A Letter Concerning the Death of George Floyd and Others

 
Dear brothers and sisters in the Gulf Atlantic Diocese,
 
What a heartbreaking season we are in. We are surrounded by death as we have passed the 100,000 mark in the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
In the midst of that tragedy we as a nation are now struggling with the horrific death of George Floyd. Therefore I commend the thoughtful letter below written by some of my brother bishops and commended by Archbishop Beach. It is in response to the tragic loss of George Floyd while recognizing the many who like him who have died or been treated unjustly.
 
St. Paul calls us to weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15). Ecclesiastes reminds us that there will be times to weep and to mourn (Ecc. 3:4).
 
This is such a time.
 
Please read the letter. Regardless of how you agree or disagree with it, please instead focus on prayer. Pray for changed hearts throughout our land, for less divisiveness and greater unity, for true justice and heartfelt compassion, and especially now for all those in the black community who have been harmed by the prejudice or apathy of others.
 
In Jesus the Messiah,
 
Neil
 
+Neil G. Lebhar
Bishop, Gulf Atlantic Diocese

__________

To the Clergy of the Anglican Church in North America,
 
I am writing to commend the letter below written by Bishops Jim Hobby, Todd Hunter, Stewart Ruch, and Steve Wood regarding the recent killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.
 
I ask that you reach out to the minorities in your community and serve them as Christ Jesus would do.
 
In Christ,
 
The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach
Archbishop and Primate

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A Letter Concerning the Death of George Floyd and So Many Others

George Floyd was made in the image of God and as such is a person of utmost value. This is not true because a few Anglican bishops issue a letter. This conviction arises from our reading of Scripture. The Psalmist said:
 
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. (Psalm 139:13-14)
 
The opening book of our Scriptures declares the value of all human life:
 
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Gen 1:27)
 
What happened to George is an affront to God because George’s status as an image bearer was not respected. He was treated in a way that denied his basic humanity. Our lament is real. But our lament is not limited to George and his family. We mourn alongside the wider Black community for whom this tragedy awakens memories of their own traumas and the larger history of systemic oppression that still plagues this country.
 
George’s death is not merely the most recent evidence that proves racism exists against Black people in this country. But it is a vivid manifestation of the ongoing devaluation of black life. At the root of all racism is a heretical anthropology that devalues the imago dei in us all. The gospel reveals that all are equally created, sinful and equally in need of the saving work of Christ. The racism we lament is not just interpersonal. It exists in the implicit and explicit customs and attitudes that do disproportionate harm to ethnic minorities in our country. In other words, too often racial bias has been combined with political power to create inequalities that still need to be eradicated.
 
As bishops in the ACNA we commit ourselves to standing alongside those in the Black community as they contend for a just society, not as some attempt to transform America into the kingdom of God, but as a manifestation of neighborly love and bearing one another’s burdens and so fulfilling the law of Christ. We confess that too often ethnic minorities have felt that contending for biblical justice is a burden they bear alone.
 
In the end, our hope is not in our efforts, but in the shed blood of Jesus that reconciles God to humanity and humans to each other. Our hope is that our churches become places where our life together as disciples demonstrates the power of the gospel to bring together the nations of the earth (Rev 7:9). Such work cannot be carried out by one letter written in the time of crisis. We commit to educating ourselves and the churches under our charge within a biblical and theological frame to face the problems of our day. We likewise commit to partnering with likeminded churches in the work of justice and reconciliation.
 
The Feast of Pentecost is here in a couple of days. The power of the Spirit is loosed to convict of sin and deliver us from its power. We pray that in a country as diverse as these United States, the Church will be united in the essential truths of Christianity, including its concern for the most vulnerable. So…come Holy Spirit. Mediate to us and all the earth, we pray, the victory of Jesus over the principalities and powers that seek to rule and cause death and destruction in this time between the times. Come Holy Spirit.
 
Almighty God, on this day, through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, you revealed the way of eternal life to every race and nation: Pour out this gift anew, that by the preaching of the Gospel your salvation may reach to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
 
Almighty God, you created us in your own image: Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression; and help us to use our freedom rightly in the establishment of justice in our communities and among the nations, to the glory of your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
 
Sincerely in Christ,
 
Bishops Jim Hobby, Todd Hunter, Stewart Ruch and Steve Wood
 
 
 
This letter originally appeared here: http://anglicanchurch.net/?/main/page/2050. Servants of Christ Anglican Church is a member church of the Anglican Church in North America and stands in agreement with all that has been said above.


