Monthly Archives: March 2010

It’s Palm Sunday – 2010

Worldwide, many Christians are celebrating Palm Sunday, the start of Holy Week. This is the day that Jesus, according to the Gospels, rode into Jerusalem on a burro, a triumphal event that believers hoped would be the beginning of establishing an earthly kingdom, rescuing them from enslavement under the Romans.

Instead, it was the beginning of the end when He would be put to death at the end of the week. Celebrated with Palm leaves in many churches, often with children waving them in celebration, this event is joyful in anticipation of freedom.

Some churches do not celebrate Palm Sunday, arguing that Holy Week emphasis is celebrated throughout their church year. Whether or not you observe Palm Sunday, it is important to note that many Christians do, with great reverence, celebration, and due piety. Many Anchorage churches observed and celebrated Palm Sunday today.

Faure’ Requiem @ St. John UMC – Palm Sunday – 4 pm

A Holy Week musical treat is being performed for the Anchorage community on Sunday, March 28, 4 pm. The St. John UMC Sanctuary Choir, conducted by Karen Horton, will be presenting the Faure’ Requiem, at St. John’s beautiful church. An orchestral ensemble of local professional musicians will accompany the choir. This concert is presented in honor of the life of Betty Gartner, a lifelong Methodist, who loved to sing in choirs believing music is integral to worship, touching people in ways words do not. Betty was the mother of St. John’s Sandy Langland, who with her husband Marc, has made this Requiem possible through a generous donation. A reception will follow the program.[img_assist|nid=150871|title=Stained Glass – Sacre Coeur – Paris|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=306|height=490]

A short piece, taking approximately 35 minutes to perform, the Faure’ Requiem is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful of the requiems. Faure’ in a 1902 interview commented on his requiem.
“It has been said that my Requiem does not express the fear of death and someone has called it a lullaby of death. But it is thus that I see death: as a happy deliverance, an aspiration towards happiness above, rather than as a painful experience. The music of Gounod has been criticized for its overinclination towards human tenderness. But his nature predisposed him to feel this way: religious emotion took this form inside him. Is it not necessary to accept the artist’s nature? As to my Requiem, perhaps I have also instinctively sought to escape from what is thought right and proper, after all the years of accompanying burial services on the organ! I know it all by heart. I wanted to write something different.”


Archbishop Hurley Honored for 40 Years Service in Alaska

Sunday March 21, 2010, I was among those attending Archbishop (retired) Hurley’s 40th Anniversary celebration of service as a Bishop in Alaska. The overflow noon Mass was clearly an obvious display of affection for Archbishop Hurley by area Catholics and parishioners of Holy Family Parish. Before the service started, Hurley was seen slowly making his way from the front to the back of the cathedral, stopping to greet many individuals with smiles, handshakes and hugs. It was a warm sight showing his recognition of many as old friends and his devotion toward them as a caring pastor is wont to do.[img_assist|nid=150824|title=Archbishop Hurley Greeting Well Wishers Before Service|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=350|height=205]

The procession from the rear at the start of the service was regally headed up by a contingent from the Knights of Columbus in their finery. In his preliminary remarks, Hurley was very warm and welcoming, noting he had said his first Mass as Bishop in Juneau 40 years ago this day. After preliminaries he positioned himself behind the pulpit and instead of the expected homily, reminisced about his service and experience in Alaska. Part humor and part visionary, he clearly has a wonderful story to tell. His story about telling his mother he was moving to Juneau as Bishop and her reply, “Did you turn it down?” brought laughter to all. He was animated as he told of learning the human dimension of interreligious contact in the use of other churches, particularly in bush Alaska.[img_assist|nid=150825|title=Knights of Columbus Leaving Service|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=246|height=490]

Positive about the growth of the Church in Alaska he noted, “The future is ours for the taking.” He also expressed his thanks for the growth of the Archdiocese, attributing much of this to the priests and sisters here. He recounted how parish duty swaps between Lower 48 parishes and Alaska were offered but had no takers here, the priests and sisters noting they wanted to be here, having specifically left those environs to come up.

Hurley also noted the involvement and activity of the laity in the Archdiocese concluding “The biggest joy of any Bishop is the people for whom they’re working.” As noted early in his remarks, his major focus this day was to celebrate the Mass with his friends in celebration of his service. Mass was celebrated with Hurley officiating, punctuated and marred somewhat by cell phones going off here and there, despite requests from the leadership to turn them off as the service got underway earlier.[img_assist|nid=150826|title=Archbishop Hurley Leaving Service – Greeting Well Wishers|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=350|height=469]

At the conclusion of the service Fr. Francis Hung Le, the Pastor, came up to make a few remarks of welcome to all gathered, and to present several gifts to Archbishop Hurley. One was a painting of Hurley’s favorite airplane, the Mooney, flared for landing. I didn’t realize he was a flying priest until this service which he shared in a humorous moment. The other gift was a bottle of wine and a card.

This was a fitting tribute to a well-traveled Archbishop. I was recently in the Valley visiting several churches. At one church, the elders decided to hijack the service, one hour in, and did a half-hour tribute to their pastor of eleven years. They then adjourned church for a spaghetti feed. If in the same place, I think Fr. Hurley would have insisted on feeding his flock with a homily and Mass rather than receiving the adulation from any congregation. My thanks to all who made this an important moment of reflection. God bless you Archbishop Hurley.

Chapel By The Sea: Another Unexpected Anchorage Service

Several of the Chapel by the Sea on February 14. Most notably there was a deficit of greetings, website maintenance, and preannouncement of guest speakers. The church was crowded with more than 200 people present for the 2nd of two services this Sunday morning. Before the service commenced the noise level was high and atypical for a church of this size. But the music, prayers, and sense of church family was strong and to my liking. The special missions emphasis was not announced on the website and contributed to a long service. I left after 1 3/4 hours to attend the Full Communion Celebration with the Lutherans (ELCA) and Methodists (UMC). I will revisit this church at a later date to observe a more typical service.[img_assist|nid=150253|title=Chapel By The Sea|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=350|height=161]

Invitation Brought Me Here
Last summer, while on a church retreat, a member of
As noted, I intend to revisit this church at a some point in the future. I do feel they could benefit from a sharper focus on greeting and hospitality, adoption of a more reverent pre-service atmosphere, excepting visitors from feeling offering giving is expected, preannouncing service particulars on their website, i.e. regular preaching vs. guest speakers, and shortening other aspects of their service when special presentations are likely to run long.