Rector’s Reflection

Reverend Justin A. Ivatts

November 12, 2019

As we near the end of the Church year we enter into a season of Thanksgiving. We are reminded of all the blessing for which we must give thanks to God, country, family, friends, to name a few. This year we are hosting the Community Thanksgiving Service at St. Mary’s at 7pm on Tuesday November 26th. I hope to see you all there. The Sunday before Thanksgiving marks the Feast of Christ the King, the final Sunday of the Church Year and a Sunday when we can turn our attention to Christ without all the extra trimmings that go with Christmas and Easter. This Sunday was conceived in relatively recent times by Pope Pius XI in 1925 and only moved to the final Sunday of the Church Year in 1970. Episcopal Churches have only celebrated this feast since adopting the Revised Common Lectionary in 2006.

We are now moving toward Advent, which I will say more about in the next Evangeline.

Blessings, Justin+

October 30, 2019

Many years ago the Church would celebrate a trifecta of days beginning on October 31st with Halloween or All Hallows Eve, the evening before our commemoration of the dead. On November 1st we traditionally mark all those saints who do not have their own feast day on All Saints. Then on November 2nd we mark All Souls, the day for all the faithful departed.

In recent years the Church has combined the theology behind All Saints and All Souls, celebrating all who have died, saints and others on the nearest Sunday to All Saints, calling it All Saints Sunday, a non liturgical term, but nonetheless a colloquial term.

This Friday actually falls on the Feast of All Saints so we will celebrate that major feast day in the chapel at Grace at 6 pm and follow it with an inter-generational party involving games and a movie. Please come and celebrate with us as we mark this important feast in the Church’s year.

Blessings, Justin+

October 2, 2019

The Clarke County Ministerial Association is an organization that brings together all the churches in Berryville and the wider Clarke County community. Sometimes I feel the name “Ministerial Association” is confusing as it suggests something that is just about the clergy and not the congregations. It is true that the clergy meet for breakfast on the second Tuesday of every month at the Boyd’s Nest. However, the ministerial association is about so much more, it is about the full Body of Christ in Berryville.

Christianity is separated into several different denominations, but you’d be surprised that we agree on far more than we disagree on. The ministerial association hosts several events throughout the year to bring our faith communities together as one and I encourage you all to attend as many of these events as your schedules permit.

The next event will be the ecumenical Thanksgiving service on Tuesday November 26th (the Tuesday before Thanksgiving) at 7pm. This year Clarke Parish is hosting the service and it will be at St. Mary’s. The Rev. Larry Santmyer from our brothers and sisters at Church of New Beginnings will be providing the music.

Other events to watch out for during the year include: The Pulpit Swap and Community Lunch in January; The Good Friday Service at noon; The National Day of Prayer; The Baccalaureate Service at the High School. I hope that you will join me at these events.

Blessings, Justin+

September 18, 2019

It has been said that if ever one finds themselves in a conversation with someone who new to Christianity and perhaps has questions about our faith, that one should give that person John’s Gospel to read. This is perhaps because John’s Gospel has the highest Christology of any of the Gospels. That is to say it is the most in touch with the divinity of Christ. John’s Gospel has seven signs, all of which are more than just miracles, they actually give us insight into the divine nature of Jesus and how he was indeed sent from heaven. This coupled with the rich imagery of John makes for a fascinating and faith enriching read.

On Wednesday September 25th the bible study group will begin a study of John’s Gospel which should take us to at least Advent. The book that I have chosen as our companion along the way is Interpreting the Gospel and Letters of John: An Introduction by Sherri Brown and Francis J. Moloney, which can be purchased on Amazon. We will of course also be diving into the text of the gospel so please bring a bible. If you haven’t attended bible study before, please consider joining us. We meet from 10am to noon every Wednesday. Hope to see you there.

Blessings, Justin+

September 4, 2019

Perogrinus is the Latin word from whence we get the English word “pilgrimage”. It literally means a stranger traveling to a strange and foreign land. Some have termed life’s trajectory, especially the spiritual part, as a pilgrimage. Pilgrimage is a way to find God in sacred space, not through word or sacrament but by simply engaging with one’s surrounds and finding God in that space. In addition to the space pilgrimage is also about finding God on the journey. The journey to reach the sacred space can be an equally spiritually refreshing experience.

Next September the adult education committee are working on planning a pilgrimage to Wales and Ireland. There will be some preliminary information available at the adult education table during this Sunday’s ministry fair. There will also be a sign up sheet for those who would like to be kept informed (no commitment at this stage). This is just one of the examples of the exiting new things we are planning at Clarke Parish. To find out about this and all the other exciting things Clarke Parish is doing that you can become involved with please do attend our first ministry fair this Sunday September 8th after our combined 10 AM service.

Blessings, Justin+

August 21, 2019

On August 27, 2018, my moving truck pulled into the rectory, I had arrived. On September 1, 2018 we celebrated our first Sunday together. It is hard to imagine that before the next Evangeline comes out; we will have been in ministry together for a year. During this time we have formed a pastoral relationship. But what is a pastoral relationship other than being fancy church jargon? In the Episcopal Church we are part of a diocese, in our case The Diocese of Virginia, which has offices in Richmond and Northern Virginia. Our diocese is led by a bishop, currently The Rt. Rev Susan Goff. The Bishop is the chief pastor of the diocese, hence that thing that looks like a shepherd’s crook, in church jargon we call that a crozier.

The bishop cannot possibly get around every parish in his or her diocese every Sunday and so delegates pastoral responsibility to the clergy. I have delegated responsibility for Grace and St. Mary’s churches here in Berryville. It is my responsibility to tend to the sick and the poor and celebrate the sacraments here in Clarke Parish.

Many people ask me what the difference is between a Priest in Charge and a Rector. From a day to day perspective there is none. A priest in charge has all the authority and responsibility as if that person were the rector. There are two very minor differences, one is that a priest in charge has a three-year contract rather than a tenure and the other is that the priest in charge reports to the bishop where the rector reports to the vestry. More and more parishes are going the priest in charge route as unlike an interim rector once the priest in charge has been in the parish a minimum of eighteen months and a maximum of three years the vestry can elect to make the priest in charge the next rector.

On September 1st we will have been together for one year and I have to say I have enjoyed every minute of it. You are a loving Christ centered parish with a heart for the gospel. We have already done some exciting things together, a new website; new services such as Nine Lessons and Carols, Taize and Jazz Sunday; we have kept old traditions alive such as Wicliffe and Mass on the Grass, we are being more intentional about our Outreach, we have had exciting new programs in adult education and on September 8th we will have our first ever ministry fair.

I want to thank the wardens that have made this year such a smooth one, Jess Bacon, Penny Poe, Tom McFillen, Kevin Talley and Edwina Mason. Now let’s look forward to the year ahead and make it an even greater one!

Blessings, Justin+