Grace Episcopal Church
28 December 2017
Thirty-three years ago today I walked into an Episcopal church in Oxford, Mississippi because, walking by on a dark and rainy night, I noticed a little sign that said “Evening Prayer, 5:30 p.m.” It turned out I was the only person there other than the priest for what was a weekday service on a night in which the weather had suddenly turned nasty, and thus I was put to work in reading aloud. But before I read I first listened, and so I first encountered the Anglican collect for the Feast of the Holy Innocents, this feast which commemorates the massacre (recorded in Matthew 2) of the youngest male children in Bethlehem, killed at Herod’s order in an effort by him to eliminate a threat to his kingship.
The innocent children killed have always been honored as martyrs, that is as witnesses to God’s truth. At first blush this may appear curious, for infants do not testify using words, and their choices are not considered legally to be informed. And yet innocents are in fact witnesses, for innocence is itself a testimony against the cruel utilitarian calculus of the world (as found in Herod) that “might is right” and that “whatever works” is the best choice.
The cross is the ultimate testimony that right (righteousness) is, in fact might (the power of the all-powerful God), and that the expectations of the world are reversed. The cross is the ultimate testimony that God will use means beyond our imagining to accomplish His purpose. This testimony compels us to look upon innocence with something close to awe, for the truly innocent, those without guile or hidden motive, are those who are open to the blessedness which God offers us in creation when we will but pay attention.
As we approach the new year it is common to take stock of the old, and to look to the new with an admixture of both hope and apprehension. Let us, as innocents, focus on hope, for when we are without guile we recognize that God rules in time favorable and unfavorable. The king may look like Herod and act like Herod, but the true King has been born and rules.
Grace abounds: Please thank:
§ Bill and Deb Gagin, and Leslie Kohler for the Sunday coffee hour.
§ The Guild of the Little Flower and The Altar Guild for all of the extra work to make the church ready from Christmas!
§ The Sunday School teachers and children for preparing the Christmas Pageant.
§ Ben Dobey and the choir for the extra work attendant on Christmas.
Special “Thank You’ s” : A supply of Thank You note cards can be found on the table at the back of church nave. When someone in the parish does something special, take the time to write them a personal note. Also, from time to time, think about who you might want to thank for ongoing service, and let them know you have noticed!
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.
Don’t forget “Something Extra for Grace”: Supplemental giving envelopes can be found in pews. If you want to give something extra, please use an envelope to ensure that you are credited. Please prayerfully consider a year end gift.
Deacons’ Discretionary Funds: Please give generously to the newly-ordained deacons, Paul Aparicio and Roberta (Bobbi) Kraft, ordained on Saturday, 12/16. If you wish to give either make a donation separately or in the Sunday collection in a marked envelope. If you wish to give to the discretionary fund for one or both deacons, mark this on the envelope or check. (You need to include your name and address with any cash donation, if you want credit for tax purposes.) If you want to give directly to the benefit of the deacon (as a purse), this is encouraged, but not tax-deductible.
Don’t forget stewardship! Plan on giving: Pray now about the priorities God sets before you, and take the next step up in giving.
- Giving—offering to God—is not optional. It is commanded by God that we offer Him our first fruits. The biblical standard for giving is the tithe. If you tithe you will never be poor! The offering to God is pleasing to Him.
- All things are God’s, not only because He creates them but because He redeems them. The only thing that creatures can claim as their own is evil.
- Stewardship extends to every aspect of life and work in the world. Giving money to the Church is but one aspect of how we relate to our Creator.
- The giving of alms means literally “to do acts of mercy” (Mtt. 6.2 in the original Greek). A merciful heart is pleasing to God.
- God commands His people to express their faith and love in active works of mercy (Jas. 2.15-17; 1 Jn. 3.17-18).
- The alternative to giving always involves the words “me” and “mine”. Substitute the word “God’s”!
