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Initial Thoughts on Episcopal Church Proposed Liturgy for Same Gender Blessing

May 17, 2012

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity as a member of the Diocese of Pennsylvania to attend a lecture and discussion given by the Rev. Dr. Patrick Malloy on the topic of the proposed liturgy going to General Convention for Same Gender blessings.  At the time of the lecture, the Blue Book (book of agenda items and resolutions for General Convention) had not yet come out and thus, the liturgy was still shrouded in some secrecy.  Dr. Malloy was unable to break that secrecy but he was able to share with a little bit about their process, as he was on the consultation team that composed the liturgy.  He told us how as they began collecting texts already in use (whether canonically or legally or not didn’t matter) they needed to devise a way, a measuring stick if you will, to judge them all by the same standards.  This tool, he believes, will actually be a lasting work of the commission for revising and composing liturgies in the future and I have to say, it is an excellent tool.  Here they are, quoted from a document he handed us:

Nearly as important is that the proposed liturgical materials embody a classically Anglican liturgical ethos and style. Recognizing the varying notions of what makes public prayer recognizably Anglican, the task group identified these qualities:

• It resonates with Scripture.
• It has high literary value; is it beautiful according to accepted and respected standards.
• It uses the recurring structures, linguistic patterns, and metaphors of the 1979 BCP.
• It is formal, not casual, conversational, or colloquial.
• It is dense enough to bear the weight of the sacred purpose for which it is intended.
• It is metaphoric without being obtuse.
• It is performative., that is, it effects what it says.

I think that is an excellent place to begin and I commend the commission on coming up with a fine tool.  My prayer is that future liturgical compositions use it.

Read more…

In the midst of life, we are in death

May 15, 2012

Completely ignoring the fact that I haven’t posted here in a while…We are embarking, in our Wednesday night Adult Education class, on a study of N.T. Wright’s very good book Surprised by Hope.  As we get into this book we have had several good conversations already about death and dying, hope, afterlife, and resurrection.  It’s been interesting to hear a few stories about how the rituals we enact around death (funerals/burials/etc.) impact the worshipers and influence how they think and believe about these subjects.

I remember when I was in college a very good friend of mine was killed.  At his funeral, which was packed, there was a time for what I will call, for lack of a better phrase, “open mic eulogies.”  It was awful.  Many, many people carried on at great length, which, while it may have been cathartic for them quickly grew to be boring for the worshipers.  And I guess that’s the point of what made me feel awkward:  what should have been a worship service acknowledging God’s care for us in the midst of the grief of a life cut short and celebrating the sure and certain hope of the resurrection was turned into something much more about a few individuals which the rest of us had to endure than about God and our corporate relationship with God.

I am wondering, what have been your experiences at funerals recently?  Was there a particularly “good” one?  What made it so powerful for you?  Was there there one that left you feeling bad?  How come?  What did the service communicate to you about such things as death, heaven, resurrection?  I look forward to hearing your responses in the comments section below.

Fr. Ryan+

Join us for Holy Week! Yes, all four days! (Is there any other way?)

March 28, 2012

Time.  There’s never enough of it and we always want more of it.  And yet God consecrates what we have.  Some time is given to us and we think nothing of it, and some we have to reserve, carve out, store, protect.  Because if we don’t it will be gone before we know it and we will never be able to get it back.

Holy Week.  A whole week of time deserving to be protected, honored, kept holy.  How in the world can we do that?  How can anyone, in this day and age, expect me to keep a whole week as sabbath?  I have enough trouble getting to one church service a week, and now you want me to come to four?!  Are you crazed?

In a word, yes. At least, probably.  But that’s irrelevant to this discussion.

So how can you do it?  It’s both simple and difficult at the same time.  It’s both profound in its ease and mind-bending in what it requires.

You just do it.

You just say: I’m in.  We’re doing this this year.  Everything else takes a back burner.  Do you know what happens if you don’t do it?


Do you know what happens if you do?

Come and see.

Thursday, April 5, 7:30 pm
Maundy Thursday Liturgy with Footwashing and Choral Eucharist

Friday, April 6, 7:30 pm
Good Friday Liturgy with Veneration of the Cross and Choral Eucharist from the Reserve Sacrament

Saturday, April 7, 5:00 pm
The Great Vigil of Easter, the Lamb Dinner, and the First Choral Eucharist of Easter

Sunday, April 8, 8:00 am and 10:00 am
Rite I Spoken Easter Sunday Eucharist
Rite II Choral Easter Sunday Eucharist

Some Thoughts from the Gathering of Leaders

March 13, 2012

I just spent a wonderful week in San Francisco attending a continuing education conference (and doing some touring) which was fantastic.  In part it was fantastic because I had never been to California before and so that was great.  The conference, however, was even better than I had expected.

