Saturday, June 17, 2006

Saturday Morning

Saturday Morning; Day 5; June 17

The Confession of Martha --
One of the well known feasts of our calendar is the Confession of St. Peter, remembering when Jesus asks the disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" and Peter responds, "You are the Christ..." The annual Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity occurs between the feasts of the Confession of St. Peter and the Conversion of St. Paul. There is a lesser observed confession in the Gospel which we noted by resolution yesterday, the Confession of Martha. In John 10, after Lazarus has died, Jesus returns, albeit delayed, to Bethany, to a scene of great grief. Martha greets him, "Lord if you had been here..." Jesus said to her, "'I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?' She said to him, 'Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.'"

I don't have the resolution in front of me, but my recollection is that we approved referring the feast of the Confession of Martha to the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music with the hope that it will be included in the upcoming revision of our Lesser Feasts and Fasts (LFF). Another note about LFF. One of the important considerations that is part of the evaluation of any proposed addition to the LFF calendar is any local tradition of observance of a notable person or event. There is interest in the possibility of adding the late Justice Thurgood Marshall to the calendar. He was an active Episcopalian, the chief attorney who argued the famous Brown vs. Board of Education decision, and was the first African American Justice on the Supreme Court (I think my history is correct). We typically do not add someone to the calendar until that person has been dead for 50 years (there are exceptions). It would strengthen Justice Marshall's cause if, for instance, the parishes he served celebrated a feast in his honor, or, for instance, there were an observance of the Brown vs. Board decision in Arkansas churches. Just a thought.

Committees met again this morning at 7:30. We made some significant progress in Prayer Book and Liturgy. We finally perfected the Liturgies for Rites of Passage. This is material intended for the Book of Occasional Services. It includes Prayers for the Transitions of Childhood, Prayers and Rites for the Transitions of Young Adulthood, Prayers and a Rite for the Transitions of Midlife, Prayers and Rites for the Transitions of Elders, Prayers for National Service (primarily military), Prayers and a Rite for Remembering the Dead. Included in our work was an entire re-write of several prayers, including a rite of betrothal, and the creation of the series of prayers for national service. In the "Blue Book" this material is over 80 pages.

Just before we voted, I offered one more prayer (tongue-in-cheek) to be added in the section of prayers for Transitions of Young Adulthood, just following the prayer After Moving From the Family Home. My addition was a prayer For the Return Home of an Adult Child:
O God!
Bubba is back.
Increase the space between us.
May the work of his hands bring him satisfaction..., with insurance,
as we give you thanks again for regular lawn care. Amen.

The prayer was energetically received.

The committee also passed a significant resolution affirming that baptism is full initiation. Our resolutions, once they have been acted upon by our committee, then go to the House of Bishops. From there they may be amended or approved or rejected. They then return to the committee (if amended) or to the House of Deputies if approved.

Following the committee meetings we had the annual United Thank Offering Eucharist including the UTO ingathering. It looked like a congregation of 4,000 filled the worship space. The sermon was given by Jenny Te Paa of New Zealand, Dean of their seminary and a member of the Windsor Commission, as I understand. Her sermon was a seminal bit of preaching. I can't do it justice with some sound byte quotes. I'm sure it will be posted on line. I'll send a link or the text when that happens. It was a significant sermon, beautifully presented.

I am taking the afternoon off. Kathy is here and we're visiting with a seminary classmate who lives nearby.


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The Rev. Lowell Grisham
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas
Clergy Deputy to General Convention


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