Holy Week and Easter 2021 

The Journey to Easter; Search Committee Update; Music; Virtual Worship Services; Garden and Grounds; Facilities Update; Grace's Table; More! 
The time of transition continues within the Grace Church community.  On February 14 of this year, our Rector, Rev. John Graham, retired.  The following day, February 15, our Interim Rector, Rev. Dr. Richard Miles, joined us.  We are enjoying "meeting" Fr. Rick, be it virtually or in-person, and we look forward to working with him.

The liturgical year is also progressing, and we are now preparing for the observances of Palm Sunday through Holy Week, followed by the joy of Easter Sunday.  While our worship services will be almost exclusively virtual, we look forward to sharing these services with our parish community..  

To all readers who have commented on this newsletter, either by e-mail or in person, thank you.  For questions or additional information about the newsletter, contact me (maruehling7@mac.com).  
Wishing you a contemplative Holy Week and the joy of the Easter season,

Mary Ann Ruehling
Your Editor

- The Rev. Dr. Richard Miles:  Easter Fun Facts
- Holy Week and Easter Worship Schedule
- Grace's Table
- Music of the Season
- Search Committee Update
- The Easter Triduum
- Pandemic Reading
- Pastoral Care
- Around the Parish; Other Helpful Information   


"Easter Fun Facts"
Dear Grace Church Family and Friends,
I was once told that "Easter is a time of solemn joy."  The idea, I think was that we are supposed to be joyful, while still keeping our composure...somehow. It may be my musician/stage play background at work in me, but I have a difficult time maintaining composure when it comes to joy.  I like to "enjoy the joy" when it happens in life.  And I can't imagine a more joyful reason for enjoying the joy than Easter.  So, to help us all with "enjoying the joy" this Easter, here are some of what I call Easter Fun Facts: answers to questions about Easter that you've probably asked yourself at some time or other. And, at least one that you've maybe never considered asking.
So, read on and enjoy!
Fr. Rick

1. Why does Easter Sunday move each year?
Answer: It's because the ancient church calendar, like the Jewish one, was based on the phases of the moon. The formula for finding Easter Sunday was finally settled as: The first Sunday, after the first full moon, after the Vernal Equinox.  Since the first full moon moves around, so does Easter Sunday.  Arriving at this formula was actually no small accomplishment.  For the first six hundred years or so, there was a roiling debate about whether Easter should be dated from the nearest full moon to the Equinox, (which could be just before the Equinox in some years,) or be always the first after the Equinox. Constantinople wanted the "nearest" formula, while Rome wanted the "first" formula. Curiously, our ancestors in Britain, the Celtic Church, also went by the "nearest" formula. When St. Augustan of Canterbury arrived and informed the Briton Church that it had to conform to Rome's view, there was a small rebellion.  The King of the Angles, however, went with Augustan, and, eventually, grudgingly, so did the Briton Church.  Soon after, all Anglo-Saxon Kings would bear the title of "Vicar of Christ in England" because of their loyalty to Rome.  Some historians have noted this, though, and suggested that this is where the seeds of the Anglican Church Reformation were first sown.  (Note that the decision of the Church was to follow the decision of the King, their "Vicar," more than it was to follow the directive of the Pope; A policy that would have great consequences in about 800 years when King Henry VIII would revive a version of that Papal title.)

2. Where does the word "Easter" come from?
Answer: Short answer, The Pagans!  Easter is a corruption of Oestra, an ancient Celtic goddess of sex and fertility.  (Those pesky Celtic ancestors of ours!)  Oestra was comparable to the Roman Venus, or Greek Aphrodite. Her festival was celebrated in the spring. Oestra stemmed from the Middle Eastern fertility goddess Ishtar or Ashtoreth.  As Judaism arose, it replaced this pagan spring festival of Ashtoreth with the celebration of the Passover.  When Christianity came to Britain, following the Jewish example, the Paschal feast replaced the worship of Oestra, but the name remained and eventually evolved into "Easter."

3. What do rabbits have to do with Easter?
Answer: Nothing!  Absolutely nothing!  The rabbit is an ancient symbol of Oestra, Ishtar, and Ashtoreth. Considering the rabbit's fertility, it is an appropriate emblem of these goddesses of fertility.  This pagan symbol seems to have hung on for all these centuries, even though the goddesses it represents are long forgotten. The "bunny" has become a deeply embedded symbol of secular Easter celebrations, but has yet to be "redeemed" as a Christian symbol.  Still, rabbits are cute, so maybe there is a place for them somewhere in the celebration.

