Courtesy of the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church we may have some new feasts and fasts to observe for the next three years. Basically, the Convention has decided that the springtime wasn't busy enough. We have to wait for the publication of Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006 to know if these are included for sure, and even then these kalendar additions are provisional only. Observe them at your own risk.
[February 4] (date TBA) - The Feast of the USAT Dorchester Chaplains
This commemoration really needs a lot of help. No proposed date, collects, or lessons were included in the resolution. And the feast's name is really cumbersome. But that's my fault; I just came up with it. The chaplains' names might help that situation.
As the ship sank, the chaplains were seen to link arms and pray together in English, Hebrew and Latin. A total of 672 soldiers perished on that night with the four chaplains - all of different faiths died with arms clasped in common prayer.
April 13 - The Feast of the Confession of Martha
Lord Christ, your mercies are beyond number and you are is [sic] revealed all around us if we but have eyes to see, give us the grace and hospitality of your friend, Martha of Bethany, who, in the midst of grief, confessed you as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, confident that new life is found in your presence and that the reign of God is ever transforming us and our loved ones. We ask this in your name, who lives and reigns with the Creator and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
That collect is kind of rambly. Especially that "and you are is revealed all around us if we but have eyes to see" part.
But generally, I really like the sentiments of this feast. The idea is that this will stand opposite the Confession of Peter (January 18), you know, in the way that spring stands opposite, yet adjacent to winter.
The Gospel, John 11:17-27, includes her confession: "Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world."
Martha, like Peter, was pretty fickle, though. Shortly after her confession she balks when Jesus asks her to roll away the stone: "Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days."
Although, now that I read this again, I wonder if it's not really Martha hesitating. Maybe she's just reporting the news. I mean she's standing right there, and he is still dead and he has been dead for four days. So, yeah, it was probably a little stinky.
April 24 - Genocide Remembrance Day
Collects and lessons still have to be prepared for this fast (presumably that's what this is), but the summary is already haunting.
April 24, 1915 marks the anniversary of the first modern genocide, a planned attempt by the Ottoman Turks to exterminate the Armenian people and the first act of "race murder" of the 20th Century. Over the course of the next several years more than one million Armenian Christians died. Yet a century of genocide was just beginning. The "quip" by Adolph Hitler on the eve of the Holocaust of "Who remembers the Armenians?" emboldened the Nazis to exterminate millions of Jews and Gypsies during the period of the Second World War. Yet there would be more as the decades of the century continued. The communist Khmer Rouge campaign of death in the 1970s in which 2 million Cambodians perished; the attempted destruction of Iraq's Kurdish population by Saddam Hussein in the late 1980's; "ethnic cleansing" of Muslims and Croats by Serbians in Bosnia in the 1990's; the massacre of more than 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu in Rwanda during 100 days in 1994; and as the last century ended, the beginnings in Sudan of the still unfolding tragedy in Darfur.
Arguably, the 20th Century was the century of genocide. To honor the memory of the countless victims of ethnic cleansing and race murder, and to corporately pray that such tragedies are never again repeated, the Church must call the faithful to awareness and prayer by the annual commemoration of "Genocide Day" in honor of all who have perished.
May 17 - The Feast of Thurgood Marshall
Eternal and Ever-Gracious God, you blessed your servant Thurgood with special gifts of grace and courage to understand and speak the truth as it has been revealed to us by Jesus Christ. Grant that by his example we may also know you and seek to realize that we are all your children, brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ , whom you sent to teach us to love one another; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.
May 30 - The Feast of Joan of Arc
Eternal God, you sent your servant, Joan, while still a child, to follow your counsel and to lead an army toward your ends. Give us grace to hear and trust your messages and follow where they lead, knowing that yours is the kingdom, and the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
"Lead an army toward your ends"? Whoa. Kinda sounds like George W. Bush. I wonder when he'll be commemorated. Luckily, all of this stuff will be reviewed before published.
Here's hoping that Bertha and Ethelbert can make it out of committee.
Previously: Episcopal Church - 75th General Convention of mostly outlined resolutions A063/4, both pending before the House of Deputies.
Elsewhere: My local diocese is doing a bang-up job of blogging from the General Convention. One post in particular helped me sense what it must have been like to learn about the new Presiding Bishop-elect from the floor of the House of Deputies.
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