The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you Peace. (Numbers 6: 24-26)

Monday, February 28, 2011

March Newsletter

I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.  BCP pg. 265

Lent provides us an opportunity to prepare ourselves for the celebration of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection on Easter.    We are called to repent of our sins and to amend our lives, asking God to give us the strength to avoid those things which serve to separate us from Him.

We do this through prayer, both as a part of the Body of Christ in our corporate worship and as part of our private prayers and devotions.  It is through prayer that we talk to God, and, through the contemplation of our words to Him and His Word to us, we listen for the small, still voice that moves our heart and shapes our will. 

We also deny ourselves some of things that have become ordinary features in our lives.  This fasting, in the form of denial of certain types of food or maybe an activity, re-focuses our
attention away from the things of this world and onto the things of the Kingdom of God.  This fasting is especially appropriate on Ash Wednesday, Fridays during Lent and on Good Friday.  It is also important to remember that Sundays during Lent are still considered feast days, so fasting is suspended on Sunday.

Finally, by reading and meditating on Holy Scripture and on other spiritual writings, we further educate and open ourselves to the working of God’s Will upon our own.  Set aside a portion of each day to read and contemplate and pray, and it won’t be long before a Lenten discipline becomes a life discipline.

Have a blessed Lent.

Fr. Michael+

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ash Wednesday Schedule at Christ Memorial

March 9, 2011 - Ash Wednesday
12:00 Noon in the Chapel of St. Anne
Mass according to Rite II including the Imposition of Ashes

7:00 PM in the Church
Imposition of Ashes and the Mass according to the '28 BCP

There will be no dinner served or Bible Study on Ash Wednesday.  Both will resume on March 16 with dinners of soup and bread and a study of Exodus.  The Stations of the Cross will also be observed beginning on March 16 following the 6 PM Mass.

Fr. Michael+

Anglicanism 101 and Beyond

For the past several weeks, out Wednesday Night Bible Study hour has been devoted to a study of our Anglican heritage, traditions and beliefs.  We have studied out liturgy, the seven Sacraments, the Book of Common Prayer and, next week, we will finish the series with a discussion of the history of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America and the Anglican Communion.

During the discussion of the BCP last week, the class requested if it would be possible to celebrate Holy Eucharist according to the 1928 Prayer Book, a liturgy which some in the group remembered fondly and which others had never experienced.  After obtaining permission from Bishop MacPherson, last night, I celebrated the Mass according the '28 "Order for The Administration of the Lord's Supper or Holy Communion".  The chapel was nearly full, and during a discussion of the service during dinner, it was decided, again unanimously, that I would request permission from the Bishop to continue to use the '28 liturgy for our Wednesday night Eucharist.  Happily, the Bishop responded to me this morning granting me permission to do just that.

Therefore, beginning next Wednesday and for each Wednesday during Lent, we will worship according to the 1928 prayer book.  Because of the changes in the lectionary over the years, I will be using the readings from the Lesser Feasts and Fasts, but the service itself will be done according to the rubrics in the '28 book.

I also take this opportunity to remind and invite everyone to our Wednesday night program during Lent.  Amy will continue to provide our meals for us, but in keeping with the penitential nature of Lent, we will be scaling back slightly by serving a selection of soups and bread each Wednesday night.  We will also observe the Stations of the Cross each Wednesday following the Mass; therefore, the service will be held in the Church during Lent instead of in the Chapel.

For Bible Study during Lent, we will return to the Old Testament with a study of Exodus, the second book of the Pentateuch.  I hope that this will be a rich opportunity to reflect on God's redemption of His Chosen People from the bonds of slavery in Egypt in the light of His redemption of the whole world through His Son, Jesus Christ.
O Almighty Lord, and everlasting God, vouchsafe, we beseech thee, to direct, sanctify, and govern, both our hearts and bodies, in the ways of thy laws, and in the works of thy commandments; that, through thy most mighty protection, both here and ever, we may be preserved in body and soul; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
Fr. Michael+

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Weather is Beautiful

After an uninvited hiatus caused by the inclement weather last week, Wednesday night activities resume at Christ Memorial.  We will once again offer Mass at 6PM, followed by dinner which is being provided by Amy Garsee from the Hospital Cafeteria.  The class will focus on the development and use of the Book of Common Prayer.  There is no need to bring any covered dishes tonight, but we do ask that the adults make a donation to help defray the cost of the meal.

I look forward to seeing y'all there.

Fr. Millard+

Monday, February 14, 2011

Practical Stuff

As you, Dear Reader, are undoubtedly aware, the ongoing water project being undertaken by the City of Mansfield has resulted in some temporary patches of gravel in the driveway to the church parking lot and in the parking spaces at the front of the church on Washington Avenue.  The good news is that crews have already patched the spaces in front of the church and are now in the process of doing the same to the parking lot.  The bad news is that the parking lot will be out of commission for a few days while the concrete cures.  The prep work is going on this afternoon (Monday), and the concrete is scheduled to be poured tomorrow (Tuesday).  That means that it should be ready for normal use by Sunday, but will probably not be ready by Wednesday night.  Therefore, please plan on parking in the Big Star parking lot on Wednesday night.

Now we just need to see if we can get grass to grow in front of the rectory again.

Fr. Michael+

The Bishop was Here!

