Christmas Eve Resources and Activities for Kids!

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This year, we will be celebrating the birth of Jesus together from home! 

Your family may participate in one of the Cathedral services together through a computer or TV, following along with the service leaflet, or you might choose to light candles, sing and pray and read scriptures together on your own. You might even choose to act out the story of the Nativity! It doesn’t matter how you choose to celebrate Christ this year on Christmas Eve. What matters is that our celebrations remind us that nothing stops Christ from coming to be with us—not a pandemic, or a closed cathedral, or anything else!

Below, you’ll find a Christmas Eve activity pack intended for elementary school-aged kids to explore the story of Christmas. Simply print it out at home and offer crayons or a pencil during the live-streamed service. Enjoy the beautiful music, take in the good news, and know you do so with many other families who are participating in various ways from their homes, too.

Click on the image to download.

If watching a livestream doesn’t work for your family, you can also use this very simple at-home worship guide for reading, singing and praying together to remember the story of Jesus’s birth. This brief service can be engaging even for very busy little children, and simple enough for the most uncertain singers!

Click on the image to download.

We know that children are more attentive than we realize, and that any way we engage them with the Christmas story from home is powerful and formative. Adults are not nearly so attentive, but worship from home is still powerful and formative for us, too! So go ahead... make room for Jesus to be born at your house, and rest in the grace of your belovedness to God, and to us here at Saint Mark’s.

Merry Christmas!

Nativity Pageant Reprise in Pandemic, hosted by Dean Thomason

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SUNDAY, DECEMBER 20, 7 P.M., via YouTube live premiere; Community Zoom afterparty to follow.

Missing the Christmas Pageant this year? The delight of little angels, the sweet sounds of children’s voices, Magi processions, and three choirs gathered? Want to sing your carols as part of the experience? Pageants are an ancient way of telling the sacred story—a way that nourishes us deeply.

Join Dean Thomason and others in the cathedral community as we experience a prayerful telling of the Nativity through the familiar cycle of readings from scripture, with musical reflections and congregational carols selected from the cathedral's pageants of 2015, '16, '17, '18, and '19.

Then, let's gather together in a Zoom "afterparty" to share our thoughts as we turn into the week that leads to Christmas. All are welcome.

Download the service leaflet here.

Watch the video premiere on YouTube at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGXCSGb1xY8 or in the player above.

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Advent At Home, 2020

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This simple form of evening worship is intended to be used during the lighting of the Advent wreath or other table candles at home from November 29 to December 24. It can be used at the daily evening meal, or another time. The entire form will take no more than five minutes.
The beauty is in the simplicity and repetition for people of all ages. Repeating these words together centers them in our heads and hearts, and draws us into the longing and anticipation of the Advent season, so that we might experience the joy of Christmas with deeper gladness. You will need three purple or blue candles, one pink candle, and some trimmed evergreens to encircle them. This homemade wreath may be placed at the center of the dining table or another suitable gathering place.
This service is based on An Order of Worship for the Evening, found in The Book of Common Prayer 1979, p. 109. The BCP may be found online here.
UPDATE: Each week of Advent, the Saint Mark's Prayer Podcast for Children and Families will release an episode presenting the service below in audio format, featuring some familiar voices from the Saint Mark's community. For Week 1, there is an additional bonus episode with an "instructed" version of the same liturgy, interspersing comments and explanations about the various elements. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, or listen to the episodes embedded at the bottom of this page!

OPENING ANTIPHON

A leader begins by saying the antiphon of the week, or:
Light and peace in Jesus Christ our Lord.

All respond:
Thanks be to God.

 

ANTIPHON OF THE WEEK

 

FIRST WEEK OF ADVENT: “Keep Awake!”
November 29–December 5

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has dawned upon you.

 

SECOND WEEK OF ADVENT: “Prepare the Way”
December 6–December 12

Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

 

THIRD WEEK OF ADVENT: “Testify to the Light”
December 13–December 19

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad indeed.

