Table Rock Talk February 2017

The Newsletter of Lawrencefield Parish Church

Lenten series announced

Wheeling Episcopalians will study prophets

The annual Lenten Study Series sponsored by the Wheeling Cluster of Episcopal Churches has been announced. Our study will be based on Wind in the Wilderness: A Lenten Study from the Prophets by D.J. del Rosario. The book is described thus:

Though we cannot see the wind, we know it by its effects and interpret it by its results. The same can be said for the work of the Hebrew prophets, who communicated God’s vision and faithfulness throughout the history of God’s people… Each [session] explores a different prophet, highlighting how God’s Word through them challenged the Israelite people – and us – to live out God’s vision of justice. [Participants] will not merely study prophecies about Jesus, but will explore the continuity between the prophetic emphasis on justice and Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom of God.

Sessions take place at St. Matthew’s, downtown on five successive Wednesday evenings beginning March 8. Each program is hosted by one congregation and begins with a light supper.  Participants may bring their own sandwich to supplement.  Information is forthcoming about when Lawrencefield hosts, offering soup and beverage, and there will be a sign-up in the narthex shortly. Supper will be from 6:00 - 6:30 and the program follows from 6:30 to 7:30. 

Calling all acolytes

Session will train and review

There will be an acolyte training session after the 10:00 service on Sunday, February 26. Any child capable of carrying the large cross and performing the functions of an acolyte with reasonable dignity is eligible. (We usually start them off at about seven years of age.) New acolytes are welcome and current acolytes are strongly encouraged to attend to mentor the younger ones. Please let Rev. Walter know if you will be there!

Nature abhors a vacuum!

Fill empty slots on our sign-ups!

  1. Pancake supper: If we are to have our annual Shrove Tuesday pancake supper on February 28 we need someone to organize it! See Senior Warden Barb Hinkle if you are interested!
  2. Altar flowers: Flower chair Shirley Weaver reports that we have multiple openings for Sunday altar flower donations in 2017. Please see Shirley or call the church office if you can take one of these dates.
  3. Soup Kitchen: Cooks and servers are needed for the Soup Kitchen at St. Luke’s on Wheeling Island on the following dates: April 9 (Palm Sunday), June 11 and July 9 . Volunteers, usually in teams of 3-6, prepare the meal ahead of time and serve it for lunch. If you can cook but not serve, or serve but not cook, please see Soup Kitchen Chair Janine Reddy and she can match you with complementary volunteers.

The Rector’s Study The Rev. Cynthia Byers Walter

Of the Eucharist

If you have taken communion in non-Episcopal churches you are probably aware that there are differences between the way we do things and the way other Christians do them. Generally speaking, the Episcopal communion service has more in common with Roman Catholic communion services than those celebrated in many Protestant churches.

I grew up a Congregationalist, so I am most familiar with the practice there. In the Congregational Church (which eventually merged with the Disciples of Christ and became known as the United Church of Christ) you were not allowed to take communion until you were confirmed, usually your first year of high school.

I don’t remember too much about the liturgy – Congregationalists are not terribly liturgical – but I remember how communion was served. Everybody stayed in their pews and ushers brought the communion to them. The bread was in the form of little cubes of white bread and was served in a basket that was passed down the line. The grape juice (not wine) was served in individual glasses (like a shot glass but much smaller) and each communicant took their own from a special slotted tray designed to be carried by the ushers without the juice sloshing around. There were little holders built into the backs of the pews where you put your glass once you had drained it.

In the Congregational Church of the day, communion was also celebrated much less frequently than Episcopalians generally do today. I seem to remember that it was just four or maybe even just two times a year. Communion was therefore a very special service and quite solemn. Parishioners were alerted several weeks in advance when a communion service was forthcoming, presumably so they could prepare spiritually.

Needless to say, the first time I attended an Episcopal service I was much struck by the differences. But once I go over the “calisthenics” of it all – sitting and standing and kneeling and parading down the aisle -- I began to love it. There are reasons for the peculiar way we do things, and the reasons are full of meaning.

We let children take communion because baptism, not confirmation, represents initiation into the Body of Christ. Confirmation as we have come to know it, as a sort of rite of passage, does not really have a biblical basis. But baptism is full incorporation into the church, so we let children take communion as soon as they express an interest and are capable of treating their communion with respect. It used to be argued that children “don’t understand” communion, but I am convinced children “get it” -- that this is a really, really special gift, and that they are somehow joined to the other people at the rail. Because Eucharist is a mystery – we don’t know exactly how it is possible that Christ is present but we know he is – none of us fully understands communion after all, regardless of our age or theological sophistication. And when children come to the altar rail with their eyes shining with expectation and their hands held out for God, I would not have it in my heart to refuse them!

I think it is really important to get up out of your own seat and process up the aisle to receive communion. A person doing that is making both an effort and a public statement: “I am a Christian. This is something I need.”

There is tremendous symbolism in the sharing of a common cup. You can’t take communion privately. Communion by nature joins you to the rest of the congregation. It also joins you to Christians everywhere, alive and dead. One elderly choir director of my acquaintance, known for her toughness, broke down in tears as she described how when she heard, “with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven,” she knew herself to be taking communion in company with everyone she had ever loved in the church who had gone before.

Now, we do use wafers rather than a common loaf. There are advantages to this. Wafers store well, they don’t crumble, and they don’t require much chewing. But there is a lot to be said for using “real bread.” If enough of you are interested in experimenting with other forms of bread that much better serve the symbolism of actually “breaking bread” together, do let me know.

I do understand the notion of preparing spiritually for communion, but I also feel like I need communion every Sunday. Eucharist is the high point of my week! I love Eucharist and I hope you do too!

Vestry Vibes

Summary of the January 15 Vestry Meeting:

Vestry Declaration New vestry member Scott Duymich signed the required Vestry Declaration.

Trustee election Doug Dalby has been recorded as a Lawrencefield trustee to succeed George Weaver at the Ohio County Courthouse, in accordance with church canon and civil law.

Budget Committee Tom Farnsworth, Jack Wheeler and Ron White were given a copy of a draft budget for 2017 prepared by the rector and asked to present a version at the next vestry meeting that the vestry may vote on.

Personnel Committee Karen Dalby, Barb Hinkle and Jaci Neer were given information on employee compensation, and asked to return at the next meeting with recommendations. The rector requested that if the committee decides to consider any raise in compensation for herself that it be given to her in the form of time off rather than increased salary.

Friends of St. Lawrence II The rector reiterated her invitation to vestry members to take the FSL series this Lent at a time other than Sunday morning. FSL I continues to meet and will discuss the Spirituality of Music at their next gathering.

Annual Report The 2016 Annual Report, prepared by the Rector, was submitted for vestry approval, and will be sent to The Episcopal Church and the Diocese with signatures from the required officers.

Senior Warden’s Report Barb Hinkle reported that a few members of the congregation have expressed concern about long term maintenance issues such as replacement of the roof and the boiler. The vestry decided that Junior Warden Scott Duymich will chair a Long-Term Maintenance Committee consisting of himself, Dave Duymich and Ron White to contact contractors for estimates and expected timeframes. Sue Farnsworth and June Paull have volunteered to help raise funds for these projects once cost and priority have been determined.

Junior Warden’s Report Scott Duymich reported that the stairwell leading down to the undercroft from the office wing was completed. He said that rotted window sills would be addressed.

Minutes and Treasurers Report were accepted and received.