The first time I came across a worship video on the Facebook page for Christ Episcopal Church in Old Frontenac, Minn., Pastor Steve appeared in fleece lined moccasins walking across the shiny hardwood floor of his office to take a seat in the chair at the desk. After a steady gaze at what I presumed to be a clock he soon rang a handheld bell 12 times.
I looked forward to watching the whole thing the next day, Thanksgiving. But it was of a more ephemeral nature than that. In its place was a lovely Bible verse about giving thanks for all things “by prayer and supplication.”
By Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, that too was gone, but a live-streamed worship service in the church sanctuary began promptly at 9:30 a.m.
Since it was the first Sunday in Advent, the substantial deep purple candle of hope was lit next to the others waiting their turn, all on the low round table with a shimmering white cloth. Candelabras were already aglow farther back in front of the stained glass window and dark wood wall.
We heard such words as “source of redemption” and “armor of light.” We’re told to be aware, stay alert and with humility “gladly do the right thing.”
Pastor Steve explained that this year B of the liturgy is taken from the Book of Mark. Going forward, tuning into the beautiful worship services from Saint Mark’s Cathedral in Minneapolis or the national cathedral is highly recommended. Christ Church will not be producing more livestreams during Advent. (Some conservation of finances will be achieved by limiting wages.)
The sermon for this week highlighted Harvard’s findings on the health benefits of church — including lowering blood pressure and improving one’s mental outlook.
As preparations were being made for the Eucharist, I enjoyed watching the candle flame flutter with the turning of pages and hearing pleasant clinks at the table — the tinkling sound of glass on glass, the chime of metal on metal. There was also the twinkle of light. The closing solo contained the words “when the stars begin to fall.”
It’s the season wherein beams of starlight shine more clearly toward Earth in anticipation of holy new birth.