 

FOURTH WEEK OF ADVENT: “Here am I”
December 20–December 24 (Advent ends at sundown.)

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.

 

 

THE GREAT "O" ANTIPHONS

On the final seven nights of Advent, December 17 through 23, there are special antiphons appointed for evening prayer each evening. These are called the “O Antiphons,” and they form the basis of the verses of the hymn “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and of the O Antiphons Liturgy offered at Saint Mark’s each year. Read more about the O Antiphons here.

1. "O Wisdom" (December 17)
2. "O Adonai" (December 18)
3. "O Root of Jesse" (December 19)
4. "O Key of David" (December 20)
5. "O Rising Dawn" (December 21)
6. "O King of Nations" (December 22)
7. "O Emmanuel" (December 23)

 

 

Short (2-minute) video reflections on the theme or antiphon of each week have been created by Saint Mark community members! Week 1: Michael PereraWeek 2: Tallulah Campbell • Week 3: The Nelson Brown FamilyWeek 4: Matt Briggs & Victoria Szydlowski.  The videos will be added here each week. All the videos may also be found here.

SCRIPTURE

A reader reads the following, or another appropriate passage of Holy Scripture:

If I say, “Surely the darkness will cover me, and the light around me turn to night,” darkness is not dark to you, O Lord; the night is as bright as the day; darkness and light to you are both alike.
—Psalm 139:10–11

 

PRAYER

All pray together:

God of all the ages, rouse us from sleep, and form us into a watchful people, so that, at the advent of your Son, we may be prepared, bearing witness to your light, and eager to receive you. We ask this through your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

LIGHTING OF THE ADVENT WREATH

The Advent wreath is now lighted, lighting one blue/purple candle during the first week, two candles during the second week, and so on.

The pink candle is lighted on the third week.

 

HYMN

Conclude by saying or singing the evening hymn, known as the Phos hilaron, one of the oldest Christian hymns, first recorded in Greek in the 3rd century.

O gracious Light,
pure brightness of the everliving Father in heaven,
O Jesus Christ, holy and blessed!
Now as we come to the setting of the sun,
and our eyes behold the vesper light,
we sing your praises, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices,
O Son of God, O giver of life,
and to be glorified through all the worlds.

Saint Mark’s Congregation & Evensong Choir

from The Church of the Apostles, Seattle

8 members of the Saint Mark’s Evensong Choir

Saint Mark’s Evensong Choir

setting by Owain Par, sung by the Cambridge Chorale

MEALTIME BLESSING

If dinner follows immediately, say together the mealtime blessing for Advent:

Holy God, we give you thanks for this meal, and for the One who is, and is to come among us. Make us steadfast in faith, joyful in hope, and constant in love. We pray this in the name of your son Jesus, in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Alternative Giving 2020: Online Christmas Giving Tree

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UPDATE! 

The generosity of Saint Mark's parishioners to the 2020 Alternative Giving opportunity was overwhelming. The cathedral ended up sending more gift cards to Casa Latina and Lowell Elementary than they asked for! For Lowell Elementary and Casa Latina, you gave $14,700—for a total of 588 gift cards, and that does NOT include gifts to Mary's Place (which collected donations directly). Know that our friends at Casa Latina and Lowell were so heartened—responding a resounding “WOW” and “That’s incredible!” THANK YOU to all who gave this year!


Yes! Saint Mark’s is still sharing Christmas joy with families from Casa Latina, Lowell Elementary School, and Mary’s Place even though we can’t meet in person! This year, we need donations for gift cards.

 

Donations for Casa Latina, Lowell Elementary School, & Mary's Place

Our neighbors have asked that Saint Mark’s provide gift cards rather than physical gifts this year, for safety’s sake—so we are asking you for donations here to purchase a $25 gift card for each child for Casa Latina and Lowell Elementary School to distribute to their families. (We invite you to donate to Mary’s Place directly.)

