Sunday Morning Funeral

by Lisa Fischbeck on October 24, 2014

"A funeral can be a profound expression of what we believe and what we hope. It can form or reinforce that hope where it may have grown thin. Not only does the Sunday morning context strengthen the experience of the funeral, then, but the funeral can strengthen the experience of Sunday morning as well."

Sunday morning funerals are rare.Last Sunday morning, the congregation of The Advocate gathered to say goodbye to one of our own. We commended him to God’s loving hands, and committed his ashes to the ground in the churchyard. It was our primary liturgy of the day.

While baptisms take place in the context of principal liturgies more often than not, and weddings occasionally do, Sunday morning funerals are rare. There are good reasons. A funeral is usually a gathering of those who knew the deceased, who want to express condolences to the family, or to show their respect for the one who died. If the funeral is on a Sunday morning, not everyone gathered will have that intent; the liturgy may feel unwelcoming. Newcomers and visitors could feel left out of the congregation’s corporate grief. Parents might be challenged to know what to say to their children. In short, hospitality can be compromised.

A Sunday funeral could establish an unwanted precedent. Others may want their own funeral, or that of their beloved, on a Sunday morning as well. That could get out of hand fast. There could soon be more Sundays with funerals than Sundays without. We might then have to designate funeral Sundays, the way we designate certain Sundays as more appropriate for baptism. With cremation gaining traction in the society around us, it could certainly be possible. But it would be weird.

The main reason, perhaps, to avoid Sunday morning funerals, is that funerals can be a downer. For the most part, people don’t go to church on Sunday morning to see a box containing the remains of someone we knew or did not know perched before the altar. It is one thing to be reminded of Jesus’ death, quite another to have to think about our own.

All of these are reasonable objections to a Sunday morning funeral. But there are times when it is just the right thing to do.

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Permalink  |  0 Comments Pastoral Care, Worship

Millennials: Our Next Greatest Wave of Givers?

by Erin Weber-Johnson on October 23, 2014

Last night my best friend and I finished reading “The Fault in our Stars.” This instant classic was recently made into a box office hit as younger people, millennials, enjoyed its rich vocabulary, tender but teenage angst filled romance, and its existential wanderings about human suffering.

By far, one of richest lines comes part way through the book when the protagonist is in a conversation with her father and is told:

Our universe is improbably biased toward consciousness, that it rewards intelligence in part is because the universe enjoys its elegance being observed.”

As a financial resource consultant for the Episcopal Church Foundation, I am often asked about millennials. Here is what we know, generally, from Pew Research to date:

  • Millennials are defined by being children of divorce
  • Millennials celebrate diversity
  • They are formed to be socially conscious
  • Parents/Mentors are advocates and friends
  • First generation of children with schedules

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Permalink  |  0 Comments Stewardship, Youth & Young Adults

All Hallow's Eve

by Greg Syler on October 22, 2014

Oversized spiders hanging on front porches and cobwebs strewn across shopping aisles remind me that Halloween is just around the corner. I’ve never been a big fan of this holiday, myself, although I’m equally keen to re-claim it as a Christian thing, or at least something that has – or had – roots in the Christian experience.

That’s why the Episcopal churches in St. Mary’s County are planning an All Hallow’s Eve gathering. We want to re-claim it as ours, so to speak, and we think it’s a pretty good evangelical offering to local kids and families. Even better, this year Halloween falls on a Friday night. We can really do something fun and festive and not worry about getting the kiddos back home at such an early hour. And even though Halloween is just over one week away, the good news is that every congregation can plan to pull off something – and there’s still one Sunday in which you can make the announcement and drum up attendance!

Here are a few thoughts you may wish to incorporate in a church-based Halloween party.

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Permalink  |  0 Comments Outreach, Youth & Young Adults

Civil Discourse

by Richelle Thompson on October 21, 2014

The shrill, my-opinion-is-the-only-opinion way of talking, isn't working. 

As a society at large and in the wider church as well as our local congregations, we too often divide into like-minded factions, erecting barricades and resentments against those with different positions on certain issues. 

I wonder if we've become hunkered down so much with like-minded people that we've lost the muscle tone to do the heavy-lifting of engaged, respectful conversation. 

The Episcopal Church is offering a personal trainer--or at least some thoughtful, reflective discussion -- about how we can talk with one another and build relationships even with people who have differing opinions. 

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Permalink  |  0 Comments Conflict, Leadership

Dealing with Anger

by Jeremiah Sierra on October 20, 2014

Sometimes I swear at my computer. When, for example, it freezes up while I am rushing to get something done, I say things to it I would not want anyone else to hear. I don’t feel too bad about this, however (in fact, there is some evidence that swearing can reduce stress).

When is it appropriate to express anger? Anger is a legitimate emotion, and inevitably it will surface from time to time in any community. Anyone who has been a part of a church for a long time or worked with other human beings has experienced this. While I don’t think we should swear at each other, anger is something that must be dealt with. This is something I am learning with my wife. An occasional fight can be painful, but helpful and even necessary. We need to recognize anger when it pops up in our community and deal with it in appropriate ways. Not doing so can lead to resentment, which is a more insidious emotion that can tear relationships apart.

How do we deal with anger?

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Permalink  |  0 Comments Change, Conflict

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