Sunday, April 3 – Fifth Sunday in Lent

A note about continuing Covid protocols. All are welcome to attend in-person services. We no longer need you to preregister, and you will be able to choose your own seat. One side of the church still has some pews blocked off to support people who need to maintain physical distancing. All entry to the building is from the King Street East main doors. Everyone, without exception, must wear masks properly at all times while inside the building.

You can join in worshipping on Sunday, live or later, via YouTube! We’ll continue to offer a welcome at about 9:45, followed by some prelude music. The service will begin at 10 am. The service will be posted to YouTube, and you can use the same link to join in later.

If you’re joining via the live-stream, keep this order of service handy! It has all the responses and hymn texts you’ll need, together with some special prayers you might choose to use during the reception of the eucharist.

Mary anoints Jesus's feet
Mary anoints Jesus’s feet

From the Hebrew scriptures we hear a powerful reminder from the prophet Isaiah of what God is up to: something new and transformative, and we are invited to notice and delight in God’s goodness toward us. (Isaiah 43.16-21)

The gospel passage startles us with its intimacy. Shortly before the crucifixion, Jesus comes to dine at the home of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. Mary takes an astonishing amount of perfume and anoints Jesus’s feet, and then wipes them with her own hair. (John 12.1-8) She anticipates the new thing God is doing through Jesus as she anoints him for burial.

Image Attributions and Permissions:

The image we use in this post is from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. It’s a work entitled “Extravagant Love,” written by the iconographer Mary Jane Miller, and first shared in her book Life in Christ 2021, Knowledge of God made visible in Jesus the Man. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=59683 [retrieved April 1, 2022]. Original source: https://www.millericons.com/. We use this image under the provisions of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial Share Alike 3.0 License.

Sunday, March 27th – Mothering Sunday (Fourth Sunday in Lent)

Covid Protocols: starting this week, you no longer need to pre-register to participate in in-person worship. Masks must be worn properly at all times inside the building. We have left the pews on one side of the church blocked for physical distancing, to ensure that those people who feel more comfortable maintaining physical distancing know that they are fully welcome in our worship services. We will continue to live-stream the 10 o’clock Eucharist each Sunday.

You can join in worshipping on Sunday, live or later, via YouTube! We’ll continue to offer a welcome at about 9:45, followed by some prelude music. The service will begin at 10 am. The service will be posted to YouTube, and you can use the same link to join in later.

If you’re joining from afar, keep this order of service handy to enable you to participate in the service. It has all the responses, the hymn texts, and special prayers you might choose to use while those attending in-person receive the eucharist.

This week we hear of a promise fulfilled: the people celebrate Passover and eat the fruits of the promised land as their forty years’ journey through the desert ends at Gilgal (Joshua 5.9-12).

In the gospel, we’ll hear a familiar story that still provokes us to astonishment at God’s grace. A young man insults his father and family and society, wanders far away and squanders his inheritance, and decides to repent and return home and beg for forgiveness–only to be welcomed with staggering generosity beyond anything he imagined, much to the chagrin of his older brother! (Luke 15.1-3, 11b-32). Here’s a short list of some of the names this story has been given:

Frank Wesley's "Forgiving Father"
  • the Parable of the Two Sons and their Loving Father
  • the Parable of the Father’s Love
  • a Parable of the Lost
  • the Parable of the Prodigal SonS

Why so many names, and not the first one that might jump to mind? Well, perhaps by referring to this story differently, we try to open ourselves to other aspects of what Jesus is teaching about who God is and how God chooses to be with us. Share with us your thoughts about this passage after spending time reading it and praying with it!

The Fourth Sunday in Lent is also Mothering Sunday and Laetare Sunday. Laetare Sunday was a day of respite halfway through the penance and fasting of the Lenten Season. Laetare–rejoice!–is the first word of the introit for the day, the beginning of the service. The passages that used to be assigned for the day had a number of references to and images of mothers. People started to use the day to visit their mothers, and/or their mother church–where they had been baptised, or the diocesan cathedral. In the early 20th century, Constance Penswick Smith encouraged the celebration of different aspects of motherhood:

  • the Church — Our Mother
  • Mothers of Earthly Homes
  • the Mother of Jesus
  • Gifts of Mother Earth

The Mothers’ Union (and you needn’t be a mother to be part of it!) is a world-wide organization devoted to caring for and nurturing family life. They’re currently making special efforts to support the families of Ukranians. Learn more at their website.

