A 57 year old parish worshiping in a 106 year old building would be expected to be steeped in tradition, and The Church of the Holy Cross is! Some of our traditions are old, some new, and they all grow from our ministry, our fellowship and our observance of the Church Calendar.
Soup Days and the Fall Festival
Women have from the beginning been active caring for the church and the community. Perhaps our oldest traditions at Holy Cross are those of the Episcopal Church Women. Soup Days and the Fall Festival provide funds for the ministries our women support in the communities of Bossier City and Shreveport. People from all around look forward to Soup Days on the Wednesdays of Advent and Lent, and the warm fellowship in our Undercroft has become the venue for reunions between those who come for lunch and the people of Holy Cross who welcome them. Homemade beef vegetable soup, crackers, homemade dessert and coffee — what can be better on a cold day in December or February or March?
The ECW’s Fall Festival in November has grown out of the women’s original fund raiser, the church bazaar. The Undercroft is turned into a shop for nice gifts and, again, a place for a hot bowl of soup, a good dessert and some conversation. Funds from the Festival and Soup Days make possible the ECW’s support of ministries in our community, as well as replacing old furnishings in the church when needed.
First Sunday: The Continuing Feast
No one remembers when the Continuing Feast began. Once each month, on the first Sunday, we enjoy a pot luck lunch after the 11:00 service. Of course, everyone knows that the dishes that appear for pot luck are the very best from each kitchen. The table fellowship is as important as the meal. It’s a time for the people of Holy Cross to come together and welcome visitors, visit, find out what’s going on in each home and life, and care for one another. Most months, we are joined also by some of our homeless neighbors, and we take this chance to get to know them better.
The Greening of the Church
Decorating the Church for Christmas is another old tradition here. On the Fourth Sunday of Advent each year, we stay after the 11:00 service to hang Christmas greens in the Church, Chapel and Narthex, and lay magnolia leaves, fir and red berries on the Altar. The finishing touches are the red altar flowers and arrangements in the Crossing, which arrive just before Christmas. And of course, the centerpieces are the High Altar and the Nativity Scene, placed just in front of the Chancel. The Greening of the Church is a time for fellowship as well as enhancing the beauty of our church for Christmas celebrations.
Epiphany Evening Prayer and Dinner
Even though the Three Wise Men are usually placed beside the shepherds at the manger, the story of their visit stands alone in importance for us. These Gentile kings or sages or wise men journeyed from the East to find a baby born to be a king. They symbolize God’s gift of God’s Son to the whole world as well as to Israel. Our wise men wait at the front of the church, beside the baptismal font, for the evening of January 6th. This is the Feast of the Epiphany, the age old observance of the coming of the wise men to bring gifts to Jesus. The children of Holy Cross process, bringing the wise men and their gifts to the manger. We pray and sing together a service of Evening Prayer, and the children listen to the story of Epiphany — and enjoy a visit from King Herod and the angel who came to the wise men in their dreams. Afterwards, we share an Epiphany meal together with candle light and stars in the Undercroft.
…the eve of the Season of Lent, marks the end of Epiphany. Traditionally, this is a night of celebration before the season of fasting: Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras in Louisiana and other parts of the world. The people of Holy Cross have for decades gathered for a meal together. We come to the Undercroft for gumbo or red beans and rice or other fare traditional not necessarily to Shrove Tuesday but to Louisiana. Well known local musicians and parishioners of Holy Cross, provide the music, and we all join in, dancing and playing instruments. We are then well feasted for Lent’s fasting.
The Easter Egg Hunt
We all look forward to the children’s (?) egg hunt on Easter Morning! Older children hide the eggs and then help the little ones learn the skill of hunting them. And the rest of us? Well, we just sit around and enjoy the fun — which includes seeing the pretty clothes and Easter baskets the children arrive with!
The Pentecost Picnic
The Feast of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit to the Church, marks for us the end of the Easter Season and the beginning of summer. The weather is not too hot yet, so we picnic outside on the Holy Cross grounds after the 11:00 service. Our Holy Cross Grillers turn out bratwurst and accompaniments. We “wear red”, and the tables are covered in red. It’s a great time of fellowship as we begin the summer of vacations and traveling.
Good bye to Summer and Oktoberfest
Around Labor Day, when we are all together again and beginning fall activities, we gather for Good bye to Summer, another meal after church. When the weather cools we gather again for Oktoberfest. The Holy Cross Grillers spring into action for both these events with bratwurst and hot dogs. A wonderful time is had by all!
Blessing of the Animals
St. Francis is the saint remembered for his love for all Creation and especially for God’s creatures. On a Sunday afternoon in October, near the Feast Day of St. Francis, October 4, we bring our pets and creatures of every kind to the Rose Garden for a blessing. This tradition is shared with churches around the world.
It may look like we eat a meal just about every Sunday after church, but most Sundays there is no eating, just coffee and fellowship in the Undercroft. This is also a time of ministry to our neighbors at Hope House. Through the gift of one of our parishioners, we always have a supply of bread in the freezer. Donations of peanut butter and jelly are given by parishioners. After the 11:00 service on Sunday we make dozens of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which are taken for snacks to the people who come to Hope House. You can’t beat comfort food!