Episco-Speak
Miracles

Miracles are described in the New Testament as powers, signs, portents, and strange things. A miracle is an event in time that is perceived by the senses of those who witness it. Miracles reflect the direct activity of God which transcends the usual order of nature for a religious purpose. In New Testament times, miracles were not considered to be breaches of the natural law. Jesus' miracles were "deed events" of the coming Kingdom of God. The New Testament includes accounts of Jesus' healing miracles, nature miracles in which he exercises power over the forces of nature, exorcisms, and occasions in which a miracle illustrates an important saying or pronouncement by Jesus. The Sunday gospels of the Book of Common Prayer lectionary use miracle stories from Jesus' ministry to proclaim the saving message of the gospel made present in word and sacrament. They are especially featured in the Sundays after Epiphany in Year B. In this context the miracles are understood as epiphanies or manifestations of the divine Christ.


Stewardship

Our personal response to God's generosity in the way we share our resources of time, talent, and money. Stewardship reflects our commitment to making God's love known through the realities of human life and our use of all that God has given us. It is also our service to God's world and our care of creation. Parish members are encouraged to make an annual stewardship pledge. This pledge represents their specific Christian commitment to "work, pray, and give for the spread of the kingdom of God" (BCP, p. 856).


Jesse Tree
The depiction of the genealogy of Jesus in the form of a tree, springing from Jesse, the father of King David of Israel (see Is 11:1). It typically shows intermediary descendants on the foliage of the tree, which ends with Jesus or with the Virgin Mary and the baby Jesus. Its purpose is to stress the royal lineage of Jesus as the anointed king in the line of David. It is normally either painted on the glass or carved on the mullions of a window of a church or cathedral. Thus arose the term "Jesse Window." This practice began as early as the twelfth century. Examples are to be found in the cathedrals of Wells and Chartres. Some parishes decorate a tree with symbols appropriate for a Jesse Tree as an Advent devotion.


Advent Wreath

A circle of greenery, marked by four candles that represent the four Sundays of the season of Advent. An additional candle is lit as each new Sunday is celebrated in Advent. Advent wreaths are used both in churches and in homes for devotional purposes. The candles may be blue, purple, or lavender, depending on local custom. Some Advent wreaths include a white candle in the center known as the "Christ Candle," which is lit on Christmas Eve. Advent begins this year on November 27.



The Peace
The peace is an ancient Christian practice. It has been associated with Rom 16:16, "Greet one another with a holy kiss," and similar passages such as 1 Cor 16:20, 2 Cor 13:12, 1 Thes 5:26, and 1 Pt 5:14. The earliest references to the peace may be found in writings concerning the baptismal liturgies. After the baptism and the laying on of hands and anointing by the bishop, the newly baptized were included in the exchange of the peace for the first time. Justin Martyr indicates that during the second century the peace took place before the presentation of the gifts at the Eucharist. It appears that the peace originally concluded the liturgy of the word. However, the peace was moved to the end of the Eucharistic prayer in the Roman rite during the fifth century. The peace was exchanged at the time of the breaking of the bread prior to communion. The peace was exchanged at this time in the Eucharistic liturgy of the 1549 BCP, and it continues in this position in the Roman rite. The peace was deleted in the 1552 BCP. The 1979 BCP restored the peace at the Eucharist to its ancient position at the end of the liturgy of the word. The BCP still allows the peace to be exchanged at the time of the administration of communion, before or after the sentence of invitation (p. 407).



Jehovah
A hybrid name for God, resulting from an erroneous combination of other names. In the period after the Exile, the proper name for God, Yahweh, was believed by Jewish people to be too holy to pronounce. The title Adonai, Lord, was spoken instead. In written texts the vowels of Adonai were combined with the consonants YHWH as a reminder to readers that they were to read Adonai rather than Yahweh. In the middle ages, Christians misunderstood this practice and simplistically combined the vowels of Adonai with the consonants of YHWH, which resulted in the erroneous hybrid "Jehovah." The name Jehovah has been used in a few translations of the Bible and also in some hymns. However, "the Lord" is found in the King James Version, as well as most modern translations.



Eucharist
In the BCP, the whole service is entitled the Holy Eucharist. The first part of the service is designated the Word of God. It usually includes the entrance rite, the lessons and gradual psalm, the gospel, the sermon, the Nicene Creed, the prayers of the people, the confession of sin and absolution, and the peace. The second portion of the service is designated the Holy Communion. It includes the offertory, the consecration of the bread and wine in the Great Thanksgiving, the communion of the people, and the concluding prayers of thanksgiving and dismissal. A blessing may be given prior to the dismissal.


