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Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Local Focus which is Universal

Grace Episcopal Church
Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Grace Notes
29 March 2012

Today is the feast of Bl. John Keble.  Last week we noted, in reflecting on the role of Bl. James DeKoven in bringing a sacramental focus to worship in parts of The Episcopal Church, how very much this parish lives as a direct heir of DeKoven’s ministry and churchmanship.  This inheritance extends far back, indeed, but the beginning of the so-called Oxford Movement is conventionally defined by historians to be the preaching by John Keble (long “e”) of his “Assizes Sermon” on 14 July 1833.  Keble preached to the assembled judiciary of Oxford at the opening of the term of court (the assizes) a sermon entitle “National Apostasy,” in which he denounced how in the England of his day the Church had come to be treated as (and generally act like) a societal institution, rather than as the Body of Christ and the prophetic voice of God.
There are many today who argue that the Church is often not faithful to her calling and identity, and much of what Keble had to say still rings true, but Keble can also be considered to be the patron of those who seek to serve God despite a popular move to accommodate to the world, for Keble famously stated words to the effect, “Though the Church may be unfaithful throughout the land, yet shall she remain faithful in this place.”
Consider your own faith, and how your faith is lived in this Body.  Each one of us can point to developments in the Church (as well as the world!) with which we disagree.  Each one of us can imagine the Church taking a direction that has or would make us uncomfortable.  But we live into our calling to be Christ-centered (as opposed to being focused on any issue or seeking to advance any agenda) in knowing that we shall remain faithful here.
I do not have any particular issue of theology or Church praxis in mind in writing about how we are called to remain faithful.  I am not seeking to criticize what others do or do not do in the Church at large (although I believe that there are things worthy of criticism and change).  Rather, my point is that our call to remain faithful does not change on the basis of what anyone else does or does not do, or in what they do or do not confess to be truth.  And that’s where Christ-centeredness is so important.  In physics a force can be referred to as centrifugal (directed away from the center, which we are familiar with from the old game “crack the whip”) or centripetal (directed to the center, as in the force of gravity on earth).  When Christ is our center and our focus, the energy we expend in living into our Christian vocation is centripetal.  Agendas and issue-orientation are centrifugal, but we are called to focus on Christ, and by doing this to ourselves be a centripetal force which draws others to focus on Christ and new life in Christ.
Remain faithful.  Live your faith in Jesus, and draw all others to the same.

Thanksgivings:  Thanksgivings are offered to Ben Dobey and the Gaudete Brass Quintet for a splendid concert offering this past Sunday, and to Bernie Markevitch for providing a wonderful reception after the concert..
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.

Vacation Bible School:  VBS will not happen unless we identify a co├Ârdinator within the next two weeks.  The dates we are exploring for VBS are 11 through 15 June or 25 through 29 June, but VBS will not happen unless we identify a coordinator from this parish.  We are exploring a cooperative program with our covenant partners, St. Dominic R.C. Church and St. Peter Lutheran Church, but they only way we can go forward is to identify a person willing to plan and co├Ârdinate the effort.  If you are willing to do this, please contact the office. a.s.a.p.

Music this week:

Music for Palm Sunday
Blessing of the Palms:  Hosanna in the highest                                              Dobey
Processional Hymns:   “All glory, laud and honor” and “Ride on, ride on in majesty”
Psalm 22:1-11(responsorial)                                                                            Chant:             Dobey
Tract: Psalm 22:20-26                                                                                     Plainsong
Offertory Hymn 162   “The royal banners forward go”
Communion Motet      Daughters of Zion                                                       Mendelssohn
Comm. Hymn 168      “O sacred head now wounded”                                
Postlude                      Chor. Prelude on “O sacred head, now wounded”   Brahms

Maundy Thursday
Prelude                        Prelude on ‘Sacramentum Unitatis’                            Sowerby
Opening Hymn           “Zion, praise thy Savior, singing”       (Lauda Sion)
Gloria in excelsis         Gregorian Mass X                                                       adapt. Wildman
At the Foot Washing: Ubi caritas                                                                  Durufle
                                    God is love, and where true love is                             Proulx
Offertory Hymn 315   “Thou, who at thy first Eucharist didst pray”
Communion Motet      Ave verum                                                                   Plainsong
Comm. Hymn 204      “Humbly I adore thee”
Procession to the Altar of Repose:    
Hymn 329 “Now, my tongue the mystery telling”

Good Friday
Sung Passion Gospel                                                                                       Plainsong
Veneration of the Cross:
                                    The Reproaches                                                          Vittoria
                                    Crux fidelis                                                                  John of the Cross

Easter Vigil
Gloria                                                                                                              Mathias
Offertory                     Christus vincit (Christ has conquered)                        Noyon
Communion Motet      Most glorious Lord of Life                                           Harris
Comm. Hymn 305      “Come, risen Lord”
Closing Hymn 208      “The strife is o’er”
Postlude                      Grand Choeur Dialogue                                             Gigout




Holy Week Schedule:

April 1             8:00 am Palm Sunday Mass               
                        10:15 am Palm Sunday Solemn Mass
April 2             12:10 pm Mass
April 3             11:00 am Chrism Mass at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Fond du Lac
5:30 pm Mass
April 4             5:30 pm Mass
April 5             6:00 pm Maundy Thursday Solemn Mass with foot washing and vigil
April 6             1:00 pm Good Friday
April 7             9:00 am Holy Saturday Liturgy
April 7             7:00 pm Easter Vigil
April 8             8:00 am Easter Mass
                        10:15 am Easter Solemn Mass and Gala Reception

Parish Notices

§  Easter Vigil Dinner: The first Mass of the Resurrection is on Saturday, April 7, 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 coffers of 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. Scholarships are available for those who cannot afford the cost of the ticket by speaking to Father Schaffenburg. Monday April 2 is the deadline. Please call the office to reserve your spot and your choice of lamb, fish or pasta for dinner. 452-9659

§  Friday Evenings in Lent: continue with Stations of the Cross at 5:30pm followed by supper and study. We are studying Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster.

§  Christian Formation: there will be no Christian Formation for adults or children on Easter, April 8th. Christian formation for children will begin on April 15th for all ages. Adult formation will begin April 22nd at 9:00am with a three week offering “History and Exposition of the Creed”.
§  Sacrament of Reconciliation: Lent is a time of self-examination preparing for the death and resurrection of our Lord. The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be offered by appointment. Please contact Fr. Schaffenburg, Fr. McQueen or Fr. Okkerse to set up an appointment to make your confession.

§  Maundy Thursday Foot Washing: Everyone will have the opportunity to have their feet washed and to wash someone else’s feet following the example of Jesus washing his disciple’s feet. Please wear socks and shoes that are easily removed.

§  Good Friday Offering: Every year since 1922 the church has taken a collection for the Church in the Middle East during Holy Week. This year our loose plate offering on Maundy Thursday will go to support the church efforts in Jerusalem and throughout the Middle East. Please be generous as you are able.
§  Vigil before the Altar of Repose: Please sign up to watch and pray for an hour at the Altar of Repose beginning immediately following the Maundy Thursday Mass April 5 and concluding Friday, April 6 as the Good Friday Liturgy begins. There is a sign-up sheet on the table in the Narthex, more than one person can sign up for any given hour.

§  Easter Gala Reception: We will continue our Easter celebration with a Gala Reception after the 10:15 a.m. Mass on Sunday, April 8th. Please sign up to bring sweets or savories and to help clean up afterwards. There is a sign-up sheet on the table in the Narthex.

§  First Communion instruction: will begin April 15th for children ages 4-7 who are ready to receive Holy Communion. This is a good refresher for those who already receive and a good introduction for those who may not receive yet. First Communions will take place May 20th during the Bishop’s Visitation.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Worship as an Active Verb

Grace Episcopal Church
Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Grace Notes
22 March 2012

