Grace Episcopal Church
31 May 2018
In the gospel account for today’s feast of the Holy Visitation, the newly-pregnant Virgin Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth. When Mary greets Elizabeth, the child who will become John the Baptist (now in the sixth month of gestation) leaps in his mother’s womb at the recognition of his Lord. We may compare this biblical datum with the ongoing debates in our societies over the issues presented by elective abortion.
As rector I have studiously avoided any focus on whatever issue or agenda may drive our culture wars. Our focus must remain in being Christ-centered. I make this reference to abortion in the context of the gospel lesson (and the recent vote in Ireland, and the ongoing debate and impending vote in Poland) because the issue itself presents the question of human personhood. In the legal debates over abortion the issue presented has been one in which the courts have sought to balance the constitutional rights of the mother and of the child in light of the calculus announced in the famous Roe v. Wade decision, wherein the Supreme Court based its decision in part on its understanding that the definition of “the beginning of life” was not one upon which scientific consensus existed. This intersection of “the beginning of life” and “personhood” blurs, in fact, the reality that what a person is has never been an issue of scientific enquiry; it is an ethical and legal construct finding its origin in faith.
The concept of “person,” of an individual having individual self-worth, and not being defined solely by gender, race, class, nationality, language, etc. is a belief which arose specifically in the context of Judaism and Christianity. The Bible makes clear that each human being is created in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1.26) and that each individual is of value to God (Matt. 10.31; Luke 12.7). This is not the way of the world, either in the ancient world or today. To the extent that modern and postmodern thinkers claim that faith leads to intolerance, their thinking is contrary to the evidence that the most repressive regimes in history (National Socialism and Soviet Communism) have been militantly secular, valuing the “people” or the “revolution” over the person. The Bible makes clear even in the context of the community defined as Israel and/or the Church, God values the person, and we are to do the same. Let’s look at some examples.
Scripture offers repeated injunctions of a positive duty of regard and care for the poor and the oppressed, the stranger, the widow and the orphan. Legal provisions are made for the protection of the poor (e.g., Exod. 23.6, 11; Lev. 12.8), and oppression of the poor is defined as a positive evil throughout the prophetic texts and Psalms. (Isaiah 58 makes clear that righteousness involves care for the oppressed.) In the New Testament, the Gospel of Luke and the Letter of James standout as examples of the special regard of God for the poor, and how we are enjoined not to show partiality. Indeed, Luke does not have Jesus say “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Mtt. 5.3) but “Blessed are the poor” (Luke 6.20).
The duty of care is extended to widows and orphans, and the stranger is to be welcomed. The evil of partiality is specifically condemned by James (2.1-13, 25-26), with care of the oppressed again being identified as a work of faith, but partiality itself (and thus invidious racial distinctions) is condemned.
It is important to note this positive duty of regard and care (which is a corollary to “love of neighbor”). In the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10.25-37), Jesus makes the point that “neighbor” includes the foreigner and stranger. The lawyer in the story replies to Jesus’ question as to who in the parable was the injured man’s neighbor by identifying the neighbor as “The one who showed mercy ...,” and Jesus’ reply is in the nature of a command: “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10.37).
May we, on this Feast of the Visitation, be so filled with God’s Spirit that, like Elizabeth in the story we may be filled with God’s praises and also recognize, yet again, that all whom God places before us in life are persons for whom Jesus gave His life.
Grace abounds: Please thank:
§ Bobbie May for the Sunday coffee hour.
§ Bobbie May for decorating and flower care.
§ Bryan Stenz for lawn care.
§ Wayne and Pat Sather for pastoral care.
§ Pat von Rautenkranz for restoring vestments.
§ Mary Snyder for coördinating the reception which followed Caleb Klinzing’s premier of his Symphony No.1, “Reflections”.
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.
Please contribute for photocopies: The photocopier is being subjected to frequent use that relates to parishioner’s needs and not those of the whole parish. If you need to make copies (and please keep this to a minimum), please inform a member of the parish staff and make a contribution toward the costs of the copies. A suggested contribution is $0.6/page. (We are trending above budget on copy costs!)
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.
Music this Week: The Second Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 4B)
R. Benjamin Dobey, Music Director
Prelude Adagio Edward Bairstow
Entrance Hymn 7 “Christ, whose glory fills the skies” Ratisbon
Offertory Hymn 690 “Guide me, O thou great Jehovah” Cwm Rhondda
Communion Motet My song shall be alway of the loving-kindness Godfrey Sampson
Communion Hymn 328 “Draw nigh and take” Song 46
Closing Hymn 460 “Alleluia! Sing to Jesus” Hyfrydol
Postlude Prelude & Fugue in F Bairstow
§ All Saint’s Chapel in Elkhart Lake: The Chapel offers services at 9:00 a.m., continuing through Labor Day weekend. We are blessed to have Fr. Patrick Twomey serving as Celebrant for the entire season. Services will continue to be a shared ministry, which means volunteers will be needed for Sunday Service ownership.
o Picking up the bulletins box at Grace Church in Sheboygan
o Arriving early on Sunday to:
o Open the buildings
o Identify readers for the readings and the prayers of the people
o Light candles
o Greet Fr. Twomey
o Locking up at the conclusion of Mass and
o Returning the bulletins box and etc. to Grace Church.
