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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Faithful Transformation

Grace Episcopal Church
Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Grace Notes
1 January 2015

We are called to be faithful.  We are called into transformation, in new life which is in the world but not of the world.  In other words, we are called to accept the kingdom which God offers, and this requires us to look for the kingdom in everything and all around us.  That’s part of what the prophets do.  It is not that a prophet foretells the future, but that in speaking for God a prophet describes a reality that we cannot see unless we look outward from a heart which is filled with the Spirit.  Consider that in Biblical Hebrew (unlike modern Hebrew), there is no future tense for verbs.  There isn’t even a word for “future”.  Greatly over-simplified, Biblical Hebrew has two inflected verb tenses, the perfect for past actions and the imperfect for actions continuing into the present or future. What becomes interesting, therefore, is when we think not in future but in present, continuing action terms.  For example, in the Old Testament lesson for Epiphany (Isaiah 60.1-6), we read:  “[T]he Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you” (v. 2).  If we ignore the future tense of the English translation, the verse can be read as “The Lord rises upon you, and his glory appears over you.”
Is this just a grammatical detail?  Yes and no.  How Biblical Hebrew works is of lesser importance.  But, when we live our lives in the Christian hope that God not only will come to us, but does, then we see the world differently, and we live in our disagreements differently.  We receive the kingdom as a child (Mark 10.15), as ones who are not planning how we will “win” at a future time, but as ones who experience joy at the present gift of God.  We experience the joy of God’s kingdom in this world, and disagreements pale in this light.  So, when you encounter someone with whom you disagree in matters of theology, ask yourself whether you believe that that person loves God, and loves his or her neighbor.  If the answers are “yes,” then share the joy of being in Christ together.  If the answer is “no,” then remember that God has chosen you to make His love “present tense,” and to testify to His truth by word and action.

Grace abounds: 
§  . Please thank: Dale & Mary Massey for providing coffee hour on Sunday.

“Leave behind” cards:  Small bookmark shaped cards are available for you to give to friends when you talk about the church.  These cards list the times of all of our prayer and worship services, how to get more information, when Bible study and adult education meet, etc.  The cards are available in the office or in the Ontario Avenue entrance to the nave.  The supply in the office is packaged with small olive wood crosses.  These “leave behind cards” should always be offered to visitors, but also take a supply with you to share in outreach.

Call for ContributionsIf 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 Ministry
Film School - whittling down the semester
Hello! Grace and peace! Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!
With so much happening this semester and especially in the couple of weeks surrounding Christmas it is hard to make certain that all of the little things get done. And while that is a problem, it turns out that I happened to do a whole bunch of the little things, but not the bigger thing they pertain to.
I am speaking about Film School (as my title gives away). As this past semester has gone on I have been preparing movies and videos for the next semester, but in point of fact I never actually set the semester schedule! DOH!
So here I am telling you about it.
I will say that part of the problem is whittling down the number of selections. I have in the wings, so to speak, nearly twenty films to choose from, which is very exciting, but my problem has been one of "theme" and "scope" for the Spring semester.
I can tell you now, that our theme throughout the films and videos will be "relationships", and our scope will include friends, enemies, parents, God, romantic, families, pastoral (possibly), and maybe others in a tangential sort of way.
Our first movie will span three weeks (Jan 4, 11, 18), and will be Enchanted starring Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey. Along with this film we will have the opportunity to discuss romantic relationships fairy-tales and expectations vs reality and gender roles in particular. The rest of the semester will be posted soon!
I hope to see you all there 9am Sunday morning!
Nick


Ministry Opportunities:  At a recent parish forum questions were raised about how people are asked to serve in specific ministries.  The long and short answer is that people are not asked; rather, they ask to serve.  A complete list of parish ministries is found on the parish website, www.gracesheboygan.com.  Ministry opportunities are listed under the following headings (found in the pull-down menu in the top banner):
  • Worship:  Ministry Opportunities  Descriptions include those of lector, acolyte, altar guild, greeter, lay eucharistic minister, usher, verger.
  • Outreach:  Separate headings are found for Our Community, Our Nation, and Our World.  Under each heading ministries are described, such as work with The Salvation Army.  Contact information is provided, or, if it is left undefined you can always contact the parish office.
  • Grace Ministries and Spiritual Gifts:  A lengthy menu allows you to explore an inventory and description of spiritual gifts and how these gifts relate to ministries of the parish.
Don’t forget the choir!  Singers are needed.  You can contact Dr. Benjamin Dobey for more details about the music ministries of the parish.
What’s not on the list?  What is not on the list is what Our Lord is calling you to offer as a ministry.  If you believe you are called to a ministry not listed, please come forward so that we can recruit others to serve with you.

Music this week

Christmas 2  January 5th, 2015

Entrance Hymn 94  “While shepherds watched their flocks by night”  Winchester Old
Offertory Hymn 110  “The snow lay on the ground”  Venite adoremus
Communion Hymn 112        “In the bleak midwinter”  Cranham
Closing Hymn  87  “Hark! the herald angels sing”   Gutenberg


The Epiphany of Our Lord January 6, 2015
Prelude  Chorale Prelude on How brightly shines the Morning Star  Johann Pachelbel
Entrance Hymn 109  The first Nowell  John Stainer
Offertory Hymn 128  We three kings   John Henry Hopkins Jr.
Communion Motet    Saw you never in the twilight      French carol, harm. Charles Wood
Closing Hymn 117 Brightest and Best    James Proctor Harding
Postlude      Chorale Prelude on How brightly shines the Morning Star Max Reger

Parish Notices

Christian Formation: Today, January 4th we will gather for Care and Share groups. Please grab a cup of coffee and we will meet in the library, conference room and the Deacon’s office.

The Feast of the Epiphany: We will celebrate the Feast of Epiphany Tuesday, January 6th. Parishioners and their guests are invited to Solemn Mass beginning at 6:00 p.m. followed by an all Parish Dinner and Dessert Buffet. Please sign up in the narthex or by calling the church office at 452-9659.

