Communities of Restoration v. Communities of Retribution

If I had to choose a section of Scripture that best exemplifies the Community of Christ Redeemer Anglican Church over the past year, Galatians 6:1-3 would be that section.

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 

There are some who would read this passage and see it as a blank check to search out and ‘catch’ those secret sinners.  The warrant to go looking and to expose the evil people in our midst.  Unfortunately we have seen this play out innumerable times throughout the ages.  I think this is partially our own fault. Our english translation does not do justice to the original.  To get at the heart of this verse we should read;

“When anyone is ensnared, trapped, enslaved by their transgression, you who are spiritual (which is all of us since we have the Holy Spirit), must restore them in a spirit of gentleness (remember I said gentleness is fruit of the spirit right?). 

Paul is asking that the church at Galatia to be a community of restoration, not a community of retribution.  These verses came home to me in a profound way when I took leave from my parish to spend 40 days in a residential treatment facility.  I entered the facility severely depressed, anxious, and burnt out just as the church I helped plant was entering its third year.

There were a number of things happening beyond what one could see on Sunday mornings.  My relapse was the result of lots of small choices that began months if not years before I entered the Herrington Recovery House.

There are and will be a number of scenarios in which this is not the case.  There will be those who fail to recognize the situation they find themselves in, or those who understand but refuse to repent and turn back to God. But I was able to see my wrong because those closest to me made decisions that forced me to see that I had become enslaved by my transgressions.

My willingness to admit my wrong and seek help was not what made our community so unique or beautiful. What was unique and beautiful about our community was the choice to restore me and not condemn me.  Some only watched from the periphery, but my Bishop, my Dean, my staff, my vestry, my family and close friends engaged in the beautiful work of restoration. Deep sacrifices were made by all of those closest to me in order to help me come to myself again, including the church members and our staff.  My church continued to support me financially while in treatment, when I was released they asked me to take time I to begin the hard work of reconciling the many damaged lives I left in my wake.

It was definitely not painless, nor was I necessarily good at it.  For the first month home, I did not want to be seen.  I basically hid in my house.  But after much conversation, therapy, work with my sponsor, and prayer, I began to reach out to members of my congregation for one on one meetings. There was a lot of tears, a lot of anger and sadness expressed.  I spent forty days coming to terms with my own brokenness, and now I began the hard work of seeing what my brokenness had done to others.

I approached each conversation with a ton of anxiety and fear.  I had so many scenarios playing out in my head that included yelling, punching, and spitting.  Thankfully this did not happen (especially thankful for the not spitting).  They were very honest conversations, but never once did I feel like I was being looked down upon.  I cried a lot.  Others cried a lot.  I learned the full weight of what it means to be a priest and to hold the fragile and precious trust that so many in my congregation had given me.  The wounds ran deep, and I don’t think I nor they know just how deep.  What is more amazing to me is the fact that these people chose to express their anger, sadness, and fear instead of choosing to move on to another church.

It was an incredible act of faith for my congregation to restore me as their priest.  I hurt many people, I lied to many people, some of my relationships will never be the same because of what I have done.  But through it all, only one family left because of the damage I had done.  Our parish grew in my absence, in both size and health. No one had to stay.  In fact, there is no reason that the church plant should have survived at all.

I see so many pastors being ‘released’ for moral failure of one kind or another.  I’ve heard too many stories of pastors committing suicide when their failings were discovered.  I’m not saying every pastoral failure should have restoration to the pastorate as the appropriate end.  In my case, it seemed best to God and to my church that I be restored to my place as priest.

I love my church family.  My failure has not led to my disgrace, it has done just the opposite.  My failure has shown me what it means to be part of the family of God, to learn the meaning of mercy, grace, and forgiveness.  This experience changed me.  God loves me enough to let me fail if that is what it takes to learn the extent of His love for me.  I’m a slow learner, but I am eternally grateful that God did for me what I could not do for myself.  And I am even more grateful that my community chose to restore me in a spirit of gentleness. 

Cultivating Spiritual Friendships

This past Sunday we emphasized the importance of having “spiritual friends”.  Our working definition is rooted in the writing of Aelred of Riveaulx, a 12th century Cistercian abbott.  A spiritual friendship is one rooted in love and the desire to Love God, Love Neighbor, and encourage the other to continue that same pursuit.

At Christ Redeemer we want to encourage our parishioners to consider forming intentional Spiritual Friendships.  These are groups of 3 rooted in a common purpose.  That purpose:

We join together to seek out, pursue and fulfill the command to Love God and Love our neighbor as ourselves.  This pursuit is informed by Scripture, inspired by the Holy Spirit, formed by repetitive practice, and rooted in a posture of love and mercy. We bring our fears, doubts, shame and anger, our joys and our sorrows into this place of Christ’s presence, for the submission all things to His Lordship, to be healed and formed so that we grow into men and women of God, followers of Jesus Christ.

To help us cultivate deep and abiding love of God and neighbor, we commit to the following practices:

  • Confession and Repentance: these two practices represent opportunities to experience forgiveness, restoration, and reformation of habit.
  • Discernment: this practice allows us to learn to trust God’s rule in our life and teaches us to lean on the wisdom and understanding of those we call spiritual friends.
  • Speaking Truth: this practice allows us to live in healthy relationships that are full of grace AND truth.  We speak the truth in love to help encourage our brothers and sisters towards greater love of God and neighbor.
  • Cultivating Imagination: this practice is an opportunity to cultivate an imagination for what God is doing in our own lives as well as well as helping others envision life transformed by Christ.

To shape new desires, we choose to use repeatable rhythms for each meeting.  It includes:

  • Gathering: Inviting God to enter into the midst of us as we seek to love God and neighbor
  • Listening: Submitting ourselves to the regular practice of hearing scripture
  • Confessing: Exposing those things we have done or failed to do which need to be forgiven and repented of
  • Discipling: Choosing to work on something we believe God is asking of us
  • Sending: Blessing and sending one another into a life on mission

Of course, there is much more to our Spiritual Friendships than what is outlined here, but this is merely and invitation to consider the relationships you currently have.

Do you have spiritual friends?

What practices do you engage in to cultivate Spiritual Friendships?

Mind The Gap: Priesthood and Protest

On Saturday evening, our city reached a tipping point.  The fear, frustration, and anger overflowed into the riots of Saturday night.  The violence continued last night, except the violence erupted in the midst of heavily armored sheriffs in riot gear with the national guard in the wings.  I spent a few hours on Sunday afternoon amidst the residents of Sherman Park, pastoral leaders, and community activists.  I felt compelled to be on the ground in Sherman Park  because of my belief in the Incarnation.  Sherman Park is not my parish, but there are certain events that transcend my immediate pastoral responsibilities.  The events of this weekend were one such occasion.

I returned again to Sherman Park to stand amongst African American leaders, civil servants, activists, and organizers.  The events of the past few days have me reflecting on my role as an Anglican Priest in the Kingdom of God.  The question to myself is this:

How do I remain first a citizen of the Kingdom, a servant of the King, while also being a peacemaker in the city of man?

Honestly, I feel tempted to align myself with those in the minority, the African American community.  But I’m also concerned about the temptation to be ‘caught up’ in the moment.  The expression of violence by many of the younger residents manifested in rioting, setting fires, shooting of guns, rolling cars, pulling white people from their cars because they are white…it is appalling.  Yet, it is just as appalling to see our civil servants dressed in riot gear, which only escalates an already volatile situation, and hearing that our governor not only activated the national guard but also released them into action on Sunday night.

My challenge as a priest is to remain a non-anxious presence.  My challenge as a priest is to ‘mind the gap’, stand in the tension and call for peace and calm from both parties.  If I align myself with one party to strongly, I minimize my voice with the other.  On the other hand, Jesus’ first sermon proclaimed: ‘liberty to the captives’ and ‘liberty to those who are oppressed’.  In 1st century Palestine, Israel was captive to the Roman occupation.  There was a very explicit oppressor.  In the United States, historically the oppression of African Americans has also been very overt, and at times encouraged.  Martin Luther King, Jr., writing just under 50 years ago had this to say about riots;

“But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear?…It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.”

Police violence against the African American community is not new.  I’m sure to many this isn’t a surprise, especially if you are black.  But for a majority of white people, this seems to be a new phenomenon.  It’s not.  It’s just now being seen for what it is because the minority has a voice and a medium to show what has been kept hidden by media.

As I priest, I have the difficult task of defending the powerless while at the same time, calling the powerless to a liberty that is beyond the liberty that can be found in any nation.  I am called to stand in the midst of my minority brothers and sisters and confess that to this date I have never had the experience of being powerless and oppressed, and it is possible that I never will as a white male.

As I priest, I feel compelled to defend the powerless from those who abuse power.  To stand alongside my African American brothers and sisters as they face officers, who for the “sake of peace and safety”, come with riot gear, tear gas, guns, and the law at their back.

As a priest, I also feel compelled to proclaim to those oppressed and captive,  that there is a place where they are equal, they are brothers and sisters, where justice and peace truly reigns, under a merciful and just king.  In the kingdom of God, I know the dividing walls of hostility have been torn down.

As a priest, I feel a need to also work hard to trust the rulers and authorities that God has placed over our city.  I have to believe that those with the riot gear, and armored vehicles, really do desire to restore the peace and safety of the community.  This is the harder call by far.

I don’t get to choose one side or the other.  I need to remind both sides that no one is ever all right, nor is one side all wrong.  Evil, selfish, and violent behavior is committed on both sides.  The root of violence is fear, and when we are driven by fear we act preemptively with violence so that we are ourselves to do not experience violence first. Only peace will reign when we all commit to turn our swords into plowshares, to say; “this is my part”.

Until the law enforcement can say; ‘we were wrong’ and until the rioters can say; “we were wrong”, we will not experience an environment where reconciliation can happen.

As a priest, I have to proclaim that there is a king that knew that we would never be able to fully understand or own our wrongness.  That we have a king who said; “Let me do it for you.”  I will own your wrongness, I will bear your oppression, I will take on the guilt of your oppressor.  I will bear the weight of pain and brokenness of this world, I will be the sin eater so that you can be with me and experience a peace that passes all understanding.

Peacemakers do not ignore oppression but they do accept that violence as the answer.  Law Enforcement lay down your guns, rioters lay down your guns.

Kyrie Elieson

Spiritual Practice: Silence

And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.  – 1 Kings 19:11-12

And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, – Matthew 14:23

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” – Blaise Pascal, Pensees

Meditation

Like any other Christian practice, silence and solitude requires endurance and training.  Stopping our work, whether it be school, job, spending time with friends, or the cultivation of a fantastic ‘online persona’, is a difficult and wonderful work.  Stillness allows us to cultivate an inner quiet that provides space for hearing the ‘still small voice of god’.

Often, we prefer to find God in the phenomenal, the ‘mountain top’ experiences, visions, dreams, etc… because we believe, for some reason, these experiences are more ‘real’.  Truth be told, we will likely count these experiences as a small portion of actual communion with God.  In fact, God speaks in the ordinary hum drum of every day.  It is this truth that demands a practice of stillness.

The practice of silence fosters our ability to practice the present moment.  It teaches us to live in the ‘real world’ instead of the imagined worlds of our future or the perceived worlds of our past.  God does not speak to us in our imagined worlds, he speaks to us here and now in the present.  Silence opens us to the ability to commune with a living God that is always speaking.  It creates a posture of listening that allows us to quiet the voices in our own heads in order to hear the voice of our true head Jesus Christ.

But practicing stillness is difficult because we have cultivated patterns of living that make it hard to be present to the here and now.  Often, when we stop our perpetual motion it’s as if the voices (thoughts), the personal criticisms, the criticisms of others, the to do lists, and the shoulds and oughts get louder.  We struggle with silence because we don’t like who we are when all the activity ceases.  But the solution to this inner turmoil is not resistance but surrender.

Taking the time to be alone and silent before a loving God is our way of reminding our bodies and souls that in the midst of any storm or fear, or trial, God is there.  Lying just beyond any storm is the peaceful clear blue sky.  Silence is the practice of moving beyond the stormy clouds of life to find the calm blue sky where God waits to speak. Stillness teaches us that in the midst of our internal storms, God is there waiting to speak with a ‘still small voice’.  He is there to speak words of peace, of acceptance, of love.

Practice – Breath Prayer

I spend 20 minutes a day, at least, cultivating a posture of stillness so that I can ‘be still and know that He is God’.  It takes time to learn how to be silent.  Here is one way I use to cultivate a practice of silence.