The Plan to Reopen

 

 

Dear Servants of Christ,
 
Yesterday morning on the staff Zoom call I remarked at how incredibly gracefully you as a congregation have handled this season in our lives as a community. Thank you for the trust you have in me and the vestry/staff as we make decisions that are best for the congregation. Thank you also for how well you are loving one another in word and deed during this time. Jody and I were blessed to join the Zoom Soaking Prayer night last Tuesday and marveled at the Body of Christ, as we moved through the stages of Zoom Soaking Prayer. The time was rich and we received much needed prayer for Jody’s allergy attack. (I am happy to report she is much better.) This is just one example of where I see you as the Body of Christ ministering to one another.
 
By my calculations, we have just finished our eighth Sunday of online services. The portion of weeks prior to Easter was an adjustment; after Easter I sensed people moving into the rhythm of quarantine life, and now just as we are wrapping up the school year, here comes the news of reopening. I am certain that Governor DeSantis’s announcement on May 4th struck some of you as premature and others felt it was about time.
 
I want to address re-opening with you today. At the prompting of Bishop Neil, the emergency operation team began meeting to discuss what our phases one to three plans would look like whenever it was appropriate. Just to remind you, Daryl Johnston, Emily Wilson, and Dr. Jim Moulthrop have graciously served with me on this team. In addition, we have sought council of others in the parish who have expertise in this area.
 
Linked below you will find the work of three meetings of our team, plus the input of our vestry and staff. Before you turn to that plan, I would like begin with a few points. First, please remember that we are new at all of this so expect that there will be a learning curve. From week to week, we will no doubt learn what does and doesn’t work. As you have been gracious so far, I would ask that you continue to give grace to one another.
 
Second, please know that the leadership team does not intend to offend anyone but enviably some of us will be offended or offend others. If you are not wearing a mask or maintaining social distance, expect to be reminded. Also, if you are not feeling well, please stay home. If someone offends you, please keep short accounts and seek to forgive.
 
Third, for some of you our plan will seem excessive, for others it will seem too loose. That is the difficulty we have to face. I would commend to you that making someone else feel safe to return to church can be a very practical way of expressing love for our neighbor during this season. Some of you will be looking for restrictions that you might wish were here but are not. From my days as a commercial underwriter, I learned controlling all potential liability was impossible. If you have a business, someone can potentially get harmed. Instead of trying to eliminate exposures, we were taught rather to ‘manage risk.’ I believe this plan does just that, it manages the potential risk of the virus. That fact will mean that some of you will need to hold back from phase one or two participation in church. I would even go so far as to discourage vulnerable persons within the congregation from attending in phase one and two. To that end, the staff is working hard to ensure our online experience remains quality even after the reopening begins.
 
Having said all that, I ask that you review the plan. There will be several opportunities to discuss and ask questions; Emily Wilson will be joining me to answer questions. You may join our Wednesday night Zoom call 6:30-7:30. The link has been sent via email; contact communications@servantsanglican.org if you wish to be added to our emailing list.
 
Tentatively, we are working towards our first Phase One service to be Sunday, May 31st (Pentecost Sunday). I emphasize that this is a tentative date because the next couple of weeks will show us how the state and our county reopening affects the rate of infection. We will also have a lot of work to do to train ushers, greeters, and the parish as a whole.
 
God bless you all as we continue to walk this way together and I ask your prayers for our leadership at the diocesan and parish level as we seek to make decisions for the well-being of our congregation. Know that I am praying for you all, and I am always available for individual conversation.

 

Reopening Plan

 
 



Staying Connected in Christ

 

Dear Servants of Christ,
 
Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! A few days ago the above Psalm was my reading for the day. How encouraging it is to know the Lord hears and delivers us from our troubles. Yes, the righteous are not excluded from afflictions, but the Lord delivers!
 
First, let me say that I am so grateful to our emergency management team and their advanced warning of how this coronavirus would progress. Thanks to their careful planning I am happy to report that Servants continues to minister to one another and the community around us without interruption. We are blessed to have been using Facebook Live and Zoom conference calling for some time, and that plus other tools are keeping us connected. In addition, some are connecting with parishioners on their own within a given neighborhood. Wonderful ministry is happening as God makes opportunity.
 