Flower Schedule for 2015: 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.
Simple Potluck Supper and Compline: Sunday, January 11th we will have our first Sunday of the month Simple Potluck Supper at 6:30pm. We will be joined by Fr. Ralph Osborne from St. Thomas, Menasha who will be presenting pictures and talking about the upcoming pilgrimage to Israel November 2015. Come and enjoy the fellowship then stay for Compline at 8:00pm. The Schola Cantorum will be singing Compline which is the night time prayers said or sung just before retiring. It is a wonderful and peaceful way to end the day.
Holy Land and Jordan Pilgrimage: October 30– November 14, 2015.
Aims of this Pilgrimage
      To study the Life and Ministry of Jesus in context
      To rediscover the roots and traditions of Christian faith
      To explore the Bible lands as students and pilgrims
      To integrate academic biblical study with personal Christian faith
      To relate to the local Church in the Holy Land
      To begin to relate our experience to our lives and ministries back home
Staff
The Rev. Dr. Kamal Farah , Director of Studies and Senior Lecturer
The Rev. Ralph Osborne
Mr. Bishara Khoury, Group Leader / Logistics Coordinator


Directory Update: We will be printing a new directory to be finished in time for the Annual Meeting on January 25th. Please check your entry to make sure your address, phone and email are all correct. The draft can be found on the narthex table. Thank you.



The Annual Meeting: This year’s annual meeting will take place on Sunday January 25, 2015.  We will have one Mass followed by the annual meeting held in the Church.  We plan to have an all parish pot-luck lunch in St. Nicholas Hall at the conclusion of the meeting.  The agenda of the meeting will include committee reports, new Vestry and Warden elections, 2014 financial review and 2015 budget, review Vestry actions, and an overall review of the 2015 calendar. Please make every effort to attend and participate.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Grace Episcopal Church
Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Grace Notes
25 December 2014

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.  Merry Christmas!  Isaiah’s words of prophecy echo in our ears this day; may they also echo in our hearts.  These words echoed on that Christmas day, that Holy Nativity two millennia ago, when the angel of the Lord proclaimed to the shepherds:  Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  Consider those words with care, words like:  good tidings; great joy; a Savior.  Consider also the fact that the angel tells the shepherds that this good news of great joy, of a Savior, is news and joy of something that happens, of one who comes, this day.
How did the shepherds receive the news of the angel?  These shepherds, who were likely the same sort of people you can meet today as shepherds in the Middle East, in other words, untutored boys and young teenagers, how did they receive this news?  The news of the one angel was accompanied right away with the rejoicing of a multitude of angels:  “Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.”  This same rejoicing we make in this celebration of the Holy Eucharist when we sing the Gloria.  We sing this Gloria because salvation is come to us; our Lord is with us.  And so we are called to act like those same shepherds.
What did the shepherds do?  They said, “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.”  And then “they went with haste” and found the “child lying in a manger.”  They went and found their Savior, just as we are called to find our Savior, who is with us this day.  Having found their Savior, the shepherds returned into the world “... glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen ...,” just as we, having found God in this sacrifice of the most Holy Eucharist, are to return into the world, glorifying and praising God for all that we have heard and seen.  Let us thank God for all that we have experienced; for all that we have experienced in this most Holy Communion, when we do this to make Jesus present again.

Grace abounds:  Please thank:
§  Elizabeth Schaffenburg, Katy Larson and Bryan Stenz for the Sunday coffee hours.
§  The Christmas decorating crew:  Bernie Markevitch, Rachel Boland, Scot Fabiano, Kaleigh Kraft, Susan McIntosh, Bryan Stenz, and Jon Whitford.
§  Nick Whitford for organizing the very successful family movie night.
§  Ben Dobey and the choir for all of their extra work!
§  Claudia Fischer and the altar guild for all of their extra work!
§  Bill May for all of his extra work, and Michele Whitford for myriad extra bulletins and liturgical details.
§  Scot Fabiano and the acolytes for all their extra work!
§  Christmas Castle:
§  Christmas Joy:  Bernie Markevitch, Scott Lubbers, Bob and Ann Hanlon, Katy Larson, Mary Massey, Mary Snyder, Jennifer Keller, Bev Evans, Pat Sather, Traci Revas, Andrea Apparicio, Mary Kohler, Barb MacEwen, and Joyce Wessel.

“Leave behind” cards:  Small bookmark shaped cards are available for you to give to friends when you talk about the church.  These cards list the times of all of our prayer and worship serives, how to get mor einformation, when Bible study and adult education meet, etc.  The cards are available in the office or in the Ontario Avenue entrance to the nave.  The supply in the office is packaged with small olive wood crosses.  These “leave behind cards” should always be offered to visitors, but also take a supply with yoiu to share in outreach.

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.

Youth and Family MinistryHow Family Movie Night impacted me this Christmas.

