Monday, December 31, 2018

The celebration begins!

Dear friends,

Happy Birthday!  2019 is the 100th year of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. What a blessing and privilege it is for us to be here in this place and time, heading into the second century of the life and ministry of this parish! Our 2019 parish calendar will be full of celebrations, large and small, as together we celebrate our first 100 years and look forward to the next 100. 

The first-ever worship service of what would become St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church took place at 11 a.m. on Sunday, January 5, 1919.  On Sunday, January 6, 2019, we will commemorate and celebrate that beginning with a very special worship service at our 10:30 service, following the same Morning Prayer liturgy those first worshippers would have used.  Our 10:30 worship will include music from 1919 and will be followed by a birthday cake reception in the parish hall.

As we gather to worship God on January 6 (and in all the days to come!), let us give thanks for the first 100 years of this faith community.  And let us also look forward together to the next 100 years, trusting that the God who has led us faithfully thus far will continue to guide our path in all the years to come. 

Happy, happy birthday, and every blessing!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Celebrating Christmas at St. Andrew's

Dear friends,

In early December, John and I had the opportunity to meet our newest nephew, Noah, who was born on November 1.  He was five weeks old when we met him, and he weighed exactly what he had weighed at birth:  7 lbs, 3.5 oz.  Holding that tiny, precious bundle of life in my arms, I was struck anew by the wonder of Christmas:  This is the way Almighty God came into our midst to be with us, as a completely fragile, vulnerable, helpless infant.  That, in a nutshell, is the Christmas story.

Please plan to join us here at St. Andrew’s as finish up our Advent waiting on Sunday, December 23; and then as we celebrate once again the birth of the Messiah with three services:

  • Our 4:30 PM Family Christmas Eve Service will include a child-oriented, interactive telling of the Christmas Story; child-friendly prayers; Holy Eucharist; and beloved carols. 
  • At 10:40 PM we will have a concert of Christmas music followed at 11:00 PM with a Festival Eucharist Rite II.
  • On Christmas Day, there will be a service of Holy Eucharist at 10:30 a.m.

As is customary here at St. Andrew’s, a Christmas offering envelope is enclosed with this mail-out newsletter for your use.  They will also be inserted in this Sunday’s service bulletins.  Please bring your envelope with you to church on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

Friends, God loves us so much!  He is willing to come to us stripped of all power and majesty, humbly in need of help and protection.  Holding little Noah made my heart swell with love.  I pray that each of us will have that same experience this Christmas, as we cradle in our hearts the precious gift of the baby Jesus, our Savior and Redeemer, sent with such love and evoking such love. 

Blessings to you in this holy season, and always. 

Faithfully, Anne

Monday, November 26, 2018

Same Sex Marriage at St. Andrew's

Dear Friends, 

As you may know, at this past summer’s General Convention, The Episcopal Church passed a resolution allowing all rectors of Episcopal Churches to perform same sex marriages.  This means that every Episcopalian now has the opportunity to be married in his or her home parish.  As of Advent I, which is Sunday, December 2, all clergy in Southern Virginia may use the trial rites for marriage – including same-gender marriage - without permission from the office of the Bishop.

As has always been the case, parish clergy with primary authority (rector, priest in charge, etc.) are free to decide for themselves whether or not to perform any marriage – same-gender or otherwise. In other words, no clergy person in the Episcopal Church is obliged to perform any particular marriage.

The vestry and I have talked about same-sex marriage.  My stance about same sex marriage is the same as my stance about heterosexual marriage:  If a couple loves each other, loves God, and is actively involved in our faith community (or, because of distance, in some other Christian community), then it is my honor and privilege to bless their marriage.  As a clergy person, I am not willing to perform weddings for folks, straight or gay, who are not actively engaged in a relationship with God that is being lived out in a community of faith.  I have no interest in St. Andrew’s becoming a “wedding chapel”—a pretty backdrop for any couple that is not serious about grounding and nurturing their relationship in God.

I know that, as in so many things, there is wide diversity of opinion at St. Andrew’s about same sex marriage.  As I’ve said before, one of the great blessings of our faith community –and one of the great gifts we have to offer to our increasingly polarized world—is the way we at St. Andrew’s come together despite our differences to worship God and be nourished at God’s table.  A parishioner whom I greatly love and admire and whose views on same sex marriage are completely different from mine said to me, “I wouldn’t want to be part of a church in which everyone has to believe that same sex marriage is okay.”  Neither would I.  I want to be part of a church in which we recognize, honor, and respect the dignity of every human being—even and especially those whose views are so different from our own.

As we enter into this new season of life in our church, may we hold one another and ourselves gently, trusting in God’s love and mercy.  And let us hold in our prayers all couples preparing for marriage.  Make their life together a sign of Christ's love to this sinful and broken world, that unity may overcome estrangement, forgiveness heal guilt, and joy conquer despair (BCP, 429).

Anne +