Second, as I said in my sermon Sunday and in my last letter, it is crucial for our spiritual well-being that we find ways to connect to one another, even while sheltering in place in Alachua County. To that end, we will of course continue our Facebook Live services on Sunday mornings at 9:30. The city and county emergency plans allow for a team of ten people or less to gather. Thanks to David La Cagnina and Nikki Smith who are leading our online service team. I know that some of you had trouble staying on the Facebook Live Sunday. Most of this was a Facebook issue that we are hopeful will be fixed by this week. If you continue to have trouble please let Nikki know at nikki@servantsanglican.org. You may also want to wait and come back to the service after 11 am where you will still find the service available, just not in real time. If the problem persists, we may try loading the service on other social media platforms like Youtube.
 
Third, I know many of you are concerned with our most elderly parishioners because of their vulnerability to the virus. There is a team of people contacting them regularly and the good news is that all of them appear well at the moment. If you would be willing to volunteer to pick up groceries or other supplies for a family please let Tracy know at admin@servantsanglican.org. Also, I am planning a dial-in Evening Prayer service to which each of our older folks will be invited. The reality is that many of them don’t use the internet and therefore we are looking for ways to connect with them. Jody and I had an Evening Prayer call with Walter and Alice Crosby this last evening and it went well. Please email me at alex@servantsanglican.org if you know someone who would be interested in Evening Prayer by phone.
 
Fourth, I want to let you know that we will be offering teaching opportunities starting next week using Zoom. If you haven’t done so already I encourage you to download the app on your phone, laptop, tablet or PC. (This is a video conferencing application but you can choose not to use the camera. If you’re unfamiliar with Zoom, you can learn how to use it here.) Beginning March 30, Fr. Bob Ayres will begin a catechism class on Monday evenings from 6:30 to 7:30 pm. In addition, I will continue my 1 Corinthians class on Wednesday nights starting next week. To register for either or both classes, click here. Alternatively you can email Nikki Smith (nikki@servantsanglican.org) or Fr. Bob Ayres (bob@servantsanglican.org) to register.
 
Fifth, you may also want to take advantage of a Facebook version of Morning Prayer we will be offering during the week. As a start, we are going to make the Morning Prayer service available on Mondays and Wednesdays. You can watch any time on that day but we plan to have the video available by 7:30 am. I will read the liturgy and share a short 5-7 minute devotional thought for the day. I have been in conversation with Fr. David Allert at Christ the King Anglican Church in St. Augustine, and we may be able to share the responsibility and offer more times during the week. We will let you know when this starts.
 
Finally, let me reiterate what I have shared elsewhere. This is the very time when the Church shines brightest. We speak and live faith in Jesus Christ in the face of fear. Just today, I was able to join local pastors and lay people handing out food to the poor of our community. How will God use you to glorify His name in this time? Secondly, remember we are all walking through this season but we do not need to walk alone. Call on the Lord! Cry out to Him in faith. When you feel fearful, I encourage you to stop and pray to the Lord. If you need, call someone and ask them to pray for you. Your clergy, staff, and community group leaders are also available to pray with you. We don’t walk alone because we have the body of Christ, whether we are together or dispersed.
 
I encourage you to find one or more of the above opportunities to stay connected with the Body of Christ. I am particularly struck by how this time of crisis has made our liturgies taken on even greater meaning. You remain in my prayers as we walk together.
 
God bless you all,
 


Response to COVID-19

 
Update as of March 17, 2020: Our 8:00am Sunday service has been cancelled until further notice. Our 9:30am Sunday service will be live streamed and only essential personnel will be present. Wednesdays @ Servants classes will live streamed when they take place. Check our Facebook and other social media pages for announcements and links to live streams. If you have a prayer need, visit servantsanglican.org/prayer to send your need directly to our prayer team leader, Mary Langeland.
 
Dear Servants,
 
On Sunday I shared with the congregation that I would be meeting with a small group of our members who have expertise/experience dealing with virus infection and prevention to address the COVID-19 (the coronavirus). Wednesday Emily Wilson, Dr. Jim Moulthrop, and Daryl Johnston met with me in an extensive planning meeting. The good news is that Servants already has an emergency plan in place and I can report that plan has now been updated. These individuals have made themselves available for any questions you might have for them.
 
The first action we have taken is regarding Communion. I have asked the altar guild to use only the silver chalices for communion until further notice. As many of you know silver is a deterrent to the spread of germs. Furthermore, Father James and I will be explaining at the Peace about the options each of you have regarding the chalice. First, you may refrain from receiving the wine altogether. It is perfectly acceptable to only receive the wafer as a full participant in the Sacrament of Communion. Secondly, you may intinct the wafer in the chalice; intinct is a fancy word for dip. If you choose this method, please take care not to allow your finger to touch the wine. Third, you may continue to receive the chalice to your mouth as is our standard practice. This is the method I will continue to use, unless I get a cold, of course. We are prepared to alter our Communion practice should the time come.
 