At our Family Movie Night we watched The Santa Clause. We had a small but energetic crowd which made the whole event very fun. One of the major themes of the movie is faith. At one point during the movie one of Santa's elves is trying to help the new Santa cope, while at the North Pole for the first time he says, "This is a dream. I see it, but I don't believe it." The elf responds with, "You're missing the point. Seeing isn't believing, believing is seeing".
Let's go back to the story we're celebrating. The birth of Jesus, the son of God, begotten not made, fully God and fully man, Wonderful Counselor, Jehovah, Emmanuel, Christ, Messiah. This baby had a belly button. Mary and Joseph had to raise a child (from birth) who was prophesied to be the Messiah of his people. A daunting task, considering many parent's would be happy if they raised their child to be "normal". Regardless of the miracles that brought the two of them to that stable the night he was born. I wonder how different it was for Joseph to have a baby to hold instead of just a baby to talk about. Speaking from my personal story, the difference between having a pregnant wife, and having a child to hold are too numerous to mention. I wonder if his experience was, "I see it, and I believe it".
In the Gospel of John we read the story of the apostles in the upper room, and Jesus, recently risen from the grave, appears to them. When Thomas, one of the twelve comes back, the whole place is buzzing with activity as might be expected. After his friends witness to him about what had happened, he still says that he won't believe it until he sees it. Later on, Jesus comes back into the room and shows Thomas his wounds so that he will believe. "Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:29).
So, where does that put us? Where do we fit in? Well... we have a choice. We are called by God to partake in the mystery of his Son. We as Christians are both being witnessed to, and bearing witness to the life and grace of Jesus the Messiah. We are like the Shepherds who hear the clarion call of the angel saying, "Peace, do not be afraid", and who after witnessing the baby went out and witnessed to all around that something wonderful has happened. God has come to us, and we can choose to believe in His Truth, Justice, Freedom, Mercy, Grace, Peace, and Glory. Or we can miss the point entirely and in spite of seeing it, choose to not believe. When we choose to believe we can see more clearly that God has come to Earth out of love to deliver his people, and bring them into closer communion with Him.
In the manger is born this day, the promise of God, Grace and Peace personified. Hallelujah! Merry Christmas!
―Nick Whitford
Youth and Family Ministries

Ministry Opportunities:  At a recent parish forum questions were raised about how people are asked to serve in specific ministries.  The long and short answer is that people are not asked; rather, they ask to serve.  A complete list of parish ministries is found on the parish website, www.gracesheboygan.com.  Ministry opportunities are listed under the following headings (found in the pull-down menu in the top banner):
  • Worship:  Ministry Opportunities  Descriptions include those of lector, acolyte, altar guild, greeter, lay eucharistic minister, usher, verger.
  • Outreach:  Separate headings are found for Our Community, Our Nation, and Our World.  Under each heading ministries are described, such as work with The Salvation Army.  Contact information is provided, or, if it is left undefined you can always contact the parish office.
  • Grace Ministries and Spiritual Gifts:  A lengthy menu allows you to explore an inventory and description of spiritual gifts and how these gifts relate to ministries of the parish.
Don’t forget the choir!  Singers are needed.  You can contact Dr. Benjamin Dobey for more details about the music ministries of the parish.
What’s not on the list?  What is not on the list is what Our Lord is calling you to offer as a ministry.  If you believe you are called to a ministry not listed, please come forward so that we can recruit others to serve with you.

Music this week

December 25th at 9 a.m.

Entrance Hymn 83                    “O come, all ye faithful”
Gloria in excelsis                       New English Folk Mass
Offertory Hymn 87                   “Hark! the herald angels sing”
Sanctus & Agnus Dei                New English Folk Mass
Communion Hymn 115             “What child is this”

Closing Hymn 96                      “Angels we have heard on high”

December 28th at 10:15 a.m., The First Sunday after Christmas (Morning Prayer)

Parish Notices

§  Vacation! Fr. Karl & Elizabeth will be on vacation starting after the 9:00am Christmas Day Mass and will return Friday, January 2, 2015. If you have a pastoral emergency please call Deacon Michele 920-918-1230.

§  Christian Formation: On December 28th there will be no Christian Formation for adults or children. Formation for all ages will resume January 4, 2015

§  2014 Pledge Statements: 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 call the office at 452-9659. If you want tax credit for your pledge paid in 2014, you must have the payment in the office by Tuesday, December 30th. A check dated the 30th, but arriving later cannot be counted as paid in 2014. All payments received after the 30th will be credited in 2015. Thank you so much.

§  Directory Update: We will be printing a new directory to be finished in time for the Annual Meeting on January 25th. Please check your entry to make sure your address, phone and email are all correct. The draft can be found on the narthex table. Thank you.

§  The Feast of the Epiphany: We will celebrate the Feast of Epiphany Tuesday, January 6th. Parishioners and their guests are invited to Solemn Mass beginning at 6:00 p.m. followed by dinner and dessert buffet. Please sign up in the narthex or by calling the church office at 452-9659.

§  Simple Potluck Supper and Compline: Sunday, January 11th we will have our first Sunday of the month Simple Potluck Supper at 6:30pm. We will be joined by Fr. Ralph Osborne from St. Thomas, Menasha who will be presenting pictures and talking about the upcoming pilgrimage to Israel November 2015. Come and enjoy the fellowship then stay for Compline at 8:00pm. The Schola Cantorum will be singing Compline which is the night time prayers said or sung just before retiring. It is a wonderful and peaceful way to end the day.

§  Flower Schedule for 2015: 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.



Thursday, December 18, 2014

Purify Our Conscience

Grace Episcopal Church
Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Grace Notes
18 December 2014

As we draw closer to the end of the calendar year, it is natural to think about what will happen in the year to come.  We like to make plans, albeit realizing that whatever we intend to be different will have to wait until after the busyness of the Christmas holiday season.  But in planning we must remind ourselves that God’s purpose is best accomplished when we get our own wills out of the way and allow God’s will to work in us.  The initiative is with God, as recognized in collect for the fourth Sunday of Advent:
Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.
Notice that the Collect doesn't describe us as active but God as active.  Like Joseph in the nativity story we are to make ourselves available to God, to hear His message and respond to it.  We need to be ready to receive the message of the Gospel.  We need to open our hearts and minds to allow God to enter into and dwell within us, to allow the message of hope that we receive in this season of Advent to become the hope that lives within us; the hope that life is everlasting in Christ Jesus. 
How do we do this; how do we open our hearts and minds to God?  Again, the Collect tells us that it is not by our own power and of our own will alone that we can be open to God.  We pray that our conscience—that is our heart and mind—may be purified by God.  Purified how?  By God’s daily visitation; by the fact that at all times God reaches out to us and calls us to Him.  To the extent we don’t resist that touch, that call, we can then receive God, and in receiving Him come to know His truth:  that Jesus is the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.
As we prepare for our annual celebration of the incarnation of God, let’s focus on one plan that does very much involve our individual wills.  This plan is to make ourselves each more available to God.  We can do this by inviting God into a “daily visitation,” in prayer, in the reading and study of Scripture, in attendance on worship, in the offering of thanksgiving and praise, in inviting others to know God in worship.  Let God’s will be done by giving Him your will.

Grace abounds:  Please thank:
§  Bob and Hanne Hanlon, and Paul and Andrea Aparcio for the Sunday coffee hours.
§  Jane Hanson for help in the office.
§  Pat Ford Smith for work to put visitor crosses together with parish “leave behind cars”.

Small bookmark shaped cards are available for you to give to friends when you talk about the church.  These cards list the times of all of our prayer and worship serives, how to get mor einformation, when Bible study and adult education meet, etc.  The cards are available in the office or in the Ontario Avenue entrance to the nave.  The supply in the office is packaged with small olive wood crosses.  These “leave behind cards” should always be offered to visitors, but also take a supply with yoiu to share in outreach.
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.

Youth Ministry:  This Saturday we are going to be having a Family Movie Night. Everyone is invited to join us as we watch The Santa Clause starring Tim Allen. Our evening begins at 6:00 pm and will end right around 8:00 pm. Theater style popcorn, juice, coffee and tea will be served. Feel free to bring a snack for yourself, a seat if you want to a different type of chair (bean-bag chair, etc...), or to wear comfortable clothing (pajamas are perfectly acceptable). 

Plans for a Family Game Night are in the works to take place in January. More information about this as plans develop.
Thank you for your support, and participation!                                                    ―Nick

Ministry Opportunities:  At a recent parish forum questions were raised about how people are asked to serve in specific ministries.  The long and short answer is that people are not asked; rather, they ask to serve.  A complete list of parish ministries is found on the parish website, www.gracesheboygan.com.  Ministry opportunities are listed under the following headings (found in the pull-down menu in the top banner):
  • Worship:  Ministry Opportunities  Descriptions include those of lector, acolyte, altar guild, greeter, lay eucharistic minister, usher, verger.
  • Outreach:  Separate headings are found for Our Community, Our Nation, and Our World.  Under each heading ministries are described, such as work with The Salvation Army.  Contact information is provided, or, if it is left undefined you can always contact the parish office.
  • Grace Ministries and Spiritual Gifts:  A lengthy menu allows you to explore an inventory and description of spiritual gifts and how these gifts relate to ministries of the parish.
Don’t forget the choir!  Singers are needed.  You can contact Dr. Benjamin Dobey for more details about the music ministries of the parish.
What’s not on the list?  What is not on the list is what Our Lord is calling you to offer as a ministry.  If you believe you are called to a ministry not listed, please come forward so that we can recruit others to serve with you.

Who are the unchurched?  These are people in the community around us who profess some degree of faith; they speak some langauge of faith, but are not affiliated with any church.  These are the “low hanging fruit” in outreach.  Chracteristics of this group can be reviewed here:

Music this week:  The Fourth Sunday of Advent

Prelude                        Three Verses on Creator of the Stars of Night                                Titelouze
Entrance Hymn 72      “Hark! The glad sound! The Savior comes”                                  Richmond
Offertory Hymn 56     “O come, O come, Emmanuel”                                             Veni Emmanuel
Communion Motet      Ave Maria                                                                                         Arcadelt
Comm. Hymn 60        “Creator of the stars of night”                                              Conditor alme siderum
Closing Hymn 436      “Lift up your heads, ye might gates”                                                    Truro
Postlude                      Prelude on Venez Divin Messie                                                           Benoit

Christmas:  Music will be offered at all three Christmas services (4 and 10:30 p.m. on 24 December, and 9 a.m. on Christmas Day), but as of the publication of this update we only have details for the late service on the 24th:

Prelude at 10:30pm
Organ              Prelude on God rest ye merry                                                Wilbur Held
Cello                Adagio cantabile; Largo (Sonata in E)                                   Fran├žois Francouer  
Lindsay Fischer, cello
Flute duet        Pastorale from the Christmas Concerto                                 Arcangelo Corelli
                        Sandie Palmer and Sutton Cecil, flutes
                        Lindsay Fischer, cello
Hymn 81         “Lo, how a rose e’er blooming”                                              Es ist ein Ros
Choir               Still, still, still                                                   Austrian carol, arr. Norman Luboff
Hymn 105       “God rest ye merry, gentlepersons”                                        God rest ye merry
Choir               Christmas Night                                  16th century French melody, arr. John Rutter
                        Unto us is born a Son               Medieval Scandinavian carol, arr. David Willcocks

Solemn High Mass at 11pm
Introit (sung in Latin)        Dominus dixit                                                        Medieval Plainsong
Antiphon:  The Lord hath said unto me: Thou art my Son, this day have begotten thee.
Psalm:      Why do the nations so furiously rage together: and why do the people imagine
      a vain thing?
                  Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
      As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Antiphon:  The Lord hath said unto me: Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.
Hymn 83         O come all ye faithful                                                              John Francis Wade
Offertory 79    O little town of Bethlehem                                                       Phillip Brooks
Agnus Dei (choir, sung in Latin)         Missa de Angelis (Mass of the Angels)  Medieval Plainsong
            Lamb of God, who takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us.
            Lamb of God, who takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us.
            Lamb of God, who takest away the sin of the world, grant us thy peace.
Communion Motets     O little one sweet                              Old German melody, harm. J. S. Bach
Infant holy, infant lowly                            Polish carol, arr. David Willcocks
Comm. Hymn 111   Silent night, holy night     Joseph Mohr
Closing Hymn  96  Angels we have heard on high  French carol
Postlude                 Allegro giocoso from the Christmas Concerto                         Ricardo Liberti

December 25th at 9am

Entrance Hymn 83                    “O come, all ye faithful”
Gloria in excelsis                       New English Folk Mass
Offertory Hymn 87                   “Hark! the herald angels sing”
Sanctus & Agnus Dei                New English Folk Mass
Communion Hymn 115             “What child is this”

Closing Hymn 96                      “Angels we have heard on high”

Parish Notices

§  Christmas Flowers: If you would like to donate for Christmas flowers please fill out the slip of paper in the mass booklet, include a designation for memorials and/or thanksgivings. Deadline to be included in the list of donors in the Christmas mass booklets is this Monday, December 22, at noon. Please make checks out to Grace Church with Christmas flowers/music in the memo.

