Grace Episcopal Church
28 January 2016
It is the feast of the “Dumb Ox”. St. Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274) was given this nickname by fellow students in Paris because he spoke very little. His mentor retorted, “You call him the dumb ox, but in his teaching he will one day produce such a bellowing that it will be heard throughout the world.” This proved to be the case. Thomas’ influence on Western thought is considerable, and much of modern philosophy developed or opposed his ideas, particularly in the areas of ethics, natural law, metaphysics, and political theory.
Which leads us to the question posed in thinking about Thomas: How do we think about God? Put more finely, do we think about God, and gain knowledge of Him and His will, by the application of first principles, such as those of logic? Such an approach has certainly been tried, for example in the “ontological argument” of St. Anselm. An important element in Thomas so-called Natural Theology was reflected, in fact, in the psalm we prayed this last Sunday, in which we sang:
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the firmament shows his handiwork.
One day tells its tale to another,
And one night imparts knowledge to another.
Although they have no words or language,
And their voices are not heard,
Their sound has gone out into all lands,
And their message to the ends of the world. (Ps. 19.1-4)
In other words, our knowledge of God is founded less on first principles in thought and more on how God has chosen to reveal Himself to us, a fact even the great “natural theologian” Thomas recognized.
We need to spend less time searching and pondering, and more time paying attention, being open to the revelation which God provides. How do we do this? We can begin by first noticing that the natural world has created order, and that this order reflects the existence of a Creator. We can notice, as well, that beauty both draws us and is to be found even in the midst of squalor and ugliness when we resolve not to focus only on the squalor and ugliness.
The best place to start paying attention is, however, in our engagement with Scripture. The primary means by which God has chosen to reveal to us who He is, and what His will is for us, is in the Bible. Just as an ox chews straw, we must “chew” the words of the Bible on a daily basis; to experience these words that we may be enlightened, strengthened, challenged—above all formed.
Few will choose to study Thomas or any other theologian or philosopher. But all may engage directly with God’s creation. All may engage directly with His Word. Don’t worry about “searching”. Just intend to engage, and pay attention.
Annual Meeting! This Sunday! One Mass only at 9:00am
Grace abounds: Please thank:
§ Wayne and Pat Sather, and Polly Schmeisser for the Sunday coffee hours.
Education Alert! Diocesan Deacons’ School will meet again next on 13 February, at Grace in Sheboygan. We will begin at 8:45 with Holy Eucharist, followed by classes beginning at 9:15. We meet every second Saturday.
§ Old Testament: 3 contact hours. An in-depth survey of the origins, composition, canonization, contents and theology of the Old Testament.
§ Church History: 3 contact hours. The history of the Church from the apostolic age to today, with specific focus on theological development.
If you wish to do all of the reading, contact the office regarding acquisition of the necessary texts. However, you are free to attend without reading the text books. You can just come to listen and learn.
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.
Music this Week: The Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany
Prelude Psalm-Prelude (Psalm 139 v.11) Herbert Howells
Yea, the darkness is no darkness with thee, but the night is as clear as the day:
the darkness and light to Thee are both alike.
Entrance Hymn 598 “Lord Christ, when first thou cam’st to earth” Mit Freuden zart
Offertory Hymn 444 “Blessed be the God of Israel” Thornbury
Communion Motet Jesus, Sun of Life G. F. Handel
Communion Hymn 302 “Father, we thank thee who hast planted” Rendez a Dieu
Closing Hymn 438 “Tell out, my soul” Woodlands
Postlude Trumpet Voluntary in D William Boyce
§ § The Annual Meeting: This year’s Annual Meeting will take place today Sunday, January 31, 2016. We will have one Mass at 9:00 a.m. 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, 2015 financial review and 2016 budget, review Vestry actions, and an overall review of the 2016 calendar. Please make every effort to attend and participate.
§ All Parish Potluck Lunch: Following the Annual Meeting we will have an All Parish Potluck Lunch. Please stay and join in the celebratory fellowship.
§ Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple: This holy day is also known as Candlemas in which all the candles used for the year are blessed. You are welcome to bring in your own candles to be blessed during this service. Please mark your calendars and plan to attend this Solemn Mass on February 2nd at 6:00 p.m.
