Table Rock Talk January 2016

The Newsletter of Lawrencefield Parish Church

Praying with the Saints

Workbook project on spirituality continues in Lent

Christmas saw the completion of the first stage of the rector’s doctoral study to see if coaching in spiritual discipline increases awareness of baptismal vocation.

Ten members of the Lawrencefield family participated in a program called Friends of St. Lawrence during the four weeks of Advent. Participants practiced daily workbook-guided prayer and met together weekly. Themes explored were “Abiding in Love,” “God’s Presence in You,” “Where are you, God?” and “God is Moving in You.”

After a hiatus of Epiphany Season, the program will resume during Lent. This time the emphasis will be on Praying with the Saints, experimenting with different time-honored forms of prayer from the Church tradition. Participants will draw on the wisdom of such authorities as St. Benedict of Nursia, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Francis DeSales, and Evelyn Underhill. The spiritual exercises are simple and need only take five minutes a day.

It is hoped that members from the Advent group will form the core of the Lent group, but new members will be accepted as openings occur. Those interested are warmly invited to see the rector.

Lent Chapter Meetings (9am Sunday mornings)
  • February 7 (Organizational meeting)
  • February 14, 21, 28
  • March 6, 13

Offering goes online

Donations now accepted on LPC website

Lawrencefield is pleased to announce that we have partnered with myEoffering in order to provide donors with the convenience of online contribution. Online contribution refers to a process much like online bill pay, whereby donors opt to have their financial contributions to the church withdrawn directly from their credit, debit, checking, or savings account in lieu of bringing cash or paper checks each Sunday.

The vestry researched several alternatives for online giving, taking into consideration both costs and security, and are satisfied that myEoffering, a family-owned company that specializes in serving churches, offers the best alternative for Lawrencefield.

Participants.may set up one-time or recurring donations to be automatically debited from checking or savings accounts, or charge their credit cards. A small fee of 30 cents per transaction may be conveniently added to each donation to defray processing costs. To register, click the button below!

Donate

Diocesan Loan balances dips below $1,000!

In response to September’s appeal to pay off our diocesan loan, contributions have been received that reduce our balance owed to $861.70. This interest-free loan, for a total of $10,000 was taken out in 2013, and financed our sound system, TV and video player, microwave, nursery flooring, Red Sea Mural, narthex and Sunday school furniture, and Welcome signs. Please help “zero out” this loan by making donations in any amount to Lawrencefield Parish Church with “Loan payback” on the memo line.

The Rector's Study The Rev. Cynthia Byers Walter

Remember your baptism

One of my seminary classmates is now Dean of the Episcopal Cathedral in Burlington, Vermont. Her name is (The Rev.) Jeanne Finan, and she’s written a book called Remember Your Baptism. I confess I have not yet read this book, but it presents a thought-provoking concept I thought I’d pursue in this column. This theme seems especially appropriate in January, when we commemorate the Baptism of Our Lord on the First Sunday of Epiphany, January 10.

Remembering our baptism is not going to be easy, or even possible, for those of us who were baptized as infants. But what my friend Jeanne means, of course, is to remember what it means to be a baptized person.

Baptism is central to Christian life. As liturgist Fletcher Lowe says, “Baptism is the base sacrament which gives identity to the Christian and undergirds all s/he is and does. It is not only a single event but an all pervasive and life long process.”

Like all sacraments, baptism has several layers of meaning. In his book Images of Baptism, Maxwell E. Johnson explores four: Baptism as participation in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ; baptism as new birth and adoption by water and the Holy Spirit; baptism as the sacrament and seal of the Holy Spirit; and baptism as incorporation into the Body of Christ. All four of these are referenced in the baptism liturgy.

Like all sacraments, baptism is a vehicle for supernatural grace, but it is not purely spiritual or conceptual. Baptism is profoundly incarnational: an embodied state. The fact that baptism is a physical event reminds us that our faith, like the Son of God, needs to be made flesh.

