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Archive for November, 2010


Once again it is time for Saint Alban’s Family Movie Night.  Dinner (chili) will begin at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, December 3rd, with a showing of Miracle on 34th Street to follow.  Come join us for an evening of great fellowship and fun with this Oscar-winning, holiday classic on the big screen.

At the Macy’s Department Store Thanksgiving Day parade, the actor playing Santa is discovered to be drunk by a whiskered old man. Doris Walker, the no nonsense special events director, persuades the old man to take his place. The old man proves to be a sensation and is quickly recruited to be the store Santa at the main Macy’s outlet. While he is successful, Ms. Walker learns that he calls himself Kris Kringle and he claims to be the actual Santa Claus. Despite reassurances by Kringle’s doctor that he is harmless, Doris still has misgivings, especially when she has cynically trained herself, and especially her daughter, Susan, to reject all notions of belief and fantasy. And yet, people, especially Susan, begin to notice there is something special about Kris and his determination to advance the true spirit of Christmas amidst the rampant commercialism around him and succeeding in improbable ways

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Thanksgiving Day


There will be Morning Prayer at 9:30 a.m. with sung offices on Thanksgiving Day.  We will follow with Mass at 10:30 a.m.

Collect for Thanksgiving Day

O MOST merciful Father, who hast blessed the labours of the husbandman in the returns of the fruits of the earth; We give thee humble and hearty thanks for this thy bounty; beseeching thee to continue thy loving-kindness to us, that our land may still yield her increase, to thy glory  and our comfort; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Pre-Advent Confessions


Pre-Advent confessions will be offered on Saturday, November 27th between 3:00 and 5:00 p.m. in the new small chapel on left side of the building as you face the altar in the sanctuary.  Canon Nalls also will hear confessions each Saturday during Advent and by appointment.

Everyone should understand that, as Anglicans, we do not force or mandate private confession, although we do hold it as a highly beneficial sacrament,

 “an objective and effective sign of the continued presence and saving activity of Christ our Lord among His people and as His covenanted means for conveying His grace.” (Affirmation of St. Louis)

The form of confession can be found in St. Augustine’s Prayerbook or in the following text which will be available in pamphlet form int he chapel.  Even if one does not wish to make a private confession, the following examination of conscience is quite useful in considering the state of one’s moral and spiritual life.

How to Make a Confession

 Most souls want: the love and joy and peace which comes from Absolution, but they lack practical instruction as to how to prepare themselves.  Here is a very simple way in which to get ready.

 1.  First of all, go to a p lace where you can be alone for an hour.  A Church is the best place. But it is essential that you be quiet and alone with God.  For the first few minutes, think about God.  Try to realize how much He loves you and the pain He suffered on the Cross in order to redeem you.

 2.  Now, consider your life.  What a failure it has been in many ways;  how different from the life of Jesus!  Tell Him that you are sorry for your sins and that you are resolved to face them all and make a clean breast of them.

 3.  Think, now, of some of the chief faults of your life;  the sins (some of them, perhaps, way back in our childhood) of which you arc especially ashamed.  Take a sheet of paper and note down the sins you can recall.

 But remember the great difference between temptation and sin.  Temptation is the impulse to think, to say, or to do that which is wrong;  but, when you overcome the impulse, there is no sin.  A sin is surrender to the impulse.

 4.  After—but only after—you have noted down all the sins you can recall, it may be a help to you to check up your list by referring to the ‘Examination of Conscience” which follows.  (But get everything noted down on paper, for it save time for others who may be waiting if you can read the sins off readily in your confession. A form for the latter will be found at the end of this paper.)

 5.  If possible, state how many times you have committed each sin, or at all events the greater ones.  If you cannot remember the number of times, at least say if you have committed the sin often.

 Examination of Conscience

 I.  PRIDE

(This is the root sin; we have all committed it in many ways.)

Have you loved God as much as you ought to do?

