Introducing the Episcopal Church — September 14 – October 5

Are you feeling drawn to the liturgy and fellowship of the Advocate but don’t really know what the Episcopal Church is or “what Episcopalians believe”?

Then come as you can to a four-week introduction to the Episcopal Church, Sundays at 12:30 PM at the Advocate.

Sunday, September 14    Where and what did we come from? (History)

Sunday, September 21     Why do we have communion every Sunday and no Christmas carols until December 24? (Worship as Spiritual formation)

Sunday, September 28   Who gets to make the decisions? (Polity)

Sunday, October 5     The Advocate is an Episcopal Mission. What does that mean? Does it matter?

If you are interested, contact vicar@theAdvocateChurch.org.

 

“An Old Tune, Always New” — a Sam Laurent Sermon

The Following Sermon was preached by Sam Laurent, PhD., Theologian in Residence at the Advocate, The Seventh Sunday of Easter, June 1, 2014

Let me lay some poetry on you. A poem by Michael O’Siadhail, called “Hail! Madam Jazz” has been stuck in my mind as I’ve thought about the Ascension this week. It’s about the ways that immersing oneself in jazz can reveal and defy one’s expectations and open up new spaces in our thinking. The last two lines are these:

Old tunes die in metamorphosis.

Rise, fall, reawakening. I praise.

The disciples had become convinced of Jesus’ divinity, having been with him for his teachings, seen his miracles, and now bogglingly spent time with him after the specter of the crucifixion. They saw God in their midst, a 3-dimensional embodied manifestation of God, and they laid their deepest hopes at his feet. They asked him if this moment was the time at which he would restore Israel to glory, fulfilling their messianic expectations. It was, you have to admit, a fair question, for he has already risen from the dead, so seemingly everything was in play. Very clearly they can sense that something big is happening.

Jesus redirected their inquiry. “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Jesus was signaling to his disciples that this story was not going to follow established scripts. Its ending is in fact a beginning. On the day of his ascension, Jesus was not enacting some political scheme, but in fact undercut all political schemes. He disappeared. He left them again.

Old tunes die in metamorphosis.

The person of Jesus was an experience of God for the disciples. Through their stories, and through the Holy Spirit’s ongoing participation in our lives, we now experience Jesus as a focal point of our own experience of God. But his final lesson, and perhaps the greatest illustration of God’s presence comes in this Ascension story. The disciples were, after all, just people, and we are the same as they. And people deal in particulars. If I experience God in this building, I might well start to think that there is more God in this building than in other places. If I experience God in a bit of bread and a sip of wine that have been consecrated, I may think that they are ways in which God is packaged and delivered to me. Maybe I’ll start thinking that those physical things themselves are God. But Jesus’ last lesson totally inverts all of that. Knowing that the disciples expect a worldly triumph, he disappears and leaves them staring toward heaven.

This is where that difficult saying “I am the way, the truth, and the life” starts to make sense, even if its apparent exclusivity scrambles our postmodern circuits. Jesus’ work is not to deliver God to us, but to deliver us to God. 3 chapters after “I am the way,” the yet-to-be-crucified Jesus prays to God on our behalf, saying “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Think of Jesus as an icon, meant to draw your eye and focus your attention, but ultimately receding from view, so that the depth of divine presence might be glimpsed through it. The physical form of Jesus allows us to connect to God in a powerful way, but when it’s really working, that physical form fades from sight. It is everything and no thing. In his ascension, Jesus performs the spiritual experience of moving past our perceptions and projections of experience and into the ineffable mystery of God. Jesus is the way because he makes a way, precisely by refusing to be an idol.

By leaving the disciples, by ascending into heaven, he drew their gaze not to the empty space where he had stood, but eventually to the Holy Spirit that fills it and calls forth something new.

Old tunes die in metamorphosis.

Rise, fall, reawakening.

