By now we’ve journeyed over half way through Lent, a season dedicated to introspection and self-denial, a season meant to open our hearts and to move our hands and feet in the service of others:
Take my life and let it be
consecrated, Lord, to thee.
Take my moments and my days;
let them flow in endless praise.
Take my hands and let them move
at the impulse of thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
swift and beautiful for thee.
I don’t think Frances Havergal was thinking “pedicure” when she wrote about beautiful feet, but about St. Paul’s words to the Romans: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” because that’s our job description as Christians. So as the Lenten journey bends toward Easter, may our hands continue to do God’s work and our feet (swiftly!) follow the compassionate and perhaps arduous path God would have us walk
Celebrating a feast day does not mean violating one’s Lenten discipline! “It’s a sin to fast on a feast day,” a priest in Colorado once told me, and if you look at next week’s liturgical calendar, you’ll see that March 19 is a white day rather than a purple one: it’s the Feast Day of St. Joseph.
Over the years I’ve come to see St. Joseph’s Day as an alternate Father’s Day for adoptive, step, and foster fathers: a celebration and honoring of men throughout time who have tenderly nurtured children not biologically connected to them. Jesus, who often speaks of his heavenly Father, is nevertheless grafted into Joseph’s family as surely as we are grafted into the family of Abraham. As Christians we are all adopted children of God, brothers and sisters of Christ and of one another.
This fluid, expansive, interwoven sense of the far-flung Christian family offers blessing to all of us living among blended, extended, seemingly unconventional configurations. And Joseph is our progenitor, our role model for nontraditional parenthood. He offers guidance and grace to all of us, but most especially to those who have said yes to fatherhood after the fact.
So consider how you might celebrate his Feast Day next Thursday. After all, it would, the Rev. Lewis Sligh says, be sinful not to celebrate.
May the journey through Lent lead us where God would have us go, inwardly into our own hearts, and outwardly into the world in witness to God’s love-
A Note on Sunday’s Music
Sunday’s worship at 10:30 celebrates the biggest themes of our faith: God’s gift of salvation through Jesus (John 3:16) and grace (Ephesians 2:8). We begin with a lovely organ setting of “I call to thee” by J. S. Bach that mentally helps prepare us for worship. The first hymn is “Come, thou fount of every blessing,” written by Robert Robinson about 1750. Its third stanza, “Oh, to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be!”, directly reminds us of our need for the gift of grace. At the gradual we sing “Sing, my soul, his wondrous love,” This is a song of praise and worship dating from about 1800 that reflects on God’s love to us in creation. At the offertory, the choir sings a setting of “O, For a Closer Walk with God” arranged by Charles Stanford. Its text is by William Cowper (1770). It is a prayer for the Holy Spirit to draw us near and guide us daily. During communion we sing the classic John Newton hymn “Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound,” a well-loved hymn that affirms our utter dependence upon God’s saving grace. Our final hymn is “When from bondage we are summoned,” written by Delores Dufner in 1984. It also takes up the theme of salvation, looking to Jesus, “pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). Its refrain is worth carrying all week long: “Let us throw off all that hinders, let us run the race to win, let us hasten to our homeland…” Worship concludes with a Toccata in D by Roman seventeenth-century composer Girolamo Frescobaldi. It acts as a great Amen to worship that proclaims “so be it,” as we return to our daily activities.
TODAY, March 15
Healing Prayer is offered today at the 8:00 and 10:30 services. If you wish to receive a prayer on your own behalf or on behalf of another, proceed to the healing station in the vestibule after you have received communion.
9:30 a.m. St. Paul’s Family Worship, where we praise God with our outdoor voices!
Church School: Lions and Eagles-Godly Play “The Faces of Easter II.” Eagles will be making Lenten pretzels and Lions will hear about St. Patrick’s capture by pirates.
Middle Schoolers have begun making mosaic crosses from stained glass. Adults and children, with a parent helping, are encouraged to make one too. There will be a table set up in the Great Hall during coffee hours. They will be on display for Easter then yours to take.