Have you been more interested in self than in God?

Have you made it your chief aim to be always on top?

What have you been vain about;  personal appearance, clothes, personality, possessions, your family, ability, success in games or in studies?

Have you scorned other people for their misfortunes, their sins, stupidity, or other weaknesses?

Scorned other people’s religion?

Talked too much; called attention to yourself?

Been sorry for yourself, self-pitying?

Refused to admit when you were in the wrong?

Refused to apologize?

Been resentful or suspicious of others through over-sensitiveness?

Have you been stubborn and self-willed? In what ways?

 II.  IDOLATRY

Have you put another person before God’s law;  by not going to church, or by committing some other sin to please that person?

Have you wanted popularity so much that you have not said your prayers, or done some other good things, for fear of being laughed at?

Have you loved money or clothes too much;  or even sinned to get them?

Gone to mediums or attended “spiritualistic” meetings?

 III.  PROFANITY

Have you sworn? (Especially, have you misused the Holy Name of Jesus?)

Have you given way to anxiety, instead of turning to God for help?

Been worried, afraid, allowed yourself to get into a panic?

Allowed yourself to feel that it was impossible even for God to help you?

 IV.  IRREVERENCE

Have you missed Mass on Sunday, when you could have gone?

Have you failed to say your prayers morning and night?  or to say them earnestly?

Have you always kept Sunday as it ought to be kept?

Have you done some unnecessary work on Sunday?

Have you always tried hard to worship God when in church? or have you sometimes been irreverent? or joked about holy things?

(Remember that it was not a sin if you honestly forgot to say your prayers.  It was only a sin if you neglected it through laziness or fear of being laughed at.)

Have you ever been ashamed of your Religion:  ashamed of Jesus?

 V.  DISOBEDIENCE

As a child, were you always as loving and respectful to your father or mother as you ought to have been?

Have you been grateful enough for all that they did for you?

Did you ever disobey them, or other who were over you;  or did you ever obey them slowly and reluctantly?

Have your actions ever caused them anxiety or shame?

Have you ever deliberately disobeyed God or ignored His desires for you? In what way?

Have you ever shown disregard for the laws of the Church?

For the laws of the land?

Have you contributed as much as you ought to have done to the support or the happiness of your parents?

What sins have you committed with regard to your wife (husband), children, or other members of your family?

Have you given as much care and attention as possible to the religious life of your family; for example, with regard to Grace at Meals, Family Prayers, Church-going, etc.?

Have you seen that your children had adequate and continuous religious instruction?

Have you been just and generous to people in your employment, or under your authority in business? In what ways have you failed?

Have you tried to dominate the lives of others unduly? How?

VI.  HATE

Have you killed anyone, either in outward deed, or in your heart?

Have you wished that someone was dead?

Have you been angry unjustly?  Struck people?  or hurt them by ridicule or contempt?

Have you ever cursed people?

Have you gossiped about people?

Is there anyone whom you now hold a grudge against?  or are unwilling to forgive? (Think how often God has forgiven you; and ask Him to help you to forgive and love your enemies for His sake.)

Have you refused to help people who were in real need of help?  ignored the sick or the poor?  not tried to be friendly with people, especially with people who are not very popular?

Have you been afraid to stand up for a person when others were mistreating him?

Have you ever taught (or tempted) another person to sin?

 VII.  IMPURITY

(These are the hardest sins to confess, because we are so ashamed of them.  But God will give you the courage to show them all plainly, if you ask Him.  Do not be afraid that the Priest will be shocked.  He will not be.  And remember that it is better not to make your confession at all than knowingly to hide a single sin.)

Have you been impure in thought, word, or deed?  (You need not talk much about it, but make it quite plain to the Priest just what kind of sins you mean;  whether they were done alone;  or with a man or woman; and, if possible, how often.)

Have you looked at evil pictures?  Or read bad passages in books?

Have you been immodest in actions, or in dress?

