All services are Central Time. 8 a.m. | Historic Church, Holy Eucharist, Rite II 9 a.m. | Historic Church, Holy Eucharist, Rite II (livestreamed) The livestream of our 9 a.m. service is on a short hiatus while we improve our audio equipment to provide a better worship experience.
Last Wednesday, Oct. 6, parts of the St. David’s Episcopal Church bell were removed and sent to Cincinnati to have replacement parts fabricated.
Verdin Bells removed the clapper and rope wheel from the bell and will be inoperable until the parts are replaced in 2022. The planned bell maintenance and 1914 bell tower repairs are part of the multi-million dollar renovation project of the downtown historic church.
Our rector, Father Chuck said of the bell’s repair, “We will miss the sound of our bell, but as stewards of this historic church, we know it is an important part of the renovation process. We look forward to the return of the bell’s toll, calling people to worship in downtown Austin as it has been doing for so long.”
LISTEN TO LECTURE Tuesday, Oct. 12 One of Father Chuck’s goals for his sabbatical this past summer was to make a guitar. Learn more about his experience of this creative process. Even if you can’t play the guitar, this was a fun time to learn about the patience and love behind making a wooden musical instrument.
Saturday, Oct. 30, 4-7:30 p.m. You’re invited to our Second Annual Trunk or Treat on the St. David’s surface parking lot. Put on your costume, and enjoy decorations, a photo booth, prize wheel & goodies, and fellowship with your church family. Trunk or Treat will be followed by a short All Hallows Eve liturgy, and screening of It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown in Sumners Hall with pizza and treats from Holy Grounds. E-mail with questions, or to sign up to decorate your trunk (spaces are limited!)
This Sunday Our Lord delivers the third of three instructions in the Gospel of Mark upon the identity of the Christ and upon discipleship, as part of which he foretells his own self-sacrifice. This is paired with the bulk of the fourth ‘song of the [suffering] servant’ from Isaiah 53 – ‘surely he has borne our infirmities…’ – that is otherwise heard on Good Friday, and with Psalm 91, which in this case is applied to Christ. The portion from the Epistle to the Hebrews – though the Epistles form their own lectionary series not explicitly related to the Gospel series – also speaks of Christ’s own High Priestly (self)-sacrifice.
‘Hail, thou once despisèd Jesus’  (which was last sung on the 5th Sunday in Lent, when this same passage from Hebrews was read) treats Christ’s sacrifice in exalted, hopeful, and lovely terms: Christ is the ‘universal Savior’ ‘by almighty love anointed’; through his work ‘opened is the gate of heaven, reconciled are we with God’;
There for sinners thou art pleading;
there thou dost our place prepare;
ever for us interceding,
till in glory we appear.
This hymn is set to a traditional Dutch tune, ‘In Babilone’, first printed in 1710 in a collection of ‘peasant songs and country dances’; its ‘notey’ character, with many passing-tones; its AABA form; and its implied use of conventional tonal harmony make it simliar to various English traditional songs which also found their way into our hymn-tune repertory through the work of composer and hymnal editor Ralph Vaughan Williams.
Our Communion hymn, ‘Let thy Blood in mercy poured’ , is also often sung on the 5th Sunday in Lent, as it focuses so specifically on Christ’s Passion. Its intensely personal tone and its pairing with a classic chorale from 17th-century Germany (in which time and place this kind of text was very popular) makes it something of a surprise to learn that the original text which inspired it came from the Eastern Church (the source was not identified by the writer of the English text, John Brownlie) and that it was published in 1907.
The composer of the music, Jan Krygaŕ (Johann Crüger, who was of Sorbian origin), wrote many fine tunes which also benefitted from his association with some of the most prominent and beloved hymn-writers of 17th-century Germany; many of the classic pairings of these texts and tunes appeared in the very large and very popular hymnal which Crüger edited, Praxis Pietatis Melica, which continued to be reprinted and updated for nearly a hundred years after its appearance in 1644. In our Hymnal, the music for ‘Ah, holy Jesus! How hast thou offended’ , ‘Deck thyself, my soul, with gladness’ , ‘Now thank we all our God’ , ‘Jesus, all my gladness’ , and others also come from Crüger’s pen.
The present tune, written for ‘Jesus, meine Zuversicht’ (‘Jesus, my confidence’, the work of Louise Henriette, Princess of Brandenburg), demonstrates many typical features of Crüger’s work: the first strain is adapted from a much older chorale, ‘Gott der Vater, wohn uns bei’ (also the source for the tune we call ‘Ratisbon’ [7; see the notes for Lent 4, 2021-03-14]); the tune is in AAB, or ‘bar’-form, an old German poetic-musical form; there are few large leaps and no very complicated rhythms (though there are two dotted rhythms and some metrical ambiguities in its original form), which characteristics show the influence of the Genevan Psalter, with which Crüger was familiar because the Court of Brandenburg was Reformed in its religion. This tune is also heard in three settings for organ: a short but rich prelude by 19th-century composer Carl Piutti, and two 18th-century pieces by Johann Walther and Georg Andreas Sorge, both presenting the melody more or less unadorned, accompanied by two or three other voices in chamber-music style.
