The Loudmouth Protestant

March 30, 2010

Easter Vigils in New York City

Admittedly this Lenten season has not been one of my best. Actually, in writing that I feel kind of silly because I’m not sure that God is measuring our Lenten experiences on a scale of “Poor, Fair, Good, Better, Best”. Nevertheless, I feel the need to just finish strong and strengthen what remains in these last few days and I’m thankful that during Holy Week there is plenty of opportunity to do so. To that end, I’ve decided that I am going to attend an Easter Vigil service on Holy Saturday. I’ve always wanted to attend an Easter Vigil service, but I’ve always been late finding out about services in my area—when I say late, I find out about it at 7:00 and service is at 7:00. This year, I’m not leaving any stone unturned. I did my research early and now I just have to figure out which one I’m attending—because as you’ll see, there are plenty. I thought I’d share this list so that if anyone is in the New York area, they too can experience the beauty of the Easter Vigil service. If you have any additions to this list, please feel free to add to the comments.

Be Blessed!

Easter Vigils in New York City

St. Mary the Virgin in Times Square  at 7:00PM

145 WEST 46TH STREET, NEW YORK CITY

The Cathedral Church 0f St. John the Divine at 7:00

1047 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, New York 10025

The Church of the Ascension at General Theological Seminary at 8:00PM

Due to construction at GTS, enter the seminary close at 440 W. 21st Street, between Ninth and Tenth Avenues.

Riverside Church at 7:30

490 Riverside Drive New York, New York 10027

St. Ignatius of Loyola at 7:30 on the dot

980 Park Avenue at 84th Street, New York

The Church of the Epiphany at 7:30

1393 York Avenue, New York, NY 10021

The Church of the Holy Trinity at 7:00PM

316 E. 88th Street, New York, NY 10128

Church of Saint Francis Xavier at 8:00PM

46 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011

The Church of St. Luke’s in the Fields at 8:00PM

487 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014

PS: This is by no means a comprehensive list, you can find more simply by searching “Easter Vigils in New York City” or “Easter Vigils (Fill in the location blank)”.

Quick Easter Vigil primer: An Easter Vigil, in some Protestant traditions and the Catholic church, is considered the first official celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. At the Easter Vigil, a Paschal candle is lit to symbolize the resurrection of Christ and the light of salvation and hope that he brought into the world as a result of His resurrection–and no doubt, His life. Easter Vigil services usually begin after sunset on Holy Saturday but can start before sunrise on Easter Sunday–the sun rise replacing the lighting of the Paschal candle.

Want to know more? Check out Wikipedia’s Easter Vigil entry or The Voice’s Easter Season Primer

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September 28, 2009

Put a Praise On It!

Filed under: church,entertainment,friends,randomness — nickisym @ 5:02 pm

By now we shouldn’t be shocked by the proliferation of “Single Ladies” parodies that have popped up on YouTube. The most recent one to receive viral critical acclaim is the baby standing in front of the television with what looked like a diaper full of no good, bouncing up and down to Sasha Fierce’s hit song. It’s entitled “All the Single Babies.” If I see it again, I’m going to scream, both because it is terribly cute and because one year later I can’t believe people are still watching the video  making parodies.

In the midst of Sasha Fierce’s dead horse of a song being beaten a hundred times over, a little church church in Maryland by the name of Community of Hope AME has put their own spin on “(Put a Ring On It)”. Being that the church is located in Maryland of course they had to drop the Go-Go beat. But not only that, they changed around the words to appease the sensibilities of the Christian congregation–and maybe their unsaved friends who may recognize the chord they are singing in. So for all the Christian folks, Community of Hope AME wants to let you know, “If you love him, than you ought to put a praise on it.”

Watch the full clip below and if you must get into the groove, change into your Parasucos now.

September 4, 2009

You’re My Little Secret…in Church

Filed under: christians,church,love,relationships — nickisym @ 9:14 am
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Earlier this week I was having a discussion with my roommate about romantic relationships in the church. Specifically, people’s need to keep their relationships secret until they announce their engagement. Why is that necessary? I’m not knocking the process and truth be told, I may do the same thing. But I want to know why people find it necessary, almost like it’s a part of some unofficial protocol, to keep their relationships within the church a secret.

I have heard from some people that they keep it secret because they don’t want the haters intercepting their relationship, but really, if it’s a relationships that God ordained, no man can put it asunder. All this coming in separate cars, walking in at different times, sitting on opposite sides of the church, and the like seems tiring.

Some people stay undercover because they are still trying to figure out what they are. Ok, that’s fine, but in the midst of trying to find out what you are to each other, wouldn’t it be helpful to let some folks know so at the very least they can offer wise counsel and pray for you?

