Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Eve at Our Saviour

Luminarias - lots of them. They were at the entrance to the parking lot, down the center of the parking lot, and lining the sidewalks leading to the church. Next year: youngsters to bend over and light them!

A side view of the chancel

The nacimiento before the arrival of the Baby Jesus

We sang nine hymns (with alto harmony), had frankincense, real bread, and new visitors who found us with Google. It was a lovely time of worship and fellowship.

A very blessed Christmas (all twelve days of it) to one and all!

O God, you have caused this holy night to shine with the brightness of the true Light: Grant that we, who have known the mystery of that Light on earth, may also enjoy him perfectly in heaven; where with you and the Holy Spirit he lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Eve Holy Eucharist

The First Eucharist of Christmas will be celebrated at Our Saviour on Thursday, 24 December, at 11:00 p.m.

The entry will be lined with luminarias (God willing and winds behaving). We will sing lots of Christmas hymns, Eucharistic Prayer D will be chanted, frankincense will be offered, and we will close singing Silent Night before the crêche.

Come join us as we celebrate the mystery of the Incarnation!

There will be no service on Friday, Christmas Day. Holy Eucharist as usual on Sunday, December 27, at 11 a.m.

Our Saviour is at 2805 Don Felípe Road SW, Albuquerque 87105.

From the West Side: From the intersection of New Coors and Central go
south on Coors for 5.7 miles to Don Felípe Road SW. Turn left (East)
and go 0.2 miles. The mission, a small white building, will be on your
left (North).

From the East Side: From the Rio Bravo exit on I-25 go downhill (West)
2.5 miles to Isleta Blvd SW. Turn left (South) and go another 2.5
miles to Don Felípe Road SW. Turn right (West) and go 1.3 miles. The
mission, a small white building, will be on your right (North).

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Advent 3

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

This Sunday takes its traditional name - Gaudete Sunday - from the first word of the introit in the proper of the Latin Mass. The introit comes from the Epistle lesson appointed now for Advent 3 in Year C.
Philippians 4:4-6
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Its use in Advent springs from the words "The Lord is near."

You may hear the ancient Gregorian Introit sung (twice) on this YouTube video.

Even as John the Baptist calls us to turn our lives around and get right with God and one another, we rejoice for we are being called back to life and the Giver of life.

May you rejoice in the Lord. Always.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Eve of Advent 2

"In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us."

Advent wreath. Sarum blue. A new year of grace.

Thanks to Sue Ellen and Brett who came to Our Saviour this morning to consult on what can be done with sacred space, sharing their experience in liturgical arts with us.

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Llegaron las Biblias

Two dozen Spanish Bibles arrived today. Just in case....

Dios todopoderoso, que diste a tu apóstol Andrés una gracia tal que prestamente obedeció el llamado de tu Hijo Jesucristo y trajo a su hermano con él: Concédenos, a los llamados por tu Santo Verbo, la gracia para seguirle sin demora y traer a su bondadosa presencia a los que amamos; por aquél que vive y reina contigo y el Espíritu Santo, un solo Dios, ahora y por siempre. Amén.
Collect for the Feast of Saint Andrew the First-Called
Almighty God, who gave such grace to your apostle Andrew that he readily obeyed the call of your Son Jesus Christ, and brought his brother with him: Give us, who are called by your Holy Word, grace to follow him without delay, and to bring those near to us into his gracious presence; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The First Sunday of Advent

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
At this time of year, in the northern hemisphere at least, we ponder the passage from darkness to light, casting away the works of the former and donning the armor of the latter. We light candles in the Advent wreath, one more each Sunday until the great celebration of the Incarnation. From this first Sunday of the Church year through Candlemas on February 2 our thoughts are focused on light, whether it be the cycles of the sun or the Light that enlightens every one coming into the world (John 1:9), the uncreated Light we see shining in the face of Christ.

Here is a hymn by Charles Wesley that we do not usually associate with Advent though it has everything to do with our appropriation of the Incarnation, of being transformed by the One who came from above.

O Thou who camest from above,
the pure celestial fire to impart
kindle a flame of sacred love
upon the mean altar of my heart.