Today is the feast of Bl. James DeKoven (d. 1879), a priest well known in Wisconsin.  A native of Connecticut, following his ordination in 1855 DeKoven became professor of ecclesiastical history at Nashotah House.  Fr. DeKoven came to Wisconsin at the flowering of the Oxford Movement (also known as the Ritualist Movement), a revival in the Church which emphasized a sacramental life and devotion to the Holy Eucharist.  Like Nashotah House, Grace Episcopal Church is very much a daughter of the Oxford Movement.
Twice, in 1874 (Wisconsin) and 1875 (Illinois), DeKoven was elected diocesan bishop.  Each time consents from a majority of Church dioceses was refused.  The objections raised against DeKoven were based on the majority of The Episcopal Church in the nineteenth century being of a more Reformed or Calvinist theology, in which DeKoven’s “innovations” were deemed “too Catholic”.  What were these innovations?  Things that are now taken for granted in most of The Episcopal Church (like the use of candles on the altar), or widely recognized and tolerated (such as the use of incense and the practice of genuflecting before the Blessed Sacrament).
DeKoven argued that his churchmanship was based on the reality that “... the spiritual presence of the Body and Blood of our Lord in the Holy Communion is objective and real.”  In pleading his case to General Convention in 1874, DeKoven said:
You may take away from us ... every external ceremony; you may take away altars, and super-altars, lights and incense and vestments; ... and we will submit to you.  But, ... to adore Christ’s Person in his Sacrament–that is the inalienable privilege of every Christian and Catholic heart.  How we do it, the way we do it, the ceremonies with which we do it, are utterly, utterly, indifferent.  The thing itself is what we plead for.
James DeKoven recognized the difference between the worship of God and the “worship of the worship” (the focus on how we do things).  The fact that at Grace we use incense and bells, candles and vestments, chant and genuflections, would be an empty and idolatrous thing if we did any of these things for the sake of our own preferences and tastes.  Each element of liturgy must reflect faith–faith in the real presence of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament; faith in the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit; faith that in worship we come before God.
Whether you cross yourself at the creedal statement that the dead shall be raised, or kneel before approaching the altar is a up to you, but everything that everyone of us does in worship must reflect the fact that we are before God, that we pray that “... we may evermore dwell in Him, and He in us ...”  Let us each always participate in the reality that worship is an active verb, a giving of self in response to the supreme gift and sacrifice of our Lord.  And while we’re at it, let us give thanks that by the witness of Fr. DeKoven and others, our worship may include “the beauty of holiness” as expressed in all the ways we hold dear.

Thanksgivings:  Thanksgivings are offered to Jessica Ambelang, Bernie Markevitch, and Steve Larson and Ed Clabots for cleaning and organizing the storage rooms used for Sunday School and for church decoration.  Thanksgivings are offered, as well, to Mary Ann Neuses and Barbara Knauf for the donation of shelving units for use in the storage rooms.
Thanksgivings are offered, as well, to Wes and Barb Jung, and to Ben Dobey, for all of their work in grounds clean-up and gardening.
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.

Vacation Bible School:  The dates we are exploring for VBS ar 11 through 15 June or 25 through 29 June, but VBS will not happen unless we identify a coordinator from this parish.  We are exploring a cooperative program with our covenant partners, St. Dominic R.C. Church and St. Peter Lutheran Church, but they only way we can go forward is to identify a person willing to plan and coordinate the effort.  If you are willing to do this, please contact the office. a.s.a.p.

Music this week:

Prelude                                    Chorale Preludes on Ah, Holy Jesus and Christ, thou Lamb of God
                                                J. S. Bach                   
Introit                                      Give sentence with me, O God                                    Plainsong
Offertory Hymn 441               “In the cross of Christ I glory”
Communion Motet                  Like as the hart desireth the waterbrooks                    Willan
Communion Hymn 652          “Dear Lord and Father of mankind”
Closing Hymn  457                 “Thou art the Way, the Truth, the Life”
Postlude                                  Toccata in A                                                                Kuhnau                      
Parish Notices

§  Bishop Salmon’s Visit: We will welcome The Rt. Reverend Edward L. Salmon, Jr., Dean and President of Nashotah House Theological Seminary, to Grace Church this Sunday. No stranger to Grace Church, Bishop Salmon brings the greetings of Nashotah House and his visit gives thanks for a historic and fruitful relationship between the seminary and Grace Church. Noted for his theological clarity, quick wit and Southern accent, Bishop Salmon will preach at both Masses. Please join us as we welcome him back to Grace Church.

§  Brass and Organ Benefit Concert: This Sunday afternoon, March 25th at 4:00 p.m., Ben Dobey and the Gaudete Brass Quintet will perform music from their new CD as well as other music for Organ and Brass. This concert will benefit Holy Trinity School in Haiti, part of the Holy Trinity Episcopal Cathedral complex in Port-au-Prince which was mostly destroyed in 2010. The Holy Trinity School and Music Academy has been one of the most successful educational institutions in Haiti, open to all children regardless of economic background. The suggested donation will be $20 per family, $5 for students. The CD is available for $10.

