Church of Our Saviour

21 Marathon Street | Arlington, Massachusetts | 781-648-5962

Looking Ahead

I never cease to be amazed by the way God provides.

A year ago, Church of Our Saviour had a priest serving about 75% of full-time. But as you looked at your pledging and finances, you wondered how you could have a priest without running deficits. It seemed wise for your next rector to begin ministering at half time, with the hope of increasing hours in the following years as membership and pledging grew.

A year ago, I was engaged in full time parish ministry. But when we got the news that we were going to be able to adopt a toddler, I wondered how we were going to juggle childcare and long commutes. It seemed wise for me to minister part time for a while, with the hope of increasing my hours as Isaiah got a little older.

My first three months at Church of Our Saviour have shown me what a terrific group of people you are. It’s a joy to minister with you. I sincerely believe that God was at work in bringing us together and that God is helping us as we being ministry together.

One of the challenges you and I face is how to do ministry in a different way from what we’re used to. You are used to having a priest at ¾ time. I’m used to being a full-time priest. Together, we are trying to figure out a new model for sharing ministry.

What does half time mean for clergy? The standard is 20-24 hours a week. I typically work during the day on Sundays and Tuesdays, and on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. I plan to check my email on Sundays, Tuesdays, and on Thursday evenings. If an emergency arises on other days, you can contact our wardens, Chris Wilbur or Rose Udics. They can help handle the situation, or get in touch with me if a priest is needed.

In my first few months, I worked with our warden and vestry to determine who did what when COS had a priest at ¾ time. Our next step is to figure out how to do the work of the church under a model with a half-time priest. At the end of February, your vestry is having a weekend retreat to talk about these questions.

Change can be challenging, but I think in this case, it offers exciting opportunities for creativity. One thing that has already emerged is our revived Liturgy Committee. We met for the first time February 5 to talk about Ash Wednesday and Lent.

I was impressed by the thoughtfulness of the people who came together. We began by talking about the Anglican tradition of the via
media, the wise middle way between two poles. We talked about the benefits of innovating in liturgy, and we talked about the benefits of carrying on the ancient traditions. As we talked about how we wanted to move forward, we spoke about looking for wise ways of balancing these poles.

As we looked over last year’s Ash Wednesday liturgy, we felt very good about what we had done. It was drawn from the beautiful and meaningful Ash Wednesday liturgy found in the Book of Common Prayer. Because Ash Wednesday only happens once a year, there is less danger about it seeming rote. We hope you will come to the 7:30 pm service at COS. We will have ashes placed on our foreheads and receive Communion. With Ash Wednesday falling during school vacation week, we hope families with children will participate, as they are able. Experiencing this liturgy first hand is a great way for children to start learning about this ancient practice.

As we looked ahead to Palm Sunday, we talked about the mood we wanted to convey. Palm Sunday involves a whiplash of emotions, as Jesus’ followers go from praising him to betraying him during the course of the worship service. We will continue to think more about how to express that mood through music and words. We decided that this year, we needed to use music other than a bagpipe to express this message. We will keep our tradition of having a donkey.

We also talked about our desire to incorporate quiet meditation into our worship this Lent. We will continue to have a time for silence after the sermon. In addition, we decided to foster an atmosphere of meditation during the prelude. Folks who would like to pray in silence before worship are invited to do so in the sanctuary, especially during the prelude. Folks who like to use the time before worship to greet their friends can continue to do so in the parish hall.

Finally, we pinned down the times for our special Lenten and Holy Week liturgies. All night-time worship services will be at 7:30 p.m.—easy to remember!  Easter Sunday services will be April 8 at 9:00 and 11:00 a.m.

The Liturgy Committee will meet again after church on March 4 to talk about Holy Week and Easter. All are welcome to
participate.

Yours in Christ,

Malia

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