Grace Episcopal Church
28 August 2014
Tolle, lege. These famous Latin words were heard by St. Augustine of Hippo (who’s feast is this day) in connection with his conversion from Gnosticism and libertinism to faith in Christ. The words mean “take up and read”, and were heard by Augustine in a childlike voice. Augustine opened a bible to read the first words he saw, and ended up reading chs. 12 through 15 of St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, the same section of the epistle which forms our New Testament readings from last week until the third Sunday in September. In this section of his letter, Paul switches from argument to exhortation, teaching about how believers are transformed in Jesus Christ.
What was the verse or section in Scripture that you first read on your own, or that you first remember being read to, or taught? In my own case I, like Augustine, opened a bible at random, and read Mtt. 25.31-46, after an encounter with a dying patient in an emergency room kept me awake, and prompted me to search for something to read in the middle of the night. I have never forgotten those verses (or reading all of Matthew that night), and began the process that led to my conversion to the faith that night.
God has many ways of speaking to us, often in Scripture, but we need to pay attention. When we do we learn that the initiative is always with God. (There’s even a fancy theological term for this reality—“prevenient grace”.) Even when we focus on transformation, and, like Augustine, pay attention to what Paul exhorts us to in Romans 12—15, we do not transform ourselves, but are transformed. No matter how diligent and faithful we may seek to be, the transformation is effected by God, not by us, and takes place only to the extent that we make ourselves available to God, and make our wills subject to His.
Augustine was probably one of the most brilliant men who ever lived. As such, he was often a proud man who had to struggle with how his own will was subject to God’s, but when he subsumed his pride in real faith God used him to teach doctrine which is bedrock to Christian belief and understanding. However brilliant and gifted any one of us may be, this brilliance and these gifts are gifts from God. As such, God will use them when we make ourselves available to God. We may never write great works of theology, like Augustine, or give to the Church such great prayers as the Te Deum, but God will use each one of us in the work and mission He intends. Whether literally or figuratively, when we “take up and read,” and pay attention to what God is saying, He will transform us, and He will use us to transform the world around us.
Grace Abounds: Please thank:
§ Paul and Andrea Aparicio for setting up Sunday coffee hour.
§ Jon and Michele Whitford for hosting the youth and family ministry brainstorming session and cookout, with additional goodies from Bobbi and Kaleigh Kraft.
§ Julie Davidson, Shephard Gooenow, Scott Lubbers, and Jennifer Pawlus for help with the floor refinishing project.
Call for Contributions: If you have a spiritual reflection to share, or want to point your fellow worshipers toward a resource, submit your contributions to Fr. Karl (by email) by Wednesday in the week of publication.
Youth and Family Ministries: This past Sunday at our brainstorming meeting for Youth and Family Ministries, we had a great turnout and many ideas were put forward to be considered for the direction, course, and future activities of our ministries at Grace Church. Many of the ideas that were put forward are ones that would be fun for a parish family to participate in to create a larger sense of community, and let's be honest, just to have some fun. Other ideas were specifically focused on community and mission minded outreach. As we continue to brainstorm separately and bounce ideas off of each other. P lease put forward any ideas you have for any ministry in our church. If you don't know what ministries there are, ask. If there something that you think should be at Grace Church, but we don't have it, talk about it and maybe you're being called to start something new! Stay tuned to see what happens next, and don't forget to get involved!
Sheboygan County Interfaith Organization (SCIO): With all of the discussion in the parish about the LoveINC initiative, let’s not forget SCIO. The parish supports SCIO with an annual donation, and members of Grace also work in SCIO-sponsored ministries. Mary Ann N. attends SCIO meetings for Grace, but in order to elevate the profile of opportunities to serve we are specifically recruiting your interest. Get further details at www.sheboygancountyinterfaith.org . We need an in-parish champion who can provide timely electronic media feeds for the blog, newsletter, Facebook page, etc. If you are interested, speak to Mary Ann and also to Fr. Karl.
