Worship for March 29, 2020

Sunday, March 29 is the 5th Sunday in Lent. The corona virus is still preventing us from worshiping together physically at the church, but we will still be together!

Our worship includes two videos:

  1. Deacon Karla reading the story of the raising of Lazarus from the 11th Chapter of the Gospel of John.

2. Father Andrew’s sermon “Where is God in all of this?”

At noon, we will gather by Zoom for coffee hour and fellowship.

This Sunday, March 29 at noon, we will gather together for St. Peter’s coffee hour either by computer or by phone.  Here’s how to join:

If you are using your phone, you can call in by 
Dialing 1 646 558 8656 US (New York)And then entering the Meeting ID: 808 626 584

If you are using your computer, you can join in the coffee hour conversation using the below link. Either click on the link or put the link in your browser.  https://us04web.zoom.us/j/808626584
If you have a camera on your computer, we will be able to see you.

During the conversation, we will share updates for the next several weeks including what we will be doing together for Holy Week and Easter as well as respond to any questions you may have. 
Then, for further conversation, please think on and pray about these questions:
1.  Where have you seen God show up even in the midst of the trying times in which we are in?
2.  What challenges have you faced personally in the midst of the pandemic?
We will have some time to share our reflections to encourage each other and learn how we can support one another.

Understanding Lent and Easter

The season of Lent began today, February 26, with Ash Wednesday. “I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.” (Book of Common Prayer, page 265)

The word Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word lencton meaning the time of year when the days grow long.  The season begins with Ash Wednesday and ends with the Easter Triduum (meaning three days) that includes Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday through to Easter Sunday. Because Lent is determined by the movable date of Easter Day, the dates are different each year.  This year, Easter is April 12.

Lent is forty days long excluding Sundays.  Since every Sunday is a “little Easter” celebrating the resurrection, Sundays remain feast days even during the solemn Lenten season.  The five Lenten Sundays are followed by the Sunday of the Passion (Palm Sunday), which ushers in Holy Week.

Holy Week, April 5-11, is when the church dramatizes the events leading up to and including the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross. It begins with the Sunday of the Passion, or Palm Sunday, and the joyous triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and ends at Easter.

The name Maundy Thursday, April 9, comes from the Latin mandatum or “command,” from the words of Jesus in the gospel of John: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (John 13:34).

Good Friday, April 10, commemorates the crucifixion o our Lord. It is know as “Good” because of the new life brought about by his victory of the cross.

Easter Day begins at dusk on Holy Saturday, April 11. Many churches observe an Easter Vigil service that marks the beginning of Easter.

Easter is a day and a church season. Easter season is a festival season of fifty days whose first day is Easter Day, the Sunday of the Resurrection, and whose last day is the Day of Pentecost, May 31. Easter begins after sundown on Holy Saturday. The celebration of Easter is initiated with the Easter Vigil, which can be observed after sundown but ideally is kept just before sunrise, so that the proclamation of Jesus resurrection comes with the dawn of the new day.

Easter Day is the principal feast of the church year. The word “Easter” comes from Easter, a Teutonic goddess whose name is associated with springtime, growth, and fertility. In most languages the name of the day is Pascha, which means “Passover.”

Symbols and Traditions of Lent:

  • Color: purple for penitence and royalty, or rough linen or a similar material, unbleached, raw, plain, and austere, to reflect the mood of Lent.  This is based upon the sackcloth of Old Testament mourning.
  • Ashes – these are prepared from the previous years palms used on Palm Sunday. The ashes symbolize our mortality and sorrow for our sins.  The people of the Hebrew scriptures put ashes on their foreheads as a sign of penitence.
  • Alleluias, joyful canticles, the Gloria in excelsis are omitted from worship and replaced with songs and responses that are more in keeping with Lent’s contemplative mood.
  • Vestments and hangings are more austere.  Flowers are omitted from the altar.
  • The Cross is a symbol of Christ and his sacrifice, love, redemption, atonement, and victory.
  • Stations of the Cross began in the Holy Land as a series of devotions along the Via Dolorosa (Way of Sorrow) and later spread to churches, where the faithful stop to pray and with paintings or carvings that outline Jesus’ passion. 

Letting Go and Taking On

Many people observe Lent by self-denial – giving up something to increase their awareness of their dependence on God alone.  This is often such things as sweets, caffeine, or alcohol.  Others find it helpful to take on a special discipline to increase their spiritual life.  This could be a reading a special book (often in a church class or book study group), a new prayer time and focus,  an exercise routine, or a family project that benefits the community.

Here at St. Peter’s we will be reading and discussion Howard Thurman’s book, “Jesus and the Disinherited.” Our discussions will be each Sunday in Lent following 11:00 am worship in the parish hall. Great food is also provided. Our discussions will also include “The Way of Love.” You can learn more here.

