The Alter Vessels

Have you ever wondered about what was on the altar when the service starts?  You can see a cloth covering something in the center.  What is it?

Underneath all is the chalice that will be used at the consecration of the elements.  Ours is golden plated and very simple.  Many chalices are quite ornate and are solid gold or silver, intricately carved and may even containing precious jewels.  The chalice [or cup] is meant to remind us of the one used by Jesus at the Passover Supper that we now call The Last Supper.  It was here that He instructed His apostles to do this in memory of Him.  Thus we obey Him when we celebrate communion together.  

On top of the chalice is a folded square of cloth called the purificator It is used, as you might suppose, to keep the chalice clean after someone takes a sip from it.  You will notice that both the deacon and LEM [Lay Eucharistic Minister] each have one and that they carefully wipe the lip of the chalice after each person drinks from it.

The paten [a small, shallow gold plate] rests on top of the  purificator.  It holds the large wafer used by the celebrant during the consecration of the elements.   It is used to catch any fragments that might fall during the fraction [breaking] of the bread.  It is also held up with the chalice when the celebrant announces “The gifts of God for the people of God.”

Resting on top of the paten is the pall.  It is a stiff, square of cloth that is meant to protect the elements from dust or flies [more of a problem in earlier centuries].  Embroidered on the pall is usually a cross or some other symbol for Jesus.  In Anglican churches a pall [this time a very large rectangle of material that has a cross on it] also covers the coffin during the funeral service.  Only the pall covers the coffin since we all enter the presence of God through the cross of Jesus.  We can do or bring nothing to our salvation and the pall on the casket points to the Savior.

Finally, the chalice veil covers all.  Its color always matches the color of the church year.

For God and Country

 “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone-- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good, and pleases God our Savior,  who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men--the testimony given in its proper time."  ~1 Timothy 2:1-6

During the Prayers of the People, we regularly pray for those in authority over us, including the President, Vice President and leaders of Congress and the Supreme Court.  We do this because we are asking that God be the ultimate guide for our country and that “we, the people” may live in harmony with and obedience  to the plans that He desires for our nation.  If all nations on earth submitted themselves fully and wholly to God’s plan, then true peace on earth would occur.

We live in the nation that is called the greatest on the earth, and we enjoy spectacular freedoms and opportunities that are undreamed of by most of the earth’s inhabitants.  Our freedom is not “free” and thus we pray for those from our midst who serve in the military:  Kaelan Clay, Peyton Denton, and Nathan White.  These men need our prayers and appreciate our support.

We have also been called the most generous nation in the world because we have freely shared with those in need.  Scripture tells us that the “religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”  James 1:27

On this 236th birthday of our nation, let’s recommit to praying for godly leaders for our country and committing ourselves to pray and care for those less fortunate.  One of the ways that Christ the King fulfills this command is through giving away half of every dollar committed to the general fund of the church.  Let’s vow together to pray for those who have gone in our place to the far corners of the world to bring the freeing light of the Gospel to those who live in darkness.

Early Pentecost Season

Dear Friends,

As we enter the Green Season or the part of the church year known as Ordinary tine, our focus shifts from the events in the life of Jesus Christ to His teachings and parables. To that end, I want to encourage you to join me in following the example of Our Savior and rededicating ourselves to prayer.  A twentieth century missionary to people inside the Iron Curtain during the years of Communist domination, Peter Dyneka, Sr., lived by this motto:  “Much Prayer, Much Power.  Little Prayer, Little Power. No Prayer, No Power.”  Dyneka’s dictum is more than a clever phrase.  It captures the essence of our Lord Jesus Christ’s life and it is something acknowledged by every Christian who lives a truly Christ-glorifying life.

In Mark 1:21-39 we read that Our Lord had a busy Sabbath in Capernaum.  He had taught in the synagogue and cast an unclean spirit out of a man.  Jesus then went to Simon Peter’s home where He found the disciple’s mother-in-law ill with a fever.  He healed her and then after sunset, when many sick and demonically oppressed people were brought to Him, He healed them all.

In verse 35 we learn that early the next morning, while it was still dark, Jesus had departed to an isolated place where He spent time in prayer with his Father in Heaven.  During this time of prayer, Jesus garnered the strength to continue His ministry of traveling, teaching, preaching, and healing, and through this prayer time learned where His Father wanted Him to go.

In brief, Jesus’ lifeline to His Father in Heaven was prayer.   And if Jesus needed prayer to live a life that glorified God – how much more do we need a robust time of prayer each day?  Therefore, let’s covenant together to commit a part of each day to prayer.   For me, early in the morning usually works well.  But no matter the time, devote at least a few minutes each day to praising God, seeking His protection and guidance for the day’s activities, and interceding for your family and other people in your range of influence.

Finally, consider two prayer opportunities available to everyone on Sunday mornings.  From 9:15-9:45 a.m., before the 10 a.m. worship service at Hodges Chapel, we have a prayer meeting to praise God and intercede for the worship service and needs of the church.  Second, during Holy Communion each Sunday you are invited to go to the prayer ministers (two teams of two persons each) and pray for any need that you want to bring to the Lord.

Remember Our Lord’s example in Mark 1:35.  And take to heart Peter Dyneka’s motto: “Much prayer, Much Power.”  Join me in asking Our Lord to help us become a church family energized by prayer.

Soli  Deo Gloria,

Pastor Lyle

The Colors of the Church Year

Most of us have seen a “Wordless Book” or a “Wordless Bead bracelet” that uses colors to teach the message of salvation.  The colors help even young children who cannot read to understand the message of the Gospel.  In the same fashion, we use the colors of the church year to help us “sense” and remember the important events in the life of Christ.  It was God Himself who first designated certain colors be used when He gave explicit instructions to Moses about the construction of the Tabernacle.  [see for instance Exodus 26:1; 36:8]

White is used for the major feasts related to the Lord Jesus and His Father.  You will see white, the symbol of purity, joy and truth often paired with gold, the color of royalty.   White is also used for many  feasts of saints who are not martyrs.

Red, like fire, reminds of us the coming of the Holy Spirit and is prominently used at Pentecost and ordinations when the call of the Holy Spirit is recognized and affirmed.  Likewise, a blood red symbolizes the sacrificed life of a martyr and calls us to remember the sacrifice of Jesus and His shed blood on our behalf.

Green brings to mind those seasons when crops are planted and mature.  Green has always been associated with new life and growth and it is used during the non-festival or ordinary time after Epiphany and between Trinity Sunday and the end of the church year.

Purple is also a royal color but in the church year it calls us to repentance.  It is considered mostly a penitential color and is always used in Lent when we “repent in sackcloth and ashes” that we might be born again with Christ on the Day of Resurrection.   It is also seen in Advent, but there it carries more of a quiet sense of expectation and preparation that we might be spiritually prepared for the feast of Christmas.  Some churches have chosen to use a dark blue for Advent in order to distinguish it from the color of Lent.   Purple is also used for healing services.

Black represents deep sorrow and may be used for Good Friday and for the dead but these days white is often used for Christian funerals to celebrate the new life in heaven for the deceased.