We had a great Sunday with the Rt. Rev'd D. Bruce MacPherson present for the 10 AM Mass and a wonderful luncheon afterwards.  The church was full, as was the Parish Hall, which was no surprise since Jerry prepared the roast beef and a whole host of side dishes prepared by our talented parishioners filled three serving tables.  (Yes, I agree, Dear Reader, that the banana pudding was indeed the finest example of such dessert to be found anywhere on the planet!)

My thanks to Bishop MacPherson and to Susan for their visit.  May God continue to bless their ministries to the people of the Diocese of Western Louisiana.  

Fr. Michael+

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

More Weather News - Update

The winter weather is apparently moving into the northern part of the state and will, according to the weather gurus, be upon us within the next few hours.  Therefore, after consulting with the Senior Warden, I have decided to cancel Wednesday Night Bible Study this week.  As previously reported, Gayle had canceled choir practice, so it makes sense to play it safe and keep everybody home and warm and dry this evening.

I will be celebrating the Mass at 6PM for anyone who wishes to attend, but there will be no dinner or Bible study tonight.  We will resume next week with a discussion of the origins and use of the Book of Common Prayer.

Fr. Michael+

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Weather News

Because of the possibility of inclement weather tomorrow, Gayle has decided to cancel choir tomorrow, and I concur.  I will be watching the weather tonight and plan to make a decision about Wednesday Bible Study in the morning.  I will post any news here and on Facebook.

Fr. Michael+

Monday, February 7, 2011

Women's Bible Study

The women met for their first class in a ten week study of the Book of Esther tonight.  It was a good crowd, and an important decision was made by those gathered.  Starting next week, the class will meet on Thursday night from 6-8PM in the Parish Hall.  This change was made in the hope that more women would be able to come on Thursday rather than Monday.  Workbooks are still available at the church office.

Fr. Michael+

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Nothing Quite Like A Baptism

This morning, I had the honor of baptizing Alison Camille LeBouef at Christ Memorial.  We all got to share in this joyous moment with her family from Mansfield, Lafayette and Houston.  We thank God for the improved weather and ask Him for safe travels for all those headed home. 

We thank God for this Sacrament and for all his Grace and Love.

Fr. Michael+

Thursday, February 3, 2011

What's Going On in Egypt?

I've had a few people ask me lately about the turmoil in Egypt, and who was doing what and why.  I saw this article on another blog and thought it might be helpful to some who were wondering what is really happening over there.  Archbishop Mouneer Anis has made a reputation for himself in the last few years as a straight talking, sincere man of God.  I find it very refreshing to be able to get information about the protests in Egypt from him rather than through the filters of the media.


Fr. Michael+

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mission Trip to Peru

As I announced in Church last week, Christ Memorial will be sponsoring a mission trip to the Anglican Diocese of Peru this September.  The plan is to take 10-15 people for a 7 day trip to Lima and/or other areas in Peru to work with the women and children of the diocese as teachers and helpers.  While we don't know exactly what we will be doing yet, we will probably be teaching bible studies or maybe even a Vacation Bible School.  We will work with the Peruvian women's groups to provide instruction and support.  We may be assisting with after school care for young people or helping to teach skills to women in job training programs.  Whatever we end up doing, we will be sharing in the Love of Christ with them and they with us, and we will come home with a greater appreciation of how His Grace touches and moves people around the world.

We will be have our first team meeting on Tuesday, February 15 at 6:30PM in the Parlor.  Anyone who is interested should come to this meeting so that we can make our plans for raising the necessary funds and working toward our departure in September.

If you have any questions about the trip or would like to discuss it prior to the meeting on the 15th, please call me, and I'll be happy to help.

Fr. Michael+

God Gave Us These Commandments for a Reason

What do we do when we are faced with a difficult decision; a crossroads; a tragedy; or an opportunity?  We often time pride ourselves on our ability to reason out a suitable solution, or occasionally leave the resolution up to chance, but when we really need guidance, where do we find it?  When in doubt, go to the same place that Jesus went when the people pressed him to answer a question: Holy Scripture. 

A scribe came to Jesus and, seeing that he was answering his detractors with skill and wisdom, the scribe asked Jesus to tell him, “which commandment is the first of all?”

Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all our soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’  The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”  Mk 13: 29-31

Jesus quotes the Shema, the fundamental creedal statement of the Hebrew people (Dt 6: 4), to the scribe.  Then he goes further by quoting a portion of this verse from Leviticus: “You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”  (Lev 19:18)  We are called to abide by two overarching commandments one of which refers to our relationship with God and the other with our relationship with each other: the Ten Commandments.

Jesus reminds us that we are to “have no other gods” other than the One, True God; we are to make no graven images and worship them as if they were God; we are not to use God’s name as a curse or to treat it as a common or ordinary; and we are to worship God and give thanks to him who created us by focusing our attention on God rather than on the things of this world.

Jesus further tells us that we are to show respect and love by honoring our parents; we are not supposed to murder our neighbors; we are to avoid adultery which divides families and sunders relationships; we are not to steal from our neighbor; we are not to lie to or about our neighbor; we are not to covet that which belongs to our neighbor.

When we need direction or instruction about how to lead our lives or which path we should take or what decision is the right one to make, the answers, more often than not, can be found right where God left them for us to find.  It may take some effort, and our desires might not at first align with God’s Will, but Jesus never promised that the road would always be easily or pleasantly travelled.  He does, however, promise to be present with us as we make our journey.

Fr. Michael+