§  Youth and Children’s Choir: The final rehearsal will be Sunday, December 21st at 9:00am. The choir is open to 2nd graders through high school, and will sing for the 4pm service on Christmas Eve.

§  Christmas Pageant Rehearsals: Participation is open to youth of all ages. The Pageant will take place during the 4:00 p.m. Christmas Eve Mass. Please sign up on the sheet in the Narthex. If your child would like to participate but cannot make rehearsals please note that on the sheet or call the office.

§  Christmas Joy: is scheduled to meet on Monday, December 22 at 11:00am in the church kitchen. At that time we will assemble winter greens and flowers and bag cookies, and then make deliveries (there is a sign-up sheet in the narthex.) We need helping hands and money (to buy for packaging supplies and flowers.) Can you bake, make a delivery or help arrange? Please join us for this fulfilling and fun ministry to our shut-ins. They will appreciate it. If you have questions please call Barb MacEwen at 467-6909. 

§  2014 Pledge Statements: 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 call the office at 452-9659. If you want tax credit for your pledge paid in 2014, you must have the payment in the office by Tuesday, December 30th. A check dated the 30th, but arriving later cannot be counted as paid in 2014. All payments received after the 30th will be credited in 2015. Thank you so much.

§  Directory Update: We will be printing a new directory to be finished in time for the Annual Meeting on January 25th. Please check your entry to make sure your address, phone and email are all correct. The draft can be found on the narthex table. Thank you.

§  The Feast of the Epiphany: We will celebrate the Feast of Epiphany Tuesday, January 6th. Parishioners and their guests are invited to Solemn Mass beginning at 6:00 p.m. followed by a gala reception. Please sign up in the narthex or by calling the church office at 452-9659.


§  Flower Schedule for 2015: 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.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

He Came Down from Heaven

Grace Episcopal Church
Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Grace Notes
11 December 2014

This past Sunday we enjoyed our annual festival of Advent Lessons& Carols, a service which began as an Anglican observance and has now become more common in a number of western liturgical traditions.  Lessons & Carols is always experienced by me as a gift, perhaps because of the dramatic unfolding of the prophecies of the coming of the Christ, and the story of His coming, a story experienced both in Scripture and in song.  The song—both anthems and carols—recounts salvation history in ways that parallel and compliment the story set for in the Bible, and this should remind us that when we lift up our voices in church we are making statements of faith.  I think it is more because of these statements of what we believe, and of how these statements—when they are heartfelt—move us, that we sometimes experience something akin to strong emotion in singing.  True, the music may itself evoke a reaction (and we all have our favorite tunes), but any reaction to the music is an add-on in which the composer has first responded from the heart to what is being said.
What greater drama can there be than God coming among us?  He came down from heaven!  He abides with us now, and He will come again in power and great glory.  The final hymn sung at Lessons & Carols was (and most often is) Lo!  He comes with clouds descending, by that prince of hymn writers, Charles Wesley.  The words to this hymn have been expertly parsed by Dr. Benjamin Dobey in our December newsletter, but I want to emphasize again the drama in Wesley’s hymn.  It is in the face of the truly cosmic drama of God coming among us that we are moved, in ways that combine awe and joy, and which result in tears.  Be moved.  Be moved by all that God does in your life, and in our life together.  Pay attention to what you say in prayer, to what you sing, and let the so very strong drama in these words take hold of you.

Grace abounds:  Please thank:
§  Jessica Ambelang and Steve and Katy Larson for the Sunday coffee hours. 
§  Bernie Markevitch, Jessica Ambelang and Nicci and Chase Beeck for preparing the Lessons & Carols festival reception, with cleanup assistance from Julie Davidson and Hannah Sanders.
§  Dr. Benjamin Dobey and the choir for all of their extra work in preparing and performing the festival of lessons and carols.
§  Bobbi Kraft and Jon Whitford for help at the festival.

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.

