Thoughts & Updates

News, perspectives and updates from Grace Episcopal Church

New Sunday School Year

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Yesterday, a fellow student in the astronomy class I’m taking at State, said, “I’m getting nervous about the exam Tuesday.” Tests, papers, and grades add up to stress and anxiety. At Grace, we remove the stress, allowing you to focus upon the joy of learning, and it is joyful.

 We naturally want to learn. It’s part of our DNA. Humanity wouldn’t have survived and thrived if we didn’t. People get excited when they learn something for the first time, when they have an aha moment. The process of learning opens up new worlds to us. Of course, at Grace, we’re not learning just for the sake of learning. We’re learning about the most mysterious and exciting reality in the universe: God.

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Help Our Bahamian Sisters and Brothers

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“It looks like everything went through a wood chipper,” said an NPR commentator about Abaco island after Dorian. The devastation of the two northern most islands in the Bahamas was epic. Abaco was hit by 220 mile an hour wind. Dorian parked over Grand Bahama pummeling it for more than 48 hours.

Although I have never been to the Bahamas, this tragedy feels personal. Fr. Franklyn and Jennifer are from the Bahamas. Franklyn messaged me, “Abaco is family, my ancestors….” Ivamae, who worships at Grace when she visits from the Bahamas, emailed, “The damages in those two islands is beyond comprehension. Can u imagine 65% of the homes and businesses demolished and the 35% compromised in Abaco.” Ivamae’s sister lives on Abaco. She’s not sure when she’ll go back. The death toll in the Bahamas has risen to forty-three. Thankfully, Fr. Franklyn, Jennifer’s and Ivamae’s family are safe.

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Planning for the End of Life

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One of the most difficult tasks each of us needs to face is preparing for the end of our lives. Morrie Schwarz said, “Everybody knows they’re going to die, but nobody believes it. If we did, we would do things differently.”

That applies to me. Cindy and I don’t have a will. We talk about making one, but we haven’t, yet, emphasis on “yet.”

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Step Boldly Like Neil Armstrong

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Fifty years ago, Saturday, a human stepped on the moon for the first time. Neil Armstrong culminated a decade long American drive, costing billions of dollars and involving hundreds of thousands of workers. While the US reached the moon first, it started the race far behind.

After the Soviet Union had achieved a number of firsts, the United States shifted its space effort into high gear in 1961. President Kennedy rallied the nation the following year in a speech at Rice University’s football stadium, proclaiming,

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A Modern Good Samaritan

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Yesterday, when I got back to my car after my 8:00 a.m. class at NCSU, I looked for my driver’s license. When I couldn’t find it, I thought I’d misplaced it in my red backpack, or perhaps it had fallen down beside the driver’s seat, as happens sometimes. I became concerned when I got home and still couldn’t find it after looking again through my backpack and the car.

Later that morning, I got an email from Allen, a postdoc research scholar, who had found my license on campus. It had fallen out of my backpack while jogging to get to class on time. Allen had looked me up online, first, calling the church. When he didn’t get an answer, he searched for my email address. This morning, when Allen met me on campus, I thought about the Good Samaritan. He was mine.

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American Blessings and Challenges

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This summer I’m taking an 8:00 a.m. class at NCSU. As most of you know, I love to learn. I park on a street near State and walk to class.

On my way through the quiet campus, I’ve been thinking about the many blessings of our area. In addition to great colleges and universities, we have excellent medical care. When they go there, our members give Clayton’s hospital great reviews. We also have Clayton’s wonderful charm, the Triangle’s many amenities and an easy drive to North Carolina’s beautiful beaches and mountains. We are blessed to live in a great area in a great country!

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Help Venezuelan Children

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The 10,000 residents of Churuguara, a picturesque town in Venezuela, went without electricity and water for eight days due to the country’s tanking economy. Gigi, one of my Spanish teachers, who lives there, told me long lines snaked each day to get water at a natural spring. It’s only one of the many trials Venezuelans face daily.

Sky rocketing inflation puts basic commodities out of reach. Chicken in the grocery store costs $20. Gigi makes $10 a month in the local High School. She survives teaching Spanish online, when she has electricity and Internet. The average Venezuelan has lost more than 20 pounds, because she or he can’t get enough to eat.

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Community Emergency Response Team

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A great Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training at Grace! Thanks to Samantha and Jay, who led the training! Members of the church and the community participated increasing preparedness!
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Dad's Day

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My Dad was my best friend. Snow white hair, sparkling blue eyes, and gregarious, he loved his country, his family and his church.  He worked hard for General Electric, but he also knew how to relax, enjoying sailing on Saturdays.  Dad also loved to read and to talk about American history.

Dad had his edges, one of which was a volcanic temper.  He generally apologized later if he blew up at you. He was a good, honest and honorable man.