§  Friday Evenings in Lent: continue with Stations of the Cross at 5:30pm followed by suppers and study. We are studying Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster.

§  Adult Formation: Classes take place in St. Nicholas Hall, at 9 a.m. We have launched The Bible Challenge. A schedule of readings is provided on the parish website, along with weekly study summaries. During Lent we want to focus on parish participation, and so our Sunday morning adult education hour will involve review and discussion of the Bible readings for the week.

§  Sacrament of Reconciliation: Lent is a time of self-examination preparing for the death and resurrection of our Lord. The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be offered by appointment. Please contact Fr. Schaffenburg, Fr. McQueen or Fr. Okkerse to set up an appointment to make your confession.

§  Maundy Thursday Foot Washing: Everyone will have the opportunity to have their feet washed and to wash someone else’s feet following the example of Jesus washing his disciple’s feet.  Please wear socks and shoes that are easily removed.

§  Vigil before the Altar of Repose: Please sign up to watch and pray for an hour at the Altar of Repose beginning immediately following the Maundy Thursday Mass April 5 and concluding Friday, April 6 as the Good Friday Liturgy begins. There is a sign-up sheet on the table in the Narthex, more than one person can sign up for any given hour.

§  Good Friday Tripartite Service:  We will gather with the people of St. Dominic R. C. Church and St. Peter Lutheran Church at the latter (on Geele Avenue) on Friday, 6 April, at 7 p.m. for a joint Good Friday service.  This will be a simplified liturgy observed in addition to our regular services at each church, observed as an opportunity to share in solidarity with each other as we share in solidarity with the sacrifice of our Lord.

§  Easter Vigil Dinner: The first Mass of the Resurrection is on Saturday, April 7, 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 coffers of 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. Scholarships are available for those who cannot afford the cost of the ticket by speaking to Father Schaffenburg. Monday April 2 is the deadline.

§  Easter Gala Reception: We will continue our Easter celebration with a Gala Reception after the 10:15 a.m. Mass on Sunday, April 8th. Please sign up to bring sweets or savories and to help clean up afterwards. There is a sign-up sheet on the table in the Narthex.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Lenten Joy

Grace Episcopal Church
Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Grace Notes
15 March 2012

Whoa! and Thanks be to God!  That was the shorthand operative definition offered recently in Adult Formation for what it means to be “convicted” by God’s holy Word.  The first part is the reaction which flows from the awareness of just how far away I am from who and what God has created and called me to be; the second is the joyful realization that despite this distance, God reaches out and bridges the gap.  In Lent we tend to focus on the Whoa! part of the equation.  It is good to remind ourselves of fallenness, but Lenten piety is incomplete when it does not include joy.  What can we be but joyful when we realize that, although we can never close the distance between ourselves and God, God can and does when we but turn to Him and have faith in Him.
An ancient heresy which is quite popular in our own age is Pelagianism.  Pelagius was a fourth century ascetic who denied the need for divine aid in performing good works and in meriting salvation.  To Pelagius, humanity was not fallen, and could obey God’s holy law (which Pelagius recognized) on the basis of our own will.  In our shorthand, Pelagius would have said “Whoa!  It’s time to get to work to fix this!”  Pelagianism is a trap easy to fall into in Lent, for if I focus on sinfulness it is easy to then focus on what I must do in order to restore myself into proper relation with God.  Praxis then predominates over faith, and I worry about what I can do, forgetting that it is God who saves me; that His grace is unmerited.  I forget the truth expressed by St. Paul:  “While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5.6).
The corollary to believing that we can somehow bridge the distance of fallenness is that we fail to recognize who God is.  This is the point made by the 20th century theologian Karl Barth when he wrote:
Our relation to God is ungodly.  We suppose that we know what we are saying when we say “God.” . . . We assume that He needs something:  and so we assume that we are able to arrange our relation to him as we arrange our other relationships.  We press ourselves into proximity with Him: and so, all unthinking, we make Him nigh unto ourselves. We allow ourselves and ordinary communication with Him, we permit ourselves to reckon with Him as though this were not extraordinary behaviour on our part. We dare to deck ourselves out as his companions, patrons, advisers, and commissioners.  We confound time with eternity. This is the ungodliness of our relation to God.
The Epistle to the Romans [commentary], 44
God needs from us exactly nothing.  Despite this, He calls us to Himself and counts us worthy as heirs of His kingdom, when we confess Christ and follow Him.  Therefore do we have joy, Lenten joy.  This Lent let us live in joy; joy that God reaches out to us; that He “bridges the gap” when we but turn to Him and have faith in Him; that He counts us worthy of salvation despite our failings; that He gives His only Son for our redemption; that the burdens we carry may be offered to Jesus.  Let us recall, always, that whatever the season of the year, we are Easter people; those called by and redeemed by God to be His own; those who live in the joy of the resurrection and in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Thanks be to God, indeed.
Thanksgivings:  Thanksgivings are offered to Jessica Ambelang for coordinating the Lenten supper this past Friday, and to all who helped in clean-up.  Thanksgivings are also offered to Katy Maki for the Sunday coffee hours, and to the Klinzings, for allowing us to share in Caleb’s birthday sweets.
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.

