Table Rock Talk February 2015

The Newsletter of Lawrencefield Parish Church

Rock on!

Lenten series uses stony theme to study Jesus' Passion

The annual Lenten Study Series sponsored by the Wheeling Cluster of Episcopal Churches, beginning February 25 and running every Wednesday till Holy Week, is called Impediments to Easter: The Stones of Jesus' Last Week (Luke 19:28-24:53.) This year we welcome again The Rev. Dr. Bonnie Bowman Thurston as presenter. Dr. Thurston, a former professor of New Testament studies, is a poet and spiritual director now living in Wheeling. She introduces the series as follows:

"Impediments" are things that stand between us and what we want to reach or accomplish, our goals. The etymological root of "impediment" is (you guessed it) "stone." This Lent we are invited to read, study and pray through the last week of Jesus' life as recorded by St. Luke (19:28-24:11). To paraphrase a beloved African-American hymn, "Stony the Road He Trod." The "stones" we encounter in the company of Jesus both challenge us and help us to prepare for His Passion and resurrection and the new life they offer.

The series will consist of five Wednesday evening sessions taking place at St. Matthew's, downtown.  Each program 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.  Individual sessions, which will be self-contained, are described below:

Date Description References
Feb. 25 Impediments & Living Stones
Why are we talking about rocks?!? What have they got to do with Lent & Easter? What are my life's foundations?
1 Peter 2:4-8
March 4 Talking Stones & Absolute Destruction
Nobody said Lent would be fun: Life's challenges.
Luke 19: 40; 19: 41 & 21:5-6
March 11 God's Stony Reversals
The rejected are chosen and what looks permanent isn't. Then what?
Luke 20:17, 18
March 18 A Stone's Throw Away
How close are we willing to get to suffering? Preparing for Passion Week
Luke 22:41
March 25 Jesus' Rocks!
Stones and their removal. Tombs and their emptying. The Joy of Easter
Luke 23:52; 24:2 & 1 Peter 2:2-10 (especially 9-10)

Loaves and Fishes

Openings for chefs and servers at St. Luke's Soup Kitchen

As part of the Wheeling Cluster (Local association of Episcopal parishes) Lawrencefield supports the Soup Kitchen at St. Luke's on Wheeling Island. Janine Reddy heads this effort. Currently we need volunteers for February 8 and March 8. Volunteers, usually in teams of 3-6, prepare the meal ahead of time and serve it for lunch on the designated Sunday at St. Luke's. If you can cook but not serve, or serve but not cook, please see Janine and she can match you with complementary volunteers.

The Rector's Study The Rev. Cynthia Byers Walter

Humlty

I apologize for the lameness of the joke. The point is, if you haven't figured it out, that there is no "I" in "humility."

You know that as part of my seminary study I took a course this past term in monastic spirituality. A primary source for this study is the Rule of St. Benedict, written almost 1600 years ago.

After Christianity was legalized and adopted by the Roman Empire in the early 4th Century, many Christians found institutionalized Christianity an inadequate expression of devotion. Some took to the desert to live lives of privation, dedicated wholly to God. Eventually individual hermits banded together for support and Christian monasticism was born. St. Benedict of Nursia wrote his Rule to provide some guidelines for religious communities living together under the leadership of an abbot or abbess. This Rule became a foundational document for much of Western religious life.

The basis of Benedictine monastic life is ora et labora, or prayer and work. Benedict stressed a balanced life of prayer and the work of sustaining the community. Like many of the saints, he wrote extensively about humility. By humility, Benedict said, we ascend the ladder to heaven.

Humility for Benedict consists primarily in continual mindfulness of God, the shunning sinful desires and the doing of God's will. The monk thus exercises humility in obedience to his superior in the monastery. Benedict considers subsequent "degrees" of humility to be patience and perseverance when hard tasks are required, regular confession of sin, and circumspection and gentleness in speech.

There are some aspects of Benedict's description of humility that are hard to take for a non-monastic Christian living in the world today. For example, he speaks of being content with "the meanest and worst of everything," considering oneself the "vilest of men," doing nothing except what is sanctioned by the monastery, refraining from laughter, and looking always at the ground. This seems a bit extreme and possibly unhealthy for most people today. But in throwing out what appears to be medieval self-abasement, I fear Christian practice today gives short shrift to the virtue of humility.

Humility is not a popular concept these days even within the Christian Church, but outside the Church humility is practically unknown. I wonder if one of the subtle effects of living in a culture of advertising and blogging is to strangle any sense within in us that none of us is the center of the universe. The result is a culture grown increasingly competitive, exploitative, distrustful, angry, mean and chronically discontented.

As Christians, I believe we can tap into some of our ancient traditions and endeavor to live, insofar as we are able, humbly with God and with each other. The question is, how can humility be practiced healthily and realistically by the average Christian?

There is no magic bullet for humility, but regular prayer helps. Some people use the "Jesus Prayer," repeated constantly until it comes as naturally as breathing: "Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner." A phrase that is helpful for me (sometimes) is "Not my will but thine be done."

How do you know you're doing humility "right"? Humility brings peace to the soul and increases love of God and neighbor. Which is a worthy effort during Lent, and always.

Vestry Vibes

Summary of the January 18 Vestry Meeting:

Vestry Declarations

Vestry Declarations New Vestry member Tom Farnsworth signed the declaration required by Episcopal Church Canon.

By-laws Amendments

A Bylaws Committee consisting of Vestry Officers will review the Bylaws for any other desirable changes. Any changes will be voted on at the November Annual Congregational Meeting.

Audit Committee

A committee to audit the 2014 accounts will be appointed once the books are officially closed.

Budget Committee

Now that giving cards are in and expenses have been finalized for the year. A Budget Committee will be appointed.

Signers for Checking account

Barb Hinkle, Senior Warden and Michelle Beihl, Secretary will be added as signers for the General Operating Account, and retiring vestry officers Lisa Martin and Fran Schoolcraft will be removed. Junior Warden Scott Duymich and Treasurer Tom Farnsworth will continue as signers. Until the new signature cards are signed and returned, however, the former signers will remain authorized to sign checks.

Lectionary Response

The vestry decided to continue at the 10:00 service to use the alternative form of the lectionary response we have been using since the beginning of Advent, "Hear what the Spirit is saying to God's People." The 8:00 service has returned to the traditional language "The Word of the Lord."

Doctorate update

Rev. Walter advised the vestry of her remaining requirements for her doctoral work. She will have a final three-week residency at the seminary during June-July. She is not sure whether she will be away from Lawrencefield for all three of those Sundays. Following the summer session, she will have two years to complete a ministry project at Lawrencefield related to her studies, and then write her thesis. The process will conceivably be completed by Spring of 2017.

Stewardship

The Stewardship committee will meet soon to make plans for the pre-Easter mailing.

Treasurer's Report

Paper copies of financial reports were not yet available. They will be emailed to vestry members. Treasurer Tom Farnsworth reported that we had a strong finish to 2014.

Pancake Supper

The Pancake Supper will be Shrove Tuesday, February 17.