Grace Notes


Winding Down the Season After Epiphany
This is one of the first times I remember a having an Eighth Sunday after the Epiphany. Next Sunday will be the Last Sunday after the Epiphany for a grand total of nine Sundays after Epiphany. A quick perusal of the Prayer Book reveals that that's as many as are possible in the Church year. This year Easter is one day from the latest date on which it can fall. I like this arrangement because more Sundays after Epiphany means fewer Sundays after Pentecost—a green season that usually seems to go on forever.

The Last Sunday after the Epiphany is bookend of sorts for the First Sunday after the Epiphany. On the First Sunday after the Epiphany the Church celebrates the Baptism of Our Lord in the river Jordan. On that occasion, God reveals to the world that this Jesus who comes to be baptized by John the Baptist is the Messiah (the Christ), but is also God the Father's well-beloved Son. At the same time, the Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus in the form of a dove—and so the Holy Trinity is manifested for the first time in history.

On the Last Sunday after the Epiphany, the divine light of Jesus, between Moses, the giver of the Law, and Elijah, greatest of the prophets, is manifested in his Transfiguration and again, God the Father says, "This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!"

God reveals who Jesus is at the beginning of Jesus' ministry and at its end. Right after the Transfiguration, Christ enters into Jerusalem and begins those mighty acts by which he liberates the world from the oppression of sin, injustice and death itself. In a sense, Christ's whole ministry is the epiphany, the manifestation, of God's love for his creation and the means by which he will rescue and liberate it.

The last day of this season is Shrove Tuesday, also called Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday (this year it falls on March 8). It is a day of confession and feasting. Shrove Tuesday gets its name from the Old English word scrifan, which means to hear or make confession. While this sacrament is never required in the Episcopal Church, it is available (news to many in the Episcopal Church). I'll write more about this Sacrament during the season of Lent, but in the meantime, consider reading through the liturgy for the Reconciliation of a Penitent (Book of Common Prayer, 446-452) and making an appointment with Father Rhodes.

Shrove Tuesday is the last day for Alleluias in the liturgy (the Church doesn't presume to restrict your personal expressions of pious joy), which are suppressed until the Great Vigil of Easter, and the foods restricted in Lent are to be used up on this day (hence pancake suppers and the name alternate name—Fat Tuesday).

And then comes Ash Wednesday—but more on that next time. For now we still have time for Alleluias and rich, fat foods. Let's enjoy them, but also look forward to that forty day season of preparation and re-newed spiritual discipline we call Lent, which in turn prepares us for that great fifty celebration of the Resurrection we call Easter.

--Father Rhodes

ADULT FORUM... Today Mack Harrell concludes a multipart introduction to the book Simply Christian by Bishop N. T. Wright (retired bishop of Durham). The book has been called the 21st century answer to the C. S. Lewis classic Mere Christianity and is an accessible introduction to the thought and work of this great Anglican theologian. Next week, March 6 (just in time for Ash Wednesday, Lent, and Good Friday), Debbi Geller will offer an Adult Forum on the traditional Christian Practice of Fasting.

MARDI GRAS OPEN HOUSE... Tuesday, March 8, 6 9 PM. Join us for Music & Dancing, Food & Drinks, and Games & Prizes! Wear a costume or not! Contact Christine Scott for more information.

REMEMBER FOOD FOR FRIENDS THIS WINTER... Winter has set in with a vengeance and should be with us well into March. The statistics concerning those who have been unemployed for over a year and are losing faith and hope is very disturbing. Many of these persons may be turning to food pantries to make ends meet. Please help St. Paul's help people in serious need. The Food Pantry especially welcomes high protein items, such as beans and canned meats. Otherwise, their wish list asks specifically for tuna, cereal, peanut butter, rice, coffee, and pasta. Alternatively checks may be drawn in favor of St. Paul's Community Development Corporation and marked Food Pantry. Please send checks directly to St. Paul's at 451 Van Houten Street, Paterson, NJ 07501.Thank you.

Lent 2011 at Grace Church

Ash Wednesday—March 9
Morning Prayer 9 am;
Said Mass with Imposition of Ashes 9:15 am; Noon; 5 pm;
Solemn Mass with Imposition of Ashes 7:30 pm

Sundays in Lent
Morning Prayer 7:45 am; Said Mass 8 am; Sung Mass 10 am

Thursdays in Lent—March 17, 24, 31 and April 7, 14
Lenten Series: Everyday Spiritual Practices—Listening, Praising, Eating, Working, Hoping Evening Prayer 6 pm; Contemplative Prayer 6:20 pm; Simple Supper and Program: 6:45 pm

Fridays in Lent—March 18 and April 1, 8, 15
Way (Stations) of the Cross 6 pm

Ministers of the Assembly

February 27March 6
MP Officiant and LEM (8 am)John SchneiderAndy Smethurst
Lay EucharisticLarry ToppinJim Davidson
Ministers (10 am)Ben MartinLarry Sunden
LectorBill HafemannElaine Martin
Intercessor (Prayers)Theresa PeterRandy Scott
Chief ServerBen MartinDebbi Geller
AcolytesRebecca BisdaleDylan Marshall
Tyler MarshallEmily Thomas
ThuriferEvans RoacheLeslie Bisdale
UshersMickey HafemannJim Cloke
Bill HafemannJanet Delaney
CountersLarry SundenKate Randall
Randy ScottAki Okunlola
Altar GuildPat LandiDaisy Toppin
Chris ScottLeslie Bisdale
Coffee HourDaisy ToppinChris Scott
Theresa OkunlolaRandy Scott