all evidence suggests that post-glacial Ireland never had snakes because of its insular island status.

We can best remember St. Patrick for his missionary work in a country which had enslaved him, a true credit to his faith and his belief in Christ’s teaching to love our enemies.  Perhaps one way in which St. Patrick can touch us in this present day is to say the following prayer (adapted by Cecil Alexander and Charles Stanford) attributed to him:

Christ be with me,

Christ within me,

Christ behind me,

Christ before me,

Christ beside me,

Christ to win me,

Christ to comfort and restore me.

Christ beneath me,

Christ above me,

Christ in quiet,

Christ in danger,

Christ in hearts of all that love me,

Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

May St. Patrick touch our hearts and minds and inspire us to grow closer to Christ.

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A Meditation on the Beginning of Lent

Rev. Bob HoneychurchThe Rev. Dr. Bob Honeychurch, Interim Rector

I was speaking with a friend today about the recent storms we had in Santa Barbara this past weekend.  Between downpours, he bundled up his two young children, and took them outside to romp in the standing water and the mud.  One child immediately took to this new adventure, splashing in the water and sliding around until she was thoroughly soaked and covered in dirt from head to toe.  The other child, however, was somewhat more skeptical about this experience, and even with a good deal of coaxing, could only tentatively engage in this exercise which was generally not a part of his normal routine.

The encounter of these two children with this weekend’s mud seemed like a particularly salient illustration of the different ways we might enter into this holy season of Lent.  Some of us are ready to plunge headlong into the season, prepared to get down and dirty (as it were) in the spiritual exercises and personal discipline so often associated with Lent.  Others, however, are not quite sure what to do with this invitation to engage in this holy work, especially when it is not the type of activity which occupies our time during the rest of the year.

It’s appropriate, I think, that the season of Lent should begin with a day called “Ash Wednesday” – where basic earthly dirt plays such a significant role in the liturgy.  We are marked with the ashes of the day on our foreheads, partly to remind us of our mortality, and partly to remind us that playing in the dirt of life is specifically what God invites us to do during this season.  For it is in that dirt, and from that dirt – with the reminder that we and the dirt are one, as we hear in the words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” – that new life emerges.

The word “Lent” comes from the old German word meaning “springtime”, as we prepare the soil of our hearts for the new life we await at Easter.  So during these days ahead, I invite you to experience the season in all its fullness… by getting dirty (either figuratively or literally) in the business of deepening your faith, of strengthening the bond between yourself and God’s creation, of re-connecting with others in whom the face of God shows forth.

Being a Christian – when we are at our best – is dirty business.  So find some dirt.  And be some dirt.  Experience the new growth that can happen when the ashes of our existence and the waters of our baptism combine to form the stuff of life from which the seeds of life can spring to life.

 

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Catch A Falling Star: From Epiphany to Lent

Steve-O'ConnorSteve O’Connor, Director of Music Ministries

Sometime between the end of Sunday worship on March 2 and sundown Tuesday, March 4 a star will fall at All Saints.  Specifically, the large star now positioned above the high altar, placed there for the season of Epiphany, will come down, as we transition into the new season of Lent.

Since January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany, the Church has celebrated the various manifestations, or “epiphanies” of Jesus’ divinity after his birth.  These have included the coming of the Magi, Christ’s baptism, the Wedding at Cana where he miraculously changed water into wine, the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple, also called Candlemas where Christ’s light to the world is symbolically recognized in the blessing of the Church’s candles.  During these six weeks of the Season after Epiphany, we like the Wise Men, have followed the star, the “bright light” of Christ, as his divinity has been made known to us.

The Church now transitions into a time of conversion, a season of preparation for the coming Paschal mystery of Christ’s saving death and resurrection.  This preparation marks the season of Lent.  From the Old English word for “spring” – the time of lengthening days – Lent is a period of forty days (not including Sundays, each of which are “little Easters”), in which we are called to prepare for God’s saving gift of Easter.  All Christians are invited, in the words of the Book of Common Prayer, “to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.”

Theologically in Lent, we are reminded of God’s generosity.  The Lectionary readings for Lent 1 include the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the Old Testament’s second story of Creation.  The first Creation account, creation in six days and “God saw that it was good,” is the opening reading at the Easter Vigil during Holy Week.  The four primary scriptural symbols of the season are Bread and Water, Hunger and Thirst, Light and Darkness and Clothing and Nakedness.

Oscar Wilde’s interpretation of Psalm 130 is a fitting reminder of our need for God’s generous abundance:

Out of the depths I cry to thee, O Lord!
Lord, hear my voice!
Let thy ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!
For with the Lord, there is steadfast love, and with him is plenteous redemption.
And he will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.

As we transition from the season of Epiphany into the season of Lent, you are encouraged to “catch a falling star,” that is, to receive the saving Light of Christ and welcome into your life the abundant gifts of God.

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