Youth MinistryThe birth of Jesus was dirty, messy, scary, dangerous, and real.  We know about the birth of Jesus, right? Good. God went the full nine yards for His only begotten son: angels, porcelain faces, statuesque poses, quiet smiles, sitting-still long  enough for one of those enlightenment painters to give the moment majesty and awe. But what if Jesus was born in a barn with real live animals, dung, straw, dirt, and all the mess that goes into delivering a child. What if God going the whole nine yards means being born in the same mysterious and dangerous way as everyone else? What if it really was as scary as the idea of your car breaking down in the middle-of-no-where, with no cell-phone service, just as you (or your loved one) goes into labor? Let our conversations with my Sunday School class expand on that for a bit.
In Film School (6-12th grade Sunday School) we have been watching The Nativity Story (2006), which tells the story of Mary and Joseph leading up to the birth of Jesus. Throughout our time with this movie there have been several scenes that have raised a lot of questions, a few moments of "eww", and at least one "what in the world is that about?"
As it happens there was an appalling lack of doctors, scrubs, monitoring equipment, and bleached-clean rooms for the birth of Jesus' cousin John. This scene brought about a lot of squirming from the students, and since the movie is rated PG, the scene was shot basically from an adjoining room. I was a little surprised how uncomfortable they were with the messiness and strife that the mother was going through. This allowed us to have a great conversation about the fact that Jesus' birth is clean on paper, but realistically it was definitely not.
As the story goes along in the text (Luke 2) there seems to be an awkward repetition about naming the baby 'Jesus'. Mary is told by the angel, and then Joseph later has a dream where it is revealed to him as well that the boy would be named 'Jesus'. but then this movie pointed out, that what can happen now is that Joseph can independently corroborate Mary's story. In the movie he goes to her and quotes the angel, and she knows that he knows. From that point onward they can trust each other and be a couple together.
Later, there is a scene in the movie where King Herod takes part in the rituals of the Day of Atonement. We see Herod passing his sins into a bull cow (read Leviticus 16 for the details). This caused a disruption during the movie because one of the students wanted to know "what in the world was is that about?". From this we had a great talk about the Day of Atonement, what it was, what it was for, and then I drew the parallel from this ritual to Jesus and the way Jesus' sacrifice takes its place once and for all. The short version is this is as follows: Without the Nativity there is no Cross, without the Cross the Nativity doesn't mean much. This is one of the ways that this film shows parallels or fore-shadowing to Jesus' future life, ministry, and death.
This week I was relating these stories with a friend, and I had a thought that had never occurred to me: If this story is real, and it is dirty, messy, dangerous, and scary; and if Mary just had the baby Jesus, isn't the last thing you want, at that moment, a group of scruffy-looking sheep herders wandering up to you to ogle you and your baby?
That was until my mind wrapped itself around the idea that shepherds take care of their flock, and almost certainly have experience helping their ewes to birth lambs. So here's Mary, young girl with nothing, new in town, and doesn't know anyone. Who else could a young frightened woman who is having a baby in a barn count on to help if things went poorly? The shepherds. The Shepherds who were told by an angel that a baby was being born and they should go and see. The gospels don't go into the dirty details, but what if the shepherds were on the scene to help Mary; and to see the baby Jesus, the Lamb of God into the world?
This coming Sunday we will finish our film, and have another chance to talk about this amazingly brave and faithful woman and man, Mary and Joseph, as they anticipate the birth of their son. See you then!
―Nick Whitford

Ministry Opportunities:  At a recent parish forum questions were raised about how people are asked to serve in specific ministries.  The long and short answer is that people are not asked; rather, they ask to serve.  A complete list of parish ministries is found on the parish website, www.gracesheboygan.com.  Ministry opportunities are listed under the following headings (found in the pull-down menu in the top banner):
  • Worship:  Ministry Opportunities  Descriptions include those of lector, acolyte, altar guild, greeter, lay eucharistic minister, usher, verger.
  • Outreach:  Separate headings are found for Our Community, Our Nation, and Our World.  Under each heading ministries are described, such as work with The Salvation Army.  Contact information is provided, or, if it is left undefined you can always contact the parish office.
  • Grace Ministries and Spiritual Gifts:  A lengthy menu allows you to explore an inventory and description of spiritual gifts and how these gifts relate to ministries of the parish.
Don’t forget the choir!  Singers are needed.  You can contact Dr. Benjamin Dobey for more details about the music ministries of the parish.
What’s not on the list?  What is not on the list is what Our Lord is calling you to offer as a ministry.  If you believe you are called to a ministry not listed, please come forward so that we can recruit others to serve with you.

Who are the unchurched?  These are people in the community around us who profess some degree of faith; they speak some langauge of faith, but are not affiliated with any church.  These are the “low hanging fruit” in outreach.  Chracteristics of this group can be reviewed here:

Music this week:  The Third Sunday of Advent

Prelude                        Savior of the nations, come                                       Buxtehude & Pachelbel
Entrance Hymn 59      “Hark! a thrilling voice is sounding”                                      Merton
Trisagion S-102                                                                                                          Archangelsky
Canticle S-242                        Magnificat                                                                               Plainsong

The night is far spent, the day is at hand.
            Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness,
                        and let us put on the armor of light.
            Behold, the Lord shall come, and all his saints with him;
                        And in that day the light shall be great.
            Rejoice, O Jerusalem, behold, thy King cometh.  Alleluia!

Offertory Hymn 444   “Blessed be the God of Israel”                                               Thornbury
Communion Motet      Rejoice, O Jerusalem                                                              Willan
Comm. Hymn 615      “Thy kingdom come”                                                              St. Flavian
Closing Hymn 65        “Prepare the way, O Zion”                                                     Berenden vag
Postlude                      Prepare the way, O Zion                                                         Wood

Parish Notices

§  Memorial Service: There will be a memorial service for Betty Jackaman, Ellen Aparicio’s mother. The service will be held this Saturday, December 13th at 11:30am. There will be light refreshments served following the service in St. Nicholas Hall. All are welcome.

§  Youth and Children’s Choir: Youth and Children’s choir rehearsals for the Christmas Eve service are at 5:30-6:00pm Wednesday, December 17th, downstairs in the choir room and will be just before the Pageant rehearsal.  The final rehearsal will be Sunday, December 21st at 9:00am. The choir is open to 2nd graders through high school, and will sing for the 4pm service on Christmas Eve.
§  Christmas Pageant Rehearsals: is on Wednesday, December 17th starting at 6:00p.m. The rehearsals will begin in the church and then go downstairs for costumes. Participation is open to youth of all ages. The Pageant will take place during the 4:00 p.m. Christmas Eve Mass. Please sign up on the sheet in the Narthex. If your child would like to participate but cannot make rehearsals please note that on the sheet or call the office.

§  Meals On Wheels Christmas Cookies: “Every Christmas season Meals On Wheels delivers a box of homemade cookies to those receiving meals. (For some this is the only gift they will receive.) We have the boxes and the tissue paper, now all we need are the cookies! If you would like to donate some of your home baked goodies the Sheboygan donation drop off site is at Meals on Wheels, 1004 S. Taylor Dr. (across from Aldi’s), December 15th from 9:00am-3:00pm and December 16th 9:00am-Noon. If you have questions please call or email Maureen at Meals On Wheels at 451-7011 (ext. 102) or client1@shebmow.org. Your response in the past has been overwhelming and we cannot thank you enough for your continued support.

§  Christmas Joy: is scheduled to meet on Monday, December 22 at 11:00am in the church kitchen. At that time we will assemble winter greens and flowers and bag cookies, and then make deliveries (there is a sign-up sheet in the narthex.) We need helping hands and money (to buy for packaging supplies and flowers.) Can you bake, make a delivery or help arrange? Please join us for this fulfilling and fun ministry to our shut-ins. They will appreciate it. If you have questions please call Barb MacEwen at 467-6909. 

§  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 call the office at 452-9659. If you want tax credit for your pledge paid in 2014, you must have the payment in the office by Tuesday, December 30th. A check dated the 30th, but arriving later cannot be counted as paid in 2014. All payments received after the 30th will be credited in 2015. Thank you so much.

§  Directory Update: We will be printing a new directory to be finished in time for the Annual Meeting on January 25th. Please check your entry to make sure your address, phone and email are all correct. The draft can be found on the narthex table. Thank you.

§  Special thanks to all of you for being the special people that you are. You again made our Salvation Army --Adopt a Family a huge success. A special thanks to Jessica Ambelang for her help with the tags, and Bev Evans for all her help with the delivery of the gifts. Blessings, Nancy



Thursday, December 4, 2014

Three Verses

Grace Episcopal Church
Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Grace Notes
4 December 2014

Here is an interesting exercise.  Without spending more than two minutes, pick three verses of Scripture you would cite to a friend to summarize your understanding of faith.  To do this you must have some familiarity with the Bible, but think about those verses that have spoken to you in worship or in your own reading and prayer.  Pick three and write them down.  Then think about why you remember them, about how they speak to you.  Then think about how in sharing these verses with another person you would be making a statement about God and about your own understanding of the faith.  Two clergy in the parish tried this without forewarning and came up with the following:

  1. Genesis 1.1:  In the beginning God created ...
  2. Ecclesiastes 12.13:  The end of the matter; all has been heard.  Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
  3. John 3.16:  For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
AND/OR
  1. Psalm 103.12:  As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our sins from us.
  2. John 1.14:  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us ...
  3. Romans 8.1:  There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Without too much speculation and sifting, you can probably form an opinion about which clergy picked nos. 1 to 3, and who picked 4 to 5.  We are shaped in interaction with our understanding of the faith, our experience of God, our theology.  We express our individual identities in Christ in how we seek to understand and express to another what the faith is.  This does not mean that the understanding of God and His will for us expressed in nos. 1 to 3 is “better” than that expressed in 4 to 5, or vice versa.  It means that God interacts with each one of us as He has formed us, as we are each an individual, and it means that each one of us has a unique perspective to offer to the worshipping community.
Too much of the history of Christianity involves people arguing on an either/or basis, when our experience of God’s love is not either/or but yes/and.  A notorious example involves how Christians have argued over what St. Paul means by “the righteousness of God” in Romans 1.17.  When Paul speaks of the righteousness of God, is he describing an attribute of God, i.e.,  righteousness that belongs to God?  Or is he describing a status imparted to the believer, i.e., righteousness that God gives?  Or is he describing action, i.e., righteousness that God exercises in bringing salvation and rectifying wrong?  Major theological arguments turn on how the genitive case is interpreted, and denominations have split over this issue.  But a close reading of all of Romans (and not just one verse) makes it clear that the answer is “all of the above”!
A close study of God’s Word, a life which is immersed in His Word, allows us as a community to live into the blessing of “all of the above” in our experience and understanding of the faith.  Offer your own theology as expressed in the three verses exercise described above.  Let’s build our common understanding together.

Grace abounds:  Please thank:
§  Jane Hanson, Scott Fabiano and Bryan Stenz for the Sunday coffee hours. 
§  Members of ther Altar Guild for the extra work attendant on the beginning of Advent.
§  The youth group, including Jessica Ambelang, Nick and Jennie Whitford, Pat Ford Smith, Scott Fabiano, Bryan Stenz for their work in selling savouries at the city holiday parade.  Over $126 was raised for Episcopcal Relief and Development funding.

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.

Puzzle Pieces  While reading the book, "Crash Course, The Life Lessons My Students Taught Me", by Kim Bearden,  I came across the following passage and thought this is something we can all read and reflect on about who we are and where we fit in this life. Good symbolism that we can all understand and easily remember.  I quote: 

This all came to light for me one night when my daughter Madison and I put together a jigsaw puzzle.  As we laid each piece out on the table, I thought about how every piece was jagged, misshaped, and even ugly when studied in isolation.  However, as the picture began to take shape, I thought about how every piece had its own purpose and place.  When each piece was placed where it belonged, it became a beautiful, integral part of a big picture, and its flaws were much less visible.

We are like those puzzle pieces; each of us is uniquely created to be part of a bigger picture where we can bring beauty to the world around us.  None of us is perfect, but when we find where we fit, our sense of purpose begins to take shape.  Often the biggest problem is that we are trying to fit into the wrong place or to connect to another piece that isn't meant for us.  Some of us don't even get started making the puzzle-we are still rattling around in our boxes, afraid to see the wonder that we can help create.  We must seek to nurture our gifts and use them to their fullest.  There is no one on the planet exactly like you.  Each of us is a one-of-a-kind limited edition.

[Submitted by Ed Clabots]

Ministry Opportunities:  At a recent parish forum questions were raised about how people are asked to serve in specific ministries.  The long and short answer is that people are not asked; rather, they ask to serve.  A complete list of parish ministries is found on the parish website, www.gracesheboygan.com.  Ministry opportunities are listed under the following headings (found in the pull-down menu in the top banner):
  • Worship:  Ministry Opportunities  Descriptions include those of lector, acolyte, altar guild, greeter, lay eucharistic minister, usher, verger.
  • Outreach:  Separate headings are found for Our Community, Our Nation, and Our World.  Under each heading ministries are described, such as work with The Salvation Army.  Contact information is provided, or, if it is left undefined you can always contact the parish office.
  • Grace Ministries and Spiritual Gifts:  A lengthy menu allows you to explore an inventory and description of spiritual gifts and how these gifts relate to ministries of the parish.
Don’t forget the choir!  Singers are needed.  You can contact Dr. Benjamin Dobey for more details about the music ministries of the parish.
What’s not on the list?  What is not on the list is what Our Lord is calling you to offer as a ministry.  If you believe you are called to a ministry not listed, please come forward so that we can recruit others to serve with you.