Name tags:  It is often said that children are the future of the Church.  This is, actually, incorrect.  Children are full members of the Church now.  To better live into this reality, all children have now had name tags made for them, so they can join the rest of this parish in identifying who they are within this Body.  Please pick up your children’s name tags on the table set up in the narthex.  Adults, please wear your tags as well.  We are going to invite the children to show theirs’ off at Sunday worship and fellowship.

Music this week:

Prelude                        Jesu dulcis memoria                                        Davies
Introit:                         Rejoice, Jerusalem                                          Plainsong
Offertory Hymn 690  “Guide me, O thou great Jehovah”
Communion Motet      My spirit longs for thee                                    Traditional Irish
Comm. Hymn 321      “My God, thy table now is spread”
Closing Hymn 302      “Father, we thank thee who hast planted”
Postlude                      Prelude on “Amor Patris et Filii”                  Stanford         

Parish Notices

§  Friday Evenings in Lent: continue with Stations of the Cross at 5:30pm followed by suppers and study. We will be study Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. We still have a copy available for purchase at a cost of $15.00 each. Please speak with Deacon Michele if you need a book.

§  Adult Formation: Classes take place in St. Nicholas Hall, at 9 a.m. We have launched The Bible Challenge. A schedule of readings is provided on the parish website, along with weekly study summaries. During Lent we want to focus on parish participation, and so our Sunday morning adult education hour will involve review and discussion of the Bible readings for the week.

§  Bishop Salmon’s Visit: We will welcome The Rt. Reverend Edward L. Salmon, Jr., Dean and President of Nashotah House Theological Seminary, to Grace Church Sunday, March 25, 2012. No stranger to Grace Church, Bishop Salmon brings the greetings of Nashotah House and his visit gives thanks for a historic and fruitful relationship between the seminary and Grace Church. Noted for his theological clarity, quick wit and Southern accent, Bishop Salmon will preach at both Masses. Please join us as we welcome him back to Grace Church.

§  Brass and Organ Benefit Concert: On Sunday, March 25th at 4:00pm Ben Dobey and the Gaudete Brass Quintet will perform music from their new CD as well as other music for Organ and Brass. This concert will benefit Holy Trinity School in Haiti, part of the Holy Trinity Episcopal Cathedral complex in Port-au-Prince which was mostly destroyed in 2010. The Holy Trinity School and Music Academy has been one of the most successful educational institutions in Haiti, open to all children regardless of economic background. The suggested donation will be $20 per family. The CD is available for $10.

§  Sacrament of Reconciliation: Lent is a time of self-examination preparing for the death and resurrection of our Lord. The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be offered by appointment. Please contact Fr. Schaffenburg, Fr. McQueen or Fr. Okkerse to set up an appointment to make your confession.

§  Easter Vigil Dinner: The first Mass of the Resurrection is on Saturday, April 7, 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 coffers of 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.  If you are unable to afford a ticket, but want to attend, a generous “scholarship” is available.  Please contact Fr. Schaffenburg.