Caveat donor (Let the donor beware!) The Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis—Lou Gehrig’s Disease) has “gone viral”. This serves as a good example of how we all need to know what monies donated will be used for. The challenge allows participants to make no donation, or to donate to any organization conducting ALS research, but the expectation involves a donation to ALS Association (ALSA). This would pose a problem if, for example, you believe a moral issue is presented by research using harvested human fetal stem cells, which ALSA supports. This is just an example, but it reminds us that in dealing with charity solicitations it is necessary to know who is soliciting, what they will use the funds for, and how much of the funds go to the stated charitable purpose (as opposed to overhead). www.charitynavigator.org is a useful resource to look at financial issues, and to provide links for further research. The websites of individual charities should have mission statements and disclosures about activities. Make an informed decision. (If you wish to explore the moral issues which relate to research using harvested human fetal stem cells, please see Fr. Karl.)
A Project Milestone: Our project to refinish the church floor reached a significant milestone yesterday. All of the floor within the rood screen has been completed. Combined with the Lady Chapel and the chapel of Christ the King, this represents about 1/3 of the total area in the church. At this rate, the complete project should be finished by early in the second quarter of 2015.
The next areas to be addressed include the vertical ceramic tiles at the base of the rood screen, the entrance way, the chapel of St. Jospeh, and the confessional/cry room. After these separate areas are refinished, we will attack the main floor, starting at the front on the pulpit side.
Music this week: Proper 17A
Prelude Prelude on ‘Rendez à Dieu’ Geoffrey Vintner
Opening Hymn 477 “All praise to thee” Engelberg
Offertory Hymn 450 “All hail the power of Jesus’ Name” Coronation
Communion Hymn 302 “Father, we thank thee who hast planted” Rendez à Dieu
Closing Hymn 555 “Lead on, O King eternal” Lancashire
Postlude Voluntary in C William Croft
§ Mass in the Grass: Please join us Next Sunday, September 7, 2014 for an outdoor Mass and All Church Picnic at Deland Community Center, 901 Broughton Dr., Sheboygan, the Mass will begin at 10:15 a.m. with lunch following. There will be games and an appearance by Hiccup the Clown for our children’s enjoyment. Inviting guests is encouraged. There will be ONE MASS only that day. Please sign up on the sheet on the Narthex table.
§ Sunday School Begins: We are getting excited about Sunday School! The teachers have met and plans are being made for another wonderful year of learning about the love of Jesus Christ! Sunday School will begin on September 14th at 9:00am. Please watch for more information.
§ Youth & Family News: This past Sunday at our brainstorming meeting for Youth and Family Ministries, we had a great turnout and many ideas were put forward to be considered for the direction, course, and future activities of our ministries at Grace Church. Many of the ideas that were put forward are ones that would be fun for a parish family to participate in to create a larger sense of community, and let's be honest, just to have some fun. Other ideas were specifically focused on community and mission minded outreach. As we continue to brainstorm separately and bounce ideas off of each other. Please put forward any ideas you have for any ministry in our church. If you don't know what ministries there are, ask. If there something that you think should be at Grace Church, but we don't have it, talk about it and maybe you're being called to start something new! Stay tuned to see what happens next, and don't forget to get involved!
§ Walsingham Music and Flowers: The Walsingham Pilgrimage is just around the corner and preparations are being made. We will have a quiet day with meditations concluding with Solemn Evensong on October 10th; and a Solemn Pontifical Mass with the Gaudete Brass again this year on October 11th. Please donate so we can once again offer beautiful music that has become so much a part of the pilgrimage and the flowers that add so much to the beauty of holiness. Please make you check out to Grace Church with Walsingham music or flowers or both in the memo. Thank you.
§ SCIO – Sheboygan County Interfaith Organization: We have been a member of SCIO for many years. We have donated time and money for the outreach to the community, especially for women and children. There is a sign up sheet on the table in the Narthex to receive the newsletter which will give many ideas about how to help. If you have questions please talk to Mary Ann Neuses.
§ “Before and After”: The floor cleaning project to well underway! If you are interested in participating, see Fr. Karl. This is tough, physical labor, so if you are challenged in working on hands and knees, consider whether you want to help with material costs, with a gift outside of your regular giving to the parish. Thank you to all who are helping.