Significant times of change and transformation happen to us all. Getting married, being baptized and being buried are just three such occasions. Church is the place we discover the God perspective on these sacred experiences. Church also is the place where we learn at life’s most crucial moments, we are not alone but are part of a much larger family, the household of God, a family that comes together to support us in the vows we take and in helping us to remember the central and affirming role our loving God plays in all our lives.
In baptism, we enter the Body of Christ as we are adopted as God’s children in Christ. We who were many become one Body in Christ. We become buried with Christ in his death and share in his risen life. Once baptized, we receive God’s grace in a new way and are called to a life of service as a disciple of Jesus Christ. The sacrament of Holy Baptism is only the beginning of the Christian’s journey of discovering what it means to live a baptized life.
Baptism is about belonging: “Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body the Church. The bond which God establishes in Baptism is indissoluble” (Book of Common Prayer, 298). Baptism is about belonging to the Christian community and no other rite is required to complete becoming a Christian.
Baptism is about becoming a disciple: St. Paul referred to baptism as full acceptance of Jesus Christ’s presence within us: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Baptism enters us into a covenant with God where we will live our lives according to Jesus’ teachings and follow his example of ministry in the world.
Baptism is a sacrament: “Sacraments are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive that grace” (BCP, 857). The outward and visible sign of baptism is water and receiving it as Jesus commanded: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” The inward and spiritual grace of baptism is union with Christ in his death and resurrection, birth into God’s family the Church, forgiveness of sins, and new life in the Holy Spirit.
The Book of Common Prayer says of confirmation that, “In the course of their Christian development, those baptized at an early age are expected, when they are ready and have been duly prepared, to make a mature public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their baptism and to receive the laying on of hands by the bishop. Those baptized as adults are also expected to make a public affirmation of their faith” (BCP 412).
So the rite of confirmation is indelibly tied to baptism – not the completion of it but an affirmation of the vows made either on behalf of an infant or by an adult. While confirmation doesn’t make a person any more of a Christian, it is a rite of Christian commitment; an important part of living out one’s life in Christ.
Congratulations on your plans to be married! May God’s blessings be with you during your wedding preparation and life together as husband and wife. The following instructions are provided for your use to ensure that everything is handled in accordance with Church canons with respect to the Solemnization of Holy Matrimony. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to speak with Pastor Maxine Maddox Dornemann. Please call the church office at 610-363- 2363.
The Episcopalian liturgy for the dead is an Easter liturgy. It finds all its meaning in the resurrection. Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we, too, shall be raised. The liturgy, therefore, is characterized by joy, in the certainty that “neither death, nor life, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
This joy, however, does not make human grief unchristian. The very love we have for each other in Christ brings deep sorrow when we are parted by death. Jesus himself wept at the grave of his friends. So, while we rejoice that one we love has entered into the nearer presence of our Lord, we sorrow in sympathy with those who mourn. (BCP, 507).
The clergy and staff of St. Paul’s offer their caring support and expertise to individuals and families through the end of life and the first difficult days after the loss of a loved one. Our love and care begin when an individual is sick or near death with Pastor Maxine providing the ministrations of the Church, to comfort him or her with the promise or life everlasting, given in the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord. This support continues through the planning of the funeral to celebrate the life of the departed and to offer comfort in the promise of life beyond the door of death by the grace of God.
A Scattering Garden garden is a designated area in a cemetery where cremated remains are meant to be scattered. The Scattering Garden at St. Paul’s was created within our cemetery in response to a growing preference for cremation and as a place to memorialize loved ones. The hardscaping was crafted from centuries-old tombstones brought to St. Paul’s when a consecrated cemetery had to be relocated. The entire project was built by volunteers. The garden itself has been planned as a native woodland, designed to nourish the environment as well as the soul. Nestled in a shady corner of the cemetery, the garden features plants native to the ecosystem. Winterberry hollies and dogwoods provide larval hosts and nutritious berries for songbirds. Various sedges offer seeds for birds and small mammals. An array of flowering woodland plants presents a three-season buffet for native pollinators and St. Paul’s Blessed Bees. A handsome brass plaque memorializes those who are interred.
This service is based on the prayer resources from Iona and does not include a creed or confession. There is a completely open communion – everyone is invited to participate regardless of their faith tradition. The worship is carried by light and music. In the words of author Diana Butler Bass: The service is “an experience”. Weaving an environment in which the Spirit is welcome, and creating the possibility for openness and transformation throughout the entire community.
The next Celtic service will be on Wednesday, February 15th at 6:30 pm. All are Welcome!