§  Staying in Love: We all know what’s required to fall in love … a pulse!  Falling in love is easy, but staying together with the one you’ve found seems to be the real challenge.  Join us as pastor and author Andy Stanley leads us through “Staying in Love” on DVD. Discussion to follow led by marriage mentors.  This free session will be held 9 a.m.–noon on Saturday, March 17th in Sheboygan.  Please call Great Marriages at 920-783-3660 for details and to register.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Cue Prayer, Cue Worship

Grace Episcopal Church
Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Grace Notes
8 March 2012

Religion and faith are not the same thing.  Religio (“that which binds”) is the practice of faith, and faith can be practiced in a variety of ways (hence, all the variations we find in worship between denominations).  Faith involves trust in God (a personal relationship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) and mental assent to specific propositions of belief (e.g., that Jesus Christ was resurrected bodily from the grave).  All this said, faith must be practiced; it must be lived, and in this reality we encounter an interesting intersection between a life of faith and habit.
In his current book The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg, an investigative journalist for The New York Times, describes the neurological basis for habits, how our brains switch into an “automatic,” non-cognitive mode in practicing a habit.  For example, do you think about how you brush your teeth?  If you are observed brushing your teeth, the observer will note that you always do it the same way, in the same order, but do you ever think about this?  Habits can be more complex than tooth-brushing, but in  every case there will exist a cue or series of cues that triggers the automatic behavior.  If the first thing you do when you get home is turn on the television, what effect does this have on how you prepare a meal and interact with your household?
Which brings us back to the practice of the faith, to religion.  In examining whether you have a habit of prayer, a habit of worship, consider what cues are in place that either promote the practice of your faith or hinder it.  If you tell yourself that you would like to be more faithful in Sunday worship, but find that you miss worship often, then look carefully at what gets in the way of worship.  What happens on a Sunday that becomes a barrier?  What cues exist?  For example, if in preparing the morning meal you park young children in front of a T.V., is it then surprising that getting them away from the TV to complete the meal in time, to make getting to Sunday School a reality, all without undue stress and hassle, becomes a challenge?
In Lent we focus on habits, when we say that we will either renounce something or take on an additional duty.  Let’s focus on the habit of worship and prayer, surely, but let’s keep Lenten discipline simple and attainable:  Identify whatever cues exist in your environment and routine that hinder the practice of your faith.  Eliminate the cues, and you will find that this “renunciation” will bear fruit in the practice of your faith.  Identify how you can establish a cue that will promote daily prayer, such as setting aside a specific time of day when you will be in one place in your home.  Prayer often enough at that time and place, and soon enough it will become your prayer time and place.  Live into the faith.

Thanksgivings:  Thanksgivings are offered to Jennifer Keller and Elizabeth Schaffenburg for coordinating the Lenten supper this past Friday, and to all who helped in clean-up.
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.

Name tags:  It is often said that children are the future of the Church.  This is, actually, incorrect.  Children are full members of the Church now.  To better live into this reality, all children have now had name tags made for them, so they can join the rest of this parish in identifying who they are within this Body.  Please pick up your children’s name tags on the table set up in the narthex.  Adults, please wear your tags as well.  We are going to invite the children to show theirs’ off at Sunday worship and fellowship.

Music this week:

Prelude                        Chorale Partita on Our Father, thou in heaven above            Buxtehude
Introit                          My eyes are ever looking unto the Lord                                 Plainsong
Offertory Hymn 149   “Eternal Lord of love, behold your Church”
Communion Motet      O for a closer walk with God                                                  Stanford
Comm. Hymn 312      “Strengthen for service, Lord”
Closing Hymn 684      “O for a closer walk with God”
Postlude                      Toccata in E Flat                                                                       Kuhnau

Parish Notices

§  Friday Evenings in Lent: will continue this Friday, March 2nd with Stations of the Cross at 5:30pm followed by supper and study. We will be study Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. We still have a couple copies available for purchase at a cost of $15.00 each. Please speak with Deacon Michele if you would need a book.

§  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. The last Friday is still open. Thank you for your willingness to serve in this manner.

§  Adult Formation: Classes take place in St. Nicholas Hall, at 9 a.m. We have launched The Bible Challenge. A schedule of readings is provided on the parish website, along with weekly study summaries. During Lent we want to focus on parish participation, and so our Sunday morning adult education hour will involve review and discussion of the Bible readings for the week. If you need a good study bible for the challenge, contact the parish office. 
§  Bishop Salmon’s Visit: We will welcome The Rt. Reverend Edward L. Salmon, Jr., Dean and President of Nashotah House Theological Seminary, to Grace Church Sunday, March 25, 2012. No stranger to Grace Church, Bishop Salmon brings the greetings of Nashotah House and his visit gives thanks for a historic and fruitful relationship between the seminary and Grace Church. Noted for his theological clarity, quick wit and Southern accent, Bishop Salmon will preach at both Masses. Please join us as we welcome him back to Grace Church.