In this year of so much hardship, your generosity means even more to these wonderful families, and the gifts cards will help parents provide food and toys for their children for the holidays. So instead of taking a tag from a tree, please think of how many children you might “buy a Christmas present for” and donate online here by December 7 so that we can provide the gift cards with plenty of time for families to shop! You may also donate by mailing a check to Saint Mark’s (with “gift cards” in the memo line), using the Venmo mobile app (@SaintMarksCathedralSeattle; put "gift cards" in the comment), or by calling Erik Donner at 206.323.0300 x217.

Photo: Last year's Giving Tree in Bloedel Hall.

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Altar in the World: A Pre-Thanksgiving Offering of Service and Prayer

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SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 10–11:30 A.M. (mini-pilgrimage), 12 P.M. (prayer service)

Watch video of the concluding prayer service:

Service Leaflet

As the season changes and the weather becomes colder, Saint Mark’s offers an opportunity to remember and be of service to those in our community who lack safe and secure shelter. Participants will create small care packages, known as “Manna Bags,” containing items that people experiencing homelessness themselves have said are most useful to them. The act of assembling these bags will be an opportunity to prayerfully reflect upon our responsibility to serve Christ in all people, and to respect the dignity of all our neighbors. This offering includes three parts. Community members of all ages are welcome to participate in any or all of the following, as they feel able.

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YOUR Voice is Needed—O Come O Come Emmanuel

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UPDATE: The video had its premiere at the conclusion of the "O" Antiphons liturgy, and watching it was a meaningful and moving experience for many. Huge thanks to everyone who participated, including community members from across the country and around the world! The completed video can be seen below, or with the other recent offerings on the Virtual Choir Video Collection page.

You—yes, YOU—are invited to be part of a video offering of “O come, O come, Emmanuel,” the closing hymn in Saint Mark's beloved annual tradition, the O Antiphons liturgy. The video will resemble one of the virtual choir videos our choirs have offered from time to time since the pandemic began, but this time EVERYONE is invited to contribute! No matter if you have no experience in choirs, if you think your voice isn't good enough, if you've only recently connected with Saint Mark's, or where you are physically located... your participation is needed!

The liturgy is offered on November 29 this year, so submissions must be received by November 15.

Record yourself (either alone or with your household!) singing along with the "guide track" video (below). Then submit your video using the button below. That's it! More detailed step-by-step instructions are below.

Here are the words and music for the last two verses of the hymn (Click to enlarge, or download a pdf here):

STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS

You will need (1) a device to film yourself with (a phone, computer, camera, etc), (2) headphones, and (3) a device to play guide track. It is possible to use one device (say, a laptop) to serve both roles, or you can use two separate devices.

  1. Set up the device to film yourself. The device should be sitting somewhere stable—not in your hand or on your legs. Make sure your entire face is in the frame, the camera lens is about eye level, there is enough light on your face, and that you are not lit from behind.
  2. Set up the device to play, through headphones, the guide track video below (or at this link). PLEASE NOTE: The purpose of the headphones is so that the video you submit will have only your voice, and none of the sound of the guide track.This makes the editing process a little easier. However, if you are filming your entire household, or if for any other reason it is difficult for you to record yourself without also having some sound from the guide track audible as well, that is okay! Turn the volume of the guide track as low as you are able, and submit your video anyway!
  3. In the video, Compline Choir Director Jason Anderson sings beginning at verse 7. Listen to him sing verse 7 by himself, then begin singing along when he gets to the refrain: "REJOICE, REJOICE!" Then sing along with verse 8 (which is, incidentally, the same as verse 1), then finally sing the refrain one last time. There is a slow-down at the end. (It is the custom at Saint Mark's to sing "Is-RAY-el" rather than "Is-RAH-yel.")
  4. Sing along with the video once or twice to practice. When you're ready to record your video, hit record on your filming device, hit play on your video-playing device, and go for it!
  5. Check that your video looks okay, and that it contains only the sound of your voice (if possible). Remember: Everyone hates the sound of their own voice recorded! Don't worry that you don't sound "good enough." It's much more important that you are together in time with the guide track.
  6. Submit your video by clicking the button below (or this link). If you have recorded your video on a smartphone, you should be able to open this page in your phone's browser, click the button, and then upload directly from your device. Then you're done!

Write to info@saintmarks.org if you are having trouble and we will try to help.

The Wisdom of Children: An Audio Project from Saint Mark’s

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The Wisdom of Children is an audio project recorded in June, 2020, featuring the voices of the children of the Saint Mark's Cathedral community. Listen now using the embedded player below, or read on for other ways to listen.

LISTEN NOW:

A MESSAGE FROM DEAN THOMASON

Dear friends,

Several weeks ago, in the throes of feeling the acute loss of human interaction, it washed over me how much I missed hearing the voices of children in my life—the murmurs of little ones on the carpet in the nave during worship, the screams of playful delight on the Lowell Elementary School playground across the street from my home, the infectious giggles of toddlers swept up in a moment of joy, even the wailsome cries of a child who intuitively knows all is not right with their world. Children bring a spiritual wisdom to the mix, unhindered by worldly ways that tilt toward cynicism. I have learned much from these little ones through the years, when I take time to listen, really listen.

The idea of asking children questions and capturing their words in audio files matured under the leadership of Kelly Moody, our Associate for Spiritual Formation, and Canon Cristi Chapman, and we are delighted to share the voices of several children of Saint Mark’s here, in this time of pandemic. Entitled The Wisdom of Children, the invitation is simply to have your heart lifted, and perhaps opened a bit more to the spiritual connection we all share, as beloved children of God. There is wisdom here, and nourishment for the soul. Enjoy!

Blessings and Peace,

The Very Reverend Steven L. Thomason
Dean and Rector

OTHER WAYS TO LISTEN
Please note that, for convenience, "The Wisdom of Children" will also be made available as a special episode of the Saint Mark's Prayer Podcast for Children and Families—search for the podcast title on your app of choice, and select the episode "The Wisdom of Children."
You may also listen on SoundCloud here.

THE COMPLETE UNEDITED INTERVIEWS
Below are the full interviews of all the children. Thanks to all the participants!

Parent Connections Group: Gathering and Growing through a Quarantine

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SUNDAY, JUNE 14, at 4 P.M., via Zoom

So much has changed so quickly! As parents and caregivers, we are continually adapting to these unusual times. Many of us report that juggling competing responsibilities and dealing with ongoing change is trying and overwhelming. It can also reveal a capacity for resilience we didn't know we had. Join The Rev. Canon Cristi Chapman and fellow parents for connection and reflection each month. To receive the link, contact the Rev. Canon Nancy Ross for more details at nross@saintmarks.org.

Preparing for Pentecost from Home

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The Feast of Pentecost is upon us!

On May 31, the Church observes the Feast of Pentecost. It is a great feast, a grand day, and one full of joy and anticipation! 

While social distancing may change the look of some of our celebrations, nothing can stop the Holy Spirit from transforming our lives and the life of the Church. This year, there are lots of ways to catch that Pentecost Spirit at Saint Mark’s! Read on for some suggestions... As always, engage with any or all of these practices as you wish or are able. You are very much encouraged to make them your own, adapting them as makes sense in your life and your circumstances right now. And please contact the cathedral, in whatever way is convenient for you, to share your feelings and experiences.

What is Pentecost?

Pentecost is one of the Major Feasts of the church year. We celebrate and give thanks for the gift of the Holy Spirit, we remember how God speaks to humanity through every human language, we renew our Baptismal vows, and we mark "the birthday of the Church"—the moment when the small band of confused disciples became, through the grace of God, the kernel of global movement to transform the world. Pentecost is also an inflection point in the rhythm of our liturgical year, marking the end of our 50-day celebration of Easter and the turn towards the "long green growing season" of the so-called "Ordinary Time" of the summer.