We will also be providing information from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) regarding how individuals may best prevent the spread of germs. There will be printed material on the welcome table and also some posters up on Sunday. The CDC is our best source of information and we encourage you to visit their website for the most update information. Our team will be implementing the CDC’s recommendations as they are available. As an example, we will be making hand sanitizer available at the first pew and also in the narthex and children’s area for your use when entering or exiting the church building.
 
Additionally, Father James and I will be encouraging a modified sharing of the Peace on Sunday mornings. Again, you have freedom to share the peace in any way you desire but please respect that others may not want to hug or shake hands during this period of time. Let’s extend grace to one another and respect each others boundaries. Fist pumps, waves, or elbow touches are appropriate ways to express the Peace.
 
Now, having laid out some the work of our team, let me address COVID-19 from a pastoral standpoint. First, let me say this is not a time to be fearful, nor is it a time to avoid facing the potential danger. Both fear and avoidance are unwise responses from the people of God. As Christians, we have peace because this virus is not catching our God by surprise. He is Lord of heaven and earth and will continue to walk with us in the days ahead.
 
Second, let me remind you that times of crisis create opportunities for us to speak to unbelieving friends and family about the peace we have in Jesus. Yes, we desire to live a long healthy life, yes we want to be diligent to protect ourselves against this and all other illness however, as Paul makes clear, “to live is Christ, to die is gain!” Don’t miss the opportunity to demonstrate and speak faith in your response to this virus. Here is a story of how Christians are responding to the virus inside China.
 
Third, let me encourage you to not pull away from the Body of Christ during this time. Sure, we can isolate and avoid human relationship but at what cost? Obviously immune-compromised members will need to limit their contact. Also, if you are sick with any symptoms that could be caused by the coronavirus, or by the flu for that matter, you should stay home. We are blessed to already have Facebook Live available as a way of watching the service from your home should that need arise. Please see below for more on how to access our live service. But for those who are well and who have healthy immune systems, remember the benefits of participation in the Body and stay present. As Mary Coryell is fond of saying, “I don’t know how people go through a personal crisis without a Church body like this.” Amen! We are better together and together we will serve God to His glory in this broken world. If you do become ill, remember that we have a prayer team at Servants of Christ. Call or email Mary Langeland at (352) 371-2939 or marylang704@gmail.com.
 
Be assured that the rest of our clergy and I will remain active in pastoring this congregation through this emergency. If you need pastoral assistance, call me any time at (352) 870-4424.
 
I am praying for all of you and am available for your questions and comments as always.
 
Onward and Upward,
 
 
 
 
 

How to access us Live on Sundays:

1) First, if you haven’t already, create a Facebook account at facebook.com.
2) Once your account is created, visit facebook.com/servantsanglican and Like our page and be sure to select “Following” so you’ll get notifications when we go live. Wait for Sunday and then proceed to one of the options below!
 
From a computer:
On Sundays, login to your Facebook account and head over to facebook.com/pg/servantsanglican/videos. Once we go live (usually around 9:20am), our video will be the first you see when you scroll down the page slightly. You’ll know you have the right video because there will be a red “Live” button at the top left of the video. If you don’t see the live video after 9:30am, message us using the button at the top of our Facebook page for help.
 
From a phone:
On Sundays, visit linktr.ee/servantsanglican and tap “Find us Live on Sundays.” The link will take you to our Facebook page; you may need to login before proceeding. Once logged in, scroll down until you see the live video (look for the red “Live” button at the top left corner of the video). If you don’t see the live video after 9:30am, message us through Messenger for help.
 
If you need any help setting up your account, contact communications@servantsanglican.org.


Ways to Help the Bahamas

 
“Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered.”
Proverbs 21:13
 
Dear Servants,
 
I shared during my sermon Sunday that I was convicted by Proverbs 21:13 early that morning. I know that you are praying and looking for ways to help Bahamians and so I want to share with you the information I have received today. I was invited to a conference call this morning to share information and resources as the Church looks for ways to aid our sisters and brothers in great need.
 
First, pray for first responders and relief workers who are still overwhelmed with the number of bodies to be recovered and buried in a humane way. Also, pray for families in the Bahamas and in the U.S. who do not know if family members are alive or dead.
 
