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Thursday, February 23, 2017

A Link in the Chain

Grace Episcopal Church
Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Grace Notes
23 February 2017

Today is the feast of St. Polycarp of Smyrna (d. 155), a Church Father martyred in his old age.  Polycarp refused to renounce Jesus, stating that he had served Jesus for eighty-six years, and that his Lord had never failed him.  This means that either Polycarp was 86, or that he was even older, and reckoned the eighty-six years from the date of his conversion.  The account of Polycarp’s martyrdom circulated widely in the early Church, and is the first “life” of a martyr to gain wide currency following the account of the death of Stephen in Acts 7.
Polycarp was bound to a stake, burned, and clubbed to death.  If he was then 86 years old, he was born before the writing of Matthew, Luke and John.  If he was older, his life may predate Mark’s gospel, and even some of the later letters of Paul.  (1 Thessalonians is the book of the New Testament written earliest, probably about A.D. 50.  Mark’s gospel was probably recorded around A.D. 64—67.)  He was killed despite the Roman consul’s effort to release him.  He refused to burn incense to Caesar, to proclaim the emperor as divine.
To what does the world seek that we “burn incense” to in our day and age?  We rarely think that what we might do might involve making God secondary, but the reality is that if we ever invest greater value in anything or any person other than God, we are making an idol.  In the imperial cult of Rome, few citizens may have actually thought that the emperor was divine.  They burned incense to be good citizens, and pay lip service to the cult deemed to be essential to imperial identity.  One of the chief complaints about Christians was that they were not patriotic!  They would not honor the emperor in the way specified.  In our society, the pressure brought to bear are more subtle and less official, but if we invest greater value in something that competes with sabbath worship, we are “burning incense”.  The most common idol to which we might thus offer homage is ourselves.  Whenever we are tempted to just skip worship and enjoy ourselves in some other activity, we have said the we are ourselves owed greater honor than God.
Polycarp was willing to die for his faith.  As a young man he knew the apostle John.  He was a link in the chain of eyewitness testimony so important in the life of the early Church.  How will you be a link in the chain of testimony?  You can only do this on the basis of your own encounter with God.  Gather for this encounter!

Grace aboundsPlease thank: 
§  Bob and Anne Hanlon, and Bobbie May for the Sunday coffee hours.
§  Bobbie May for work in the parish library, and for furniture repair.

Call for ContributionsIf 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.

Music this Week:          The Last Sunday after the Epiphany (Quinquagesima)
                                      Organist:  Ben Dobey

Prelude:                        Prelude on the Plainsong Hymn Coelestis Gloriae
                                                                                                    Geoffrey Vintner
Entrance Hymn: 7         “Christ, whose glory fills the skies”                      Ratisbon
Offertory Anthem         Christ whose glory fills the skies   T. Frederick H. Candlyn
Communion Motet        Christ upon the mountain peak          Sidney H. Nicholson
Communion Hymn 137 O wondrous type! O vision fair”                       Wareham
Closing Hymn 122         Alleluia, song of gladness             Urbs beata Jerusalem
Postlude:                       Paean on Divinum Mysterium                          John Cook

Parish Notices

§  Adult Education: On Sunday, February 26, 2017, at 9:00 a.m., we will conclude the four-week course on Sacramental Identity.  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. 
§  Lenten Booklet: Copies will be available on Sunday, February 26, 2017 on the table in the Narthex and on our parish website www.gracesheboygan.com. For each of the forty days of the Lenten season, this booklet contains a Gospel lesson taken from the Eucharistic lectionary for the weekdays in Lent, plus the Sunday Eucharistic lectionary. Following each Gospel lesson is the Collect prayer for the celebration of Eucharist on each day. Then follows the meditations written by parishioners. Then space is allowed for you to note your own reflections.
§  Shrove Tuesday Feast before the Fast: Shrove Tuesday is February 28th. We will be having a picnic on a plate (brats & burgers, potato salad, baked beans, and coleslaw) following a 5:30pm Mass. Please mark your calendars and plan to attend this festive occasion. There is a sign-up sheet on the table in the Narthex. A donation of $5:00 per person is suggested.
§  Ash Wednesday: March 1st, Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, is a day of fasting and penitence. We will observe this day with Mass and Imposition of Ashes at 12:10 p.m., and Solemn Mass with Imposition of Ashes at 6:00 p.m. This is a holy day and a wonderful way to begin your Lenten observance.
§  Stations of the Cross, Simple Suppers and Teaching:  Beginning on the second Friday in Lent (March 10th) we will meet each Friday at 5:30 p.m. for Stations of the Cross, 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, please sign-up on sheets in the Narthex. All of the Fridays are open. Thank you for your willingness to serve in this manner.
§  Volunteer needed to organize the Annual Bake/Plant/Rummage 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), help gather and sort rummage, and set-up and take down. Anyone interested in organizing or helping in this event, please call the office at 920-452-9659 or speak with Jessica Ambelang after the 10:15 a.m. mass today.
§  Bible Challenge: Videos for all 52 weeks of the year are now available on Grace Abounds. If you take this challenge, you will find that in one year you will read all of the Bible! This will require less than an hour of your time, six days a week. A schedule of readings is provided on the parish website, along with weekly study summaries and a weekly video summary of the readings. If you need a good study bible for the challenge, contact the parish office. When we immerse ourselves in Scripture, the mantle of the Lord does fall upon us. We are equipped to discern God’s will and to lead others to know and love and serve the Lord.
§  Like Grace Church on Facebook
§  Follow Grace Church on Twitter: @GEC_Sheboygan
§  Follow Grace Church on Instagram: @GEC_Sheboygan
§  We Are on Itunes! Check out the new podcast!!!



Thursday, February 16, 2017

Bifocal Vision

Grace Episcopal Church
Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Grace Notes
16 February 2017

What “lens” do we look through at the world around us?  In looking at the world we can look through a lens that is colored more in shades of fallenness and redemption or a lens that is colored more in shades of justice.  Those lenses color many debates within the Church.  If you look at things in terms of fallenness and redemption, then you are going to be more ready to call some things sin and some people sinners, and to focus on the need for repentance.  In this coming Sunday’s lessons, you will focus more on the Gospel.  If you look at things in terms of justice, then you are going to be more focused on the individual worth of a person as one created in the image and likeness of God, and you are going to worry more about the need to affirm their status as a child of God than about their need to repent.  In this coming Sunday’s lessons, your will focus more on Leviticus.
So, which is it for God?  God doesn’t need lenses.  He knows Leviticus and Matthew equally well!  The One who sees all is also the Truth (John 14.6), and so perspective doesn’t really matter.  He sees the struggles and cross purposes in His people, but He also sees the hearts which yearn for Him and seek Him.  Fallenness is real, but so is redemption.  Fallenness is the measure of how we have separated ourselves from God, but God redeems; He gives His only Son for us.  Justice is real.  God hears the cry of the oppressed.  The common element is holiness.  We are called to be holy because God is holy.  We are called to the perfection of God, because He has created us in His image and likeness.  In Jesus, God became incarnate.  In the Church, God is incarnate.  The Church is God’s Body on earth (1 Cor. 12.13), into which each of us is baptized.  That’s why we do worry about redemption, but why we also worry about justice.  The two are not incompatible.  In the perfection of God, perfect justice and perfect redemption are one.  When Jesus tells us (and remember, He addresses us as “y’all”) to go the second mile, He also says that God “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends his rain on the just and on the unjust” (Mtt. 5.45); that our failings and cross purposes are known by God, and yet He still calls us to a higher purpose, to the higher purpose of making God and God’s will known to all.

Grace aboundsPlease thank: 
§  Jessica Ambelang, Ed & Mary Clabots, Mary Massey, Kevan and Traci Revis, and Pat Ford Smith for the Sunday coffee hours.
§  Jessica Ambelang, Jennifer Pawlus, and Elizabeth Schaffenburg for pastoral care visits.

Call for ContributionsIf 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.

Music this Week:          The Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany
                                      Organist:  Ben Dobey

Prelude:                        Chorale Preludes on Christ, thou art the Light and Day 
                                                                                  George Boehm & J.S. Bach
Entrance Hymn: 537     “Christ for the world we sing!”                             Moscow
Offertory Hymn: 518    “Christ is made the sure foundation”   Westminster Abbey
Communion Motet        O Everlasting Light                                       John E. West
Closing Hymn: 516       Come down, O Love divine                      Down Ampney
Postlude:                       Toccata in D                                             Johann Krieger

Parish Notices

Clergy RetreatThere will be a three day diocesan clergy retreat next week.  There will be no Mass on Mon.—Wed., and the Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer will only happen on those days if a parishioner decides to say the prayers at the church.  (The church will be open, as normal.  The parish office will be open 9—3 on Monday and Wednesday.)  Fr. Karl can be contacted on his cell phone, in the event of emergency.  The number is in the parish directory.

