Grace Episcopal Church
27 December 2012
For weeks some of us have pointed out that “it’s not yet Christmas”. Well, now it is! In the words of John 1.14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us ...” The translation “dwelt” has a different connotation, perhaps, to our 21st century ears, than John’s original, in which the word describes God doing something closer to “pitching His tent” in the middle of our space.
The eternal Son became flesh. Jesus became fully human. The fully divine Son became also the human Christ, taking His human nature from His mother. When we put this fact together with the fact that God did this while we were yet ungodly (Rom. 5.6), that God gave His Son that we might not perish (John 3.16), we realize that God invests infinite value in the salvation of each and every one of us. Whether we are good or bad, God sees the image and likeness in which we are each created (Gen. 1.26) and invests infinite value to redeem us. This does not mean that there are not good and bad people, but it means that God did not send His Son only for the good. The most hardened criminal is of equal value to God as the greatest saint.
The question becomes for each of us, how do we respond? Do we accept God’s presence, His offer of everlasting life, or do we focus on our own wants, our own idols? The kingdom of heaven is on offer—it has come near to us—but we have to choose it. In this Christmastide go ahead and take pleasure in the holiday festivities and cheer. Go ahead and think about all the things you will do in the new year, and what will be different. Enjoy yourself, and let this enjoyment reinforce in you the realization that God is among us. That He has “pitched His tent” with us, and invites us to be with Him, to find our true home with Him. At the same time, never forget that when we separate ourselves from God we find ourselves in a land which should be alien to us—for we are created for heaven—but is a land that can all too often seem comfortable because it meets our own expectations. We need to raise our expectations, realizing that God exceeds them, and then we can realize the difference between what may (sometimes) be comfortable and what is truly blessed. When we can experience the blessedness of God’s presence because we are open to Him, then we can live into our true identity as those with whom He lives, and then a shack or a “mansion on a hill” becomes the same happy home, the home of God.
Grace Abounds: A lot of people have been very active in preparing the parish for Christmas. Please thank Bernie Markevitch, Fred and Gail Tyszka and Jon Whitford for their role in decorating the nave. Please thank Claudia Fischer and the Altar Guild for their work on extra services. Please than Ben Dobey and the choir for their extra work, and Lindsay Fischer for her musical offering. Please than the acolytes for their extra work, and Scot Fabiano for keeping the acolyte rota organized.
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.
The Bible Challenge will restart on 1 January. The reading schedule is now independent of the Sunday lectionary, so as of 1 January you can start any Monday of the year. If you began in 2012 (I Lent), 2013 will begin at week 45. Study summaries for all 52 weeks are posted on the parish website (Christian Formation: The Bible Challenge).
Almost 10% of the parish has participated in The Bible Challenge. If you are interested, ask who has, and listen to their insights.
Please thank Joanne Otte for getting all 52 weeks posted!
Adult Christian Education: Adult Education meets on Sundays at 9 a.m., in St. Nicholas Hall. On 23 December we will complete continue our series on Christian ethics. Adult Education will resume on Sunday, 13 January. On that date we will restart with a review of how we came to have the Bible in English.
It’s all Greek to me! On Thursday, 10 January, our course in New Testament Greek will begin. Classes will be held on Thursday evenings, from 7 to 9 p.m.
2013 Coffee Hour roster: .
Biblical Literacy: The Bible Challenge readings in the 2012 cycle will be for week 43.
The Search Process for our Next Bishop: Updates on the search process can be found at http://www.diofdl.org/org.asp?page=sc . You may ask questions and provide comments to the Standing Committee of the diocese at firstname.lastname@example.org . The election of our next bishop will be held on 19 October 2013, with consecration scheduled for 26 April 2014.
Music this week:
Entrance Hymn 102 “Once in royal David’s city” Irby
Offertory Hymn 82 “Of the Father’s love begotten” Divinum mysterium
Communion Hymn 112 “In the bleak midwinter” Cranham
Closing Hymn 100 “Joy to the world” Antioch
· We welcome The Ven. Dr. Edwin Smith: Our Celebrant and preacher today is Father Ed Smith, who is the Archdeacon of the Diocese of Fond du Lac. Father Ed is retired and attends St. Thomas, Menasha. Please welcome him to Grace.
· End of Year Pledge Reminder: Please make every effort to pay the remainder of your pledge before the end of the year. If you need to know your balance, please ask Deacon Michele. If you want tax credit for your pledge paid in 2012, you must have the payment in the office by Sunday, December 30th. A check dated the 30th, but arriving later cannot be counted as paid in 2012. All payments received after the 30th will be credited in 2013. Thank you so much.
· Fr. Schaffenburg will be on Vacation: Fr. Karl & Elizabeth will be on vacation December 26, 2012 through January 2, 2013. If you have a pastoral emergency please call Deacon Mike Burg at 918-9944 or Deacon Michele Whitford at 918-1230 or the office 452-9659.
· The Feast of the Epiphany: We will celebrate the Feast of Epiphany Sunday, January 6th. Everyone is invited to Epiphany Brunch following the 10:15 Solemn Mass. Please sign up in the narthex or by calling the church office at 452-9659.
· Hosting the Seminarian and His Family: Please consider hosting our seminarian Ryan Delaney and his family for a Saturday evening meal or Sunday Brunch. Ryan and his lovely wife Melanie and children Brenna and Bremen will be staying most Saturday evenings in preparation for services on Sunday morning. This will give the parish an opportunity to get to know them and for the Delaney’s to get to know the parish. Please find a sign-up sheet on the table in the Narthex for dinner Saturday evening and brunch Sunday after the service.
· The Annual Financial Meeting: This year’s Financial meeting will take place on Sunday January 27, 2013. We will have one Mass at 9:00am followed by the Financial meeting held in the Nave 10:30am. The agenda of the meeting will include, 2012 financial review and 2013 budget, Recent Vestry actions, and an overall review of the 2013 calendar. Please make every effort to attend and participate.
· Flower Schedule for 2012: 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.