Friday, April 17, 2015

Announcements Through April 21st

  • taize service WILL be held Tuesday, April 21 in CHURCH.  Spend some quiet time at the end of the day with meditation, music and scripture readings. ALL ARE  invited to attend.

    Thursday, April 30 ~ 6:30 PM to Join us at ~
    Poco and Mom’s Cantina ~ Banquet Room
    Located at 7000 E. Tanque Verde (SW Corner of Sabino Canyon) Entrees range from $7 - 12 each.  Gracias!  Reservation Sheets in back of Church

  • Please return your UTO (United Thank Offerings envelopes no later than May10th. There are extra UTO envelopes on the usher’s table. We thank you for your generosity!


    Alleluia!  The Lord is Risen indeed!  How does our money and the stewardship we exercise over it relate to the message of Easter?  It may be as simple as saying:  I believe Jesus rose from the dead.  I believe that Jesus’ risen life can be experienced in word and sacrament.  I believe Jesus intended his followers to be part of a community of faith.  I give sacrificially so that the ongoing ministry of justice, peace, and reconciliation can be lived out in Jesus’ Name.
    This year’s Special Easter Offering, of over $6,000, is for the needs of our St. Michael household – to restore the wood of our church entrance, repair our organ and to replace funds we have borrowed from ourselves the past few years to cover deficits in our annual budget.  Many faithful stewards of our parish have died in recent years.  We want to encourage many good works and outreach to the poor and homeless in our community and health promotion ministry in Guatemala, so the Discretionary Fund, Social Action, Meals Program, Food Pantry, and Guatemala Project have regular collections.  The parish supports all of these ministries.  Thank you for your faithful stewardship to our parish work.  Jesus is “indeed” risen and the Holy Spirit is moving among us!  

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Meditation for Good Friday

Meditation for Good Friday, 2014
St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church
By Karen Funk Blocher

Matthew 27:45-47 (NRSV): 45 From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 46 And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47 When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “This man is calling for Elijah.” 

Mark 15:33-35 (NRSV): 34 At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 35 When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “Listen, he is calling for Elijah.” 

Here we have the only thing Jesus is reported as saying from the cross in more than one Gospel, and the only saying from him that is reported in its original language (Aramaic). Those otherwise unfamiliar words make the quote stand out all the more for modern English-speaking readers, and are necessary to our understanding why people might have thought he was calling on the prophet Elijah. But the English words “My God, My God, what have you forsaken me?” would be memorable in any case. Who would otherwise suspect that the Son of God, “one in being with the Father,” as the Nicene Creed puts it, would feel abandoned by the Father, let alone shout it from the cross, moments before his death?

There are a number of theories about why Jesus said this, each designed to emphasize his Divinity, his humanity, or just his general awesomeness. Some people point out that this is the first line of the 22nd Psalm, the same one we hear every year on Good Friday. The psalm of the suffering servant, it begins with these anguished words, and goes on with a tale of woe that seems to be fulfilled at Golgotha: the mockery by others, and the casting of lots for the sufferer’s clothing. But the psalm ends in renewed faith and praise of the Lord. In saying just that first line of the psalm, one theory goes, Jesus is expecting his hearers, who would know the psalm from memory, to run the whole thing through in their minds. Far from being an expression of despair and loss of faith, Jesus is in effect offering one last rabbinical lesson from the cross, saying, “See, this is what I am doing, in fulfillment of the Father’s plan. Praise him!” Or something like that.

Somehow, such an explanation sounds too sanitized and comforting to fit in with the extremity of the situation. So does Theory #2, which goes back to the earliest days of Christianity. In this scenario, Jesus was born human, and was infused with divine Spirit at his baptism in the Jordan. That which is divine in Jesus leaves its human vessel on the cross. Truly abandoned by God, in this fashion if not in the grand scheme of things, the again-human Jesus cries out and dies. The problem with this theory is that it means that God, in the person of the Son, doesn’t see things through and truly experience the death. The sacrifice would appear to be incomplete, and therefore in vain.