Image Attributions and Permissions:

Both images in this post are sourced from the Vanderbilt Divinity Library’s project Art in the Christian Tradition, and are used under the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial ShareAlike 3.0 License.

JESUS MAFA. Prodigal Son, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=54662 [retrieved March 22, 2022]. Original source: http://www.librairie-emmanuel.fr (contact page: https://www.librairie-emmanuel.fr/contact).

Wesley, Frank, 1923-2002. Forgiving Father, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=59207 [retrieved March 22, 2022]. Original source: Contact the Vanderbilt Divinity Library for further information.

Sunday, March 20 – Third Sunday in Lent

If you’d like to join in-person worship at the Nativity, please call the office to pre-register. We continue to maintain 2 meters of distance between different household groups. Masks must be worn properly at all times inside the building. Our 10 o’clock Eucharist will continue to be live-streamed each week.

You can join in worshipping on Sunday, live or later, via YouTube! We’ll continue to offer a welcome at about 9:45, followed by some prelude music. The service will begin at 10 am. The service will be posted to YouTube, and you can use the same link to join in later.

If you’re joining in from afar, keep this order of service handy so you can participate in the service! It has all the responses, the hymn texts, and special prayers you might choose to use while those attending in person receive the eucharist.

This week, we’ll hear Isaiah sharing God’s invitation to draw close to our God, who provides all that we need. (Isaiah 55.1-9). We’ll also hear Jesus share a parable about patience and nurturing–even when the recipients of our care seemingly aren’t bearing fruit. (Luke 13.1-9)

March 13, 2022 – Second Sunday in Lent

If you’d like to join in-person worship at the Nativity, please call the office to pre-register. We continue to maintain 2 meters of distance between different household groups. Masks must be worn properly at all times inside the building. Our 10 o’clock Eucharist will continue to be live-streamed each week.

Pen & Ink sketch: A mother draws five children into an embrace.

You can join in worshipping on Sunday, live or later, via YouTube! We’ll continue to offer a welcome at about 9:45, followed by some prelude music. The service will begin at 10 am. The service will be posted to YouTube, and you can use the same link to join in later.

If you’re joining in from afar, keep this order of service handy so you can participate in the service! It has all the responses, the hymn texts, and special prayers you might choose to use while those attending in person receive the eucharist.

Did you know? clip art

Have you ever noticed that the church refers to these first days of the week as “Sundays IN Lent”? Throughout these forty days, it’s always “in”, rather than “of.” Sundays aren’t actually counted as part of the 40 days of Lent! Every Sunday is a sort of mini-Easter: we always celebrate the good news of God’s decisive act in the resurrection of Jesus–bringing us into new life.

Black and white graphic of a hen gathering her chicks under her wing.

On this second Sunday in Lent, we hear in the Hebrew Scriptures of the covenant God makes with Abraham. God promises that Abraham will have innumerable descendants and a homeland for their flourishing (Genesis 15.1–12, 17–18). The gospel story has a warning to Jesus–and a challenging response to both the danger he’s warned about, and God’s desire for a better future (Luke 13.31-35). Sundays and Seasons offers a powerful reminder about God’s hopes for us in their reflection for this Sunday:

Though we sometimes doubt and often resist God’s desire to protect and save us, our God persists. In holy baptism, God’s people have been called and gathered into a God-initiated relationship that will endure. Lent provides the church with a time and a tradition in which to seek God’s face again. Lent provides another occasion to behold the God of our salvation in the face of the Blessed One who “comes in the name of the Lord.”

6 March 2022 – First Sunday in Lent

We have resumed in-person services! If you would like to join in worship in-person, please call the office to pre-register, as we are continuing to maintain 2 metres of distance between household groups attending. Masks must be worn at all times in the building. Our 10 o’clock Eucharist will continue to be live-streamed each week.

Nativity's main altar, dressed on Ash Wednesday for Lent

You can join in worshipping on Sunday, live or later, via YouTube! We’ll continue to offer a welcome at about 9:45, followed by some prelude music. The service will begin at 10 am. The service will be posted to YouTube, and you can use the same link to join in later.

