Thoughts & Updates

News, perspectives and updates from Grace Episcopal Church

Thoughts and observations by John Gibson, Vicar of Grace Episcopal Church near Clayton, NC.

Easter and Hope

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When I was a child I loved to read an illustrated book of ancient Greek myths.  One was about Pandora.  According to Greek mythology, she was the first woman.  The gods gave her a jar she was not to open.  When she did, all the evils that plague humanity flew out.  Seeing them escape, she slammed the lid closed, enclosing hope.

 

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Palm Sunday: God Plans to Prosper You

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Without a doubt Palm Sunday is one of the most jarring of the year.  One moment we hail Jesus and the next we yell “Crucify him!”  And, yet, it is so true.

We all know public opinion is fickle.  One day a sports figure is revered as the hero and the next booed as the goat.  My guess though is Palm Sunday is more for you than the reenactment of fickle public opinion.  I imagine that you have experienced this Sunday first hand as I have.

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Contemporary Music Sunday

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I’m excited to welcome our friends April and Annette Williams this Sunday.  April and Annette have been with us in the past.  A few years ago they led the music in our summer mid-week contemporary music service and one or two Sundays, also.

As part of our preparation for a second service with a more contemporary musical style, we are worshiping with different types of music when Gayla is away on vacation.  On December 31st, Susan Gilbert led our music, playing a combination of hymns and other songs on the piano.  This Sunday during our 10:30 a.m. worship we will have guitar and vocals.  In every other regard, the service will be the same. 

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Our Youth Make a Difference Now

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You’ve heard people say, “The youth are the future of the church.”  While that saying encourages adults to provide ministries for teens, it dismisses their current contribution.  Young people are important members of our church, today. 

They contribute in many ways.  Youth regularly read the psalms during our worship and serve as acolytes.  They serve those in need through Backpack Buddies, a program that provides food for the weekend for hunger-at-risk kids, packing meals, assisting in delivering and holding food drives from time to time.

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A Winter Storm and Human Nature

Empty Bread Shelves at Trader Joe

Although the Bible and science say the earth will end in fire, we Southerners know it will end in snow and ice.  At least, that’s the way it seems every time there is the slightest hint of snow!

Wednesday, when I went to Trader Joe’s, the shelves were half empty.  The bread and soup were almost completely gone.  A cashier told me that some people got into fights over food.  That wasn’t the only story though of our winter storm.

Thursday morning on WRAL, I saw several young people push the car of a person stuck on a Highway 70 exit ramp near Goldsboro.  The driver got going again thanks to them.

It’s an old story.  Challenging situations bring out the best and the worst in us.  The book of Genesis reveals both are part of humanity.  God created humans, male and female, in God’s image and humanity, although created good, turned from God.  The difference is Jesus.

Jesus reunites us again with God and our fellow humans.  We are still imperfect.  Sometimes we fail to act in the best way.  I know that’s true for me.  Our better nature though through Christ is the truer one.  The more we focus on Jesus the more we can live into the life changing power of God’s love and be like those young people near Goldsboro.

John

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Ready for Christmas?

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I always ask people if they’re ready for Christmas.  As you would imagine, some are and others aren’t.  A few wisely tell me it doesn’t matter whether or not they are, the day will come anyway.

Ultimately, this day isn’t about the decorations, presets, parties and cards, as wonderful as all of those are.  It’s about the birth of Jesus, the Son of God.

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Advent Wreath Symbolism

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I have been studying the rich symbolism of the Advent wreath.  Although the meaning of the different parts varies among Christian traditions, the themes are remarkably similar.

The round ring symbolizes the eternal love of God seen in Jesus.  The evergreens reveal the everlasting life that comes through Him

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WRAL Features Story of Grace Organ

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Learn More about the amazing way God brought the organ to our church! Click here to watch the story featured by WRAL's Tarheel Traveler Scott Mason!

 

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Pipe Organ Dedication Sunday

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Music moves the spirit in a way words alone cannot. St. Augustine of Hippo said 1600 years ago, “He who sings prays twice.” Music’s power has inspired people to sing and to play musical instruments in God’s praise for millennia. Psalm 150 says, “Praise God with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals” (3-5).

This Sunday at 4 p.m. we will praise, thank and dedicate to God’s glory the Holtkamp organ. This instrument has dramatically enriched our worship. Its beautiful sounds remind us that the Holy Spirit is at work in the world and in our lives.

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Recent Comments
Guest — QUINN Koontz
Who is the builder of your organ. Friend is organist and interested in your new organ. Appreciate any info concerning your org... Read More
Tuesday, 19 December 2017 18:08
John Gibson
It's a Holtkamp. Here's their website: http://www.holtkamporgan.com.... Read More
Saturday, 23 December 2017 09:35
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Fall Fest for Pets Sunday October 29

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As I started writing this note, Donovan, our cat, gently head butted me. He snuggled next to me after I petted him. Our other cat Coco had pushed open the unlatched bedroom door early this morning, jumped on the bed and started licking my arm. “Kitty love,” Cindy and I call it!