Faith and Paradox:  There is a new book out about faith, in which the author attempts to characterize the debates between believers as the so-called New Atheists as often focusing on the wrong questions and the wrong outcomes.  David Skeel argues for how God reveals Himself in the paradoxes of human experience.  An informative review is found in The Wall Street Journal here:  http://online.wsj.com/articles/book-review-true-paradox-by-david-skeel-1416607499?KEYWORDS=Skeel

Music this week:  The Second Sunday of Advent

Solemn Mass, 10:15 a.m.

Prelude                                    Partita on ‘Comfort, comfort ye my people’               Pachelbel
Entrance Hymn 76                  “On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry”
Offertory Hymn 75                 “There’s a voice in the wilderness crying”
Communion Motet                  O Lord, how shall I meet you                                      Crueger          
Communion Hymn 67            “Comfort, comfort ye my people”
Closing Hymn 73                    “The King shall come when morning dawns”
Postlude                                  Toccata on ‘Winchester New’                                     Neswick

Lessons & Carols, 4 p.m.

Prelude                           Now be thou welcome, Jesus, dear Savior                           Peeters
Introit                             I look from afar                                                                    Palestrina
Entrance Hymn             “O come, O come, Emmanuel” verses 1-4
Genesis 3:8-15, 22-14
Choir                              O Sapientia                                                                          Plainsong
                                       Adam lay ybounden                                                             Ord
Hymn                           “Creator of the stars of night”
Isaiah 40:1-11
Choir                           Behold, a Star from Jacob shining                                          Mendelssohn
Hymn 75                     “There’s a voice in the wilderness crying”
Jeremiah 31:31-34      
Choir                             E’en so, Lord Jesus, quickly come                                        Manz
Hymn 67                    “Comfort, comfort ye my people”
Isaiah11:1-9
Choir                              Isaiah the Prophet                                                              Early American
Hymn 73                      “The King shall come when morning dawns”
Zechariah 9:9-10
Choir                              O Oriens                                                                              Dobey
Hymn 444                     “Blessed be the God of Israel”
1 Thessalonians 5:5-11
Choir                              Come, thou Redeemer of the earth                                       arr. Willcocks
Hymn 61                       “Sleepers, wake”
Luke 1:26-38
Choir                              Ave Maria                                                                            Arcadelt
Hymn 265                     “The angel Gabriel from heaven came”
Matthew 1:18-23
Choir                              O Virgo Virginum                                                                Dobey
Hymn 59                       “Hark! A thrilling voice is sounding”
Mark 1:1-15
Hymn 56                       “O come, O come Emmanuel” verses 5-8
Hymn 57                      “Lo, he comes with clouds descending”
Postlude                         Rhapsody on ‘Helmsley’                                                      Webber

Parish Notices

§  Advent Lessons and Carols: On Sunday, 7 December, a festival of Advent Lessons and Carols will be offered at Grace Episcopal Church, beginning at 4:00 p.m.  The festival prepares us for the coming of the Messiah by following the scriptural record through nine lessons, each followed by a seasonal carol offered by choir and congregation.  The choir will also offer seasonal anthems, and music will include Dr. R. Benjamin Dobey on organ. The service is followed immediately by a High Tea reception.

§  Emmaus Meal: December 6th from 10:30am-1:00pm at the Salvation Army, the Tripartite Covenant Parishes are providing the Emmaus Meal at Salvation Army. We are in need of ONE more pan of bars to be served that day. Please call the office if you can help. Thank you for your service.

§  Youth and Children’s Choir: Youth and Children’s choir rehearsals for the Christmas Eve service are at 5:30-6:00pm beginning Wednesday December 3rd, downstairs in the choir room. Additional rehearsals will be on December 10th and 17th these will be just before the Pageant rehearsals.  The final rehearsal will be Sunday, December 21st at 9:00am. The choir is open to 2nd graders through high school, and will sing for the 4pm service on Christmas Eve.

§  Christmas Pageant Rehearsals: will be on Wednesday December 3rd, December 10th and 17th starting at 6:00p.m. The rehearsals will begin in the church and then go downstairs for costumes. Participation is open to youth of all ages. The Pageant will take place during the 4:00 p.m. Christmas Eve Mass. Please sign up on the sheet in the Narthex. If your child would like to participate but cannot make rehearsals please note that on the sheet or call the office.

§  Meals On Wheels Christmas Cookies: “Every Christmas season Meals On Wheels delivers a box of homemade cookies to those receiving meals. (For some this is the only gift they will receive.) We have the boxes and the tissue paper, now all we need are the cookies! If you would like to donate some of your home baked goodies the Sheboygan donation drop off site is at Meals on Wheels, 1004 S. Taylor Dr. (across from Aldi’s), December 15th from 9:00am-3:00pm and December 16th 9:00am-Noon. If you have questions please call or email Maureen at Meals On Wheels at 451-7011 (ext. 102) or client1@shebmow.org. Your response in the past has been overwhelming and we cannot thank you enough for your continued support.

§  Christmas Joy: is scheduled to meet on Monday, December 22 at 11:00am in the church kitchen. At that time we will assemble winter greens and flowers and bag cookies, and then make deliveries (there is a sign-up sheet in the narthex.) We need helping hands and money (to buy for packaging supplies and flowers.) Can you bake, make a delivery or help arrange? Please join us for this fulfilling and fun ministry to our shut-ins. They will appreciate it. If you have questions please call Barb MacEwen at 467-6909.