The picture is of the building where I attended the longest church service of my life. Just a few minutes before I took this picture it had been jammed with over 150 people, even filling the center aisle. There were over 40 people standing outside looking in through the windows. Between 9:00 am and 1:20 pm (yes, that’s 4.3 hours) we:
- Dedicated the church building
- Heard the Rev. Tom Day of League City, Texas preach a sermon that was translated sentence by sentence into Chichewa
- Confirmed 10 people
- Married one couple
- Commissioned four 20-somethings as diocesan youth ministry officers
- Heard the bishop teach
- Had eucharist
- Presented gifts to the bishop, including a 50-pound bag of milled maize (corn) and a LIVE goat. I would love to see the reaction if we gave our next visiting bishop a live goat.
Two things stand out from the service:
- The earnestness of the people. They were worshiping because they expected God to make a difference in their lives.
- The singing by the people. There were no musical instruments to accompany the congregation, just a cheap sound system, but they sang out with enthusiasm and joy.
Lord, grant that we at St. Michael’s may worship with such faith and sing with such joy as our brothers and sisters at St. Cyprian’s Anglican Church, Chilimba Parish, Namadzi, Malawi. Amen.
– The Rev. Robby Vickery
Read story from Episcopal News Service – contact the Rev. Janne Alro Osborne for additional information about opportunities to get involved
The Rev. Paul Johnson as our Preacher
And here is the latest news from the new congregation:
Dear St. Michael’s Friends,
We are pleased to announce the congregational name of the Lake Travis Area Mission. Because at the foot of the cross there is room for everybody; because at the cross we can lay down our burdens and are made free; and because from the cross comes power and strength to stand for God’s purposes, this new gathering of faithful seekers is named Church of the Cross.
Please keep this ministry in your prayers. We are grateful for the privilege of serving with you on the west side of Austin. It is a grace to walk alongside our St. Michael’s friends and witness with you to the restoring, transforming, and healing power of God’s love. Read about the life of Church of the Cross here.
Blessings, and we bid you God’s grace and peace. Faithfully,
Missioner, Church of the Cross
From the Children’s Minister…
Vacation Bible Camp
From what I have been told, vacation bible camp is a memorable childhood experience for many of you. I never had the opportunity to attend as a child but as an adult this one certainly was memorable for me. Being responsible for all the planning and preparation was a challenge but my main trepidation was ‘will the children all come on the first day and if they do, will they come back on the second?’ My fears were unfounded. Everyone came and returned each day singing the catchy worship songs, telling me about their favorite classes (everyone got a mention) and asking if it could go on for another three weeks (volunteers – what do you say?). All in all, a wonderful week and I look forward to the memories of my next one.
– Lesley Margerrison, Children’s Minister
From our Senior Warden…
Update on Discernment of South Altar
Our parish is continuing the discernment process for whether St. Michael’s is called to start a second parish service site in South Austin. Currently, a South Altar Launch Team is seeking to form. This Team would be a fellowship group, would further discern St. Michael’s calling, consider the logistics of a South Altar, and launch such if it comes to be. If you feel you may be called to participate in the Launch Team, please prayerfully consider it. Our timeline for confirming a Launch Team is the end of July. If you would like to join the Team, please contact me as soon as possible to share your interest.
– Ron Olson, Senior Warden
Behold, he who keeps watch over Israel *
shall neither slumber nor sleep; (Ps.121:4)
I’m glad that God does not take time off from being God. We need his “keeping watch over [us].” But, we do need times of holy rest (Sabbath). I pray that you slow down your busy life some this summer. Some folks try to slow their lives down in the summer by skipping community worship. This is spiritually self-defeating. Consider taking part in MORE worship this summer. God is found easier when God is intentionally sought, privately and corporately (i.e. in community). As I keep quoting my seminary prof, “If you want to know God, walk with those who walk with God.”
Even if you are out of town on Sundays, God still shows up at faith communities gathered wherever you are. Go! Debbie and I were on vacation with other family on May 18 in Park City, Utah. A web search quickly revealed that St. Luke’s Episcopal Church was about 3 miles from our hotel with a 10:30 service. Yes, they did things a little different than we do them here at St. Michael’s, but the liturgy was still quite familiar and nurturing. Jesus was clearly there in Word and Bread and Wine. I remembered you, the people of St. Michael’s, in my prayers that day, as I hope you remembered me in yours.
After the service at St. Luke’s there was a nice coffee hour with lots of refreshments. Debbie and I got something to drink, shared a wonderful big chocolate chip cookie, and found that the church was “typical” in that no one greeted us, an obviously visiting couple. Debbie struck up a brief conversation with one person, and we retreated to the parking lot, reminded once again of the importance of all congregational members intentionally seeking out brothers and sisters in Christ who seem to be “outside” the community. This is a ministry for all of us, not just the clergy and greeters.
I hope you get some serious Sabbath time this summer.
32. For the Good Use of Leisure
O God, in the course of this busy life, give us times of refreshment and peace; and grant that we may so use our leisure to rebuild our bodies and renew our minds, that our spirits may be opened to the goodness of your creation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP p. 825)
–The Rev. Robby Vickery
Thoughts from the Associate Rector …
Be still and know that I am God
The use of prayer beads helps bring me into contemplative prayer, thinking about and being mindful of praying, of being in the presence of God by use of mind, body, and spirit. The touching of each successive bead is an aid in keeping my mind from wandering, and the rhythm and repetition of the prayers lead me into stillness and peace.
I pray using what is known as an Anglican Rosary that for me symbolizes the repeating cycles of time … days, weeks, seasons, years. My prayers, which move around the circle of the beads, are grounded in my Christian spiritual pilgrimage through time, following Christ. The Anglican Rosary is made up of beads divided into four groups of seven called weeks. I think of the four groups as representing spring, summer, fall, and winter and of the seven beads as the days of creation, the days of the week, the seasons of the church’s year based on Jesus’ life (Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost). Between each week is a single bead called a cruciform bead, reminding me of the central role of the cross in my life and faith. The initial bead, right after the cross, is my invitation to prayer as well as my conclusion.
There are many rosary prayers available – a favorite of mine is Julian of Norwich’s prayer with its assurance that “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well”. You can find Celtic prayers, the Jesus Prayer, and many others, all adapted for use with a rosary. I’ve put copies of some of these prayers on the table in the entryway. And here is a link with prayers and other resources. You can, of course, also use your creativity; a friend of mine uses her rosary to count her blessings, naming a blessing for each bead.
–The Rev. Janne Alro Osborne