Second, here are some ways you can tangibly assist the people of the Bahamas:
  1. You can donate to World Central Kitchen, a NGO whose mission is “A hot plate of food when it’s needed most.” Their disaster relief team is already up and running in the Bahamas to serve hot meals. Learn more and donate at wck.org.
  2. You send or take gift cards to Greater Bethel A.M.E. Church Gainesville. These cards will be sent to refugees in Miami who have evacuated from the Bahamas.
  3. You can give financial contributions through the Alachua County Christian Pastors Association at Givelify (select “Other” and note “Bahamas Hurricane Relief Effort” as the memo). The ACCPA is working with Pastor Gerard Duncan of Prayer by Faith Ministries of Gainesville (Pastor Gerard is from the Bahamas) and with the local Kiwanis Club in the Bahamas to get supplies to where they are needed. The first bulk order of supplies will be shipped on September 11.
  4. You can volunteer or make donations to help with refugees in Old Town, Florida at Camp Anderson which has received refugees from the Bahamas.
 
God is definitely mobilizing His Church for this crisis. If the parish staff can assist with collecting funds or supplying follow up information please let us know. The need is urgent so I wanted to get this information out to all of you as soon as possible.
 
Peace be with you all,
 


Looking Forward to Fall

 
Dear Servants,
 
I hope your summer has been filled with experiences that take you out of your routine, giving you perspective, and especially moments where God has spoken into your life with His plan for you this fall. For me, the rhythm of my annual hiking on the Appalachian Trail, Independence Day reunion with family, and of course Camp Araminta give me opportunity to reflect on the academic year past and the one about to begin.
 
Despite the slowdown of summer, Servants has been continuing to meet weekly for congregational worship and to minister to the community around us. In June, Kim Harris and a team of adult and youth volunteers held Kids’ Creation Station (a new VBS-type program for children) on Thursday mornings. As many as 21 children participated over the four weeks for this fun and formative time.
 
Also this summer, our Come and See service (an Evening Prayer service geared towards those spiritually seeking but not ready for Sunday morning) moved out to Grace Marketplace. For several years, Servants has provided food for 150-200 residents of Grace and Dignity Village. Now we can offer spiritual food to the residents who wish to attend after dinner. Mike and Jeannie Bey and Emily Wilson worked with me to create this service and now we feel confident Grace is the right place to offer it.
 
Lastly, just two weeks ago many of us attended the 14th annual Camp Araminta, our diocesan summer camp. This year 163 campers attended, along with 51 high school leaders in training, 27 college-aged counselors, and 26 adults. Servants of Christ was significantly involved: twelve of the adults leaders came from our church. This was one of our smoothest camps ever and I’m excited to report eleven campers made first time decisions to follow Christ as Lord! Additionally, four of our counselors are exploring a call to ministry. Please pray for all the Araminta family but especially new believers and counselors-in-discernment.
 
As camp was ending, I received the word from our junior warden, Bill McCrea, “Today is great day for SOC Anglican Church! With the completion of this drain pipe for our roof drainage system I believe we can say our so called ‘critical’ building infrastructure needs are finally done. As of today our building is secure. All HVAC units are functioning properly, our roof and drain system is as well. No new leaks anywhere today at all! So our roof is functioning as it should and our new flooring will be done by end of the day. Hallelujah!”
 
I am certain you join Bill in saying hallelujah! This has been a long process, grinding on since last summer. Great thanks to our facility team, especially Daryl Johnston, Ken Langeland, and Bill McCrea for their tireless efforts to keep us moving forward, as well as a host of other folks who have participated in the process.
 
All of this sets us up for exciting ministry this fall. Already we are starting to see new faces in the service as new people move into Gainesville seeking a church home. Our Community Groups (medium-sized, multi-generational groups that meet monthly around the city) are a great way to meet new people at Servants. If you’re already involved in a Community Group, invite someone new; if you’ve never attended a Community Group, visit our page to learn more and find a group.
 
Enjoy the remainder of your summer, but please begin to pray for all that God wants to accomplish through our congregation this fall.
 
Onward and Upward,
 


Moving Forward in Ministry

Dear Servants,
 
Winter has passed and spring is here. I mentioned in my Ash Wednesday sermon, it is a bit odd that even as we are fasting and solemn during the Lenten season, we see new life springing up around us. The days get longer and the flowers of spring forth. We have now reached the halfway mark in Lent. Congratulations! For me so far, the highlight of Lent has been the combined service at Greater Bethel A.M.E. Church last Wednesday. I love seeing our congregation step out of our comfort zone. For those who could not attend we had wonderful fellowship between the two congregations with about eighty in attendance. Our meal was followed by an evening service lead by Pastor Karl Smith. Pastor Smith graciously allowed me the privilege of preaching to both congregations.
 