It was great to meet so many new Episcopal colleagues, who are engaged in exciting ministries and enthusiastic about the work they are doing!  I was enthralled by the depth and breadth of what we as a church are doing in so many places, like in the Diocese of Texas where new church plants are taking root, and the Diocese of Los Angeles where new models of ministry are being developed and practiced.

One of the things I took away from the conference was how paralyzed we can get and be by the fear of failure.  We spent a lot of time talking about how we, as Christians, follow a God who, in the eyes of the world at the time of His incarnation, failed.  We have to live as a resurrection people, a people of hope.  We have to let go of fear.  If we fail, we try again.  If we fail, we do something different.  But we cannot be paralyzed into immobility, especially when it is the Gospel at stake, by our fear of failure.

The Rev. Micah Jackson, Assistant Professor of Preaching at the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest (Texas), had this thought for us in a sermon he delivered, which was very powerful.  “My greatest hope is that Jesus will transform my life.  My greatest fear is that Jesus will transform my life.”  How true, how true.

Let us give up fear.  Let us live in hope.  Let us claim and hold accountable the Resurrection.  Ours is a mighty God.

Fr. Ryan+

Men Cook 2012

February 27, 2012

We had a blast at Men Cook 2012, with the theme of “A Taste of New Orleans!” Thanks to everyone who cooked, everyone who cleaned, and especially everyone who ate! For those who missed out, enjoy these pictures below and maybe they’ll set your taste buds alight to attend next year! Our sumptuous menu was:

  • Fried Shrimp Po’ Boys
  • Fried Okra
  • Jambalaya
  • Crawfish Etouffee
  • Sausage and Chicken Gumbo
  • Shrimp and Chicken Gumbo
  • Cajun Boiled Peanuts
  • Hurricanes
  • Flambeaux Mambos

Fr. Ryan+

What We Wear: The Alb

February 7, 2012

Hello, and welcome back!  It’s been a while since a post went up and I apologize for the absence.  I won’t bore you with excuses, but will rather get right into it.

Not infrequently, people come up to me with questions regarding the special clothing they see people wearing who serve at the altar, whether they be clergy or laity.  I thought it would be interesting to do a series of posts that identify and define those special garments, which we call vestments.

The first vestment I’d like to take a look at is one that is common to clergy and laity alike.  In fact, in many churches, if you are serving in any capacity, you are wearing one.  At St. George’s, lectors and chalice bearers do not wear these, but in other churches it would be quite common.  The garment in question is the Alb.  It is the plain white, thin, robe-like garment you see pictured on the left.  In recent times, an unbleached linen version has also shown up.  They can be adorned with lace fringe, or unadorned, and they come in several styles with slightly different looks.

They have their history in secular Roman and Greek street wear.  A simple google search will reveal more about that if you’re interested.  Its white color symbolizes the connection to baptism, in which we are washed clean of our sins.  In many places it is a garment you put on following, or wear during an immersion baptism.  The connection to baptism is the most important piece of the alb, and forms the foundation of the understanding that this is a garment common to laity and clergy alike.

As the most basic part of clerical vestments for a church service it serves as an important reminder that our most important, most basic identity is not whether we put “The Rev.” or “The Right Rev.” in front of our name, but the identity we claim as having been marked as Christ’s own forever in our baptism.  It is often girded with a cincture, which we’ll talk about later, and sometimes has another piece under it around the neck and shoulders called an amice, which we’ll also talk about later.  Back when clergy wore black cassocks as their everyday street wear, the alb was worn over the cassock.  Now that shirts and pants are much more common, and cassocks are infrequently worn as basic dress, a vestment called the cassock-alb has been created, which sort of combines the two ideas.  Most broad – to – low churches will feature the cassock alb, while in most high – to- anglo-catholic churches the cassock and alb remain two separate garments.

When clergy vest, some like to say a little prayer when they put on the different pieces of their Eucharistic vestments.  These prayers reflect the symbolism of the particular vestment of which they pray.  When putting on the alb, the appropriate prayer goes something like this (some variation is to be expected):

Purify me, O Lord, from all stain and cleanse my heart, that washed in the blood of the lamb I may enjoy eternal delights.  Amen.