Not only is baptism central in the life of the baptized, it is also central to the Christian community locally and collectively. Baptism is the basis for our corporate life as Christians. It is for this reason that the Episcopal Church, among others, has come to discourage private baptisms. Indeed, although baptism is known as “initiation” into the church, “incorporation” is a much better word. In baptism, one becomes part of a larger body, not simply a member of an organization or even a fraternity.

The strongest argument for this is the biblical model of the church community as the very Body of Christ, as famously described by St. Paul in I Corinthians 12:12-14: “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many.”

For various cultural reasons, baptism has not held the preeminence in Christian life that it deserves. Without an intentional effort on the part of the church to refocus on baptism, modern Christians do not fully grasp the baptismal foundations of their liturgical and ethical lives.

For this reason, as part of my doctoral study I developed a curriculum for exploring what it means to be a baptized person. The program is especially geared toward people who were baptized as infants. The Wheeling Cluster of Episcopal Churches has graciously accepted my offer to present this curriculum as this year’s Lenten Study. I want to invite everyone to consider participating in this series, which takes place at St. Matthew’s every Wednesday during Lent beginning February 17, and which I have titled Retracing the Wet Footprints.

My intent is to restore baptism to its rightful place at the center of our Christian consciousness. During the course of the series, we will identify the marks of baptism. We can then examine our life stories to recognize the evidence of baptismal themes in our lives. In this way, even if we don’t remember our own baptism, we will learn to recognize the signs that we are baptized persons. We will come, God willing, to not only a fuller understanding of what baptism is in the abstract, but to the whole-hearted embrace of something that was done to us when we were too young to have a say in the matter. The course will be of particular interest, I think, to those who have participated in the Friends of St. Lawrence, but of course it is open to all.

I hope you will prayerfully consider retracing the wet footprints of your baptism with me!

Vestry Vibes

Summary of the December 20 Vestry Meeting:

Vestry Declarations

required by church canon have been signed by new vestry members Karen Dalby and Jaci Neer.

Election of 2016 Officers

Barb Hinkle, Michelle Beihl and Tom Farnsworth were elected to continue as Senior Warden, Secretary and Treasurer respectively. Dave Duymich was elected Junior Warden.

Rector’s Study Chairs

Reupholstering has begun.

Undercroft carpet

This project is suspended until the leakage problem near the elevator can be addressed. Savage Construction has submitted a bid to excavate and diagnose the problem for $6,464. Because no action is possible until spring anyway, the vestry decided to take no action at present, and allow Dave and Scott Duymich to try to diagnose the problem aided with an underground camera that Shawn Martin is able to lend.

MyEOffering is up and running.

Online donations are now being accepted. The system seems to be working well.

Surrounding Neighborhoods

The vestry was invited to give some thought to the idea of inviting people in the new Glenview subdivision to Lawrencefield. We will discuss this in January.

Christmas Kids Gifts

for twenty children were collected and distributed to the House of the Carpenter early in December.

Cats Meow Christmas

orders are wrapping up. Michelle Beihl will submit a bill soon. A preliminary report suggest this fundraiser netted over $400 in income. Another order may be prepared in the spring.

Stewardship Committee

will meet in January.

Minutes

for both October and November were approved.

Treasurer

In Tom’s absence, the rector reported that, as expected and hoped, income rebounded at the end of the year, helped by altar flower and Cats Meow orders and end-of-year donations. No further transfers from the endowment will be necessary in 2015.

Adult Education

The Advent round of Friends of St. Lawrence wrapped up today and appears to have been well-received. The Lenten series will commence the Sunday after Ash Wednesday, February 14, with an organizational meeting February 7. Current participants are invited to continue. New members will be accepted as openings occur. The Cluster Lent series that takes place at St. Matthew’s will this year be a series on baptism taught by Rector Cynthia Walter.