4. So, what about all those eggs? Are they just pagan too?
Answer: Well, yes and no! Here is some good news.  The egg was an emblem of Oestra, but it also had distinctly Christian symbolism as well.  It is a very ancient pagan symbol of spring, representing the re-birth of the earth from a seemingly dead "stone." But, to Christians, the chick emerging from the egg has always been seen as symbolic of Christ emerging from the tomb.  Early Christians would often punch a hole into an egg and remove its contents, leaving the empty shell as a symbol of the empty tomb.  Since it was such a joyous symbol of Resurrection and life, people soon began decorating them with festive designs and colors. In the Middle Ages, Easter egg decoration rose to become a fine art form in many Mediterranean regions.  By the time FabergĂ© wrought his magnificent jeweled eggs, however, the religious significance of them had been all but forgotten (although, Tsar Nicholas gave a FabergĂ© egg to the Tsarina Alexandra every year at Easter).  One note: the idea of the "Easter Bunny" laying colored Easter eggs is pure American invention.  (Even though the Brits try to claim that the chocolate ones are really the work of the Cadbury Bunny.)

5. Here is one last, fun, question about Easter that you've probably never actually asked!  Question: What is the Sunday after Easter, known to us and our English cousins as "Low" Sunday, more widely known as?
Answer: The Sunday after Easter is more widely known as Quasimodo Sunday.  Yes, that Quasimodo! Are you KIDDING?? How have we not always known this?  We just figured that it was called Low Sunday because attendance in church was so low. Now that we know it's Quasimodo Sunday, just think how much more fun the whole service could be!

Here's how it got to be known for Quasimodo.  The first Sunday after Easter is traditionally known, primarily in France and other parts of Europe, as "Quasimodo Sunday" because of the beginning words of the Introit which come from 1 Peter 2:2,3:
Latin: Quasi modo geniti infantes, rationabile, sine dolo lac concupiscite ut in eo crescatis in salutem si gustastis quoniam dulcis Dominus.
English: As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be, ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
And of course, Victor Hugo's character was so named because he was found, as an infant, in the vestibule of Notre Dame on the morning of Quasimodo, 1467.

This Easter, rejoice! It is THE season for celebration and good cheer.  Death has been conquered by Life!  So, go ahead, and draw some joyful inspiration from these "Fun" questions, and let yourself laugh and have fun . And, praise our Lord for the greatest reason of all to rejoice:

Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!
Fr. Rick


Worship Schedule for Holy Week and Easter

Sunday, March 28th Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday
  • Young Minds at 9:15 a.m.
  • Holy Eucharist at 10:30 a.m.

Tuesday, March 30th Holy Tuesday
  • Centering Prayer at 12:15 p.m.

Wednesday, March 31st Holy Wednesday
  • Evening Prayer at 7:00 p.m.

Thursday, April 1st Maundy Thursday
  • Holy Eucharist and Stripping of the Altar at 7:00 p.m.

Friday, April 2nd Good Friday
  • Solemn Liturgy at 7:00 p.m.

Saturday, April 3rd Holy Saturday
  • The Great Vigil service at 8:00 p.m. at Christ Church, Georgetown - Our friends at Christ Church have invited Grace Church congregants to attend this limited, in-person worship service. You must register on their website to attend. Registration opens on Palm Sunday.

Sunday, April 4th Easter Day
  • Holy Eucharist at 10:30 a.m.

Sunday, April 25th
    • Young Minds at 9:15 a.m.
    • Prayers for the Fallen, the Nation, and the World at 10:15 a.m.


Altar of Grace Church--Easter Sunday 


The Interim Rector Has Arrived!

The Grace Church Vestry is pleased to announce that The Rev. Dr. Richard (Rick) Miles is now serving as our Interim Rector.  He and his wife, D'aun (pronounced Dee-AWN) joined us on February 15, 2021.  For 6 months Fr. Rick served as Interim Rector for St. Luke's Episcopal Church Alexandria, Virginia.  Previously, for 13 months, Fr. Rick was the Interim Rector for Christ Church on Capitol Hill.  Prior to that Rick served as Rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Reidsville, NC for 8 years.  Originally from California, he received his Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary and Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary.
Rev. Dr. Rick Miles

Grace's Table
by Beth Lee
Grace's Table is currently conducting its ministry through grab-and-go lunch distribution at the gates of Grace on Saturday mornings between 11:30 am and noon.   We are ordering individually wrapped fresh sandwiches from Subway and combining them with donated chips, packaged cookies or granola bars, bananas, and water.  Volunteers meet at 10:45 am to assemble the lunch bags and then assist with set up, distribution and clean up.  Total commitment is about 2 hours.   New volunteers are always welcome.   Many thanks to the following longstanding and newer volunteers:   David Bujard and family; Mike and Cathy Applin; James Hamilton; Charles McGarry; Father Rick; Billy Carter; and  Mary Daly, as well as our growing number of volunteers from the larger DC community.   Friends can also help by donating to the Grace Outreach Fund, which helps fund our weekly purchases.   For more information, contact Beth Lee at gracestable@gracedc.org.

From the Organist-Choirmaster   

Dear Grace Friends,

I hope you have all been able to take in some of our gorgeous spring weather recently. What a delight it has been for me!

I am so excited that even though we cannot all be together again soon at our sacred Grace physical space, we will be together more than we were for Holy Week and Easter in 2020. I heard from so many of you last Easter of how much you missed our glorious Easter hymns.  This Easter I will be able to play all those beautiful hymns on our magnificent A. David Moore organ for you again. 

I hope you will all be able to join us also on Good Friday evening, April 2 at 7 pm for our Good Friday service on either the Grace Church YouTube channel (Grace Episcopal Church, Washington, DC) or Zoom via the link provided by email.. (If an email link is needed, please contact the church office.)  The music for that service will be very prayerful, meaningful, and contemplative.  

My very best wishes to you all for a blessed Holy Week, and a most beautiful Easter and Easter season.

(Francine L. Mate', DMA)

 Salve Festa Dies (Hail Thee, Festival Day), Gregorian Chant 

The Easter Triduum:  Reflections

The Paschal Triduum (Latin: Triduum Paschale), Holy Triduum (Latin: Triduum Sacrum), or Easter Triduum, is the period of three days that begins with the liturgy on the evening of Maundy Thursday, reaches its high point in the Great Vigil of Easter, and closes with evening prayer on Easter Sunday. It recalls the passion, crucifixion, deathburial, and resurrection of Jesus, as portrayed in the canonical Gospels.

Maundy Thursday 

"The Last Supper," Leonardo da Vinci, ca. 1490, Milan:  Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie


Good Friday

The Coming

And God held in his hand
A small globe. Look he said.
The son looked. Far off,
As through water, he saw
A scorched land of fierce
Colour. The light burned
There; crusted buildings
Cast their shadows: a bright
Serpent, a river
Uncoiled itself, radiant
With slime.
                        On a bare
Hill a bare tree saddened
The sky. Many People
Held out their thin arms
To it, as though waiting
For a vanished April
To return to its crossed
Boughs. The son watched
Them. Let me go there, he said. 
(From R.S. Thomas, Collected Poems: 1945-1990, 1978, p. 234)
(Write something here.) 

The Anglican priest and Welsh poet Ronald Stuart Thomas (1913-2000), who published as R.S. Thomas, is characterized by his lucid, austere verse which expresses an undeviating affirmation of the values of the common man.  


Holy Saturday

"The Entombment of Christ," from an Armenian Gospel-book, 1437. MS Or. 2668, fol. 5v, British Library, London.


Easter Sunday

The Easter Flower

Far from this foreign Easter damp and chilly
My soul steals to a pear-shaped plot of ground,
Where gleamed the lilac-tinted Easter lily
Soft-scented in the air for yards around;

Alone, without a hint of guardian leaf!
Just like a fragile bell of silver rime,
It burst the tomb for freedom sweet and brief
In the young pregnant year at Eastertime;

And many thought it was a sacred sign,
And some called it the resurrection flower;
And I, a pagan, worshiped at its shrine,
Yielding my heart unto its perfumed power.

Festus Claudius McKay (1889-1948), better known as Claude McKay, was a Jamaican-American writer and an important poet in the Harlem Renaissance which also included Langston Hughes.  McKay was an atheist ('a pagan', as he himself puts it), but one who could enjoy the scent of the Easter lily though he cannot believe in the Easter story.  It is interesting to note that he perceives the scent of the flower more than its visual appearance.  Is it possible that he will in time follow the scent of the "Easter Flower" to see if there is perhaps more to its story? 


Junior Warden Buildings & Grounds News
by Will Ollison
The most recent status of Buildings & Grounds issues:

1.  Fortnightly March 2021 rat inspections indicated baits replenished in 4/9 and 0/9 traps with no evidence of rat burrows detected.  Rat activity continues to decline.

2.  In response to security concerns with continued Sexton use of Georgetown Ministry Center laundering facilities, a stacked washer/dryer has been installed in the Sexton's apartment.  

3.  Installation of a rectory rear door rekeying and thumb lock escape mechanism to the newly-fenced storage area behind the rectory, providing easier access to such spaces by contractors and vestry members, has been completed.

4.  The 6- to 12 -month monitoring project of the South Street retaining wall, to determine the extent and speed of its outward movement, has begun.  If monitoring shows that movement is minimal, repair would require only re-patching of cracks mentioned in the earlier Junior Warden report.  If not, then repair would require a substantially more expensive re-stabilization remedy.

5.  Negotiations have begun with our Guggenheim neighbor to solve mutual concerns concerning storm water drainage issues and cost sharing of various solutions.


Search Committee
by Stacy A; Carter
The Search Committee would like to thank all who have completed the parish survey and participated in a focus group.  Input from all is very important as we continue the process of searching and ultimately selecting a new rector. Again, thank you.  We are currently outlining and adding text to the Parish Profile which will give prospective applicants a thorough picture of Grace.  We will update you on the process as we move through it.  Please reach out to Rick Elgendy or Stacy Carter should you have questions.

Ordination of Grace Church Seminarian
by Melissa Woolverton
On Palm Sunday, we celebrated the ordination of our Seminarian Assistant, Ryan Wiksell, to the Sacred Order of Deacons.  The service of ordination took place on Friday, March 26 here at Grace Church with the limited number of friends, family, (and Bishops!) allowed by Covid-19 restrictions.  Ryan's official title now appears in our bulletin as Deacon: The Rev. Ryan Wiksell.  More details will soon follow regarding his future plans, and a gift from Grace Church to him in congratulations.  In the meantime, please let him know how thankful we are for his service here, and our best wishes for his future ministry. Email: rwiksell@vts.edu

Ryan Wiksell Delivers the Sermon on March 21, 2021 at Grace Church

Retirement of the Rev. John M. Graham
February 14, 2021

The retirement service for the Reverend John M. Graham was held on Sunday, February 14, 2021.  The service featured music by longtime Grace Church friends Herman Burney and Marshall Keys, and by Grace Church musicians.  Friends and colleagues from various times and places were present, either in person or virtually, to read the lessons and prayers.  While the Grace Church community will miss John and Sakena greatly, we wish them much happiness and success in the next chapter of their life together.   
(Photos below courtesy of Herman Burney)

Rev. John Graham Retirement Service
(From the Grace Church YouTube Channel)

Before the Service

Altar Flowers

At the Eucharist


Calling All Gardeners!
by Vicki Carlson

The church yard is showing signs of spring!  So far Lenten Roses, daffodils, Siberian squill, crocuses, and forsythia are bursting into bloom.  It's so good to see the growth after such a long pandemic winter!
Traditionally, Grace gardeners have met once a month to tend to sections of the garden.  It can either be done monthly as a group or individually when one has time.  If you're interested in joining our group of intrepid gardeners or want to sign up for a section of the garden, please contact me at vicki.j.carlson@gmail.comor 703-527-8461 (landline) or 703-517-7817 (cell).
Look forward to seeing some of you in the garden!

Daffodils in the Grace Church Garden

 Pandemic Reading
by Mary Ann Ruehling

In recent months members of the Grace Church community have been sharing ideas of books suitable for reading during the pandemic when many people are spending more time at home than in the past.  Several of these books are mentioned below.  If you have a book or books you would like to recommend, please contact me at the email shown in this newsletter.

From Fr. Rick:  I have always been a huge fan of J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973).  I've read the Trilogy 6 times over the span of nearly 60 years.  The book I recommend at the moment is a good read about the Christian theology at the back of "The Hobbit."  Its title is "The Christian World of The Hobbit," by Devin Brown (2012).

Several books by C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), a contemporary of Tolkien, have been mentioned recently during the Sunday morning Adult Forum.  The Great Divorce (1945) describes a journey from Hell (or Purgatory, depending on whether one stays) to Heaven)  depicted as a bus ride.  The bus in question is driven by Jesus Christ.  The title refers to a  poem by William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

Another work by Lewis, Surprised by Joy:  The Shape of My Early Life (1955) outlines Lewis's early life up to the point of his conversion to Christianity in 1931.  He describes his conversion as taking place on a bus ride in Oxford, even as he described the bus ride from Hell to Heaven in The Great Divorce.  The bus apparently played a significant role in Lewis's religious life.    

The Chronicles of Narnia is a series of seven fantasy novels by Lewis, the first of which, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, is widely known.   The books were published in London between 1950 and 1956. 
The series is set in the fictional realm of Narnia, a fantasy world of magic, mythical beasts, and talking animals.  It narrates the adventures of various children who play central roles in the unfolding history of the Narnian world.  Except in The Horse and His Boy, the protagonists are all children from the real world who are magically transported to Narnia, where they are sometimes called upon by the lion Aslan to protect Narnia from evil.  The books span the entire history of Narnia, from its creation in The Magician's Nephew to its eventual destruction in The Last Battle.  The story of Narnia and of Aslan the lion is considered by many to be a Christian allegory, in which Aslan represents the Christ figure.  (Interestingly, "Aslan" is the Turkish word for "Lion.")  The Chronicles of Narnia is considered a classic of children's literature and is Lewis's best-selling work, having sold over 100 million copies in 47 languages.  

For those who value intellectual stimulation, Gottfried Ephraim Lessing's drama
Nathan the Wise may offer some hours of contemplation.  Lessing (1729-1781) was the son of a Lutheran pastor.  He, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and Friedrich Schiller are considered three prominent members of the traditional German literary canon .  Nathan the Wise, originally published in German as Nathan der Weise, is a story built around the three religious traditions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, set in Jerusalem during the Third Crusade (1189-1192).
If you have read (or listened to) a book which you think might be of interest to others in the community, please feel free to email me at the address in the introduction to this newsletter.  The current situation will probably continue to provide ample time for reading.



Garden and Grounds
by Vicki Carlson

A young guy contemplates a cicada in 2004. 

2004 was a busy year for me.  I moved back to the DC area from Germany, purchased my condo, discovered Grace Episcopal Church in Georgetown, and witnessed the emergence of the 17-year brood of cicadas.  The latter was a sight to behold: a cacophony of sound and movement.  And they're predicted to re-emerge en masse this spring!

 As a nurse anesthetist, my workday begins by changing into surgical scrubs in the women's locker room.  Part of the job's charm is meeting coworkers' families via the pictures they display on their lockers.  Through the years, I've watched the little guy in the above photo grow and mature into a fine young man.  His mother's photos have tracked his development from examining cicadas as an infant in 2004 to picking his major as a college freshman in 2021...


Parish Birthdays
Francine Mate'Vicki Carlson
Will OllisonWhitney Redding
John SeferianAlecia Torres de Valdez
Elizabeth Tyner
Sofie Pham


Pastoral Care Committee

During these complicated times the Pastoral Care Committee continues to assist those with pastoral care needs.  If help is needed, please contact either the Parish Administrator, or Lenore Reid, Chair of the Pastoral Care Committee.  All of these can be reached through the Church Office,  Click here to email the Grace Church Office.

Easter Flowers and On Through the Spring  
by Helen Buhr  

There have been no flowers in the church during Lent, but on Easter Sunday there will be flowers and potted plants to celebrate the day.  If you would like to contribute please send a check to the church marked flowers or go to our website and make a donation there. 

After Easter we  would be pleased to see flowers in the church every Sunday.  If you would like to celebrate or remember someone or an event please contact Helen Buhr at helen.j.buhr@gmail.com.  We can order flowers for you or you can bring them to the church yourself. We'll  place an Announcement in the Sunday bulletin with your remembrance or thanksgiving..




Morning Prayer with homily at 10:30 a.m.

Look for links to Zoom for each of these offerings,  
and to discussion guides and Order of Service,  
in Saturday and Sunday morning messages. 
Centering Prayer at 12:15 p.m.; Links to Zoom, and to the order of service, appear in Tuesday morning messages.
WORSHIP SCHEDULE (September through May)  (Note:  We look forward to resuming this worship schedule at some unspecified future date.  At this time we are following the schedule of Zoom gatherings shown above.)

8:30 am - Holy Eucharist
9:35 am - Adult Forum
10:15 am -(last Sunday of the month)- Prayers for the Nation and the World, with Remembrance of the Fallen
10:30 am - Holy Eucharist, with music*; Sunday School
 5:00 pm - Sunday Evening Eucharist
*Child care available

Save the Dates!  Upcoming Events    

Sunday, March 28
Palm Sunday
Young Minds, 9:15 am
Holy Eucharist, 10:30 am

Thursday, April 1
Maundy Thursday
Holy Eucharist and Stripping of the Altar, 7:00 pm

Friday, April 2
Good Friday
Solemn Liturgy, 7:00 pm

Saturday, April 3
Holy Saturday
The Great Vigil of Easter at Christ Church, Georgetown, 8:00 pm
(See details above concerning attendance.)

Sunday, April 4
Easter Sunday
Holy Eucharist, 10:30 am
Helpful Information 

Grace Episcopal Church
1041 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington DC 20007
(202) 333-7100

A big-hearted Episcopal parish in lower Georgetown!

Join Us This Sunday!