A New Season of Worship at Epiphany
“What’s going on with these new church services? Why do we have four?” Well, the short answer is, “So you can go to church on Sunday.” Worship is the primary form of spiritual formation in the church. People who have been formed by worship over time are graceful, self-reflective, faithful, and radiant—or at least more so than they would have been otherwise. The point of worship is, over time, to form and reform us into our best, most authentic selves.
There are three core worship components: 1) the Eucharist, which means “thanksgiving” in Greek, 2) a sermon to both educate and give us something to think about that we weren’t previously thinking about, and 3) music to lift our souls. These are the experiences woven into the fabric of worship, and it is the church’s privilege and duty to avail these to the community as often as we can.
That said, things are a bit topsy-turvy at Epiphany right now. Given the restoration of the church and chapel right now, worship has been relocated to the Great Hall, and that can be a little crowded. So, as a practical matter, adding a few Sunday services is helpful. The new services will be held at 7:30 am, 8:45 am, 11 am, and 5 pm. Here is how I would describe each of these services, all of which will be held in the Great Hall until the restoration projects are completed.
7:30 am, Rite I (traditional language), with piano and hymns.
Coffee hour will be held in the Fireside Room on first floor of the Parish Hall.
8:30 am, Childcare begins in the nursery
8:45 am, Rite II (more contemporary language) with hymns and an eight-person choir made up of section leaders from the Epiphany Choir to sing the anthem.
Coffee hour will be held in the Fireside Room on first floor of the Parish Hall.
10–10:45 am, +TEC Forums will be held in the Christie House Library. There will be PAW and activities for children in The Upper Room at the same time.
11 am, Rite II (more contemporary language) with hymns and the Epiphany choir to sing the anthem. At this service the Eucharistic prayer will be sung by the presider, and children will join their families during the Eucharist. This will also be the service during which Sunday School is offered.
5 pm, Rite II (more contemporary language) with hymns and a soloist.
Social hour follows this service and will be held in the Great Hall.
In addition to the primacy of worship in the life of the church, and the current limitations of worship in the Great Hall, creating three Sunday morning services becomes something worth testing because of the 80 percent capacity issue we bumped up against at the 10:30 am worship service. We are experiencing two phenomena that, studies have shown occur when a primary church service reaches 80 percent capacity. First, newcomers are much less likely to come back after their first visit. And second, long-term parishioners are more likely to skip church on a Sunday. The studies show the reasoning behind this reduction is that “parking is harder” and someone is in “my seat.” Plus, “no one will miss me now that the church is so crowded.” At Epiphany we experienced a plateau in attendance as we hit around 241 average attendance at the 10:30 am service last year, which is 80 percent comfortable capacity in the church.
Now it is our experience that the current 8 am service does not draw the excess attendance off the 10:30 am service. We suspect this has to do with the Rite 1 language at the 8 am service, and the lack of a choir and childcare. And so, we are moving the Rite 1 service to 7:30 am, and adding an 8:45 am to be comparable to the new 11 am service. We are keeping the 5 pm service for all the skiers and bikers and folks spending the weekend at their cottage and for parents whose children are at Youth Group. An evening service just works well for some folks.
The reality is that these new times will not work for you like the old times did. 7:30 am or 8:45 am may be too early. 11 am may be too late. 5 pm may goof up dinner. And all of that may be true. All I can say is, please try to be open to this new schedule. Make a little effort to change your patterns, and at the very least give it a concerted effort until Pentecost. That is the time-frame we are allowing as a staff before we reassess how this is working for the parish.
Listening for the Call to Serve
“Listen, child of God, to the guidance of your teacher. Attend to the message you hear and make sure that it pierces to your heart, so that you may accept with willing freedom and fulfil by the way you live the directions that come from your loving Father.”
—From the Prologue of the Rule of St. Benedict
This quote kept coming to mind as I started thinking about what to write for the Weekly Word. So, I thought I needed to take the message to heart and follow what I was hearing.
I will do my best to assure you that if asked to write for the Weekly Word in the future, I will not always refer to things Benedictine. I cannot make it a promise, but I will give it my best effort.
In addition to the quote from the Rule of St. Benedict, I thought I would share this picture with you that I took recently when I was on campus to take my weekly shot of the renovation progress. You see, I can’t help myself when I have my camera in hand, if there is something that is calling for a shot, then I am going to take it.
For me, the quote from the Rule of St. Benedict and our tower with the cross and bells are signs that we are called in many different ways to express our faith. As St. Benedict says, we have but to listen to that calling that each of us hears and to let it pierce our heart.
In today’s world, there are many distractions and challenges to listening. Corporations and colleges offer classes on listening, and there are many other instances where we can be “taught” to listen. But not only is there the act of verbal listening, but also listening to the non-verbal ways we interact with those around us.
In the case of St. Benedict, he was going for something much more basic: we should listen to the voice of God as it speaks to us within our hearts. Yes, in this particular quote, he says we should listen to our teacher. But we must remember that Christ is our teacher in all things and listen for his calling to seek his Kingdom both here on earth and in heaven.
In just a few short weeks, we will be having our annual Fall Kick-Off Picnic. Around that time is when all of the upcoming classes are offered and all of the committees that were on hiatus for the summer start again. We will also be adding services so that we can all gather to worship and hear the Word of God. So in all that activity, how do we hear the Word of God? I would suggest that it may be more challenging than at other times, but we can still hear our calling as it waits for our response.
