News & Messages

Easter Message 2019

"Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again." Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.” (Luke 24: 5b-9)

Dear Friends in Christ,

We hear these words quoted above in our Easter liturgies this year. The angelic question at the beginning of this verse is one that I have reflected on many times. I hear the question, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” as a wake-up call, a call to order my priorities in line with God’s priorities, and my desires with God’s desires. It is an invitation to self-examination, repentance, and prayer. Sin is, after all, missing the mark and looking for fulfillment in that which cannot fulfill. The angelic call to the women and to us is a call to turn and look in the right places.

But what struck me this year, despite all the rich meditation reflecting on this phrase can bring, is that if we stay here we have missed Luke’s call. Remember, Luke’s Gospel is the Gospel of the Spirit, a two-part work about the Spirit at work in Jesus and the same Spirit at work in Christ’s continuing body, the Church. To focus on the angelic question is to look inward when the women provide us the example of what our response to the news of the risen Jesus must be.

“They remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.”

We, too, are called to leave the tomb and go forth and proclaim that Christ is Risen. To remember Jesus’ words and proclaim his resurrection is our call not only on this Easter Day but every day. We are called to remember all that Jesus taught us — to love our neighbor by actions of love and compassion, and to forgive those who would or have harmed us — and then do it.

By God’s grace, the early Church grew because the first Christians availed themselves of that grace and power to live lives that showed they were followers of Christ. People were drawn by the love they showed and lived. They could do so even in the midst of difficult times, even in the face of death because they remember Jesus — his life and words — and sought to be like him. They could do so because they knew as do we that Jesus is Alive and we live in him now and will live in him forever.

The resurrection of Jesus is God’s call to a way of life. Let us proclaim this way with our lips and lives.

Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed!

+Steven
Bishop of Milwaukee

Book of Occasional Services 2018 Available

New liturgical resource: The Book of Occasional Services 2018

Download available in English & Spanish

The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) is pleased to announce the release of The Book of Occasional Services 2018. The availability of this liturgical resource is the result of action taken at last summer’s 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church.

The Book of Occasional Services 2018, a companion volume to The Book of Common Prayer, is a collection of liturgical resources related to occasions which do not occur with sufficient frequency to warrant their inclusion in The Book of Common Prayer. Designed to give congregations resources that form our members in the Episcopal faith, the rites and ceremonies contained in this book are to be understood, interpreted, and used in light of the theology, structure, and directions of The Book of Common Prayer.

The material included in this collection comes from a variety of sources, generally arising out of the specific use of worshipping communities engaged in the process of creating liturgical responses to particular occasions in the life of the church. Included are St. Francis Day animal blessings and rites for December 12, Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe. 

Where it seems appropriate, instead of complete rites, the Book of Occasional Services 2018 includes paragraphs of stated principles and guidelines for crafting liturgies in particular contexts. For instance, the resources for Día de Muertos are offered in outline form. A part of the outline format is an expressed desire that those congregations wishing to develop and use the rite will do so in collaboration with communities for whom the celebration is already a culturally significant event, creating opportunities for deeper appreciation and love in congregations. 

This material included in Book of Occasional Services 2018 is authorized by the General Convention for use throughout The Episcopal Church.

The Book of Occasional Services 2018, offered in both English and Spanish, is available as a free download from the publications page of the General Convention website, at https://www.generalconvention.org/publications#liturgy


Additional Liturgical Resources available on the General Convention website include:

 

Expansive Language Liturgies

Text of Expansive Language Liturgies from resolution 2018-D078--docx
Text of Expansive Language Liturgies from resolution 2018-D078--pdf

Marriage Liturgy / liturgia matrimonial

Share the Way of Love at Easter

Share the Way of Love at Easter

Continuing the invitation to connect The Way of Love, Practices for a Jesus-Centered Life more deeply to the Liturgical Year, The Episcopal Church offers free, downloadable resources for congregations, dioceses, and communities of faith this Easter.

Resources include: A poster with space on the bottom portion for congregations to add their own logo, service information, and web address; a postcard to send to recent visitors or local neighbors; a social media ready graphic; a Facebook Cover image; and the Presiding Bishop’s Easter Message video (available April 15). All evangelism resources are available here.

“We hope that these digital resources will help congregations easily share information about their Easter services,” said Jerusalem Greer, staff officer for evangelism for The Episcopal Church, “Services that celebrate the greatest love of all – the love of Jesus. A love we are called to share and celebrate that love with friends and neighbors.”

More than a program or curriculum, The Way of Love is an intentional commitment to a set of practices –Turn, Learn, Pray, Worship, Bless, Go, Rest – that form us into the likeness of Jesus. Congregations have engaged with Way of Love practices by organizing ministry fairs around the seven practices, setting up semi-public prayer stations with one station per practice, and organizing inquirer’s classes around each topic.

“As Episcopalians we value life-long learning – something that the Liturgical Calendar helps us to do – guiding us through lessons of our faith, connecting our story to God’s story, year after year. The Way of Love is made up of practices that help us move through those lessons with greater intention and understanding, which in turn helps us grow in love and service.”  says Greer. “As an example, during the season of Easter, people are invited to dig deeper into the practice of Go through the Life Transformed: 50-day Eastertide Test Kitchen group on Facebook .”

Digital Invitation Kits similar to the Easter resources are planned for the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany and Back-to-School.  They will be offered Spanish, French, and English. 

If your ministry has developed a seasonal Way of Love offering, please share at  . We’d love to feature it on the website and pray for our shared journey into new life. 

Lisa Webb  ASSOCIATE OFFICER, PUBLIC AFFAIRS  Office of Communication | The Episcopal Church | 212-716-6138

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