October is such a glorious golden month in New Mexico. If your kids are anything like mine, they are already busy planning for Halloween. In addition to offering ample opportunities for creativity and fun, our preparations for Halloween (and the constellation of related celebrations surrounding it--Dia de los Muertos, All Souls Day and All Saints Day) offer opportunities to explore other important aspects of our spiritual lives, as well.
How do you and your family understand, experience, and embody the relationship
At St. Mark's, our celebration of the season is punctuated by a Dia de los Muertos Celebration (evensong, feast, dance, and ofrenda creation) on Saturday, October 26th and culminates in our All Saints Sunday celebration on Sunday, November 3rd.
Our Song(s) of the Month celebrate our confidence in the continuity of life--of praise, worship, celebration, and relationship--between earth and heaven.
These songs can be sung in sequence (one after the other) OR they can be sung together in harmony.
I wonder what the relationship between these two songs might have to teach us about the relationship between authenticity and disguises, fear and courage, life and death?
The world outside us is noisy and busy. Sometimes the world inside us is noisy and busy, too.
When we come into church
we need to take time
To slow down
To quiet down
To get ready to come close to the Mystery of God
This month's "Song of the Month" is a song that may already be familiar to some of you from St. Mark's worship or Godly Play classes. The lyrics come directly from the Bible (Psalm 46:10). The melody is by John Bell.
Be still and know that I am God
Below is a recording of Father Christopher singing the song.
And here is a recording of Johanna, Lucia and me singing the song as a round.
In order to support children (and adults) at St. Mark's in "getting ready" to find stillness and listen to God in worship, we've created an Altar of Preparation (see photo, above) at the back of the worship space. This Altar of Preparation offers a variety of special objects and practices to help us get ready to pay attention and find God in the church and in our hearts.
We hope that you'll take some time to explore these objects and practices yourself, and that you'll actively support the children in your life and in our church in exploring and incorporating these practices as part of their regular routine for preparing for worship.
An icon is like a “window” we look through to see God.
Greet the icon with a gentle touch or holy kiss.
The water reminds us of creation. All living things need water to live and grow.
The water reminds us of washing. Water makes everything clean and new.
The water reminds us of baptism. In Baptism we remember God saying,
“You are my beloved child. With you I am well pleased.”
Gently touch the water with your fingertips.
Then gently touch your head, your heart, your left and right shoulders with the water
Making a sign of the cross.
Remember that God is here right now. God is within you and around you
In your head and in your heart
On your left and on your right.
The fragrant oil reminds us of the Holy Oil used to anoint prophets, priests, and kings in ancient times.
The fragrant oil reminds us of the Holy Oil priests still use to anoint people for baptism and for healing.
The fragrant oil reminds us of the frankincense and myrrh the mysterious magi brought as gifts for the Baby Jesus:
Frankincense for God; Myrrh for Humanity
Place one drop of oil in the palm of your hand, and rub your hands together until it is warm.
Bring your hands to your face
and take three deep, slow breaths
allowing the fragrance to fill you
The colored jewels remind us of the special colors
that mark each day and season in the circle of the church year.
Hold a jewel in the palm of your hand.
How does the color make you feel?
What does this color make you think of?
Where else can you see this color? In the church? In the world?
Why do you think this is the color for today?
The candles remind us that Jesus is the light of the world.
The candles remind us that God’s Word is a light for our path.
The candles remind us that Jesus says “YOU are the light of the world.”
Light a candle. Watch the light. Say a prayer.
And speaking of candles, I want to alert everyone to a
NEW LITURGICAL MINISTRY OPPORTUNITY
AT ST. MARK'S:
The Ministry of "Light Bearers"
Once you have taken a few moments at the Altar of Preparation to help your child get ready for worship, ask your child if they might like to help with the liturgy that's about to begin.
Children at St. Mark's are now invited
to serve as "light bearers"
to help light the way for the HOLY GOSPEL
during our Entrance Procession and our Gospel Procession
in worship each week.
ALL are welcome to participate!
Here's what you need to know to support the full participation of children as "light bearers" in our weekly liturgy:
If your child would like to receive additional training to carry the Children's Cross or Gospel in procession, just contact Mother Sylvia and we'll set up a time to practice! I'm usually free to meet and practice on Sunday mornings before the liturgy.
Song of the Month
In early 2019 I began serving as assisting priest at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Albuquerque. St. Mark's is home to a diverse and rapidly growing faith community as well as a Montessori Preschool that serves ~50 preschool children and their families.