§ Maki Family Fund: A fund has been set up at Associated Bank in Sheboygan by the Maki’s home church for people who wish to provide a donation to help the family. People can make checks payable to “Crossroads Community Church” and “Maki Family” written on an attached note, but please do not write their name on the check memo line. These donations can be dropped off at the Sheboygan Associated Bank location or can be mailed to Crossroads Community Church, PO BOX 1427,
§ Sheboygan, WI 53082-1427. The Maki Family will receive 100% of all funds donated.
§ Lenten Booklet: Grace Church will prepare our own parish book of Lenten meditations, written by parishioners. For each of the forty days of Lent season, a Gospel lesson taken from the Eucharistic lectionary for the weekdays in Lent, plus the Sunday Eucharistic lectionary, are provided on a clip board on the Narthex table. Following each Gospel lesson will be the Collect prayer for the celebration of Eucharist on each day. The Collect “collects” our prayers as founded in the Scripture appointed for each day. The method envisaged for use of this booklet is that parishioners will read the Gospel lesson– perhaps more than once, perhaps underlining the words or phrases that resonate with them on that day–then reflect on the Collect, and then write down their own reflections on the page appointed for the day. These reflections will be gathered no later than February 1st to allow for production lead-time. The publication of a parish devotional will be published to the whole parish, in print and on our website. Please submit your meditations to the office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
§ Bible Challenge: Grace Abounds launched The Bible Challenge on Monday, January 4, 2016. If you take this challenge, you will find that in one year you will read all of the Bible! This will require less than an hour of your time, six days a week. A schedule of readings will be provided on the parish website, along with weekly study summaries and a weekly video summery of the readings. If you need a good study bible for the challenge, contact the parish office. When we immerse ourselves in Scripture, the mantle of the Lord does fall upon us. We are equipped to discern God’s will and to lead others to know and love and serve the Lord.
§ Shrove Tuesday Feast before the Fast: Shrove Tuesday is February 9th. We will be having a Potluck Dinner following a 5:30pm mass. Please mark your calendars and plan to attend this festive occasion. There is a sign-up sheet on the table in the Narthex.
§ Ash Wednesday: February 10th, Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, is a day of fasting and penitence. We will observe this day with Mass and Imposition of Ashes at 12:10 p.m., and Solemn Mass with Imposition of Ashes at 6:00 p.m. This is a holy day and a wonderful way to begin your Lenten observance.
§ Stations of the Cross and Simple Suppers: Beginning on February 19th we will meet at 5:15 p.m. for a prelude of Lenten organ music followed at 5:30 p.m. by Stations of the Cross. Afterwards a simple supper will be hosted in the parish hall with a presentation and pictures of Jordan, Israel and Palestine by the pilgrims who went to the Holy Land. Please sign up on the sheets in the Narthex so we will know how much food needs to be prepared.
§ 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. All of the Fridays are open. Thank you for your willingness to serve in this manner.
§ Sunday School Snacks: Ms. Nicci and Ms. Andrea's Sunday school classes are in need of donated non-perishable snacks. Each class consists of a prayer around our classroom altar followed by snack and craft time. Having snacks to offer during this time is a wonderful opportunity for the classmates to serve each other and come together in fellowship. It would be wonderful if anyone who is willing could place non-perishable snack options such as applesauce, goldfish cracker bags, fruit cups, as well as juice boxes, in our craft room to replenish our supply. Thank you!
§ Coffee Hour Schedule: There is a new sign-up sheet for hosting coffee hour in 2016. If you would like to host, please sign up for either 8:00 a.m. or 10:15 a.m. If you have any questions, please see Mary Massey. Thank you so much.
§ Flower Schedule for 2016: 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.
§ Something Extra for Grace: Envelopes are available in the pews if you are moved to give an extra gift, beyond your pledge or regular plate donation, toward the life of the church. Gifts are tax deductible if you write your name on the envelope.
§ Like Grace Church on Facebook
§ Follow Grace Church on Twitter: @GEC_Sheboygan
§ We Are on Itunes! Check out the new podcast!!!