In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshiped the beloved with a kiss.

Christina Rosetti ,
In the Bleak Midwinter, 1872


Spokane, Washington
                                                 December 11, 
Notes from the Interim Vicar


I've always found it interesting that many still refer to the 1979 Book of Common Prayer as the "new prayer book." I guess it is the newest version that the American church uses on a regular basis, but it is anything but new.
     Back in 1977 when I was ordained to the diaconate we used the 1979 book, but St. Paul's, Kennewick hadn't received its books yet. St. Paul's, Walla Walla, was kind enough to loan theirs to us for that evening.
     Of course for years our churches had been part of the process that led to the development of the 1979 book. Many still remember the "Green Book" (Or Services for Trial Use) that gave us a first glimpse of what the 1979 prayer book would be like. Then came the "Zebra Book," a revised version of its pea-green predecessor with blue and tan stripes on the cover. Finally we got the "Blue Book," a teal-covered volume that was almost the final version.
     Over the nearly 40 years the 1979 version has become a trusted companion in worship, but it is not the end of the line. Work is going on currently to see what the next prayer book revision might entail and whether it is even practical to get everything into one book.
     In the meantime, though, other liturgical material has been developed, authorized by the General Convention and put to use in congregations across the country, including this Cathedral. Enriching Our Worship I, authorized in 1997, contains newer forms for Morning and Evening prayer, the Great Litany, some new canticles and three new Eucharistic prayers. Other volumes have additional material for burial services and other liturgical rites.
     In the 1990s St. John's Cathedral was chosen to be one of the churches that used the Eucharistic prayers in Enriching our Worship I as they were being developed and evaluated. Since then those prayers have been used here from time to time. They are created in often poetic ways that expand the language and metaphors we use to speak of God.
     All of this history leads me to say that we will be using some of the Enriching Our Worship Eucharistic Prayers during the Christmas, Epiphany and Lenten seasons at our liturgies where we use Rite II. The words of the prayers will be published in our leaflet so you can follow along if you wish. The 8am Sunday liturgy will continue to use Rite I.
     My hope is that we will find the words of these prayers inviting us into deeper worship and that we will also embrace these newer prayers for what they are: the prayer of the community-- shared prayer that draws us together and to God.



Friday, December 15, 7:00pm

Join us for an evening of quiet reflection at our annual Advent Lessons and Carols Service. The Cathedral Choir, Junior Choir, and Chancel Ringers present an array of anthems and carols with the lovely sounds of cello, flute, and oboe.  Alternating music with scripture, moving through the familiar sequence of stories from the Garden of Eden to the Angel Gabriel's announcement to Mary, we have the opportunity to appreciate a rare mantle of calm.  Music includes Scottish composer James MacMillan's stunning "O Radiant Dawn," Vaughan Williams's "The Truth from Above," and John Gardner's ecstatic and ambiguous "Tomorrow Shall be My Dancing Day."
     Lessons & Carols is also an occasion to invite friends from our larger community to join this thoughtful celebration of the core of our faith.

Thoughts from the Curate


Starting with the January edition of the News from St John's, there will be some radical changes to this publication. After a number of years compiling, editing, and managing this online publication we call eNews, we thank Judith Shadford as she retires from running eNews. 
     When Judith announced to the Communications Committee that she would be retiring, we took it as an opportunity to ask some questions about this publication. Is it useful? What do people need to know? How can we keep doing the good stuff and introduce new things as well?
     We know that this publication reaches a lot of people connected to St. John's Cathedral, so our hope is to continue those connections and create a new experience that highlights current events and also enables us to share about our community in ways that we have not been able to do before
     You will no longer be receiving a number of columns each month from the same people.  The Dean/Interim Vicar and Priest Associate/Curate columns will continue in the monthly Chimes.  Instead you will be hearing (and perhaps seeing!) fresh voices throughout our community. This will be an opportunity for us to get to know each other more deeply: to share our experiences and reflections of the holy with one another; to encourage and generate interest for mission and outreach initiatives, formation programming, and more.
      Part of this new model will, by necessity, require your input. So, if you have an idea of something (a program, a ministry, a theological reflection) you think should be shared with the St. John's community, let me know!  If there are things that happen here at St. John's that you want to know more about, let me know! My goal is for the eNews (new name to be revealed next month with the relaunch) to become a source of information and inspiration for all of the St. John's community, and I can only accomplish that if I have your input to make it happen!
     So, keep your eyes peeled in January as we relaunch this branch of our communication at St. John's and let us know what you think!

Fr Nic
Notes from the Deacon's Desk

All things come of thee, O Lord, and of thine own have we given thee. (1 Chronicles 29:14)