Have you been lazy in prayers, work, or study?  neglected business, family, or social duties?

Have you ever eaten, drunk, or smoked more than was good for you?

Have you neglected the days of fasting or abstinence?

Broken rules or resolutions which you have made for yourself?

Allowed yourself to be over-engrossed in light reading, the movies, radio, television, or other pastimes, to the exclusion of worth while things?

Have you. been cowardly in sickness or pain?

Been unmindful of the suffering of the world?

 VIII.  THEFT

Have you ever stolen anything (as a child or more recently)  What things?  Have you shared in stolen goods?

Have you. cheated in business, games, or lessons?

Have you been over-extravagant;  gambled or bet too much?

Tried hard to pay all your debts?  Contracted debts unnecessarily?

Have you remembered that God has given you all you have?  Have you thanked Him enough? Have you given as much as you ought to the Church or to charities?

Have you been stingy?

Have you wasted time?

 IX.  DECEIT

How many lies have you told?

Have you exaggerated too much?  Been deceitful, unfair, a hypocrite?

Allowed others to receive blame for your faults?

Been harsh toward others, or in speaking of others, for sins which you also have committed?

 X.  DISCONTENT

Have you been jealous of others, because they had more things, or more money;  or because they were better looking or more successful; or because someone loves them more than you?

Been grieved at the prosperity or attainments of others?

Been dejected because of the position,  talents, or fortune of others?

Have you been glad when they failed, or were in trouble?  Glad when you heard people speak ill of them?

Have you allowed yourself to be sad and discouraged at times; and not always fought to be brave and joyful?

Have you tried to accept loss or sorrow or hard things at the Hand of God?

Have you thought that God does not love you?

Have you ever given up trying to be good?

 1.  After you have noted all your sins that you could remember ask God to forgive you. And promise Him that you will try not to sin again.

2.  Do not be afraid lest you have forgotten something.  If you have done your best that is all God asks.

3.  Now, ask the Priest (if you have not already done so), when you may come for your confession.

4.  Do not be worried if you do not know how to make your confession.  The Priest will show you easily. 

5. If, when you made your confession before, you ever held back a sin, be sure to tell this in your confession.  Then, at last, your heart will be right with God.

 ANGLICAN FORM Of CONFESSION

Kneel down, make the sign of the Cross, and say:

Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.

The Priest will bless you.

Then say this:

I confess to God Almighty; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and to you, Father, that I have sinned very much in thought, word and deed, by my fault, by my own fault, by my own most grievous fault.  And especially I remember these sins, since my last confession. . . (Tell the Priest when you made your last confession unless, of course, this is your first one.  Then read the sins you have written on your paper.)

When you have finished reading your sins, say:

For these, and all my other sins, which I can not now remember, I am very sorry, I promise to do better, I beg God to forgive me, and you, Father, to give me penance, advice, and absolution.

Now the Priest will speak to you, and give you God’s blessing and forgiveness.  He will also tell you some prayer to say, or something to do, as a penance and thank offering to God.

 Afterward go back to your place in Church and say the prayer the Priest has given you.  Then thank God with all your heart.  And go out determined to fight harder than ever before.

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“My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, o Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” (Psalms 5:3)”

A Gread Way to Start (and End) the Day

This Advent start the day off with Morning Prayer at Saint Alban’s. The office will be said at 7:30 a.m. every weekday during this holy season.  Experience the gift of prayer in the still of the day.

