Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Inside and outside on 9 April 2014

The ancient poinsettia is "blooming" like crazy this year. It is from Christmas 1968.

The daffodils are thinking about blooming. they might see snow again tho.

These croci are at least as old as the poinsettia having been here before I bought the house. I look for them every year.

Looking across the bay at the house.

Turtle heads kept appearing in the green but the whole turtles wouldn't come to the log as long as I was visible.

This turtle stayed just long enough to get in the photo.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

St John's Episcopal Church, Sharon, PA, 6 April 2014

H. Whoops. Can't say that yet. But there is no snow anywhere here. Not even a flurry today. Some very high thin clouds this morning in an otherwise lovely blue sky. Beautiful. Since St Johns is only about half an hour away, I should have gone there on one of those snowy days. Oh, well. 

 Rt 18 is supposed to close temporarily one of these days while they fix the bridge over the Shenango Reservoir. I contemplated going the back way but curiosity got the best of me. To see what was happening I went on down. Came home via the detour to see what it is like. It was very familiar as I used to go that way when they built 18 over the reservoir and I worked in Masury, OH. That was a year or two ago. 

I'd been to St John's on several occasions, most recently for diocesan events. The first was for a concert by the combined choirs of St Johns and First Presbyterian with a few extras. I sang tenor with male clergy and a choir director. We were not well behaved. That was also a year or two ago. Probably in the mid 1960s. 

 I parked in one of the regular spots, not in a visitor spot. Two women passed me but never even looked at me. I've heard that people there are unfriendly. That wasn't a good start. I entered via the double doors to use the bathroom - helpful to have been there before. There is a handy guide on the wall but I left via the same doors to see what I would encounter if I used the red door by the Visitor parking which most visitors probably would.

The church has many red doors in various places. I don't know how many are functional. There is no ramp. (There is an elevator.) This was the closest to the parking lot and I had seen someone else go in there. The door did not go into the church but into a sort of hallway. I had to move someone aside to get in as the choir was milling around. Nobody even looked at me. Fortunately there was a red banner above the entrance to the church. The usher greeted me with a smile as did a woman in a pew at the back. 

I was surprised to see flowers on the altar during Lent. The choir entered quietly from the side. There was a short procession of the clergy to one verse of O Sacred head. I was surprised to see the priest was wearing a cope. I've never seen the eucharist done in a cope before. The church was hot so he must have been really warm. Odd also that he sang the Collect but not the rest of the service. 

They had a very short Peace. Nobody wandered. All around me shook hands in a friendly manner. 

The dozen in the choir sang "Wondrous Love" by William Witherup. Hee. For those of you who don't know, he is the organist/choirmaster at Christ Church Meadville, my home parish. He's an excellent composer, especially for small choirs. His music is published by Selah Publishing.

I understand the theology and the arguments but I don't appreciate the priest's back during the eucharist. I wonder what the disciples would have thought if Jesus had turned his back to them for the last supper. I wish I'd had the camera out to take a photo when the priest had his arms extended. He looked like a bird with his wings opened in the sun.

I was the only person who listened to the Bach postlude. I took some photos then got at the tail end of the line to greet the priest. He said he was surprised to see me. I explained. He said I am always welcome there. He invited me to come back. Then to come back all the time. To sing in the choir. And to get some coffee and goodies. He made me feel welcome. I went to coffee hour to look for the person I know but didn't find her. I was totally ignored. I left.

The white structure above the church in the tree is the carillon. I regret not taking a photo of the keyboard. I've seen it many times and didn't think about it. You walk past it on the way into the church.

I forgot to take the other side windows. Apologies. I'll catch them and the carillon keyboard next time.

This church is smallish. The ceiling is segmented and not high. The windows are right there and they are largeish and brightly colored. For some reason I felt a bit of visual sensory overload. Odd. Not obnoxious however.