When I'm at my best, this excerpt from King David's prayer given in thanksgiving to God for both his own ability and heart to give, along with the people of Israel to respond in kind, hangs loosely over my checkbook.  Although I wish it weren't so, that checkbook pretty much dictates my willingness to take that extra step in service to another. 
     When I'm at my worst, my sense of generosity is overcome by anxiety, scarcity and judgment.  Fortunately I'm rarely at my worst and I try really hard to be at my best. I am truly thankful that my wife and I are in a position to give, though I find that my heart still needs ongoing prodding to be willing to do so.
     I thoroughly enjoy giving, in part because Julie and I, generally speaking, have enough. I love picking 3 or 4 tags from the Tree of Sharing, knowing that I am both able to do so and genuinely want to offer a degree of joy to those who receive the gifts.   I remember Pageant Sunday one year when the White Gifts overflowed the steps leading to the High Altar. I was astounded by the sheer generosity of everyone who gave.   I have been pleased to add my contribution of socks to one of the baskets in the Cathedral even though it was nearly filled to the brim. The Cathedral's hosting of the Empty Bowls fundraiser, which benefits the West Central Episcopal Mission, as well as our annual Christmas Bazaar are other occasions where folks give, not only their money, but their time and talent. The fruits of all these occasions supports not just handing over a check, but hands-on ministry. We are a generous community.
     Every once in a while I catch myself in a moment of honest clarity. I find that while I'm generally willing to give, I too often put conditions on either the amount or to whom the gift is given. That's when that prayer of King David comes to mind: what I'm giving is not really mine.
     Anything I can give has come from God. It's my responsibility to thankfully return a portion to God as a way of growing the Kingdom.  I've wondered how our lives would be enriched by responding sacrificially, not simply because Julie and I "have enough."  I do wonder how much deeper my faith would become if I lived into a reality that recognizes that what I consider to be mine is really on loan, that I literally am to serve as a steward for what I've been gifted.
     As we reach the midpoint of our journey through Advent, we can all join in taking stock of our collective blessings. May this be the year we begin the practice of joyously and generously sharing that which has been given--entrusted--to us with both abandon and confidence as did David and the people of Israel. Let us be mindful during the remaining season of Advent, through Christmas and into Epiphany how we respond to the needs of others, not just out of our surplus or because it makes us feel good, but out of love in response to the God who loves and gives more than we can ask or imagine.
     Let us pay it forward these coming weeks, letting our generosity so infuse our spirits that our checkbooks and our calendars may become tools for ministry and mission that can change us from the inside out.

Merry Christmas!

Family Christmas Eucharist, 4:00pm
Festival Choral Eucharist, 10:30pm
Our Christmas Eve services captures both the joy and peace of the season. We welcome back our guest carillonneur, Jonathan Lehrer, from Vancouver, Canada, for preludes and postludes on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The Junior Choir will lead music at the family centered 4:00pm service, joined by Spokane Symphony flautist, Jennifer Slaughter.
     For a splendid introduction to our Festival Service, we offer an extended prelude of Part One of Handel's  Messiah , sung by candlelight beginning at 9:40pm. The full Cathedral Choir and Collegium Orchestra of strings, trumpets, and oboe open the 10:30pm service. The Chancel Ringers will offer two inspirational carol settings. Choral anthems include Percy Grainger's "The Sussex Mummers Christmas Carol," Morten Lauridsen's "O Magnum Mysterium," and John Rutter's "What Sweeter Music."
     As midnight approaches, we conclude with the tradition of singing a warm string setting of "Silent Night" and finally, the triumphant Christmas announcement, "Hark the Herald Angels Sing."
     Music starts at 9:15, an arrival time we recommend for good seats, especially for the Christmas section of Handel's  Messiah .  Barring a winter storm, the Cathedral will be full well before the start of the 10:30 Festival.
     There is free parking in the lots behind Lindaman's Restaurant, 13th and Grand Blvd. as well as the two parking lots on either side of Crowley Street, off 13th.


It's not easy, this whole Dean's Call business. When an executive search is carried out by a corporation, or even a faith-based organization, the Chairman of the Board starts with HR and says, "It's time to advertise for a new CEO. Here's the job description." So the favorite headhunter is notified, the ad is placed, and applications are received. Nothing new is invented.
Our situation is different. No HR, no management procedure. In a sense, we are inventing our procedure from scratch. We meet the requirements of the Episcopal Church, the Diocese and Chapter, and then we take a deep breath.
However, we have you: your quiet concerns, plus the results of the CAT survey and the results of our Symposium last summer. We know what St John's wants--what you want--in our new Dean:
  • Excellence in the pulpit
  • Support for our brilliant music program
  • Attracting new, young families
  • Consolidating a youth program that will teach and provide safety and fun
  • Helping us make a difference in the city of Spokane
So the committee talks about what kinds of questions will evoke good answers and the right choice, because we do know that you can only achieve the best answers when you ask the right questions.
How do we identify those qualities that will meet our requirements? What are the applicants' experiences that will best fit with our congregation? What are the questions we haven't thought about that might be critical to the choice of a new dean? How do we make sure that the questions relevant to one candidate will be asked of all candidates so that we may judge them equally?
Further, there are 11 of us, each with different backgrounds, different understandings of the same vocabulary, all trying to bring our differences into a common focus that will--with God's help--reveal the next dean.
So when we say, pray for us, we're not just using church language. If we're left to our own won't end well. But we all deeply desire that St John's Cathedral enter into the next phase of our growth--physically and spiritually--with joy and anticipation and with hearts that are open to learning much that will be new, and a great deal that is familiar. Pray for us.

  • December 15     Lessons & Carols   7:00pm.
  • December 17     Christmas Pageant  and White Gifts.  10:30am.
  • December 24     Family Christmas Eve Service. 4:00pm.
  •                            Part I of Handel's Messiah.  9:40pm.
  •                            Festival Choral Eucharist.  10:30pm.
  • December 25     Christmas Day Eucharist.  10:00am.
  • December 31     New Year's Eve Eucharist.  10:30pm.