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Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Lively Faith

Grace Episcopal Church
Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Grace Notes
6 March 2014

I am sometimes asked by fellow clergy about my opinion of the spiritual state of the parish.  Whatever words I may have used in making an answer, they have been inadequate.  All I need to do is to point to the booklet Parish Lenten Devotions, which we distributed beginning on Ash Wednesday.  (The devotions project is the front page story in the March edition of the diocesan newspaper, The Clarion, found here: ).
In the devotional booklet there are collected forty prayerful responses, forty statements of faith in response to the Gospel.  These forty statements speak to a developed awareness of and response to our Lord’s presence in our midst.  The spiritual state of the parish is that the parish is filled with Holy Spirit!
The responses to the Gospel found the devotional booklet vary in perspective and expression, but each speaks to a lively faith.  Just as we have shared faith with each other in writing, so will we share faith with each other in discussion and prayer, as we come together in Adult Education on Sunday mornings in Lent to journey together using the devotional booklet as our template.  This journey will be augmented by Friday evening simple suppers, following Stations of the Cross, in which we will relate the way of the Cross using the words and experiences of fellow parishioners.  On both Sunday mornings and Friday evenings we will use small group discussion formats to explore our faith together.  For example, a parishioner might start a discussion of the station in which a woman in the crowd wipes Jesus’ face by relating how he/she once witnessed an unexpected act of kindness undertaken at risk to the person providing the kindness, and how this made him or her experience God’s presence.
Join us in a lively faith!  Join us as the Spirit uses each of us to help this Body to grow!

Grace Abounds:  Please thank:
§  Tasha Crouse for collating and preparing the devotional submissions for our Lenten Devotions booklet.
§  Bernie Markevitch and Mary Ann Nueses for preparing the brat fry for our Shrove Tuesday supper, and Mary Snyder for clean-up.

Call for ContributionsIf 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.

Messages and Meaning:  This past Sunday was my “flower” day.  You may have wondered what was meant by the dedication included in the mass booklet: “Flowers in the church are given to the greater glory of God by Bobbi Kraft in anticipation and thanksgiving for Psalm 27:5.”
I often include passages with my memorials or thanksgivings.  It’s great fun to engage in conversation with those who have looked the passages up and shared with me.  This past Sunday was no different…especially since it became apparent quickly that Psalm 27:5 is not the same in all versions of the Bible.  In fact, in many versions, the passage that I meant is actually found in verse 4 not verse 5!  You’d really be left to wonder what I meant if you read from a bible that included my verse in the wrong order.
What a wonderful illustration for life!  Often times, we know EXACTLY what message we’re trying to convey.  Often times, our message is misunderstood because we lack a common frame of reference.  In those moments, we can choose to get embarrassed, frustrated or angry.  OR, we can choose to identify the discrepancy, provide clarity, and move on from there.  What a relief to know God has given us the choice!  All we must do is choose wisely.
In the meantime, it is my hope that we can all embrace Psalm 27:5 as it is stated in the Book of Common Prayer: “One thing have I asked of the Lord; one thing I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.”  I will…with anticipation and thanksgiving!  Hope to see you there!                                                                                                   ―Bobbi Kraft

Episcopal Youth CommunitySon of God
This past weekend the movie Son of God was released in theaters. The youth group went to see it and by the end of it were just as silent as the rest of the people in the crowd (in a good way). The movie is the story of Jesus from the perspective of St. John's account of the Gospel, starts with the famous opening of "In the beginning was the word" and carries through Jesus' ascension. The storyline follows three groups: Jesus and his followers, Pilate, and the religious leaders including Caiaphas the high priest.
For myself, personally, I found the movie to be overall a really great way to share the gospel and bring it to life in a meaningful way. I had a couple of aha moments throughout the movie, where watching the scenario play out with real people in a real space made the gospel make more sense. The only parts that distracted me from the story at first was the fact that all of the actors speak really great English, with almost no regional accents at all, and there was a moment in the first couple of scenes with adult Jesus where I worried that the movie was going to get cheesy. In the end, I was able to accept the accents as they were, and the cheesy-ness disappeared as the greatest story ever told was brought to life and the miracles that Jesus did seemed no less miraculous on the silver screen than they do between the covers of the Bible.
When I asked the youth group for their thoughts about the movie, all were very positive. In fact when we were leaving the theater, one of the first things that was said (and repeated) was "That was good." They felt that this was a good way to break the barrier of telling the story of Jesus and the difficulty some people have with reading the bible, whether it is the verbiage, the style, or a lack of guidance, we all felt that this could be a good way to start off discussions with our friends who weren't Christian, or even amongst ourselves.
I myself and the youth group as a whole give this movie a thumbs up. And I know that I want to watch it again
―Grace and peace, Nick

A Lenten Discipline:  Lent is fast approaching now and one can only hope spring is not far off! Do you have a Lenten discipline in place?  I do and I would like to share it with you.  Remember all those beautiful Christmas cards and letters you received?  And what do you do with them?  I gather them up into a basket and starting on Ash Wednesday I randomly pick one out, read it and the accompanying letter at leisure as well as enjoy thoughts of that person and family and then I take a moment to pray for them.  Sometimes I even write them a note or email them to let them know they are in my thoughts and prayers.  This is my card ministry and it doesn't have to stop at Easter! All year long I collect correspondence (birthday cards, thank you , get well, announcement cards, etc. and put in another basket and then during Ordinary Time (after Pentecost) I begin the process again. After all, we all can use prayers from others to lift us up.
       ―Barb MacEwen
Music this week:  

Prelude                                    I call to thee, Lord Jesus Christ           Pachelbel & Bach
Great Litany (sung in procession)
Psalm 32:1-8                                                                                       Anglican chant: Dobey
Sanctus & Agnus Dei              Gregorian Mass X (Alme Pater)         Plainsong, adapt. Wildman
Offertory Hymn 143               “The glory of these forty days”          Erhalt uns, Herr
Communion Motet                  Bread of the world                              Hodges
Communion Hymn 343          “Shepherd of souls, refresh and bless”  St. Agnes
Closing Hymn 150                  “Forty days and forty nights”             Aus der Tiefe
Postlude                                  Lord, keep us steadfast by thy Word    Pachelbel

Parish Notices

§  Metropolitan Opera:  On Saturday, 15 March, we will gather at 11:45 a.m. for the live broadcast of Jules Massenet’s masterpeice Werther, in a new production starring Jonas Kauffman and Sophie Koch.  A review of this found here:

§  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.

§  Soup and Cinema: The movie series continues on Wednesday, 12 March at 6 p.m. with the 1977 feature The Duellists (Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel). Based on the Joseph Conrad short story The Duel, the film follows the history of a personal enmity, of an unjust search for vengeance, and of the need for forgiveness.

§  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. For example, a parishioner might offer a testimony relating his/ her life to the eighth station (when Simon of Cyrene is given Jesus’ cross to bear), by relating how in his/her life he/she was “blind sided” by the burden of somebody else, and how in bearing this person’s burden with them, he/she participated in Jesus’ life in the world. 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.

§  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. Most of the Fridays are open. Thank you for your willingness to serve in this manner.

§  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

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