There let it for thy glory burn
with inextinguishable blaze,
and trembling to its source return,
in humble prayer and fervent praise.

Jesus, confirm my heart's desire
to work and speak and think for thee;
still let me guard the holy fire,
and still stir up thy gift in me.

Ready for all thy perfect will,
my acts of faith and love repeat,
till death thy endless mercies seal,
and make my sacrifice complete.

May the flame of sacred love blaze in our hearts.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Day 2009

Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Monday, November 23, 2009

There's more

I had not named all our recent blessings in the previous post. The dear lady who suggested giving the "lunch money" offering for the ministry of Our Saviour also did a stunning job on calligraphing all our name tags at deanery. AND she offered to furnish and fill out baptismal, confirmation, and marriage certificates for Our Saviour. What a lovely gift from her special skills and generous heart!

Other friends are offering ideas and resources to help us adorn the church as we progress through the seasons and help make it a space where spirits are uplifted and nurtured through the senses as well as through word and song.

After deanery I drove across the northern end of town and up to Rio Rancho to visit a friend who is a member of the Cathedral Church of St John. She is convalescing from surgery, so I took my oil stock for a time of prayer and anointing. She also has offered us a wonderful antique lectionary with a gilt angel on the front. It needs transporting and a bit of repair but there is another answer to prayer (and one more item off the want list). Combined with the large volume of the Revised Common Lectionary, we will be able to proclaim the Scriptures in a manner that testifies to the importance of God speaking in our midst.

Sunday three friends joined "the regulars" for worship. Two had come from Colorado to spend Thanksgiving here and brought with them an offering from a collection at Evening Prayer in Colorado. One is the dear friend whose truck has hauled tables, chairs, prayer books, and the new sign to Our Saviour. In honor of Christ the King we had frankincense, thanks to the thurible Scott donated, and we sang all verses of "Crown him with many crowns" at the end, even though we were few and a cappella. We had five vehicles in the parking lot. That may seem like a small number but to us it is a giant leap in an outward and visible sign.

Tomorrow at lunch I will head to diocesan house to turn offerings over to the treasurer's office. It represents several weeks of donations but it is an impressive sum. People are amazingly generous, even in difficult times. We have a couple of big expenses facing us, but God has seen to it that the money is already there.

Saturday we can prepare the church for Advent, setting up the Advent wreath and putting the new Sarum blue frontal on the altar. Most importantly, we shall be readying our hearts for a new year: a new year of grace and Good News and God's abundant love.

I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love towards all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. (Ephesians 1:15-19)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The daily answers to prayer

God is a reservoir of wonderful surprises.

Let's be honest. When I lived in California I had come to tire of deanery meetings and figured that after moving here and being considered by my home diocese as retired (though never formally), I would never have to attend a deanery meeting again. I joked with friends that for my sins, which are undoubtedly many and grievous, there I was at a deanery meeting again today.

Which proves that we make too much of our own sins and not enough of God's grace, eh?

Because today's meeting of the NW Deanery was a joy. Attendance was high, spirits were high, people stayed to the end. There was a lot of sharing of joy. Challenges and struggles too, painful situations and difficult discernment but amid all this was a refrain of service, of building, of new things coming to birth. Joy and mutual support, sharing one another's burdens, and upholding one another.

Some of the deanery's outreach money was shifted to support Our Saviour and a freewill offering for lunch, which the hosting church refused (and here I must make note of the wonderful lunch they provided, graciously and deliciously), was shifted to Our Saviour. At the end of the day I felt like one of those brides being pinned with money as bills and checks were stuffed into my shirt pocket.

A frequent refrain was "Thanks be to God," with echoing "Amen!"

How many have prayed for a new spirit, renewed faith, hope, and love, for collaboration and fresh joy in Christ! You interceding saints, your prayers are being answered. The Diocese of the Rio Grande is being transformed by grace.

Thanks be to God!

Can I hear an "Amen"?