The Incarnate Jesus, you see, is a self-negating symbol of God’s kingdom, a symbol that, in disappearing, makes sure it is not mistaken for the thing it points toward. He stays here just long enough for you to see how he points toward something deeper, broader, and eternal, and then disappears before you can make an idol of him and ignore the depth, breadth, and eternity he leads you to. Jesus says to God “All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.” As Jesus departs this sphere, God’s presence does not recede, but the deep connections amongst all of the creation come into light and are seen as the avenues of God’s creative presence. Next week we will hear the Pentecost story, when the Gospel, so centralized in the physical presence of Jesus, is refracted by the Spirit into myriad languages and contexts, as the profound unity of God’s kingdom becomes the way in which the Good News moves. Jesus disappeared, and the disciples found God right in their midst.

Now we’re ready for the full two lines of “Hail! Madam Jazz” again:

Old tunes die in metamorphosis.

Rise, fall, reawakening. I praise.

The disciples do not linger in that mystical moment of the ascension, but they instead start figuring out how to tell the world what they have seen. The Pentecost happens and sends the Word out like so many sparks from a firework. But they are no longer staring slack-jawed at heaven. They see the world differently now, knowing that Jesus really was pretty much who they had hoped he was, but that he was calling them to a deeper awareness. They have seen the way in which God’s unity wires the whole broad system of creation together, and they go forth to diverse places and preach to diverse peoples, saying things like this from the letter to the Ephesians “there is one body and one Spirit… one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.” One God who is above all and through all and in all. There’s the echo of mystical experience, that peek behind the fabric of our reality into the oceanic depths of God’s presence and love. It stays with them, and emboldens them. It empowers them to speak, to go forth, and to create the church. It moves still.

Old tunes die in metamorphosis.

Rise, fall, reawakening. I praise.

In jazz, the tune is a framework, a melody, some harmonies, and a chord progression that serve as a starting point and set the initial mood. But jazz really happens when the musicians apply their own voices and their own creativities to the tune and to the tradition they have immersed themselves in for years before you hear them. It’s a risk-taking sort of creativity, one that requires the artist to abandon the already-accomplished and the familiar, but the payoff can be enormous.

By virtue of the Ascension, Jesus enacts something like that improvisational process, offering the framework of a tune, but then withdrawing from view so that the disciples can sense the Spirit for themselves. Jesus is the tradition and the tune for his disciples. He has taught them about God’s kingdom, and his life, death, resurrection, and ascension comprise the tune on which we have been riffing for two thousand years. The tune itself resists completion and always invites new variations, deeper study, and greater collaboration. For music, like the story of God’s love, is never complete.

A classic jazz tune, say Coltrane’s “Giant Steps,” does not exist frozen in time, but is interpreted anew each time it is performed. Coltrane wrote it in 1960, and it endures in the jazz canon still, though never sounding—or meant to sound—exactly like it did when Coltrane played it, and he never played it the same way twice. When we risk creativity, when we dare to talk about God with our own voice, we give up the chance of perfectly replicating what Jesus did, but we also open up a space in which the experience of God can happen anew.

So for the disciples, that encounter with the Incarnate Jesus, the guy who walked among them, was the entryway into the deeper experience. For us it may be the sacraments or the wilderness. For me, music gets me into that space more than anything else, and it’s important to remember that the existence of something deeper behind the superficial event doesn’t rob it of it’s value. The physical world matters. Bodies matter. Your experience matters. If a bit of bread and wine open up divine vistas for you, then truly there is deep value in them. If a quiet spot by a pond lets you see the divine fabric that weaves all of the world together, then that place is certainly sacred. If the Spirit flows through it, it is sacred, and the big point here is that the Spirit flows through all of it. But all of these experiences come when the appearances and perceptions of the world crack open and yield a bit so that we can see behind our own associations and assumptions. And, gifted with the memory of those experiences, we return to life as normal, but as disciples, we are changed.

Now, a point of theological clarification. The Holy Spirit has been here all along. She didn’t just appear after Jesus’ ascension to take over the divine household’s earth shift. The Spirit is eternal, was there at the beginning, is here now, and was at all points in between. But this story of the Ascension isn’t about God’s eternal nature, per se. It’s about our awareness of it. Experientially, we need something concrete to draw our attention, to say “look! This right here is God!” And if we are to go deeper, we need to see beyond the material trappings of that concrete thing, to see what is behind it. Jesus showed the way in his Ascension, but the Spirit was there all along. The Spirit hovers over our lives now, as She did over the primordial waters in Genesis and over the crowd on the day of Pentecost. The Spirit calls the creation into being.

