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Thursday, March 20, 2014

There is Nothing Egypt can Do

Grace Episcopal Church
Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Grace Notes
20 March 2014

There is nothing Egypt can do (Isaiah 19:15): Egypt is helpless.  Helplessness isn't enjoyed, rather we try echoing Henley, “I am the captain of my fate; I am the master of my soul.”  Being in control helps us feel secure.  To give up control, to place our fate in the hands of another can be difficult.  So we live briefly with some power, control, & independence.  But always there’s the reality of what’s coming.   When death approaches, we can submit to its inevitability or fruitlessly resist; it makes no difference.  Resistance sometimes brings additional time, but death will have its triumph.  It matters not who we are, rich, poor, brilliant, dull, popular, hated, religious or not. 
The Greeks summed life; we are born, suffer, & die.  True, but not at all complete.  The temptation is to binge, living out another Greek adage, ‘Eat, drink, & be merry for tomorrow we die.’  However, clinging to such a perspective brings scant comfort.
How are you doing?”  Responding, “Better than I deserve.” interjects a needed, unexpected, moral element.  For, death isn't the end.  Then there’s the judgment.  Judgment.  At the heart of Judgment is separation.  The fishermen separate the fish in the net, clean & unclean in Jesus’ stark parable of the Kingdom.  Sounds cold, impersonal, and unfair; can carp by dint of will transform themselves into perch?
Moses:  I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death ...  We choose either life or death; our choice sets life’s trajectory; our Judgment becomes self-evident.  Paul would likely say that at birth the flesh has already made its choice, death.  Only God’s grace can enable us to change that choice.  But it’s not merely life against death that we choose.  It is Life dependent on our relationship with Him.  It’s the Life of the four living creatures ceaselessly singing, “Holy, Holy, Holy” to the one seated on the throne.  It's the Life of those who see by the light of Life and live by the word of Life.  It's the Life which comes from the tree of Life (the Cross), the water of Life (Baptism), and the bread of Life (Communion).  It's the Life of those whose names are written in the book of Life.
Choose Life!
                                                                                                                  ―Fr. John Ambelang

Grace Abounds:  Please thank:
§  Barb and Bob MacEwen, Jack Britton and Jennifer Pawlus for the Friday night Lenten supper.
§  Deb and Bill Gagin, the MacEwens, and Caleb and Roman Klinzing for the Sunday coffee hours.
§  Jane Hanson and Susan McIntosh for leading the Friday meditations at our Lenten supper.
§  Those who provided for the needs of Happening #67, including:  Fr. John Ambelang, Mary Clabots, Mary Gallimore, Jane Hanson, Katy Larson, and Emily Williams.

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.

Is Son of God worth seeing?  As posted recently, our youth group thinks so.  Here is a another helpful review:

Episcopal Youth Community:  Stress—Relief—Happy
This week my family went on a hunt to find new furniture for our living room, and we found the experience to be a little stressful. At first is was fun, running with a toddler plopping on the different chairs and couches, but then you have to start deciding on something you would like to keep.With a toddler, nothing is inherently easy it seems, all the fun of jumping into couches fades, and now it's time for some food, or water, or some other distraction, and the stress starts to compound. Finally after probably too much time debating on the imaginary differences, having decided, but apparently unwilling to commit, we chose our furniture.
Bought, paid for, signed, sealed, and delivery scheduled. Relief.
That night was a much better night than the one before it. And now all we have to do is over the course of a week, prepare the room, ourselves, and try to explain to a toddler what the changes are, and why it's okay. We are very happy with our choices, and we look forward to enjoying it in our home soon! This is another check in our "adult things to do list", buy new furniture.
Let me shift gears for a second. Over the past weeks, the youth group and I have been looking at and studying the Stations of the Cross. We have been preparing for our turn to host the Friday night Stations at Grace on April 4th.
The Stations, are a story of stress, leading to relief, and eventually happiness. Maximum stress, and maximum happiness. This Lent I have been reflecting on how my stress is leading to happiness.
In order to inspire happiness, follow the link to see the music video for the Academy Award Winning Song "Happy" by Pharrell Williams:
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 Partita on Our Father, thou in heaven above            Buxtehude
Introit                          My eyes are ever looking toward the Lord                              Plainsong
Offertory Hymn 401   “The God of Abraham praise”                                                Leoni
Communion Motet      Like as the hart                                                                        Willan
Comm. Hymn 684      “O for a closer walk with God”                                              Caithness
Closing Hymn 655      “O Jesus, I have promised”                                                     Nyland
Postlude                      Fantasia in E Flat                                                                    Pachelbel

Parish Notices

§  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.

§  The Feast of the Annunciation: We celebrate on 25 March at 6:00 p.m. the Feast of the Annunciation, which commemorates the annunciation by the archangel Gabriel to Mary that she will bear the Messiah (Luke 1.26-38) On this day the liturgical colors change in Lent, i.e., the feast takes precedence over the season. It was, in the West, New Year’s Day until 1582. The Solemn Eucharist will be followed by an All Parish Potluck Dinner. Please sign up on the sheet in the Narthex and join the festivities.

§  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.

§  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.

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