Grace Episcopal Church
27 August 2015
“See how [these Christians] love one another” is the usual translation given for a famous saying of the theologian Tertulllian (d. A.D. 220), made in the defense of the faith he gave during a time a serious persecution. Tertullian pointed out that even the pagans who stood by while the imperial government persecuted the Church recognized that there was something different about being a follower of Jesus Christ. This observation poses to us the question: “What do people see about us that distinguishes us from the world?” An answer might be as simple as the fact that we attend on worship when many others do not, but in asking the question let’s not forget that we can be in danger of becoming too worldly in our own view of ourselves.
This danger was highlighted in a recent week in which a lot of pastoral care was needed and provided within the parish. Three different hospitalizations were involved, with clinic visits as well. Care was provided by both lay persons and clergy, and involved transport, presence, food, physical help, etc. There is nothing unusual in this, but what stood out was a comment made by one person who received care, who said words to the effect that the person providing the care was doing something special. But when we consider what it means to embody Christ, and recall Tertullian’s famous words, we should be struck by the fact that what Christians do should somehow be considered “special” by a fellow Christian!
In caring for each other we are not doing any special work of righteousness. We are simply living in our vocations as followers of Jesus Christ. When a member of the Body needs help our faith informs us that it is the norm that this help be provided.
But here is the sneaky little secret of recognizing and living out our vocation of mutual self-giving love. When we live out our vocation as followers of Jesus the Body is built up, and we—as members of this Body—are ourselves strengthened, both in our faith and in our persons. This is because faith is so much more than an idea, or set of ideas, with which we agree. Faith is so much more than the individual trust each one of us must have in God’s promises and in His presence. Faith is about all that God makes new in His continual creation and re-creation of the world.
In all that we say and do with and for each other, and with and within the world, when we recognize that our very identities as individuals, and our identity in Christ as one Body, must always involve community (gathering), cross (following), and new creation (renewal), then the norm of self-giving will never surprise us, and we will never hesitate to give of ourselves. This reality is, in fact, summed up in the “tag line” or saying found on most of our parish publications: Christ—Community—Compassion. We identify as members of Christ together, and in this identity we share in each other’s passions and joys. Let this reality ever be recognized as the norm for all who follow Our Lord.
Grace abounds: Please thank:
§ Jessica and Tom Ambelang for the Sunday coffee hour.
§ Elizabeth Schaffenburg for reupholstering an office chair.
Music this Week: The Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 17B
Prelude Pastorale Marco Enrico Bossi
Entrance Hymn 377 “All people that on earth do dwell” Old 100th
Offertory Hymn 556 “Rejoice, ye pure in heart” Marion
Communion Hymn 660 “O Master, let me walk with thee” Maryton
Closing Hymn 470 “There’s a wideness in God’s mercy” Beecher
Postlude Sortie Cesar Franck
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.
Worthwhile reading: A blog worth visiting regularly is one described as “place of dialogue between Catholics and atheists”. http://www.strangenotions.com This is the blog of philosopher/theologian Peter Kreeft, and other contributors, and the discussions are not limited to a Christian identity founded in Roman Catholicism. The discussions are lively, and involve real people asking real questions, but they are also very thoughtful, and beg us to go deeper.
§ Sunday School Needs: Please bring small, smooth stones (about the size of a child’s palm) to the 2nd—5th grade classroom, for use in a prayer project. Also, a large serving bowl is needed, something that can be painted. If you have questions, ask Nicci Beeck.
§ Blessing of the Backpacks! We will be blessing all the backpacks and school children as well as all the teachers, on August 30th at both 8:00 and 10:15 services. We will invite everyone, young and old, who are starting school to come forward with their backpacks for a blessing. We will also ask all the teachers to come forward to be blessed in their important work as well.
