Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Paschal Candle that is burning in our sanctuary during Easter

The Paschal Candle is used in Western Christian Traditions such as Roman, Anglican and Lutheran.   It is blessed and lighted every year at our Easter Vigil Celebration.  The Paschal Candle will burn throughout the 50 days of Easter and on special occasions during the Church Year, such as baptisms and funerals.  The flame of the Paschal Candle symbolizes the eternal presence of Christ, the Light of the World in the midst of His people.  The term "Paschal" comes from the Hebrew word Pesach, which means Passover, and relates to the Paschal mystery of salvation and Christ our Passover sacrificed for us.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Vested Chalice

Some of you may be accustomed to seeing the Chalice “vested” as it sits on the altar during Eucharist.  This refers to a tradition dating to medieval times when a veil was placed over the Chalice and Paten (plate) until ready to be used at Communion.  The veil protected the sacred vessels from dust and flies that were very prevalent in the churches of that time, but it was also a sign of the honor given to the vessels and the mystery and awe that is the Bread and Wine.  Many, if not most, liturgical churches still follow this custom.

At Holy Trinity we have chosen not to veil the Chalice.  There is no great objection to this tradition, but the visible Chalice and Paten are powerful symbols, perhaps too powerful to place under a veil.  They are symbols that continually invite us to the Lord’s Table, the apex of our worship in the Eucharist.

Monday, April 21, 2014

An Easter Message

Being an Easter People

Resurrection is a hard bit of truth to get our modern minds around, but I have found that the modern mind is often not the best arbiter of truth, particularly spiritual truth.  As a Christian,
I am content to allow God to supplement my modern understanding and sensibilities, even contradict them, with His revelation of what otherwise might logically and reasonably not seem to be real or important.  Allowing God to do this in my life is part of my Walk in Faith.
As a Christian, I know that God supernaturally intervenes into His creation- we call these miracles.  Jesus’ Resurrection is the greatest of God’s miracles.  Jesus’ Resurrection opened the possibility of my own resurrection and opened the gates of heaven to my sin-sick soul.  Now, that’s a miracle!
The simple truth for us in the Resurrection Story is that God has overcome the debilitating effects of sin, the futility of life separated from God, the sting of death and finality of the grave.  To be a Christian is to live into this reality.  It is in this sense that we are a Resurrection People…an Easter People.
To be an Easter People is to come to see life differently.  The Resurrection Life makes the vistas of our modern world very narrow and our secular concepts of living life to its fullest very limited.  To be an Easter People is to have a radically expanded worldview… a worldview as radical as the Resurrection itself.  Resurrection Life is for the adventurous who dare to live as children of God and as “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ,” as Paul puts it in Romans.  Easter People are those who dare to have a faith that opens up new ways of living and an understanding that propels us all heavenward. 
For the disciples terrified by the events of the previous three days, the reality of Easter Morning was life-transforming.  Life for them became immensely expanded and infinitely more meaningful.  Their lives were now anchored in something much larger than themselves.  For us, as it was for those first disciples, we are transformed.  Being an Easter People moves us from self-absorption to self-giving.  It makes it possible to shed the debilitating and limiting effects of sin and guilt in our lives.  It allows the Holy Spirit to help us supernaturally transcend the burdens, challenges, hardships, and disappointments of this life.  In short, it is victorious living.
Resurrection Life is open ended… not limited by time and space.  It is not limited by death.  Death no longer leaves us with our stories partially written.  Jesus has conquered that barrier.  We are free to become the people that God intended us to be… eternally healthy, whole, perfect, complete.

I think most of us here at Holy Trinity have a well-articulated vision of what it means to be an Easter People.  This is the vision that propels us forward.  We invite anyone who feels drawn to the realities of the Resurrection to come journey with us, to be an Easter People. Come experience Resurrection Life with us.
The Rev. Rob Hartley, Easter 2014

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday (April 18)

Were you there? -Jesus bending under the weight of a rugged wooden cross beam… pulled along by a rope around his waist… crowds jeering…  soldiers doing what they do best… Calvary looming ahead. 

