When I realized that my son and I would be trekking to North Carolina to pick up the motor and transmission he bought on ebay, I looked at what Anglican contacts I had in the area. It was to be a weekend trip, so we hoped to visit an Anglican parish on Sunday morning before heading back to Detroit.
We ended up visiting St. Luke's Anglican Parish in Landrum, South Carolina. It is only a few miles from the North Carolina border, and so did not involve a huge amount of extra travel. Our friend, Fr. Peter Geromel, is the Vicar at St. Luke's.
The parish meets at Landrum Presbyterian Church (see photos below), which was easy to find. Our visit was on the Third Sunday in Lent.
The service was that of Holy Communion, from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, by the book, with no funny stuff, which I really appreciated. The 1928 BCP is still what I am most at home with, and it was great to worship by it once again.
I didn't get an exact count of those present, not wanting to turn around to count those behind us, but I would say that we numbered about 30 souls.
We sang one of my favourite Lenten hymns for the Sermon Hymn, which was #61 (The Hymnal 1940), The Glory of These Forty Days.
The sermon itself was given by the Rector Emeritus, Fr. Frederick Holck, and was very helpful to me in my Lenten journey. Fr. Holck opened by stating that the foundation of any Lenten discipline must be that it is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us, and that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. He warned about treating Lent as a mere appendage to an unchanged life, as if we were to put a small patch of new cloth onto a worn and threadbare garment. It is our entire lives which must be changed, and without this, adding or subtracting things as Lenten "disciplines" is of little use. What matters is a new creation (new fabric from top to bottom), and meeting Christ is a life-changing experience, Fr. Holck told us.
I wondered about my own life and devotion. Sometimes it does seem as if my Christian faith and worship are merely things I have added on (as I would add one more hobby) to my life, and that perhaps I have wandered from the devotion which I once had. It was a sobering thought, and I sat through the sermon very convicted, staring at the gnarled tree in the window (see photo above).
Fr. Holck told a great story to illustrate what the wrong kind of Lenten devotion looks like, one which does not change our core. His story was of a Catholic priest in New York City, who was heading to the rectory after mass when he was held up at gunpoint. As he opened his jacket to reach his wallet, the thief became distressed at seeing the priest's clerical collar. "I did not know I was robbing a priest!", he said, and offered repeated and profuse apologies. The priest, seeing the distress of the young man, offered him a piece of candy, in an effort to calm him. The thief's reply was telling: "Reverend Father! I do not eat the candies in Lent!!"
And so it is with us who add Lent as a mere appendage to our "same old" lives.
I always give "extra credit" to any parish which does not have the Passing of the Peace, and St. Luke's earns full marks for this.
In all, a very profitable way to spend a Sunday, and a highly recommended place to "worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness".