The past two years of Covid lockdown has had a greater effect on most of us than we probably realize. All of the controversies surrounding: required masking in public places, are the vaccinations really
necessary or even effective for that matter, my individual rights vs our responsibilities to the wider community, and of course nearly a million lives lost to the Covid-19 virus, have left the world reeling and drowning in total confusion.

To be sure we have learned how to make necessary adjustments. Meetings of all types can now be held by Zoom. People can effectively work from home. Regular Sunday morning worship services are now live-streamed on FaceBook and YouTube, making us all televangelists. The Great Resignation empowered millions of people to leave behind dead end, unsatisfying low paying jobs, for new employment
opportunities that offered hope for a better life. It would seem that life as we once knew it no longer exists. Put another way, the world before March of 2019 is dead.

So what comes next for us? As Christians we believe that with death, life has changed not ended. We are a people who believe in the Resurrection to new life. We are a people of real hope. We live for and
into the promise of new life after death. It is what is means for us to be Easter people.

We are just beginning to emerge into a world of new life after having endured so much death. We are just starting to understand how the world has changed in ways we never once imagined were possible.

We got a sense of it this past Holy Week from Palm Sunday through Easter morning. Attendance at all the services were up. People were hungry for their souls to be fed. You could sense that many of us
were clearly searching for some sort of way forward after experiencing so much death and loss. There was a real sense of new hope and new life that was present this particular Easter unlike those before.

As children of God, we understand that death no longer has dominion over us. Death doesn’t have the last word in our story. There really is new life after death. There really is a new life in the Resurrection. Considering all that we have been through over the last two years, that is Good News we can celebrate!

God’s Peace, Mark+

As a child, it was always an odd thing for me to understand why it was that Easter Sunday was a moving target. I mean
Christmas is always on December 25th. The Feast of the Epiphany is exactly twelve days later, hence following the 12 days of
Christmas, on January 6th. Determining precisely when it is that Easter happens is a bit more intriguing.

Officially, Easter is determined by the phase of the Moon. More specifically; Easter Sunday is celebrated on the first
Sunday following the first full Moon that occurs on or just after the spring equinox. Try saying that five time really fast. This means
that this year the Spring Equinox was on March 20th and the first full Moon after that will be Saturday, April 16th. So Easter Sunday
this year will be on April 17th.

The thing is, so much of the Church’s liturgical calendar is dependent on Easter. For instance, the Season of Lent is 40 days
long not counting the Sundays. We don’t count Sundays because they are all considered Feast days of our Lord. Therefore counting
backwards from Easter Sunday, April 17, 2022, it means that Ash Wednesday was March 2nd of this year. You see, it all depends on
Easter.

The same is true with the Feast of the Ascension and Pentecost Day. Pentecost happens exactly 50 days after Easter
Sunday, only in this case we do count the Sundays. So in 2022, Pentecost will be held on June 5th. Since the Ascension is always on
a Thursday that falls ten days before Pentecost, this year the Feast of the Ascension will happen on May 26th. Here again, it all
depends on Easter.

On one important level this all really makes good sense. As Christians, we are Easter people! Our entire faith experience is
based upon Jesus triumphing over death and rising from the grave. Death no longer has dominion over us. We have been
redeemed by the Blood Christ and allowed to stand before God. It all really does depend on our understanding of Easter.

During Holy Week we prepare for Easter Day. Palm Sunday is the week before Easter when Jesus enters into Jerusalem
knowing he is certain to be arrested, tried and sentence to die. Maundy Thursday is the night when Jesus gathered with his
disciples and instituted the Sacrament of Holy Communion. At the end of the service on Maundy Thursday the church altar is
stripped bare. The people all leave in silence.

At noon on Good Friday, we gather for a somber service of remembrance where we share communion from the reserved
sacrament that was consecrated the night before. Then we relive the Stations of the Cross, and we trace the path that Jesus took
on the way to his crucifixion.

The Great Vigil of Easter takes place on Saturday evening. It begins with the kindling of the new fire and the lighting of the
Paschal Candle. The first half of the service takes place by candlelight symbolizing how the Light came into the world to overcome
darkness. The Lord’s Resurrection is proclaimed and the Season of Easter officially begins at this service. The lights are raised, a
joyful noise is made, followed by singing and celebrations that Christ has Risen from the dead. This is our story. This is who we are
as Christians and people of God. It is important that we are clear about this. It is important that we understand why we gather and
what it is that we believe.