Christmas, or Christ's Mass
The customs associated with Christmas have developed from many sources. From early days the popular observance of Christmas was marked by the joy and celebration characteristic of the Roman Saturnalia and the pagan festivals which it replaced. It came to include the decoration of houses with greenery and the giving of gifts to children and the poor. In Britain other observances were added including the Yule log and Yule cakes, fir trees, gifts, and greetings. Fires and lights (symbols of warmth and lasting life) and evergreens (symbols of survival) were traditionally associated with both pagan and Christian festivals. Their use developed considerably in England with the importation of German customs and through the influence of the writings of Charles Dickens
December, 2010 Edition


All Faithful Departed, Commemoration of
This optional observance is an extension of All Saints' Day. While All Saints' is to remember all the saints, popular piety felt the need to distinguish between outstanding saints and those who are unknown in the wider fellowship of the church, especially family members and friends. Commemoration of All Faithful Departed did not appear in an American Prayer Book until 1979, and it is celebrated on Nov. 2. It is also known as All Souls' Day. Many churches now commemorate all the faithful departed in the context of the All Saints' Day celebration.


Acolyte
In contemporary Anglicanism, a general term which covers not only servers, torchbearers, and lighters of candles but also crucifers, thurifers, and banner-bearers. Acolytes are mentioned as a minor order (along with porters, lectors, and exorcists) as early as a letter of Pope Cornelius to Fabius of Antioch in 252. They were also mentioned in Cyprian's writings. They assisted deacons or subdeacons at the preparation of the table. Later they carried candles in processions. In Rome they carried fragments of the bread consecrated at the papal Mass to other churches. In the late middle ages, when candles began to appear upon altars, they lighted the altar candles. Eventually lay servers or sacristans performed duties earlier associated with acolytes, and the order of acolyte was normally conferred upon a candidate for priesthood in the course of his training. The minor orders were not perpetuated in Anglicanism. Some of the duties earlier performed by persons in the minor order of acolyte were taken over by lay clerks. In the later nineteenth century the clerks were suppressed and their duties were largely taken over by lay "acolytes" and sacristans or altar guilds. See Minor Orders.


Host (Eucharistic)
The consecrated bread of the eucharist. The term is from the Latin hostia, "victim." Use of the term reflects an understanding of the eucharist in sacrificial terms relative to Christ's death on the cross. The term is also extended to mean the bread or wafers to be consecrated at the eucharist. The individual wafers of the eucharist may be referred to as "hosts." Many parishes use a large host that is broken by the celebrant at the fraction. This "Priest's Host" may be decorated with Christian symbols that are pressed into the large wafer. It is typically placed on the paten prior to the service when the chalice is vested. The smaller "hosts" that will be distributed to the people are placed in a ciborium and placed on the paten with the "Priest's Host" when the altar is prepared before the Great Thanksgiving at the eucharist.


Nicene Creed
It was first issued by the Council of Nicaea in 325, but in the form used today it is frequently thought to have been perfected at the Council of Constantinople in 381. There is no doubt that it was passed on to the church through the Council of Chalcedon in 451. It is commonly held to be based on the baptismal creed of Jerusalem, and it is often referred to as the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed. It states the full divinity of the Son, the second Person of the Trinity, in opposition to Arius. It also states the full divinity of the Holy Spirit, as denied by Macedonius. The use of the Nicene Creed in the eucharist (right after the gospel), in contrast to the use of the Apostles' Creed in baptism, began in the fifth century in Antioch and became the universal practice in the church. The Nicene Creed is expressed in its original form of "We believe" in the Rite 2 eucharistic liturgy of the 1979 BCP, and this communal expression of faith is also presented as the first option in the Rite 1 eucharistic liturgy. The Rite 1 eucharistic liturgy also offers the "I believe" form as a second option (see BCP, pp. 326-327, 358).


Ordinary Time
This term is used in the Roman Catholic Church to indicate the parts of the liturgical year that are not included in the major seasons of the church calendar. Ordinary time includes the Monday after the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord through the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, and the Monday after Pentecost through the Saturday before the First Sunday of Advent. A vigil or other service anticipating the First Sunday of Advent on the Saturday before that Sunday would also be included in the season of Advent. Ordinary time can be understood in terms of the living out of Christian faith and the meaning of Christ's resurrection in ordinary life. The term "ordinary time" is not used in the Prayer Book, but the season after Pentecost can be considered ordinary time. It may be referred to as the "green season," because green is the usual liturgical color for this period of the church year. The BCP provides numbered propers with collects and lectionary readings for the Sundays of the Season after Pentecost. The Epiphany season includes the Epiphany, the First Sunday after the Epiphany: the Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Second Sunday through the Last Sunday after the Epiphany (BCP, p. 31). In view of the Epiphany themes that are presented throughout the Epiphany season, it should not be considered ordinary time. However, many parishes use green as the liturgical color for the Second Sunday through the Sunday prior to the Last Sunday after the Epiphany, and sometimes the Last Sunday after the Epiphany. Epiphany season and the season after Pentecost vary in length depending on the date of Easter (see BCP, pp. 884-885).