§  Are you still looking for fun plans for St. Patrick's Day? Then look no further! Plan to attend the 2012 Boys & Girls Clubs Irish Party on Saturday, March 10th from 6-10pm at the Club in Sheboygan Falls (107 Cedar Street, Sheboygan Falls). Tickets are $35 and include dinner and two complimentary drinks; tickets are available for purchase at any Boys & Girls Club. This is a great way to support kids in our community, so grab your green and buy your tickets today! Call Sarah McQueen at 627-7484 with any questions.

§  Staying in Love: We all know what’s required to fall in love … a pulse!  Falling in love is easy, but staying together with the one you’ve found seems to be the real challenge.  Join us as pastor and author Andy Stanley leads us through “Staying in Love” on DVD. Discussion to follow led by marriage mentors.  This free session will be held 9 a.m.–noon on Saturday, March 17th in Sheboygan.  Please call Great Marriages at 920-783-3660 for details and to register.

§  Adult Formation: Classes take place in St. Nicholas Hall, at 9 a.m. During Lent our focus will be on The Bible Challenge.  As of the beginning of the challenge 38 parishioners (30% of average Sunday attendance) have signed up to participate.  A schedule of readings is provided on the parish website, along with weekly study summaries.  During Lent we want to focus on parish participation, and so our Sunday morning adult education hour will involve review and discussion of the Bible readings for the week.  (This week the focus is on the first third of Genesis, the beginning of the Psalter, and the beginning of Matthew’s gospel.)  After Lent we will revert to our education hour covering a variety of topics, with the first focus being on how to defend our faith against worldly attacks. If you need a good study bible for the challenge, contact the parish office.
If you have not undertaken the challenge, join us still, for a group exploration of Scripture.  If you want to take the challenge, but did not start on 27 February, don’t worry.  The schedule allows you to start at any time, designating your start day as Day One.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Fulfilling Promises

Grace Episcopal Church
Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Grace Notes
1 March 2012

In Lent we focus on turning to God, reminding ourselves that at all times God reaches out to us.  It is sometimes argued by debunkers of faith that God is just an anthropomorphic (in the form of man) projection.  The reality is that God is anthropotropic (reaching toward humanity), as our Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier.  This is illustrated throughout Scripture, but perhaps best when we link the encounters between the Lord and Abram/Abraham in Genesis with Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross.
God first calls Abram in Genesis 12.  The intiative is with God, and the promises made are those made by God.  Abram’s faith response is that he believes God’s promises and acts on them.  Then, in Genesis 15, God enters into a covenant with Abram, again at God’s initiative.  Abram still believes, and a ceremony solemnizing the covenant takes place.
In the ancient world of the Near East, a covenant was a solemn promise entered into between two parties, a promise having mutual obligations and penalties for non-performance.  The most common form of covenant was a “suzerainity covenant,” in which a local ruler agreed to serve a superior overlord (the “suzerain,” such as a king) in return for protection.  This agreement was solemnized by having sacrificial animals cut in two, with the inferior party walking between the severed halves.  The message from the overlord was clear:  “Break your promise and this is what will happen to you!”
In Genesis 15 we find just such a ceremony.  A heifer, a she-goat, a ram, a turtledove and a pigeon are cut in two.  But then something unheard-of happens.  “When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces.  On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram” (Gen. 15.17-18).  God walks between the pieces, not Abram.  God is the one who takes the burden of the inferior party.  God is the party who not only makes the promise but says that if the other party violates the covenant, He, God, will pay the penalty!  From the first calling of Abram we see a trajectory which leads directly to the Cross, on which God gives His only-begotten Son, that the penalty of sin falls not on those who believe.
Just as Abram/Abraham’s faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness” so let our own faith in Jesus Christ allow us to participate in His righteousness.  The One who judges is the One who offers the satisfaction, for those who believe.

Thanksgivings:  Thanksgivings are offered to Bill and Deb gagin for coordinating the Lenten supper this past Friday, and to all who helped in clean-up.
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.

