Dear Parish Family,
What special significance does early September have for Grace Church? You may be surprised to learn that early September has layers of special meaning for our parish. For those here last year, you will remember that early September marks the time each year when the parish first met on this location, hence the centennial celebration last Fall. Beyond that, we are introducing this year an annual “parish feast day” of September 14: The Feast of the Holy Cross. This day has been observed in the Christian Church since the 4th century, after St. Helena, the Emperor Constantine’s mother, founded the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on that date. St. Helena (those who were in Vacation Bible School will remember) traveled through the Holy Land looking for locations and relics from the Passion of Our Lord. She found what she believed to be pieces of the True Cross, and she founded a church for worship, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, on the site of what many believed to be the tomb in which Our Lord was placed after his crucifixion. Worship has continued there for some 1,600 years.
This feast makes a perfect celebration for Grace, because we have, embedded in our altar, five stones from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Our architect Garland Reynolds brought back a stone from his trip to Jerusalem that he found near the High Altar, and he placed carved pieces in the marble altar on our chancel. Many in the parish may not know that these relics are here with us, and that we celebrate the Holy Eucharist on them every Sunday. Since my time here, a Sunday never passes when I do not think of our link with the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Feast of the Holy Cross.
On September 14, we will begin our annual celebration of this Feast as a way to celebrate our life as a parish community, keeping in mind our connection with the rich history of Christianity itself.
This celebration will give us an opportunity each year to come together in worship and prayer, baptizing those who are seeking to join the Body of Christ in our particular parish, and remembering our common life as part of, as we say in the Nicene Creed, the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.”
We will have special musical pieces on that day, and we will also have a time during the postlude for any who want to come onto the chancel and see the stones themselves, taking a moment at the altar to offer prayer and give thanks.
I invite you to make a point of coming for worship on this date, as we continue to give thanks for our life together.