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Soon we celebrate Palm/Passion Sunday. For many years I have felt the juxtaposition of waving Palms and singing All Glory Laud and Honor to welcome King Jesus in our midst to joining the crowd in yelling “Crucify, crucify him,” just a few minutes later to be incredibly jarring.
There is great debate about the appropriateness of commemorating both Jesus’ celebratory procession into Jerusalem and his crucifixion on the same day, even within the same hour-and-a-half. Apparently, leading up the 1979 Prayer Book revision there was great controversy about combining the two, but the pragmatists won out with their argument that many people are unable to attend church on Good Friday when the passion narrative is always read.
While I’m not sure which “side” I would have been on in that debate, I have experienced spiritual growth from this discomfiting juxtaposition of celebration and condemnation. Here are three of my insights – I’d enjoy hearing about yours, too.
- Humanity’s fickleness is on full display. While we might aim for consistency, we are so vulnerable to being swayed by those with more worldly power and authority than we do. I feel a renewed commitment to practices that keep me “rooted and grounded in love,”(Eph 3:17) so that my “yes might be yes and my no, no” (Matthew 5:37).
- The reality that change, sometimes swift change often beyond our control and not to our liking, is an unavoidable aspect of being human. Many of us have experienced moments where the world is turned upside down in a flash, and we can never go back to “how it used to be.” Instead of resisting this reality or holding onto bitterness and unproductive forms of nostalgia, Palm/Passion Sunday helps to “norm” the reality of change in my life.
- I feel closer to Jesus. Jesus knew that his ride into Jerusalem, amid the waving olive branches, palms, upon the cloaks laid out like red carpet, amid the joyful and desperate cries of Hosanna, was also a ride toward his execution. But I trust he also knew that a true victory over death lay on the other side of the cross. I am reminded to keep a wide-angle lens on the joys and sufferings in my life, knowing that one day I will join St. Paul and the prophet Isaiah before him in singing: “Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
As we prepare to enter into the holiest of weeks, I bid you to join the St. Peter’s community as we journey liturgically and spiritually with our Lord through the place of death toward the joy of the resurrection.
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Holy Week at St. Peter’s: Holy Week is a time to experience in a full way what we proclaim each week when we come together for the Eucharist or Morning Prayer. We experience the truth of the Christian Way, not only through studying it or hearing about it, but by participating in it.
- Morning Prayer, Holy Monday-Maundy Thursday, 8:00 a.m. until 8:30 a.m., offers a contemplative way to start the day. Lay ministers officiate this service of The Daily Office throughout the year.
- Palm and Passion Sunday, March 20, recreates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and includes offerings of the Passion narrative according to Luke.
- The Maundy Thursday liturgy at 7:00 p.m. invites us to consider the command of the Last Supper, and includes foot-washing; the stripping, washing, and anointing of the altar; and procession of the Blessed Sacrament to the Chapel for an All Night Prayer Vigil, in the context of rich music.
- All Night Prayer Vigil follows the Maundy Thursday liturgy through 7:30 a.m. on Good Friday, when all are invited to respond to Jesus’ request to the disciples to “remain here, and stay awake with me.” Sign up to participate and/or submit prayers at the Holy Week at St. Peter’s sign in the Parish House Lobby on Sunday, March 20 or online.
- Good Friday Liturgy begins with 7:30 a.m. prayers and Communion from the Reserved Sacrament in the Chapel. Later, our annual Solemn Liturgy from Noon until 3:00 p.m. includes organ and choral music, the Passion narrative, silence, meditations by The Reverends Paul Hanneman, Keith C. Lane, Ollie V. Rencher, and Joslyn Ogden Schaefer, and the Procession and Veneration of the Cross. At 4:00 p.m., Stations of the Cross for all ages commemorate Jesus’ last hours, including those who witnessed Jesus’ suffering.
- The Great Vigil of Easter at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday is the culmination of Lent and the initiation of Eastertide, beginning with lighting the first fire of Easter in front of the church. This liturgy unites many opposites: the struggle between dark and light, cross and resurrection, death and eternal life.