No clue where to go for Palm/Passion Sunday. Not my favorite service. I'd like to go back to celebrating Christ's entry into Jerusalem without having to endure the passion then do the Holy Week services. At least I won't have to go the rest of the week since Jesus will already be dead. A week early. I might be up for a dawn Easter Vigil but you won't catch me at an evening one.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Winter is trying. Very trying. But spring is trying too.

The leaves of the white oak on the left blew off during the winter but this other oak has refused to surrender them. I've never been able to identify it positively.

The silver maple is way ahead of the others.

The croci and the daffodils are thriving.

There is a tulip leaf to the right of and behind the center daffys. I haven't seen a tulip here in many years. I originally planted this daffodil and daylily fence plus the croci plus a whole bunch of tulips to keep kids from riding around my bird feeders which hung on a clothesline. By the third year the tulips had fed the moles. I wonder if it will get to actually bloom.

The daffys next to the house are budding.

I found this tiny flower among the daylilies which are struggling and are about an inch tall with brown points on their bent over leaves.

Meanwhile when I get the energy, I need to clean up after wind trimmed a very messy silver maple.
As usual all are biggenable.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Christ Church, Warren, OH, 30 March 2014

Of course we awoke to 4 or so inches of new snow. It is Sunday after all. I was grateful that the Ohio highway people had the roads cleared and salted before I got there. The PA roads were snow covered and slippery. This church is only 45 or so minutes away and would be doable if I were looking for a new church home. I knew their organist in a prior life but he wouldn't remember me. I didn't get a chance to speak to him anyhow.

The Christ Church facility is humungous! I didn't try to photograph or explore the extensive building behind what you see. Like the church in Cranbury, NJ it is very modern. For someone who is used to the elderly facilities I've been visiting locally, it is quite a shock. With the screen one would expect to see lots of electric plugs all over the altar space. Hee. Yes, there was a guitar today - with a flute.

In the parking lot two people passed me by without even looking but another woman engaged me in conversation. Entering the church one sees the Mens Room on the right. Nice. The Ladies Room is easily visible across the huge narthex. (Or is it a southex?) There is also an obvious coatrack. The choir was gathering and several folks greeted me.

Entering the church itself was a bit awkward. The baptismal font is right there in the middle. There were several people milling around. I didn't know if one was an usher. I got a bulletin from the font but then a woman handed me one. People were welcoming.

The handbell choir played before the service. Lots of people around my age in it. Apparently it is relatively new. You could recognize the tunes so I thought they did a great job. They have 4 octaves of bells and had borrowed some choir chimes from a Lutheran church. The leader talked to me after the service. She tried to recruit me.

If you know the tune and don't plan to sing harmony, the projected hymn is nice. No book to hold. I knew all the hymntunes and most of the words. I didn't know any of the responses but they were printed on a separate flyer. The psalm was sung I assume by everyone. I sang anyhow. It was a familiar Anglican chant tune by Meachen. 

They have an early service and use Rite II at 10 am. Yea! I was happy to say the newer Our Father for a change. Ever since I first saw it I've preferred it. After all, sinning is much more fun than walking over some curmudgeon's grass. And more to the point. They also say "All things" and don't sing the (to me) protestant Doxology after the offering.

Holding hands in prayer position reminded me of Holy Trinity Lutheran. I can't do that comfortably which is why I probably notice it. I didn't ask but assume the priest used an iPad or similar as there was no paper shuffling.

This is quite a gathering space.

The church is impressively huge and spare.

The handbell choir played.

One needn't use the book. Kinda nice.

A big black dog joined the children. There were treats for all. One young one remained for the duration while the others exited for the sermon.

The Prayers of the People IV were led from the front of the congregation. I could barely hear her even tho she had a mike.

The choir is about the same size as the other Ohio churches have had - maybe a dozen. They are ok. I would probably be comfortable singing with them. Besides the flute and guitar, there was a solo with this anthem which was in a sort of spiritual mode. The choir swayed but looked very white doing it. Hee.

There wasn't any incense but there were plenty of bells. More than I've heard rung elsewhere - always 3. I like bells.