1. Preparing your home altar before next Sunday

First, prepare your home altar home altar for this new season. You might redress it colors fitting of the day—reds, oranges, yellows—and consider placing symbols of Baptism and the Holy Spirit. Include something that reminds you of your own baptism like or other symbols for the promises made at baptism, such as your baptismal certificate, a Bible, BCP, bread, or prayer beads. A candle brings to mind the flames of the Spirit—and if you happen to have the candle presented to you at your Baptism available, bring it out! Other images of the Holy Spirit include: birds, wind, water, oil, fruit, and more. A cross and flowers are always appropriate adornments. Think creatively about how the Divine Spirit might best be represented to you! In addition, place a small bowl of water and a fragrant branch of your favorite herb to be used during the Sunday liturgy. Please take a picture of your Pentecost altar and share it for the community to see, either on Facebook or by emailing them to info@saintmarks.org.

2. Prayerfully reflect on the Baptismal Covenant  

The promises we made (or were made on our behalf) at our Baptism, and which we renew at each Baptismal liturgy during the year, articulate the core of what it means to follow Christ. Before the Pentecost celebration, you are invited to take a moment to read through them—they may be found in our Book of Common Prayer, p. 304, or at this link. What is one promise you feel called to practice with intention at this moment? Write it down; then on Sunday place that note on your altar during the Offertory.

During the week leading up to Pentecost, keep an eye out for more videos and ideas, here on the cathedral website or on social media. (UPDATE 5/28: Check out Dean Steve's video reflection, featuring voices from the community.)

3. Participate from home on Sunday morning 

For many years, people of Saint Mark's have enjoyed wearing red to church on Pentecost—particularly for the sake of seeing the whole congregation in red. Put on your favorite red outfit before the service begins, and, if you are so inclined, take a picture and send it in to the cathedral——either on Facebook or sent to info@saintmarks.org. We'll put the photos we receive together into a collage.

Join the livestream a few minutes early (about 10:45 a.m.) for another special slide show. The Holy Eucharist with Renewal of Baptismal Vows begins at 11 a.m. Have your water and herbs ready to use during the service. The service will contain some special elements. Listen with care to the readings, and offer your voice along so many others as we sing and pray and give thanks to God!

4. On Sunday afternoon, take your celebration outdoors 

For many years, a Pentecost tradition at Saint Mark's has been, following the Sunday service, to "run, ride, or roll" around Green Lake, wearing festive red clothes and with bikes and scooters festooned with red ribbons and streamers. The event would conclude with root beer floats. This type of celebration is not possible at this time, but why not recreate it in miniature, alone or with your household? Decorate your favorite mode of transport and take your celebrations outside! Ride, run, or stroll through your neighborhood. Decorate your yard or balcony. Notice the feel of the wind and the sun. Enjoy festive cake and floats. How might you give thanks to the Living God in new ways that reflect how God is moving in your life? And don't forget to take pictures and share them on Facebook or email them to info@saintmarks.org.

Above: The 2016 Pentecost Run, Ride, & Roll

Come Holy Spirit, and renew the face of your Church!

Storytelling and the Bible: An Interview with The Rev. Earl Grout

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Spend some time with The Rev. Canon Cristi Chapman and The Rev. Earl Grout, and hear how Earl approaches the reading of the Gospel, the stories of the Bible, and the way we tell our stories as people of faith! Earl also shares a few of his favorite Bible stories.

What are your favorite bible stories?  Post in the comments below.

Trying Times: Stress, Anxiety, Depression and Grief—How to Tell the Difference

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A Webinar with Shelley Mackaman, PhD, and Wayne Duncan, PhD

SUNDAY, MAY 24, 2020, 3 P.M., via Zoom 

Documents for this event:


A complete video of the webinar is available below:

Do you find yourself fretting or anxious about reopening? Are your children stressed with the challenges of virtual school? Are you struggling to balance all the aspects of life now converging in your home life? We are all facing new pressures in light of this pandemic and the lack of certainty about so many things. Dr. Shelley Mackaman (clinical psychologist in Kirkland with emphasis in Child Development and Family Psychology) and Dr. Wayne Duncan (Child and Adolescent Psychologist in Seattle) are both active members of Saint Mark’s Cathedral and will offer timely and important information for people of all ages. Dean Steve Thomason will moderate the webinar. All are welcome and encouraged to attend. The webinar is free but advance registration is required. Click here to register now.