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Says it all

Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, - a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.
~George Herbert


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

We start small

Because we have only just begun publicity I did not really expect anyone to come to tonight's English class, and that is what happened. I also expect that to change soon. In any case, my fellow volunteer and I were there, reviewing our resources, discussing ways we might engage people with English, and thinking about possibilities in general. It also gave us a chance to evaluate what visitors see when approaching the church at night, verify the daytime observation that the church heats quickly in cold weather (hooray!), and just have a nice visit.

In e-mail tonight I received suggestions and offers from liturgical arts folks, encouragement from a friend at my former parish in California, and a concrete suggestion for another form of social ministry. This is support from three other congregations and reminds me that the work of the Gospel is a shared ministry in which the Spirit brings together many gifts.

People are coming up with more really great ideas than we can implement all at once but keep them coming. It is all for the glory of God and the life of the world, and everything will bear fruit in its time.
Dios clemente, que enviaste a tu Hijo Jesús a proclamar las Buenas Noticias del reino y por él inspiraste a otros a sembrar las semillas de tu Iglesia: Guíanos para continuar este trabajo y danos los dones para cumplir tu voluntad. Te lo pedimos por Jesucristo nuestro Salvador. Amén.


Stepping out in faith

Tonight we open the doors to welcome those who would like to learn English. It will certainly take a while to get the word out and for this ministry to build, but here we go. As a language major who has studied several languages and one who uses Spanish every day, I am sure I can do this... but I have never taught English before. French, yes; English, no. This time, though, I am teaching my native tongue (just explaining it in Spanish).

As with everything we do at Our Saviour, prayer is invited and appreciated. Thank you all, who uphold this church planting.

Dios eterno, que has prometido la salvación a todos los pueblos y nos has ofrecido la visión de una gran multitud de gentes de todas las naciones y tribus y lenguas alrededor de tu trono, ayúdanos mientras hacemos realidad esta visión en nuestro tiempo y lugar; acompaña a quienes ahora emprenden tu labor en la Iglesia de Nuestro Salvador; y capacítalos para que escuchen y hablen palabras neuvas de esperanza y alabanza. Por Jesucristo, la Palabra viva. Amén.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

A miracle day at Our Saviour

Our Saviour in the South Valley of Albuquerque hosted a Miracle Day on Saturday, November 14. Folks arrived from Epiphany in Socorro, San Gabriel in Corrales, Canterbury and St. Michael's in Albuquerque, plus someone from St. Paul's Lutheran in Albuquerque who attends EFM at St. John's Cathedral. Kitchens and bathrooms were cleaned, walls were scrubbed, trash collected and hauled away, vacuums were busy everywhere, leaves were raked, brass and silver were polished, surfaces swept, and a vast quantity of weeds were gathered and burned. All kinds of cleaning supplies and devices were brought for the occasion and left for the ongoing cleaning and maintenance of the church. An overwhelming array of food was offered for lunch and leftovers were shared with the fire fighters next door.

In the midst of it all we gathered for a quiet time of Bible study, reflection and discussion, and prayer around mission and ministry and God's abundant goodness.

An immense amount of dedicated labor went into today. It also yielded to-do lists for the future, but mostly grateful, joyous, faith-filled hearts and a sense of accomplishment. The grounds and buildings look cared for and we look forward to welcoming people into worship, study, service, and celebration in this place.

If you would like to join with today's Bible reflections, we looked at Ephesians 1:1-23 and pondered what this means for our mission and ministry today. We invite you to spend some time with this amazing passage and consider what it means for mission and ministry where you are.

A thousand thanks to all who showed up, sharing labor, tools, food, and hearts. As St. Paul wrote in Philippians 1:3-5:
I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now.
And we do thank God at each remembrance.
Christ Jesus, you go before and behind us, you are our light and our shield; guide our path, be our clear sight, lift us up in your Gospel joy, and bless the work we do in your name and honor, for you are our beloved, and our life made new. Amen.

PS: You might want to save the weekend of May 1-2. Tuesday, May 4, is the feast of St. Florian, patron of fire fighters. We have begun discussing a blessing of the fire engines and community prayer for our fire fighters that weekend.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Our First Social Ministry

Clases de inglés para hispanohablantes
Especialmente para los que empiezan a hablar el idioma
Los martes desde 7 hasta 9 horas por la noche
(Esta clase es gratis: un servicio de nuestra parroquia.)

