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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Christian Unity Redux

Grace Episcopal Church
Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Grace Notes
24 January 2019

Last week I wrote about Christian unity and about what separates us.  This week let’s focus upon what unites us.  As we heard in the epistle last Sunday, “[N]o one can say "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12.3).  We must, of course, read this teaching together with Jesus’ word, “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Mtt. 7.21).  But we must also read both of these teachings together with our Lord’s teaching that it is His word that will judge the unbeliever on the last day (Jn. 12.48).  In other words, lacking the perfect knowledge of Jesus what we can judge about others is restricted to things like:  Is a person’s behavior consistent with God’s revelation?, and Is the professed belief of a person consistent with the teaching of the apostles?  What we cannot judge is whether any person may be saved.  We must trust in God’s mercy and pray all the more for those with whom we disagree.
I well recall a clergy colleague in another diocese.  We agreed about almost nothing, and spent many hours in dispute over after-hours libations at clergy conferences.  We were very different people.  He was about three decades  my junior.  His churchmanship was much more at the “can’t we just get along and sing” end of the spectrum, and his life experience involved a career as a rock musician.  But—and this is crucial—I came to know him (and he to know me) as a person who not only proclaimed “Jesus is Lord” but sought in his own way to follow Jesus.
What unites us is a common confession that Jesus is Lord.  What unites us is the common profession and practice of seeking to follow Jesus, which no one of us does perfectly.  There are and will be many times when differences in dogma, doctrine and, discipline will be apparent.  Differences in dogma are material.  Differences in doctrine can be very illuminating.  Differences in discipline may be classified, in general, as adiaphora—which wonderful Greek term may be translated as “those things not necessary to salvation”.
What is necessary to salvation is to turn to God.  The effectiveness of our turning and following—as individuals and as churches—will always be imperfect.  The gap between our holiness and the holiness to which we are called cannot be bridge by us.  But this gap can be bridged, and is, by and through Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead in His infinite mercy.  In this world, let us focus especially on following together.

Grace abounds:  Please thank: 

§  All who worked to prepare and serve the brunch offered at the parish annual meeting:  Mary Snyder (overall co√∂rdination and setup, plus cooking); Jessica Ambelang, Nicci Beeck and Polly Schmeiser (food); Elizabeth Schaffenburg, Polly Schmeiser and Elizabeth Schaffenburg (setup); and cleanup by Beth and Rachel Boland, and Joann and Zack Sorensen.
§  Barb MacEwen for organizing the emergency fundraiser for the local Coast Guard.
§  Ellen Aparicio for help in the office.
§  Nicci Beeck for all of the extra work she performed to make the parish annual meeting a success.

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.

Emergency Coast Guard appeal:  Many thanks to the generosity of our parishioners we were able to present the Sheboygan based US Coast Guard with $1000 in grocery gift cards on Monday, January 21st. Thank you Grace Church for reaching out to our military personnel in their time of great need.  It is greatly appreciated.
On Wednesday, January 23rd we learned that all the cards have been distributed to the 31 guardsmen/women, 75% of whom have families (one family has five children).  Our local Semper Paratus servants are extremely appreciative of this outpouring of generosity and concern.  Thank you for supporting our military in their time of great need.

 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 Third Sunday after the Epiphany (Baptism of Our Lord)
                              Dr. R. Benjamin Dobey, Music Director

Prelude                           Chorale Partita on All glory be to God on high    
                                                                                     Johann Gottfried Walther
Entrance Hymn 616         “Hail to the Lord’s Anointed”              
                                                                            Es flog ein kleins Waldv√∂gelein 
Offertory Hymn 544        Jesus shall reign where’er the sun ”              Duke Street
Communion Motet          Eternal light, shine in my heart                 Samuel Scheidt
Communion Hymn 632    “O Christ the Word Incarnate”                              Munich
Closing Hymn 539           O Zion haste, thy mission high fulfilling              Tidings              
Postlude                          Carillon                                                   Herbert Murrill

Parish Notices:
§  Adult Formation: The Language of Faith: Class continues at 9:00 a.m. in St. Nicholas Hall, exploring the language of faith. What words do we use to describe faith? How do the words we use shape our own understanding? How do words we use present barriers to those who have no experience of faith, or whose experience is different? All are welcome.
§  Boy Scout Sunday: The Boy Scouts of America designates the Sunday that falls before February 8 (Scouting Anniversary Day) as Scout Sunday, to recognize the contributions of young people and adults to Scouting. Therefore, Grace Church will welcome Troop 801, Pack 3801 and their families on Sunday, February 3. Please greet our Boy Scouts and let them know how much we appreciate their service. If you are willing to bring extra coffee hour treats, please contact the office; there will be a larger than usual crowd.
§  Signing of the Tripartite Covenant: We need four lay members of the parish to attend mass on Sunday, February 3 at St. Dominic and St. Peter Lutheran Church (two members at each church) as representatives of Grace Church to sign the Tripartite Covenant. Mass at both churches begins at 10:30 a.m. Please call the parish office if you are willing to participate in this Ministry.
§  Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple: Please mark your calendars and plan to attend this Solemn Mass on February 6 at 6:00 p.m. 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.
§  Candlemas Lasagna Supper: On Wednesday, February 6 after the Solemn Mass, there will be a shared supper in St. Nicholas Hall. Lasagna will be served; please bring a dish to pass and share in fellowship. A sign-up sheet is on the Narthex table.
§  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.
§  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.
§  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.
§  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.
§  The 19th Annual Love Bowls event: benefiting Fresh Meals On Wheels of Sheboygan County will be held at Sheboygan South High School on February 17 from 10 am to 3 pm. Featuring nearly 70 different soups, breads and cookies, as well as musical entertainment and a silent auction. Tickets can be purchased at the door the day of the event for $25 per person. Please call (920) 451-7011 for more information or visit

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