Saint Paul's Episcopal Church


Thomas and A Street - Altus, Oklahoma

Priest's Reflections

Dear Parish Family,
Since we are still in Christmastide (the twelve days from Christmas to Epiphany) and we are about to begin a new year I wish you both a blessed Christmastide and a Happy New Year!! I thank all who made the Christmas Eve service such a beautiful and special service-from the decorating of the church and altar to the food and fellowship after the service-it was a wonderful welcoming of the Christ Child-thank you one and all.

On Sunday, January 5th, we will celebrate the Epiphany with the traditional Epiphany cake and remove the Christmas decorations from the church.
You will find Church Calendars for 2020 for all in the parish hall, so please pick one or two for your family if you have not already done so. Please mark your calendar for JANUARY 26TH. On that Sunday we will have our ANNUAL PARISH MEETING. We will have reports from various groups reviewing the year 2019 and conduct important business of the parish by electing two new vestry members, electing two delegates and two alternates for our 2020 Diocesan Convention which will be hosted by St. Patrick's in Tulsa. The 2020 Budget will be presented by our Treasurer, and I will request your approval of my nomination of a new Senior Warden. The Agenda and the 2020 Budget will be published and copies available at the meeting. Those required to provide a written annual report are: Treasurer, Priest-in-Charge, Senior Warden, Junior Warden, Pledge Secretary, Altar Guild, ECW, Columbarium Committee, and Memorial Committee. Those reports must be submitted by Sunday January 19th and copies will be available at the meeting. It is a very important meeting, so please plan to attend.

This year John Womack and Carol McElroy will leave the vestry, as each have served two consecutive terms and are not eligible for re-election. The nominating committee (John and Carol) will put forth the names of Dr. Eddie Perryman and Marty Howeth for election to the vestry and additional names may be added from the floor.

After the Annual Meeting we will adjourn to the Parish Hall for further fellowship and a covered dish lunch. The meat will be provided but everyone is asked to bring their favorite side dishes and desserts.

The Christian year is as old as the Resurrection and our calendar reflects the various seasons and colors as we progress through the yearly cycle. As we began our new church the first Sunday in December with Advent a review may be helpful. The four weeks of Advent ("Coming") are devoted to preparation for the Feast of the Nativity (Christmas)-and the preparation for HIS second coming, in majesty to judge the world. Then following the events of his earthly life of self-sacrifice, we celebrate HIS Death, Resurrection, and Ascension, and the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost (Whitsunday). The second half of the Church Year is co-ordinate with the first, since it celebrates the continuing work of Christ, in His Church, by the Holy Spirit. So, the season of Advent has 4 weeks, Christmas has Christmas Day 12 days, then comes the season of Epiphany, then Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent, which concludes with Holy Week-the week from Palm Sunday to Easter. The season of Easter is about the same length as Lent, and ends Pentecost Sunday. The season of Pentecost, sometimes called Ordinary Time continues until we once again return to the season of Advent and begin the cycle once again.

Just as God has flooded earth and sky with color, so the Church has sensed the symbolic use of color in its worship. As dominating colors in nature change with the seasons of the fourfold year, so in the Church Year there is a structured change in the colors of the Eucharistic vestments and church hangings. Just by walking into the church before worship you can immediately tell where we are in the church year by the colors being used.

You might even say we have color coded worship!!
This sequence of liturgical colors has a principal role in Christian visual education, in teaching the Gospel through the eye.

White, symbolizing joy, purity and truth, is used on the Sundays and open day of Christmastide and Easter, special Feasts and Memorial days, at Baptism and Marriages, and optionally for Confirmation. Gold is sometimes used in place of white on major feasts.

Red, the color of fire and blood, is used on Pentecost; optionally on Palm Sunday and Holy Week, feasts of the Apostles, and Ritual Masses Ordination and optionally for Confirmation.

Green, the color of living things and of God's creation, is used on the Sundays in the season after Epiphany and Pentecost.
Violet, symbolic of penitence and expectation, is used in the seasons of Advent and Lent and on Ember days.

Black, representative of deep sorrow, may be used for Good Friday and for offices and Masses for the dead.

Rose, penitence permeated with joy, may be used on the Third Sunday of Advent and the Third Sunday in Lent.
Blue is frequently used during Advent.

I want to close with some Thoughts about New Year's Day. It is marked by a celebration of starting over, of new beginnings, new resolutions. It seems to be a part of our human nature that we are always willing, deep down, to believe we can better ourselves---that growth and self-improvement is possible. It is a very Christian idea. It is not possible to put Christ's message into one paragraph, but I suppose the Beatitudes come close. Those really are the New Year's resolutions for God's people. Love one another, be involved in the world, be peacemakers, be patient, be seekers after justice, be merciful, be compassionate, be seekers after Holiness. May it be so for each of us.

Happy New Year---and blessings always,
Mother Suzanne








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