If you missed this service, I promise you will be blessed this Wednesday – tomorrow – as we reciprocate by hosting Great Bethel in our building this week. Dinner will be provided at 6 pm followed by a Eucharistic celebration. Pastor Smith will be our preacher. These shared services are an answer to prayer for our congregation as we have sought to create a sister parish relationship with a church on the eastside of Gainesville.
 
Months ago, when we moved into our new space, I said on several occasions that the purchase of our own buildings must not become an end in of themselves but a means for our congregation to do ministry. Too often the end of a building program leaves a congregation exhausted and ready to coast. It is so exciting to see the work of our mission team in leading a new season of ministry partnership. Hopefully you caught some of their mission spotlights during Epiphany. Already our men’s ministry is planning a short mission trip to Panama City (Bay County) to do relief work. Please pray for this team as we prepare to serve those still affected by Hurricane Michael last October. In addition, we will be participating in a city-wide worship service at Bo Diddley Plaza on Good Friday, April 19, at 7pm, as we come together in unity across Gainesville. David La Cagnina is helping coordinate various worship teams that will assemble and I am blessed to be one of the speakers for this event.
 
All this to say, I am overjoyed to see Servants engaged in ministry from our new space, even as we continue to work to make our buildings an attractive place for worship and ministry training. Our roof is nearing completion, and we have a remodeled Triangle Room ready for children’s ministry. In May we wrap up our three-year capital campaign and we are already beginning to plan a time of celebration for God’s faithfulness to us in this journey. Look for information shortly about this event.
 
We have so much to be thankful for, friends. God has rooted us along 8th Avenue and given us new and diverse opportunities for ministry. I look forward to the end of Lent and the glorious celebration of Christ’s resurrection Sunday April 21st. We will baptize, proclaim the gospel, worship in Spirit and Truth and recommit ourselves to the work of ministry in Jesus’s name.
 
May God continue to bless your Lenten practices as we journey towards Holy Week and that blessed Easter morning.
 
 
Onward and Upward,


Lessons & Carols: Exercises in Simple Worship

 
In the Anglican tradition, we have inherited many pieces of liturgy over the last two thousand years. So, it may be a bit surprisingly to learn that the service of Nine Lessons and Carols is a fairly recent invention, celebrating its one-hundredth birthday only this year.
 
While there had been services of alternating scripture readings and carols going back to the mid-1800s, the service as we know it today was constructed out of the grief and horror of the First World War, which had ended only 6 weeks before Christmas Eve, 1918.
 
The author of the service was The Rev. Eric Milner-White, a graduate of King’s College who was appointed chaplain at the college in 1912, four years after his ordination as a priest. When the war broke out in 1914, he volunteered as a military chaplain and witnessed the horrors of trench warfare on the Western front.  “Most of life is at night,” he wrote in a letter back home, “and the nights are filled with prolonged terror—a horrid, weird, furtive existence. … Battle is indescribable, unimaginable. A continuous firework of light balls goes up from the German trenches. But most awesome is the noise. We feel powerless against those splitting cracks and roars, and dream of the metal tearing its way into the bodies of poor men.”
 
Decorated for courage under fire in combat, he was released after what he called “a battle of special horror” in early 1918 and returned to King’s College, where he was appointed Dean. After the end of the war on November 11, he set out to create a special Christmastide service “as a gift to the city of Cambridge” that would serve two purposes.
 
First, he wanted to grieve the loss of young men from the city, and especially from his own college. Twenty-three percent of the members of King’s College had died during the war, including Milner-White’s roommate. Today in the chapel of King’s College is a list of the names of the dead on an engraved plaque; a much later dean of King’s College noted that this list was assembled long after the first Lessons and Carols service. This is because on Christmas Eve, 1918, it was not even known exactly who among the members was alive or dead.
 
Second, Milner-White wanted to reform liturgical practices so that the simple beauty of Christian worship would shine through and attract those who had lost their faith in the horrors of the war, whether serving in it or watching it take place. There is intellectual depth to the service; in Milner-White’s own words, “the main theme is the development of the loving purposes of God” as viewed “through the windows and the words of the Bible.” Yet he aimed at simplicity rather than complex explication of God’s purposes in human history; rather than a lecture, he wanted the focus of the service to be on “colour, warmth, and delight.”
 