Music this Week: The First Sunday After Christmas Day
Music Director: R. Benjamin Dobey
Entrance 102 “Once in royal David’s City” Irby
Offertory 82 “Of the Father’s love begotten” Divinum mysterium
Communion Motet What is this lovely fragrance Healy Willan
Communion 112 “In the bleak midwinter” Cranham
Closing 100 “Joy to the world! The Lord is come” Cradle Song
§ Christian Formation: There is no Christian Formation on Sunday. Classes begin again for adults and children at 9:00 a.m., next Sunday, January 7, 2018.
§ Father Karl Schaffenburg is travelling: between the dates of December 26 and January 2nd. During this time, the Church and office will be closed. In case of an emergency, please contact Mthr. Michele Whitford (920-918-1230) or Paul Aparicio (920-912-6009).
§ Book Study on Redemptive Compassion: In January, we will begin a group study of the book Redemptive Compassion: The Defining Difference by Lois Tupyi, director of Love INC of Treasure Valley in Idaho. The book and class will help educate us on how we are biblically called to help people in need. The eight-week class will meet on Sunday mornings at 9:00. Beginning January 7, the classes will run consecutive Sundays through March 4 with the exception of January 28. (There will be no class that day because of the annual meeting.) If you find the following questions unsettling, Redemptive Compassion is for you:
Why do so many of the commonly used methods seem so ineffective in reducing or alleviating ongoing need?
Why have good intentions to help others produced such devastating results?
Is the crippling lifestyle in which thousands of individuals find themselves trapped all that God desires for them?
The class will be facilitated by Pat Sather. Cost of the book is $15. Please make payment to the church office. Limited book scholarships are available. Books will be distributed at the first meeting. If you are interested in joining this study, please sign up on the sheet in the narthex so we’ll know how many books to order.
§ The Eve of The Epiphany Solemn Mass: will be held on Saturday, January 6th, 2018 at 10:00 a.m.
§ The Annual Meeting: This year’s Annual Meeting will take place on Sunday, January 28, 2018. We will have one Mass at 9:00am followed by the Annual Meeting at 10:15am. If you have been in leadership of any group or committee, please submit an annual report to the firstname.lastname@example.org. You are encouraged to make every effort to attend, as your participation is valued.
§ Bible Challenge: Videos for all 52 weeks of the year are now available on Grace Abounds. 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 are provided on the parish website, along with weekly study summaries and a weekly video summary 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.
§ Diocesan Deacons’ School: Begins Saturday, January 13, 2018 at Grace, Sheboygan. This presents an additional and in-depth education opportunity even if you are not in formation to become a deacon. Classes will meet every second Saturday, from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. during the months of from January-May and September-December 2018. Two courses will be offered for instruction and open to auditors in 2018: Old Testament and Church History. If you are interested, please request a copy of the syllabus for either or both courses from the office.
§ Flower Schedule for 2018: 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.
§ Coffee Hour Schedule: There is a new sign-up sheet for hosting coffee hour in 2018. 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 Katy Larson. Thank you so much.
§ HSHS St. Nicholas Hospice: Needs volunteers to join their team! In as little as four hours per month, you can be a part of a team that brings quality to the lives of patients at the end of their life. Volunteers fill a variety of roles, such as being a companion, assisting with tasks around the house, praying the rosary, and relieving caregivers for a short time. The hours and assignments vary and can be flexible to your schedule.
§ Please contact Stephanie at SHSH St. Nicholas Hospice, 920-457-5770 for more details on how you could be part of making a difference in the lives of others.”
§ Grace Notes is here: http://gracechurchgracenotes.blogspot.com/. You can sign up to receive the blog every Thursday
§ Grace Abounds: http://www.graceabounds.online Sermons, podcasts, the Bible Challenge
§ Like Grace Church on Facebook: @gracesheboygan
§ We Are on Itunes! Check out the new podcast!!!
§ Love INC Monthly Bulletin is now available online at: