Worship, Solar Energy, Kitchen Work, Foster Care, and a Bishop's Visitation
It's hard to believe that students are already returning to school. Where did the summer go? Perhaps due to General Convention this summer has been particularly busy. Several plans are being laid for the upcoming months, and we are excited at St. Mark's about how many ministries are showing their fruits.
This Sunday we will have a Back to School Blessing at the morning masses. If you are a student, teacher, school staff, or parent, you are invited to receive the blessing. You may bring your backpack, satchel, or briefcase for the blessing if you desire. My mom was a teacher her entire career for public schools, and as a child I saw the sacrifices she often made for her students and classrooms. More than ever we need to support our schools, teachers, and students.
Many of you have mentioned how much you enjoy the music at the end of the 8:00 am mass, and there seems to be broad support for more music at this service. Beginning on Sunday, August 19, when we celebrate the Feast of the Assumption, we will experiment with having a sung mass at 8:00 am. In support of our Hawaiian roots, we will sing a few portions of the mass in Hawaiian, which I know some of you will particularly enjoy. Mike Dupre and Steven Severin will provide the musical leadership at this service, along with other singers who wish to volunteer their time.
Having a sung mass at 8:00 am also means the return of Morning Prayer at 7:30 am on Sundays. Whereas during the week we read Morning Prayer in the St. Mary Chapel, on Sundays it will be read from the High Altar. The 8:00 am bulletin will include the order of service for Sunday Morning Prayer, and I encourage our 8:00 am parishioners to join us when you arrive on Sundays. Several of you have mentioned that you enjoyed having Matins and Mass this summer. This format can also be sung, and there may be occasions in the future for us to continue this practice.
Speaking of the Daily Office, last Sunday's Evensong and Benediction for the Eve of the Transfiguration was superb. The musicians' harmony on the Anglican Chant setting of the Song of Mary was so beautiful, and this service continues to grow in attendance. Having the service weekly has fostered consistency, and we are fortunate to have our dedicated acolytes and lectors for this service. We have begun to offer a sermon on the readings at this service. This sermon differs from the morning masses, so if you return in the evening, you receive the bonus of hearing another sermon on a different set of readings.
This July we made the difficult decision of discontinuing the 6:00 pm Sunday mass. We tried this service for almost two years. Personally it was one of my favorite masses, but in the end the attendance never grew, and the work required for the service (acolyte scheduling, bulletin creation, altar guild support) could not be justified. (It is important to note that not one single volunteer complained about this work.) These past two weeks we have reached out to each person that this decision has affected, and everyone understands why we made this decision. However, you may still make your communion on Sunday evenings if you prefer. After Evensong and Benediction, those who wish to make their Sunday communion are invited to the St. Mary Chapel. Once the organ voluntary finishes, a priest will say a Eucharist prayer from the prayer book, and communion will be administered. Those who wish to make their communion on Sunday evenings should attend Evensong and Benediction as the Liturgy of the Word. We tried this sequence last Sunday, and it worked well.
There are property updates to share! The church's solar panels are now operational. This project has spanned two years, and we are excited that it has come to fruition. The stewardship of creation has been a vestry goal for many years now, and it is great news that we are now harvesting the energy of both the sun and Son. As for the kitchen, that project is moving along well too. The architects have provided renderings, and kitchen appliances have been chosen. We hope to be moving into the construction phase soon.
As for outreach, the Sunday Supper Ministry continues faithfully each week, and the next rotation for Family Promise is the first week of October. Sign-up sheets will be posted soon. On Sunday, September 9, there will be a parish forum between the mornings masses on foster care for children and youth. Brandon Tomita from Hawaii Behavioral Health will be our speaker. HBH provides foster care for children and adolescents needing a stable home-environment as they work towards reunification with their parents or caregivers. It promises to be an excellent forum.
Finally, formation opportunities engaging the Scriptures continue this summer and fall. This week our Summer Bible Study on John's Bread of Life began. This September our theme is Exploring Franciscan Spirituality through the Scriptures and Liturgy. In October our focus will be the Epistle to the Hebrews. Each of these formation offerings will have two sessions each week - Wednesday morning and Thursday evening. You can choose which time works best for you, alternating back and forth if you desire. Please mark your calendars for when Bishop Fitzpatrick joins us on Thursday, September 20, for an evening session of Exploring Franciscan Spirituality. More information about our bishop's non-Sunday visitation will be forthcoming.
There is more news to share in the coming weeks, but further details need to be solidified. As we come to the end of summer, I hope you have time for rest and recreation. I am reminded that the best rest we can take is to rest in the worship of God. We all need proper Sabbath time for our continued rejuvenation. The church and her liturgies continue each day of the year, and the opportunities for study and prayer are plenty. Our society talks endlessly about the importance of rest from a secular vantage point. The Christian can be thankful that regular worship, prayer, study, and Sabbath keeping lie at the center of who we are.
Father Paul Lillie+