Saint Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church

1 St. Francis Drive - Gulf Breeze, Florida 32561
From The Rector

The Rev.
Tim Backus

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 

Variation of Worship during the Season of Advent as we enter the church Sunday morning. 

During this season of Advent, beginning Dec 2nd and ending Dec 23rd (Advent I – IV), as we enter into worship on Sunday mornings we will experience a variation in how we prepare our hearts and our minds for worship and the coming of the Prince of Peace. 

Finding a balance within the differences each of us have as we enter into worship can sometimes be quite difficult. For several of us, entering into the church, particularly the atrium, greeting our friends and visitors is of utmost importance prior to our worship experience. This is often a joyous occasion filled with conversation and laughter as we greet one another in love. At the same time, many parishioners often enter into the house of worship with the desire to pray quietly within the silence; preparing their hearts and their minds for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, the liturgy, and the Word of the Lord. All of us prepare in different ways, and at times they balance one another well. At other times, one may become a distraction to the other. 

I write this in advance so that we, as a congregation, will know what to expect as we enter into the worship services during the season of Advent this year. I encourage you to enter into the church at least five minutes before the service begins at 10:00am if possible. While this variation may not be something you enjoy, I encourage you to give it a chance. At the least, please be mindful of others around you knowing that this variation is only during Advent. 

There is a hymn we have used multiple times at St. Francis entitled, “Peace Before Us…” This hymn, written by David Haas, seems to have become a favorite among parishioners to the point where we used this hymn as requested on a weekly basis for months during the 2017 year. This hymn is also used during the Taizé services in Lent. At a parish I used to attend, the congregation entered into worship singing this song prior to the beginning of every Sunday service. This was one of the most powerful variations I have ever experienced as an entire congregation prepared for worship. The details are below: 

    - Please enter the church in silence. While in the atrium, though I am not requesting silence, 
    please be mindful that others are already in the church focused on silent prayer.

    - A few minutes before 10:00am, the choir will lead the congregation in singing, “Peace Before Us.”                Remaining seated, I encourage you to join as desired. 

   - At 10:00am, the service will continue as normal with an opening Processional Hymn. 

May the lyrics and melody of this hymn become written on our hearts during this season of Advent…
”Peace before us, Peace behind us, Peace under our feet…Peace within us, Peace over us, let all around us be peace…” 

With the love of Christ,