The Spirit calls us into speech. Bold speech. The kind of speech that knows that, whether it rises or falls, it is in the presence of God. And that is where we as Christians start to perform our own jazz here on the present edge of Christian tradition, with the deep wisdom of Christ as our canon. We are not simply replicating the past, even when we repeat old words and rituals, but are each time offering a space in which something new and sacred might emerge in concert with the Spirit. Each time we seek to attune ourselves to the Spirit and to understand the Gospel, each time we gather to pray, each time we extend kindness to a stranger because we know we are one, that old tune lives again. In our lives as faithful Christians, we are called to tend to a million little resurrections, all born of the awareness that God remains with us.

So then, this Ascension teaches us that the particular places and things in which we experience God are but icons which themselves point to the eternal depth of God’s kingdom. And it teaches us that Jesus’ time on earth was in a sense a time of training us to help each other find God. The men in robes approached the disciples after Jesus ascended and said “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

“Weren’t you paying attention to all the things he told you?” they seem to be saying, “he’s going to come back. Go tell everyone. You know the tune by now. It’s your turn to play.”

Old tunes die in metamorphosis.

Rise, fall, reawakening. I praise.

 

Amen.

Dear Isaac — on the day of your baptism

A sermon preached for  the Baptism of Isaac, whose family is moving across the country tomorrow. (Year A: Epiphany VII. February 23, 2014) 

The Rev. Lisa G. Fischbeck, Vicar

Dear Isaac,

Today you are being baptized!

Your parents have brought you here,

willingly and happily,

desiring that you be given this sacrament in all its many dimensions.

 

We will pour water on your head.

Water that has been blessed

and that, by our prayers,

has become water that washes you like no bath you’ve ever had.

 

We will also pour oil on your head.

Oil that has been blessed by the bishop,

and that,

by our prayers,

will be the sign that you belong to God in Jesus forever.

 

And we will pray that God will give you

an inquiring and discerning heart.

Which means we pray that you will never stop asking questions,

ever.

We pray that you will listen for answers and consider them.

And we hope you will ask God to guide you in that consideration.

 

In the baptismal rite we will also pray that God will give you

the courage to will and to persevere.

Which means we pray that you will have the courage to do what you know is good and right and true.

Hopefully after you have asked for God’s guidance.

 

And we will pray that God will give you

a sense of joy and wonder in all God’s works.

This includes that natural world, for sure.

Fortunately,

where you are going and with the parents you have been given,

we rest assured that you will have ample opportunities to be given a sense of joy and wonder in the natural world.

 

But God’s works include,

significantly,

all us human beings too.

And sometimes it can be a whole lot harder to maintain a sense of joy and wonder about us.

We hope you will remember to ask God for that kind of maintenance!

 

Isaac,

your parents have brought you here,

willingly and happily,

desiring that you be given this sacrament of baptism in all its many dimensions.

One of those dimensions is that by your baptism

you become a member of Christ’s Body,

the Church.

In fact, after you have been baptized we will “receive you into the household of God”.

 

We feel this part of your baptism palpably.

Because we baptize you here at the Church of the Advocate in Chapel Hill,

knowing that in the days ahead you will be far from us,

and in the years ahead you will be given to the care and environment of another community of the Church.

Yet we have promised that we will do all in our power to support you.

So we will pray for you.

We will pray for you in the weeks ahead.

We will pray for your parents that they will find a church home for you over there in Colorado.

We will pray for your godparents that they will care for you and be present to you as best they can.

We will pray that you grow up knowing that it was important to your parents that you be baptized here

even though you are about to move there.

This means you have been given a special experience of being baptized into the whole church, not just one particular community.

I hope you can know that as you grow to adulthood

and begin to experience the love and the grace,

even the joy;

the vagaries and imperfections,

even the hypocrisy;

of the whole Church and of particular church communities.

 

This Jesus, whom we follow,

has set a very high standard for us.

It is plain in the lessons we read on this day of your Baptism.

