Christ Church’s Spiritual Life Theme For Our Next Ministry Year

Each year, the Spiritual Life Commission of Christ Episcopal Church selects a theme for us to use throughout our Church Ministry Year, which runs from September through early June. The theme serves as a guide during our walk with Christ, and helps us think about our lives and responsibilities as Christians in a different way.

The theme for 2017/2018 is “The Joy Of The Lord Is Our Strength”, which we adapted from the Book of Nehemiah.

Identifying our new theme each year is a task we deeply value and, as always, we have prayerfully and carefully considered our theme for this important and very special year ahead during which Christ Church will call our next Rector. We thank our truly exceptional Interim Rector, The Reverend W. Earl Mullins, for joining us in our planning meeting.

Throughout the year, Christ Episcopal Church will introduce events and gatherings that help spread this year’s theme, so stay tuned!

 

 

 

Christ Church at the 2017 Maryland Diocesan Convention

Last weekend, our own Fr. Earl Mullins, Sonni Aribiah, Duane Smith and Rebecca Warlow represented Christ Episcopal Church at the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland’s 233rd Annual Convention.  The enriching and enlivening Convention began on Friday with a revival-style “Big Tent Meeting” led by our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, and concluded later that weekend with an address from Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton. Others in attendance included Bishop Chilton Knudsen, Assistant Bishop of Maryland, as well as our “Lutherpalian” partners in congregations, mission starts, campus ministry and seafarers ministry.

 

More photos can be found by visiting the Christ Church Facebook page, as well as our new Instagram page.

You can also view more Convention coverage by clicking here, and here, and by visiting the Diocese of Maryland Facebook page.

We Welcome The Rev. W. Earl Mullins As Our Interim Rector!

This week, our entire Christ Church Community so joyfully welcomes our new Interim Rector, The Reverend W. Earl Mullins. Rev. Mullins is so deeply appreciated by our Christ Church family for his leadership, his care and his guidance, as they are truly gifts from God.

Welcome Father Earl!

For more information about The Rev. W. Earl Mullins, click here.

Vacation Bible School Is Back This Summer!

It’s time to plan for Vacation Bible School! 

VBS will be held July 17-21 from 9:30am to 12:30pm, for children ages 3 (potty trained only) through 5th grade. 

Registration forms may be found on the table in the Narthex.  The cost is $20 per child, with a maximum of $50 per family. 

Volunteers are very much needed!!  Service hours are available for youth volunteers.  Please contact Leigh Smith if you are available to help.

 

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s Easter Message For 2017

It’s taken me some years to realize it, but Jesus didn’t just happen to be in Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday. He wasn’t on vacation. He wasn’t just hanging out in town. Jesus was in Jerusalem on purpose. He arrived in Jerusalem about the time of the Passover when pilgrims were in the city. When people’s hopes and expectations for the dawn of freedom that Moses had promised in the first Passover might suddenly be realized for them in their time.

Jesus arranged his entrance into Jerusalem to send a message. He entered the city, having come in on one side of the city, the scholars tell us, at just about the same time that Pontius Pilate made his entrance on the exact opposite side of the city. Pilate, coming forth on a warhorse. Pilate, with soldiers around him. Pilate, with the insignias of Rome’s Empire. Pilate, representing the Caesars who claimed to be son of god. Pilate, who had conquered through Rome the people of Jerusalem. Pilate, representing the Empire that had taken away their freedom. Pilate, who represented the Empire that would maintain the colonial status of the Jewish people by brute force and violence.

Jesus entered the city on the other side, not on a warhorse, but on a donkey, recalling the words of Zechariah:

Behold your King comes to you
Triumphant and victorious is He
Humble and riding on a donkey

Jesus entered the city at the same time as Pilate to show them, and to show us, that God has another way. That violence is not the way. That hatred is not the way. That brute force and brutality are not the way.
Jesus came to show us there is another way. The way of unselfish, sacrificial love. That’s why he entered Jerusalem. That’s why he went to the cross. It was the power of that love poured out from the throne of God, that even after the horror of the crucifixion would raise him from death to life.

God came among us in the person of Jesus to start a movement. A movement to change the face of the earth. A movement to change us who dwell upon the earth. A movement to change the creation from the nightmare that is often made of it into the dream that God intends for it.

He didn’t just happen to be in Jerusalem on that Palm Sunday. He went to Jerusalem for a reason. To send a message. That not even the titanic powers of death can stop the love of God. On that Easter morning, he rose from the dead, and proclaimed love wins.

So you have a blessed Easter. Go forth to be people of the Resurrection. Follow in the way of Jesus. Don’t be ashamed to love. Don’t be ashamed to follow Jesus.

