Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Wedding At St. Mark's

  1. St. Mark's eagerly awaits the celebration of marriage between Tish Carter and Tim Wilt this Saturday at the parish Church.  A wedding is an occasion of great joy both for the families involved and for the parish  in which the couple chooses to live out their marital covenant.  It is also a time when individuals and the community undertake a grave obligation to love, support, and nurture a new family, especially since it is in the nuclear household that faith is first given and received.  It is here that we learn of God, His love, and the wonderful works that the Lord accomplishes in our midst. 

    Tish and Tim's wedding gives an opportunity to reflect briefly on the practice of the Episcopal Church for marriage. 

    Marriage is one of the seven sacramental rites performed in the Episcopal Church.  Therefore, it is crucial that a couple that wants to be married in the Episcopal Church recognizes the significance of the sacrament and the level of commitment to God and to the Church that its presumes.  

    We have long established that within human society, individuals have a right to marry.  For the baptized, we also acknowledge that Christians have a right to be married in the Church.  However, as with all rights, there come obligations!  Because the Church understands marriage represents the union of Christ with the Church, baptism and Church affiliation become an important consideration.  So that the couple's mutual faith can be nourished through the love and support of a faith community, the Episcopal Church encourages those who wish to marry to participate actively in a local congregation. 

  2. Similarly, couples intending to marry in the Episcopal Church must be prepared to undertake premarital counseling sessions with the parish priest. More than likely, there will be two or three private, one hour sessions. If the parish priest believes it is necessary he or she may refer you to other professional counseling services. And if there are a number of couples undertaking this responsibility within a close period, group session can be extremely helpful.

  3. The wedding ceremony is the last thing to consider with the parish priest and the parish music director. Using the liturgical resources of the Church, there are a number of scripture readings, prayers, and vow formats to choose from. Depending on circumstances, the priest will also discuss with you whether or not to  to incorporate the sacrament of the Eucharist into the marriage ceremony.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

"You will be blessed for they cannot repay you"

What an occasion!  The monthly outreach dinner at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Lewistown, prefigured the Gospel Lesson appointed for this Sunday (Aug 29):
He said also to the one who had invited him, "When you give a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid.  But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.  And you will be blessed because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." (Luke 14.12-14)
And so it was even before they heard these words that the people of St. Mark's did just that.  All were invited and many came. So many that they ran out of food and volunteers scrambled in the kitchen and the pantries to find something that they could give to those who were waiting to eat.  The volunteers and donors understand that the hurting, the struggling, and the vulnerable in every dimension of our lives, are never quite out of sight or out of mind. 

Jesus was always willing to share his table (and his life) with those who might be turned away by folks with more "conventional" values.  Jesus challenges us to be more aware of those from whom we might be tempted to avert our eyes and to follow him rather than those who baptize common prejudices as virtues.  By our baptism, we have been called to conform ourselves to Christ and his ways. To live into our baptism is to be ever mindful of those who are typically left out.  Remember our baptismal covenant:
Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?  I will, with God’s help.
Will you strive for justice and peace among all  people, and respect the dignity of every human being?  I will, with God’s help.

May God, who has begun this good work in you, bring it to fulfillment!