I think the plaque says Casasvant.

There are two windows which are not visible from the congregation which I think is odd. This is on the choir side. They can see it.

The huge altar rail has needlepoint kneelers all around it. They are various colors and patterns. Quite beautiful.

This is recessed above the altar.

This is the other hidden window.

The clergy seats are also needlepoint as are their kneelers. I seem to get an Altar Guild lady in every church photo somehow. They are so important!

There are two of these candle screens, this one in front of the pulpit, the other in front of the lectern. People light candles after they commune. But they blow them out at the end. I didn't get to light one unfortunately. Sorry, Holy Cross. Next time.

This is the back window with a beautiful and great rank of party horns. I didn't take photos of the very high windows on either side of the room.

If there was a coffee hour, I wasn't invited. They might have it between services. People seemed to be gathered in the narthex. I didn't see or smell any food tho I didn't really look for any.
Getting used to the modern building and the very necessary amplification - padded seats and kneelers plus carpet everywhere - would take some time. It feels a little sterile tho the people certainly aren't. If I were looking for a church home, this would probably be it. So far.

20 hours in NW PA


3:00 pm

7:30 pm

7:30 am

Friday, March 28, 2014

St Paul's Episcopal Church, Medina, OH, 23 March 2014

As usual there were snowflakes when I left for church. They got pretty intense here and there on my journey but not dangerous. That was a concern as I left about 15 minutes later than planned. I knew I would be late but that's life. Turned out I got there at the tail end of the opening hymn. In my hurry I forgot to change glasses and also left the camera in the car. I retrieved them during the offering. 

My decision to drive two hours to church in snow was precipitated by a late night discussion during which the rector said he hadn't written a sermon yet. He and I have been internet friends but had never met. 

Since I was late, there was no usher to greet me. I slid into the penultimate pew and was immediately greeted by the man on the other end of the pew who offered to share his hymnal. I knew they were on the last verse tho. He continued to be friendly and helpful throughout the service. Afterward he introduced me to the organist who is quite good. She's his wife. My voice tends to bring people to say something and invite me to join the choir. I'm grateful that I can still sing.

I was happy to encounter Rite II, Form 3. Lent is a good time for that. I've done it fewer than a half dozen times and like it. It was also good to hear a good choir again. Nobody walked on by during the peace. Everyone was cordial tho nobody invited me to coffee hour until after. It was interesting to see the choir process to the back and sing the hymns until everyone else had communed at which point they did. The church isn't very large so that was good leadership for the music.

The priest is a good preacher. He had obviously spent some time either very late or very early thinking about what he would say. He was asked by the Plain Dealer to comment on some questions in writing which he read to us. His responses were thoughtful. I hope I can see them in "print" eventually. He even related them to the Gospel. He also reads the Gospel like a story. I loved it! 

After church he gave me a tour of the facilities which are undergoing some rearranging. I had followed the addition project online which was completed last year. It seems to have been a major improvement uniting the two buildings by more than a bridge. The congregation is almost 200 years old.

Many people sat at tables during coffee hour and talked a long while after the liturgy. A number of them introduced themselves to me. Some wore nametags. There is a four sided stand which contains nametags for everyone. This is a large congregation - at least by our standards. And a friendly one.

The website for St Pauls's is here. There are photos of the windows here as well as lots of other church pictures. I can't find a history of the church on their blog. It is interesting. Go and ask.

The kneelers at the altar are lovely. Each has a patch saying who did it and the back edge has the name of the people to whom each is dedicated.

There are four sides to this nametag kiosk. This is a large congregation. And the building is just the right size for them.
The Ohio church people have been much friendlier overall than Pennsylvania people. I'm not surprised. In my moving back and forth I've found that true in general. It starts at the border. I used to describe it by saying Ohioans care more about how much money you have while Pennsylvanians care who your family is. Pennsylvanians seem more reserved. While the two Ohio churches are in areas which have much larger populations than we do, they just feel healthier, more relaxed, more active. I'll return to both eventually.