Have a blessed Easter. And bless the world. Amen.

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s Easter message 2017

Easter Sunday : A Day Of Joy, Celebration and the Gift of Life to God’s People

12075713_mEaster Sunday, The Day of Resurrection – Sunday, April 16th 

We invite all to come join us in celebration of this most special day.

At the 9:00am service, children are invited to bring a flower to help decorate the cross.  This is also the day for everyone to bring their mite boxes.  This liturgy is followed by our traditional Easter Egg Hunt for young children.  Instructions will be given.

At both services, a full choir and procession with all of the ritual appointed for the day helps us celebrate and express our joy.  The Easter sermon is given; the choir anthems are spectacular and the glory of the day radiates from our worship into the community.

9:00 AM –  Holy Eucharist with Hymns

11:30 AM – Solemn Festival Eucharist

 

A Lenten Message From Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton

“One Nation Under God”
A Pastoral Word to the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland
The Rt. Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton, Bishop of Maryland
February 24, 2017

Dear sisters and brothers in the Body of Christ,

As followers of Jesus we’re filled with faith, hope and love. We know we’re called to do what Jesus did with joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity and more. We’re called to break down walls as Jesus did, healing Gentiles and Jews alike and standing up for those who religious and civil authorities wanted to exclude or oppress.

In short, as St. Teresa of Avila wrote, we’re called to be Jesus’ hands, feet, and eyes in being Christ’s body in the world today.

Recent reports across the Episcopal Church and in our own diocese of families and loved ones being separated by deportation have cause me to write to you. We hear almost daily of the indiscriminate stopping of individuals by police or agents of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Just the other night I was stopped by an unmarked vehicle and asked to see my identification.

There’ve been several reports of bomb scares and vandalism to Jewish community centers in several states and a horrible desecration of a Jewish cemetery in Missouri. Mosques are being targeted and harassed. And there’s a resurgence of white supremacist groups throughout the country.

I’m reminded of the words of the Most Rev. Frank Griswold preached at the Washington National Cathedral in 2003 marking the fifth anniversary of his installation as presiding bishop.

“If we are truly a nation ‘under God,’ as we say we are, then God’s perspective rather than our own self-interest will animate both our national life and our being in the world,” Griswold stated. “Otherwise we had better abandon that claim altogether and admit that our power is the source of our own divinity.”

We find ourselves now in anxious times. The world seems to be in political and moral chaos. Renewed talk of using nuclear weapons or the use of torture brings on an atmosphere of unease. Our nation imposes a ban on travel by immigrants and refugees from some predominantly Muslim countries.

So how are we as Christians, as the church, to respond?

During the 2016 election season I confessed to you in “Challenging the Politics of Division” how I carefully avoided preaching on controversial issues facing our country for years after ordination. From my sermons you would have gotten the impression Jesus had nothing to say to our nation and its Christian citizens. I was ignoring the Gospel imperatives that call us to govern ourselves with the inspiration of our sacred scriptures and the Holy Spirit alive and in us now.

As I wrote then, I was scared to preach on political issues. I didn’t want to rile up the congregants in my small church who represented the diversity of political and social views that the national polls say continue to divide us today. I liked my job, I liked getting paid, and I liked being liked. So, I found creative ways to step around saying anything that would upset a particular voting bloc in my church – be it liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, progressive or traditionalist.

The problem was I preached a reluctant Jesus and not the powerful political person he was. He didn’t sign up with any partisan group of his day. Remember, even his closest followers thought he would lead an overthrow of the Roman Empire and restore Israel to prominence. But he did challenge the religious and political figures of his time with words from the Hebrew prophets and with his own actions.

Jesus challenged his contemporaries the most in the Gospel of Matthew. His sermon on the mount (Mt. 5) turns conventional thinking on its head. The blessed of God are the poor, meek, mourners, merciful, the persecuted, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. And when we get to Matthew 25:31-40 we hear Jesus identifying most with the least among us; the hungry and thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and the prisoners.

There are numerous references in both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures about caring for the poor, widows and orphans and the alien. That informed me when Bishop John Rabb and I wrote our pastoral letter “Welcoming the Stranger” in 2010.

That same biblical foundation animates me now as I march for refugees. I called it an act of prayer. There are many different ways to pray; in silence, with beads, in corporate worship, intercessory prayer, and with our feet. Marching for “the least of these” is marching for Jesus.

There are 65 million of God’s children in the world displaced by war, famine and persecution. This may be the most at any time in our history. Jesus tells us to help them. As citizens of the wealthiest country on the planet we have a special obligation to help.