Milner-White devoted the remainder of his life to the theme that the simple beauty of Christianity offered hope to an increasingly secular culture without hope. He sparked a new interest in stained glass windows as a means of expressing simple Christian truth in beautiful form. He wrote several simple prayers, one of which made its way into the forthcoming Prayer Book of the ACNA as the first Prayer for Mission in Evening Prayer:

O God and Father of all, whom the whole heavens adore: Let the whole earth also worship you, all nations obey you, all tongues confess and bless you, and men, women and children everywhere love you and serve you in peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

As you listen and worship during Lessons and Carols, occasionally contemplate that the simple service offers an expression of hope that despite the mess that humans have made of our world, God has a plan of redemption for it.

 

For more reading pleasure, an interview with William Edwards, author of The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols (Rizzoli, 2004), can be found here.

 

Fr. James Manley is an assisting priest here at Servants. He has recently discovered the joy of cooking on cast iron over a 200,000 BTU propane flame (and still has his eyebrows!)

 
 


Sustaining Our Mission

 
Servants of Christ Anglican Church is an amazing community—full of kind, caring, faithful people who see a need and jump right into action. Fr. Alex and the other clergy are exemplars of servant-leadership who inspire, instruct, and model authentic lives full of grace and truth. I often describe this church as: “we see a need, and we meet it.” This is a high praise for the character of Servants! We love because God first loved us. Fr. Alex leads us so well to serve Christ and reach others through prayer, praise, service, and community. I was thrilled to be invited by Fr. Alex to explore and recommend options for how Servants of Christ can improve internal systems for fulfilling, expanding, and sustaining our mission together.

We already know “what to do,” but as we grow, we need to become more intentional about “HOW we do what we do”; what are the criteria by which we make decisions? What are the essential values that guide our decision-making? How do we maintain focused and healthy ministry? How do we communicate well between various areas of the church? And importantly, how do we as clergy and staff—equip, train, support, and resource lay leadership in ways that help you accomplish the tasks, for which God has called you?

My calling for the past four decades has been in non-profit organizational leadership and strategic, missional thinking, I have learned over the years that Christ calls us to build both impactful AND sustainable ministry in a hurting world. This requires not only “doing ministry” but developing structures for “HOW we best can sustain ministry.” Good structures allow for growth with integrity. Good systems helps us maintain who and whose we are. We are part of the Body of Christ, called to worship and serve, in this place… at this time… and in ways that allow us to grow and thrive.

Paul reminds us in Colossians 1:18a that “Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body.” In Romans, Paul expands upon the importance of each member of the body being able to express the gifts provided by the Holy Spirit, for the unity and mission of the church:

“Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.” Romans 12:4-8

So for a body to function, it requires several internal systems to work well, especially during times of growth or rigorous exercise. At Servants, God has given us a new building and instilled in us a continuing commitment of “making disciples, learning to do all that Jesus said.” During this time of transition, I have been able to communicate with several people in our fellowship to learn more about structure and individual roles (remember, Kathy and I are still relatively new). Fr. Alex has tracked my progress closely and we meet weekly to process any suggestions. Our intention is to have new organizational processes in place by the annual meeting in January. We will continue to prayerfully improve upon these structures over time and modify them as needed.

This brings us back to our opening scripture from Proverbs: “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” We are trusting God to determine our steps that allows us to grow and reach many new people who are currently without a church home—while carefully maintaining a healthy community of believers who love each other and the mission before us. Pray for Godly wisdom in each step as we make our plans. God is working… in our church, and through our members, for the sake of others. What an exciting time to be part of Servants of Christ Anglican Church!

Dcn Bob Ayres

 

A lover of great coffee, Bob especially enjoys sharing a cup with his wife, Kathy. They have been married over forty years and have five grown children and ten amazing grandchildren. Bob and Kathy are the founders of Deaf Teen Quest, a national ministry of Youth for Christ USA where Bob is still on staff. Bob has a Doctorate of Ministry and two masters degrees and was recently ordained to the diaconate in the Anglican Church. His undergraduate degree is in education from the University of Florida. But most importantly, Bob loves Jesus because Jesus loved him first.



Intro to Advent

 
On Sunday, December 2, 2018, we will enter the first season of the liturgical year, Advent. For many, there may be three phrases or words that may be unfamiliar or strange in that introductory sentence. The first is “the first season,” next is “the liturgical year,” and last is, “Advent.”
 