§ Sunday School registration: Yea, it’s almost time for Sunday School to begin! The teachers have missed those familiar faces and are looking forward to some new ones, too. Look for the Sunday School table Sunday, August 30th. Registration paperwork, classroom lesson schedules, Christmas pageant practice schedules, Operation Christmas Child information and snack ideas will be on hand. See you for sign up!
o Grace offers classes for children of all ages at 9 am on Sundays:
―3-k through 1st Grade with Mrs. Andrea (Aparicio), Ms. MaryAnn (Portz) and Mrs. Danielle (Whitford).
―2nd through 5th Grade with Mrs. Nicci (Beeck) and 6th-12th with Mr. Nick (Whitford)
o If you don’t have children to register, how about your grandkids? How about your neighbors’ kids or grandkids? Help us teach the little children how much Jesus loves them, by bringing them to Grace’s Sunday School beginning September 20th!
§ Catechumenate will begin: Catechumenate is a nine-month course in the basics of the Faith and its practice. It is a period of training and instruction in Christian understandings about God, human relationships, and the meaning of life. It includes the Sacrament of Baptism, if you are not already baptized, and culminates in Confirmation, Reception, or Renewal of Baptismal Vows. The Catechumenate will meet on an evening each week starting at 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. The class will begin in September and will continue until May when Bishop Matthew Gunter makes his annual visitation. The study is led by Deacon Michele Whitford, the Parish Catechist. If you would like to be a part of this exciting study and fellowship or would like more information, please call the office 452-9659 or e -mail Deacon Michele at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is a sign-up sheet on the table in the Narthex.
§ Fundraising for All Saint's Chapel: We are in the process of replacing the roof for All Saint's Chapel. In recent years its age has started to show where shingles are missing and some leakage is occurring. Our hope is that funding will be available from a private foundation but nothing is guaranteed especially if the funding will be available this year. Would you be interested in contributing towards this project? We are looking to start work on this project before winter before more damage occurs. If funding does come from the foundation your donations will be dedicated to other maintenance items at the chapel and St. Hubertus Hall. Feel free to make donations in the offering plate, noting “Roof” in the memo, or contact our main office at email@example.com. Thank you so much for your generosity.
§ Mass in the Grass: Please join us Sunday, September 13, 2015 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 activities for our children’s enjoyment. Inviting guests is encouraged. There will be ONE MASS only that day. We will be asking for donations of cookies/bars, potato chips, water and monetary donations to defray the cost. Please sign up on the sheet on the Narthex table.
§ Pastoral Letter on Same Sex Unions: Bishop Matthew Gunter has issued a pastoral letter, dated 6 August 2015, announcing diocesan policy on the blessing of lifelong unions between same sex couples. Copies of this letter are available in the parish (narthex table and office).
o The policy provides that unions may be blessed only in those congregations where the priest and 2/3 of the Vestry agree that such unions may be blessed. The policy also provides: (a) congregations must engage in an open forum discussion of matters relating to the blessing of same sex unions, using the *Study Guides for Congregational Use* (see below); and (b) if a priest/congregation decide that blessings will not take place in a given congregation, those members seeking blessing will be directed to another congregation in the diocese for pastoral ministration.
o A parish forum will be held on Thursday, 8 October, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., in St. Nicholas Hall. This forum will be facilitated by the Senior Warden, Paul Aparicio.
o Fr. Schaffenburg has communicated to the Vestry that he will not participate in the blessing of same sex unions.
§ *Study Guides for Congregational Use*: Bishop Gunter has released two study guides for use by congregations and individuals of the Diocese of Fond du Lac. The King or a Fox: Configuring the Mosaic of Scripture is a 14-page document as a guide to understanding and interpreting Scripture. It was used by clergy during deanery clericus gatherings. In Dialogue With Each Other is a Study Guide created to aid congregations in studying and discussing the topic of same-sex unions. Clergy may want to encourage individuals to make use these resources or use them as a basis for forums or other study series. Downloads are available both as PDF and Word files. Visit diofdl.org.
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