Upcoming Events in the Neighborhood

There is a lot happening in the East End! Here are a few of the exciting events and programs.

Here at St. Peter’s:

  • Wednesday, Feb. 26 at 6:00 pm our Ash Wednesday service with imposition of ashes.
  • Sunday, March 1 – Sunday, March 29 we will have our Lenten program. Worship is at 11:00 am followed by lunch and our Lenten study of race. We’ll be reading and discussing the book “Jesus and the Disinherited” by Howard Thurman. Read it online here. All are welcome!
  • Neighborhood food distribution program with Peter Paul Development Center is on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month at 8:30 am. Coffee and Bible study are also offered.
  • Neighborhood Walk each Tuesday at 2:30 pm. Meet at the church and enjoy some exercise and talking to your neighbors.
  • Worship every Sunday at 11:00 am followed by food and fellowship. A nursery is available.

Richmond Hill, 2209 E. Grace Street

  • Unearthing Buried Stories, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 7:30-9:00 pm. Join the Koinonia School of Race & Justice for this program that focuses on African American burial sites.
  • Lenten Retreat: In the Shelter: Finding a Home in the World. Each Thursday in Lent beginning Feb. 27, 9:00 am – 12:00 noon. Time for writing, reading, silence, prayer. All are invited to stay for noon prayers and the community lunch.
  • Pledge To End Racism Workshop, March 28 and April 4, 9:00 am – 4:30 pm. Workshop is an intensive, 2-day training sessions designed to help you learn about inherent, systemic racism and to give you practical strategies to help to dismantle it. Suggested donation of $55.
  • Volunteer Clean-Up Day at East End Cemetery, March 14, 10:00 am – 12:00 noon.
  • Check their website for more events and personal retreats.

The Market at 25th:

  • Their calendar lists all events including wellness, events for families including movies, and special events for Black History month.
  • Black women and girls art night, Friday, February 21, 6:30 pm
  • The movie “Black Panther” is featured at movie night on February 28, 6:30-8:30 pm
  • The Medical-Legal Partnership offers free legal advice. Office hours are Friday, 12:00 noon – 4:00 pm or call 804-517-9110 for an appointment.
  • Among many other services, the Health Hub can help you get glasses at little to no cost. Open Mondays and Wednesdays 9:00 am – 12:30 pm.
  • Virginia Public Media and PBS Kids – this page offers ways to connect children to PBS Kids’ resources, events, recipes and games.

Church Hill People’s News:

The website provides information on all areas of life in Church Hill – schools, redevelopment, food and restaurants, family events, and more.. Be sure to subscribe to their newsletter to stay up to date.

East End Public Library:

Programs for all ages each week: Book Babies, PreSchoolers, Toddlers, and Adults.

WomanKind 2020

Fearless Women of Faith, theme of this year’s WomanKind conference at St. James’s in Richmond, will be held March 20-21.

Fear. Its prevalence in our culture is growing. Fear of the other. Fear of violence. Fear of the future. Fear of financial difficulties. There is much for women to be afraid of in this world. But Christian women have historically been fearless in the face of violence because of their faith in Christ. 

From the first stories of Genesis, WomanKind 2020 keynote speaker Lisa Sharon Harper draws on God’s original vision of a world that is “very good” — is shalom. Harper declares that shalom is the Gospel’s vision for us now — shalom between us and God, within our broken families, between races and nations. Shalom.

WomanKind’s 2020 theme Fearless Women of Faith explores and celebrates how God has inspired fearlessness in us. In our keynote sessions, workshops, and worship, we will examine fearlessness in the face of injustice, violence against women, life transitions, the unknown, vulnerability, and even fear itself. We will look to our sacred stories in the Bible and our own personal stories, and ask for the Holy Spirit to continue to reveal and plant in us holy peace, courage and perseverance. Together, we will seek Christ’s healing, strength, and fearlessness. 

The keynote speaker is Lisa Sharon Harper. Ms. Harper leads trainings that increase clergy and community leaders’ capacity to organize people of faith toward a just world. A prolific speaker, writer and activist, Ms. Harper is the founder and president of FreedomRoad.us, a consulting group dedicated to shrinking the narrative gap in our nation by designing forums and experiences that bring common understanding, common commitment and common action. Read more, including a list of her books.

More information, list of workshops and registration is available here. You can also follow the conference on Facebook.

Notes from our Annual Meeting

When churches announce their Annual Meeting, many people groan. “Oh no, that long meeting again.”  Not so at St. Peter’s. We had our Annual Meeting on January 19, with a big turnout of all ages, grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup (thank you Vestry), exciting information and planning in small groups.  Pictures below!