It is the tradition of many Christians on this day to walk the Way of the Cross with Jesus, also known as the Stations of the Cross.  Early Christians who would make their pilgrimage to Jerusalem would walk in the footsteps of Jesus along the route He took as He bore His Cross to Calvary.  When access to the Holy Land became either limited or dangerous following the Muslim conquest of the Middle East, churches in Europe placed “stations” in the nave of their churches depicting the events of Jesus’ journey to the Cross.  The artwork on the wall of our nave here at Holy Trinity continues this tradition.

Here at noon we walk to the Way of the Cross with Jesus, as countless other Christians will be doing on this day.  We gather in the nave of our church and move from station to station, event to event, reading Scripture, praying, meditating on the events depicted, until finally we come to Calvary with Christ. 

Good Friday is a day of fasting and reflection.  In the evening at our Good Friday Liturgy, we once again read the Passion Story, as we did on Palm Sunday, but this from the Gospel of St John.

Where is the “Good” in Good Friday?  Considering the significance of Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross, this day is indeed “Good” for you and me.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday (April 17)
(Maundy is derived from a Latin word meaning Commandment)

      This day, Maundy Thursday, is the day before Jesus’ Passion and Crucifixion.  Also for Jesus and His disciples that year, it is the eve of Passover (according the Synoptic Gospels- Matthew, Mark and Luke ) when the Jews celebrate the Passover Seder, the ritual meal commemorating the eve of the Exodus when death (the tenth plague) comes to Egypt but passes over (Passover) the homes of the Hebrews.  Death passes over the Hebrews because they are marked by the “blood of the lamb” on the doorpost of their homes. 

      It is on this night that Jesus gathers with His disciples in an upper room in the ancient city of Jerusalem to celebrate Passover.  Jesus commands His disciples (and us) to do two things.  First, He commands that we love others the way He loves us (John 13:34).  Jesus demonstrates this love by washing His disciple’s feet, and tells us to do likewise.  Jesus also commands that His disciples break bread with their fellow disciples in remembrance of Him.  Jesus goes on to infuse new meaning into the Passover meal by offering Himself as the Passover Lamb who is sacrificed for the sin of the world. Passover becomes for us not only what it has always been, a remembrance of the saving acts of God, but also a memorial and an assurance of Jesus’ “Real Presence” with us as he says that the Bread is His Body broken for us and the Wine is Blood shed for us. 

      At the Maundy Thursday service here at Holy Trinity (7:00 pm), we are obedient to both of these commands: we wash one another’s feet and we participate in the wonderful mystery we know as the Lord’s Supper.  Come join us in the ancient liturgy rich in symbolism, meaning and holy significance.



Monday, April 14, 2014

An Invitation to Celebrate Easter with Us

Anglican Church of the Holy Trinity
Sweetwater Center, 160 Merovan Drive
North Augusta, South Carolina  29860
 Easter is a very special time for us Christians.  It is through the events of the Cross and Resurrection that we derive our very identity as an “Easter People.”  

Nothing reveals this more vividly than the ancient and stately liturgies of Easter.  You are therefore invited to join us in honouring God in worship this Easter Season.  If you are not in the habit of attending church regularly, I can recommend two services in particular:

·         The Great Vigil of Easter at 7:00 pm Saturday night, April 19- This service begins with the deeply significant liturgical drama of the “Light of Christ come into the World.”  The service goes on to recite the mighty and saving acts of God through a series of Scripture readings punctuated with music. We will also celebrate a baptism this evening, renew our own baptismal vows and celebrate our first Eucharist of the Easter Season.  This year our teenagers will participate in providing the music, and we will have a special musical offering from our younger children as well. 

·         Easter Sunday Service at 10:00 am, April 20-   Easter Sunday is the glorious celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection with the wonderful and traditional Easter hymns we all remember.
If you sense that that life is more than chemicals and brainwaves, then these two services will offer you a wonderful glimpse of the Transcendent as no other worship service can.  Come join us. 


The Reverend Rob Hartley, Rector

 Call 803-341-0075 for directions and more information