(Just a few doors east of Coors Blvd)

Which is, being interpreted:
English classes for Spanish speakers
Especially for those who are beginning to learn the language
Tuesdays from 7 to 9 PM

(This class is free: a service of our parish.)

*I know, technically we are not a parish but I think this will communicate easily.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Today at Our Saviour

It has been a beautiful autumn day as we give thanks for our vets and remember those who have served. We remember also the soldier, Martin, who became Bishop of Tours.

Here you can see fall color plus lots of tumbleweeds waiting to be gathered and cast into the fire.

More weeds between the entrance and the fire station next door. These will all be waiting for us on our Miracle Day this Saturday.

But the exciting event of the day was putting up the new church sign.

Come a little closer.

Now you can find us if you are joining us this Saturday. And any Sunday.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Getting the word out

But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’
--Romans 10.14-15
For two weeks I have been anticipating what happens tomorrow.

The new church sign was delivered today. Tomorrow I will put it up. I am very excited about this.

Two of us will also go about the area with flyers (see the graphic above) and do our best to get the word out that the Episcopal Church has not abandoned the South Valley but is there for worship and service. As St Benedict reminds us all: "Ora et labora" ("Pray and work").

As desperately as we needed a sign to proclaim our presence and the new time of services (and yes, some "branding" to use marketing-speak), I would not have dared commission it were it not for generous individuals who stepped forward to help launch a new ministry. You know who you are. Your early gifts gave us the courage to move forward. Our heartfelt thanks!

I also want to thank Stubblefield Screen Print Company who worked with us on the sign and, knowing our humble beginnings, gave us an excellent price and a fine product. Thanks to Ana, Patrick, and Steve! (They have no knowledge I am doing this but, all you Albuquerque area churches, Stubblefield is giving a nice discount on banners this month. Just saying.)
Holy Spirit, you delight to equip us with all the gifts of service to extend the Realm of God: Raise up among us and empower those among us whom you call to this new work, that the Body of Christ may grow in strength and health, for the transforming of the world; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Monday, November 9, 2009

The Episcopal Church welcomes you (yes, you!)

This evening's e-mail brought news that the sign for out front is ready. I will work on the logistics for that so it will be up by Saturday.

Thanks to so many generous people, the money is there for this and for several other needs.

This forces me to ask myself, once again, why was I anxious?

Since Wednesday is a federal holiday, I hope to distribute flyers around the neighborhood.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
--Philippians 4:4-7


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Miracle Day - Saturday, 14 November 2009

The first thing that needs to be said is that we cannot narrow down miracle days to just one, or two, or a few. Some wonderful, unanticipated news seems to come in almost every day. For this we give thanks to the Holy and Lifegiving Trinity and to God's people near and far who pray for a renewed ministry in the South Valley and who have given generously of time, talent, and treasures.

The second thing is invite all who can to join us this coming Saturday, November 14, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. or whatever portion of that time works for you. Many hands make light work and meeting challenges together is a wonderful way to form and deepen community. Folks from several churches around town (and out of town!) have expressed interest and we should have a great time of it.

What needs to be done? Where do we begin?

The Episcopal Church of Our Saviour
viewed from the parking lot.
You need to imagine that the trees
pictured here have changed color in the last month.

There are weeds all around. Many are large tumbleweeds that pull up rather easily but you definitely want heavy-duty gloves to protect your hands if you are doing this. There are smaller weeds and low-lying ones as well. We can burn these dried weeds (and our next-door neighbor to the east is the Pajarito fire station).

We need to do vacuuming (and do not have a vacuum for the church yet), and scrubbing of bathrooms and kitchens, sweeping and mopping of floors (again, no brooms or mops at the church yet).

Some folks have the gift of hospitality and the making of meals. Perhaps you would like to provide sandwiches and beverages to all the busy bees. (We do have plates, napkins, cups, and plastic utensils, but only one 8-cup coffee maker.)

At 11:40 a.m. we will break for some time of Bible study and prayer, then enjoy lunch.