I think that people think that as soon as they get into a relationship in the church they automatically think people are going to be in their business. Not just people, an entire congregations worth. Maybe I am naive, but I just don’t believe that many people care. Yes, there will be naysayers and there will be people who will still try to try their luck with you, but I know we are all stronger than our adversaries. Who cares what other people think about your relationship? Outside of your pastor, your parents and your closest friends, everyone else’s opinion is inconsequential.

And maybe there is something I am missing, like a Bible verse that says when a man and woman meet and date in the sanctuary they should hide it from the world outside of them until that time when God has let them know that it shall be a union in marriage. I don’t know. It’s just one of those things that makes me go, “Hmmm…”

Plus, when men and women who are dating each other, don’t at least send a smoke signal that they are in a relationship–like the ones who are dating but have yet to change their Facebook status to “In a Relationship” they are deceiving us single folks that are still looking at them like there is some hope. So if not for the haters, let folks know you are dating–we don’t have to know who–but just let us know so we can keep it moving.

But really, can someone explain to me the romantic church relationships shrouded in secrecy?

June 4, 2009

Tearing Down the Wall of Distraction

I’ve been sporadically following the progress of the Courageous Church in Atlanta via the pastor, Shaun King’s blog. It’s a young church planted freshly in the soils of the city of Atlanta. Pastor King is quite progressive in his approach to reaching believers in Atlanta, which if you’ve ever been, it takes more than just traditional Sunday fare to get an ATLiens attention.

Nevertheless, I don’t want to spend a lot of time telling you what I think about this ministry, especially because I’ve not yet been–(I’m hoping to drop by this summer). I just wanted to share this incredible video with you. It’s entitled “Tearing Down the Wall of Distraction”:

The most powerful part of the video, for me, was not watching the miniature demolition of tangible and intangible concepts, but of the peoples confession to what is keeping them from a right relationship with God. It was only after they admitted there was a problem that they could tackle it head on and the light could break forth like the dawn…

What is on your wall of distraction and what will you do about it?

March 2, 2008

Pew Nazis: ‘No Seat for You!’

Filed under: christians,church,randomness,Uncategorized — nickisym @ 11:34 pm
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This morning I decided to attend the 8:30 service which is usually the most crowded of the three service. Since the service is fairly crowded it is sometimes a real struggle to get two things, a parking space and a pew space. Though you’d figure finding a space for your car would be much harder it turns out, in some churches, finding a space for yourself is more difficult.

For the past 3-4 years I have been sitting on the same side of the church in the same general section–4-6 rows from the pulpit. I don’t consider myself territorial about my seating and I don’t save seats but I am territorial about people that insist on claiming a pew is theirs. I encountered these people today.

I took a seat on the fourth row of pews as we were transitioning from the 6:30 to the 8:30 service. People’s coats were draped over the pew so I found a space less congested by coats and took a seat. As time ticked away before service the pew started to fill up. One woman came into the pew and began to complain about someone who moved her coat and she was thrashing about with her complaints. She was annoyed that someone was moving in on her spot. (Here’s the big secret, no one touched her coat because I was watching it the whole entire time.) She mumbled about this for a while with her friend a row in front of her until I looked up at both of them and smiled. They stopped. One by one “they” started to file in and I had women on both sides of me. One was a woman I had never seen before the other was part of the pew Nazi crew. The PNC woman always has a way of plopping herself down next to me and shifting her weight so that it is more in my space than her own. She is unapologetic about the way she flings her coat around and she usually doesn’t speak to me. The woman on the other side of me watched the PNC woman thrash around and leaned over and told me that they were going to squash me. It was then that I knew she was a part of the crew but most likely someone on the lower rung of the ladder because she was actually nice in saying this. In response to her telling me they were going to squash me, I spoke loudly and said “They will not squash me.” To which the squasher said “I will not squash you.” Eureka! She speaks! And just like that her countenance changed. It was as if she knew she was dealing with no spring chicken so she could shut her mouth right then and there.

You see, the pew Nazis say they have been in the church for years, they have sat in the same seat for years–sometimes they think a few months justifies their behavior–and therefore they have a right to be mean–and sometimes downright nasty–to those who are simply trying to get a closer seat at church. But what I am not sure if they realize is the fact that in being so disagreeable over a seat they could be chasing someone away from the church.

I know it is a trivial matter and the person that can be chased away by such silly people must not really want to be there but there is something to be said for reprimanding people like this.