Fr. Ryan+

The Tebow Effect

January 9, 2012

I am not a professional football fan and usually, the only times I’m watching an NFL game are when it is the superbowl or when houseguests turn it on, which was the case last night when I caught the end of the Broncos/Steelers game.

I have been slightly paying attention to the Tebow stories as many friends of mine went to UF and now follow his career in Denver.  I posted on my facebook a while back about “Tebowing,” snarkily stating that people have been genuflecting for years to show reverence and gratitude to God and that this was neither nothing new, nor earth shattering.  I, for example, genuflect, on average, 10-12 times per week.  No one has written an article about that.

I have nothing bad or negative to say about Tebow’s faith, or his public expression of it.  In fact, I think it’s a positive thing – though the SNL skit was funny.  I am glad there is a professional athlete so in the public eye who is so comfortable expressing their Christianity.

I do not think God is directly helping the Denver Broncos win football games.  I think God gives athletes their gifts and abilities and when they use them, whether specifically to God’s glory or not, He smiles.

After last night’s game, my brother-in-law called (a UF grad and now a Broncos follower) ecstatic about the OT win (which actually was pretty exciting).  He declared in no uncertain terms that this win “was a good thing for [me]!”  He added that he suspected church attendance will go up this Sunday and that, hold your breath, he might even go to church this Sunday.  He said Tebow’s continued success can only be good for those on the fence in the Christian community.

Now, we all had a good laugh at his remarks.  But I wonder, is the Tebow effect a good thing?  What if he gets hurt and can’t play?  What if they start losing?  What do those eventualities do to a person who has had their faith bolstered in such a way?
A similar thing occurred in a community with which I am familiar.  They were/are an Episcopalian, Christian community centered on spiritual healing.  They have done some amazing things in their church – truly amazing healings: emotional, mental, spiritual, and even physical healings.  I’ve been a witness to a few incredible, God-given events there.  In part because of all that, their members were extremely dedicated, faithful, evangelistic people.  Then, one year, one of their principal members was diagnosed with cancer.  As you might imagine, much prayer and laying on of hands was offered but in the end, this wonderful woman lost her battle to the disease.  It rocked the faith of some of them.  How could God allow this?  This was a community dedicated to spiritual healing and how could God allow them to fail when one of their own was concerned?  Those were the kinds of questions some were asking, actually, including me.  It was hard for them.

So I am wondering, is the Tebow effect a good thing for Christian communities?  What can pastors do to deepen the faith of those who seem to have expressed a conviction that God is on Tebow’s side?  What do you think?

Fr. Ryan+

Novels, Books, and Music – New on the Website

December 15, 2011

The church website has been updated with loads of new information, so be sure the check it out!

Beginning on Wednesday, January 11, our Wednesday night class will be tackling satirical novelist Christopher Moore’s hilarious adventure, Lamb: The Gospel according to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal.  Pick up a copy today, begin reading and join us on Wednesday, Jan.11.  A fuller description as well as the reading schedule is up on the Adult Christian Education page of our church website.



Later that same month, on Sunday, January 22, we’ll be reintroducing the idea of an informal, adult, Sunday morning discussion forum.  We’ll be using Tom Nelson’s good book, Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work as we seek to deepen our understanding of how our faith informs the rest of our lives.  Grab a cup of coffee and join us in the Rector’s office from 9:00 am – 9:40 am for this informal time of discussion and gathering.  Again, more information is available on our Adult Christian Education page of our website.


Finally, last week or choir sang a beautiful rendition of the Magnificat (S-247 for those of you familiar with the hymnal) and we wanted to share it with all.  It’s available on the Choir page of the website, or by clicking here!
Fr. Ryan+


Lessons and Carols, 2011

December 14, 2011

St. George’s Gala, 2011

December 7, 2011

What a great time was had by all at the 2011 St. George’s Gala – “A Dickens’ Christmas!”  We had the most people (96!) come in recent memory and raised almost $7000 for the mission and ministry of St. George’s.  Great job to all on the Gala committee and thanks to everyone who came out to help decorate in the days leading up to the Gala and for those who stayed late to help clean up.  There are loads of pictures up on our Facebook Page, but please enjoy these here in the meantime!

Fr. Ryan+