Almighty Father, who inspired Simon Peter, first among the apostles, to confess Jesus as Messiah and Son of the living God: Keep your Church steadfast upon the rock of this faith, so that in unity and peace we may proclaim the one truth and follow the one Lord, our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Click here to learn more about Saint Peter, Apostle.
Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ's glory, that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The service begins with a Joint Choir, followed by the Lecture by Dr. Willimon, and at 4:15 pm a question & answer time. This will be followed by a fellowship time with refreshments.
Rev. Dr. Willimon served as a bishop in the Methodist Church after a long and distinguished career as a theologian, professor, and Dean of the Chapel at Duke University. He has published over 60 books.
Please call 434-432-0161 if you would like to sing in the choir.
Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into his Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Eternal Father, you gave to your incarnate Son the holy name of Jesus to be the sign of our salvation: Plant in every heart, we pray, the love of him who is the Savior of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
Merciful God, who raised up your servant Frances Joseph Gaudet to work for prison reform and the education of her people: Grant that we, encouraged by the example of her life, may work for those who are denied the fullness of life by reasons of incarceration and lack of access to education; through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Click here to learn more about Francis Joseph Gaudet, Educator and Prison Reformer, 1934.
O God, our strength and our salvation, you
called your servant Thomas Becket to be a shepherd of your people and a
defender of your Church: Keep your household from all evil and raise up
among us faithful pastors and leaders who are wise in the ways of the
Gospel; through Jesus Christ the shepherd of our souls, who lives and
reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Click here to learn more about Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1170.
We remember today, O God, the slaughter of the
holy innocents of Bethlehem by King Herod. Receive, we pray, into the
arms of your mercy all innocent victims; and by your great might
frustrate the designs of evil tyrants and establish your rule of
justice, love, and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and
reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and
Shed upon your Church, O Lord, the brightness of your light, that we, being illumined by the teaching of your apostle and evangelist John, may so walk in the light of your truth, that at length we may attain to the fullness of eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Click here to learn more about St. John, Apostle and Evangelist.
We give you thanks, O Lord of glory, for the example of the first martyr Stephen, who looked up to heaven and prayed for his persecutors to your Son Jesus Christ, who stands at your right hand; where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
Click here to learn more about Saint Stephen, Deacon and Martyr.
O God, you make us glad by the yearly festival of the birth of your only Son Jesus Christ: Grant that we, who joyfully receive him as our Redeemer, may with sure confidence behold him when he comes to be our Judge; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
"In the birth of Jesus, joy joins with human pain and overcomes it with love. And the very realities that we are unable to bear, God is willing to bear with us."
Lately I’ve caught myself thinking about a lady named Sarah, a parishioner of mine back when I was the rector of a small church in the Low Country of South Carolina. That Sarah would come to mind now may be due, in large part, to the fact that I will always and forever associate her with Christmas Eve.
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry's Christmas message
"This child came to show us how to change the world," Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael Curry said in his Christmas Message 2016. "So this Christmas, make room for Him to change us. This Christmas help us change the world."
Everliving God, who strengthened your apostle Thomas with firm and certain faith in your Son's resurrection: Grant us so perfectly and without doubt to believe in Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God, that our faith may never be found wanting in your sight; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Click here to learn more about Saint Thomas, Apostle.
Cavaraggio painted a masterpiece of St. Thomas with the Resurrected Jesus. Medieval piety interpreted the wound in Jesus' side as Jesus' invitation to mystical union. Other symbols that medieval religious persons would associate with this story: the temple's veil is torn, the veil that separates us from God is open wide, the sacred heart of God is revealed as a pierced heart of Love. Those themes continued to resonate long after the Middle Ages came to a close. It is in this light that Caravaggio asks us to look at the literal depiction of that scene - the skeptical and literal St.Thomas exploring the unimaginable reality of the Resurrection. In this earthy picture, mystery is revealed.
Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
It is the privilege of the rector to stand atop the mountain, search for glimpses of the Promised Land, witness to its reality, discern the patterns that will lead fellow pilgrims in the right direction, and exhort the company to rise up in joy to follow the Way. That is what a Charge is.
My charge to you is that we pay especial attention to four focuses in this next year. During my Rector’s Report, I quoted the Canon on Ministry of All Baptized Persons. The four focuses actually arise from it. Allow me to repeat it:
Sec. 1. Each Diocese shall make provision for the affirmation and development of the ministry of all baptized persons, including: (a) Assistance in understanding that all baptized persons are called to minister in Christ's name, to identify their gifts with the help of the Church and to serve Christ's mission at all times and in all places. (b) Assistance in understanding that all baptized persons are called to sustain their ministries through commitment to life-long Christian formation.
The first is communication. While it may not be evident that this has anything to do with the Ministry of All Baptized, without it, the rest will fail. We have reinstituted the telephone tree because you have a good history with it. We will also recommit to regular communications through weekly mail announcements, monthly newsletters, and regular communications from the vestry. Exactly how each one of you individually receives these communications will be up to you. You will need to communicate to the church office how you wish to receive written communication. It may take us a while to get this all in place and working smoothly, but with your ongoing help and participation, we can accomplish timely, content-worthy communication.
The second is stewardship. Stewardship covers a lot of ground – everything from maintaining the church property to making sure money, energy, and gifts are used wisely. As we learned through the Creation story, we are created to be stewards. We are entrusted with God’s precious and beloved creation. In our context, being stewards means that we are entrusted with the legacy of Episcopal worship and values, the care for our parish family, our fellowship with other parishes and civic groups, and our responsibilities towards the larger community. We are gifted with stewardship so that we might follow Jesus, so that we might use these opportunities to find and be found in Christ. Walter Coles has written a document for us to help us identify our call to stewardship of time and talent. As part of our stewardship drive, For Emmanuel: Illustrative Goals and Committees for Discussion, is meant to inspire us, giving us concrete examples, inviting us into the process of creating meaningful ministries. To be Emmanuel Church in Chatham, Virginia, in 2017: where in this do you find God? Where in this is your stewardship? Those two questions are the heart of the next area of focus, holy discernment.
Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
O God, you gave your servant Ambrose grace eloquently to proclaim your righteousness in the great congregation, and fearlessly to bear reproach for the honor of your Name: Mercifully grant to all bishops and pastors such excellence in preaching and faithfulness in ministering your Word, that your people may be partakers with them of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Click here to learn more about Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, 397.
Almighty God, in your love you gave your servant Nicholas of Myra a perpetual name for deeds of kindness both on land and sea: Grant, we pray, that your Church may never cease to work for the happiness of children, the safety of sailors, the relief of the poor, and the help of those tossed by tempests of doubt or grief; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Click here to learn more about Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, c.342.
O God of unsearchable wisdom, you gave your servant Clement grace to understand and teach the truth as it is in Jesus Christ, the source of all truth: Grant to your church the same grace to discern your Word wherever truth is found; through Jesus Christ our unfailing light, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Click here to learn more about Clement of Alexandria, Priest, c.210.