Beauty. In our worship, liturgy, music and the place.
On any given day, I notice tourists wandering through our parish grounds, admiring the flowers, taking notice of the architecture and the sculpture by the side doors to the church.
A few years ago, Edith Williams, a long-time member of All Saints’ left a bequest for maintenance of the garden. She particularly loved tulips and personally ordered them and stored them in the refrigerator in the kitchen for a few weeks before planting. Following her lead, we have just ordered a thousand tulips, so be prepared for a smashing display in the spring.
Last Sunday’s Advent Lessons and Carols was a particularly lovely service. Candles lined the nave; Kathy Kirkwood planned a service with well-chosen music both for choir and congregation. Canon Reyes even spoke on beauty being an integral aspect of worship.
Beauty is an expression of our faith; by striving for beauty in our liturgy we show our appreciation for God’s gifts; just like putting out the good china and silver when a guest comes for dinner, we put our best foot forward for our Lord: sing our best, decorate the church, inside and out and conduct the liturgy with dignity.
Somehow, the love we have for our parish and our reputation for beauty caught the attention of the congregation of St. John’s Greek Orthodox Church of Salinas. They approached us about renting some space at All Saints’. They want to move to the Peninsula for a variety of reasons. They are excited about holding services in our parish hall—while we are upstairs on Sunday mornings. They will be using the “youth room” for an office and meetings. Sunday mornings they will transform our bare hall into a church replete with (temporary) icons to make it into a church. They, too, have a strong tradition of beauty in worship.
Their first Sunday will be 20 December. Their worship will go from 9 until 11:30, with a coffee hour afterwards, also in the parish hall. We, of course, hope it will all go smoothly and that we won’t impinge on each other’s worship experience. We have agreed to give it a try for three months, after which we will evaluate the arrangement. I believe this could lead to a very rich ecumenical experience for both of us. Let’s extend a warm welcome to their congregation.
Claudia Ward, Senior Warden
All Saints’ Episcopal Church