Lenten study:  Lenten study suppers continue of Fridays.  Stations of the Cross will be offered at 5:30 p.m. in the nave, followed by a pot luck supper and discussion in St. Nicholas Hall.  Study will follow Richard Foster’s book Celebration of Discipline.  This is an easily-readable and yet profound to the practice of spiritual discipline, of putting God first.  The disciplines of Fasting and Study will be discussed this week.
Website update photo shoot:  This coming Sunday Jim Gardner will be taking photographs during worship services, for the purpose of providing photos for a planned update of our parish website.  (The target date for publication is 1 April.)  He will also be visitng Sunday School classrooms and adult education.  While he focuses on us, let’s keep focused on God!  (Please take the opportunity to thank Jim for this service, and to thank Jon Whitford and Joann Otte for their work in the construction and maintenance of the website.)

Name tags:  It is often said that children are the future of the Church.  This is, actually, incorrect.  Children are full members of the Church now.  To better live into this reality, all children have now had name tags made for them, so they can join the rest of this parish in identifying who they are within this Body.  Please pick up your children’s name tags on the table set up in the narthex.  Adults, please wear your tags as well.  We are going to invite the children to show theirs’ off at Sunday worship and fellowship.

Music this week:

Prelude                        Chaconne in F Minor                          Pachelbel
Introit                          Call to remembrance                          Plainsong
Offertory Hymn 448   “O love, how deep, how broad, how high”
Communion Motet      Dear Lord and Father of Mankind      Parry
Closing Hymn 142      “Lord, who throughout these forty days”
Postlude                      Fantasia in C Minor                            J. S. Bach

Parish Notices

§  Please Pray: Please keep Kaleigh Kraft and the entire team for Faith Alive in your prayers. They will be leaving for Kearney, Nebraska on Friday, March 2 and will be gone for the whole weekend witnessing to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church about how to live out one’s faith in community and to speak about their own personal walk with Jesus. Please pray for safe travel and an openness to the Holy Spirit.

§  Friday Evenings in Lent: will continue this Friday, March 2nd with Stations of the Cross at 5:30pm followed by supper and study. We will be study Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. We still have a couple copies available for purchase at a cost of $15.00 each. Please speak with Deacon Michele if you would need a book.

§  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 the sheets in the Narthex. All of the Fridays are filled except the last two. Thank you for your willingness to serve in this manner.

§  Potluck Dinner and Compline: Bring a dish to pass and join us next Sunday, March 4th at 6:30pm, for a potluck dinner and fellowship. At 8:00 p.m. the men will sing Compline, a beautiful restful service full of candles and music.  Invite your friends!
§  Adult Formation: Classes take place in St. Nicholas Hall, at 9 a.m. During Lent our focus will be on The Bible Challenge.  As of the beginning of the challenge 38 parishioners (30% of average Sunday attendance) have signed up to participate.  A schedule of readings is provided on the parish website, along with weekly study summaries.  During Lent we want to focus on parish participation, and so our Sunday morning adult education hour will involve review and discussion of the Bible readings for the week.  (This week the focus is on the first third of Genesis, the beginning of the Psalter, and the beginning of Matthew’s gospel.)  After Lent we will revert to our education hour covering a variety of topics, with the first focus being on how to defend our faith against worldly attacks. If you need a good study bible for the challenge, contact the parish office.
If you have not undertaken the challenge, join us still, for a group exploration of Scripture.  If you want to take the challenge, but did not start on 27 February, don’t worry.  The schedule allows you to start at any time, designating your start day as Day One.

§  Scout Appreciation "Pancake Breakfast": Sunday March 4th Please mark your calendars to stay a few minutes, after each service, to savor a down home Pancake Breakfast. Scouts will supply all the know how for the event. As an added bonus, Maple Syrup will be supplied by the Drewry Farms of Plymouth. This award winning Maple Syrup is served at all the major restaurants in the area and beyond. The Scouts will also have available Maple Syrup gift assortments.
§  Needed: Bernie and Jessica are looking for some BADLY NEEDED shelving or storage units to better organize two rooms in the basement. Does anybody have some unused ones sitting around anywhere? Please contact them or Ed Clabots if you do.

§  Tripartite Ministry:  The Tripartite Ministry we share with St. Dominic Catholic Church and St. Peter Lutheran Church will meet here at Grace, today  (Thursday), at 5 p.m. to plan the details of Vacation Bible School and our joint service on Good Friday.  We will also explore how to work together in youth ministry.  If you are interested in VBS and/or youth ministry, please plan to attend.