The most exciting news is that we have begun the move into full self-sufficiency.  This means that in a few years we will have parish status from the Diocese of Virginia and no longer be a mission church.  We’ve been a mission of the diocese for our entire existence, over 100 years.  That is changing! How?

We’ve met our goal of $70,000 in pledges, and it is still growing.  Supporting ourselves financially is a big step in becoming a parish.  Our budget for this year sets expenditures at $108,215, and our income is currently at $121,000.  This is a surplus budget, and one of our challenges throughout the year is to maintain that while still supporting our programs, needs, and growth in new initiatives. To help you and friends of St. Peter’s, our website now accepts online payments.  You can use your credit/debit card or PayPal.  Be sure to cruise around the new website when you’re there too!

In the expenditures side of the budget there is $3000 allocated for programs.  One of these that we’re very excited about is our children and youth program.  If you’ve been to St. Peter’s in the past few months, we hope you’ve noticed our new infant and toddler nursery.  It is just off the sanctuary and is fully equipped for our little ones.  Thank you to everyone who helped make it possible and so beautiful.  In the next few weeks we will explore various options for staffing the nursery.  Watch out for news! Our  other programs for children continue to grow.  Teens are now involved in worship.

Dr. Ron Carey, Sr. Warden, identified five challenges in 2020. Keep an eye on our expenditures throughout the year; increase sources of income especially through such areas as new pledges and gifts, rentals, corporate sharing (Kroger’s community rewards program, for example); maintain our connections with friends and family who live outside of Richmond and those nearby whom we’ve lost contact with; maintain and grow our neighborhood connections and relationships; increase opportunities for our church family to be together and share with each other.

The last section of the meeting was devoted to discussion groups, convened by the members of the Vestry.  These were: children and youth; history hall; self-sustainability; neighborhood, and Brunswick Stew.  Watch this website and the Sunday bulletins and announcements for updates and news.  If you have questions and want to be involved contact any member of the vestry or the church office.

What makes a church an exciting place where people want to be, to join and to participate?  What makes it a meaningful place where people are empowered to share the Good News of God in Jesus Christ and invite others to join them?  Many factors, no doubt, but friendliness, sincerity, care for each other, passion for the neighborhood, great preaching, vibrant worship, people of all ages, diversity, and of course…food and fellowship. St. Peter’s has all this and more.  Join us!

Keep up with us and stay in touch:

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church                     https://stpeterschurchhill.org

1719 N 22nd St.                          email: stpeterschurchhill@gmail.com

Richmond, VA 23223                                           phone: 804-643-2686

On Facebook: stpeterschurchhill

Understanding the Church Seasons: Epiphany

The Feast of the Epiphany is observed on January 6th.  It goes by other names in various church traditions.  In Hispanic and Latin culture, as well as some places in Europe, it is known as “Three Kings’ Day” (Spanish: el Dia de los Tres Reyes, la Fiesta de Reyes, or el Dia de los Reyes Magos.    Epiphany comes from a Greek word meaning, “showing forth, appearance, manifestation or revelation.”  On January 6th we recognize the Manifestation, or revelation, of Christ to the Gentiles—the good news that Jesus revealed God to all people. 

Epiphany is the climax of the Christmas Season and the Twelve Days of Christmas, which are counted from December 25th until January 5th.  The day before Epiphany is the twelfth day of Christmas, and is sometimes called Twelfth Night, an occasion for feasting in some cultures. In some cultures, the baking of a special King’s Cake is part of the festivities of Epiphany (a King’s Cake is part of the observance of Mardi Gras in French Catholic culture of the Southern USA). 

The Feast of the Epiphany is followed by the “Sundays after the Epiphany”.  The length of this season of Epiphany varies from four to nine Sundays, depending on the date of Easter for that year.   In 2020 Epiphany will have 7 Sundays, with the Last Sunday after the Epiphany on February 23.  Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins, will be February 26.  Easter will be April 12.  Fun Fact: 2020 is a Leap Year so February will have 29 days this year!

The season of Epiphany has several important Holy Days within it.  The first Sunday after the Epiphany is The Baptism of Our Lord.  January 18th is The Confession of St. Peter; the 25th is the Conversion of St. Paul; and February 2nd is the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple (also known as Candlemas; not also known as Groundhog Day!). Some minor feast days are Absalom Jones (Priest) on February 13th and Frederick Douglass on February 20th.

White is the color for the Feast of the Epiphany and the days up to and including the next Sunday, which is the Baptism of our Lord. White is the festival color of the church. Green is the color for the remaining Sundays after Epiphany.  Green represents the ongoing life of the church.

The best-known symbols of Epiphany are the three wise men and the star.  The story of the magi is found only in Matthew (2:1-12).  Magi were people who studied the movement of the stars to interpret their meaning.  They were Gentiles, not Jews.  The single star that the magi followed recalls the manifestation of Christ to the world.