The service presents an inevitable process, and a satisfying progress, in accordance with what is, as it were, a natural history of worship. The great steps of the progress are five. Coming into the Presence, entering expectant into God the Father’s house, the worshiper’s first instinct of un-worthiness finds expression in the confession of sin, led up to by exhortation, and culminating in the declaration of absolution, and the Lord’s Prayer, to which the Absolution serves as a bidding. The second inevitable and natural instinct is to give thanks to the Father for his manifold gifts, and this finds expression in repeated songs of praise, in Venite or Psalms, in first and second canticles. A third instinct, or desire, upon entering the Presence is to hear the word of the Lord, and the listening soul is satisfied by the lections from Old and New Testaments which alternate with the expressions of praise. The worshipers then come, united as they are in and through their corporate experiences of confession, praise and listening, to the climax of the service, the great gateway of the Creed, the symbol of their common faith, the pledge of their unswerving loyalty, through which they enter the final part of the service, the enjoyment of communion, the untrammeled outpouring of their souls in petition, intercession and thanksgiving to the Father of all.

It is this unfaltering rightness of the order, this genius of the service, which furnishes the answer to the question which every user of the Prayer Book must ask himself–What is it which makes this service, which commands my admiration and my love, a great service? For that it is great we instinctively feel, and of this excellence which makes the service a great expression of worship we are even ready to boast. We know that it is not merely because the form is ancient, or contains much Scripture, or chances to meet our habitual moods. We see the ground of its beauty and power in the unity and progress of its structure, and in its worshipful reasonableness.

The People’s Book of Worship A Study of the Book of Common Prayer, By John Wallace Suter and Charles Morris Addison (New York: Macmillan, 1919)

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“Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, ‘This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.’” -St. John 6:14

I’d like to speak to you this morning about miracles.  But before getting to the heart of the sermon I wanted to mention that we are providing a food miracle to two Richmond families in need this next week.  Please drop off contributions of food or money to help our neighbors by Tuesday afternoon.  Several of us are going to drop off your gifts to the families on Wednesday afternoon.  I urge you to be generous particularly as the family of ten lost all of their possessions and home in a fire.

This morning, as we approach Advent, we turn to a Gospel miracle—the feeding miracle of the 5,000. In our culture, we seem to be ambivalent about miracles. We like the nice, cozy image of a miracle—you know, the miracle filtered through the lens of the television. The little girl quietly healed in hospital-seemingly miraculously-although we are treated to the medical folks always there and we know who is really responsible, don’t we?

Or there is the miraculous like the escape from the locked, submerged box—the theatrical offered for our entertainment.  They are presented as something wholly unusual—and always with some human element, some earthly cleverness involved.

Beloved in Christ, miracles are not contrary to nature, but only contrary to what we know about nature. (St. Augustine).  The miraculous is not extraordinary but the common mode of existence. It is our daily bread. Whoever really has considered the lilies of the field or the birds of the air and pondered the improbability of their existence in this warm world within the cold and empty stellar distances will hardly balk at the turning of water into wine which was, after all, a very small miracle. God just raises the level of the impossible.

Our Lord’s miracles fall generally into three classes: the raising of the dead, the healing of the sick, and the feeding of the multitude. All these are connected with the gift of life—its bestowal on the dead; its restoration, after impairment, to the sick; its preservation to the hungry. And the powers shown in these three kinds of miracles our Lord has committed to His Church, in the three Sacraments of Baptism, Penance, and the Holy Eucharist.

In Baptism there is the bestowal of spiritual life to the dead soul, that is, to the soul which has only had that moral life common to all humanity, and to which the spiritual life imparted in Baptism is a superadded gift. In Penance the life of grace, which has been forfeited by sin, is restored to the soul. While in the Holy Eucharist the life given in Baptism is preserved and developed by feeding upon Christ.

In the Gospel for today we have an account of the great miracle of the feeding of the five thousand, which finds a place in every Gospel. I was reminded in our pre-Advent retreat of a remarkable passage of Scripture-St. John records that in the synagogue of Capernaum our Lord made this miracle the basis for one of His most solemn discourses, in which He reveals that He is “the bread of life,” “which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world;” that “if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever,” and that the bread which He will give is His Flesh, which He will give for the life of the world.”