As an added bonus, you can stroll down to the corner and say hello to the horses and the bison.

This will be a miracle day that announces to the South Valley that the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of the Rio Grande cares about mission fields, that we are, indeed, a missionary people, asking the Spirit what we might do in the time and place wherein we find ourselves. It is vital that this be preceded, performed, and followed with prayer.

Our Saviour is located at 2805 Don Felipe Rd SW, Albuquerque, NM 87105 (directions below).

Here is an overview map for basic orientation.

Here is a close-up view. Our Saviour is south of Gun Club and is located just a few lots east of Coors Blvd. If you are traveling south on Coors you will pass a drive-through dairy on your left and then see a green sign on the right side of the road for Pajarito Elementary School with an arrow pointing left. That is your clue to be ready to turn left at Don Felipe. The church is on the north side of Don Felipe.

Here is a view if you are coming from the south. You may click on any of these maps to enlarge them.

The following directions were provided a while back by Pepper Marts.

From the West Side: From the intersection of New Coors and Central go
south on Coors for 5.7 miles to Don Felípe Road SW. Turn left (East)
and go 0.2 miles. The mission, a small white building, will be on your
left (North).

From the East Side: From the Rio Bravo exit on I-25 go downhill (West)
2.5 miles to Isleta Blvd SW. Turn left (South) and go another 2.5
miles to Don Felípe Road SW. Turn right (West) and go 1.3 miles. The
mission, a small white building, will be on your right (North).

O Holy God, you breathe your life-giving Spirit into the congregations of this Diocese of the Rio Grande, calling us to join together in mission for the spreading of the Gospel: Show us the people to whom we should go and the path we should travel; help us to understand the deep longings of their hearts, and enable us to feed them through the living presence of Christ our Savior; in whose power we set forth and in whose Name we pray. Amen.
Come. Meet old friends and make new ones. Pray with us for the South Valley and adjacent mesa. There are 50,000 people in the two zip codes on either side of Coors who have no church affiliation. Some of those would probably love a joyous, welcoming Episcopal Church.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Two more steps forward

Our Saviour received a first pledge check this week - and it was not from the clergy. I had, amid all the other arrangements, not even remembered this myself and am thus embarrassed to be the second pledging unit, not the first. The Spirit blesses and nudges in many ways.

The sign design (above) has also been approved. I look forward to seeing this out front.

Lord Jesus, you commissioned us to make disciples of all the nations and promised that you would be with us always: So guide this congregation to see the peoples you would have us reach and empower us to be instruments of your saving work, for the glory of God. Amen.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

This evening's thanksgiving

"Avag Vanq" Gospel - Armenian (1200-01)
Avag Vanq Monastery near Erzincan
British Library Collection. Or. 13654 folio 182r.

Another friend informs us she has a lectern for us from a church in the UK.

Each day new blessings and more prayers come this way.

The prayers we are using here mostly come from The Book of Occasional Services 2003.
O God the Creator and Ruler of all things, your reign grows like a mustard seed into abundant life: Bless those who plant and tend the new life of your Church, that it may become a place of welcome, a refuge of healing, a school for souls, and a life-giving spring; all of which we ask through Jesus Christ our strength and our salvation. Amen.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Grab your gloves, brooms, vacuums, sponges, and elbow grease

Our Saviour invites all members of the Diocese of Rio Grande and any other neighbors or interested parties to join us in a Miracle Day on Saturday, November 14. With many hands we hope it will be light work and good fellowship. Ponder your special gifts and how you might like to participate. We have lots of carpet to vacuum, surfaces to scrub, brass and silver to polish, bathrooms to make spotless, and weeds to be pulled, hauled, and burned. Big honking tumbleweeds at that, so have your heavy duty gloves. We will need the gifts of feeding people too, so if sandwiches are your forte or organizing a lunch, we need you too! At noon we will not only have lunch but a time of shared Bible reading and prayer to nourish our souls.

Here is a great chance to get to know new sisters and brothers in Christ, to do something VERY incarnate and practical for the mission of the Church, and to let the neighborhood know that Episcopalians care.

Put it on your calendar now and come join us. Love and laughter will abound.