People come into the church to seek refuge from the harsh world and people that act like they are in the world in church by being selfish and operating with an invalidated sense of self-importance need to be taken out. They need a good-old fashioned taste of their own medicine to see what it is like to come into a church and look for a seat amongst a bunch of seat-saving sickos. Better yet they need more brave souls that will tell them to put their furs on the floor, check their egos in at the door and remember that what they do to the least of these, they do to Christ.

October 31, 2007

Ahh First Fruits…

It’s that time of year again, the time of year when I enter into a church-wide consecration and I consider what I will give as my first fruit offering. Every year this season hits me in my gut because I have to consider whether I will give one week’s salary or not. Every year I am plagued with confusion and doubt that if I give one week’s salary I will be in the poor house. Every year I come up with excuses for why I am not going to do it. The excuses have ranged from “Where exactly is this money going?” to “I just can’t afford to give that much money.” Every year it’s the same thing, but somehow I know things have to be different this year. I used to consider it such a daunting time in my church life because I felt like I could never quite come to agreement with myself and with God about what to do with the money that he gave me in the first place. Most of the reason why this time was so daunting is because I decided that my self and my needs were much more important than God and his desires of me. It’s hard to admit, but in the grand scheme of things, that is what withholding money from God is all about, selfishness.

This year, as soon as I heard the announcement for the harvest fast and the first fruit offering, I knew that I had to change my thinking. Instead of releasing the heavy sigh, I quietly took it in and before I determined what my offering would be I said I would pray to God and let him tell me what he wants.

I took it to my prayer closet and asked God what he would have me give and I walked away with was this, “You must do something you’ve never done to get something you’ve never had.” And it clicked. Every year I have been playing it safe—or maybe it has actually been unsafe but God has protected me. But I get this feeling that God is up to something and he would that I would give up the “Benjamins” this year and let him show out. Off of that notion alone my mind is blown and the thought of actually following through with a first fruit offering is scaring me to death. But then God revealed to me again how it could work and how it really does make sense.

The weekly Bible Study that I attend is now based on the concept of the “Exchanged Life.” The Exchanged Life is the life that Jesus gave up for us on the cross in order that we might have life and life more abundantly. Last night we covered the many benefits of the “Exchanged Life” and this was one of them: “He exchanged his poverty so that we may be abundantly supplied.” I sat on that concept for a moment more and then something amazing happened. As the Bible Study came to a close and the teacher opened the floor up for discussion, a few people got up and gave their testimonies about how they came from very wealthy families and how the wealth is exponentially increasing throughout the generations but they aren’t very interested in it so they give it right back to God. In the midst of this conversation, one young man got up and spoke about coming from a long line of preachers. He said that he was invited to preach at a church and was offered a huge honorarium which he declined. But instead of honoring his request, the church gave him the honorarium and he defiantly gave it back to them in offering. He said that God dealt with him later on that evening for being so defiant and so having such poverty of spirit.

It was then that I was struck by the true meaning of “He exchanged his poverty so that we may have the abundant life.” It isn’t about monetary poverty, it is about the poverty of spirit that we all sometimes carry with us.  You see, during seasons like these when we are challenged to go above and beyond the call of duty, we hold back because we only have ourselves in mind. We have every earthly reason for why a first fruit offering doesn’t work for us without considering that if God is faithful enough to supply our needs when we are in plenty, he will supply it when we aren’t. (2 Corinthians 8:14 says “Right now you have plenty and you can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it.”)

The light bulb went off in my head that I have been suffering from a poverty of spirit by deciding that I couldn’t give God what he deserves—particularly for giving it to me in the first place! I’ve been selfish with the money that is rightfully God’s and I have been stupid to question where the provision would come from if I was to give a true first fruit offering. Well as soon as the young man sat down I decided to share my revelation, but before I could even part my lips God showed me where my first fruit offering was coming from–and he told me that it was coming back.

Here are some scriptures that are helping me:

II Corinthians 8 & 9, my boldface point for those two chapters is II Corinthians 8:11b-12

“Give in proportion to what you have. 12 Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have. “

And Malachi 3:8:

“You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. 9 You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me. 10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!

 

October 15, 2007

Funny Church Folks

Filed under: church — nickisym @ 9:43 pm
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A friend and I were discussing the idiosyncracies of church folks. We were talking about the kind of folks that automatically assume that you have fallen into temptation when you miss church service or Bible study one week. The ones that when they see you after your absence they are all “Are you okay? I haven’t seen you in so long.” These are the folks that go forward with thinking that you must be pregnant when you miss two weeks who then turn into the folks that tell the whole church you had an abortion when you miss four weeks in a row.

Sure this seems like an exaggeration, but unfortunately people like this exist in all churches. They like to focus on condemnation and speculation before they have an actual conversation with the person in question. They are the type that keep non-believers out of the church. I just consider them pure comedy and prayer-worthy–just am I am.

I mean nothing condemning in writing this, I just felt like pointing out the group and putting them on amber alert. We are hip to you…

October 13, 2007

The “Get a Life” Ministry

Filed under: christians,church,entertainment,life,ministry — nickisym @ 12:25 am
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A few weeks ago my young adult pastor told a crowd at Friday night Bible study to get a life. He didn’t mean in the, “go get lit and party your life away” kind of time that some people believe makes a life. He told us that we spend so much time in the church serving that we ignore our lives outside of it. It’s true and I have been guilty of it–until I realized that I was a top offender and I issued a cease and desist order on packing my schedule tightly with church commitments–any commitment for that matter.

But bigger than leaving the comforts of the church, I am just determined to enjoy life in this big city while I am here–in the midst of being involved in ministry. Considering that, I have instituted the “Get a Life” ministry. It’s a ministry I will sow into every so often that supports my dining at great restaurants, catching a Broadway–or off–play, dance performance or art exhibit, going to the movies, treating myself to something nice, etcetera, etcetera.

Do you want to know the most important rule of the “Get a Life” ministry? That you do it by any means necessary and that means that you might have to do it by yourself. I have lived in this city for five years and I realize I have missed out on some opportunities because I was waiting around for other people. Don’t get me wrong, I love the company of others and in some instances I prefer it. But I am also realizing the value of being able to go alone and have a good time. It turns out, dinner for one isn’t that daunting and catching a movie solo is easier when you are dealing with crowded theatres–there’s always room for one.

But beyond solo femininity–or masculinity–just learn how to grab life by the horns and enjoy it. Just go out and get a life.

August 20, 2007

Simple Worship

Filed under: church,To Worship You I Live,worship — nickisym @ 3:02 am

Today I took a departure from my normally-scheduled Sunday programming. I decided to step away from my church-home to visit another church that I had been hearing much about. I had many opinions floating around in my head prior to attending the church. People told me that it was far away–even though I live in Brooklyn and the church is in Brooklyn. People told me that the praise and worship was subpar. Others told me the church was entirely too huge. Some people refused to disclose their thoughts of the church because they wanted me to go before they laid the smackdown on me.

With all that in mind I headed to the church, but I was careful to not let any of the information taint my experience.

The commute to the church was amazingly easy. The directions I received from the church via Hopstop clocked the commute in at 55 minutes but I got on the first of two trains at 8:45 and got to the church by 9:25–this includes the commute on a Shuttle Bus that replaced a train that wasn’t running.

I entered the church, which is quite colossal in size, and I wasn’t overwhelmed like people said I would be. I actually felt calm. When praise and worship began, I felt an awesome peace. People told me the praise and worship was dry but I found it to be incredibly moist. It was the kind of worship that was so simple and organic. A few singers and one person leading but the real choir was the congregation.

I couldn’t recall the last time I heard myself sing. I couldn’t even recall when last I heard a congregation sing because I am so used to people being scared to sing when they don’t have the choir to buffer their off-key voices. But today, I heard myself sing and I heard my neighbors sing as well.

There was also such a hush in the worship. Though we were all singing “To Worship You I Live” the atmosphere was still. I was actually able to have an internal dialogue with myself to talk about whether I really was living to worship the Lord. I reflected on whether I honestly and truly loved God. I just had an awesome time searching my soul for the deep things of the Lord.

That brings me to worship. I asked my friend before service started what his opinion of praise and worship was at the church and he said that it was “okay.” But of course his “okay” preceded the fact that we go to a church where the worship is considered to be “off the chain”. We have a dynamic praise team, a huge choir, and some of the best musicians in the industry. But as I stood there in the midst of one of the better worship experiences of my life it dawned on me that it isn’t up to any individual or any thing to cajole us into worship.

It should take no prodding from man for us to worship God and we shouldn’t rely on that particular song, that specific singer or that bass drop. We need nothing but broken and contrite spirits to worship the Lord. We don’t need a choir, we don’t need outstanding musicians, we just need open hearts and God. And this is all considering the fact that once upon a time people worshiped with next to nothing. They didn’t have soundboards, samples, mics, drums, guitars, etc.

So it was in the simplicity of worship and even the simplicity of the sermon that I was able to experience a refreshing. And I think that a return to simplicity is what the church needs. We’ve become entirely too accustomed to our hulking edifices, monstrous music ministries and hyped up preachers that we forgot how to appreciate it when it isn’t all of that.

When is the last time you simple worshiped or experienced “simple worship?”

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