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)

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.

1. DONATIONS

Parishioners are invited to contribute monetarily to the creation of the care packages, which will include wool-blend socks, soft, high-calorie foods, hand wipes, bottled water, feminine products, a washcloth, liquid body soap, and more. Please make your financial donation between October 31 and November 10 by check mailed to the cathedral (please write “Manna Bag Project” in the memo line), Venmo mobile app, or online at saintmarks.org/give (choose “Manna Bag Project” from the list of options).

2. MINI-PILGRIMAGE ON THE SAINT MARK'S CAMPUS

On Saturday, November 14, arrive at the cathedral between 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. to help assemble the bags at various stations located around the cathedral campus. At each station, participants will add items to their Manna Bag, and then be invited into a prayerful reflection. Participants must register in advance, and remain masked and distanced from others at all times. At the final station, the completed bags will be blessed for use. Participants may take their bag with them to give to a neighbor themselves, or leave it at Saint Mark’s to be distributed by Community Lunch ministry on Capitol Hill. Pre-register for the prayer pilgrimage HERE.

3. NOONDAY PRAYER SERVICE

At 12 p.m. a brief service of Noonday Prayer will be offered on the labyrinth to conclude the event. Again, registration, masks, and distancing must be observed by all. You are welcome to register to attend the prayer service whether or not you wish to participate in the pilgrimage around the campus. Register HERE.

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 Cristi Chapman for more details at cchapman@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.