A printed list of instructions is on site, in the event of questions, as well as a list members available by phone to offer direct support.
Call the Grace Episcopal Church office at (920-452-9659 to schedule ownership of a Sunday(s). Thank you for your support of such an important Ministry!
Please note: The Bishop will make his Annual Visitation to the Chapel on June 17 (Father’s Day).
§ Summer Camp will soon begin: Nothing is better for a camper away from home than receiving a letter! If you would like to send our Grace Church Campers mail, please inquire about their names by calling the Parish office.
Camper Name (to be determined)
N1875 21st Ave
Wautoma, WI 54982
N1875 21st Ave
Wautoma, WI 54982
When should the mail be sent?
Senior Camp, June 10– June 16
Middler Camp, June 17– June 22
Junior Camp, June 17– June 22
KinderCamp, June 22 – June 24
§ Kairos Outside: An ecumenical Cursillo-type event for women having been impacted by incarceration. Perhaps they’ve been prisoners, had or have family members, or friends. It’s a time of support and encouragement in a Christian community of women knowing God’s abundant presence during such.
Save the date: October 12-14 (location TBD). The cost of the weekend is covered. June 12 at 7:00 p.m. there will be a meeting at Grace Church for those interested. The woman in charge of the October Conference weekend will be presenting at these upcoming interest meetings. Immediate questions? Call Fr. John Ambelang 920-453-8983.
§ Save the Date-Eucharistic Festival, Saturday June 30: Established in 1960 by Bishop William Brady, the Eucharistic Festival gathers the diocesan family to be united in its faith in the Presence of our Blessed Lord in the Bread and Wine of the Altar. In being so devoted, we can be united in making known God's presence to all people.
The Festival includes the Celebration of the Holy Eucharist, Bishop's Picnic, Evening Prayer and the Adoration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, beginning at 11:00 a.m. at Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Fond du Lac. If you are interested in carpooling, contact the parish office.
§ Brat Fry and Bake Sale at Miesfeld’s: Saturday, July 7, Brat Fry at Miesfeld’s Brat Haus! A sign-up table is located in the Narthex. We are looking for: Brat fryers, stand attendants, baked goods bakers, before the sale packagers and attendants while at the sale. Contact Barb or Bob MacEwen at 912-4505 if you have any questions.
§ Save the Date-Diocese of Fond du Lac Schedule for Ordination: The Ordination of the Reverend Roberta Ann Kraft to the Priesthood will take place on Saturday, July 21, 11:00 a.m. at the Cathedral of St. Paul the Apostle in Fond du Lac at 11:00 a.m. More details will be shared in the upcoming weeks about this joyous event.
§ Diocesan polo shirts are back: Every few years a Diocesan Polo Shirt embroidered with the diocesan shield is available for order and purchase. 2018 is the year! These 65/35 cotton blend shirts come in both men's and women's sizes. They are red in color and without pockets. Shirts may be ordered and paid for online or by check. Pick up your shirt at the Diocesan Office, arrange to pick up at a diocesan event, or have it shipped by U.S. Mail. Prices start at $30. Order at diofdl.org/polo
§ Ushers Needed: Ushers are often the first people seen by newcomers, visitors, and even regular parishioners when coming to Grace Church. People enjoy being greeted by a smile; become a part of this ministry today!
§ 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 is provided on the parish website, along with weekly study summaries and a weekly video summary of the readings. If you need a bible for the challenge, contact the parish office.
§ 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; please write your name on the envelope.
§ Lost and Found: If you have ever lost anything while at Grace Church, it may be in the office. Please email email@example.com to identify and claim.
§ Bulletin Prayer List and our Grace Church Prayer Team: The Episcopal Church believes in the power of prayer. Grace Church regularly prays for the needs of our own members, as well as the needs of the country, and our world. We would be honored to pray for your needs, and the needs of your friends and relatives if they or you are in a state of trouble, sorrow, pain, or are experiencing any other adversity. Please call the Parish office at 452-9659 or email a request to firstname.lastname@example.org to have a name(s) put in the bulletin, the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham and/or out to the email Prayer Team. If you are interested in becoming a member of the Prayer Team, contact the office.