In the midst of all the fear and anxiety of our times we need look no further than our baptismal covenant. We renew it at every baptism. But this may be the time to reflect on what we say on pages 304-305 of The Book of Common Prayer.

The first three questions are about what we believe. It’s our affirmation to the Apostles Creed; that we acknowledge a belief in the Trinity and Christ’s church. The next two questions are about our
personal relationship, about how we encounter Christ “in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers” and promising to repent and return to Christ when we drift away.

It’s the last three questions that really challenge us to engage God’s world by the way we live.

“Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?”
“Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?”
“Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?

To all of these we answer, “I will, with God’s help.”

We know these are difficult. That’s why we acknowledge a need for God’s help. I believe that help comes in many ways but mostly through the gathered community of faith.

“What would happen if God’s justice and peace were our heart’s desire, and the dignity of every human being our deepest concern?” Bishop Griswold asked in 2003. “There would be a revolution, which is precisely what God’s work, God’s mission, is all about.”

As we move through the new political climate together I remind you of my words from 2016: “The values of Christian gospel, however, are characterized by the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ in St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians: ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and selfcontrol.’ (5:22-23) The politics of Jesus, no matter what social or economic policies are being espoused or denounced, demand these values undergird both the tone of the political conversation and its proposed outcomes.”

Let me restate my suggested ground rules for both ordained clergy as they preach and for those in the congregation as they listen.

A guideline for preachers

  • Always preach the gospel. Respect the pulpit; don’t view it as your personal political platform.
  • Speak as one informed witness to Christ’s gospel, acknowledging there are other witnesses.
  • Remind your listeners that this is the beginning of a conversation you want to have with them, not the end of a needed conversation.
  • Show some courage. It’s easier in the long run for your pastoral ministry than cowardice.
  • Be willing to listen, be willing to change your mind, be willing to repent.

A word to listeners

  • Cut your preachers some slack. They really are trying to say and do the right thing.
  • Acknowledge in yourself that Jesus was both a spiritual and a political teacher.
  • Read the cited Scriptures, and have the conversation with God and with others that the preacher is inviting you to have.
  • Be willing to listen, be willing to change your mind, be willing to repent.

If Episcopalians in the Diocese of Maryland encounter Christ in the breaking of the bread, the proclaimed Word of God, and in the gathered community of faith we can truly engage God’s world in the ministry of reconciliation.

Faithfully,
The Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton
Bishop of Maryland

The CEC Annual Spring Flower Sale is Saturday, May 6th

DGet those flower beds ready! Join us on Saturday, May 6th, for the Christ Church Youth Group annual flower sale. The sale starts at 9:30am on the lawn between the Parish Hall and Oakland Mills Rd. We will be selling a wide variety of sun and shade plants, beautiful hanging baskets, and, new this year, mixed herbs.

Cost of the plants range from a couple of dollars to around $20., and range from single, ready-to-plant selections to beautifully-full, hanging plants. The types represented include geraniums, New Guinea impatiens, verbena, super bells, torenia, coleus, lantana, dahlia, begonias, cosmos, dianthus, marigolds, salvia, vinca, portulaca, various herbs, and much more!

Proceeds from the flower sale support youth going on DreamBuilders mission trips, local retreats, and other various youth group activities. Hope to see you there!

Our Palm Sunday, Holy Week & Easter Services for 2017

stained_glass_stationsII

Come join us for Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter Sunday services at Christ Episcopal Church. Our service times are as follows:

Palm Sunday – April 9th 
Holy Eucharist – 8:00am & 10:30am
Liturgy of Palms begins in Old Brick
Distribution of the Palms at both services

 

Christ Church is open for prayer each and every day, Monday-Friday, during Holy Week.

Monday in Holy Week – April 10th
Stations of the Cross – 7:30pm

Tuesday in Holy Week – April 11th
A Lenten meditation of liturgical dance by Lumen Christi – 7:30pm

Wednesday in Holy Week – April 12th
Tenebrae – 7:30pm

Maundy Thursday – April 13th
Eucharist & Stripping of the Altar – 7:30pm

Good Friday – April 14th
Veneration of the Cross – 12noon & 7:30pm  (the 7:30 service includes communion from the reserve sacrament)

Holy Saturday – April 15th
The Great Vigil – 7:30pm

Easter Day – April 16th
The Day of Resurrection
9:00am – Family Eucharist with Hymns
Flowering of the Cross – children are invited to bring a flower to decorate the cross.
Easter Egg Hunt follows.
11:30am – Solemn Festival Eucharist

 

For so many, Holy Week jumps from Palm Sunday to Easter Day, and the Passion of our Lord is overlooked. Journey with us as we continue a tradition that honors our Lord and gives a strong witness of our faith.

