Dry Desert
St. Paul's Manna Blog

He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna... in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
(Deuteronomy 8:3)

Moses was taking care of the flock for his father-in-law Jethro, Midian’s priest. He led his flock out to the edge of the desert, and he came to God’s mountain called Horeb. The Lord’s messenger appeared to him in a flame of fire in the middle of a bush. Moses saw that the bush was in flames, but it didn’t burn up. Then Moses said to himself, Let me check out this amazing sight and find out why the bush isn’t burning up.


When the Lord saw that he was coming to look, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!”


Moses said, “I’m here.”


Then the Lord said, “Don’t come any closer! Take off your sandals, because you are standing on holy ground.” He continued, “I am the God of your father, Abraham’s God, Isaac’s God, and Jacob’s God.” Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look at God.


-Exodus 3:1-15 (Common English Bible)

  • Didn’t Moses grow up in Egypt? How does he end up in Midian?

  • Why is Moses afraid to look at God?

  • What are some other stories where God calls someone to do important work?

Do you ever read a Bible passage and wish you could know more about it?


One of the things I love about the Episcopal Church is that academic study of the Bible doesn’t threaten our faith—in fact, it can be a tool to deepen or strengthen it!


It can be difficult to find reputable sources on the scriptures that shape our tradition. Many websites have shallow or misleading information that doesn’t match our theology or our understanding of God’s expansive, all-encompassing love.


When I was in seminary, I worked on a project called Yale Bible Study. Using videos of Yale professors talking about Bible passages, YBS provides study guides, discussion questions, and other resources. Oh, and it’s all free!


This week, I hope you’ll take a little time to look through Yale Bible Study’s resources. As a starting point: here’s the lesson on the Burning Bush passage from Exodus. (This reading is appointed for today, the Third Sunday in Lent, in our lectionary.


With my colleagues, I put together a lot of the Discussion Questions and Additional Resources sections on this website. I also wrote some of the Study Guides. It was really fun to find these resources, but the process underscored for me just how much incorrect information about the Bible is online.


If you have other reputable resources for online Bible information, please share them with me!


(And remember: I still do work for Yale Bible Study as the host and producer of the Chapter, Verse, and Season podcast, which is another resource for reliable information about the Bible.)

This weekend, we start an online Inquirers Class series. All are welcome to join!


We’ll meet four weeks in a row on Zoom, 7pm–8:30pm on Sunday evenings. Each week will focus on one topic, with a short presentation from me and then some time for questions and discussion:


March 13: Baptism

March 20: Eucharist

March 27: The Episcopal Church

April 3: The Anglican Communion


Want to join? Register here for the Zoom link.


Part of the hope is that these classes could prepare adults for confirmation, reception, or reaffirmation of baptismal vows. For Easter Vigil, we will go to Christ Church Cathedral in Hartford, where Bishop Ian Douglas will offer those three rites.


Are you considering confirmation or something like it? Here’s how to tell which of these rites might apply to you. Please email me if you’d like more information!


Confirmation


If you’ve been baptized in any Christian church (including the Episcopal Church) but were never confirmed, you might want to seek confirmation. Read more about confirmation here.


According to the Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, confirmation is:


Those who were baptized at an early age … are expected to make a mature public affirmation of their faith, recommit themselves to the responsibilities of their baptism, and receive laying on of hands by a bishop (BCP, p. 412).


Reception


If you’ve been baptized and confirmed in another Christian church but not received into the Episcopal Church, you might want to seek reception. Read more about reception here.


The Episcopal Dictionary of the Church says the following of reception:


Baptized persons who have been members of another Christian fellowship and who wish to be affiliated with the Episcopal Church may make a public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their baptism in the presence of a bishop.


Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows


If you’ve already been confirmed or received in the Episcopal Church but want to make a public reaffirmation of your faith, with the laying on of hands by a bishop, you might want to seek the reaffirmation rite. People sometimes seek this when they’re going through a hard time or a major life transition: marriage or divorce, graduation from college, etc. Read more about reaffirmation here.


The Episcopal Dictionary of the Church explains of reaffirmation:


These might be persons returning to the church after a period of unbelief or those who have entered a new level of spiritual life. The BCP does not specify who these persons are, and a variety of interpretation exists.

This is a post to invite you to two completely unrelated things.


1. A Holy Lent


This week, we began the celebration of Lent. We wore ashes to remind us of our mortality. We switched our decorations from green to purple and removed the flowers from the sanctuary. Our children will “bury the All*luias” before our 10:15am service begins this morning, so that we remember not to use that word until Easter!


So, consider this one more invitation to observe Lent this year.


From the liturgy we prayed on Ash Wednesday this past week:

I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.

Remember that a Lenten practice can be about putting something down (like social media, complaining, or alcohol), but it can also be about taking something up (like a practice of walking every day, or starting a gratitude journal). Last year, I wrote a post with four suggestions for spiritual “new year’s resolutions,” which are applicable to Lent, as well.

A purple frontal (embroidered cloth) hangs off the pulpit at St. Paul's.

How will you make Lent meaningful and holy for yourself this year?


2. Vestry Meetings


On an entirely different note: did you know that you’re welcome to attend our vestry meetings?


The vestry meets monthly to conduct the business of the parish. Join us the second Tuesday of each month at 7pm in the Parish Hall. If you’ve ever wondered what a “warden” is or what it is that the vestry actually does, here’s your chance to find out first-hand.


All are welcome to attend to listen. And, if you have a specific issue you’d like to raise, you can do so at the Visitors’ Forum, which happens at the beginning of each meeting. (Feel free to stay for the rest of the meeting, or leave after the forum is over.)


If possible, please let me know ahead of time if you plan to raise an issue at Visitor’s Forum. That way, I can make sure there’s enough time allotted for you.