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The crosses are produced by villagers in Tanzania. Entire families take part in the project. Palm cross orders ranging from 50 to 10,000 are shipped nationwide to over 3,000 churches, church related groups, chaplaincies, and individuals. And all of this is done primarily by volunteers. African Palms‘crosses are made from dried branches of the dwarf palm Hyphaena coriacia. The crosses are hand-woven, and neither the trees nor the crosses are chemically treated and are environmentally safe. They can serve as a reminder of your part in helping people in Africa help themselves.
We at St. Michaels have been talking a lot over the last several years about disciples of Jesus being not only welcoming of people when they visit church but also of inviting them to church. If we are going to invite someone to church, we need a pretty clear idea of why we would invite them.
A couple of weeks ago I came across a blog by Ben Irwin who has moved from a more “evangelical” church to an Episcopal church. He listed and elaborated on “11 things I love about the Episcopal Church“:
- The way the liturgy soaks into your being.
- The way the liturgy invites me to worship with my whole being, bridging the false divide between body and soul.
- The way it anchors my faith when no act of will on my part can.
- The way it embraces orthodoxy without rigidity.
- How it makes room for those who’ve been burned out, worn out, or otherwise cast out.
- The way you can simply be, if that’s all you can do.
- The way their worship can be deeply moving without resorting to emotional manipulation.
- How the “shared cup” matters more than “shared dogma.”
- The way everyone is welcome as a full participant, even children.
- How it reminds me that I’m part of something bigger.
- How at the altar, we’re all the same.
Ben is not saying that any of these are only true of Episcopal churches, nor is he saying that they are all true of all Episcopal churches. He is speaking of his experience.
So, what of your experience? What do you love about the Episcopal Church as you have experienced it? Do you agree with any of the above? Would you add other points?
And last but not least, do you know anyone who might love these too that God is calling you to invite to come to church with you?
One Church – Two Altars
Right now we are in the midst of observing a holy Lent, but we need to note something on the horizon: our diocesan bishop, the Right Rev. Andy Doyle, will visit St. Michael’s on Sunday, April 26. He will confirm, preach, and preside at the 11:00 eucharist that day. If you are interested in presenting yourself to the bishop for confirmation, contact Janne to learn how to prepare for this important spiritual step.
We are The Episcopal Church, and the word “Episcopal” comes from the New Testament Greek word “episcopos” which meant “overseer.” The New Testament church took this Greek word and used it for the church office we have come to know as “bishop.” Hence, we are “The Bishopal Church.” Our bishops, especially our diocesan bishop, are our sacramental link with the larger church, the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.
Not only will our bishop worship with us on April 26, but he has asked to be able to dialogue with the whole congregation at a luncheon that day. Bp. Doyle is trying mightily to help our Diocese of Texas, with its 150+ congregations, to be effective instruments of Jesus Christ in the 21st century. He has observed that the church does not need to be “tweaked,” it is actually functioning very well as a 17th century institution.
So, whether you attend the 7:45, 9:00 (at 360 or South), 11:00, or 6pm, start planning now to be with us for lunch on April 26. Celebrate that we are part of something far bigger, older, and more profound than any one congregation can be. Details about signing up for the luncheon will be available soon.
– Robby Vickery
Missed y’all, but for medical reasons I was in Santa Rosa, California on Sunday, February 22. I found a gorgeous redwood Episcopal church to attend only 3 miles from our hotel. The architecture was not the only appealing aspect of the church. As I walked into the 8AM service, I passed numerous homeless folks who were leaving, having found shelter and food there the night before. I had an 8:45 physical therapy treatment/training so I had to leave at the Peace without having received communion yet, but it was good to gather with brothers and sisters in Christ to pray and listen to God’s Word together.
Many of you have told me that you have prayed for my health. Thank you! I have hope that the PT I learned how to do for myself will bring relief over the coming months.
I missed many of y’all again last Sunday (March 1) as I drove not to 1500 N. Capital of TX Hwy. but to 3700 Convict Hill Rd to take part in our first Sunday worship service for our new south Austin congregation. We worshiped and had Christian education, and it was clear the Holy Spirit of Christ was there. Still in my vestments, I made it back to St. Michaels-360 in time for most of the prayer of consecration at the 11AM service.
One thing is clear as we start the new south congregation: already thin service rosters for things at St. Michaels-360 like:
- Altar Guild
- Healing Ministers
need to be replenished to replace those who have started ministering at St. Michaels-South. Are you called to these ministries? You might be; you might not be. Lent is a good time to look at the things that we are saying “Yes” to that God might be calling us to say “No” to and things that we are currently saying “No” to that God might be calling us to say “Yes” to. God calls us to both service and sabbath (holy rest), but not busyness. Send an e-mail to The Rev. Janne Alro Osborne or me for details about signing up for one of the ministries.
Thoughts from the Associate Rector, Janne Alro Osborne …
Do you sometimes feel your life is like one of those jugglers frantically racing from one pole to another first trying to spin the plates then trying to keep the whirling plates balanced? A flurry of movement is followed by a time of keeping up with all the spinning plates ending with desperate moments of trying to prevent the crash.