The most holy of weeks begins with Palm Sunday, also called Passion Sunday. Here the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem is recalled, and yet, the liturgy quickly shifts to the events of the week that lead Jesus to his arrest, trial and death on the cross. The congregation gathers in Old Brick, processes to New Brick with blessed palm leaves, and joins in the reading of the Gospel narrative in parts. The liturgy ends in quietness; a stark contrast to the joy of the procession. So our Holy Week journey begins.

We remember the Stations Of The Cross on Monday evening. Walk with us and recall the way of the Passion in this ancient service. Prayers are offered at each of eight Stations depicting specific events of our Lord’s arrest, trial, crucifixion and death. Paintings by Kelmie Snider.

We celebrate Tuesday in Holy Week with a Liturgical Dance performance. Come and embrace the Passion of Our Lord as we continue the journey of walking with Jesus day by day.

As Jesus draws ever closer to the events of Good Friday, the church readies itself by the reading of the service of Tenebrae, taken from the monastic tradition. In this Wednesday service, the daily prayers for the next three days are said, so that the focus can be on the sacredness and liturgies of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. A candelabrum with fifteen candles is used, and one by one, the candles are extinguished, until the only light remaining symbolizes the light of Christ. This light is taken and hid for a moment, as Christ was laid in the tomb. Then a loud noise, that of the earthquake, is made, and the light is returned to its stand. In silence and by the light of only that candle, the congregation leaves.

In the evening of Maundy Thursday we will gather to bring into remembrance the Last Supper of our Lord and the Institution of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. We hear and remember the words of Jesus as he states, “Do this in remembrance of me.” As the service concludes, the altar is stripped of all of its apportionments, so that the focus of all can be upon the cross alone on Good Friday. Then we hear of the Agony in the Garden as Jesus is arrested. The Watch that takes place through the night, as in response to our Lord’s question- “Could you not watch with me one hour?”

The congregation is invited to come and spend an hour (or any portion) in prayer and solitude at the Altar of Repose, set up in Old Brick. A sign up sheet is posted in the rear of the church, but more than one person may share the same hour.

Christians throughout the world recall Good Friday as the day upon which Jesus died. As it remembers the great sinfulness of man, it also points to the glory and love of God. It is most somber in its offering, and includes the Veneration of the Cross, another ancient custom of the Church. A plain wooden cross is carried into the church and is held before us. The congregation is invited to come forward and reverence the cross, by touching of the wood, a simple bow, a genuflection or the act of kissing the wood of the cross.

The afternoon service lasts one hour, and draws our attention to the extraordinary love that God has for each of us in giving His son to die upon the cross. The evening service is fifteen minutes longer as we also receive communion from the Sacrament Reserved. Church tradition prohibits the celebration of the Eucharist on this day.

As the church awaits the glory of the resurrection, Holy Saturday is a day of preparation. As the sun sets, bringing with it the end of the Lenten season, one of the most beautiful services of the entire church year is held. We begin in utter darkness, signifying Christ in the tomb, and then a new fire is lighted & blessed and with it the Paschal Candle symbolizing Christ. As the Paschal Candle is carried into the church, the light is passed to parishioners who each hold a candle.

As the church is illumined by just candlelight, the ancient hymn The Exsultet is sung. Then, within that light, lessons are read which remind us of God’s desire for man’s salvation. The Sacrament of Holy Baptism takes central focus for the priesthood of all believers and then we celebrate the first Eucharist of Easter. The darkness is now full light!

We have now reached Easter Day – a day of joy, celebration and the gift of life to God’s people.

At the 9:00am service, children are invited to bring a flower to help decorate the cross. This is also the day for everyone to bring their mite boxes. This liturgy is followed by our traditional Easter Egg Hunt for young children. Instructions will be given.

At both services, a full choir and procession with all of the ritual appointed for the day helps us celebrate and express our joy. The Easter sermon is given; the choir anthems are spectacular and the glory of the day radiates from our worship into the community.

 

Keep In Touch With Christ Church On Social Media

With the Lenten season upon us, Christ Episcopal Church is full of activity, in church AND on the internet! Events are taking place frequently, meditations are posted on our website and our Facebook page daily, and we have now begun posting photographs of our beloved and active parish on our very own Instagram page! Please be sure to bookmark and visit each of them routinely, as they all have exclusive content to keep you informed and in touch with our church, our fellow parishioners, and the memories we all create.
And if you have anything you wish to add to any of our sites, feel free to click the “Submissions” tab at the top of our website’s main page.