  • Find a place where you can be comfortable, alone, and free from disturbance.
  • Either find a comfortable chair (or log), or spot on the ground to sit with your legs crossed. A good posture helps the body from becoming fatigued as you sit in stillness.
  • Begin by taking 10 good full breaths, breathing in through your nose and blowing out through your mouth.
  • On your last big breath out, gently close your eyes and begin to notice. Notice the weight of your body sitting in the chair or on the ground.  Notice the sounds around you.  Notice the air on your face.
  • Gently begin to scan your body, beginning at the head moving to your feet. Notice the comfortable parts of your body, notice the uncomfortable spots.  Take your time paying attention to the small things too, your fingers, your toes, your nose, your lips.
  • Notice the feelings you are currently experiencing, the big categories of happy, mad, glad, sad, nervous, afraid. Are you anxious?  Are you agitated?  Are you content?
  • Now turn your attention to your breath, feel the weight of your body as your chest expands when you breathe in and contracts as you breathe out.
  • As you continue to breathe, on the in breath pray silently; “Lord Jesus Christ” and as you exhale pray silently; “Have Mercy on Me”. Repeat this with each breath; “(inhale)Lord Jesus Christ, (exhale) have mercy on me”.
  • Allow this rhythm to continue on each breath. As you repeat this phrase over and over while you breathe, allow it to become part of you, almost as if you are no longer praying but your prayer is as normal as a breath.
  • Try to continue this practice for 5 minutes. And see if you can add this to a daily routine you have, either at the start of a day or at the end of the day.

**NB: You will get distracted.  That is guaranteed.  When you notice that your mind has wandered to something else, just notice it and silently say ‘thinking’, ‘feeling’, ‘hearing’, and bring your attention back to your breath and that breath prayer.

 

 

Feet On Fire: A Story of Redemption

I used to joke about two endings that were possible as we endeavored to plant this church.  In one scenario I would be curled up in a fetal position at the end of my bed after a failed attempt at planting a church.  In the other scenario I would see myself standing before a church that did not exist before.  I never thought that I would experience both those scenarios at the same time!  On July 20th, 2015 I, Fr. Tony Bleything, entered Rogers Memorial Hospital’s residential treatment program for mental health and substance abuse.

You may be thinking; “Wait…what?” or, “Rehab, you were planting a church weren’t you?”  This is where the fetal position scenario comes into play.  One year after getting honest about my battles with my church leadership and others close to me my, I found myself right where I started, except a lot worse.  It wasn’t the drinking really, though I did relapse two times over that year, it was my emotional health.

When I entered Rogers Memorial Hospital I was diagnosed as a severe depressive with a secondary anxiety disorder.  In layman’s terms, burnt out.  I was at Rogers for 40 days (crazy right?).  Those 40 days of wilderness were the hardest thing my family has yet to face.  It devastated my wife, my kids, my friends, and my church.  By my second week at Rogers, I had to come to terms with the possibility of losing my marriage, my vocation, and my community all because of my actions.  But, praise be to God, this is where the scenario of standing in front of a church that didn’t exist before comes in (Remember…I said that before).

From the very beginning of my, let’s call it a meltdown, my family and I were very transparent.  Though I was not there the day my associate read a letter to the congregation written by my wife and I, it was relayed to me that it was very powerful service.  Lots of prayers were said, lots of tears were shed, and people left hopeful.  One parishioner said that the “Grace of God felt palpable.”

Through it all, my Bishop (The Right Rev. Dr. Todd Hunter) and my diocese (C4SO) were an incredible support system.  The Diocese gave extra to our church to help my associate devote more time in my absence. They provided a priest with a Doctorate in Pyschology as my pastoral care person, and the made regular visits to come and see us throughout my time away.  The most powerful thing to hear was; “You are the rector of this community, we want to help you get healthy and see you fully restored to the congregation.”

I did not return to the congregation in a full time capacity for six months so that I could take time to restore broken relationships with my family and my community.  I celebrated Eucharist for the first time on Christmas eve of 2015.  During my time away I had many one on one meetings with my parishioners.  They were hard meetings, but good.  Lots of tears were shed, many were able to freely express their anger, betrayal, frustration, and sadness they experienced because of my behavior.  In the end, we experienced true reconciliation, mercy and grace because of these meetings.

Honestly, most church plants, if this happened, would shut their doors and call it quits.  Christ Redeemer continued in my absence with a lot of help coming from people in the church.  I have been honest with my past from the beginning and have often talked about my desire for people to experience a church that allows them to ‘fall apart in community’.  I experienced exactly that reality.  All my greatest fears were set before me (loss of family, vocation, community) and in the end, none were taken and they are stronger now because of this trauma.

I’m thankful for my relapse, I know that it was God doing for me what I was unable to do for myself.  I never want to go through it again, and through prayer, the grace of God and healthier rhythms of work and rest…I won’t.

In one of the Apostle John’s Letters (the first to be exact) he writes; “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin”.  Amen, right!

