Table Rock Talk March 2014

The Newsletter of Lawrencefield Parish Church

A special use of “Hallelujah”

Wednesday Lenten Study Series explores Handel’s Messiah

Ordinarily, the use of the triumphal word “hallelujah” is banished from our worship services during the penitential season of Lent. However we will be allowing a limited use this year. The curriculum that has been selected for this year’s Wheeling Cluster Lenten Study Series is called Hallelujah: The Bible and Handel’s Messiah.

Messiah has three sections: an Advent section, a Lenten Section, and an Easter Section. All of the texts of Messiah are taken from the Bible, from several different books. We will be looking at the texts (and the music Handel wrote for them) from the Lenten Section. It may come as a surprise that many of the Lenten texts are from the Old Testament. One of the things we will talk about is how these texts which predate Jesus by many generations relate to the person we know as the Christ.

Date Host Title Presented By
March 12 Lawrencefield Behold the Lamb Rev. Cynthia Byers Walter
March 19 St. Matthew’s He Trusted in God Rev. Mark E. Seitz
March 26 St. Matthew’s Who is this King of Glory Rev. Richard L. Skaggs
April 2 Trinity I Know that My Redeemer Liveth Rev. Bruce Bevans
April 9 St. Luke’s Worthy is The Lamb Rev. Theresa Kelley

Each session will be hosted by one congregation and will begin with a light supper at 6:00 p.m. The host congregation will be offering soup and beverage. Participants may bring their own sandwich to supplement. Supper will be from 6:00 - 6:30 and the program from 6:30 to 7:30.

Lawrencefield by the numbers

Highlights from the Annual Parochial Report

Each year, every parish in the Episcopal Church is required to compile a report of statistics relating to attendance, worship and finances. The Canons (or bylaws) of the greater church require this. The reports are submitted to TEC (The Episcopal Church) headquarters in New York, where trends are noted and followed. They are also submitted to our Diocesan Office in Charleston. Financial figures are used there to compute the “Missionary Apportionment,” the amount that each parish is assessed to fund diocesan and church-wide programs and administration.

Here are some highlights from the 2013 report: We gained 7 members but lost 6 (by death, transfer to another congregation or removal to inactive status), so our number of “Total Active Members” increased by 1, to 133. Of these 126 are “Communicants in good standing,” meaning that they have “received Holy Communion at least three times during the preceding year,” and are faithful “in working, praying and giving for the spread of the Kingdom of God.” Of these, 21 are under the age of 16.

Last year we had 99 Sunday Eucharists and 44 “Private Eucharists,” which refers primarily to when the rector takes communion to shut-ins. There were 3 marriages, 2 burials and 2 baptisms.

Our Operating revenues, including $16,100 transferred from our endowment funds, totaled $161,922; our operating expenses $165,499. Over the course of the year $63,349 was added to the endowment through bequests.

The Rector's Study

The beauty of holiness           The Rev. Cynthia Byers Walter

For me, God and beauty are very closely related concepts. Of course, I tend to define beauty rather broadly.

There is, obviously natural beauty. I’ve always loved mountains and forests and rivers and ocean views. I remember the first time I came up to Lawrencefield, took a look around at the 360-degree views and thought, “Wow, this really is ‘almost heaven.’” Watching the sun rise or set up here is a marvelous thing, as is gazing up at a star-filled night sky. Truly, “the heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1.)

Then there are human-made objects of beauty, that draw one’s thought heavenward. The biblical works of Rembrandt van Rijn seem particularly holy to me. You may recall Rembrandt’s Presentation in the Temple which I shared with the congregation on Candlemas.

Not all holy artwork is produced by “big names” however. I remember walking into the Academia in Florence, Italy, where the first gallery is packed with sculpture and altarpieces by little-known artists. Surrounded by such an expression of religious devotion I nearly fell to my knees, overcome by all the beauty.

Architecture is perhaps uniquely suited to draw one upwards. The great cathedrals do this literally, with their soaring ceilings. But the plain elegance of Lawrencefield’s interior has this effect too. There is something here of peace, order, spaciousness and timelessness.

Music, too, lifts one out of oneself. I have been left in tears by performances of opera, and also by Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. We are fortunate here at Lawrencefield to have an accomplished musician in organist Martin McDonald, whose performances and accompaniments are sublime.

In the Episcopal Church, we are particularly blessed by the beauty of words. Our Prayer Book is a masterpiece, combining portions of the Bible with some of the noblest language ever to come from the pen of a human being. Our hymnbook too is filled with poetry that combines theological fineness with graceful wording. That is one reason I encourage people who choose not to sing along with the hymns to at least open the Hymnal and read the words. They really do make the liturgy flower.

Finally there is the beauty of human relationship: “all that is gracious in the lives of men and women,” in the words of the Prayer Book. Acts of love and generosity are always beautiful, and reflect God better than anything I have described so far. Humans are sometimes at their most beautiful when the ambient situation is least beautiful: the chaplain who passes the life ring to another sailor as their ship goes down; the men and women who took the warm coats off their own backs for a cold child on a park bench; the soldier who throws himself on a live grenade to save civilians…. Christ on the cross.

Lent, the season we now enter, is supposed to be a serious time. We strip our liturgy of “alleluias;” our altar is bare of flowers. But this is no time to eschew beauty. Indeed, the “beauty of holiness” is ours at this time as much as any other.

If favored foods or activities are given up this Lent, let it be because we seek things of deeper and holier beauty.

Vestry Vibes

Summary of the February 16 Vestry Meeting:

  • Loan – Rev. Walter reviewed the loan expenditures.
  • Rev. Walter's Sabbatical – Rev. Walter asked for a volunteer to be “point person” for the first stage of her sabbatical for four weeks in June and July, answering phone messages and polling the vestry by email if decisions need to be made in her absence. Dave Duymich volunteered and will so serve. Rev. Walter will seek supply clergy coverage for the Sundays she is away.
  • Annual Parochial Report as prepared by the rector was circulated and received vestry certification. It will be submitted to The Episcopal Church headquarters in New York and to the Diocese of West Virginia as required by canon.
  • Senior Warden – No report.
  • Junior Warden – No report.
  • Stewardship – The Stewardship Committee will meet April 3.
  • Budget Committee – will meet this coming week.
  • Soup Kitchen – Volunteers are needed for the March and April soup kitchen.
  • Church Apparel – The last T-shirts have been sold.
  • Financial Report and Minutes were received and approved.
  • Coming Events – Lent and Holy Week worship schedules were reviewed. The Easter Vigil will continue to be held at Lawrencefield though no longer officially supported by the Wheeling Cluster.
    Rev. Walter reported that there will be a diocesan Acolyte Festival in Morgantown on April 5. She will see that all of our acolytes are notified and see if we can take a carload that she will chaperone.
    Since the third Sunday of the month, usually the day designated for vestry meetings, falls on Easter Day in April, the Vestry voted to hold the April Vestry meeting on the fourth Sunday, April 27.
    Tuesday, March 4, 2014, Lawrencefield will have a 6:00 p.m. Shrove Tuesday service and a Mardi Gras supper to follow the service.
    Wednesday, March 12, 2014, Lawrencefield will host and Rev. Walter will present at the first Cluster Lenten class at St. Matthews.