Give Us This Day:
Weekly Flame for Thursday, December 12, 2019
From Our Rector
“We do not say ‘My father, who are in the heavens,’ nor ‘Give me my bread this day.’ Nor does [one] request that [one’s] debts be pardoned for [oneself] alone, nor ask that [one] alone be not led into temptation and delivered from the evil one. Our prayer is common and collective, and when we pray, we pray not for one but for all people, because we are all one people together. The God of peace and master of concord, who taught that we should be united, wanted one to pray in this manner for all, as he himself bore all in one.”
-Cyprian of Carthage, Commentary on the Our Father/Lord’s Prayer in ed/trans.
Alistair Stewart-Sykes, Tertullian, Cyprian, Origen On the Lord’s Prayer (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2004), 69
Last week I began with a quotation from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about praying for the President. This week, as the impeachment process unfolds in earnest, a call to prayer is all the more important. What is at stake in the proceedings, and in our prayer, is not so much individuals but the collective whole—the well-being of the community, the city, the state, the nation. This is not to say that prayer for and by individuals is somehow unimportant. But what I think most needs prayerful support, what most needs to be lifted up to God right now, is the communal, the whole in which we are all connected, the whole that is so broken.
This week here at St. Aidan’s we have been in conversation about prayer. Our Advent Christian formation series is on that topic. Our first session dipped into an overview. This week our topic was “praying with words.” Next week it will be “praying without words.” We engage in both sorts of prayer a great deal here, our Sunday worship being filled with words, and our contemplative prayer on Tuesdays and Thursdays being a space without words.
In looking at how we pray with words, we turned to the prayer that Jesus taught, known variously as the Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father. In addition to a comparison of the versions in Luke (11:1-8) and Matthew (6:7-13), we looked at an ancient commentary on the prayer by the third century theologian Cyprian of Carthage. For all the ways one can unpack the prayer—what it means to pray that God’s kingdom come or the translation differences between ‘debts,’ ‘sins,’ and ‘trespasses’— there is a simple matter of personal pronoun: me versus we. It isn’t the “my Father,” but our. We don’t pray for “my daily bread” but our. Even when we pray this prayer on our own, we still use the collective language. Always, we are part of a wider whole. As Cyprian put it, “The God of peace and master of concord… wanted one to pray in this manner for all, as he himself bore all in one.”
Earlier today people from Episcopal Community Services came by to pick up the presents St. Aidanites had bought and wrapped over the last few weeks. Diana and I helped load them up into the van and the gifts completely filled it. It was an inspiring sight. As it so happened, there was one remaining gift for the Crosby that we came upon later in the day in a different location, not having noticed it when we loaded the gifts into the van. Since I would be covering Communion at the Next Door Shelter downtown this evening, I offered to bring it down. It felt fitting to go from the shelter library, where a rotating group of San Francisco clergy leads this small weekly Communion service, to this transitional housing building, located around the corner in a small former hotel. A cord of connection linked it all together: St. Aidan’s, the shelter community, and the Crosby.
In the Next Door Shelter library we prayed, “give us this day our daily bread.” And of course, we pray the same prayer at St. Aidan’s, week in and week out. Whether we are alone or in a group, whether we are at 101 Gold Mine Drive or 1001 Polk Street, the “we” of that prayer is always more interconnected and larger than we know. Its request, “give us this day,” can also remind us as Christmas approaches that the giving and receiving of gifts can in fact be – is meant to be -- part of a spiritual practice. We celebrate the gift of God who in Christ came among us, “bore all in one,” as Cyprian put it. In grateful response, we share the good news of that gift with one another.
That collective gift-giving will extend through our worship in the coming days. This Sunday and next, we will celebrate the final Sundays of Advent at our 8 and 10 AM. On Wednesday, December 18th, as described below, we will have a Blue Christmas service at 5:30 PM. On Christmas Eve, as last year, our services will be at 4:30 and 7:30 PM, and then on Christmas Day we will come together at 9 AM. In the meantime, may our prayer continue. Pray for our country in the midst of pain and upheaval. Pray for justice, for peace. Pray for the gift of being made whole.
Many thanks for our ECS Gift Drive
No surprise - our gift drive for the Crosby resident
s again was a huge success. Many thanks to Linnea Sweet for the beautiful ornaments, for everyone who generously purchased gifts, and for Paul and Shelley Nocero for expert gift “counting”.
- Gratefully, deacon Margaret
Blue Christmas: a Service that Makes Space for Grief and Loss at Christmas Wednesday, Dec 18, 5:30-7pm - (please note earlier start time) For a number of people, Christmas is actually not an especially joyous time of year. Often those who have lost loved ones, or for whom family Christmas gatherings are deeply uncomfortable or simply not possible, feel a great deal of pain as Christmas approaches. This service of "Blue Christmas" seeks to make space for this experience. With a lessons and carols format featuring several readings and reflections, this service without Communion is meant to be accessible to people of various Christian traditions. Please feel free to come and invite anyone you know who might appreciate this service.
Advent Christian Formation Series on Prayer
Next Wednesday is the final day in our three-part Advent formation series on prayer. At 7 PM after the Blue Christmas Service, we'll gather for a simple supper followed by discussion of and practice praying without words. We'll focus on meditative or centering prayer and praying with icons. Last week we discussed praying with words, focusing on the Lord's Prayer/Our Father. We look forward to seeing you Wednesday.