We heard from Leviticus, the ancient book of laws in which Jesus himself was fully immersed.

(the only reading of this ancient book of laws, by the way,

that we Episcopalians are given on a Sunday.)

 

Check it out: Leviticus 19:1-2,9-18

If describes what life is like for those who know God as their God.

If you know God as your God, then you shall see all human beings as beloved of God,

and you will ever be mindful of others.

and will give of what you have been given.

It says two times that you shall not steal.

So that must be an important result of knowing God.

 

We also heard from the Gospel of Matthew,

5th chapter, verses 38-48,

in which Jesus takes the Levitical laws and notches them up a bit,

notches them up to what seems to be either impossible or intolerable.

But again,

he is describing what will happen if you know and love God:

You will have that courage to will and to persevere.

You will stand for what you know is right.

And you will see all human beings as beloved of God.

 

(If you ever want a further explanation of some of these difficult teachings about turning the other cheek or walking the extra mile, though,

when you are old enough,

take in the movie Ghandi, or read some of his writings.

Learn about civil disobedience in our own country’s Civil Rights movement.

It seems the human conscience was created to withstand only so much oppression and injustice.

When that oppression and injustice is brought to light,

that is when things begin to change,

eventually.

We hope you will work to bring oppression and injustice to light.)

 

Isaac,

your parents have brought you here,

willingly and happily,

desiring that you be given this sacrament of baptism in all its many dimensions.

And importantly,

one of those dimensions is that in baptism

not only do you become a member of the Church, the Body of Christ,

but in baptism you also become one with Jesus himself.

 

It is a mystery of faith,

It is cosmic and illogical and hard to explain.

But it is also wonderful and life-changing

and it gives us hope.

 

It gives us hope for the long run,

allowing us to live with a sense that all will long be well.

And it also gives us hope for the short run,

for the day to day and the season to season.

 

Because otherwise,

this life would be mighty hard to live.

And these laws in Leviticus

and these teachings of Jesus

Would be nigh on impossible to follow.

 

Did you catch the last line of the Gospel reading?

“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

This perfection is not something we can put on ourselves.

It is not something we can will ourselves to have

or discipline ourselves to accomplish.

Rather it is something borne of our oneness with God.

It’s true.

 

The closer we are to God,

the more we truly knit our wills to God’s will

our spirits to God’s spirit,

the more all the “shalls” of the Leviticus reading

and all the  directives of Jesus in the reading from the Gospel of Matthew,

gradually become a way of being.

They become a matter of “we can do no other.”

It. just. happens.

And it is good.

Holy even!

 

We don’t stay there of course.

Irritatingly enough.

We slip slide all over the place.

All of us do.

Which is why we need to accept each other,

forgive each other,

love each other.

You may slip today, and require the forgiveness of the one who will slide tomorrow.

 

That is why,

as we return to the Eucharistic prayer out of New Zealand later in this liturgy,

we will pray that we who receive Christ’s Body

may indeed be the Body of Christ.

 

Isaac,

your parents have brought you here,

willingly and happily,

desiring that you be given this sacrament of baptism in all its many dimensions.

And we are mighty glad you will be with us and we with you all along the way.

Maybe not in the same congregation or the same state,

but united in the Spirit,

united in Baptism,

united in love.

 

Let all God’s people say,

Amen.

Commissions in the Season of Epiphany

Realizing that Christians are called to ministry in the world, each Sunday in the Season of Epiphany, The Church of the Advocate commissions  people to their life, work and vocation in the community and world around us.

This year, we will be commissioning the following vocations on the following dates:

January 12    Advocate Annual Meeting    All the people of the Advocate

January 19     All those engaged in expressive and creative endeavors

January 26     All who are caregivers for others 

February 2      All who are retired, in transition or in a period of discernment 

February 9      All who serve the public 

February 16    All who work in the pursuit of knowledge

February 23    All who engage in business and commerce 

March 3           All who engage in farming, gardening the stewardship of creation 

Come join us!

 

Posted here are some sample commissions from throughout the years.

