Thoughts & Updates

News, perspectives and updates from Grace Episcopal Church

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

Cookout May 2017

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Everyone had a great time at our end of the school year cookout with the girls, parents and leaders of one of the Girl Scout troops that meets at GEC.

 

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Mother's Day

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Happy Mother's Day to all Moms!  Thank you for all you do and have done!  You are a great blessing!

This year the men gave a hydrangea to each mother at the service.  Thanks to Jack Bacheler, who arranged for the hydrangeas, and the men for this great gift.  

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God Is Your Mother and Father

Mothers-Day-2017

With Mother’s Day this Sunday, we naturally think of our mothers and the mothers of our children and grandchildren.  At Grace, Sunday we will recognize, thank and pray for all mothers during our service.  The men will also give a gift to all mothers in attendance.

While we generally think of God as our Heavenly Father, God is equally our Heavenly Mother.  It is true that most images for God in the Bible and the Christian tradition are masculine.  I believe this has more to do with the fact that throughout most of human history our society has been patriarchal.

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Litter Clean Sweep April 30

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While everyone seems to have difficulty remembering them, at least when we bring them up at clergy conference!, the Five Marks of Mission (or mission activities) are an important statement of how Jesus calls us to serve in the world.  The Marks of Mission state,

The Mission of the Church Is the Mission of Christ

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Thank You and Easter Outreach

Thank You and Easter Outreach

Thank you to everyone who contributed to our celebration of Christ’s resurrection Sunday!   People gave lilies, flowers, food, drink and the risen Christ painting.   They also gave of their time, serving during worship, Sunday school, coffee hour, cleanup, the egg hunt and more.  More moved chairs, set up the flowers, prepared the altar and hung the painting.  Our choir sang a beautiful anthem.  It was a wonderful morning!  You did a great job!  Thank you!

If you have photos, please email them to me.  I’d like to include yours in the ones posted here.

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Easter Service Invitation


The resurrection of Jesus gives us hope to face our daily challenges.  You are invited to Easter service Sunday April 16 @ 10:30 am to experience the hope of the resurrection for yourself.

 

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New Restroom Mirrors and Sinks

New Restroom Mirrors and Sinks

Thank you to Timolee and Blake Dohner for new mirrors for the church's restrooms!

 

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Fasting and Praying for Easter

Fasting and Praying for Easter

I’ve never thought of myself as a trendsetter, except in the early eighties at the start of the chocolate chip cookie craze (I was way ahead of that curve!), but it seems I am, and you are, too, if you fast.  It’s hard to believe, but fasting has become trendy.

According to the website Fashion, celebrities such as Jimmy Fallon, Ben Affleck and Beyoncé fast.  While celebrities generally abstain from food for weight loss or health, we fast for God, as Jesus did for forty days in the wilderness.

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The Shack Sunday March 19 @ 1:15 p.m.

The Shack Sunday March 19 @ 1:15 p.m.

William Young wrote The Shack as a Christmas gift for his six children without planning to publish the work of fiction.  After friends convinced him to submit the book, religious and secular publishers alike rejected it.  Young finally self-published the fictional tale in 2007 with hardly any notice.  The title took off the next year thanks to word of mouth and talk on Christian radio and TV.   The Shack debuted at number 1 in 2008 on the NY Times bestseller list and stayed there till 2010.  The novel has been turned into a movie now in theaters.

For those unfamiliar with the story, the main character Mack Phillips encounters each of the Trinity’s three persons in a shack, where his daughter was murdered four years earlier.  Ever since her death, Mack has suffered what he calls “The Great Sadness.”  He finally breaks out of his depression, talking with the triune God that weekend in the woods.

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Women's Mtg Sunday Feb 5 @ 9:30, Youth and Men's Ministries

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Recently, the Holy Spirit has been working overtime in our congregation!  We have our challenges, no question, but the Spirit is doing amazing things in our midst.   First, God gave us the Holtkamp organ that Phil Swartz, the organ installer, will begin work on Thursday.  The Holy Spirit, through you and others, has also given us almost $12,000 towards our $15,000 goal for its installation and our music ministry.  Incredible for a church our size!  As if this weren’t enough, the Holy Spirit is revitalizing our ministries, too!

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2017 Appalachia Service Project Mission Trip

2017 Appalachia Service Project Mission Trip

I’ve been thinking about summer, not because the temps spiked into the upper 70s after the snow and ice, but because we’ve been planning our Appalachia Service Project (ASP) trip.  We’re partnering again with St. Paul’s, Cary, for our June 25th – July 1st mission in the mountains of North Carolina.

ASP works to make homes warmer, safer and drier in rural central Appalachia.  According to its website, 16,267 volunteers served last year, repairing homes for 562 families.   Hannah Bober, Sierra Dalton and I served in Cocke County, Tennessee last July.