This leads to a discussion among His hearers—you can almost hear the pitched back and forth that results in the question, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” to which our Lord replies, not by answering the question directly, but by re­asserting with its absolute necessity. Jesus says to them, “Verily, verily, I say untoyou, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood; ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.” (St. John 6:53-57).

For us as Christians it is sufficient that our Lord said these words. But, so that we may not only believe but understand them, it we should look at the conditions under which every gift of life is bestowed by God. This is the truly miraculous, constant gift that we take so much for granted.

All life, physical, mental, moral, or spiritual, is the gift of God; but in every case it the gift seems to be conditioned by the use of food. Life in us is an effect, of which God is the con­tinuous Cause; but for its preservation and development a further gift of food is necessary, and this is always something from outside of us, that we take in and use.

In our physical lives we feed upon all of the bounty of the earth—something we will celebrate on Thanksgiving Day.  In mental life we feed upon the stores of knowledge and experience gained by our fellow men and women, and assimilate them by the processes of thought. In our spiritual life (which is the elevation of our moral life to a higher plane), we have something similar; for to sustain it we feed upon the Word of God revealed in Holy Scripture,and  especially upon the Real Presence of Christ given us in the Holy Communion.

In Baptism we became members of Christ and children of God. Then that union with Christ begins, by which the life of grace (Which is the life of God) flows through our soul, and we become “partakers of the Divine nature,” and are made “the sons of God.” But this gift of Divine life needs for its sustenance Divine food, so that when our Lord said, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His Blood, ye have no life in you,” He was not proclaiming something arbitrary,
but revealing a necessary law of our spiritual life, an  analogy to the things that sustain our physical and mental life, but something much, much more—a food and drink that are imaged in the feeding miracle—a miracle that will become the natural course for the Christian.

Our Lord used food at the beginning of His ministry changing water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana.  We hear of miraculous catches of fish. The previously dead Lazarus eats as a sign of life.  In fact, our Lord takes food after His Resurrection to demonstrate that He is, in fact, alive–risen for us.

God just raised the bar.

Let’s focus in on this. In this world our physical life needs for its support material food. In heaven apparently it will be sustained by feeding upon the tree of life.

Here, in this world, our mental life requires knowledge of truth, a partial knowledge of which greatly intermingled with error, we obtain from human teachers. (I leave it to you all to think about modern education.) We gain our fuller knowledge, without error, from the revealed word of God, but the absolute and perfect knowledge will not be ours until we attain the beatific vision—that time when we shall fully know, or as St. Paul tells us, “Now we see as in a mirror darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then I shall fully know even as also I am fully known.” In the beatific vision we shall see God, and in Him all creatures; so that we shall know all truth of which the human mind is capable.

Not only will our intellect, by the light of glory, drink in this knowledge of absolute truth, but our will will be enabled to love perfectly. We will love perfectly Him Whom we are designed to love, Whom we have desired and learned to love here; but against Whom, on account of our sinful nature, we have so often sinned. This is filling to overflowing.

On the physical level in the Gospel, there is a miracle in the feeding itself-5,000 from a few loaves and fish with food left over at the end of the feast.  The scene is one of a superabundant blessingBa largess that
stands in stark contrast to the images of desolation we hear of in today=s morning prayer reading from the fourth chapter of Jeremiah. If you haven’t yet read that passage, take it up today and read from verse 23 to the end of the chapter.

There is no cornucopia; no overflowing blessing such as that which Christ gives to the faithful on a Galilean hillside.  There is just an image of ruin faced by a disobedient people.  It was an image well familiar to those gathered on that day-an image for us that belongs in other places in the world.

Jesus breaks and distributes the bread as He will at the Last Supper.  In fact, the disciples are commanded to gather up the fragments, just as at the conclusion of the Eucharist.  This drives home the nature of the miracle on the hearts of those who would be disciples an overflowing of God’s grace, and a people filled.

