I find Lenten music inspiring and enjoyable to sing. As singers, we are able to read the words and sing them to music, and almost all of the Lenten music with which I am familiar is lovely, both in words and in music.
Lent is a particular time of the Christian year in which we are able to think about what we might do better, and during the eight years in which I cared for my parents, I came to really appreciate the ability to sing, as an adjunct to the spoken Confession of Faith (I prefer, as usual, Rite I, because I love the language), and to get myself into a state of mind that was helpful to me as a caregiver. I'm not perfect - and perhaps much less so than some of my fellows, and I know it, and the period of Lent, painful though it might be, prepares me for Easter and the Resurrection of our Lord. It's a reminder that thoughtfulness and sacrifice come before joy.
When I sing, I'm not alone, and I'm not just in the company of my fellow singers, but in the company of all those who have sung this music before, and put the words so carefully to music. My voice swells to be singing with them.
"To decline from sin, and incline to mercy: That we may walk with a perfect heart."
I was working with a patient this week that will be transitioning soon. I began our time together by playing some Sinatra that, in my mind, would comfort her. Even though she is not able to speak, she let me know very soon that the music was not comforting her! I saw the body gestures and heard the growl and changed the music. She became calm, rested, and even hummed to IZ singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow".
Today is Ash Wednesday and we begin our Lenten journey. The last few weeks have been preparations for this time including music. It won't be easy. Some of the texts just rub us the wrong way and irritate us to no end. "Wilt thou forgive the sin, where I begun, which is my sin, though it were done before?" UGH!!!!! And to wrap up the verse comes the comforting statement "... when thou hast done, thou hast not done, for I have more." Oh and let's not forget the numerous verses throughout our hymns about suffering and reminders to take up a cross and follow. It's uncomfortable!!! It makes us want to forget about Lent and jump to the alleluias of Easter Sunday. And yet, maybe that is precisely why we must sing these hymns. This is not a time to just "be" in the liturgy. It's a time to question, assess our walk with Christ, and maybe be a little uncomfortable.
As we draw close to Holy Week, let us be reminded of times in our lives when "my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" was all we could mumble. It is this horrible reality in our lives that creates our Passion and allows us to experience Good Friday. It is this horrible reality that allows us to remember, to relive, to be, and to change.
Our Lenten hymns develop beyond the above frankness and bring the promise and comfort that life will be renewed. Our walk on this earth will be made light in the next. If you stop to check the text carefully and really reread the sentiments you will find this.
"Abide with us, that so, this life of suffering over past,
an Easter of unending joy we may attain at last!"
Accept the challenge of our walk ahead. Take up your cross - whatever that may be - and follow, listen, pray, and sing our Lenten hymns with courage!
Dr. Joseph Eppink
Director of Music
I was recently googling music ministry and ran across this definition of music ministry from St. John the Divine in Houston, TX... "Music at SJD exists to glorify God and is integral to our worship and liturgy – worship being the core of our congregational life. It encourages the congregation’s song in corporate prayer and praise. Through its unique power, music goes beyond words, enabling all present to encounter the mystery of God in Christ Jesus."
Have you considered the importance of music in our liturgy? There may be variations in thought, hymnody, psalmody, anthems, etc. but the foundation for everyone is powerful.. "enabling all present to encounter the mystery of God in Christ Jesus."
We are at a crossroads of new beginnings here at St Peter's. The choir is rehearsing and leading worship on Sundays, the organ is in full steam of being completed, and a variety of music is being used to promote a worship for all, a blended worship.
Continue to keep our music program in your prayers. Consider how you can participate more fully in the choir, ukulele ensemble, jazz service, and even through song and prayer in our liturgy.
May our music lead us to encounter the mystery of God in Christ Jesus!
Dr. Joseph Eppink
Director of Music
Dear St. Peter’s Ohana,
I can’t believe it has been nearly three years since I left you all to set out on the journey that has been seminary. There have been moments where it felt like school would never end. Now, looking back, it feels like it is over in the blink of an eye. I have been incredibly blessed by my experience at Virginia Theological Seminary. Over the past three years, I have had the opportunity to travel to both Canterbury and Jerusalem, to study with brilliant professors who have made scripture and theology come alive, to become a part of a church community in Washington D.C., to worship with classmates who I know will be both colleagues and lifelong friends, and so much more.
As I approach the end of my seminary career and look forward to starting my ministry as an ordained person, I am thankful for the role St. Peter’s has played. The support you have given me-through prayer, encouragement, and finances-has been invaluable. It has afforded me the luxury of knowing there is a community of support back home in the islands to both advocate for me and walk with me through this season.
My graduation from VTS is Thursday, May 19, 2016, at 10:30am EST. The ceremony is live streamed, and I will pass on the link as soon as I have it. The recording will stay up on the VTS website, for those of you who may not want to get up that early in Hawaii! I will be traveling home to Oahu shortly after graduation for a break before I start the next chapter of my life. I look forward to catching up with all of you once I am home. Thank you for everything you have done for me the last three years! My thoughts and prayers are with all of you!
Love and Blessings, Annalise
Dear St. Peter’s Ohana,
I can hardly believe months have passed since I was in the islands finishing up my chaplain internship at Queens Hospital. My third and final year of seminary has been full and rewarding. Looking back now, it hardly seems possible that my time on the East Coast is starting to wrap up.
