Friday, May 30, 2014

"You are witnesses of these things..."

From the ALPB Forum Online thread "A Blessed Ascension Day":

Last evening was the 15th consecutive year the Ascension of Our Lord was observed at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Peoria on the Feast Day.

Our typical practice as been what Frank Senn describes as Cathedral Vespers and the Eucharist, using Evening Prayer and Holy Communion Setting III of LBW. He reports this as a better alternative to using parts of Vespers to replace the entrance rite for Holy Communion by letting each liturgy stand on its own, rather than asking it to do something else.

Vespers includes the Lucinarium (at 7pm) with procession, during which all worshipers are invited to light their own candles, Pslam 141, and the Litany. At its "Amen", the organist offers a Prelude (giving me time to change from choir dress into Eucharistic vestments when I'm the celebrant). The eucharistic procession is to the Gloria in excelsis, omitting only the Psalmody and the Prayer of the Church while following the rest of Setting III.

We, too, are not air-conditioned, so while I had been able to get the church down to 75 F in the morning -- think "brick oven" in these longer, warmer, sunny days -- it was 82 in the late afternoon when I noticed the organist perspiring as she practiced the liturgy, so I turned the ceiling and exhaust fans up and brought in a couple more to get the air moving. It's not too bad, but the acolytes aren't used to the air moving quite that much!

We specifically invited not only our sister Conference congregations (which we've always done), but all ELCA full communion partner congregations within the greater Peoria area -- that adds up to over 60 congregations --, got the word out to at least some in the Via de Cristo community (noting particularly that the preacher, the Synod's Director for Evangelical Mission, had been a spiritual director for last month's Three Days), and even got a notice in Sunday's Journal Star. Still, it's a Thursday evening at the end of May, on the South Side of Peoria, conflicting with some graduations and the community theatre.

23 in attendance (on the lower side for Ascension and a guest preacher) from 8-9 different congregations. (Some of our "regulars" had other commitments.) The Gospel was proclaimed, the Sacrament was administered, the world was raised in prayer. And, as is typical at Zion, it's a good hour or more after the Dismissal before we can put away the remaining cookies, clean up the coffee and juice, and I can finally lock the doors and retire for the evening.

Come, Holy Spirit...