If you are around us at home, you will often here this; “You are my child, there is nothing you can say or do that will ever make me love you less”.  Believe it friend.

 

Liturgy, Learning to Dance, and Good Shoes

Many at Christ Redeemer have grown up in some form of non-denominational (free church) worship setting.  When they come and worship with us, there are a variety of questions.  There is one question that is asked more than any other;  “Doesn’t saying the same thing every week, eventually, make it meaningless?”

C.S. Lewis, in his work Letters To Malcom, gives brief attention to this question of Liturgy becoming rote before turning to more personal forms of prayer.  We Anglicans tend to like how Lewis relays things:

…Novelty, simply as such, can have only an entertainment value.  And they don’t go to church to be entertained. They go to use the service, or, if you prefer, to enact it. Every service is a structure of acts and words through which we receive a sacrament, or repent, or supplicate, or adore. And it enables us to do these things best — if you like, it “works” best — when, through long familiarity, we don’t have to think about it. As long as you notice, and have to count, the steps, you are not yet dancing but only learning to dance. A good shoe is a shoe you don’t notice. Good reading becomes possible when you need not consciously think about eyes, or light, or print, or spelling. The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God.

But every novelty prevents this. It fixes our attention on the service itself; and thinking about the worship is a different thing from worshipping. The important question about the Grail was “for what does it serve?” “‘Tis mad idolatry that makes the service greater than the god.”A still worse thing may happen. Novelty may fix our attention not even on the service but on the celebrant. You know what I mean. Try as one may to exclude it, the questions “What on earth is he up to now?” will intrude. It lays one’s devotion waste. There is really some excuse for the man who said, “I wish they’d remember that the charge to Peter was Feed my sheep; not Try expirements on my rats, or even, Teach my performing dogs new tricks.”

 

Want to come and dance with us?  We’d love to teach you the steps.

Defining Terms: Am I Really A Racist?

**Guest Writer: Eric Anderson

You can also read this post on his Tumblr Page

For those who attend Christ Redeemer Anglican Church (and were there this Sunday), you’ll remember a challenge put forth by Father Tony. He challenged the white people in our congregation (which is most of us) to take a perspective of assuming we are racist (vs assuming we are not racist), and to explore that further. I appreciated Tony’s challenge to us, and emailed him this morning with some thoughts. He asked that I put these thoughts up on a blog, so that others can read and discuss. I hope this helps anyone looking to dig deeper into the rat’s nest of racism in America.

In 2012 after Trayvon Martin was killed, I read a lot of articles and tweets urging white people to stop trying to dodge being called a racist, and instead explore the ways they already are racist. This sounded compelling to me, but I had a very difficult time with it. I honestly could not come up with any ways I was a racist. So I began trying to deconstruct everything I thought I knew about racism and the struggle faced by black America. I’ve grown to learn that when white people get defensive about being called a racist, it’s probably because they’re using a different definition of “racist” and “racism.” White people (including myself) often conflate 3 key terms, Prejudice, Bigotry and Racism:

Prejudice

Prejudice is when a person negatively pre-judges another person or group without getting to know the beliefs, thoughts, and feelings behind their words and actions. A person of any racial group can be prejudiced towards a person of any other racial group. There is no power dynamic involved.

Bigotry

Bigotry is stronger than prejudice, a more severe mindset and often accompanied by discriminatory behavior. It’s arrogant and mean-spirited, but requires neither systems nor power to engage in.

Racism

Racism is the system that allows the racial group that’s already in power to retain power. Since arriving on U.S. soil white people have used their power to create preferential access to survival resources (housing, education, jobs, food, health, legal protection, etc.) for white people while simultaneously impeding people of color’s access to these same resources. Though “reverse racism” is a term I sometimes hear, it has never existed in America. White people are the only racial group to have ever established and retained power in the United States.

 

The terms I use to differentiate things that are often clumped together come from Debby Irving’s website (debbyirving.com), and they have helped me come to terms with my own racism. When I was trying to explore the ways I was racist and coming up empty, it’s because I was confusing “racism” with “bigotry.” Ex:) “I don’t discriminate against anyone based on skin color/economic status, I don’t use racial slurs, etc” means I’m not racist, right? No, it simply means I’m not a bigot. But I am absolutely a racist. My skin color alone ensures that I benefit from an entire system of better access and preferential treatment. That is racism.