Verses of Psalm 91, the appointed Gradual Psalm as previously mentioned, are also heard in a duet by modern American Lutheran composer Donald Busarow. This limpid setting also quotes a German chorale, ‘Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan’ (What God does is well done), a song of trust in God’s providence, in an interlude and in combination with the vocal line.
El Buen Samaritano Episcopal Mission is hosting its 31st annual Hands for Hope initiative with the goal to provide holiday meal kits to 2,300 families over two distribution days in November and December 2021. Hands for Hope is a wonderful way for the Episcopal community to come together to raise awareness about hunger in Central Texas. Funds also support El Buen’s year-round emergency food pantry.
This Sunday Our Lord delivers one of the hardest teachings of all for many of us to hear: ‘Go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ Far too often we downplay this teaching: it is hyperbole, we say; or it applied only to the man to whom Jesus was speaking; or it is meant only for those who put the love or pursuit of wealth above the love or pursuit of God – surely not to us who are sitting in a church service! The pairing of an equally hard-hitting passage from the prophet Amos might at first suggest another excuse: Our Lord, no doubt, is speaking only to those who have gained their wealth unjustly, who ‘trample on the poor’, who ‘afflict the righteous’ (surely our money is clean! if anything, we are the victims of unscrupulous business!)… who ‘push aside the needy in the gate’, we go on to read, perhaps rushing a bit as we try to forget those whom we drove past entering the parking garage a little earlier… and then we move on, anxious to hear the beautifully sung Psalm and more exalted language about our ‘great high priest’ from the Epistle to the Hebrews, reflected in our Sequence hymn, ‘Alleluia! sing to Jesus!’ .
Except the writer of the Epistle reminds us from the very beginning of Sunday’s portion that the word of God is sharp enough to cut through all our pretense and self-delusion, to lay us open like a sacrificial animal before the LORD, to whom we must render an account. There is no hiding our actions or intentions, no escaping our responsibilities and relationships human and divine. It is hard indeed, Our Lord says, to enter the kingdom of God, even though it exists all around us: the gate is narrow, the way in like the eye of a needle.
Faced with this hard truth, the disciples throw up their hands – ‘Then who can be saved?’ – and perhaps mulling over a similar challenge, the writer of Psalm 130, from which our Introit is taken, likewise exclaims, ‘If you, LORD, were to mark iniquities, who, O Lord, could abide it?’ Fortunately, there is good news: the writer of the Epistle assures us that the aforementioned high priest sympathizes with us, having been tested just as we continually, and that he shows us the possibility of overcoming the temptation to sin; there is mercy and grace to be found for the asking. As Jesus himself said, ‘for mortals it is impossible [to be saved], but… for God, all things are possible.’
This still does not excuse us from ‘seek[ing] good and not evil’, from ‘establish[ing] justice in the gate’, as Amos goes on to adjure. Our opening hymn, ‘Lord, whose love through humble service’ , reminds us that we may not presume or pretend to worship the LORD if the vision we seek does not lead us to see, for example, God’s beloved who lack even the shelter our cars – which have led to such ruin of God’s inexpressibly beautiful Earth – enjoy in the aforementioned garage. Although the present text (unlike another, stronger but less liturgically suitable, lyric by the author* of this one, ‘What does the Lord require’ ) does not itself issue a prophetic demand, we nevertheless are tacitly prompted to consider, as we perform our works of mercy, the injustices that lead to homelessness, hunger, incarceration, and other forms of deprivation; our role in the systems that foster, or even consist of, them; and the possibility of addressing them at their root – which may well call for profound sacrifice of our money, privilege, and security. And having considered these things, we may come to mean what we sing in our Communion hymn, ‘Jesus, all my gladness’ [701, heard also in two 18th-century settings for organ] – ‘Hence with earthly treasure!’ – seeking instead the ‘treasure in heaven’ promised in the Gospel, which is to glimpse the face(s) of God here and now, and to see it (as our Postcommunion hymn  says) in glory.
*Albert Bayly, a 20th-century British Congregational minister
Nov. 19-21 at MO Ranch, Texas Hill Country. Cost: $275 for a shared room and $310 for an individual room. Financial aid is available.
Good food, fellowship, reflections, and spiritual sharing for a weekend retreat. The title of the retreat is Reset: Faith in Times of Uncertainty. Highlights include services and discussions led by St. David’s clergy, two evening fire pits, and free activity time. Contact the Rev. Santi Rodriguez for more information.