The high school youth group will be offering Tech Help sessions after the 8:00 service and again after the 10:30 service. Bring your digital device-computer, iPad, smart phone, regular phone, camera, iPod-and the teens will do their best to answer your questions. Donations to the 2016 Journey Fund will be gratefully accepted.
Easter Flower memorial envelopes are available in the pews. Please PRINT the necessary information and place the envelope in the plate or return it to the church office by Wednesday, March 18.
FUTURE DATES. MARK YOUR CALENDARS!
The Outreach Ministry partners with Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program and First Parish Church to provide lunch at the center the third Saturday of the month. The next opportunity is March 21. Volunteers are needed, 9-1 to prepare, serve and cleanup. If interested please sign up on the bulletin board in the hallway. If have questions, please contact James Ford, email@example.com or 841-9377
Saturday, March 21, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. At Bishop Lane’s invitation, Dent Davidson, musician to the House of Bishops from the Diocese of Chicago, will visit Maine to offer a presentation, “Can These Bones Live? Breathing Life into the People’s Song and Prayer,” at St. Bart’s in Yarmouth. This special workshop is open to all musicians or anyone interested. Morning hospitality and lunch will be provided. The program is free, but registration is required. A contingent from St. Paul’s will be attending. If you’d like to attend, please contact Bob Judd: 619-4642. Deadline: March 16.
Sunday, March 22, 2:00 p.m. The Winter Gardening Fund Raiser for the TSCG. Topic and speaker to be announced. Sponsored by the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust’s Tom Settlemire Community Garden. Free and open to the public, held in St. Paul’s Great Hall.
Women’s Bible Study and Lunch. Taking a midwinter break and will resume Tuesday, April 7.
Hot Cross Buns are back! The high school youth group will be making and baking hot cross buns for delivery on Palm Sunday, March 29, as part of the fundraising toward their 2016 journey to the Dominican Republic. The cost is $5 for a box of 4 buns. Orders will be taken this Sunday, March 15, and next Sunday, March 22, after the worship services. Thank you for your support!
OBSERVING LENT AT ST. PAUL’S
(see website for a complete listing, www.stpaulsmaine.org)
Sundays, March 15, 22, 10:15-11:00 a.m. Blessing our Children. A five-part informal small group facilitated by Linda Ashe-Ford. Meetings will be held in the Library. Blessing our Children is an important topic for parents, but it is also appropriate for anyone (grandparents and caretakers of all kinds) who deal with children. The group will discuss the biblical history of blessing as well as various ways in which we can bless our children today. Coffee, tea, and simple snacks will be available for this adult time together in an informal setting.
Tuesdays, March 17, 24. Lenten Supper, Study and Sharing. Supper (5:30 p.m. to 6:15 p.m.) and forum with discussion (6:15 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.). Presenters: 3/17 Jane Burke (Ch. 10-13); 3/24 Macauley Lord (candlelight reflection). Our Lenten book selection is Crazy Christians: A Call to Follow Jesus, by Michael Curry, the Episcopal Bishop of North Carolina. This is a book about “radical discipleship.”
Holy Week, March 30-April 5
Palm Sunday, March 29
The congregation meets in the Great Hall for Liturgy of Palm Sunday the Palms. Indoor palm procession is led into the Nave.
The Family Eucharist congregation meets in the Great Hall for palm procession and worship in front of the burial tomb of Jesus.
The congregation meets St. Paul’s Choir and Junior Choir in the Great Hall for sung Liturgy of the Palms. Weather permitting, procession is led outside around Union Street into the front door on Pleasant Street. No Church School.
7:30 a.m. Daily Morning Prayer, Church transept
Noon Holy Eucharist, The Great Hall
Foot Washing, The Last Supper, The Stripping of the Altar, Meditation in the Garden of Repose
The Way of the Cross, a devotion around the block
Good Friday Liturgy
Remembering the time of Jesus’ death.
Church doors close.
with kindling of new fire of the Resurrection and readings of our Salvation History. Be sure to bring bells and noise makers!
Celebration of Easter, Holy Eucharist with choir.
Celebration of Easter, Holy Eucharist with music
& children’s procession. Meet in the Great Hall at 10:15. No Church School.