§  Adult Education: On Sunday, February 19th, at 9:00 a.m., we will continue with the third class of a four-week course on Sacramental Identity.  This course will follow the scheme set forth in the 2008 book of David A. deSilva, Sacramental Life: Spiritual Formation Through The Book of Common Prayer, to explore how liturgies of The Book of Common Prayer give us a language and a context for encountering God. We will begin with a consideration of Baptism and how we live into our baptismal identity through prayer.
§  Clergy Retreat: Father Karl and Mother Michele will be attending a clergy retreat in DePere on Monday February 20th through Wednesday, February 22nd. In the case of an emergency, please call Father Karl on 920-889-7190.
§  Lenten Booklet: Grace Church will prepare our own parish book of Lenten meditations, written by parishioners. For each of the forty days of Lent season, a Gospel lesson taken from the Eucharistic lectionary for the weekdays in Lent, plus the Sunday Eucharistic lectionary, are provided on a clip board on the Narthex table. Following each Gospel lesson will be the Collect prayer for the celebration of Eucharist on each day. The Collect “collects” our prayers as founded in the Scripture appointed for each day. The method envisaged for use of this booklet is that parishioners will read the Gospel lesson– perhaps more than once, perhaps underlining the words or phrases that resonate with them on that day–then reflect on the Collect, and then write down their own reflections on the page appointed for the day. The publication of a parish devotional will be published to the whole parish, in print and on our website. Please submit your meditations to the office at eaparicio@gracesheboygan.com by Monday, February 20, 2017.
§  Mid-Winter Ball: Everyone is invited to Dance the night away! Top Shelf DJs featuring our very own Scott Bailey. Friday, February 24th, 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. in St. Nicholas Hall. A $5:00 donation per person is suggested.
§  Shrove Tuesday Feast before the Fast: Shrove Tuesday is February 28th. We will be having a picnic on a plate (brats & burgers, potato salad, baked beans, and coleslaw) following a 5:30pm Mass. Please mark your calendars and plan to attend this festive occasion. There is a sign-up sheet on the table in the Narthex. A donation of $5:00 per person is suggested.
§  Ash Wednesday: March 1st, Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, is a day of fasting and penitence. We will observe this day with Mass and Imposition of Ashes at 12:10 p.m., and Solemn Mass with Imposition of Ashes at 6:00 p.m. This is a holy day and a wonderful way to begin your Lenten observance.
§  Stations of the Cross, Simple Suppers and Teaching:  Beginning on the second Friday in Lent (March 10th) we will meet each Friday at 5:30 p.m. for Stations of the Cross, 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, please sign-up on sheets in the Narthex. All of the Fridays are open. Thank you for your willingness to serve in this manner.
§  Icon Class: The iconography class scheduled to begin February 26th has been cancelled. Not enough people can commit to seven Sundays in a row. We are investigating how to make this class happen in the evenings. If you want to explore this, let us know the best timeframe that will work for you:  late Spring or early Fall?
§  Volunteer needed to organize the Annual Bake/Plant/Rummage 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), help gather and sort rummage, and set-up and take down. Anyone interested in organizing or helping in this event, please call the office at 920-452-9659 or speak with Jessica Ambelang after the 10:15 a.m. mass on Sunday.
§  Bible Challenge: Videos for all 52 weeks of the year are now available on Grace Abounds. If you take this challenge, you will find that in one year you will read all of the Bible! This will require less than an hour of your time, six days a week. A schedule of readings is provided on the parish website, along with weekly study summaries and a weekly video summary of the readings. If you need a good study bible for the challenge, contact the parish office. When we immerse ourselves in Scripture, the mantle of the Lord does fall upon us. We are equipped to discern God’s will and to lead others to know and love and serve the Lord.
§  Flower Schedule for 2017: Giving the gift of flowers is a wonderful way to remember a loved one or to offer thanksgiving for your blessings. If you wish to sign up for a specific Sunday, the Flower Schedule is available on the table in the narthex. More than one person can sign up for each Sunday.
§  Something Extra for Grace: Envelopes are available in the pews if you are moved to give an extra gift, beyond your pledge or regular plate donation, toward the life of the church.  Gifts are tax deductible if you write your name on the envelope.
§  Like Grace Church on Facebook
§  Follow Grace Church on Twitter: @GEC_Sheboygan
§  Follow Grace Church on Instagram: @GEC_Sheboygan
§  We Are on Itunes! Check out the new podcast!!!