Pentecost
The Festival Sunday that comes fifty days after Easter in which we commemorate the coming of the Holy Spirit on the twelve Disciples after Christ's Resurrection (Acts 2). Pentecost is traditionally seen as the birthday of the church, and is also the beginning of the longest season in the church - the season after Pentecost. The season after Pentecost runs from the day of Pentecost to the first Sunday in Advent. Prior to the 1979 prayer book, the day of Pentecost was known as Whitsunday.


Great Fifty Days
The feast of Easter is a season of fifty days, from Easter Eve through the Day of Pentecost. From early times the Greek word pentecost (fiftieth day) was used also for the whole Paschal season. During this season there is no fasting. The Council of Nicaea (325) directed that Christians are to pray standing. The word "alleluia" (praise the Lord) is said or sung repeatedly, which contrasts sharply with the season of Lent when the alleluia is omitted. The color of liturgical vestments and hangings is white or gold. The BCP notes that it is customary for the Paschal candle to burn at all services of the Easter season. The "Alleluia, alleluia" may be added to the dismissals and their responses during the Great Fifty Days. The traditional Christian Easter greeting (see Lk 24:34) serves as the opening acclamation at the Eucharist during the Easter season.


Lent
Early Christians observed "a season of penitence and fasting" in preparation for the Paschal feast, or Pascha (BCP, pp. 264-265). The season now known as Lent (from an Old English word meaning "spring," the time of lengthening days) has a long history. Originally, in places where Pascha was celebrated on a Sunday, the Paschal feast followed a fast of up to two days. In the third century this fast was lengthened to six days. Eventually this fast became attached to, or overlapped, another fast of forty days, in imitation of Christ's fasting in the wilderness. The forty-day fast was especially important for converts to the faith who were preparing for baptism, and for those guilty of notorious sins who were being restored to the Christian assembly. In the western church the forty days of Lent extend from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday, omitting Sundays. The last three days of Lent are the sacred Triduum of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Today Lent has reacquired its significance as the final preparation of adult candidates for baptism. Joining with them, all Christians are invited "to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy Word" (BCP, p. 265).


Ash Wednesday
The first of the forty days of Lent, named for the custom of placing blessed ashes on the foreheads of worshipers at Ash Wednesday services. The ashes are a sign of penitence and a reminder of mortality, and may be imposed with the sign of the cross. Ash Wednesday is observed as a fast in the church year of the Episcopal Church. The Ash Wednesday service is one of the Proper Liturgies for Special Days in the BCP (p. 264). Imposition of ashes at the Ash Wednesday service is optional.


Epiphany, The
The manifestation of Christ to the peoples of the earth. The winter solstice was kept on Jan. 6 at some places during the first centuries of the Christian Era. In opposition to pagan festivals, Christians chose this day to celebrate the various manifestations, or "epiphanies," of Jesus' divinity. These showings of his divinity included his birth, the coming of the Magi, his baptism, and the Wedding at Cana where he miraculously changed water into wine. The day was called "The Feast of Lights." Celebration of the Son of God replaced celebration of the sun. Baptisms were done, and a season of preparation was instituted. It was later called Advent.
The solstice was kept on Dec. 25 by the fourth century. Jesus' birth was celebrated on this day in both eastern and western churches. The western church commemorated the coming of the Magi on Jan. 6. The eastern church continued to celebrate the Baptism of our Lord and the Wedding at Cana on Jan. 6. In the east the day was called "Theophany" (manifestation of God). The coming of the Magi is celebrated on the Feast of the Epiphany, Jan. 6, in the BCP. The Baptism of our Lord is celebrated on the First Sunday after the Epiphany.



