VOLUME 3, NUMBER 16, MARCH 11, 2012
The Weekly Rhythm of the Church
At its most basic, the Christian week is divided between the Lord's Day and the rest of the Week. Christians never really lost their understanding of Saturday as the Sabbath day. Libraries of books have been written about the Sabbath—its power and its meaning—and Christians do not reject any of it. The Sabbath is the day of rest, but also the day of completion, of perfection. God finished the creation and rested, enjoyment and rest being the true completion and purpose of the work of creation. Morning Prayer in The Book of Common Prayer recalls the continuing importance of the Sabbath in its Collect for Saturdays. Traditionally, on Saturday ferias (free days—days with no feast attached to them), Mass is offered for the Blessed Virgin Mary in whose womb Christ rested before being born and beginning his work to bring about the new Creation.
But for Christians Sunday has become an even more important day than the Sabbath. If the Sabbath is the day of completion of the first Creation—the seventh day—Sunday, while continuing to be the first day of the week, has also become, for Christians the eighth day—that is, the day after completion and perfection—the first day of the new Creation in Jesus Christ. Baptisteries and baptismal fonts usually have eight sides because it's through baptism that one enters into the new creation.
Sunday, in a sense, is the weekly celebration of Easter—of Resurrection. In the Western Tradition, for example, Sundays are not of Lent, but in Lent, so many Lenten abstinences are suspended on Sundays. In this way, Sunday becomes a weekly reminder of Easter.
Similarly, other days of the week often have liturgies and devotions associated with them that echo Holy Week. This year in Lent, to anticipate the shape of Holy Week, Grace Church has been offering Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament (along with Evensong) on Thursdays (echoing Maundy Thursday—the day on which the Church celebrates the institution of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist) and The Way (Stations) of the Cross on Fridays (echoing Good Friday—the day on which the Church commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ).
May praying the Daily Office and participating in devotions on the days to which they are traditionally attached help us to recall all year around the great liturgies of Holy Week in which we participate in those mighty acts by which Christ liberated the world from the powers of sin and death and live in some way in the rhythms of the Church.
ADULT FORUM... This Sunday after the 10am Mass, just in time to get us in the mood, the Rector will begin a three week series on the Great Liturgies of Holy Week.
BLESSING OF SIMNEL CAKES... Next week is Refreshment (Laetare) or Mothering Sunday—the traditional day for blessing simnel cakes. Bring your cakes next week and bring them to the altar at the time of the offering so that they may receive the traditional blessing that day.
THANK YOU TO ALL WALK-IN-DINNER PARTICIPANTS... On Thursday, March 1, Grace Church served a dinner of ziti with meat sauce, salad, bread, cookies, and beverage at the Bergen County Housing, Health and Human Service Center in Hackensack. We served 101 dinners to those assembled. Thank you to all who prepared food, contributed items, or went down to Hackensack to serve the meal. By this act of kindness to others, done without questioning whether the kindness was deserved, we continue to proclaim God's unconditional grace. Our next Walk-In-Dinner is scheduled for Thursday, May 3, 2012. It is never too early to volunteer. Those who want to participate should speak to Jim Freeman during Coffee Hour or call him at (973) 742-9009. The main menu item in May will be chili.
DONATING TO FOOD FOR FRIENDS AS A LENTEN DISCIPLINE... Almsgiving is a traditional Christian penitential practice and Food for Friends provides a way one can participate in that practice throughout Lent. Buy some canned or packaged food and bring it to church on Sunday. Perhaps you have given up some item for Lent. Why not use the money you would have spent, or a part of it, to purchase alms? Although there are signs the economy is improving, unemployment and underemployment still run high and many must rely on food pantries and soup kitchens to make ends meet. St. Paul's Community Development Corporation Food Pantry in Paterson, which receives our donations, especially needs 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. Please consider including this ministry as part of your Lenten discipline. Thank you.
LECTURE BY GRACE CHURCH'S RABBI AT WESTWOOD PUBLIC LIBRARY... On March 13, 2012 at 7:00 p.m., Congregation B'Nai Israel, in cooperation with the Westwood Public Library will offer a special event at the Library (49 Park Avenue in Westwood). The popular book My Father's Paradise by Ariel Sabar is the starting point for a talk by Rabbi Debra Orenstein on "Aramaic as a Living Language." Yona Sabar was raised in an idyllic Jewish enclave in Kurdistani Iraq called Zakho. It was a corner of the world so isolated that he grew up speaking the ancient Aramaic of Jesus. In this memoir, his son, Ariel, writes about what it was like for his father—and for him—to bridge two worlds. Rabbi Orenstein will explore the legacy of Aramaic, a language dear to both Christians and Jews. Jesus spoke it; the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament) and the Talmud include it; Jews and some Christians use it in prayer still today. English speakers are usually unaware that they already know some words and phrases in -- or derived from -- Aramaic. Can the language itself be a bridge between past and present? The talk will incorporate a lesson in basic Aramaic and its connections to both Hebrew and English. (One need not have read the book to enjoy the evening's program.) Dessert & coffee provided by the Sisterhood of Congregation B'nai Israel. For more information, contact Nancy Passow.
The Season of Lent at Grace Church
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