Thursday, February 9, 2017

Things that are Above

Grace Episcopal Church
Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Grace Notes
9 February 2017

Along with about 111,000,000 others this past Sunday I watched Superbowl LI.  I didn’t watch all of the game.  I did see the incredible comeback.  I didn’t see the half time show.  What sticks in my memory, however, is a T-Mobile advertisement in which the tag line is “Wireless pain is fine … if you’re into that sort of thing …”  The tag line follows a scene in which a woman engages in very thinly-veiled sexual talk in which excitement is premised on pain, and in which the pain is the extra charges and fees that T-Mobile’s competitors are supposed to inflict on their customers.
My first reaction to the commercial was to laugh.  It’s well done.  But then I caught myself.  How is that we have come to a point in our culture that we can joke about sadomasochism in a prime time TV ad, and in which “that sort of thing” can be held up as “normative” in a society in which there are, apparently, no “norms” apart from the rule that there are no norms?  The subject matter of the commercial’s humor is not new to comedy.  In 1979 Saturday Night Live  included the “Miles Cowperthwaite” skit in which Michael Palin and John Belushi made fun of “punishment”.  The 1979 skit was not, however, a send-up of how one might be “into that sort of thing”.  It was not broadcast in prime time.  It was not broadcast as part of a capstone event in a year in which the NFL has repeatedly pushed a branding message of “Football is Family”.  In twenty-eight years our culture has mainstreamed all subject matter for all ages, and has in the process moved far away from even acknowledging that the state we are called to in faith is one in which we are to:  “… seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth” (Col. 3.1—2).
Before you just dismiss me as a prude or killjoy, consider that I laughed at the commercial.  This is because I, like most, must strive to focus on who God calls me to be, and who God calls us to be together.  I laughed at the cleverness, but then I paused to consider how this laughter is symptomatic of the need for further formation in following Jesus.  And why did I pause this way?  I did so because in years of life in the Church I have been formed to be someone who—even if he does not always set his mind on things that are above—at least recognizes that there is an “above,” and that our minds and hearts are directed there by God when we pay attention in prayer, in worship, in the study of Scripture, in real fellowship, in service. 

Grace aboundsPlease thank: 
§  Jessica Ambelang, Ed & Mary Clabots, Mary Massey, Kevan and Traci Revis, and Pat Ford Smith for the Sunday coffee hours.
§  Jessica Ambelang, Jennifer Pawlus, and Elizabeth Schaffenburg for pastoral care visits.

Call for ContributionsIf 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.

Music this Week:          The Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany
                                      Organist:  Ben Dobey

Prelude:                        Chorale Preludes on Blessed Jesus, at thy word  J.S. Bach
Entrance Hymn: 440     “Blessed Jesus, at thy word”                         Liebster Jesu
Offertory Hymn: 665    “All my hope on God is founded”                          Michael
Comm. Hymn: 312        Strengthen for service, Lord, the hands”             Malabar
Closing Hymn: 371       Thou, whose almighty word                              Moscow
Postlude:                       Sortie                                                       Percy Whitlock