This Sunday several themes, both provided by our lectionary and occasioned by the day’s proximity to the Commemoration of St Francis of Assisi, come together: the wonders of God’s creation; the beauty and sanctity of human relationships; our need for humility and openness to God as seen both in the innocence of children and in Christ’s own self-abasement.
The 11:15 liturgy begins with the proper Introit, which (though the Introits do not often relate to the lessons provided in the modern lectionary) treats God’s role as sovereign creator:
O Lord Almighty, everything has been placed in your power, nor is there anyone to be found who can withstand your power: for you have created everything – heaven and the earth, and all the wonders that are contained beneath heaven’s compass – you are Lord of all creation, O God.
From the Prayer of Mordecai (Greek Esther)
We continue with ‘For the beauty of the earth’ , part of a fine hymn by Folliot S. Pierpoint. The present text is a very good general hymn of praise which takes in a number of things for which we ought to give thanks: the beauty of earth, sky, day, night, sun, moon, features of the land and the things that grow upon it; our ability to sense, and to make sense of, these things; love both divine and human, familial and friendly; the Church; all of God’s gifts, including the spiritual gifts of faith, hope, love, peace, and joy. And it is in the Eucharist – the Greek word for ‘thanksgiving’, and the very ‘pure sacrifice of love’ which the Church ‘offer[s] up on every shore’ – that we most fittingly and fully ‘give our thanks and praise’.
Our Old Testament Lesson, from Genesis 2, recounts God’s creation of, first, all animal life, and then of human partnership. The appointed Gradual Psalm, Psalm 8, picks up on the first aspect, the grandeur of creation and humanity’s place within it. The writers of the creation accounts in Genesis 1 and 2 believed that we had a unique role – ‘whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name’; in chapter 1, the divine commands to ‘subdue’ and ‘have dominion’ over the earth – and the Psalmist finds this a source of wonder: ‘When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers… what is man that you should be mindful of him?… You give him mastery over the works of your hands…’ And we too – however much we continue to learn about animal intelligence, emotion, and society; the unseen communion among plant and fungal life; and the nature of this nebulous and precious thing we call ‘life’ – cannot escape the feeling that we have a special role to play in the order of things, and cannot escape our responsibilities as stewards of God’s good earth. Isaac Watts’s ‘I sing the almighty power of God‘  also offers us this challenge, as it reminds us that God is to be perceived in all of creation – that all of it is holy.
The Old Testament Lesson was, however, appointed for its second aspect, the account of the divine creation of human partnership, as this constitutes the topic of the first part of the appointed Gospel. In this passage, Our Lord refocuses the understanding of marriage from a legal one in which the man has the power to end the contract – a Mosaic concession to human ‘hardness of heart’, as he says – to one of equal, permanent, and divinely ordained character, in which two truly become one, constituting as it were a new node in the endless web of creation. There is, without a doubt, forgiveness in God’s bountiful grace when we tear the fabric of the universe by failing to uphold such a standard, but we are nonetheless called to see and to treat both our primary and all other relationships as sacred.
Meanwhile, our Epistle passage from the letter to the Hebrews highlights Christ’s role in creation, ‘through whom [God] created the worlds… [who] sustains all things by his powerful word’ – a notion found in other Epistles as well and connected to the figure of Wisdom in the canonical and deuterocanonical Wisdom literature. The writer to the Hebrews goes on to quote the aforementioned Psalm 8, this time applying it to Christ (often called the ‘son of man’, a term used in this Psalm), who was ‘made… a little lower than the angels’ in his Incarnation and Passion, but who, through his self-abasement and subjection to death for our sake, is ‘crowned with glory and honor’ in his Resurrection and Ascension. This Epistle portion is reflected in Bland Tucker’s paraphrase of another passage on the same topic (from Philippians 2), ‘All praise to thee, for thou, O King divine’ . Our own need for humility and innocence as a prerequisite to receiving and perceiving the divine is also highlighted in the last part of our Gospel portion: ‘whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it’.
Many of these ideas are at least hinted at in our postcommunion hymn, ‘Now thank we all our God’ : thanksgiving; God’s wondrous works; our family relationships; God’s bounty and love. The hymn is all the more remarkable for having been written in a time and place of terrible plague; we would do well, in our own time of contagion (not forgetting what we may have lost, nor the uncertainties ahead) to cultivate a sense of gratitude for what we do have.
In celebration of our outdoor labyrinth being reassembled after a pipe repair, we invite you to join Father Chuck on the labyrinth after the 11:15 service for a blessing of St. David’s labyrinth. There will be an opportunity to walk the labyrinth for those who wish to stay.
We are seeking volunteers to help members of our asylum-seeking families improve their English. We are seeking mainly beginner-level teachers for online or in-person lessons. Weekly or monthly opportunities are available. If interested, please get in touch with Rebecca Hall at .
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