Holy Saturday & Easter Sunday Worship Services

holy saturdayRead the Gospel for Holy SaturdayHoly Saturday | Easter Vigil, 8pm

Possibly the most beautiful service of the church year, the Easter Vigil begins outside in our courtyard with the kindling of a fire from which the paschal candle is lit. From that candle each person lights their candle as the service begins in darkness. While still in the tomb we read of God’s saving work throughout history.

We then enter the sacrament of baptism and as we are pulled from that watery grave, we reign in Easter with the setting and adornment of the altar, lighting the altar candles, organ fanfare, and illuminating the worship area before we celebrate that first Easter Eucharist. The service actually takes us from death to new life and we really experience that Easter moment.

If you have not been to the Vigil, please consider making it your Easter celebration. Also, following the service, Lent is officially over, we will celebrate with a champagne and chocolate reception in the parish hall. Continue reading “Holy Saturday & Easter Sunday Worship Services”

Holy Week | Worship Services

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Read the Gospel for Good FridayGood Friday | Stations of the Cross, 12pm | Good Friday Liturgy, 7pm

At noon we gather in the nave and tell the story of Christ’s crucifixion as an acolyte moves from station to station as we read and respond to each event. The readings for each station are distributed to members of the congregation prior to the beginning of the service.

Our poignant 7pm service begins in silence and includes a reading of the Passion according to John, solemn prayer, and then the veneration of the cross. Continue reading “Holy Week | Worship Services”

Holy Week | Worship Services

ash wednesday-3Read the Gospel for Maundy ThursdayMaundy Thursday | 7pm

Eucharist with foot washing and the stripping of the altar.

There is heaviness in the air as Jesus gathers his closest friends with the knowledge this will be the last meal they will share together on this side of the grave. We also remember that on this night Jesus washed his friends feet and to illustrate his new commandment that we love one another the way that he had loved them. Then after we break bread together for the last time before Easter, we acknowledge Christ’s impending death by stripping the altar and departing in silence. Continue reading “Holy Week | Worship Services”

What Your Children Learned: February 28

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Godly Play- 1st-2nd Grade | “The Faces of Easter III & IV

Last Week’s lesson, “The Faces of Easter” Lessons I & II painted a picture of Jesus, from birth through his childhood. Even then he had a clear understanding of the work he came to accomplish. Everything was falling into place for Jesus as was intended by God. He was born to Mary and Joseph, spent his time learning and teaching in the temple. As we move on to Lesson III & IV this week, the children will see the third plaque in the series, the first of Jesus as a grown man, about 30 years old. At this time in his life, Jesus went to his cousin John and was baptized in the Jordan River. After being claimed by god as His “Beloved Son”, Jesus left that place and began his 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness. In Lesson IV, Jesus faces enormous temptations while he is in the wilderness. After resisting the temptations of the Devil, Jesus left the wilderness to prepare for the work he was about to do. In the coming weeks, we’ll hear more about his preparation and what exactly that work would be.

Pre K-K & 3rd-5th | Gospel: Luke 13:1-9 “The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree”

Before the Gospel of Luke retells Jesus’ parable about a fruitless fig tree, the story starts out like this. News came to Jesus about some Jewish people from Galilee who come to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices but had been killed by the Roman governor’s troops. Jesus asked his audience: “Do you think that these people were worse sinners than all the other people of Galilee because they suffered this way?” He then answered his own question, “No.” But he added, “Unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.” Then Jesus told a parable: A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard. Although it looked healthy, with spreading branches and green leaves, it yielded no fruit. The man told his gardener, “For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?” The gardener was reluctant to cut the tree down if it could be made to bear fruit. He requested that it be left for one more year and promised to dig around it and fertilize it. Then if it bore fruit, “well and good,” but if not, it would be cut down. The fig tree parable was a call for the people of Israel to repent. The “one more year” requested by the vinedresser meant that Israel still had time. Jesus’ way of telling them, to “get their act together”.

What Your Children Learned | February 21

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Godly Play | 1st & 2nd Grade | “The Faces of Easter I & II

This week, the children in this class will continue their journey through Lent by exploring the Faces of the Easter Season. The first lesson’s focus is on Jesus as a newborn baby. The plaque, with the faces of Mary and Joseph is our first look at the life of Jesus. From birth, Jesus had an incredible mission and purpose ahead of him. This picture of baby Jesus marks the beginning of his journey toward the cross. The second “Face of Easter” plaque takes the class through Jesus’ boyhood and some of the unusual things that happened as he grew up. One time when Jesus was about 12 years old, he disappeared and it worried his mother and father very much. Later they found him in the Temple, a place where he was closer to God, a place he called “His Father’s House”. Over the next four weeks, the faces will change, and the stories will be different as we continue with Jesus as he journeys toward the cross.

Gospel | Pre K-K 3rd-5th | Luke 13: 22-35 | “Jesus’ Sorrow for Jerusalem”

The lesson from today’s Gospel, being a very short two verses, is tough to gather everything we need for this lesson. So for the children, we will take a look in the verses both before and after the specified reading from Luke. In the verses leading up to this, Jesus is traveling on his way to the city of Jerusalem. He is still a few days away. He went through the “towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem”. At one point on his trip, a group of Pharisees came up to Jesus and encouraged him to leave. They indicated his life was in danger! “Leave this place and go somewhere else,” they said. “Herod wants to kill you”. Jesus wasn’t too concerned about Herod. Jesus was determined to get to Jerusalem, and the Pharisees’ threat about Herod wasn’t going to alter any of Jesus’ plans. It was clear neither Herod nor the Pharisees were going to keep Jesus from getting to Jerusalem. As Jesus thought upon the magnificent city, he realized that the city was not living up to the expectations God desired for it.

Advent Reflections: December 22nd

advent reflections (2)My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior. -Luke 1:47

What a profound and commanding statement!

Think about it. Do you, do we, do I have the capacity to feel such love and passion for our Lord? While we ‘believe’ in God, and we are ‘thankful’ for all God has given to us, only God’s full unconditional love for us could create such deep emotions and conviction.

To take one’s ‘Soul’ to ‘magnify’ the Lord, and to have your ‘Spirit’, your deepest and truest essence,‘rejoice’ in the Lord – must be one of the greatest feelings we can achieve here on this earth. I can only scratch the surface with my imagination of what awaits us in His kingdom.

– Anonymous SJEC parishioner

Advent Reflections: December 20th

advent reflections (2)And Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord. -Luke 1:45

So Mary, a young teenage girl, is engaged to a carpenter. Like all “good” girls of the time, she was a virgin. And we know that a woman’s marriageable worth, at the time, lay in her lineage and her virginity. Out of nowhere, this angel comes along and declares that God has seen her faith and she’s going to bear the savior of the world. And according to Luke, everything sort of goes swimmingly — Elizabeth’s child leaps in the womb, blessings and faith are happily professed, Mary says a lot of profound things …

Just one question, what happened to the rest of the story? I imagine Mary, who was said to be “perplexed” had a great deal more than that going on in her young head. How many teenagers find life an easy and simple ride to begin with. Add a vision, an out of wedlock pregnancy, a strained relationship with her fiancé and a forced journey to the mix and you more than likely had one freaked out teenager. And how exactly did the talk with her family go, “well, mom and dad, there was this angel, and …”

It’s complicated – like our lives are complicated, and yet we’re told there was great faith. Somehow in all of this, she stood strong.

Perhaps faith happened in one swift moment as the text implies. But I’m guessing it actually took time to deal with all those intense feelings — fear, joy, anxiety, anticipation — time to sort through the complications and time before she gave this tangle over to God. I wonder if her faith came to her, as faith comes to so many of us, because she believed that only God could make sense of this great upheaval and radical change in her life. It had to be a tough and emotional journey. And here’s what I think about this untold part of the story. The idea of struggle makes her faith all the more beautiful, all the more “blessed,” because it makes it understandable.

– Dorothy Smith, Senior High Youth Leader

Advent Reflections: December 13th

“John answered all of them by saying, ‘I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” -Luke 3:16

Of course we know now that the Baptism that John the Baptist spoke of and demonstrated then still lives in our midst, only now as one of our greatest and most celebrated ceremonies in our modern church. But besides being a prophet, John was someone who wasn’t afraid and in turn started a movement.

As I sit and think of how I relate to this scripture, and self-reflect in regards to how I can use it to better  myself, I find something very interesting. John listened to God, prepared himself for the journey ahead, and spoke what he felt to others. He did this unapologetically in fact, and  you could say he just “went for it”.

As I worked to help a wonderful group of volunteers prepare bread in the parish hall on a Friday nearly a month ago, I remember a conversation I had with Colin Borgstrom. He shared with me a story in regards to “feeling called” to bake the bread for this ministry. He shared this feeling with his wife, and without hesitation, or maybe a little… they began to work to make it happen.

I think we can all learn from these stories. Sometimes we might not feel adequately equipped or prepared for certain “adventures”, but I would argue that neither were those who dropped everything to travel the distance for the visitation of the newborn baby born in Bethlehem.

Sometimes, we just have to “go for it”.

– John Knouse, Director of Family Ministries.

Men’s Retreat | December 5th

Saturday, December 5th, from 9am-12pm

Join Fr. Ben for a morning of discussion and fellowship as we begin a new church year. This year we will discuss the first two chapters of Luke anticipating the birth of our Lord and how we use the text to prepare ourselves.  The retreat will be hosted by Scott Christian – just 10 miles north of Warrenton. Please email the church office if you are interested.