Grace Episcopal Church
27 March 2014
On the Feast of the Annunciation (25 March) we celebrate Mary’s “yes” to God. We celebrate that Jesus received His human nature from His mother. In this context it becomes evident that we too often blur how God’s redemptive grace is at work in our own lives. We are used to the truth that nothing is impossible for God. We are used to the truth that in creation God speaks His will (“let there be ...”) and it is. Consider, however, that while God could certainly have come among us in any number of ways (and clearly was present among the Israelites), He chose to come among us as one of us. Jesus Christ “... emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in human likeness” (Phil. 2.6). Compare this revelation to what we are told about ourselves at Gen. 1.26, that we are each created in the image and likeness of God. In other words, the likeness in which we are created is part of our humanity, and God, in becoming a human being and assuming His human nature from Mary, allows all of us the free will to say “yes” to Him. Our human will is to cooperate with God’s saving grace in order that salvation may be effected. When we do not say “yes” we deny the image and likeness in which we are created.
Denying God’s image and likeness within us is a denial of what it means to be human, and not a plant or animal or inanimate thing. We become more human when we acknowledge the divine spark within. We become more human because we are saved, and this returns our souls from a state of restlessness in which we are alienated from our Creator, to the peace we enjoy when we find our true home in our Creator.
Mary said “yes”. Each of us can and must say “yes”. We can say “yes” when we focus on who God is, and who we are as those created in His image and likeness. Lent, therefore, can be thought of as the mirror that allows us to see beyond outward reflection, to see true image, true likeness. Face how God dwells in you. Welcome Him that He may welcome you home.
Grace Abounds: Please thank:
§ Jessica Ambelang for the Friday night Lenten supper, with clean-up by Bill and Deb Gagin.
§ Bob and Anne Hanlon, and John and Jennifer Keller for the Sunday coffee hours.
§ Mary Snyder and Danie Wilson for leading the Friday meditations at our Lenten supper.
§ All those who provided food for the potluck supper following the Feast of the Annunciation celebration, and Jack Britton, Jennifer Pawlus, and Grace Zangara for clean-up.
Call for Contributions: If you have a spiritual reflection to share, or want to point your fellow worshippers toward a resource, submit your contributions to Fr. Karl (by email) by Wednesday in the week of publication.
A Sunday Morning “Lenten Meditations” Discussion: In our group this past Sunday, the Lord’s Prayer was referenced, ‘your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ “What that might look like?” was the question.
There were two answers expressed; one was the experience of reconciliation which of course is the opposite of the alienation often experienced in this life. As we stand before the throne of God in the Kingdom there will be no room for it. As we become the perfected Body of Christ, fully united in our love for God, there is no room. This alienation is put to rest as we go through the process of forgiveness i.e. confession, contrition, absolution, & reconciliation. To receive in this life the blessings of those, as well as the One, we have sinned against, to be reconciled, is an awesome preview of the Kingdom to come.
The second answer was the experience of transformation. An experience at the recent Happening was related involving three participants, special needs, accepted & fully integrated, not relegated to the sideline, politely ignored. One of the young men active in this integration had been at camp last summer & seen as one of those “It’s all about Me” characters. This transformation in perception, reality, or, more likely both, was cause for joy. “Wow, what a change in xxxxxx!” This transforming from who we are now into our better selves through God’s Grace is cause for great celebration in the now** as well as a wonderful preview of our unimaginable transformation to be. Again, it was a preview of the Kingdom.
Following up, it was asked what an acorn thinks he will be like when he grows up. The suspicious, tentative answer, an oak tree, was rejected for ‘No, just a bigger acorn, he doesn’t know about oak trees.’ What does a caterpillar think she’ll be when she grows up? ‘A bigger caterpillar’ was the obvious answer. The point being we typically think too small about the transformations & the work of Grace that will yet be; however given eyes that see, glimpses & inklings are all about.
Jesus says to Nicodemus in their private meeting, “If I tell you things that are plain as the hand before your face and you don’t believe me, what use is there in telling you of things you can’t see, the things of God?” (John 3:12, The Message).
―Fr. John Ambelang
**The following link give one mother’s well-worth-reading commentary on how her special needs son was accepted on the Happening weekend: http://specialandblessed.wordpress.com/2014/03/19/happening.
Fundraising Brain Storming Session! Have an idea for something you'd like to see the parish do? Heard of something that could help us defray costs or add income? Do you miss a fundraiser that used to take place years ago? On Sunday, March 30th, we'll gather to share ideas at 11:50 AM. We are looking for any and all ideas for fundraising and publicity for events. Please join us & share your ideas. No idea is too small; most great ideas come from a small idea that sparked something bigger. Your ideas matter! Hope to see you there. If you are unable to make it, please forward your ideas to any Vestry member.