Diamond Heights Holiday Party, Dec. 14 at St. Aidan's
All are welcome to attend the free Holiday Party on Saturday, December 14, 3:00 to 5:00 pm at St. Aidan’s. Come by to enjoy tasty food, entertainment and caroling lead by Scrumbly Koldewyn (our Dymphna music director and accompanist), holiday craft making for all ages, and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus. Community sponsors include the Diamond Heights Community Association, Resilient Diamond Heights and St. Aidan’s. The party provides an opportunity to talk with sponsor organizations about our projects in the neighborhood.
Volunteers are needed to help with baking cookies, set-up, the food table, assisting with the crafts and helping with cleanup. If you would like to volunteer or would like more information, please contact Betsy Eddy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Help spread the joy of Christmas for our community residents.
A Jazzy Little Christmas Please join us on Sunday December 22 for a night filled with music! Performances will include St. Aidan's parishioners Elaine Jennings and Janet Lohr with guest performer Michael Jennings. All proceeds will help fund St. Aidan's various ministries! Tickets are available now at https://sidebyside.brownpapertickets.comHoliday Gift Drive II. – San Francisco SafehouseThank you for keeping the Christmas spirit going with gifts for the women of San Francisco Safehouse. As with the ECS/Crosby gifts, please make sure you return your gift wrapped and with the ornament taped to the outside, so we can make sure it gets to the right person. Gifts need to be brough in no later than Sunday, December 22nd. Thank you!
Saturday, December 14, 8:15-10:15am, Wajnert Room. Please note change of date. We gather for prayer, study, breakfast, and fellowship. All men are cordially invited.
Convention News: The Diocesan Convention this fall adopted three resolutions that commit the diocese to study various issues and report back with recommended actions. In each case, the bishop is to appoint a commission or task force to carry out the study. They are:
Diocesan Liturgical Commission “to develop and implement a process for laity and clergy throughout the diocese to be informed of and provide input about proposed liturgical revisions.”
Sabbatical Leave Task Force “to research and prepare a proposal for a paid sabbatical leave policy for clergy who serve as associates, interim rectors, interim vicars, or priests-in-charge.” Interims and many part-time clergy do not currently have any provision for sabbaticals.
Task Force on Disability and Deaf Access “which is charged with creating a best practices guide for voluntary disability and deaf access for all Diocesan institutions and congregations.”
If you are interested in being appointed to any of these bodies, or if you know someone you think would be a good candidate, please contact Dave Frangquist, email@example.com.
From DioBytes and the Bishop's Office: "Ministry for the Common Good"
Jan 15-16 @ Grace Cathedral
What does Christian service for the common good look like? How can Christians love the world as God loved the world? What do we need to know and do in order to seek peace in our contexts? Join us and other ministry leaders as we consider these important questions together.
Speakers include Willie James Jennings, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Africana Studies at Yale Divinity School and the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, Presiding Bishop’s Canon for Evangelism, Reconciliation, and Creation.
This gathering is for anyone engaged in Christian ministry, including lay leaders, as well as those who are looking for new ways to serve in their church and other ministry contexts. The Episcopal Diocese of California is pleased to co-sponsor this gathering with Newbigin House of Studies.
Cost: $95 — Special DioCal Discount code: "diocal" for 20% off!
Contact: Newbigin House of Studies, firstname.lastname@example.org
More information, visit: newbiginhouse.org/ministry-for-the-common-good/
Healing Touch San Francisco invites all Healing Touch students and practitioners in the Bay Area to a convenient Sunday afternoon monthly support group to meditate and share HT treatments. For those coming by BART please let Kathleen know if you would like to be picked-up at the Glen Park Bart Station. A $5-10 donation is requested to cover costs. Please bring a massage table if you can. RSVP to Kathleen Wyckoff at email@example.com or 415.577.8359.
Further future dates include Sundays, 2pm- 4pm: October 20, November 17, December 15
Contemplative Prayer: Tues/Thurs 9-10am [please note, not happening the week of 12/23]
All are welcome to participate in a space of quiet, contemplative prayer. You may come either or both days at any time between 9-10am!
St. Aidan's Gourmet Book Group - note change in schedule!
The St. Aidan's Gourmet Book Group does not always adhere to its usual last Monday of the month meeting time so please note the dates carefully! Bring your favorite sweet and savory finger food and book suggestions for future meetings.
Home of Elaine Mannon 295 Urbano Drive, SF
RSVP: 415- 469-9832
Monday, November 25, 2019: The Library Book by Susan Orlean. The 1986 Los Angeles Central Library fire sparks Orlean’s imagination as she writes about the history of libraries, including the terrifying practice of groups destroying books to amplify their ideology.
NO MEETING IN DECEMBER
Monday, January 27, 2020: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. A coming-of-age crime drama about a girl growing up alone in the marshes of North Carolina. As Owens said, “I wanted to write about the effect isolation and loneliness can have on a person.”
ECS Shelter Dinners
Join us in helping the kitchen staff to serve dinner at the Episcopal Community Services shelter at 8th & Howard every 4th Saturday. Tasks include serving food cafeteria-style, & cleaning the dining room after. You are needed! It's purposeful time with good friends & conversation - a great way to spend the evening! You can sign up here: http://doodle.com/poll/zti2775bth37fwrs - Lee
To add an announcement to the weekly bulletin of the Flame,
please send your edited text no later than 11:00 am Tuesday to firstname.lastname@example.org