Sealing the Deal

Most cultures worldwide have some sort of rite of initiation, and this initiation is the principal “liturgy” of that culture. Many cultures celebrate an infant rite of some sort, and many also observe the significance of passing from childhood into maturity. These rites all seem to use similar language, passing from the former (often “death”) into a new existence (“new life”). The favorite verse from First Corinthians comes to mind: “When I was a... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Monday, April 24, 2017 | 0 comments
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Easter moments glimmer brightly

I wonder what really did transpire in Jerusalem and surrounding areas after the Resurrection. We know the news traveled very quickly, beginning with Jesus speaking to Mary Magdalene in the garden, where she mistakenly took him to be the gardener. From there Mary Magdalene went directly to the disciples to spread the good news. Jesus then appears to the disciples in the Upper Room (the “Doubting Thomas” gospel reading for this Sunday, April 23), to two followers walking in... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Tuesday, April 18, 2017 | 0 comments
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Easter's in our DNA

In this parish, we sing the same hymns every Easter Day. No, seriously, we do! And here’s a little secret: Most parish churches are just like us, singing the very same traditional hymns each Easter Day, year in and year out. In my 30-year parish musician career, I have heard so many times, “Oh, it’s just not Easter unless we sing thus-and-so.” Hymns are carriers of the faith. They convey the story in poetry coupled with beautiful melodies. And they elicit memories.... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Wednesday, April 12, 2017 | 0 comments
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Liturgical Shift

'Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:5-11 This passage from the Letter to the Philippians is the Epistle reading on... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Monday, April 3, 2017 | 0 comments
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Death not the end here

In that biblical, Trinitarian manner, they say funerals come in threes – that is, three in close proximity to each other. Indeed, we have had a number of burial services of late, which is not unusual in a sizable parish. Baptizing, marrying and burying the faithful is a blessed part of what we do. Helping people get a proper start in life and  marriage is the church’s obligation. Being with people at the end of life, with assurance and dignity, is in our DNA. In the... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Monday, March 27, 2017 | 0 comments
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Old Favorites

We all have that old sweatshirt, pair of worn jeans or old shoes to which we retreat  when we need comfort. Or maybe it's a favorite movie or a book we're happy to read over and over.  The same is true for hymns and anthems. We all have our favorite hymns. And choirs have their favorite anthems, those that we trot out when the occasion arises or when we want something familiar. This Sunday’s (March 26) Gospel is the account of Jesus healing the... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Tuesday, March 21, 2017 | 0 comments
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Living Water

Given that last Wednesday was International Women’s Day, perhaps it is most appropriate for us to hear the story of the Samaritan woman at the well as the Gospel reading this Sunday (March 19). What lessons should we glean from this beloved story? She was a despised woman, both as a Samaritan, a race of people shunned by the Jews, and as someone whom even her own people considered an outcast. And yet, who talks to her and actually asks her for a drink of water? Jesus... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Wednesday, March 15, 2017 | 0 comments
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Purple Paraments

Walking our pilgrim of Lent this year, we have some new art to adorn our liturgy and worship spaces this year. This professionally handcrafted artwork is a completely new set of purple paraments for the chancel and for our clergy to wear. This beautiful purple set was commissioned by our parish and designed and crafted by Grace Vestments of Brooklyn, New York, which also designed and made our new Advent Sarum blue set. The complete set includes ... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Monday, March 6, 2017 | 0 comments
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Lenten avant-garde meets the traditional

Episcopalians are nothing if not traditional. Even when we deviate, we have the structure of our liturgy upon which to fall back. Indeed, our most innovative, experimental, trial liturgies throughout the years always include the basic elements. Within that framework, new, avant-garde music often meets the traditional as well. As this Sunday (March 5) is the First Sunday in Lent, we will observe a number of traditions for this parish: The Great Litany sung in procession, “all those... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Tuesday, February 28, 2017 | 0 comments
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Light from light

The story of the Transfiguration, which is always the Gospel reading for the Last Sunday after the Epiphany, is one of my all-time favorites. I often find myself gravitating to the biblical stories that are not immediately accessible or understood, as I always know that there is more to deduce, more to glean, more to the story itself. I think that frequently may be the point with God: We do not have to understand everything right now, nor do we need to take everything at face-value. Faith... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Thursday, February 23, 2017 | 0 comments
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The Holy Spirit is our reward

Christianity is sometimes accused of having too many rules. Churches are often accused of the same thing. And the Holy Bible is the depository and dispensary for all of those rules. A basic list of rules is found in the Old Testament, the Ten Commandments to be exact. These rules are self-explanatory and not radical. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. No one can argue with these. In his teaching, Jesus made great use of stories, examples, metaphors and analogies,... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Tuesday, February 7, 2017 | 0 comments
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Light and Salt?

Ye are the salt of the earth. Ye are the light of the world. When I learned these scripture verses as a child, probably in VBS (Vacation Bible School, remember that?), I remember understanding the part about being a light to the world: Being Jesus’ hands and feet in the world, spreading his light, giving light to all in the house - not hiding it beneath a bushel basket - letting our light shine to others so that all may see our good works and that we may glorify our Father in... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Wednesday, February 1, 2017 | 0 comments
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During Offertory on Sunday, listen to Christ's beatific words

The Beatitudes. What beautiful words for private, personal meditation. What beautiful words for any sermon. (Jesus’ blessings as stated in the Sermon on the Mount, the “original” sermon.) And what beautiful words for musical settings. As I have previously stated in this blog, I find myself on lifelong searches, “causes” if you will, for worthy musical settings of various scripture passages that reoccur in our lectionary. I have been on a perpetual... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Wednesday, January 25, 2017 | 0 comments
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"They cast their nets" penned by Delta luminary, William Alexander Percy

The richness of our three-year lectionary cycle of Scripture readings brings our faith and worship practices to life by helping us relive the events in the life of Jesus each year. Moreover, if we read the lessons for Daily Morning and Evening Prayer and attend Sunday Eucharist each week, over the three years, we will have read the entire Holy Bible. Personally, I have never attempted this feat, nor do I know many Episcopalians who have. However, the opportunity and challenge is there. ... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Wednesday, January 18, 2017 | 0 comments
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Treasured texts shine through all time for brevity, spot-on succinctness

Episcopalians are, if nothing, a people of words. Words matter. Texts are important, as we are reminded by one of favorite Collects of the Day (Proper 28) in the Book of Common Prayer: “Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life.” If The Hymnal 1982 is still “the new hymnal” to... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Tuesday, January 10, 2017 | 0 comments
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