Music this week:
Prelude Chorale Prelude on ‘St. Columba’ Vintner
Introit Laetare, Jerusalem (Rejoice, Jerusalem) Plainsong
Kyrie, Sanctus, Agnus Dei Missa ‘Alme Pater’ Plainsong
Psalm 23 Anglican chant: Davies
Offertory Hymn 645 “The King of love my shepherd is” St. Columba
Communion Motet My spirit longs for thee Dix
Communion Hymn 339 “Deck thyself, my soul, with gladness” Schmuecke dich
Closing Hymn 533 “How wondrous and great” Lyons
Postlude Dialogue sur le Grands Jeux Guilain
§ Stations of the Cross, Simple Suppers and Teaching: Every Friday in Lent we will meet each Friday at 5:30 p.m. for Stations of the Cross, followed by a simple supper and Christian program. The program will consist of facilitated discussion which will focus on particular stations of the cross in the context of our own spiritual
§ lives. Such a testimony will be followed by facilitated small group discussions. Please sign up to attend on the sheets in the Narthex so enough food will be prepared. Thank you.
§ Adult Formation: on Sunday mornings at 9:00 a.m. will allow us to journey together through the Lenten meditations prepared in the parish. For each day in Lent or parish devotional booklet includes the collect prayer, the gospel lesson, and a meditation prepared by one of your fellow disciples in this parish. The booklet also
§ includes space for you to add your own meditation. On Sundays, we’ll explore together the meditations for the week, that together we can walk on our Lenten journey. We can experience our journey together by offering our own insights in small group settings.
§ Fundraising Brain Storming Session! Have an idea for something you'd like to see the parish do? Heard of something that could help us defray costs or add income? Do you miss a fundraiser that used to take place years ago? On Sunday, March 30th, we'll gather to share ideas at 11:50 AM. We are looking for any and all ideas for fundraising and publicity for events. Please join us & share your ideas. No idea is too small; most great ideas come from a small idea that sparked something bigger. Your ideas matter! Hope to see you there. If you are unable to make it, please forward your ideas to any Vestry member.
§ A Seder Dinner: Grace Church is invited to A Seder Dinner hosted by St. Paul's, Plymouth, Wednesday, April 2 at 6pm. Rabbi Noah Chertkoff from Congregation Shalom Temple will be our Leader for this festive meal. Lamb and chicken breasts will be grilled. Appetizers will be served before the event - so come early. Please note: This celebration is especially for children/youth to learn and enjoy this religious festivity. So please encourage them to come as well - to experience this authentic Jewish Seder Tradition. Please sign up on the sheet in the Narthex so we can let St. Paul’s know how many to expect. Thank you.
§ Metropolitan Opera: The Metropolitan Opera production of Giacomo Puccini’s classic La Boehme will be broadcast live on Saturday, 5 April. We will gather at 11:45 a.m. at the Marcus Cinema, and enjoy a light meal together afterward. Talk to Fr. Karl if you are interested and need more detail, or just show up! La Boehme is one of the most famous and tuneful of all operas, and this new production will feauture the Metropolitan Opera debut of one of today’s most celebrated sopranos, Anita Hartwig. For a sample from rehearsal see http://www.metoperafamily.org/opera/boheme-puccini-tickets.
§ Violin and Organ Concert: On Sunday, 6 April, at 4:00pm we will enjoy a concert of music for violin and organ, performed by The Gough Duo of the United Kingdom, praised in American Record Guide for “spectacular playing” and “wonderful” music. For details of their repertoire see http://www.goughduo.co.uk/ The concert is free. There will be a Gala reception afterward in St. Nicholas Hall. A free will offering will be gratefully accepted.
§ Spring Clean-up! We will gather for Spring clean-up on Saturday, 12 April. This will allow us to get the parish in top shape before the start of Holy Week. Please sign up to work on the indoor crew, which will focus on cleaning and painting, or the outdoor crew, which will focus on garden and grounds clean-up. In the event of bad weather, the outdoor clean-up will be rescheduled, but the indoor crew will meet. The day will begin at 8:30 a.m., to be concluded by 12:30 p.m. Morning snacks will be provided. If you can’t help with clean-up, sign up to provide help with the lunch that will conclude the effort! Contact the office to sign up.
§ All Saints' Chapel Ownership - Sunday services at All Saints' Chapel will continue to be a shared ministry this year which means volunteers will be needed to have ownership of opening and closing the chapel. A sign-up sheet is located in the Narthex. If you have questions regarding responsibilities, please ask any member of the Vestry.