Once I understood these definitions, I was able to freely declare without shame or guilt that I am a racist. It’s nothing I chose, but rather a system I was born into. The only thing I can do is attempt to change the system from the inside-out.

In my email to Father Tony, I thanked him again for challenging the white people in our congregation to assume they are racist. At the same time, I imagine a lot of people are having difficulty with this challenge, either because they are using the wrong definition of the word “racism,” and/or because they simply don’t know where to start. As I mentioned, I’ve been on my own journey of deconstructing everything I was taught about our history, the history of people of color in this country, and racism. I have an abundant amount of articles, documentaries, books, and music that have helped me along. I would love to share these with anyone who finds themselves unsure of how to take those first steps.

PEACE LOVE LIGHT

-eric

“Could you not wait with me one hour?” Keeping Watch with Christ on Maundy Thursday

Gethsemane

The three holy days of the paschal Triduum (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil) are the center of the church’s worshiping life because they recall the center of Christian salvation: Christ’s death and resurrection for us. The liturgies of the Triduum together form a unity (a fact which is signalled by the absence of dismissals and opening salutations: each liturgy begins where the other left off). In order to most fully experience the glories of Easter, we must first contemplate the horrors of Good Friday and dwell in Holy Saturday’s silence. In order to understand Good Friday, though, we must learn from Christ how he interprets his approaching death on Maundy Thursday: by giving us his body and blood in the Eucharist, and by washing our feet.

By an ancient tradition, there is no celebration of the Eucharist on Good Friday. Instead, we make our communion from the elements consecrated at the Maundy Thursday Eucharist. And so, on Maundy Thursday, after our celebration of the Eucharist, we will reserve the blessed sacrament for our communion on Good Friday, and Christ’s body and blood will lie in repose on a side altar.

The altar of repose extends to us an invitation.

After the last supper, Jesus spent the night in Gethsemane, praying to his Father in agony (Matthew 26:36–46; Mark 14:32–42; Luke 22:40–46). As he prays, his disciples fall asleep, much to Jesus’s disappointment. He had hoped that they would stay awake and keep watch with him.

After the liturgy, the altar is stripped, all icons are covered or removed from the sanctuary, no decorations are left on display, and the cross is shrouded. Christ is laid bare and desolate, left alone as he goes on to the work of salvation.

But we have the opportunity to keep watch with him.

This year, we will have the opportunity to spend time in prayer before Christ in the blessed sacrament at the altar of repose. We believe that he is really present in the eucharistic elements, which makes it especially appropriate to spend time in prayer where the sacrament is in repose.

If prayer before the reserved sacrament is new to you, don’t worry. There’s not really a wrong way to do it, so long as you come with an open heart and a reverent spirit. You might recite some favorite prayers. Or you might pray your own prayers. Or you might just sit or kneel silently in the Lord’s presence. Or you might do all of these. For full effect, I’d recommend spending about an hour in prayer to and adoration of Jesus, but really whatever time you are able to set aside will benefit you.

From the end of our Maundy Thursday liturgy until 9:30pm, All People’s Church will remain open for those who wish to spend that time with Jesus. And beginning at 10:30 on Good Friday, the same opportunity will be made available.

More information about our Holy Week services can be found here.

For a primer on what we do (and why) during these liturgies, click here.

Holy Week 2016

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Join us for our Holy Week services.  The theme of Holy Week this year is “Renewal: Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.”

All services will be held at:
All People’s Church
Address: 2600 N 2nd Street
(2nd & Clarke)

Maundy Thursday – 3/24
7pm

Good Friday – 3/25
12noon

Saturday Easter Vigil – 3/26
Dusk (7:30pm)

Easter Sunday – 3/27
9am – Joint Service w/All People’s
10am – Brunch

Ash Wednesday 2016

CR-Ash-Wednesday-2016-Banner

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten season, a stretch of time the runs up to Holy Week and Easter.  During this season of the church year, the church is called to self-reflection and examination, penitence, and renewal (echoing Jesus’ own fasting in the wilderness). On Ash Wednesday, we come together to inaugurate this season around the simple reminder of who we are and whose we are.  As such, we are marked on the forehead with a cross of ash. The ash represents who we are (“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”) and the cross represents whose we are; in the Cross, Christ has claimed us as his own.

We invite you to join us as we usher in this Lenten season with our Ash Wednesday service.

Details:

Christ Redeemer Ash Wednesday Service

Wednesday, February 10th at 6:30pm

@ the Quaker Meetinghouse, 3224 N Gordon Place in Riverwest