Pets are integral parts of our lives, members of our families. Each has her or his likes and dislikes. Our cat Tuxedo loved to gnaw on corn cob and chow down on broccoli! We form deep bonds with their unique personalities. I cry whenever I lose one. Our furry, feathered, and scaled companions are gifts from our loving God.

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Eternal Food

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In 1985, Madonna released the hit song “Material Girl.” I thought recently, after rereading the feeding of the 5,000 in John’s Gospel, that the lyric “we are living in a material world and I am a material girl” summed up not only 1980’s excess but also materialism’s ageless allure. After the feeding, when the crowd pursues Jesus, he says, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me … because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you” (6:26-27).

The material without question is important. Everyone needs food. We followers of Jesus must feed the hungry today like Jesus in the wilderness, but we also must feed those who hunger for “the food that endures for eternal life.”

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A Joyful Celebration of GEC's New Organ

Music Minister Gayla Turk with the GEC

We had a joyful celebration of the new organ Sunday.  The first hymn sung by the congregation appropriately was "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee!"  We were blessed to celebrate with Bishop Anne who has a beautiful voice among her many talents.

 

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First Practice on the New Pipe Organ

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Sine the organ installers concluded their work Friday, Gayla practiced Saturday for Sunday's worship.  Watch the video below and hear the great sound!

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The Power of Love

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Like some virulent epidemic, terror plagues our world. Every two or three days we hear of another deadly outbreak: Alexandria, Orlando, London, Manchester, Paris, San Bernardino, Berlin, Nice, Charleston …. While the motives range from politics, religion, and race and the means vary from rifles, knives, bombs, cars and trucks, the intent is always the same: terror. The attackers, for their different agendas, all want to instill fear.

The Romans wanted to do the same when they crucified Jesus. They reserved crucifixion for slaves and insurrectionists, placing crosses next to the busiest highways to cow any would-be challengers. While we view Jesus as a humble rabbi who taught love, Imperial Rome saw him as a rabble-rouser whose popular following posed a threat to its power. The cross constituted what today we would call state terrorism.

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Learn More about gec's New Organ

Nick one of the organ installers tunes each pipe.

Learn more about gec's new organ and see pictures of the installation process by watching this 51 second video below.

 

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Be There for Pentecost June 4

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After the video the Rev. Roxanne Gwyn and I did on why we don’t say a confession of sin during Easter season worship, a Facebook friend was concerned that people who only attend Christmas Eve and Easter Day miss out. They do, but not only on the confession but also the year-long rhythm of seasons, feasts, fasts, prayers and rites that help deepen our faith and strengthen our walk with Jesus.

This Sunday we observe one of the most important holy days of the year – Pentecost. This day celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit on Jesus’ disciples in Jerusalem (Acts 2:1-6) and on us when we are baptized.

The Spirit unites us with the Father and the Son in heaven and with other believers on earth. The third person of the Trinity, who dwells in us, empowers our life in Christ. The Holy Spirit comforts, strengthens and guides us through the ups and downs of life.

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Become a Member

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“I myself don’t subscribe to any organized religion” writes Mick Mooney, author of An Outsider’s Guide to the Gospel, in a blog post. While Mooney’s view might sound radical, it is common today and not just about religion. Across the board, voluntary organizations have lost members since the 1960’s.

The Christian faith has always been essentially communal. Jesus calls the Twelve Disciples, symbolically recreating God’s people, the twelve tribes of Israel. The apostle Paul repeatedly refers to believers as members of the “body of Christ.”

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Comfort Wrap for Sierra

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One of the great gec traditions is giving a comfort wrap to graduating seniors and to young people moving away.  Becky presents the wrap on behalf of the women of the church who say a prayer and tight knots.  The wrap is a tangible reminder of God's and the congregation's love for them and that our prayers are with them.  The wrap has meant so much that some young people sleep with it when they first go away.  Becky presented this wrap to Sierra who is graduating from High School and going to Western Carolina University in August.  Congratulations to Sierra, and Thanks, Becky and the women of the church for such a moving and meaningful tradition!

 

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Youth Sunday

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The young people are not only important for the future but for the present!  We had a great service Sunday to celebrate them.

 

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Girl Scout Troop Recognition

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During our Youth Service Sunday, we had a great time celebrating the girls, their families and the leaders of one of the Girl Scout Troops.  Many joined us at the cookout, too.  Check out the picnic pictures here.  Thanks for being with us Sunday!

 

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