To join in the responses and to sing along with the hymns, you’ll want to keep the order of service handy!

The order of service posted online includes some prayers you may wish to use to participate in spiritual communion while those attending in person receive the Eucharist. This may be the first time you’re hearing about spiritual communion: the idea is that earnestly desiring to participate in the Eucharist and praying is to receive spiritually what you are not able to receive physically at this time. There are three prayers in the online order of service on page 14 to support you as you worship from afar.

On the first Sunday of Lent, we normally sing the Great Litany in procession, wrapping the gathered community in prayer. The procession is a symbol of our status as God’s pilgrim people, restless until we find our rest in God. Because of Covid precautions, we’re omitting the procession this year–but the words of the litany are still a powerful entry point to the season of Lent. We approach God, offer our penitence, and seek God’s support in every aspect of our individual and communal lives.

Jesus is tempted – Matthew 4:1-11

We hear in the Hebrew Scripture readings in Lent about God’s abundant provision for us. This week, we’ll hear about how God’s people are instructed to offer their thanks upon coming into the promised land (Deuteronomy 26.1–11). In the gospel pericope, we’ll hear about Jesus fasting in the wilderness for forty days, and his response to temptation (Luke 4.1-13).

Encouraging words are shared with us in this week’s reflection from Sundays and Seasons:

These forty days called Lent are like no other. It is our opportune time to return to the God who rescues, to receive the gifts of God’s grace, to believe with the heart and confess with the mouth the wonder of God’s love in Jesus, and to resist temptation at every turn. This is no small pilgrimage on which we have just embarked. It is a struggle Jesus knew. It is a struggle Jesus shares. The nearness of the Lord, in bread and wine, water and word, will uphold and sustain us.

The “Jesus is Tempted” image sourced from Art in the Christian Tradition a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library in Nashville, TN. JESUS MAFA. Jesus is tempted – Matthew 4:1-11 https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=48312 [retrieved March 3, 2022]. Original source: http://www.librairie-emmanuel.fr (contact page: https://www.librairie-emmanuel.fr/contact).

Sunday, 27 February 2022 – Last Sunday after the Epiphany

A pen & ink sketch of Jesus, transfigured by God's glory on Mount Tabor.

This Sunday service is on-line only. We resume in-person services on Ash Wednesday (March 2nd at 10 am), and next Sunday (March 6th). Worshippers wanting to attend in person are asked to call the office and pre-register. The 10 o’clock service will continue to be live-streamed.

Coptic Icon of the Transfiguration
Coptic Icon of the Transfiguration

You can join in our Sunday service, live or later, via YouTube! The stream will begin there at about 9:45, with a welcome and some prelude music. The service itself will begin at 10 am. As always, you’ll be able to use the same link to watch the service later, if you can’t join in live.

To join in the responses and to sing along with the hymn of the day, you’ll want to keep the order of service handy!

This Sunday is the Last Sunday after the Epiphany. (Ash Wednesday is this coming week, and so Lent begins.)

Each year on this Last Sunday after the Epiphany, we hear a gospel passage describing the Transfiguration of Our Lord–the time on the top of Mount Tabor when Jesus’s face changes its appearance, his clothes are suddenly dazzling white, and a couple of disciples see Jesus speaking with Moses and Elijah. This year we hear the story as Luke relates it. (Luke 9.28-36). Paired with it this week is the story from the book of Exodus about how Moses’s face shines after he comes into God’s presence on Mount Sinai (Exodus 34.29-35).

Sundays and Seasons offers this reflection on this week’s reading:

Witnesses to the glory of God in the face of Jesus reflect that glory in the world. It was true for Moses. It was doubtless true for Peter, James, and John. We pray that it will be true of all of us who see God’s glory in the word and in the supper and who are being “transformed into the same image” by God’s Spirit.

Sunday, 20 February 2022 – 7th Sunday after the Epiphany

This Sunday and next remain on-line only as caution during the Omicron wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. We plan to resume in-person services on Ash Wednesday (March 2nd). The principal Sunday service will continue to be streamed.

You can join in our Sunday service, live or later, via YouTube! The stream will begin there at about 9:45, with a welcome and some prelude music. The service itself will begin at 10 am. As always, you’ll be able to use the same link to watch the service later, if you can’t join in live.