Paschal feast, or Pascha
Early Christians observed "a season of penitence and fasting" in preparation for the Paschal feast, or Pascha (BCP, pp. 264-265). The season now known as Lent (from an Old English word meaning "spring," the time of lengthening days) has a long history. Originally, in places where Pascha was celebrated on a Sunday, the Paschal feast followed a fast of up to two days. In the third century this fast was lengthened to six days. Eventually this fast became attached to, or overlapped, another fast of forty days, in imitation of Christ's fasting in the wilderness. The forty-day fast was especially important for converts to the faith who were preparing for baptism, and for those guilty of notorious sins who were being restored to the Christian assembly. In the western church the forty days of Lent extend from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday, omitting Sundays. The last three days of Lent are the sacred Triduum of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Today Lent has reacquired its significance as the final preparation of adult candidates for baptism. Joining with them, all Christians are invited "to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy Word" (BCP, p. 265).


Lent
Early Christians observed "a season of penitence and fasting" in preparation for the Paschal feast, or Pascha (BCP, pp. 264-265). The season now known as Lent (from an Old English word meaning "spring," the time of lengthening days) has a long history. Originally, in places where Pascha was celebrated on a Sunday, the Paschal feast followed a fast of up to two days. In the third century this fast was lengthened to six days. Eventually this fast became attached to, or overlapped, another fast of forty days, in imitation of Christ's fasting in the wilderness. The forty-day fast was especially important for converts to the faith who were preparing for baptism, and for those guilty of notorious sins who were being restored to the Christian assembly. In the western church the forty days of Lent extend from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday, omitting Sundays. The last three days of Lent are the sacred Triduum of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Today Lent has reacquired its significance as the final preparation of adult candidates for baptism. Joining with them, all Christians are invited "to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy Word" (BCP, p. 265).



Easter
The feast of Christ's resurrection. According to Bede, the word derives from the Anglo-Saxon spring goddess Eostre. Christians in England applied the word to the principal festival of the church year, both day and season. Easter Day is the annual feast of the resurrection, the pascha or Christian Passover, and the eighth day of cosmic creation. Faith in Jesus' resurrection on the Sunday or third day following his crucifixion is at the heart of Christian belief. Easter sets the experience of springtime next to the ancient stories of deliverance and the proclamation of the risen Christ. In the west, Easter occurs on the first Sunday after the full moon on or after the vernal equinox. Easter always falls between Mar. 22 and Apr. 25 inclusive. Following Jewish custom, the feast begins at sunset on Easter Eve with the Great Vigil of Easter. The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates Easter on the first Sunday after the Jewish pesach or Passover (which follows the spring full moon). Although the two dates sometimes coincide, the eastern date is often one or more weeks later.



Pentecost
The term means "the fiftieth day." It is used in both the OT and the NT. In the OT it refers to a feast of seven weeks known as the Feast of Weeks. It was apparently an agricultural event that focused on the harvesting of first fruits. Josephus referred to Pentecost as the fiftieth day after the first day of Passover. The term is used in the NT to refer to the coming of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1), shortly after Jesus' death, resurrection, and ascension. Christians came to understand the meaning of Pentecost in terms of the gift of the Spirit. The Pentecost event was the fulfillment of a promise which Jesus gave concerning the return of the Holy Spirit. The speaking in tongues, which was a major effect of having received the Spirit, is interpreted by some to symbolize the church's worldwide preaching. In the Christian tradition, Pentecost is now the seventh Sunday after Easter. It emphasizes that the church is understood as the body of Christ which is drawn together and given life by the Holy Spirit. Some understand Pentecost to be the origin and sending out of the church into the world. The Day of Pentecost is one of the seven principal feasts of the church year in the Episcopal Church (BCP, p. 15). The Day of Pentecost is identified by the BCP as one of the feasts that is "especially appropriate" for baptism (p. 312). The liturgical color for the feast is red. Pentecost has also been known as Whitsun or Whitsunday, a corruption of "White Sunday." This term reflects the custom by which those who were baptized at the Vigil of Pentecost would wear their white baptismal garments to church on the Day of Pentecost. The BCP provides directions for observance of a Vigil of Pentecost, which begins with the Service of Light (p. 227). The Hymnal 1982 provides a variety of hymns for Pentecost (Hymns 223-230) and the Holy Spirit (Hymns 500-516).



Stewardship
Our personal response to God's generosity in the way we share our resources of time, talent, and money. Stewardship reflects our commitment to making God's love known through the realities of human life and our use of all that God has given us. It is also our service to God's world and our care of creation. Parish members are encouraged to make an annual stewardship pledge. This pledge represents their specific Christian commitment to "work, pray, and give for the spread of the kingdom of God" (BCP, p. 856).