- The Sunday of The Resurrection: Easter Day offers the Holy Eucharist at 7:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., and 5:00 p.m. Historically, the 11:00 a.m. liturgy has the highest attendance because of an increase in visitors; you may wish to attend one of the other liturgies of the day or the Easter Vigil on Saturday.
Incense (hypoallergenic) will be used at the following services: Palm Sunday, 10:45 a.m.; Maundy Thursday, 7:00 p.m.; Holy Saturday, The Great Vigil, 7:00 p.m.; and on Easter, 11:00 a.m.
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Make a Joyful Noise: We hope you will attend the Easter Vigil on Saturday, March 26, at 7:00 p.m. As part of that service, we remember and re-enact the moment of Christ’s resurrection by ringing bells and the “paschal shout.” Please bring a bell or noisemaker with you. We also have the privilege of welcoming three new Christians into the household of God through baptism. This will be a sacred night for all who attend.
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Discovering St. Peter’s: Whether you are very new to St. Peter’s or simply interested in refreshing or deepening your understanding of what it means to be part of the St. Peter’s family, you are welcome to participate in this two-session overview of life at St. Peter’s on Sundays, April 17 and 24, 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. The April 17 session will explore the distinctly Anglican emphases found in the Christian faith. On April 24, our focus will be on how this faith is expressed at St. Peter’s through our various ministries, leadership structure, and liturgies. Both sessions are in the Parlor and will be co-facilitated by clergy and lay-leadership To sign up, please email the Reverend Joslyn Ogden Schaefer (jschaefer@st–peters.org).
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Parking News: You may notice some changes the next time you park in the TransAmerica parking garage across the street from St. Peter’s. The good news is that the changes actually provide more options and flexibility for events at the church. Our parishioners and visitors are now welcome to park throughout the garage on floors P1 or P2. Parish clergy and staff have assigned spots on P2 as part of our partnership with Bank of America. Note: Although the garage sign may occasionally report “full” on regular workdays, the regular number of St. Peter’s spots should still be available.
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Schedule Changes: The following regularly-scheduled activities will not occur during Holy Week or the week following Easter:
- No Formation classes on Easter Day, resuming Sunday, April 3.
- No Kerygma Bible Study on Monday, March 28, resuming Monday, April 4.
- 8:00 a.m. Morning Prayer will be cancelled on Friday, March 25, and throughout the week following Easter, resuming Monday, April 4.
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20s and 30s Discussion Group: St. Peter’s 20s and 30s Fellowship will join others in the Parish House Lobby for conversatiaon with the clergy and fellow parishioners.
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Holy Chow: Hours forHoly Chow will be extended to 10:00 a.m. on Palm Sunday. It will not be offered on Easter and will resume on Sunday, April 3, from 8:30 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. in the Community Room on the second floor of the Parish House.
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Holy Week eNews: To give you every opportunity to participate fully in the events of Holy Week at St. Peter’s, you will receive your eNews next week on Monday, March 21. The following week, although the Parish Offices will be closed, the eNews will resume the regular schedule of being released on Wednesday, March 30.
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Good Friday Offering: Offerings are invited from across The Episcopal Church to support the four dioceses of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East to promote peace and mutual understanding. Checks payable to the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, with “Good Friday Offering” in the memo line, can be mailed to: DFMS – Protestant Episcopal Church US, P.O. Box 958983, St. Louis, MO 63195-8983. More details are available online.
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Guest Preacher on April 3: The Reverend Rhonda Mawhood Lee, PhD, Diocesan Canon for Regional Ministry will preach at the 8:00 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. liturgies.