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Enrich Your Worship

Enrich Your Worship

“It doesn’t feel like Sunday.”  Cindy said as we sat snowed in for the second day this past weekend.  It was one of the rare Sundays we didn’t go to church.  Even on vacation we normally worship somewhere not that we’ve always felt like it.   Those times I’ve dragged myself to church, I pray before the service that God will open my heart and mind, and God somehow does.  I leave feeling better, renewed.

Preparing ourselves spiritually for worship makes a difference.  Jesus said to worship God “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).  In our consumer culture, people often feel church should entertain them like a movie or sporting event.  Instead of spectators, we are players, so to speak, in an Episcopal service.  Our worship is participative.  As players wouldn’t enter a game without warming up, we also need to prepare ourselves spiritually.

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Miracles Happen

Miracles Happen

 

At Christmas, we celebrate a great miracle, the birth of the Son of God.  Jesus, fully God and fully human, walks among us, doing amazing miracles such as walking on water, healing people and even raising them from the dead.  Even after he is brutally put to death, he rises to new life!  Jesus sends his disciples out to tell people about him, and they, too, perform miracles!

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The Light of Christmas

The Light of Christmas

At this time of year stores and malls are jammed with shoppers as people scramble in search of the right gift for loved ones, friends and co-workers.  This annual ritual was transformed for many this week into a nightmare when a terrorist plowed a semi through a crowded Berlin Christmas street market and a jam packed Mexico City fireworks market erupted in wave after wave of explosions.  Dozens were killed and injured, leaving stunned and grieving families, friends and communities.

While these tragedies might seem to have little to do with our joyous Christmas celebration, they are, in reality, the reason for it.   Herod ordered all the male children two and under in and around Bethlehem killed to eliminate the Christ child, forcing Mary, Joseph and their newborn to flee for their lives to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-16).  Christ came to bring light to a darkened world.  As John’s Gospel says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (1:5).  Jesus lights the way for our lives, guiding, strengthening and giving us hope.

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Recapturing the Wonder of Christmas

Recapturing the Wonder of Christmas

This Sunday we have the children’s Christmas pageant.  It’s always a highlight for me!  Children express the wonder of Christmas, because their lives are filled with wonder.  Everything is new to them.  The smallest things bring them great delight.  My grandson Alex was thrilled last week to get a Finding Dory Bubble Gun for his second birthday.  He loves bubbles!

While bubbles can delight a child, many of us adults have lost our sense of wonder.  Political attack ads, workplace double dealings, and the seemingly unending grind of the daily routine have jaded many of us.

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True Joy of the Season

True Joy of the Season

Yesterday, I saw a car with a red nose in its front grill and antlers sticking out of the driver’s and front passenger’s window in the Lowe’s parking lot on Highway 70.  Yes, it’s that time of year when you can also see people rocking Santa or Elf hats, glowing ornament earrings and blinking Christmas light necklaces.  It’s a fun time!

I don’t think it’s any surprise, because Jesus was joyful.  He liked to have a good time.  His first miracle, according to the Gospel of John, was at a wedding party, when he turned water into wine (John 2:1-12).   Jesus so enjoyed partying that people labeled him “a glutton and a drunkard” (Luke 7:34).

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Saturday Yard Sale and Meeting Tonight at 7:15

Saturday Yard Sale and Meeting Tonight at 7:15

Our fall yard sale is just days away.  We’ve already sold some items!  This evening Larry Sorenson will have a meeting at the church at 7:15 p.m. for those who are volunteering or are interested in volunteering for the sale.  If you are unable to attend the meeting, please contact Larry, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 919.656.3437.

 

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Matthew Flood Relief

Matthew Flood Relief

The situation is still difficult for many in the aftermath of Matthew.  If you need assistance, please let me know.  As a church, we’ll do whatever we can whether you need a fallen tree cut up, debris picked up, or anything else.

One way we can help others is through the Episcopal Farm Worker Ministry (EFwM), a ministry Grace has long supported.  Over a hundred farm worker families lost everything.  EFwM has asked for the following items to help our sisters and brothers who put the food on our tables:

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Fall Fest

Fall Fest

Fall Fest is after church this Sunday October 16 at the Clayton Community Park on Amelia Church Rd.  We’ve not only rented the pavilion for our cookout but also a bounce house.  In addition, there’ll be no-point lawn darts, corn hole toss, footballs, soccer balls, volley ball and, of course, the playground.

Hamburgers, hot dogs, fixings, drinks and ice will be provided.  All you need to bring is a side dish, salad, dessert, appetizer, yourself and an unchurched friend.  We’re blowing up this event not only to make it more fun but also to make more inviting for your friends without a church.  A fun event like Fall Fest is  great ways to introduce someone to our congregation!

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Church Decline and Growth

Church Decline and Growth

 

While in Pittsburgh Labor Day weekend, Cindy and I drove by St. Peter and Paul, a beautiful, large, twin-spired, neo-gothic church, built in 1890.  The cathedral-size building that once hummed with activity in the city’s east end now sits abandoned with smashed stained glass littering its floors, blank windows letting in the rain and graffiti covering its walls.  The decaying structure stands as a warning.

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