About the presenters

Shelley Mackaman has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Child Development and Family Psychology.  After working and training in a variety of settings from urban pediatric hospitals to rural mental health centers, she is now in private practice in Redmond, Washington and is the staff psychologist at an integrated care clinic in Kirkland, Washington.

Wayne Duncan is a child and adolescent clinical psychologist in Seattle. He received his Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota and completed his clinical internship at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver. He consults frequently with families around learning and school issues.

Alicia Goodwin: Godly Play in the Time of COVID

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A few days ago, I saw a t-shirt with the words DO LESS. It didn't have anything else written on it so I'm not sure how to execute that plan but it was an intriguing idea. I'm clear I cannot do more but I'm not sure doing less is an option either.

With that conundrum in mind, I'm offering a few ways to weave a little Godly Play into our current quarantined lives.

Many of our stories tell us God is everywhere. No matter where we go (or don't go), God is with us. We use a candle's flame to illustrate the idea in our classroom. The flame is God's presence. When we blow it out, the flame is not gone, it has just changed form. It's now smoke that fills the entire room.

There are many other natural reminders of God's presence in our lives. I wonder if you've noticed any lately? I wonder how trees know what color flowers to display? I wonder when color was invented? I wonder why so many people are wearing masks? I wonder what job Jesus would chose if he were here right now?

Taking a moment or two to wonder with our kids is engaging with the mystery of God. We wonder in the spirit of play: no goals, no knowing, just experience, just presence.

The Home Altars of Saint Mark’s

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Earlier this week, the people of Saint Mark's were invited to create home altars to serve as a focal point for their Holy Week observances. Visit this post for details. Below are some of the photographs that members of the community have sent in to the cathedral or shared in the Facebook Group. Click to enlarge!

A Special Video for Choir Members

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The music program at Saint Mark's Seattle, somewhat famously, involves seven different choirs (Saint Mark's Singers, Cathedral Choir, Evensong Choir, Compline Choir, Junior Choristers, Senior Choristers, and Schola). During this time when choirs are neither singing for liturgies nor meeting weekly to rehearse, choir members are feeling separation and absence acutely.

Canon Kleinschmidt and Choir School Director Rebekah Gilmore made the following video to recreate the warm-ups which begin all choir rehearsals, when singers prepare our voices and our bodies for the work to come. At Saint Mark's, the children and adult choirs share many of the same warm-up exercises! The exercises included in the video are beloved by 5-year-old junior choristers and 50-year veterans of the Cathedral Choir alike.

Share your Dinner Wednesday night!

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Let’s gather virtually and have fun staying connected! This Wednesday, March 25, on our usual Cathedral Commons night, visit the Saint Mark's Seattle Community Life during the Closure group and post a photo of your dinner table or what you're eating. Some members of the group tried this last Wednesday, and it was so lovely to see everyone! (A few examples are pictured at below.) This Facebook group is "private"—to join in, just follow the link above, or visit our our regular Facebook page and click the blue "Visit Group" button below the main image.
For an extra reminder of Wednesday nights at the cathedral, begin by singing our usual Table Grace, accompanied by this video, featuring Canon Musician Michael Kleinschmidt on the Bloedel Hall piano.
And if you don't use Facebook, email a photo or even just a few words to Communications Director Greg Bloch, and he'll post it here on the Online Community Life page along with a sampling of the reports from the facebook group.

Sonjia Gavin: Blessing and Curse

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Yin and Yang. Sinner and Saint. Blessing and Curse. As they say, there are always to sides to a coin.