My classes are going well. I am currently taking Christian Ethics (my toughest class), Liturgics, Introduction to Singing, a seminar on the Gospel of Luke, Ministry of money, and Field education. I have a few more credits to take, but I will finish most of my required classes this semester.
I have been working off-campus a few mornings a week at a preschool. It has been a great joy. Some weeks I have found it hard to balance school and work, but I continue to work at it.
In September, I coordinated the Episcopal Relief & Development 75th Anniversary Photo Exhibition for VTS. It went fabulously. I was so pleased to share the amazing work that organization is doing, and has done, with my community. I love working with Episcopal Relief & Development. I hope to extend that work beyond my time at seminary.
The Virginia Theological Seminary community was a buzz in October as we consecrated our new chapel. We had over a thousand visitors on campus. We hosted the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Presiding Bishop, The Presiding Bishop Elect and so many others. I was honored to serve as an oblation bearer and to help distribute communion at the consecration service. The students got to have a question and answer session with the Presiding Bishop and Presiding Bishop Elect at our own dinner. It was a special time that I will never forget.
Personally, I had the opportunity to travel back to Oregon and celebrate my younger sister’s wedding in early October. It was ridiculously busy and full of joy. Many of you know that I am the oldest of three girls. We were excited to welcome our very first brother into the family. I couldn’t be happier for my sister and brother-in-law. It has been a very special season for family, and I am grateful for that.
As you can likely tell, these past two months have been a whirlwind. I am looking forward to things settling down in November. I am hoping to really focus on school, maybe even taking on some extra reading. I would also like to focus on my prayer life more intentionally. One of the most important lessons I have learned at school is that it is impossible to have a successful ministry and sense of personal well being without prayer!
I hope all is well at home, and I look forward to hearing from you all soon!
Message from Jar Pasalo
Over the past weeks I have found myself waking up to temperatures below freezing. As I lay in bed snuggled up in three layers of blankets, I think to myself, this is probably be the last time I will be living in this kind of weather. I can’t believe that I am in my final semester at seminary. This time, three years ago, seminary was just a thought, never a reality. I have never dreamed that I will have the chance to travel to theHoly Land. Never thought I would drive up to NewYork City, see the sights, and return on the same day or even drive 14 hours to Orlando, Florida to spend the weekend. Most of all, it was never part of my goals to obtain a graduate degree, yet alone, one focused in theology.Seminary has been the most challenging that I have done in my whole life. The funny thing is that it is justthe very beginning my journey. The next thing for me is graduation which will be on May 21, 2015. There are things in works for what I will do after that, but at the moment that is all I can share. I am continuallyamazed to see what God has in store for me next.Thank you all for your continued support and prayers.I look forward to returning home, where the sun is warm.
Message from Annalise Castro
I am writing to you on my third snow day of the semester. It has been snowing all day, and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon! I am not complaining,though. It has given me a day to catch up on the little things. School has been going very well. I gave up working my on-campus job, which has helped me immensely. My budget is tighter, but my grades have risen substantially. I am confident that this was the best decision for me. The second year is widely considered to be the most academically challenging of the three years. That has been my experience so far. I am learning a lot, though.I love the church where I am working, St. Patrick’s, very much! They have been incredibly supportive and gracious as I continue to learn and grow in ministry. I preach and participate in the liturgy regularly. I know that this will be one of my fondest memories of seminary.This summer I will be participating in the Clinical Pastoral Education program with Pacific HealthMinistries. I will be serving as a chaplain at Queens Hospital. I will be on staff during the day, with some classroom work and on-call weekends. CPE, as we refer to it, is an intense time that many priests point to as an incredibly important part of their formation. I am excited to return to Oahu to fulfill this requirement. Iwill do my best to show up to St. Peter’s when I am not at the hospital, but admittedly may need a few Sundays to relax and catch up on sleep! That is my most recent news. I hope everything is well back home!
One of the great privileges in my time at VTS so far has been serving as a Seminary Representative for Episcopal Relief & Development. I have learned so much about what this action arm of the Episcopal Church is doing throughout the world. There are several amazing campaigns going on as we celebrate 75 years of healing a hurting world. The campaign I would like to highlight today is Gifts for Life.
This year, the Seminary Representatives of Episcopal Relief & Development are challenging the VTS community members to purchase at least one Christmas gift from the Gifts for Life catalogue. It can be in addition to the gifts you are already purchasing or as a gift in place of something else. One gift from each member of our community could make a very real difference across the world. You can purchase anything from a goat to seeds to postnatal care for infants. The full catalogue is available online. For hard copy catalogues and cards to give to someone in recognition of the gift you purchased, visit the Episcopal Relief & Development table in Scott Lounge during lunch on December 3-5. If you can’t stop by at lunch, send an e-card when you purchase your gift online. In this season of Advent, as we prepare and await our savior, let us take every opportunity to live out the Gospel and offer Christ’s love to the world!
Check out the giving opportunities here: https://www.episcopalrelief.org/what-you-can-do/gifts-for-life/all-gifts
Seminarian and Postulant in the Diocese of Hawaii