Yet, as is the case with many witnesses to the miracles of God, the people were interested only in the food, not what the miracle indicated (John 6:26).  The witnesses are missing the true identity
of ChristBan identity that they should have recognized in the so familiar story of the Hebrews being fed by God with manna
in their wilderness wandering. No, the focus is on the multiplication of the earthly loaves on earthly food and the people want to follow in a man… a mere prophet.

It is that focus on the food that cannot sustain that cannot truly nourish that is of concern. The people miss the true miracle, they mistake the food that perishes and another that endures.

To be sure, many people expend much time, energy, and money for food which soon perishes.  But, there are entire ministries, and I use the term very loosely, that are devoted to the superficial aspects of God’s blessing.  These “Gospel of Wealth” operations focus solely on the loaves and fishes blessings, but not the end in themselves.  The
material things that some obsess over, are a means to sustain us for the real food, the genuine sustenance.

Jesus would have people direct their lives toward the food which endures, the food that lay hidden to those on the shore at Galilee that day. It is the Word of God by which man truly lives ( Matthew 4:4) Job treasured it more than earthly food, (Job 23:12)  David valued it more than gold and fine food (Psalm 19:10;119:72,103,11) The prophet Jeremiah found it to be the rejoicing of his heart. (Jeremiah 15:16). It causes us to be reborn and endures forever. (1 Peter 1:22-25)

Here is the opportunity for the miraculous bounty-superabundance of life.  By giving ourselves to him wholly, by offering to be the loaves and the fishes in our witness and work for Christ we will be used to multiply His work in the world, bringing others to be filled.  By partaking of the right food, prayer, study and regular participation in His Holy Sacrament, we seek to become like the Lord more and more, always abounding, always growing in grace and knowledge and love of him.

For Jesus alone is the true bread of life, the living water, who truly satisfies. He alone provides the hope of eternal life (John 6:40) He alone offers the abundant life even now (John 10:11).

And so, this day, ask yourself, for what “food” do I labor? Is it the nourishment that only God can give us?  Or, does your focus in life drifting toward that which is purely temporal? Let’s ask ourselves the honest question, Are we striving for that which cannot truly satisfy or be a cause of thanksgiving?”

Consider what Isaiah wrote 700 years before Christ came (Isaiah 55:1-4), these words may serve as the invitation Jesus offers to all:

Every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not?

This, however, depends upon our feeding upon the Word of God and upon the Sacrament now. How diligent should we be in our study of God’s revelation, how careful our preparation for feeding upon the the Real Presence in the Holy Communion, that we may indeed have life…and have it more abundantly.  (St. John 10:10)  Amen.

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Guys’ Night Out


Last evening St.Alban’s Men’s Group enjoyed a great evening of food and fellowship over a good ol’ dinner of fried chicken and biscuits.  A brief business meeting was followed by a 30 minute program “Faith of the Founders” which examined the deep religious commitment of the fathers of our nation through their own writings.  Join us for our next meeting on Wednesday, December 15th from 6-8 pm for supper, a speaker and great conversation.

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Saint Alban’s  traditionally assists families in need, particularly at the holidays.  This year, we have learned that a family of 10 here in Richmond lost their home and contents to a fire.  On Wednesday the 24th, we will be delivering food baskets to them and to another family of four also in dire need.  We ask all to be generous to these our neighbors in Sunday’s almsgiving.

O LORD our heavenly Father, whose blessed Son came not to be ministered unto, but to minister; We beseech thee to bless all who, following in his steps, give themselves to the service of their fellow men. Endue them with wisdom, patience, and courage, that they may strengthen the weak and raise up those who fall; and, being inspired by thy love, may worthily minister in thy Name to the suffering, the friendless, and the needy; for the sake of him who laid down his life for us, the same thy Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

 

As well, as is the custom of the parish, we are again supporting the Toys for Tots program.  Please bring a new, unwrapped toy to the collection box in the parish hall before December 13th. 

Blessings!

Canon Nalls

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