Sabbath
The seventh day of the Jewish week, our Saturday. It was marked by a total prohibition of work (Ex 23:12). In Christian liturgical usage, Holy Saturday is called the Great or Holy Sabbath, the day when Christ rested in the tomb. Early Christians rejected the celebration of the Jewish Sabbath and the restrictions on activity associated with it in the OT. It was considered as part of the ceremonial law which was abolished in Christ. Instead they kept the Lord's Day, the first day of the week, the day of the Resurrection, as their day of worship. Seventh Day Adventists and a few other Christian groups continue to worship on the sabbath. Sabbatarians are those Christians, usually Scottish or English Calvinists, who apply the OT prohibitions against work to Sunday, deeming it the Christian sabbath. This was a point of conflict between Anglicans and Puritans in the seventeenth century. The "blue laws" in many localities forbidding various activities on Sunday are inherited from Puritan sabbath-keeping. Some Christian groups also forbid various forms of recreation on Sunday in order to keep the Sabbath.



Evangelism, Evangelist
From the Greek euangelion, "good news." An evangelist is one who tells the story of Jesus. The epistle to the Ephesians (4:11) names evangelists after apostles and prophets in the list of ministers in the NT church. Little else is said about evangelists or evangelism except that Philip was an evangelist (Acts 21:8), and Paul urged Timothy to "do the work of an evangelist" (2 Tm 4:5). Later, in the early church, the word "evangelist" was used to describe the writer of a gospel and eventually considered an office. An evangelist is primarily someone who presents God's message to make known the good news of the life, suffering, and death of Jesus. The evangelist presents the importance and significance of the good news for the people of the evangelist's own time and cultural situation. Therefore, the message of specific evangelists can differ from what others have said, even though they are all presenting the good news. The term "evangelist" is now often used to refer to someone who is dedicated to evangelism or missionary work. The 1988 Lambeth Conference summarized evangelism simply as "the making of new Christians." It also asked each province and diocese of the Anglican Communion to make the closing years of this millennium a "Decade of Evangelism" with a renewed and united emphasis on making Christ known to the people of his world. The General Convention of 1991 designated the 1990s a "'Decade of Evangelism,' during which we will reclaim and affirm our baptismal call to evangelism and will endeavor, with other Christian denominations, to reach every unchurched person in the nine Provinces of the Episcopal Church with the Gospel of Jesus Christ." Evangelism is virtually synonymous with mission.



Francis of Assisi
(1181 or 1182-Oct. 3, 1226). Thirteenth-century saint and founder of the Franciscan order. He was born in Assisi in central Italy and named Giovanni Bernardone. His father changed his name to Francesco, "the Frenchman," after a visit to France. Francis's gradual conversion began in the spring of 1205. He gave generously to the poor and became devoted to "Lady Poverty." Francis stressed absolute simplicity of life marked by poverty, humility, and contemplation of Christ. Others gathered around him, and on Feb. 24, 1209, the Order of Friars Minor (Fratres minores), sometimes called Minorites, was founded. In England they were popularly called Grey Friars because of the color of their habit. The Second Order of St. Francis, known as the Poor Clares, was established for nuns in 1219. The Third Order for lay men and women was founded in 1221. Francis is especially remembered for his writing, "The Canticle of Brother Sun." The Hymnal 1982 includes two hymn texts written by Francis, "All creatures of our God and King" (400) and "Most High, omnipotent, good Lord" (406-407). The hymn text "Lord make us servants of your peace" (593) is based on a prayer attributed to Francis. He died in Assisi. Francis is commemorated in the Episcopal calendar of the church year on Oct. 4.



All Hallows' Eve
The evening of Oct. 31, which precedes the church's celebration of All Saints' Day on Nov. 1. The BOS provides a form for a service on All Hallows' Eve. This service begins with the Prayer for Light, and it includes two or more readings from scripture. The options for the readings include the Witch of Endor (1 Sm 28:3-25), the Vision of Eliphaz the Temanite (Jb 4:12-21), the Valley of Dry Bones (Ez37;1-14), and the War in Heaven (Rv 12:[1-6]7-12). The readings are followed by a psalm, canticle, or hymn, and a prayer. The BOS notes that "suitable festivities and entertainments" may precede or follow the service, and there may be a visit to a cemetery or burial place. The popular name for this festival is Halloween. It was the eve of Samhain, a pagan Celtic celebration of the beginning of winter and the first day of the new year. This time of the ingathering of the harvest and the approach of winter apparently provided a reminder of human mortality. It was a time when the souls of the dead were said to return to their homes. Bonfires were set on hilltops to frighten away evil spirits. Samhain was a popular festival at the time when the British Isles were converted to Christianity. The church "adopted" this time of celebration for Christian use by observing All Saints' Day on Nov. 1, and All Hallows' Eve on the evening of Oct. 31.