“We thank you, Father, for the water of Baptism. In it we are buried with Christ in his death. By it we share in his resurrection. Through it we are reborn by the Holy Spirit. Therefore in joyful obedience to your Son, we bring into his fellowship those who come to him in faith, baptizing them them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
–The Book of Common Prayer, p. 307
Holy Baptism is full entry into the Christian life and faith. In the early Church, baptism and the rite of confirmation were contained in a single event (it is still practiced this way in Eastern Orthodox Churches). For historical reasons, they were separated into two rites in the Western Latin Church, of which our tradition Anglicanism is a part. Confirmation is normally expected for most active members, but is required only of those seeking ordination. Holy Baptism alone makes you a full member of the church.
Holy Baptism is especially appropriate at the Easter Vigil, on the Day of Pentecost, on All Saints’ Day or the Sunday after All Saints’ Day, and on the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord (the First Sunday after the Epiphany).
“Almighty God, we thank you that by the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ you have overcome sin and brought us to yourself, and that by the sealing of your Holy Spirit you have bound us to your service. Renew in these your servants the covenant you made with them at their Baptism. Send them forth in the power of that Spirit to perform the service you set before them; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.”
–The Book of Common Prayer, p. 309
Confirmation is a sacrament offered for those baptized persons who are prepared to make an adult commitment to follow Christ in the presence of the bishop and the congregation. If you were baptized as an adult, or have previously made an adult profession of faith in another Christian tradition, the bishop may bless you and receive you into the Episcopal Church. This is called Reception. If you were baptized and confirmed years ago and have been away from the faith for a long time, the bishop can offer a blessing and reaffirm your commitment to Christ and your return to active life in the church. This is called Reaffirmation.
“The union of husband and wife in heart, body, and mind is intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity; and, when it is God’s will, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord. Therefore marriage is not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, deliberately, and in accordance with the purposes for which it was instituted by God.”
–The Book of Common Prayer, p. 423
Weddings at Leeds are always joyful and celebratory!
Given the importance of marriage, we require that couples receive significant pre-marital counseling, so that they enter marriage “reverently, deliberately, and in accordance with the purposes for which it was instituted by God.”
“Christian marriage is a solemn and public covenant in the presence of God. In the Episcopal Church, it is required that at least one of the parties be a baptized Christian; that the ceremony be attested by at least two witnesses; and that the marriage conform to the laws of the State and the laws of the Episcopal Church (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 422).”
“May God the Father bless you, God the Son heal you, God the Holy Spirit give you strength. May God the holy and undivided Trinity guard your body, save your soul, and bring you safely to his heavenly country, where he lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.”
-For Health of Body and Soul, The Book of Common Prayer, p. 460
The Letter of James instructs us: “Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. Are any among you sick? They should call for for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven (James 5:13-15).”
The prayers of the church are intended to spiritually support its members in times of illness or need. When a person is seriously ill or admitted to the hospital, a priest will visit for prayer and to offer communion and pastoral support.
“The liturgy for the dead is an Easter liturgy. It finds all its meaning in the resurrection. Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we, too, shall be raised.”
–The Book of Common Prayer, p. 507
Death is an ending, but it is not the ending. We trust in Jesus’s boundless love and mercy as we look in hope to fulfillment of the Kingdom of God. We know that one day these words of scripture will come to fruition: “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and carrying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away (Rev. 21:3-4).”
A Stephen Minister is someone who will walk beside you and help you bear a painful burden–a flesh-and-blood reminder that God is always with you. It’s someone to whom you can pour out all the things you may not be able to say to family or friends, because you know your mother’s going to say, “Well, sweetie, you know I always told you….” Nor is it, “Don’t worry. God never gives us more than we can bear”, or “Just keep reminding yourself that everything’s going to be all right–it’ll all work out.” When you feel that it would be selfish or impossible to expect family and/or friends to listen to your woes, that’s where a Stephen Minister comes in. On an absolutely confidential, one-on-one, man-to-man or woman-to-woman basis, Stephen Ministers come alongside to walk with you through this valley, not judging, not trying to tell you what to do, or how to “fix” things, but just listening, just being there until you have come through your troubles.
If you are interested in learning more about Stephen Ministry, please contact Anne Whitelaw (email: email@example.com; phone: 540-364-1937)