SAMPLE COMMISSIONS 

All Who Work in the Pursuit of Knowledge

Celebrant: Now there are a variety of gifts but the same Spirit

People: There are a variety of services but the same Lord

Celebrant: We call forward all who work to increase our knowledge and understanding of God’s vast creation

 

Those to be commissioned come forward and present themselves to the celebrant and congregation

 

Celebrant: Lord, we present to you these teachers, students, scholars and administrators; researchers, inventors, scientists, and information specialists; historians, philosophers, theologians, and all who seek a deeper understanding of truth

 

Commissioned: Here I am, Lord

Celebrant: Do you celebrate your God given gifts?

Commissioned: We do

Celebrant: Do you seek the blessing of God and God’s Church?

Commissioned: We do

Celebrant: Do you promise, with the help of God, to use your gifts to serve God and neighbor?

Commissioned: We do

 

Celebrant: Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom: enlighten by your Holy Spirit those who teach and those who learn

Commissioned: We rejoice in the knowledge of your truth

Celebrant: Bless their pursuit of sound learning, new discovery, and the pursuit of wisdom

Commissioned: May we find in you the source of all truth

Celebrant: Give them times of refreshment and peace

Commissioned: That we may renew our minds, rebuild our bodies, and open our spirits to serve you from generation to generation

Celebrant: This we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

Commissioned: Amen

 

 

Celebrant Addressing the People of the Advocate: We call forward all you People of the Advocate

 

All who can come forward and lay hands on those to be commissioned

 

Celebrant: I present to you these sons and daughters of the Advocate.

People: We celebrate their gifts and talents

Celebrant: Will you by your prayers and witness help these, our neighbors and friends, to share their gifts?

People: We will, with God’s help

Celebrant: Will you do all in your power to support these, our brothers and sisters, in their life in Christ?

People: We will, with God’s help

Celebrant: Do you witness this commissioning before each other, our community, and before God?

People: We do

Together: We commission you to this work and pledge to you our prayers, encouragement and support. May the Holy Spirit guide and strengthen you, that in this and in all things, you may do God’s will in the service of Jesus Christ.

 

All stand together before the celebrant

 

Celebrant: Glory to God

People: Whose power, working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine

Celebrant: Glory to God from generation to generation in the Church

People: And in Christ Jesus forevermore.

 

The celebrant offers the blessing to all

 

Congregation returns to seats, song procession

 

An emphatic dismissal

 

 

 

All Who Engage in Business, Commerce and Services

 

Celebrant: Now there are a variety of gifts but the same Spirit

People: There are a variety of services but the same Lord

 

Celebrant: We call forward all who engage in business, commerce and services

 

Those to be commissioned come forward and present themselves to the celebrant and congregation

 

Celebrant: Lord, we present to you entrepreneurs and small businesspersons; entrepreneurs and small businesspersons; those who keep our stores stocked, who prepare and serve our meals, and make our lives easier to live; those who work in finance and banking; who support their families and their community as employers of others, and all those workers whom they employ; all who advise and counsel families and individuals on financial matters; all whose work helps meet their own and others’ material needs while heeding God’s call to sound stewardship and ethical practice

 

 

Commissioned: Here I am, Lord

Celebrant: Do you celebrate your God given gifts?

Commissioned: We do

Celebrant: Do you seek the blessing of God and his Church?

Commissioned: We do

Celebrant: Do you promise, with the help of God, to use your gifts to serve God and neighbor?

Commissioned: We do

 

Celebrant: Almighty God, whose Son in his earthly life shared our toil and hallowed our labor

Commissioned: Be present with us where we work

Celebrant: Make those who carry on the industries and commerce of this land responsive to your will

Commissioned: Give to us all a pride in what we do, and a just return for our labor

Celebrant: Guide them in the work they do so they do it not for self alone, but for the common good

Commissioned: Make us mindful of the rightful aspirations of other workers

Celebrant: Remember before us all who suffer want and anxiety from lack of work

Commissioned: Guide us so to use our public and private wealth that all may find suitable and fulfilling employment

Celebrant: This we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

Commissioned: Amen

 

Celebrant Addressing the People of the Advocate: We call forward all you People of the Advocate

 

All who can come forward and lay hands on those to be commissioned

 

Celebrant: I present to you these sons and daughters of the Advocate.

