May 2017

2 Items

Do you want to know more about being a candidate for Confirmation or Reaffirmation?

Dear Manakin Family,

Nearly every one of you was baptized as an infant or young child at Manakin or another church. (If there is anyone who has never been baptized, or is in doubt about when or where this took place, we have a short rite of “Conditional Baptism.” Ask me or the office about this.)  Your parents and godparents made baptismal promises in your name to renounce evil and “accept Jesus Christ as Savior.”  They also promised to be responsible for seeing that you would be brought up in the Christian faith and life. Normally, in the Episcopal Church, this means that when someone is old enough to make mature promises, that person will renew his or her baptismal commitment to Christ in the presence of our Bishop and receive the “laying on of hands” in Confirmation, with prayer for help of God’s Holy Spirit.  Others may have been confirmed elsewhere and are received into the Episcopal Church by the Bishop.  Still others may have been confirmed at a young age, been away from an active faith and church life for some time, and may want to “Reaffirm” their commitment to God.  This also takes place in the presence of our Bishop.  Finally, there are some who are questioning about making such a reaffirmation, or want to know more about how the Episcopal Church understands the Christian faith and what it teaches.

Therefore, we are preparing for one of our bishops to come during April, 2018, two or three weeks after Easter Day which comes on April 1st.  We want those adults who would like to prepare for confirmation or any of the above-mentioned purposes to meet with me and Dr. Julia Eliades, our Christian Formation Director, to discuss possible times for preparation sessions and an inquirers class to begin in the Fall, or to discuss questions about being confirmed, reaffirmed, etc. We have chosen to meet after church at 11:00 a.m. on Pentecost Sunday, June 4th (for no more than 20 to 30 minutes) and hope you will attend.  If that is not possible, and you still want to be received or reaffirmed in 2018, please call Wendy in the office to give her that information, 794-6401 or to indicate that you will be present on June 4th.  Thank you, and God’s peace be with you.

Yours in Christ,

The Rev. Dr. Tom Bauer


The Ministry of Hospitality

Dear Friends,

Many Christians do not know that throughout history the religious orders in the church, monks and nuns, considered hospitality as a key responsibility of the religious life. Monasteries always included a guest house and were the only safe medieval overnight lodging available to travelers and pilgrims. The sick and crippled were also taken in, sometimes for long periods. In England today, nurses are still called “sister” as a holdover of terminology from past centuries of religious orders’ healing ministry and hospitality. The Gospels clearly state Jesus’ call for us to “take in the stranger” and visit the sick. The parable of the good Samaritan illuminates this aspect of the Christian calling. And do not forget how in the Old Testament we are taught by the story of Abraham that through hospitality to guests and strangers we “may be ministering to angels unaware.” The fate of Sodom was Gods’ retribution for its failure to show hospitality to the sojourners who were welcomed by Lot. We could find many more examples in Holy Scripture.

 Today, we Christians must find new ways to express and embody this tradition. Certainly it is a main reason why most Christian denominations support our active ministry to refugees and those who have been persecuted and driven from their homelands. Likewise, our parish churches are involved in programs to feed the hungry and provide overnight shelter to the urban homeless and troubled in mind or spirit. It is a ministry that has led to Ecumenical sharing, since in any given town or city one congregation seldom has the resources or manpower (usually mostly lady-power) to provide meals or lodging on a continuing basis, so, in most localities seven or more churches share the weekly round of hospitable service. Our churches need to consciously be places of hospitality on Sundays. Most congregations have breakfast or coffee hours, and everyone, not just appointed greeters, must show a welcoming attitude to visitors no matter what their race or social class. Do we only talk with our friends on such occasion or do we try to bring those we don’t know into our circle of fellowship?

Finally, hospitality is not merely doing nice things for strangers and visitors. The attitude we show to each other and to outsiders is of critical importance. It must be an attitude of kindness, not fault-finding or indifference. I will always remember the first time I heard a performance of Handel’s Messiah. It was at the Naval Academy Chapel, and right afterwards a young lady, who was a friend of those I was with, came up with a copy of the oratorio’s score and announced, “they made six mistakes,” while the rest of us were thinking of all the beauty we had just heard. Some of us seem to come to worship God with the same attitude, looking for mistakes in the bulletin or music we don’t like. I hope we can all show more kindness to each other in this regard; giving compliments and suggesting things that we would like, rather than looking for things we don’t like (which may be things someone else does like). If such an attitude of mutual kindness could pervade our gatherings, the atmosphere would be noticeable and attractive to visitors and newcomers. Episcopalians at large don’t do as well as some other denominations in creating an atmosphere where both grief and joy can be shared and where mutual kindness and real caring are evident and experienced. Some have called Episcopalians “God’s frozen people.” It is the ordained pastor’s job with the other church staff to join in and foster a positive welcoming atmosphere but it must be in cooperation with every other member of the community of faith, not as “professional” substitutes for a comprehensive spirit shared by all our members.

Remember the last worlds of our Maundy Thursday Gospel.   Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another: Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another: By this everyone will know that you are my disciples; if you have love for one another.” That is the true meaning of Christian hospitality.

Yours in Christ,

The Rev. Dr. Tom Bauer