This month the Crown focuses on spirituality and community. Michael writes about Lent and the spirituality of Lenten devotions. While Senior Warden Jill Joseph explores the opportunity for small group ministries. There is two page spread of fellowship events that are coming up including the Spring Event on May 3rd. This Crown also includes a note from the Daughters of the King and a report on Empty Bowls. Finally Junior Warden David Jurkovich updates everyone on some unexpected repairs. Read on below.
This is our current sign, obviously advertising the fun craziness that is Lent Madness. Yesterday we marked the first Sunday of Lent with the Great Litany at the beginning of each service. Meditation booklets from Episcopal Relief and Development are available at the back of the church, or you can sign up here to receive them by email. In the bricks-and-mortar world, All Saints is offering our annual Lenten Soup Supper Series, every Wednesday beginning at 5:30 PM. Come and enjoy a simple meal of soup and bread, and then move into the church, which will be set up for a time of contemplative prayer.
Whatever your own Lenten discipline is, we wish every blessing upon you!
Annabel Audet, who was a faithful member of this congregation serving on the Altar Guild and board of the Episcopal Church Women, died peacefully surrounded by her family on February 7, 2014 — two days after her 99th birthday.
Her funeral will be held at All Saints (2076 Sutterville Rd, Sacramento, CA 95822) at 2:00 pm March 1. Parking is available in our lot across 21st street from the church and also at Sacramento City College across Sutterville Rd.
A reception will follow immediately in the parish hall.
All Saints Episcopal Church
2076 Sutterville Road
Sacramento, California 95822
8:00 am Sunday Holy Eucharist, Rite II
9:15 am Sunday Adult Bible Study
10:00 am Sunday Holy Eucharist, Rite II
Nursery and Sunday School at the 10 am service.
All Saints Church is located across the street from Sacramento City College. Each semester we offer students the opportunity to purchase a pass to park in our parking lot Monday through Friday from 7:00 to 4:00. For more information see our parking pass information page.
Who are we? We started out shouting hosannas, “All Glory, Laud, and Honor,” waving palm branches, behaving as though we are so excited that Jesus was coming into town in that parody of a royal procession. “This is the one who will overthrow the Romans and free us from oppression. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
And then we shifted. Let him be crucified!
And in a few more moments, we will eat and drink the body and blood of that same one, the one we cheered and the one we shouted to crucify. In eating and drinking, in being together as a community of disciples, we, together, become that one. The Body of Christ.
On top of that, some of us have taken on some other roles this morning. Judge, betrayer, denier, impartial narrator. We are all, in some ways and at some times, all of these people.
We take on different roles in our lives too: wife, mother, parish priest, school trustee, friend, daughter. And that’s not even going back in history. I could add: student, teacher, waitress, grocery store clerk, manager, choir member. On and on. And on and on and on. And you can do the same.
With so many different roles that we play, it can be easy to get swept away with one or another. Especially when there are others around us. It’s a little like peer pressure. Even without the pressure, though, there is some part of us that is instinctively a herd animal. We want the comfort and security that comes from being with a lot of other people all doing the same thing.
I remember a story that my high school German teacher told. When he was a young boy in Germany, Hitler was coming to power. My teacher’s father happened to be friends with the rabbi of the local synagogue. The father was not a big fan of Hitler, and my teacher grew up knowing that Hitler was a bad man. One day Hitler was going to be coming through town in a big parade. My teacher, still a boy, went to watch the parade out of curiosity. He determined for himself ahead of time that he would just watch, not give the traditional salute or shout “Heil Hitler!” And still, in the excitement and frenzy of the moment, with the crowd around him going crazy and shouting, he found his own arm shooting upward, his own voice shouting “Heil! Heil Hitler!” His mind hadn’t changed, but his instinct somehow took over in that moment and directed his body to conform to the people around him.
I wonder how much of that herd instinct was operating back in Jerusalem. How many of the people shouting “Hosanna!” really knew what they were shouting about? And the ones shouting “Crucify him”? (many of whom were the same people, or at least that is what we are led to believe.) Even Peter’s denial of Jesus, three times, could have been fear-based herd instinct kicking in. (“Don’t let them know you’re any different from them! Act the same as them! Then they’ll leave you alone!”)