People: We celebrate their gifts and talents

Celebrant: Will you by your prayers and witness help these, our neighbors and friends, to share their gifts?

People: We will, with God’s help

Celebrant: Will you do all in your power to support these, our brothers and sisters, in their life in Christ?

People: We will, with God’s help

Celebrant: Do you witness this commissioning before each other, our community, and before God?

People: We do

Together: We commission you to this work and pledge to you our prayers, encouragement and support. May the Holy Spirit guide and strengthen you, that in this and in all things, you may do God’s will in the service of Jesus Christ.

 

All stand together before the celebrant

 

Celebrant: Glory to God

People: Whose power, working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine

Celebrant: Glory to God from generation to generation in the Church

People: And in Christ Jesus forevermore.

 

 

The celebrant offers the blessing to all

 

Congregation returns to seats, song and procession

 

An emphatic dismissal

 

 

All Who Serve the Public

 

Celebrant: Now there are a variety of gifts but the same Spirit

People: There are a variety of services but the same Lord

 

Celebrant: We call forward all who serve the public

 

Those to be commissioned come forward and present themselves to the celebrant and congregation

 

Celebrant: Lord, we present to you all who work in the public interest; in the justice system; elected and appointed officials; in the public sector and in charitable organizations; those who work in high office and those who clean and maintain those offices; police officers and firefighters and all who keep us safe from harm; all who serve the public good and in so doing live out in selflessness and compassion God’s will for us all

 

 

Commissioned: Here I am, Lord

Celebrant: Do celebrate your God given gifts?

Commissioned: We do

Celebrant: Do you seek the blessing of God and his Church?

Commissioned: We do

Celebrant: Do you promise, with the help of God, to use your gifts to serve God and neighbor?

Commissioned: We do

 

Celebrant: Almighty God, you have made all the peoples of the earth for your glory and to serve you in freedom and in peace:

Commissioned: Give us strength that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will

Celebrant: Grant us your grace fearlessly to contend against evil and to make no peace with oppression

Commissioned: Help us to maintain justice in our communities

Celebrant: Your hand is open wide to satisfy the needs of every living creature

Commissioned: Grant that we, remembering the account that we must one day give, may be faithful stewards of each other and of your good gifts

Celebrant: Let them be leaven for the world’s bread and wine of delight for hearts in need

Commissioned: Keep us strong for service and glad in praise

Celebrant: May they continue to hear and answer God’s call

Commissioned: Help us to practice Compassion, to do Justice, and to experience the Transformative Power of God in Christ as continually revealed in Word, Sacrament, and life

Celebrant: This we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

Commissioned: Amen

 

 

Celebrant Addressing the People of the Advocate: We call forward all you People of the Advocate

 

All who can come forward and lay hands on those to be commissioned)

 

Celebrant: I present to you these sons and daughters of the Advocate.

People: We celebrate their gifts and talents

Celebrant: Will you by your prayers and witness help these, our neighbors and friends, to share their gifts?

People: We will, with God’s help

Celebrant: Will you do all in your power to support these, our brothers and sisters, in their life in Christ?

People: We will, with God’s help

Celebrant: Do you witness this commissioning before each other, our community, and before God?

People: We do

Together: We commission you to this work and pledge to you our prayers, encouragement and support. May the Holy Spirit guide and strengthen you, that in this and in all things, you may do God’s will in the service of Jesus Christ.

 

All stand together before the celebrant

 

Celebrant: Glory to God

People: Whose power, working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine

Celebrant: Glory to God from generation to generation in the Church

People: And in Christ Jesus forevermore.

 

 

The celebrant offers the blessing to all

 

Congregation returns to seats, song and procession

 

An emphatic dismissal

 

 

 

 

More Abbreviated Epiphany Commissions:

 

Each week the Celebrant and People say:

 

V: Now there are a variety of gifts but the same Spirit

R: There are a variety of services but the same Lord

V. There are varieties of activities

R: But the same God who activates all of them in everyone.

 

Week by week, those to be commissioned come forward and present themselves to the celebrant and congregation

 

————————-

The Celebrant calls forward all who serve the public: all who work in the justice system; elected and appointed officials in government who act in the public interest, the public sector and in charitable organizations; those who work in high office and those who clean and maintain those offices; police officers and firefighters who work to keep us safe from harm; for all who serve the public good and in so doing live out in selflessness and compassion God’s will for us all —

 

People: We commission you to this work and pledge to you our prayers, encouragement and support. May the Holy Spirit guide and strengthen you, that in this and in all things, you may do God’s will in the service of Jesus Christ.

 

The celebrant offers the blessing to all

 

Congregation returns to seats, song and procession

 

An emphatic dismissal

 

—————-

The Celebrant calls forward all who work in the pursuit of knowledge: teachers, students, scholars and school administrators; researchers and inventors, scientists and technology workers; explorers of inner and outer space; historians and philosophers and all those who are called to increase humanity’s knowledge and understanding of God’s vast creation,

 

People: We commission you to this work and pledge to you our prayers, encouragement and support. May the Holy Spirit guide and strengthen you, that in this and in all things, you may do God’s will in the service of Jesus Christ.

 

The celebrant offers the blessing to all

 

Congregation returns to seats, song and procession

 

An emphatic dismissal

 

——————

The Celebrant calls forward all those engaged in expressive and creative endeavors: writers and poets; sculptors, painters and potters; all performers and composers; all those who build as well as those who design; those who reap as well as those who sow; all who act to bring new things into being, mirroring God’s own act of creation —

 

People: We commission you to this work and pledge to you our prayers, encouragement and support. May the Holy Spirit guide and strengthen you, that in this and in all things, you may do God’s will in the service of Jesus Christ.

 

The celebrant offers the blessing to all

 

Congregation returns to seats, song and procession

 

An emphatic dismissal

 

—————-

The Celebrant calls forward all who engage in business and commerce: all entrepreneurs and small businesspersons; all who work in finance and banking; all who support their families and their community as employers of others, and all those workers whom they employ; all who advise and counsel families and individuals on financial matters; all whose work helps meet their own and others’ material needs while heeding God’s call to sound stewardship and ethical practice —

 

People: We commission you to this work and pledge to you our prayers, encouragement and support. May the Holy Spirit guide and strengthen you, that in this and in all things, you may do God’s will in the service of Jesus Christ.

 

The celebrant offers the blessing to all

 

Congregation returns to seats, song and procession

 

An emphatic dismissal

 

 

The Celebrant calls forward all who are caregivers for others: homemakers and child care workers,  physicians, nurses and those who assist them; those who care for animals and those who work to protect the environment; all counselors, social workers and mental health professionals; all those who serve in the clergy and the laity who support their work, caring for God’s people from within God’s church —

 

People: We commission you to this work and pledge to you our prayers, encouragement and support. May the Holy Spirit guide and strengthen you, that in this and in all things, you may do God’s will in the service of Jesus Christ.

 

The celebrant offers the blessing to all

 

Congregation returns to seats, song and procession

 

An emphatic dismissal

 

 

The Celebrant calls forward all who are retired, in transition or in a period of discernment: all who are enjoying the benefits of long years of work in retirement, all who by choice or by circumstance are in transition or are seeking what work or path to follow; all who are prevented by physical or mental disability from engaging in a daily vocation; all those who in so doing seek God’s will for their lives and mirror God’s resting on the seventh day —

 

People: We commission you to this work and pledge to you our prayers, encouragement and support. May the Holy Spirit guide and strengthen you, that in this and in all things, you may do God’s will in the service of Jesus Christ.