Parish Notices

§  Adult Education: On Sunday, February 12, 2017, at 9:00 a.m., we will continue with the second class of a four-week course on Sacramental Identity.  This course will follow the scheme set forth in the 2008 book of David A. deSilva, Sacramental Life: Spiritual Formation Through The Book of Common Prayer, to explore how liturgies of The Book of Common Prayer give us a language and a context for encountering God. We will begin with a consideration of Baptism and how we live into our baptismal identity through prayer.
§  Lenten Booklet: Grace Church will prepare our own parish book of Lenten meditations, written by parishioners. For each of the forty days of Lent season, a Gospel lesson taken from the Eucharistic lectionary for the weekdays in Lent, plus the Sunday Eucharistic lectionary, are provided on a clip board on the Narthex table. Following each Gospel lesson will be the Collect prayer for the celebration of Eucharist on each day. The Collect “collects” our prayers as founded in the Scripture appointed for each day. The method envisaged for use of this booklet is that parishioners will read the Gospel lesson– perhaps more than once, perhaps underlining the words or phrases that resonate with them on that day–then reflect on the Collect, and then write down their own reflections on the page appointed for the day. The Lenten Booklet will be published to the whole parish, in print and on our website. Please submit your meditations to the office at eaparicio@gracesheboygan.com by Monday, February 20, 2017.
§  Cookware Fundraiser: Once again, we are offering cookware and kitchen essentials from Vollrath. These are high quality items that enhance any cooking experience and also make wonderful gifts. Grace Church receives 20% of all funds received. Catalogs and order sheets are available on the table in the Narthex. Deadline for orders is February 19, 2017.
§  The Guild of Martha & Mary Cooking Ministry is Planning its Next Session!The initial planning meeting will take place here at Grace Church this Wednesday, February 15th, 6:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m. This meeting will discuss how we can positively impact the lives of our Neighbors In Need by teaching them the valuable skills of cooking, meal-planning, grocery shopping on a budget, and more! If this is a ministry you would be interested in, please contact our Senior Warden, Paul Aparicio.
§  Coffee Hour Ministry: Mary Massey is stepping down and we thank her for her time and efforts dedicated to this ministry. We are now looking for a new volunteer to take charge of this ministry. If this is something you would be interested in, please call the office. Also, as yet, we do not have a volunteer to host next week Sunday’s coffee hour (January 19th) following the 10:15 a.m. mass. If you would like to host, please sign up on the sheet in the Narthex. If you have any questions, please call the office. Thank you so much.
§  Shrove Tuesday Feast before the Fast: Shrove Tuesday is February 28th. We will be having a picnic on a plate (brats & burger, potato salad, baked beans, and coleslaw following a 5:30pm Mass. Please mark your calendars and plan to attend this festive occasion. There is a sign-up sheet on the table in the Narthex.
§  Ash Wednesday: March 1st, Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, is a day of fasting and penitence. We will observe this day with Mass and Imposition of Ashes at 12:10 p.m., and Solemn Mass with Imposition of Ashes at 6:00 p.m. This is a holy day and a wonderful way to begin your Lenten observance.
§  Stations of the Cross, Simple Suppers and Teaching:  Beginning on the second Friday in Lent (March 10th) we will meet each Friday at 5:30 p.m. for Stations of the Cross, 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, please sign-up on sheets in the Narthex. All of the Fridays are open. Thank you for your willingness to serve in this manner.
§  Icon Class: The iconography class scheduled to begin February 26th has been cancelled. Not enough people can commit to seven Sundays in a row. We are investigating how to make this class happen in a one week time frame (six nights). If you want to explore this, let us know the best timeframe that will work for you:  late Spring or early Fall?
§  Bible Challenge: Videos for all 52 weeks of the year are now available on Grace Abounds. If you take this challenge, you will find that in one year you will read all of the Bible! This will require less than an hour of your time, six days a week. A schedule of readings is provided on the parish website, along with weekly study summaries and a weekly video summary of the readings. If you need a good study bible for the challenge, contact the parish office. When we immerse ourselves in Scripture, the mantle of the Lord does fall upon us. We are equipped to discern God’s will and to lead others to know and love and serve the Lord.
§  Flower Schedule for 2017: Giving the gift of flowers is a wonderful way to remember a loved one or to offer thanksgiving for your blessings. If you wish to sign up for a specific Sunday, the Flower Schedule is available on the table in the narthex. More than one person can sign up for each Sunday.
§  Something Extra for Grace: Envelopes are available in the pews if you are moved to give an extra gift, beyond your pledge or regular plate donation, toward the life of the church.  Gifts are tax deductible if you write your name on the envelope.
§  Like Grace Church on Facebook
§  Follow Grace Church on Twitter: @GEC_Sheboygan
§  Follow Grace Church on Instagram: @GEC_Sheboygan
§  We Are on Itunes! Check out the new podcast!!!