Do you long to feel more like a dancer responding to music? Flowing from movement to movement with a sense of wholeness and beauty, able to keep your balance as you live in harmony with the rhythm and tempo of the music?
A holy and ancient way to meet that longing is to learn and practice some ways of keeping sabbath. You can begin right now:
- Recall the creation story when we are told that each day God followed a rhythm of work and recognition of the particular work as good. Read Genesis 1:1-2:3 to learn of God‘s work and rest (shabat).
- Try taking one minute sabbaths off and on throughout your day, making time to appreciate the work you just did. Even if it was an activity you did not particularly enjoy. Recognize it as good.
- Set aside some time each evening before bed to remember your day, to celebrate your work of that day, and to offer thanksgiving to God.
- Develop of weekly ritual of sabbath. Consciously prepare for how you will keep some hours of rest in God. Turn off your electronics or at least silence them. Delight in the knowledge that God‘s love for you is not based on how much you accomplish nor on how hard you work. Give thanks that God delights in you because you are exactly you.
For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel:
In returning and rest you shall be saved,
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.
– Isaiah 30:15
And kneel before the Lord.
My Lord, you know who I am.
The mask I wear may fool the world,
but it does not fool you.
The baubles I hold dear
are but dust to you,
Creator of the stars that shine
like a million diamonds in the night.
The excesses I consume
The wounds I hide
Help me as I renounce
that which does not serve me
and fall to my knees before you
to beg a mercy I do not deserve.
God of light, Lord of the universe
hear me, free me, heal me.
Keep your name upon my lips
so that when I tell
your holy text to the world
that longs to know you
my heart will hear your voice.
Thoughts compiled by The Rev. Janne Osborne, Associate Rector –
* Pray and Worship: Morning Prayer is offered Monday-Friday, February 19 – April 2, in the Worship Space and beginning at 9 am. All are welcome – please talk to Lesley Margerrison. If you cannot attend, check out “The Daily Office” app from Mission St. Claire.
* Pray and Walk: The Rev. Janne Alrø Osborne will offer a guided Lenten labyrinth walk on Sunday, March 1, beginning at 3 pm. Lenten labyrinth walk resources for anytime, individual walks will also be available in the entryway beginning March 2.
* Pray and Walk: We have two sets of “Stations of the Cross”: a series of stations are displayed on the walls of the worship space during Lent. These are executed in silver point by parishioner artist Joshua Kight. We also have a bronze and wood outdoor series of stations on the west side of our grounds, going up the hill. These were moved from the old Bee Cave Road location to our present site. Prayer meditations are available before the first station, both in the worship space and on the hill.
*Pray and Read: Two books are recommended -
Several copies of these books are available in the entryway (or you may wish to order via links above). Other resources are also in the entryway and look for each book’s table talk during the March 1 Taco Breakfast.
* Pray and Surf
STOP – PRAY – WORK – PLAY – LOVE
This great program from the Brothers of SSJE begins on Ash Wednesday and runs through to Palm Sunday and helps participants with their sense of time, achieving balance and embracing Sabbath wisdom. Three days of introduction are followed by five weeklong sessions on Stop, Pray, Work, Play and Love. Each day there is a video, a provocative question and a call to reflect either in the workbook or via social media. Participate online (join here) or simply use the workbook (available in entryway).
And last, but not least, no Lenten spiritual practice is complete without participating in Lent Madness!
Learn a lot of church history through getting to know the saints and have fun voting! Get the 2015 brackets here.
1. From the St. Michael’s South Altar Launch Team (SALT):
We are applying to hold weekly services in the auditorium of Covington Middle School (very close to the intersection of Brodie and Wm. Cannon) starting Sunday, March 8. Eucharist would be at 9:00 followed by Christian education time. The Launch Team would have a “dress rehearsal” the week before, so our last Sunday at St. Michael’s-360 would be Feb. 22. Please come Feb. 22 and pray for the Launch Team, that our mission to south Austin may bear much fruit. South Austin needs a worshiping family that knows the risen Lord Jesus and makes him known through the Eucharistic mystery of his Body and Blood, proclamation of the Word that takes the bible seriously but not always literally, and actions that witness to the love, mercy, and justice of his coming kingdom.
2. From the Rev. Paul Johnson:
Church of the Cross, the new Episcopal Church being born in the Lake Travis area, begins its worship life Sunday, February 15. This new community will be gathering for weekly worship at 10:00 AM on Sundays at Serene Hills Elementary School, 3301 Serene Hills Dr. in Lakeway. Here’s how you can help as the Episcopal Church of the Cross gets started:
- Keep us in your prayers, praying always that the Lord’s will be done through this new people; that God open doors and hearts; and that God’s grace, mercy, love, hope, peace, and joy settle even more powerfully upon the Lake Travis community and all of Austin.
- Introduce us to your friends in the Lake Travis community. We love making new friends! So we invite you to make a connection. You can send an e-mail to Paul Johnson, Vicar of ECC. Mailing address is POB 340821, Austin 78734, and phone is 512.695.2803.
We are immensely grateful to all of our fellow-servants of St. Michael’s, and all who have supported Church of the Cross in the new adventure God has given us. And we will keep you in our prayers, as well.
Looking for something to do this Saturday evening?