Grace Episcopal Church
26 January 2012
In his new book, Coming Apart, Charles Murray argues that life in America is becoming increasingly divided between an elite characterized by both wealth and education, and an underclass characterized by lack of education and lack of employment. The book examines economic and cultural trends, but does so with an eye to what it is that forms whatever core of civic virtue it is that we identify as “the American way”.
As Americans and as Christians we often conflate the practice of religion and the American way, because in the lifetimes of most of us the two were culturally lumped together in practice. This twinning has not reflected reality for a long time. For purposes of this brief discussion, I want to pose the question of how we may or may not link morality and economic consequences in society.
Scripture (the psalms in particular) recite how it is often true that the wicked may prosper, and that we should worry not over this, for God judges all. But, in an era in which (according to Murray’s data) about 10% of healthy adult males think it is acceptable not to work, and in which about a third of all births are out-of-wedlock, the issue is not whether a person is wicked, but whether life decisions made without good reference to the moral standards revealed in faith are simply bad decisions–decisions with bad (often economic) consequences.
We are called as the Church to be the light of the world (Mtt. 5.14). We’re not doing a very good job, in part because we have acquiesced in a culture in which “judge not” is the one “commandment” most will agree on. In fact, when Jesus says “judge not” He is speaking not of judging conduct, but of whether or not a person will be saved by God. He makes it clear that we can judge conduct, albeit we must recognize when there is a log in our own eye before we may criticize the speck in that of another (Mtt. 7.5). Moral standards are made clear in Scripture. We are to love those who fail to meet these standards, but we must never accept that there are no standards. To do so is both to dilute the faith and to ignore that absent virtue a society has no base.
Bible Study: Bible study meets on Tuesdays following the 5:30 p.m. Mass, with discussion beginning at 6:30. A pot-luck soup-and-salad supper is planned. (If you do not plan to arrive before 6:30. enter using the glass doors on Ontario Avenue.) Thursday study sessions follow the 9 a.m. Mass. Study summaries of the lessons for the coming Sunday are posted on the parish website on Tuesday of each week.
Thanksgivings: Thanksgivings are offered to our Sunday School teachers and helpers.
Please take the opportunity to notify the office of any member or friend of the parish to whom we owe thanks, in order that we can publicize this in the weekly newsletter.
Music this week:
Entrance Hymn 616 “Hail to the Lord’s Anointed”
Offertory Hymn 448 “O love, how deep, how broad, how high”
Communion Hymn 339 “Deck thyself, my soul, with gladness”
Closing Hymn 438 “Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord”
§ The Annual Financial Meeting: This year’s Financial Meeting will take place on Sunday January 29, 2012. We will have one Mass at 9:00am followed by the Financial meeting held in St. Nicholas Hall at 10:30am. The agenda of the meeting will include, 2011 financial review and 2012 budget, Recent Vestry actions, and an overall review of the 2012 calendar. Please make every effort to attend and participate.
- Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple: This holy day is also known as Candlemas, in which all the candles used for the year are blessed. You are welcome to bring in your own candles to be blessed during this service. Please mark your calendars and plan to attend this Solemn Mass on February 2 at 6:00pm. We will conclude the celebration with a Potluck Dinner. Please sign up on the sheet on the Narthex table.
§ Circle of Faith: Time to think about the winter retreat at the Norbertine Center, De Pere sponsored by the Diocese of Fond du Lac Women's Ministries! Pastor Diane Murray is our Spiritual Leader and she will be presenting a program called "Circle of Faith" February 17-19, 2012. You will be able to use the pool on Saturday and do exercises that include Christian music and prayer. Snowshoes will be available to those who wish to take advantage of the beautiful grounds. Is a massage more your cup of tea? or a book study? We will have crafts and fellowship! If you sign up with a friend you can get $10 off your registration! Registration cost for overnight is $110 includes room and meals, for commuters the cost is $50 includes meals. You can find more information and to register online at firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline is Feb. 1st.
§ Adult Formation: There is no Adult Education on 29 January. Classes resume on Sunday, 5 February in St. Nicholas Hall, at 9 a.m. For the three Sundays preceding Lent, Adult Education will focus on “How to study Scripture”. The intent is to better equip parishioners to participate in the Bible Challenge, a program which will begin on the First Sunday in Lent (26 February), in which you can read the entire Bible in one year. The Adult Education classes in February will focus on methodology and biblical interpretation, as well as the history of Scripture. How is the Bible organized? How is it read as an organic whole? What are the issues in translation? Why are some books included, and others were not included? The classes will use an abbreviated version of the teaching document An Introduction to Holy Scripture found under the Adult Education of our parish website. You can use this document to work ahead, or to study to greater depth during the course. The document includes links for resources for further study.
§ Hearts & Flowers: Spend Valentine’s evening with the Lakeshore Chorale at Grace Episcopal Church! Featuring Brahms’ Liebeslieder Waltzes along with a bouquet of love songs sung by members of the Chorale – solos, duets, ensembles, and more. A gala Valentine reception is included. Seating is limited. Tuesday, February 14th, 7:00 pm. 15.00 adults; 8.00 students Available from the website or from Lakeshore Chorale members. Tickets will not be sold at the door. www.lakeshorechorale.org for more information call 920-451-1863.
§ The Discerning Our Future Task Force: is working to help the diocese discern its future direction. On Saturday, February 25th, 10am-12noon, there will be a diocesan-wide meeting hosted in each deanery. Each congregation is asked to send lay representatives who will answer the same questions used at the Clergy Day with answers compiled and posted on the website. Please volunteer to do this important work as we move forward as the Diocese of Fond du Lac.
Ø St. Anne's, De Pere (Green Bay Deanery)
Ø St. Paul's Cathedral, Fond du Lac (Lake Winnebago Deanery)
Ø Intercession, Stevens Point (Wisconsin River Deanery)
Ø St. Augustine's, Rhinelander (Northwoods Deanery)
§ Interested in a Futon? The high school group no longer needs it. If you are interested it is free for the taking. Please see Ed Clabots if you are interested.
- Moving boxes available: If you need moving boxes, contact Fr. Karl various sizes are available.