Grace Episcopal Church
30 November 2017
Today is the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle. In The Eastern Church he is knows as Andreas Protokletos, “Andrew the First-Called”, reflecting that at Jn. 1.40 Andrew is the first disciple named as called by Jesus. Andrew and another disciple (not named, but obviously the author of the gospel, and so identified as John) are with John the Baptist. When John the Baptist points to Jesus and cries out “Behold, the Lamb of God!” (Jn. 1.36) the disciples follow Jesus. He asks them what they seek. They ask Him where He is staying, and He says “Come and see” (Jn. 1.39). They follow Jesus, and after staying with him Andrew then calls his own brother, Simon Peter, telling him “We have found the Messiah”, and brings Simon to Jesus.
Andrew is the prototype of our response as believers. We become curious because our hearts are inclined to believe (and so we are “looking for answers”, and follow those like John the Baptist who point to answers). Then how God comes to us is pointed out to us. We are instructed in the faith by the Church saying, “Behold the Christ!” We follow, seeking more answers, and in staying with Jesus we receive the ultimate answer—His presence—to the point where we can go to another and say “We have found the Messiah”, and lead another to Christ.
What St. Andrew exemplifies is that we are not just “looking for answers”. We proclaim that we have found the answer, the truth. We proclaim the identity of this truth—Jesus. This means that in whatever way I have been myself called, and in whatever way I have encountered Jesus, there is somebody else in my life to whom I can say “We have found the Messiah.” There is somebody else in my life who I can lead to Christ.
Notice another congruence: Andrew’s feast immediately precedes the First Sunday of Advent, the season in which we are reminded that we are to watch, to expect the coming of God. The inclination to believe is, in fact, a gift of the Holy Spirit. God is at work at all times in the lives of humans. God always reaches out. And because God reaches out we yearn, we seek. The image and likeness in which each one of us is created yearns for completeness in union with the Creator (even when we cannot name what it is that yearns, what it is that is restless). It is when we know and can name what (Who!) we yearn for that we can enter into real relationship. The what (Who) must be named, just as Andrew has proclaimed to himself the identity of Jesus as the Lamb of God, and just as Andrew proclaims to Simon Peter that Jesus is Messiah. As we watch, as we await God’s coming, let’s name God to each other and to all who look for “answers”. Let’s participate in the ultimate naming of reality: I AM—Father, Son and Holy Ghost—Jesus; to God who knows me and calls me.
Don’t forget stewardship! Thank you, to those who have pledged! In order to fully fund the ministries of Grace Episcopal Church, we need all members to participate. If you do not intend to pledge, for economic reasons, then let us know. We’ll be able to plan more faithfully, and also better walk alongside you if you are facing particular difficulties. We are each part of one Body.
If you do not intend to pledge for non-economic reasons, then please share your reasoning with either the clergy or a member of Vestry. We need to know what it is that we are not doing, or have done, that has caused you to question your participation.
Stewardship is not optional. Jesus tells us that where our treasure is their will be or hearts (Mtt. 6.21; Lk. 12.34). Notice the order? It’s the opposite of what most of us remember from Scripture. Jesus is making the point that where we choose to invest ourselves matters; it forms us. Be formed by what you invest value in.
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”!
Pray! Pray about your own giving, and pray about the health of the parish. A suggested prayer is:
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Almighty God, it is by your blessing that we enjoy the ability to give. All things come of you, and of your own do we give to you. So open our hearts and fill us with your Spirit, that we may be moved to give to advance the mission of your Church, to press on the kingdom. So open the hearts of all in the parish that together we may discern your will and do it, to be the salt and light in the world that you call and equip us to be; this, I pray, by and through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you, Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Grace abounds: Please thank:
§ Jerry and Linda Molitor for the Sunday coffee hour
§ Ben Dobey for gardening.
§ Randie Barrows for maintenance in the kitchen.
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.
Music this Week: The First Sunday of Advent
Music Director: R. Benjamin Dobey
Prelude Meditation on ‘Ad te levavi’
(Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul) Geoffrey Vintner
Entrance 58 “Lo! He comes, with clouds descending,” St. Thomas
Offertory 61 “Sleepers awake! A voice astounds us,” Wachet auf
Communion Motet O Dayspring R. Benjamin Dobey
Communion 615 “Thy kingdom come!” on bended knee” St. Flavian
Closing 66 “Come thou long expected Jesus,” Stuttgart
Postlude Chorale Prelude on Sleepers, Wake! J. S. Bach
§ Adult Christian Formation: This coming Sunday, December 3rd Jerry Molitor will begin a three week course on the Infancy Narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.
§ St Nicholas’ Visitation: This coming Sunday St. Nicholas will visit Grace Church at the 10:15 service. We invite all children to come and receive a treat.
§ Advent Lessons and Carols: On this coming Sunday 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.
§ 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 6th, downstairs in the choir room. Additional rehearsals will be on December 13th and 20th. The choir is open to 2nd graders through high school, and will sing for the 4pm service on Christmas Eve. A sign-up sheet is in the Narthex.
§ Christmas Pageant Rehearsals: Beginning on Sunday we will be holding rehearsals during Sunday School classes and on December 10th and 17th. Participation is open to youth of all ages. The Pageant will take place during the 4:00pm Christmas Eve Mass.
§ Ugly Sweater Contest: Sunday, December 10th at 11:45 a.m. the Sunday School children will host and judge their first annual ugly Christmas sweater contest in St. Nicholas Hall! The rules are simple: wear your holiday tackiest, all in the spirit of laughter and fun. Don your “ugliest” Christmas sweaters, t-shirts, ties, suits and hats. The winner will receive a coveted award and have their picture on display until the 2018 contest.
§ Salvation Army Adopt a Family Gift tags: Thank you who signed up with a Gift Tag. Please return the gifts to Grace Church by 5:00 p.m. December 5th. If you have any questions please call Nancy Yurk at 453-9948.
§ CHRISTMAS JOY: is scheduled to meet on Thursday, December 21 at 11:00 AM 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. Can you bake, make a delivery and/or help arrange? Please join us for this fulfilling and fun ministry to our homebound and elderly. They will appreciate it. Call Barb MacEwen (920.912.4505) if you have questions.
§ 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.
§ Missionaries in Croatia: Aaron and Winnie Horvat continue to impact lives in Croatia. Please pick up a copy of their latest newsletter, available on the table in the Narthex, and remember to continue to keep them in your prayers, especially the prayer requests listed in their newsletter.
§ 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: