Grace Episcopal Church
16 March 2017
In Lent we remind ourselves of the ways in which we fall short of who and what God calls and equips us to be. We remind ourselves that God will transform us when we turn to Him. This process of transformation can appear to be quite “passive”, particularly from the perspective of the broader culture, a culture which counsels that we are to make of ourselves whatever it is we will become.
What is our answer to the criticism that relying on God is passive? What do we say to those who think we are just throwing our hands up, and that we need to better “self-actualize”?
For purposes of brevity, I’ll characterize the position from which transformation in Christ is questioned as “Secular Humanism”. This isn’t entirely fair, but let’s just use it to keep the argument focused. It is the weakness of Secular Humanism to fall short in the imagination of ecstasy, of new life, or union with the divine. At its best Humanism is noble. It is reasonable, but also cold. However optimistic a Humanistic perspective may be about balanced happiness in this world, it is pessimistic about or dismissive of a rapturous eternity. A confirmed Humanist may be wistfully aware that others claim the experience of positive bliss, but the Humanist can neither accept this supernatural reality by faith, embrace it by hope, nor abandon himself or herself to it is charity. How to live remains a calculation about how I can make myself better, and help to make the world around me better.
There’s certainly nothing wrong in my seeking to be a better person, and seeking to make the world a better place. The problem is that when I limit this “project” to human imagination the scope is too limited. I cannot, on a purely rational basis, bring myself to the level of altruism which begins to look like real love. More dangerously, when I begin to explore how to really make the world around me “better”, I find that this must involve the imposition of my will (or the will of some collective group), and even as a purely rational soul I’ll at some point admit that any imposition of will shall not remain disinterested and altruistic. Some of the greatest tyrannies of the past century arose from the rational desire to make society “better”, a desire which was corrupted into practices in which society was “improved” by the elimination of “problems” (e.g., “undesirable” or “counterrevolutionary” people).
Love doesn’t make sense. “Sense” involves some level of self-interest. But love transforms, and when we focus on God we focus on love. We are transformed. In Lent, let’s remember that we aren’t trying to figure out how to better. We are seeking to abandon ourselves to God by stripping away the barriers we have erected in our lives, to experience the reality of new life.
Grace abounds: Please thank:
§ BSA Troop 801 for the Sunday pancake hours!
§ Elaine Dinstuhl and Jennifer Pawlus for the Friday Lenten supper.
§ Dale Massey for help in the office.
Special “Thank You’ s” : A supply of Thank You note cards can be found on the table at the back of church nave. When someone in the parish does something special, take the time to write them a personal note. Also, from time to time, think about who you might want to thank for ongoing service, and let them know you have noticed!
Call for Contributions: If you have a spiritual reflection to share, or want to point your fellow worshipers toward a resource, submit your contributions to Fr. Karl (by email) by Wednesday in the week of publication.
Don’t forget “Something Extra for Grace”: Supplemental giving envelopes can be found in pews. If you want to give something extra, please use an envelope to ensure that you are credited.
Taking God’s Mercy and Delight into the Neighborhood: The Diocese has a new website (www.diofdl.org). One link you can find is for the 13 May conference which will take place in Waupaca, at http://www.diofdl.org/sc.html . Please check out the details and register. We will plan to carpool. With enough people we’ll take a van. Limited scholarship funds are available for registration.
This is a conference focused on equipping you to reach out. For details, please ask Fr. Karl.
Music this Week: The Third Sunday in Lent
Organist: Ben Dobey
Prelude Chorale Preludes on Lord, keep us steadfast by thy Word
Johann Pachelbel & Dietrich Buxtehude
Entrance Hymn 401 “The God of Abraham praise” Leoni
Sequence Hymn 658 “As longs the deer for cooling streams” Martyrdom
Offertory Hymn 149 “Eternal Lord of love, behold your Church” Old 124th
Communion Motet Like as the hart Healey Willan
Comm. Hymn: 684 “O for a closer walk with God” Caithness
Closing Hymn 344 “Lord, dismiss us with thy blessing;” Sicilian Mariners
Postlude Prelude and Fugue in G Minor J. K. F. Fischer
§ Adult Education: On Sunday, March 19th, at 9:00 a.m. we continue the course on Sacramental Identity – Holy Eucharist. This course follows the scheme set forth in the 2008 book of David A. deSilva, Sacramental Life: Spiritual Formation Through The Book of Common Prayer, exploring how liturgies of The Book of Common Prayer give us a language and a context for encountering God.
§ Sunday School Snacks: We are in need of some healthy snacks for our Sunday School classes. Each class has a moment of prayer followed by fellowship with snacks and a drink. The kids have fun serving each other as well. If you are able, we would appreciate donations of snacks and juice boxes to be placed on the desk of our craft supply room in the basement. We have some children who have gluten allergies so including a few options without gluten would also be appreciated. Thank you!
§ Stations of the Cross, Simple Suppers and Teaching: We will meet each Friday at 5:15 pm for a Prelude of Lenten Organ Music and Stations of the Cross at 5:30 p.m., followed by a simple supper and Christian formation. Our formation program this year will be Bishop Matt’s Lenten series for parishes focusing on the Diocesan Vision for us to be communities of God’s mercy and light. This is not a study but rather a time of listening to God and one another; a time for storytelling and reflecting on our stories; a time of beginning or continuing discernment, both for ourselves and for our community of faith. Please sign up on the sheets in the Narthex so we will know how much food needs to be prepared.
§ Cooking on Friday Evenings in Lent: If you are interested in cooking and hosting a dinner on the Fridays during Lent, April 7th is still open - please sign-up on the sheet in the Narthex. Thank you for your willingness to serve in this manner.
§ Happening #73: Happening #73 will take place Friday evening, March 31 through Sunday afternoon April 2, 2017 at All Saints Appleton. This is a unique Christian experience for youth who are in grade 9 through 12 - a weekend of singing, fellowship, surprises, prayer, fun and friendship. Deadline to register is March 24, 2017. Pamphlets regarding this event can be found on the table in the Narthex. For more information or to discuss financial assistance go to firstname.lastname@example.org.
§ Easter Flowers and Music: Please donate for Easter Flowers and Music. We enjoy the Beauty of Holiness in both the flowers that adorn the church and the special music which includes strings at the Solemn Mass on Easter morning. Please be generous as you are able. Please call the office or fill out the slip found in the mass booklet to indicate your wish for memorials and/or thanksgivings. The deadline is Monday, April 10th at noon.
§ Easter Vigil Dinner: The first Mass of the Resurrection is on Saturday, April 15th, at 7:00 p.m. The Easter celebration then continues at Trattoria Stefano, 522 South 8th Street, at 9:30 p.m. The actual cost of the meal is a gift to the parish, so you not only get a delicious meal but you help the church by purchasing a ticket for the dinner. Tickets can be bought in the parish office or in the narthex after mass for $50 a person. Everyone is invited, but seats are limited. There are scholarships for anyone wishing to attend but are unable to donate.
§ Volunteer needed to organize the Annual Bake/Plant Sale: This annual event takes place, in conjunction with St. Luke United Methodist Church Rummage Sale, on Friday, April 28th (noon – 3:00 p.m.) and Saturday, April 29th (9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.) – the first weekend after Easter. As well as an organizer we will need volunteers to bake brownies (Jessica Ambelang will provide pans, ingredients and instructions), and help set-up and take down. Anyone interested in organizing or helping in this event, please call the office at 920-452-9659 or call/text Jessica Ambelang on 920-918-5667.
§ Rummage Sale: In the past, a rummage sale has always taken place in conjunction with the Annual Bake/Plant Sale. If anyone is interested in organizing a rummage sale, please call the office at 920-452-9659 or call/text Jessica Ambelang on 920-918-5667.
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