Everything you’ll need to join the responses and to sing along with the hymn of the day can be found in the order of service, so you’ll want to keep it handy!

This is the Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany. Paul continues to preach passionately to the Corinthians about being joined to the resurrection of Jesus for eternal life (1 Cor 15.35-38, 42-50), and Jesus continues to preach what we often call the Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6.27-38). Jesus invites us to a new kind of life, marked by love, blessing, forgiveness, generosity, and trust–not just to one another but to outsiders and even to enemies.

Here’s what Sundays and Seasons offers about this week’s theme:

Mercy. Mercy. Mercy. Joseph lives it in Egypt. [The lesson we omit from the Hebrew scriptures this week is Genesis 45.3-11,15.] Jesus preaches it in the gospel. The Spirit guides us into merciful lives with the power of forgiveness to reconcile what is fractured and divided. Such merciful living is the baptismal blessing of having put on Christ. It is the gift of the life-giving Spirit. It is a reflection of God’s glory revealed in Christ.

We’re excited to plan for the resumption of in-person services in March. Our annual vestry meeting will be held at 11:30 after church this Sunday (February 20th); please be in touch with the office if you haven’t received details about how to attend via email.

(Our cover image is “Love Your Enemies,” from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=58810 [retrieved February 17, 2022]. Original source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/boojee/2929823056/. We use it under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic License.)

Annual Vestry Meeting – February 20th @ 11:30

Would you believe that we hold our annual vestry meeting every year? Really! We met last year virtually, using the Zoom platform. The nice thing about Zoom is that it allows people to participate either by using a computing device or by a telephone. We’ll be using Zoom again this year. An email will be sent out to all parishioners we have email addresses for early in the week of February 13th with a link to the meeting and instructions for how to connect. Please make sure to send the office a note if you want to confirm your email address with us! Alternatively, if you need information about how to connect to the meeting using your telephone, please leave a message on the office voicemail and our Parish Administrator will respond with details.

Our Annual Vestry Meeting will be held on Sunday, February 20th, at 11:30am (EDT) using Zoom.

Canon 4 of our diocese spells out what the annual Vestry meeting is for: to receive the accounts of the previous year, to elect and appoint Churchwardens and Lay Representatives, and for the transaction of other business connected with the temporalities of the Church.

What does that actually mean in terms of our business? This year we’ll:

  • review our agenda
  • review and approve the minutes of last year
  • elect and appoint wardens and members of Parish Council
  • approve the Financial Statements for 2021
  • look at the budget, and commend it
  • give authority to the wardens for some actions they may need to take

Vestry also gives us a chance to pause, and to reflect on what last year was like. It helps us to retell our story, and to recommit ourselves to God’s presence in our lives and the life of the world.

We recommend that you read the Vestry Report before the meeting. Please share any questions that occur to you in advance with either Matthew or Laura, so that we can be prepared to respond.

Sunday, 13 February 2022 – 6th Sunday after the Epiphany

Due to the wide-spread community transmission of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, our worship services are currently only online. We encourage you to limit the number of people you encounter, and to get the vaccinations and boosters that are available to you: keep yourself as safe as possible, and strive to protect others!

You can join in our Sunday service, live or later, via YouTube. The stream will begin at about 9:45 with a welcome and some prelude music; the service will begin at 10 am.

To make it easier to join in the responses and to sing along with the hymn of the day, make sure you have the order of service handy!

This Sunday is the Sixth after Epiphany. We’ll hear Paul teaching the followers of Jesus in Corinth about the Resurrection (1 Corinthians 15.12-20), and we’ll hear Jesus offering the beatitudes in the Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6.17-26).

Sundays and Seasons offers this reflection on the week’s readings:

Blessings and curses abound on the sixth Sunday after Epiphany. We would do well to listen closely to whom the “blessed ares” and the “woe tos” are directed and to find our place in the crowd among those who desire to touch Jesus. The risen Christ stands among us in the mystery of the holy supper with an invitation to live in him, and offers power to heal us all.

Finally, we want to remind you that Vestry will be held online via Zoom next Sunday–February 20th–at 11:30. We’ll be posting the Vestry Report to the blog, and sending an email to everyone for whom we have email addresses with meeting details. Please call the office if you need a printed copy, or want information about how to call into a Zoom meeting.