A spiritual director formed in the Ignatian tradition, Canon Lee supports diocesan congregations and clergy in discernment processes, mutual ministry reviews, leadership transitions and conflict management. She is particularly interested in intentional communities, ministries of presence and accompaniment, and intercultural ministries, which can take many forms—most of which, she suspects, we haven’t yet imagined. Canon Lee grew up bilingual and bicultural (English and French) outside Montreal, Quebec. She has lived in North Carolina since 1992, except for a six-year sojourn in Louisville, Kentucky, where she was ordained; holds a doctorate in U.S. history from Duke University; and is the author of occasional essays and two books: Through With Kings and Armies: The Marriage of George and Jean Edwards and, with Craig Werner, Love and Happiness: Eros According to Dante, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and The Reverend Al Green. A student of non-violence married to a military historian, Canon Lee and her husband, Wayne E. Lee, never lack material for conversation.
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Eastertide Parish Book Study: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nahesi Coates, a 2015 McArthur Foundation Fellow and national correspondent for the Atlantic magazine, has contributed to constructive engagement and dialogue on topics such as systemic racism, inequality and the persistence of racial injustice. The book will be introduced at the April 3 Parish Hall Forum by Chuck Wynder, Social Justice Missioner of The Episcopal Church. In April and May, several opportunities for meaningful discussion will be offered.
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This Week’s Formation Hour: All are invited to enjoy informal conversation over coffee and pastries in the Parish House Lobby on Palm and Passion Sunday, March 20, 9:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m. The only agenda is to get to know your fellow pilgrims better as we enter the holiest of weeks in the Christian year.
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Sunday Evenings at St. Peter’s: This week’s 5:00 p.m. service is a Service of Light and the Holy Eucharist in the manner of Taizé, a monastic community in France founded in 1949 and devoted to prayer and reconciliation within the church and the human family. In addition to contemplative song, prayer, candle-lighting, touching blessed water, times of silence, and the Holy Eucharist, this week’s service will include recognition of Palm and Passion Sunday and a reading of the Passion narrative.
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Hope and Grief: This four-week program is open to anyone who have experienced a loss of any kind and are seeking solace and sustenance for the journey of healing. Hope and Grief will be held on Thursdays, April 7, 14, 21 and 28, with both morning and evening hours. At Holy Comforter Episcopal Church on Park Road, sessions will be 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. At St. Peter’s, sessions will be 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. This is an effort of Holy Comforter, Avondale Presbyterian, First Presbyterian, and Saint Peter’s. Members of all congregations as well as the wider community are invited to attend. Contact the Reverend Joslyn Ogden Schaefer (email@example.com) with questions or to sign up.
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Center City Concert: Lake Norman Choral Artists with the North Carolina Baroque Orchestra Chamber Players will be the featured artists at this free concert at noon on Monday, March 21. The Lake Norman Choral Artists will perform a program of Bach cantatas and Brandenburg concertos, accompanied by the Chamber Players on period instruments, including harpsichord, theorbo, recorder, and baroque flutes. This vibrant vocal chamber ensemble of experienced professionals specializes in classic choral repertoire.
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High Sunday Brunch: Make reservations today for the Second Sunday of Easter, April 3, now commonly called High Sunday here at St. Peter’s. The annual fare for our brunch is shrimp and grits, quiche, and breakfast casserole with sides of asparagus, fresh fruit and biscuits. There will also be a dessert table, child-friendly foods, tea, lemonade and coffee, accompanied by live music. Spread the word about this wonderful occasion for the parish family to gather in the Parish Hall for a festive meal in celebration of Easter. Pre-paid reservations are required and may be paid online through March 31, or at the Receptionist Desk no later than Sunday, March 27. Tickets are $10 for adults and youth 13 and older, $5 for children 6-12, with a family cap of $35.00. Ticket prices will be slightly higher the day of the event.
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Easter Potluck Lunch— Celebrate Easter with the 20s and 30s at the home of Marion and Cooper Morrison after the 10:45 a.m. liturgey on Easter Day. RSVP firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Volunteers Needed: Reception desk volunteers to work either a morning or afternoon shift one day a week at St. Peter’s are needed. Volunteers answer phones, assist visitors and provide help with various projects. Interested in learning more? Contact Parish Administrator Leigh Dixon (email@example.com).
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Children’s Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and Youth Journey to Adulthood: Weekly offerings are available for children and youth, infants through high school, 9:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m. at various places throughout the Parish House.