But what if Jesus, as we believe, is fully God and fully human at the same time, all the way through the moment of death? That would mean that Jesus experienced it all as a human, while still maintaining his divinity. What, then, are we to make of crying out his feeling of abandonment by the part of himself that went beyond human flesh? If he was divine to the very end, he would know that he was not truly abandoned, and that this was all part of the plan he had repeatedly spoken of to both friends and enemies. But he would still feel abandoned. What could be more human than feelings of abandonment and betrayal, even when intellectually you know better, or when in your better moments you at least have faith that you are not forgotten? Even without the extremity of going from being celebrated by crowds to being tortured by enemies while friends do nothing, we share in this feeling…

…when we languish in a hospital or care facility for days or weeks, with hardly a visitor and the strong suspicion that the doctors and nurses either don’t know what is happening or are withholding information…

…when we face a financial crisis, and no one seems willing or able to help…

…when we are robbed or cheated, and police show no interest in the situation…

…when family members leave us, in divorce, discord or death.

That fascinating and faintly blasphemous musical, Jesus Christ Superstar, shows us a Jesus who suffers and has doubts, who argues with God and despairs but ultimately goes through with the chosen Way of the Cross. This view of Jesus may be a tad too skeptical for believers, but the emotion of it feels eminently believable, even for a man who was also God. 

Perhaps the real Jesus, at the end of the longest, most difficult day of his life, truly felt abandoned, by Man if not by God. In crying out the words of the Psalm, perhaps he was reminding himself, as well as any witnesses, that God never promised a lack of suffering – and that even in the most extreme of situations, God was still there to be cried out to.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Prophetic Sign

The new prophetic sign, painted by artist and parishioner Bob Bennett, was dedicated on Sunday, January 16th with readings, prayers and blessings. Here are some photos of the occasion:

More photos on the news blog.

All photos by KFB

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Music, 2009

Here is some visual evidence of this year's Christmas music at the Episcopal Parish of St. Michael and All Angels. Sorry, no audio!

At St. Michael's, the Christmas services begin with the 5 PM Family Mass on Christmas Eve. This is the service at which children help to set up the creche amid the appropriate Gospel readings and carols. Here, Father Smith leads the congregation in a Christmas carol. The woman at the piano, Better Miller, flies in every Thanksgiving and Christmas and plays for us. (She's mostly here to visit family.)

A major feature of music at St. Michael's is the Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ, which I photographed extensively years ago. In a loft at the back of the church is the antiphonal organ, seen here. It's an extra section of pipes far away from the main organ, which is housed in a chamber behind the church sanctuary.

The other main source of music at St. Michael's is the parish choir, directed by Jane Haman, who also plays the organ. Their Christmas performance is the "midnight" mass on Christmas Eve, which actually starts at 10 PM with carols and bible readings. They are supplemented by a string quartet - or is it a trio?

Aha. The fourth instrument in the quartet is the organ, played here by parishioner and choir member Keith Hege. Chuck Haman turns the pages.

The string players are the evening's "hired guns."

There is a Mass held early Christmas morning, but I'm sure you'll understand when I say I always skip that one, attending "just" the other three. The other Mass of Christmas Day is at 10:15 AM. Jane, Chuck and the choir take a well-deserved day off, and composer (and retired English teacher from the St. Michael's Parish Day School) Alan Schultz plays instead. Both his original music and the classical pieces he selects tend to put the organ through its paces, showing off the range of notes a few thousand pipes can produce. My favorite bits are when he has a "call and response" between the pipes behind the sanctuary and the antiphonal pipes in back.

There are openings to the right and left of the sanctuary, through which banks of pipes can be seen. It took me a few tries to get the shot, but I kind of like the underlit versions.

Here's a better shot of the same pipes and poinsettia, taken with flash.