Table Rock Talk July 2017

The Newsletter of Lawrencefield Parish Church

The great choir robe project

Organization underway!

A team consisting of the Rector, Junior Warden (and Altar Server) Scott Duymich and Sunday School Superintendent Jennifer Duymich is taking on robing room chaos. This is an attempt to solve the increasing problem, reported by a number of adult Altar Servers and Youth Acolytes, of locating one’s personal robe on assigned Sundays.

Scott and Jennifer have devised an organizational system consisting of numbered slots in which robe hangers may be hung. Each Server and Acolyte will be assigned a number, and asked to return their robe to the corresponding slot after each use. The slotted device, invented and manufactured by Scott, has the added advantage of supporting the upper shelf in the robe closet, which had begun to sag.

Servers and parents of Acolytes are asked to take their robes home after their next assignment (or before) for laundering, and if necessary, repair. Cassocks and cottas are machine washable, but it would be advisable to wash them with like colors (the cassock with your dark clothes and the cotta with your light clothes.) When you return your robes, make sure the hangers are clearly labelled with your name. After this, you will be assigned a number where your robe will always hang. If you remove only your own robe and always return it to your assigned slot, everyone’s robe should always be easy to find.

On their assigned Sundays, Servers will be asked to assist the Acolytes serving that day in locating their robes and returning them to the proper slot. Some of our Acolytes cannot reach the rack, and many of them need encouragement in returning their robes in an orderly fashion.

Robes that were already been clearly labelled with names of current Servers have been returned to the robing closet. Unlabeled robes are now hanging on the rack near the downstairs Men’s Room. If you cannot find your robe in the closet on your assigned Sunday, check the downstairs rack. If you cannot find it there, ask for assistance. And after church that day, be sure to take your robe home for laundering and labelling.

The new system will take a few weeks to settle in, possibly as long as a typical Altar Rota rotation (about two months.) In the meantime, Servers and Acolytes are asked to have patience and help each other.

Rummage accepted

Sale scheduled for August 5

Lawrencefield’s second annual Rummage Sale will be held on the first Saturday in August. Please bring gently used articles to church any time before then. If you need help in transporting items, please notify the church office. For more information please call Eleanor White, Michelle Beihl or the church office.

Confirmation and Reception

Bishop Klusmeyer will visit Lawrencefield in December. Anyone wishing to be confirmed or received into the Episcopal Church at that time should speak to the Rector. Confirmation is for those baptized as children who wish to make a mature affirmation of their baptismal vows. Reception is for those previously confirmed in another denomination who wish to formally join the Episcopal Church.

The Rector’s Study The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Byers Walter

Truth, authenticity and love: these three

I recently preached a sermon suggesting a three-fold approach to Bible study, suggesting that when reading the Bible for devotional purposes (especially those pesky, hard-to-understand bits), one ask oneself three questions:

  1. What is the underlying or universal truth here?
  2. How can I respond authentically to this passage?
  3. In light of these things, what way does love lie? (In other words, what are the practical implications of this passage for me personally as a Christian?)

I actually arrived at this formula from contemplating a three-fold Rule of Life while on retreat last month. Typically, prayer time on retreat is rich and productive for me. Near the beginning of this last retreat, a rule of life emerged in my consciousness, which was such a good rule of life for the duration of the retreat that I am going to try it out as a rule of life in my everyday life. This rule of life has three parts:

Seek truth. Be authentic Love.

One possible application of this rule of life addresses a friendly comment I received after my Trinity Sunday sermon. The comment was that I did not, in that sermon, speak sufficiently about the Trinity in such a way as to increase understanding of this difficult concept. The Trinity of course is the Christian description of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit: one God in three persons. In this column I’d like to rectify that situation by suggesting that my Trinitarian rule of life formula is a way of understanding the Trinitarian God.

Truth, like God, is indivisible, but universal truth, particular truth and love are all part of it. God is truth. God the Father may be understood as universal truth: unchanging, unchangeable, the first cause, the creator, the transcendent.

We can conceptualize universal truth but never know it well. It’s too vast. We must approach ultimate truth through particular truth, incarnate truth, immanent truth, truth that is meaningful and authentic to each of us and engages us personally. God the Son is this particular truth. Jesus of Nazareth represents this particular truth by being born a male Jew in a particular time and place. This particular truth is indivisible from ultimate truth, but whereas universal truth leaves us awestruck, personal truth invites a personal, authentic response.

Authenticity is always a part of this response, and different people authentically have different responses. Some people relate to God through nature while some relate to God through works of art and some through praise music, but these approaches are not authentic for everyone. We Episcopalians find authenticity in the dignified cadences of the Prayer Book, but this too is not true for everyone. We must respond to God authentically.

It may seem that universal truth and particular truth are all you need to define truth: God the transcendent, who rules the universe, and God the immanent, who acts in the lives of individual human beings. But without love the pursuits of truth and authenticity are at best an exercise in self-improvement and at worst a clanging gong or crashing cymbal, with a huge potential for annoying people while accomplishing nothing.

Throughout history, some branches of the church have emphasized ultimate truth while ignoring personal authenticity, requiring conformity in religious response at the expense of genuine conversion and individual transformation. Meanwhile, other branches have put such emphasis on a particular form of authenticity, say, speaking in tongues, that they have assumed this one thing, which is true and authentic for some, is universal truth. Both of these responses lack the necessary third element, the Holy Spirit, which we experience as the love which unites the transcendent with the immanent, the ultimate with the authentic, the universal with the personal. The Holy Spirit connects human to human and human to God, and truth and authenticity alike are not worth much, in the Christian context, without this connection.

No model of understanding the Trinity is perfect. Each one, if taken too far, will take a person into heresy. But the model I here offer is as least as good as the “three states of water,” or “individual notes in a single chord,” or “creator, redeemer and sanctifier,” and it avoids some of the pitfalls inherent in each of those models. Nevertheless, I hold this model lightly and caution you to do the same. But if it is helpful, consider that truth, authenticity and love as being sort-of, approximately, inadequately but perhaps sometimes usefully, what the Trinity is about.

Vestry Vibes

Summary of recent developments:

Lacking a quorum, the Vestry did not meet formally in June, but the following matters were disseminated by email. Email approval of June’s minutes and financial report are pending.

Stewardship Recent cash-flow issues have been temporarily alleviated by a timely donation of considerable generosity. For the time, we are comfortably solvent. The Stewardship Committee decided nevertheless to send out our usual summer letter asking that parishioners endeavor to keep their giving current through the summer months and to keep the importance of consistent giving before the congregation.

Rector’s vacation plans The rector completed her annual summer retreat but still has not firmed up summer vacation. This is likely to be two weeks late in August. Supply coverage will be sought from Bp. Dunkin, who has served Lawrencefield in the past. The rector will also likely miss some time in September when her third grandchild arrives.

Audit Mary Frohme has assembled an Audit Committee and will shortly complete the required audit of the 2016 books.

Bishop’s visitation Bishop Klusmeyer is scheduled to visit Lawrencefield on December 3 (Advent 1.) There are two known young people age-eligible for confirmation. The rector will contact their parents to arrange classes.

Financial report Because of recent donations, our balance is currently quite healthy. Also, even with the transfer of $16K YTD from the General Endowment, that fund is still performing well. We are $8,767 ahead for the year.