More details will be posted soon.


Endless blessings

Christ, Savior, by the intercession of your Evangelist John the Theologian may you teach us to call forth the Light that enlightens every one who comes into the world and to invite all into the fellowship of the Godhead, that all may dwell in you and you in them; to you be glory, O Lover of souls, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Soorp Hovaness - Saint John the Theologian dictating the Fourth Gospel to Prochor - from an Armenian Gospel Book (1282), School of Drazark, British Library Collection. Or. 5626 folio 266v.

This lovely card, plus another, came from a friend in New York, who shares roots with me (the Central California Armenian community). She also sent a gracious contribution for the work of Our Saviour.

In e-mails this evening I learned that two local parishes are sending us 41 Prayer Books and 25 folding chairs.

Jesus did say, "Ask and you shall receive." I am astounded daily. Truly astounded.

God and God's people are good and giving. Most hearty thanks to these and all our friends.

O God, who inspired your apostles in Jerusalem to pray and fast to discern your will: Send us your Spirit, that we may learn what you would have us do and the words and witness you would have us offer, that your Kingdom may come and your power be revealed in the South Valley and Southwest Mesa of Albuquerque; to the glory of your Name. Amen.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

All Saints' Day

We were very few today, to the visible eye, but we had a sense of the presence of the whole host of heaven and the communion of saints. There were icons of the saints all over the church.

This is the table where the offertory elements had rested before the service.

Here is the ofrenda, with icons, flowers, candles, food and drink, and names and photos of the departed.

In this closeup you can see the pan de muerto (bread of the dead), sugar skulls, brownies with German chocolate topping, and tamales with salsa. We had a nice lunch after the service.

Here is the altar area, sporting a new frontal and fair linen plus lots of icons for this feast. Special thanks to Eydie Francis for the altar linens.

We sang three verses of "For all the saints" because, well, one must.


Saturday, October 31, 2009

A grateful heart

I cannot begin to tell you how many messages of prayer and support have come our way in the first few weeks.

If you are new to this story, here is a quick rundown:

The community worshiping at Our Saviour, Albuquerque, felt they could no longer be part of the Episcopal Church. They are now meeting elsewhere and I pray God's blessing upon them that they may follow Christ and serve faithfully as they feel led.

The Diocese of the Rio Grande suddenly found itself in possession of an empty church and church hall in the South Valley of Albuquerque, just 3.8 miles from where I live. The idea of NOT having the Episcopal Church ministering in this part of town strikes me as scandalous. As the Diocese looked for someone who might keep the doors open, I stepped in.

God is always full of surprises.

We began with two buildings, chairs in the nave, an altar, an altar book, a Gospel book, chalice, patens, and not much more. I had two days to get hosts, wine, lessons, altar linens, service booklets and a whole lot more in place. Each week we are more equipped than the week before. Other churches and individuals have chipped in to donate tables, waste baskets, frontals, a fair linen, Prayer Books, etc. Unexpected donations have come in. Supportive friends from other congregations have shown up. We are working on signage and publicity. So far the neighborhood does not know we are there and open for business but that will soon change.

Within the next few weeks we hope to have an English class for Spanish speakers. Before too long I hope to offer weekly Eucharist in Spanish. For the moment it is challenge enough to have Eucharist each Sunday, but we are doing it.

Back to where this post began. Every day some new gift, some new message, some new expression of love (or several, or many) comes in. People across the diocese, across the country, and around the world are praying for us and we are praying.

We are casting seed on many kinds of soil here, and doing so in faith.

I am incredibly grateful for each person who joins in this effort, by any means whatsoever. Thank you. And thanks be to God.


The wish list

Gracious offers of assistance continue to come in and we are blessed by the opening of so many hearts. We are currently pursuing the sign out front and hope to have that in place very soon. I am working on the gathering of resources for both worship and community ministry. Among my sundry belongings, once I dig them out, are a lectern-sized lectionary (RCL) and a Spanish altar book.

Here are some wish list items (if you don't ask, you don't receive):
  • A lectern
  • A pillar or small-surface side table on which can be placed...
  • A nice bowl for a font
  • A vacuum cleaner
  • Waste baskets (we have only one and many rooms that need them) we now have 8
  • Folding or stackable chairs for the church hall (Update: 25 are on their way)
  • The Book of Common Prayer 1979 (we now have 48)
  • Bibles for Bible study down the road
  • Spanish Bibles (ditto)
  • Musicians and instruments
  • Effective means of communication with the community
  • NEW: an iron and ironing board
  • NEW: brooms, dust pans, mops, devices for cleaning toilets

And always, always prayer that we may listen for and follow the Spirit and open our hearts to the people of the community.

I also ask your prayers for those who have felt they needed to leave the Episcopal Church, the community that once worshiped in this space. May everything they do for the reign of God be blessed, may they be channels of grace to others, may God heal anger and bitterness in all our hearts, and may we all move forward that Good News may be proclaimed by many voices and in many manners.

There is more than enough room in this part of town for every ministry God can raise up. Approximately 52,000 people with no church affiliation live in two adjoining zip codes.

Every day there are new blessings, new acts of love and support, for mission and ministry. It is only as we participate in mission and ministry (and it does not have to be our brand or flavor, I speak broadly here) in our specific corners of the world that become part of tikkun, the restoration and healing of the world.

We must act, speak, bear witness, and struggle on larger stages also but it is the close, concrete, particular acts that embody what we yearn to become.

I hope, this evening, that y'all yearn to be what we are made to be: channels of compassion, healing, justice, peace, truth, light, and love.

In the current tight economy I don't want to confront anyone with a begging bowl for this ministry. My own income is from a secular job and this is about a movement of the Spirit and the People of the South Valley and up toward the West Mesa in Albuquerque, NOT about any one priest. (I wince when loving people call this "my" church; you know what I mean, I trust.) If this is about me, I should stop right now.

We are venturing where the diocese, struggling with many larger challenges at the moment, cannot afford to make any substantial investment.

So, because some have asked, if anyone wishes to contribute, they may make checks payable to the following:
Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande

4304 Carlisle Blvd NE

Albuquerque, NM 87107
And earmark them for "Our Saviour, ABQ."

Only if you want to and can afford it, OK?

If what you can afford right now is "only" prayer, that is more precious than gold and makes a difference. Without the prayers of many this simply will not happen and I and others involved are immeasurably grateful for every prayer offered. Thank you.


Community Remembrance

This is our first press release:

The Episcopal Church of Our Saviour will draw on traditions of los Días de los Muertos as it celebrates the Feast of All Saints on Sunday, November 1. An ofrenda for the community will be in the church so that people may bring photos, names, and other remembrances of their loved ones who have gone before. Flowers, candles, and santos will join tokens of the departed as expressions of love that transcends death.

"In a society that wastes so much energy denying death we hope to acknowledge it and allow ourselves to revisit memories, feel our grief, and share our love," said the Rev. Paul E. Strid. "There is much more to celebrate this weekend than candy," he added. "We celebrate the communion of saints: past, present, and future."

Holy Eucharist will be offered at 11:00 a.m. and all are invited. Our Saviour is located at 2805 Don Felipe Road SW, just off Coors south of Gun Club.
I have just printed off photos family members and others that I wish to remember this weekend. I have also gathered a number of icons of the saints so we may have a sense of being surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses as we worship.

Tomorrow I try to locate marigolds and pan de muerto (I didn't order ahead so not sure if I will succeed or not) and other items for the ofrenda and the celebration in general. Lunch with a friend then off to build the ofrenda and decorate the church. A busy day. If I locate where I last left my thurible we shall have smells and bells for this high feast. I will not make but might buy tamales. I cannot say they were a favorite food of my departed relatives but I do think they would enjoy them and we will at coffee hour.

If you are in Albuquerque or nearby it would be lovely if you joined us.

Blessed God, you make all things new: Guide us as we seek your will for a new community of Word and Sacrament, that it may be leaven for the world's bread, and wine of delight for hearts in need; a gathering strong for service and glad in praise; and a people listening and responding to your presence in their midst; through Jesus our Redeemer and steadfast companion. Amen.