COVID has severely impacted the last two years and our ability to celebrate our faith in the fullest possible way. This year
we anticipate being able to gather without the limitations of the pandemic. This year we have a chance to fully immerse ourselves
into the story of who we are as followers of Jesus Christ.

I hope you will share with us this spiritual journey in person. From Palm Sunday, through Maundy Thursday, through Good
Friday and the Stations of the Cross, to the Great Vigil of Easter and finally to Easter Sunday, make the effort to come and take part.
Everything we know and understand about the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ depends on how we experience Easter.

Peace,
Fr. Mark

Advent means “coming or arrival,” and the reason for the season is anticipation and preparation for the birth of the Christ child and His second coming. In the early church, however, it was a time for candidates to prepare for church membership. After the fourth century, it became a time for preparation for Christmas, and penitence was added as a standard for the whole church in the Middle Ages.

Now many Christian churches are again shifting the emphasis of Advent from a penitential season, such as Lent, to a celebration of hope and anticipation. That in no means takes away from the fact that Advent is also a time of preparation and introspection.

In an effort to again distinguish between Advent and Lent, some denominations have changed the color of Advent to various shades of blue. Some Roman Catholic churches have changed to a blue violet. Although we, as Episcopalians, all grew up with purple and red violet, the early 12th century Black Canon of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre ordered black as the color for Advent! But, blue is by no means new to our church either. Before the 12th century, it was used in the Western Church.

The Sarum Rite was the original basis for the liturgy of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer and where blue was used for the color of Advent. It was often specified that it be an indigo to represent the darkness before the birth. Early art shows church leaders in ornately decorated blue robes. Shades of blue symbolize royalty, the coming of the King, hope, the night sky before the dawn, the sea before creation, and Mary. Remember early dyes were made from nature. Some historians suggest that northern European dyes were made from berries that produced blue while southern Europe was able to make purple dyes.

Tradition puts the rose-colored candle in the Advent wreath—not to symbolize Mary, but to reflect the lessening emphasis on penitence, the nearing of the end of the fast, the pending birth, and the second coming. Rose or pink represents joy. The 3rd Sunday in Advent marks the halfway point, and we are allowed to be excited for the coming event. In the Roman Catholic tradition, it is called Gaudete Sunday, from the Latin for “rejoice.” It takes its name from one of the traditional readings from Philippians which begins, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” (St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Cambira, CA)

Here at All Saints’ we have chosen the Sarum Blue for our Advent vestments. We have also changed out the old purple Advent candles for new blue ones. Our Sarum Blue vestments have been given in loving memory of Diane Baker.

Fr. Mark

November 3rd will mark the twelfth time that I have cast a vote for the President of the United States. Full disclosure, my preferred candidate has not always won. Which also means that my preferred candidate didn’t always lose. With each election cycle the amount of information forced upon us has been more than anyone should have to process. The hype used to promote the importance of the current election stretches the limits of one’s imagination.

But as I look back in time, I can see that the nation has withstood the test of time again and again. When all the dust settles after this election, the gloom and doomsayers and all the fear mongers will slink quietly away into the dark recesses of our society patiently waiting for the next four year cycle to pass when they can once again emerge from hid- ing to take center stage. Thankfully, as a nation we have endured. I do not expect to see that change in my lifetime.

Certainly we are an imperfect union. We struggle with race, gender, and issues of equality. The fact that we are constantly engaged in these struggles would suggest that we live in a country that is worth the many sacrifices that have been made and will be made in the future for our democracy to live.

A few years ago, the Sunday after a presidential election, I had a parishioner come speak to me. She said she didn’t think she could pray for the new president-elect during the Prayers of the People during our worship services.
I listened to her reasons without comment. When she was finished I spoke with a calm and gentle tone. I told her that I understood and that she didn’t have to pray for someone if she wasn’t comfortable doing so. That said, I told her she could no longer lead the Prayers of the People on Sunday morning. Essentially, I gave her permission to walk away.

A couple of days later, the same parishioner came to my office to speak with me once again. After thinking it over, she had decided that she would give it a try and would pray for the newly elected president. I nodded in agreement and pointed out that God expects no more or no less from all of us. We are to try and love our neighbor as ourselves. In the Episcopal Church it has long been our custom to pray for our duly elected officials regardless of political affiliation. We pray for them by name. We omit no one.

So here at All Saints’ we will continue to do the right thing. We will pray for our elected leaders regardless of how we choose to cast our ballots. We will pray for them because they will definitely need our prayers. We will pray for them because each of us is a child of God created in the image of God. At this parish church when we say All Saints’ we really do mean “All.”

God’s Peace,
Fr. Mark+

October 31, 2020