 

The celebrant offers the blessing to all

 

Congregation returns to seats, song and procession

 

An emphatic dismissal

—————————–

For all those who care for the well being of others: for doctors, nurses, social workers, psychologists, therapists and all who study to do so

Call: Mighty and merciful God, who sent Jesus to heal broken lives, we praise you for raising up men and women who are skilled in the healing arts

Response: Strengthen their bodies that they may bend to care for young and old, and let them carry your gift of wholeness to all who suffer in body or mind

Call: Give them eyes to see and ears to hear

Response: Keep them ever open to a tear or cry of distress

Call:  Lighten their hearts even when they are heavy or hurting

Response: Let them be touched as they offer your healing touch and presence. May they make the weak strong, the sick healthy, and the broken whole

Call: Bless them as agents of your love

Response: In your name we pray

All: Amen

+++

 

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For all who teach and all who learn and all who inquire and all who aspire to broaden our knowledge through research and writing: teachers, students, scholars and administrators; researchers and inventors, scientists, historians and philosophers

Call: Eternal God, whose wisdom is greater than our small minds can attain and whose truth shows up our little learning

Response: Give curiosity, imagination and patience to these who study and teach and learn and explore

Call: Open their eyes to the mysteries of your universe and their ears to the whispers of your wonders

Response: In your will all lives are lived and by your wisdom all truth is found

Call: Bless them as agents of your wisdom and truth

Response: In your name we pray. Amen.

+++

All who are retired, in transition or find themselves in a period of discernment, who by choice or by circumstance find themselves enjoying or worrying over their days, who are seeking what work or play or path to follow, and all who are prevented by physical or mental disability from engaging in a daily vocation

Call: God, for who a thousand years pass as if a single day, share with us your patience

Response: Bestow your calming presence to these your people and enrich their days

Call: Light up their lives with your discerning light

Response: Help them to see possibility where they might only see confusion or uncertainty, and still their hearts

Call: Let their faces mirror your own

Response: So they might better see who they are and recognize the time, talent and treasure they bear

Call: Help them remember that you stand near to guide their steps

Response: In all they do, sitting and waiting, hoping and dreaming, seeking and finding, may they reflect your glory and bear your good news. Amen.

 

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Invitation:                   For all those who work in and on and for the land, the sea and the skies, for those who   grow our food and our flowers and tend our lawns and our trees, for those who raise fish or fowl  and hoof, cloven or other, for those who seek to save forests and trees and rivers and streams, and those who are called to give time and treasure and talent to the preservation of creation

Those so called come forward. All are asked to take a moment to see and appreciate them.

Then the congregation is invited to come forward and lays hands upon them.

Call:         Blessed are you Lord God ruler of the universe who from nothing called for the heavens and the  earth to appear in the darkness and ordered the waters to retreat so mountains and plains might arise

Response:                  All creation burst forth from your Word and lives with the gift of your breath

Call:                                     We know all you created is good, very good

Response:                   You blessed woman and man to name the beasts of the air and sea and all that crawl upon the earth and gave us stewardship of your creation

Call:         We ask your blessing on those who with your blessing coax our food and sustenance from soil                                                       and seed

Response:                   May all who labor in your fields prosper and may our harvests be plentiful

Call:                              Bless especially these your children who take joy in the dirt of their hands and the sweat of their  brows and who fiercely tend and guard these good gifts

Response:                   With your blessing and their talents we hope and pray that we will show ourselves worthy and accountable for the trust you have given us.                   Amen.

+++

Invitation:                   For all those who explore the depth and mystery and wonders of electrons and silica, of memory boards and keyboards, who with zeros and ones create letters and words and add and  divide and analyze sums and divisions, and who, with the gift of tongues, translate obscure code  into meaningful information and communication

Those so called come forward. All are asked to take a moment to see and appreciate them.

Then the congregation is invited to come forward and lays hands upon them.

Call:        All knowing God who granted us symbols and language to learn and share and describe and praise all we are graced to see and hear and touch and feel

Response:           Bless these your servants to whom you have opened the secrets of computing and recording and sending and sharing

Call:                      Guide them to unlock the secrets and possibilities and wonders of memory and reason

Response:        Let their pursuits help lesson the burdens of labor and increase our productivity so that our work might be balanced with leisure and learning

Call:             We know you weave wide and intricate webs of relationship and meaning throughout our world

Response:       With your help may your Word transcend oceans and skies and continents and our babble become intelligent and respectful discourse and conversation.  Amen.

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A Suggested Dismissal:

Deacon: Glory to God

People: Whose power, working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine

Deacon: Glory to God from generation to generation in the Church

People: And in Christ Jesus forevermore.