Just as our secular calendar has seasons – winter, spring, summer, fall – so too does our Christian calendar. However, instead of four seasons, the Christian calendar or, “liturgical year,” has six. The seasons of our “liturgical year,” begin with Advent (the “first season” and continue through Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost. In each of these seasons our worship has its focus on the different aspects of our walk with Jesus, our risen Lord and Messiah.
 
Advent” is the beginning of our liturgical year and carries with it a dual meaning.  As you may read in the article below, the word Advent comes from the Latin, adventum, which means “to come.” So, in this season we are looking forward to what is to come. We are looking forward to the coming of our Lord as the Baby Jesus, AND we are looking forward to the coming of our Lord Jesus when He returns to take His Church to reign with Him in His heavenly Kingdom.
 
-Fr. Michael La Cagnina
 
 
 
 
The following article was originally published at anglicanpastor.com on November 18, 2018 by Joshua Steele.
 
 

What is Advent?

Advent is the first season of the Church year. It lasts for four weeks leading up to Christmas Day on December 25: (To learn more about what the Church year is and how it’s different than the civil calendar, click here.)

Why is it called “Advent”?

“Advent” comes from the Latin adventus, meaning “coming or arrival.” Used by the Church, the word refers to:

  1. The “arrival” of Jesus Christ when he was born on the original Christmas Day
  2. The upcoming “arrival” of Jesus Christ when, as Christians believe, he will return to judge the living and the dead.

So, the season of Advent is a season of preparation and waiting:

  1. first for Christ’s second coming to judge the living and the dead (2 Pet 3:11-14; 1 John 3:2-3), but also
  2. to celebrate Christ’s first arrival at Christmas.

Just as the Israelites awaited a Messiah to fulfill God’s promises from Genesis 3:15 to Jeremiah 31:31-34 and beyond, so Christians await the return of Jesus the Messiah make all things new (Revelation 21).

What are some common practices during Advent?

What’s the difference between Advent music and Christmas music?

Perhaps the classic piece of Advent music is “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” because it reflects Advent’s emphasis on waiting and expectation. Christmas music, on the other hand, emphasizes the joyful celebration of Christ’s arrival at the Incarnation. “Joy to the World” comes to mind, but if you read the lyrics to that song closely, you’ll notice that they’re actually about the second coming of Jesus, not his birth. So, maybe think of “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” as a paradigmatic Christmas song.

Songs for Advent

Here are some of the better-known songs from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship’s helpful list of Songs for Advent:

  • Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus – Charles Wesley
  • Hark, the Glad Sound! The Savior Comes – Philip Doddridge
  • Imagine – Keith and Kristyn Getty
  • Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence – Gerard Moultrie
  • Love Divine, All Loves Excelling – Charles Wesley
  • My Soul Cries Out with a Joyful Shout – Rory Cooney
  • O Come, O Come, Emmanuel – ancient hymn
  • Of the Father’s Love Begotten – Aurelius Clemens Prudentius
  • Savior of the Nations, Come – Ambrose, 4th century; Martin Luther
  • Soon and Very Soon – Andraé Crouch

Check out the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship’s list of Songs for Christmas as well. I also highly recommend the following:

Advent Collects and Collect Reflections

In the Anglican tradition, each week of the Church year has a special prayer, called a “collect,” used during Sunday worship and then for the following week. Here are the collects for Advent. If you click on the titles, it will take you to the Anglican Pastor Collect Reflection for that week—a short blog post to help you reflect on the collect!

The First Sunday in Advent

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Second Sunday of Advent

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and the comfort of your holy Word we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Third Sunday of Advent

O Lord Jesus Christ, you sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Grant that the ministers and stewards of your mysteries may likewise make ready your way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient toward the wisdom of the just, that at your second coming to judge the world, we may be found a people acceptable in your sight; for with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Fourth Sunday of Advent; Annunciation

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and as we are sorely hindered by our sins from running the race that is set before us, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

Other Advent posts at Anglican Pastor

If you’d like to learn more about Advent, check out the following posts at Anglican Pastor:

Other Advent resources

Check out the following resources to learn more about Advent and how to celebrate it:

 
 
 
 
Fr. Michael is an assistant clergy at Servants. He is a retired rector of a congregation in High Springs, FL and still lives there with his wife, Joyce. You can most often find Fr. Michael volunteering to help when he is able and offering solutions for various conundrums that arise in ministry work.