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St. Patrick’s Day Fellowship in the Lawn: Join others from St. Peter’s when we gather for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday, March 19. The parade is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.
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Diocese of N.C. Bishop Search: The Nominating Committee for the Bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina offers two opportunities for input into the process: a survey and listening sessions in the Charlotte area.
A survey will be available in a special edition of the online communication Please Note on March 21. In addition, copies of the survey will be available on the Information Table in the Parish House Lobby on Easter. In addition, two listening sessions will be offered for members of the Nominating Committee to hear what people in the Charlotte Convention are hoping for in our new bishop: April 5 at 7:00 p.m. at Holy Comforter, and April 7 at 7:00 p.m. at St. Luke’s in Salisbury.
The Nominating Committee also asks for prayers for this process, offering the following Prayer for the Bishop Search: Most gracious God, who gave your only Son to be our Good Shepherd: Look favorably upon your Church, and guide the hearts and minds of those who shall choose a bishop to be a pastor to this Diocese, that we may receive a faithful leader, who will go with us out in the world, making disciples who make a difference; and nurture in your servants who wrestle with this call a spirit of wisdom and confidence, joy and humility; through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
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Diocese Bicentennial History Day Events: The Bicentennial Planning Committee of the three Episcopal dioceses in North Carolina invite you to History Day 2016 on Saturday, April 9, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Gastonia. Entitled Hearts, Homes and the Holy Spirit: Mission & Ministry in North Carolina Mill Villages, 1890 – 1940, this event will feature keynote speaker Dr. Mary Sudman Donovan, historian and author of A Different Call: Women’s Ministries in the Episcopal Church, 1850-1920; a panel presentation; exhibits and tours of the Gaston County Museum and the recently restored Loray Mill. An optional Friday evening event at Chapel of Christ the King in Charlotte will highlight the history of this former mill mission, and conclude with dinner at a local restaurant. For registration and program details visit the Diocese website . History Day 2016 is the last in an annual series leading up to the statewide celebration of the Bicentennial of the Diocese of North Carolina next April 22, 2017, at Christ Church, New Bern, in the Diocese of East Carolina.
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Scholarship Applications: Women who are 23 years of age or older may apply for scholarship funds from the Episcopal Church Women of the Diocese of North Carolina to pay for specialized training in vocational or technical skills, or for a degree or certificate below the masters or doctorate level. The scholarship program provides educational opportunities for women who have been out of the work force for a period of time or who need to upgrade their skills or education to advance career opportunities. Complete details and applications can be downloaded from the ECW website. The deadline to apply is March 25, 2016.
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Compassionate Conversations: Planning for healthcare at end of life is a gift to our loved ones, but it is so easy to put off those conversations. Hospice and Palliative Care of Charlotte offers two sessions to empower you to make decisions for a secure future.
Compassionate Conversations: It Always Seems Too Early, Until It’s Too Late will be offered on two days, at two locations: Tuesday, March 29, 6:15 p.m. until 8:15 p.m., at the Levine & Dickson Hospice House in Huntersville; and Thursday, March 31, 6:15-8:15 p.m., at the Van Every Learning Resource Center, 6624 Walsh Boulevard. Speakers will be Dr. Robert Smith, Medical Director for Hospice and Palliative Care Charlotte Region, and RN Beth Martin, Senior Director of Palliative Medicine for Hospice and Palliative Care Charlotte Region. Appetizers will be served.
The event is free but please pre-register and indicate which date you plan to attend by contacting Louise Giusto (GiustoL@hpccr.org or 704-335-4320).
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Looking Ahead – Mark Your Calendars
- March 28-April 1: Parish Offices Closed for Clergy and Staff Break
- April 7: Pub Theology
- April 16: Solemn Communion Retreat for Children – 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
- April 17: Discover St. Peter’s Class – 9:30 a.m.
- April 18: Center City Concert at Noon
- April 19: St. Thomas Choir of Men and Boys —7:30 p.m. at First Methodist Church
- April 24: Final Evensong of the Season – 5:00 p.m.