Each of us hears the voice of Christ in different ways. We are all called to serve Christ from the time of our baptism to our final calling to leave the world in which our bodies dwell. What is important is how we answer that calling that is there for us to hear. And a good way to do that is to serve in church.
With the increased number of worship services coming up, Diane Carlisle has been searching for additional Eucharistic ministers. This is a very important ministry to the liturgical life of our faith community. Perhaps you are called to hospitality or youth ministry or Sunday School teaching. The choir is always looking for additional members, and Trish Stone would like to recruit more ushers. And, of course, I can always use additional photographers for the Photography Ministry!
While the Pilgrimage-in-Place and the Youth Pilgrimage to the Holy Land have completed, and our rector has returned from his sabbatical and pilgrimages, our continual pilgrimage towards the Kingdom of God is ongoing. We are the Body of Christ, and each of us is called to serve in many different ways which are too numerous to mention in this short reflection.
“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear” (Luke 14:35). I believe that we all hear the Word of God and many of us answer in our own unique ways with our own unique gifts. I challenge you to continue to make our parish strong and fruitful by serving the Body of Christ!
—Br. Chrysostom, n/OSB
Thank You for the Backpacks!
Thanks to everyone at Epiphany who participated in the YWCA Backpack drive! After a last-minute call was sent out, parishioners rallied to the cause, and as a result, we met our goal of donating at least 60 fully stocked backpacks to students living in YWCA emergency housing! This included $2,125 and 30 backpacks that the Sunday School children packed themselves as a fun activity that allowed them to hear about children in need. On behalf of the YWCA, thank you!
The Decision on Incense
Thank you for filling out the survey on your worship time preference and your opinion on incense. As you may know, the Episcopal polity, unlike some Reformed traditions, is not ballot-driven. However, I find that on some issues surveys are helpful in better hearing congregational opinions on a particular topic.
The idea of incense is a perpetual one in the minds of people planning worship. There is a long history of the use of incense in liturgy. Yes, in the days of old it had the effect of making a room full of people more aromatically palatable. But it also calls the olfactory senses out of the regular smells of life, and, in a worship setting, toward the idea and presence of God. Almost every religious tradition has a link to incense, and so, we asked the question, what do you think of incense in worship?
The net result is that we will not be using incense at the 8:45 am service. The survey gave a very mixed result. Long-time Epiphany parishioners generally were rather against the idea. In some of their comments they indicated that incense represented that Epiphany was becoming a more pretentious, less intimate and neighborly parish. My hope is that by asking the question about incense, just the opposite point is made: that Epiphany is an intimate community in good conversation with herself. On the other end of the survey spectrum, there was a good number of (it turns out) younger folks who are newer to the congregation that were open to the idea of incense.
To my mind, if incense excludes people from our primary function as a church, which is worship, then it is better not to use it more so than we already do. And so the question of incense has been put to rest.
Thank you for your input and being part of this conversation.
Parish Prayer List
Sunday Lectionary Corner
August 23, 2015
Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost
2 Samuel 23:8–17
Upcoming Events in the Life of Epiphany
This Week at Epiphany
August 30: Acolyte Information Gathering
We are looking for new acolytes. Acolytes carry the cross, torches, and the gospel book during processions and help with communion. Anyone entering 6th grade or older is eligible to participate. Join Doyt and Diane after the 9:30 service in the Great Hall on either August 30 or September 20 to hear more details and sign up. Contact Diane Carlisle with questions or to RSVP.
August 30: Service & Outreach Meeting
Summer is over! It’s time for all those interested in Service & Outreach Ministries at Epiphany Parish to regroup and talk about the upcoming year after the 9:30 service in the Christie House Library. Contact Holly Boone with questions.
August 30: Epiphany Families Ice Cream Social
Families with children and youth are invited to have ice cream, get a sneak-peek at our new spaces, and catch up with friends you’ve missed this summer at 4-5 pm in the Memorial Garden. RSVPs are not required, but appreciated. Contact Elizabeth Walker or Laura Sargent.
Events Down the Road
September 6: First Sunday of Four Services
On Labor Day weekend, we will transition to our new Sunday schedule of four services. The new times are 7:30 am, 8:45 am, 11 am, and 5 pm. Each service has their own flavor, so feel free to try a few of them out before deciding on the one you will attend regularly.Why four services, you ask? So YOU can go to church! Read more at our website here.
September 10: Youth Choir Rehearsals Begin!
All of Epiphany’s youth singers begin rehearsals the week after Labor Day. Read more about each choir and when they rehearse here.
September 13: Kick-Off Sunday for Regular Epiphany Programs
Regular church programs like Sunday School, Adult Forums, Minyans, and Youth Group will start on this day or the week before. Keep checking the website for updates to upcoming events.
September 13: Fall Kick-Off Picnic
Welcome our rector back from sabbatical, catch up with old friends, meet new ones, take a jump in the bouncy castle, get a henna tattoo, and enjoy great food from parishioners Kevin and Terresa Davis, owners of Blueacre Seafood (and a new restaurant called Orfeo in Belltown). The festivities will start around noon in the Parish Hall and gardens. Click here for information on what to bring and how you can help out.
August 22: Mission to Seafarers Cruise Luncheon
The Mission to Seafarers Seattle provides services to over 20,000 seafarers each year. Help them celebrate and continue their work by attending a fundraising lunch and auction on board the beautiful Crown Princess on Saturday, August 22, at 11 am. Register before August 10 for a suggested donation of $100. Read more here.