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High School Graduation

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We give thanks for Justin who graduated from Corinth Holders High School and pray for God's blessing upon him as he takes his next step in life!
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Retirement Celebration

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We celebrated Marlene Weigert, Canon to the Ordinary for the Administration of the Diocese, who will retire in August after working 42 years for the church. Marlene talked about what she learned serving the church. In the past, she facilitated one of Grace's fall pledge campaigns and gave a stewardship sermon. We gave thanks for her service to our congregation, to the church and to God!
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Cookout

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We had a great end-of-school cookout! Thanks to all who came, contributed and helped with the event!
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Youth Sunday

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We give thanks for all of our young people who are important members of our congregation!
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The Ascension: God With You

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As a child, I thrilled watching the televised liftoffs of the Saturn V moon rockets. A mission controller would count down until the five engines belched flame and black smoke. Shuddering, white smoke streaming, ice chunks falling from its super cooled sides, the 360-foot-long, 1-million-pound rocket slowly rose from the concrete launch pad while the earth-bound gantry arms fell away. The massive white and black rocket quickly gained momentum, thundering through the air, shaking the land, taking humanity to the moon. No other rocket to this day has propelled humans beyond low earth orbit.

Almost two thousand years earlier, Jesus ascended into heaven. No cameras were there. Few witnessed it. We have no idea how. We only know that Jesus is now in heaven. God knows our human fears, hopes, struggles, joys, failures and triumphs, because God has shared them, and they are now with God.

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Sacrifice, Jesus, Memorial Day

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On Tuesday April 30th, Riley went to class like normal. Students were making their final presentations. It was the last day of the semester. That night, an all campus party was planned to celebrate the school year’s end. Riley Howell never left that classroom on the UNC Charlotte campus. He rushed a shooter, who’d opened fire, giving his life for his fellow students. The ROTC student was buried with full military honors.

Seven days later, less than two weeks before his High School graduation, Kendrick Castillo lunged at the gunman who had burst into his British Lit class at STEM School Highlands Ranch just outside of Denver. Several other students followed to subdue the attacker. Kendrick’s best friend picked up the slain Senior’s diploma for him at the school’s graduation this past Monday.

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It's About the Resurrection

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The first 40 days of the 50-day Easter season commemorate Jesus’ resurrection appearances. Notably, the Scriptures record little that the risen Jesus says to His followers. We have some important teaching. In John’s Gospel, Jesus tells Peter on the shore of Galilee, “Feed my lambs.” In Matthew’s, he exhorts His followers to make disciples. There is more but not much.

As a commentator pointed out, it seems odd. Wouldn’t you hang on every word a friend said after returning from the dead? Wouldn’t you want to know what it was like on the other side? If the many books from people who’ve been resuscitated after being pronounced clinically dead mean anything, the answer would appear to be a resounding “Yes!”

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Second Service FAQs

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As part of our preparation for resuming a second contemporary service, I'm answering frequently asked questions about this service that resumes on April 14th, when we'll offer our traditional service at 9:15 a.m. and our contemporary service at 11:11 a.m.

John Gibson

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The Lord's Prayer and the New Zealand Mosque Attack

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Sunday, March 10th, we began our Lenten sermon series on the Lord’s Prayer. In preparing for this series, I was impressed by biblical scholar John Dominic Crossan’s claim that it is humanity’s greatest prayer. Although considered THE Christian prayer, Christ is never mentioned. The prayer, in fact, is deeply rooted in Judaism. All its elements can be found in the Hebrew Scriptures or ancient Jewish literature.

The opening words “Our Father” reveal that God loves everyone on this earth like a loving and caring father. And each person is our brother or sister, because God is the Father of us all.

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First Sunday in Lent aka PJ Sunday

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"What's worship like in your church?" It's reverent, traditional and playful! The pics from our traditional service on the First Sunday in Lent, a.k.a. Time Change Sunday, March 10, 2019, will show you! Since we set our clocks ahead an hour, kids of all ages were invited to wear their pjs! Yes, you'll see some children and adults in their pajamas! That's just one of the playful aspects of our congregation. We also have a bounce house! After the service, children jump to their hearts content, while adults enjoy coffee hour. We hope the children will have fun and want to come to church.  Preschool and elementary school children have their own video based class/prayer time for part of the service. Parents worship in peace while their children learn, craft, sing and pray at their level. This service is traditional, too.  The people leading worship wear robes. We have a pipe organ, violinist, choir and beautiful hymns that have been sung for centuries by faithful followers of Jesus. Our biblically based service traces its roots to the earliest known. At its heart is communion, which we have every Sunday. Another important part of our worship is community. Each Sunday, people celebrating a birthday or anniversary come forward for a prayer and blessing. People enthusiastically greet one another with the peace of Christ, too. Our growing congregation currently meets in a rented, metal building. Sometimes this puts off people used to a traditional church structure. Jesus, of course, was born in a stable. As the beauty, power and love of God transformed that humble space, they have transformed this one's interior into a beautiful place to worship God. John GibsonPastor 
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Burying the Alleluias

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As part of our Lenten season of renewal, we take time to reflect on our lives. We observe this in our worship at the beginning of the service with a time of silence and a confession to God of what we have done and left undone. We also refrain from saying "Alleluia" during the service. The children put the alleluias into a box on March 3rd, the last Sunday before Lent. The alleluias will be raised in a joyful shout on Easter day when we praise God for Jesus' resurrection! 
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