We’re all subject to it. And sometimes it’s not so bad. Expressions of sadness and shock when a tragedy strikes, whether genuinely felt or inspired by herd instinct, are never wrong as such. Neither are expressions of joy at the appropriate time. Really, there was nothing wrong with those Hosannas, even if some of them were not entirely heartfelt.
The problem comes when we lose our real selves inside of all of the roles. When we are so busy shouting, laughing, criticizing, or whatever along with all those around us.
When we are so busy acting roles—even the important ones, that really do make up who we intrinsically are, like mother, wife, priest—we can lose track of the beloved child of God at the core. That one, beloved by God more than we can even know, that one is the very foundation of our being. That is the self that we need to remember and to return to, all the time.
We stand at the beginning of Holy Week. In our liturgy today we have had a taste of the drama that will unfold on Thursday and Friday: Jesus’ last evening, his betrayal and arrest, his show trial and condemnation, his death and burial. And, since we know all about what will happen on those days, we could leave today and come back next week, Easter Sunday morning, ready to celebrate the resurrection. But if we do that, we will have missed an important part of the journey. We will have missed most of the suffering.
The internet is a strange place. Over this past week, people as diverse as Richard Rohr, a Roman Catholic Franciscan priest and friar, and David Brooks, a conservative political columnist in the New York Times, have floated across my screen, reflecting on suffering. Both men have indicated that suffering, while not something that any of us desire or create intentionally, leads us to greater depths.
We have an opportunity this week to deepen our spiritual lives. If we can walk with Jesus this week, following his last days, remembering them and doing our best to live into them, we will be better able to align our own suffering with his and to move deeper into the heart of God, who, himself suffers along with us.
It takes time to accept the opportunity that God offers us in the gift of Holy Week. Time to come to church and experience the liturgy. Time to reflect and to pray. Time to bring the events of so long ago to our hearts and our minds and feel the feelings that they bring. And it is worth the time.
Come to Holy Week services, either here or somewhere else. If you can’t, and I understand that some really can’t, mark the time in a different way. Look up the service in your Book of Common Prayer, or find it online. Read the readings assigned for that day, and reflect on them. Walk the way of the cross in your life this week, because resurrection can only happen after death.
In the midst of all the roles that we may play this week: parent, employee, church member, and so on, and so on, let us resolve together to cling to our true identity: beloved child of God. In the safety and security that is the birthright of a beloved child, let yourself truly enter in to Holy Week and walk with Jesus to the cross and beyond.
Homily for April 6, 2014, the Fifth Sunday in Lent
by the Reverend Virginia McNeely
This is the fifth Sunday of Lent. It’s been a while since we had ashes put on our foreheads and were reminded that we come from dust and to dust we shall return. Next Sunday is Palm Sunday, and we will be welcoming Jesus in to Jerusalem on his colt so that he can be crucified. This Sunday we are reminded by the lectionary that belief in the Grace and power of God should be central to our lives.
The psalm prepares us for what is to come in the following readings. Psalm 130 is a penitential psalm and was probably one of the psalms sung when penitents made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem’s temple. We don’t know what crisis the psalmist has experienced. If he is deep in the watery deeps, he may be gravely ill and is close to sinking in the underworld of death. We just don’t know. But we do know that the psalmist is in pain. He waits. He waits for God’s grace, rather than god’s wrath. He knows that forgiveness and restoration can only come from God. The psalm ends with an appeal for the entire community to have hope in the Lord with the same steadfast resolution as the psalmist. Martin Luther considered this to be one of his favorite psalms, and if you would like to see how he paraphrased it for a hymn you’ll find it as hymn 666 in the 1982 hymnal.
Readings: Exodus 17:1-7, Psalm 95, Romans 5:1-11, John 4:5-42
The story of the Samaritan woman is pretty long, as far as Gospel stories go. In our own bulletin it took more than a page printed out. So what is it that makes this story so important?
With this story, we are learning something about the nature of Jesus. In particular, we are learning one of the ways he differs from the culture he was a part of. You see, Jesus was a Jew, and the Jews did not like the Samaritans. It was an ancient religious and political quarrel, and, as is true of most such quarrels, it’s not worth our time here to get into much detail. Suffice it to say that, in the words of the Gospel, “Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.” This is why the Samaritan woman was so surprised when Jesus asked her for a drink on that hot day.