In this time of limbo, I find myself thinking about this daily. What is the take-away from all of this? What are we supposed to be learning? How are we going to make it through? Will this ever this end?

All around us, we are experiencing a new normal. Students are not in school, employees are being laid off (including me), some are working from home (husband), stores are closing, and many are in fear of contracting COVID-19. I don’t think it’s an understatement to say that this is a disorienting time for all of us.

The first few days of self-quarantine for my family was rough. It was a lot of learning to live together 24/7, adjusting to our new normal, and listening. As we head toward the end of the week, we have found our rhythm. For now. We are “plotting a different course than the one we had planned.”

In his sermon on Sunday, Steve encouraged us to look for outward signs of spiritual grace waiting to surprise us, bless us, and nourish us. Common things made holy for our spiritual benefit.

For everything I see as a loss, there is a blessing on the other side. Reframing my perspective takes some practice. During these difficult times, we must be diligent in looking for outward signs of God’s grace.

Reflecting back on this week I can see God’s grace, the Blessing, all around me. Life has slowed down. WAY down. And this is a beautiful thing.

I’m reconnecting with my family on a whole new level. We spend time together, and actually enjoy it! I am A LOT less stressed out. Without as much to do or worry about, the rhythm of my life has found a new equilibrium. And it makes me wonder how I can refocus my energy when this is all over.

I have been able to enjoy the sunshine and put energy and time (something I would not have had with our normal routine) into working in my yard. It has never looked so good! The bulbs are popping up, the trees are blooming, and the birds fill the air with their songs. Spring has arrived. Common things made holy for our spiritual benefit.

God is here in this time of wilderness. We can cling to his promise in the Sacraments and look for the outwardly visible signs of God’s grace in our everyday lives

Reflections on Signs of Grace…

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After hearing Dean Thomason's sermon on March 15, 2020, parishioners were invited to reflect on where they had been experiencing sacramental grace in their daily lives during this challenging time. 


 

I snapped a photo (attached) on my walk out of PCC this evening after being greeted by a brass band playing music together in the park. All of the musicians were standing at least 6 feet apart (practicing social distancing) while they played joyful music. Lifted my spirits immediately and filled me with gratitude!

—Kari Nasby


 

I am standing with my cup of coffee looking out at our sun-filled back yard and enjoying the life at our bird feeder. Juncos, chickadees, towhees and house finches are our frequent visitors but this afternoon it is mostly chickadees and juncos. For me they are holy little spirits, clothed in feathers, emissaries of God’s love.

—Nancy Valaas


 

As I washed my hands this past week and used sanitizer for what seemed like the hundredth time, practiced social distancing, and did my best not to become hopeless, I’ve had this ongoing internal dialogue about what it means to live a Eucharistic focused life during a pandemic. I can’t stop reflecting on serving at the 11 a.m. Saint Mark’s service last Sunday. The “physical” pews and chairs in the Nave were empty. As one of the handful of ministers who stood on the platform for the Liturgy of the Table, it was clear to me that we were celebrating communion across time, space, and beyond the four walls of the Nave.

While the pews and chairs were empty, the Nave was not! The Cathedral Parish and beyond were clearly present with us. For me, this is a Lukan Road to Emmaus time where Jesus is walking with the two disciples and revealing the truth of Holy Scripture to them so they can hear and soon through the blessing of wine and breaking of bread can see. In today’s context, some of the visible signs of grace are simple as taking extra time to notice water and how I am washing my hands. Water is ritually cleansing and life giving. With the coronavirus, water can limit its spread and thus can be lifesaving.  It is also being mindful of how fearful people are in public and especially in confined spaces like elevators.  When I recognize this fear in others, it is to be gentle and to acknowledge the person with a kind gesture. In my home, we are making it a point to reach out to friends, family, and especially those who live alone and to make sure they are okay.

Living a Eucharistic focused life at its core is being called to community. It is seeing the presence of Jesus in the most common aspects of life.  It is especially true as we navigate not having the ability to be physically present to those we love and to be in our faith community. I know that wherever The Liturgy of the Table is celebrated, it is celebrated for all of us, physically present or not..

