by Vicki Karsten
At St. George’s we have a tradition of Flowering the Cross for Easter. This is an ancient tradition among Christians. As worshipers bring beautiful, live, fragrant flowers to adorn the cross, eventually the cross becomes covered in a brilliant array of color, light and lovely fragrance. A symbol of death, darkness, pain and hopelessness is transformed into something beautiful, new and alive in celebration of the Resurrection of Christ. Together, we can transform the cross and help make this Easter a celebration of new life.
We look forward once more to the Flowering the Cross on Easter Sunday, April 1 at both the 9:00 am and 10:30 am services.
Please bring any flowers that day that you have to share in this beautiful tradition. All members of the congregation will be invited to participate in decorating the cross on Easter as a part of the service.
The Great Vigil takes place on Easter Eve. It begins with the church in darkness, like the darkness of Jesus’ tomb. Then candles are lit, representing the Light of Christ which overcomes death and all darkness. A beautiful prayer about the Light of Christ is said or sung. Then there is a series of readings from the Hebrew Scripture about the work of God through history, leading to the coming of Jesus. After this, the first Eucharist of Easter begins, with baptisms (if there are people to be baptized). At the conclusion of the service, there is usually a wonderful fellowship time.
The Great Vigil goes back to the early church, when the Vigil started on Easter Eve and continued to Easter Morning. We do the short version!
In our congregation, we have been rotating the Vigil among local churches. This year, we will be hosting the Vigil at St. George’s. Please come join in one of the glorious liturgies of the Church Year!
by the Rev. Ray Hess
When Deborah and I went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land with Bishop Beisner a few years ago, we were able to walk the Way of the Cross through Jerusalem. There are lots of tourist shops along the way now, but it may not be that different from Jesus’ day. Jerusalem was a city for pilgrims in his time, too. As Jesus went along the path through the city, people probably were busy doing business or other affairs. Some may have looked up for a minute to see the poor soul going on the way to his death. Most would not have any idea of the meaning of that event which changed the world.
Every Holy Week, we have the opportunity to walk with Jesus along the Way of the Cross. We won’t literally walk through Jerusalem, but we can walk with Jesus as we experience the worship services of Holy Week. The week begins with Palm Sunday and the remembrance of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and then the drama of Jesus’ death as we read the passion narrative. On Maundy Thursday, we will have a meal together and do the foot/hand washing as we relive Jesus’ last supper with his disciples. Good Friday we will remember Jesus’ death for us on the cross. Easter Eve, we will have the powerful and beautiful Great Vigil of Easter, which we are hosting this year. On Easter morning, we will rejoice with the news of Jesus’ resurrection.
I encourage you to be a part of as many of these Holy Week services as possible. Doing this gives us the feeling of being pilgrims with Jesus on the last week of his earthly life. If you can’t attend some of the services, you can remember the events of Jesus’ last week on your own at home. This is the most important week of the year for us as we follow Jesus. May this be a time for renewed faith in him and a powerful spiritual experience for each of us!
by the Rev. Raymond Hess
Lent, already! I feel as if we are just done with Christmas, and here comes Lent. This year, Easter is early on April 1st, and this results in an early Lent. Ash Wednesday is February 14, an interesting combination of the start of Lent and Valentine’s Day. Easter Day is April Fool’s Day and our 40th wedding anniversary for Deborah and me, another interesting combination.
There is a clear theme for Lent this year – love. Valentine’s Day is about love, and the Lenten Season is really about love – God’s love for us in Jesus. Lent sometimes can seem to be a very somber season about penitence and confessing our sins. There is a serious, reflective aspect to Lent. It is important to take a look at our lives and see where we are in our relationship with God. Underlying all this, though, is God’s love. Coming back to God is always good because God is waiting for us with love. God’s love wants the best for us, wants us to be the people God created us to be.
I like the idea of Easter’s being on April 1st. This has special meaning for Deb and me in celebrating our 40th anniversary. We were married on that day at All Saint’s, Carmel because that year it was the Saturday after Easter, a great time to be married with all the lilies still in the church. It just happened to be April Fool’s Day! Easter is about God’s foolish love for us, seen in Jesus being willing to die on the cross for us. God did not hang back and play it safe, but entered human life in Jesus, who emptied himself for us (see Philippians 2:5-11). We are called to respond in foolish love for God and God’s world. Be fools for Christ!
This year, we begin our Lenten journey in love and continue all the way to Easter, celebrating in God’s incredible and foolish love for us. Come join in this journey of love!
by the Rev. Bob Olsen and Carol Adkins
Please join the folks at St. George’s for a Mardi Gras celebratory brunch. All are welcome for this festive brunch immediately following the 10:00 am service on February 11, 2018. This has been a popular occasion and there is promise of some fun entertainment. We have been fortunate to have some wonderful cooks providing the strata, rolls and other accompaniments (like King Cake). We’ll have plenty of food and festive music as we celebrate together before the season of Lent.
Tickets are a bargain at $5.00 for adults and $3.00 for children 12 & under. Tickets will be available for purchase on Sundays, or by emailing the church (firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you wish to purchase them the day of the Brunch, please leave a message on the church phone (916-487-5600) or email (email@example.com) with your name and how many tickets you will purchase. We want to be sure to have enough food for everyone.
Ever since we (Bob and Sandy) joined St George’s back in the spring of 1990 they have held their annual Mardi Gras brunch the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, rather than the traditional Shrove Tuesday pancake supper. I know they’d been holding the Mardi Gras brunch long before we joined, with a special menu and recipe for the strata’s. It’s our Mardi Gras tradition – our big party before Lent – and a party it is. We hope you’ll join us.
The paperback edition includes resources for studying this book together, including a DVD with interviews and other footage from Palmer’s retreats at the Center for Courage and Renewal, along with a study guide for readers and leaders.