—Robert Stevens


 

Table Grace for Your Wednesday Night Supper

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Every Wednesday night the community of Saint Mark's has been invited to join together for a meal in Bloedel Hall. That meal always begins with the table grace sung by the choristers of the Choir School and all the parishioners who are attending. During this time of isolation, if you would like to begin your Wednesday night meal in the same way, Canon Keinschmidt offers this video >

Be present at our table Lord;
Be here and everywhere adored.
These mercies bless and grant that we
May strengthened for thy service be.
Amen.

Kelly Moody: “Everything Has Changed”

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Associate for Spiritual Formation Kelly Moody recently sent the following letter to the participants in Children and Family Ministries at Saint Mark's. Her reflection is relevant, however, not just to parents of young children, but to all of us, and so we are sharing it here.


“Everything has changed.”

We say that in Godly Play at the beginning of a new liturgical year, and it seems appropriate in the wake of the news all gatherings over 50 people are prohibited, restaurants, gyms, libraries and museums are closing, and public and private schools are cancelled until at least April 25. Everything external about the way we go about our daily lives has changed this week, and it’s making waves. The impact of these changes will vary among us, but the anxiety that comes with disruption and uncertainty will accompany each of us to some degree. That is to be expected, and I pray that we will be divinely gentle with ourselves and one another as we live into a new reality, and seek creative ways to support the emotional, mental, and spiritual health of our children and ourselves.

Though these external changes to our daily lives are temporary, we ourselves will be changed during this season, too.  We will be formed by the cessation of gathering and activity in deep ways. It is always true that we are formed by our attention and action, but perhaps it’s easier to notice in unusual times like these- times of enforced ceasing.

As members of the Church, the Body of Christ, we have a model for living fully in the face of disruption, and seeing and celebrating God's presence in hard places. It is the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, and the Eucharistic shape of our weekly worship. And as it turns out, it is the pattern of our liturgical calendar, too, which conveniently locates us now in the season of Lent, a time to cease. Every year in Lent, we remove certain things from our worship space and simplify our liturgy. We set aside aspects of celebration and feasting and distraction in order to turn our attention to God’s still, small voice. We are doing that in far more drastic ways this year! But we do so with intention each year to follow Jesus’s path of preparation for surrendering his life on the cross, knowing transformation will come through surrender, somehow. And so, we have a unique opportunity this year to practice surrender.

The question is, to what, or to whom will I surrender?  

I am here to say that until this week, I had not yet been very intentional about surrendering to anything more courageous than the entropy of my own overcrowded and busy life this Lenten season. I'd even taken on too many Lenten disciplines! Truth be told, sometimes our churches become markets of frenetic activity, too, just like the rest of the world.

But not this year. This year we are given the gift of a remarkable ceasing. Folded into the worldwide disruption of COVID-19 is an opportunity to make a different Lenten choice; to show up to our own formation differently and listen to the still, small voice of God calling us gently and persistently to be still and know, and to be changed by that knowing.

The path before us is a bit rocky, but it is not uncharted. We are in the company of Christians throughout time who have found their way through disappointments and unexpected challenges by the light of Christ, in the presence of Christ, and with the love Christ. We are in the company of one another, and we will continue to be formed by our faith every time we gather for prayer and worship by livestream, or make contact with one another by phone, or meet together by Zoom in the weeks ahead.

And, we are in the company of Christ, now and forever. That will not change!

Peace to you and your families.

Kelly

Join the Saint Mark’s Community Life Facebook Group!

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All who feel a connection to the community of Saint Mark's Seattle (where ever they might be) is invited to join the closed facebook group Saint Mark's Community Life during the Closure. The purpose of the group is to connect with each other and with the cathedral during this time of isolation, quarantine, and building closure. Check it out!

For those who do not use Facebook, content from the group will be posted on the Online Community Life page on saintmarks.org, so check back often.