Thoughts & Updates

News, perspectives and updates from Grace Episcopal Church

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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Christian Formation Upgrades for All Ages Begin This Sunday

Christian Formation Upgrades for All Ages Begin This Sunday

I dropped out of Sunday School when I was in fourth grade.  My teacher wanted me to memorize the Apostles’ Creed.  Embarrassed the next Sunday that I hadn’t, I never went back.

One of my greatest desires is that Christian Formation will be a different experience at Grace.  I believe this year will be the best, yet.

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Bring a Friend

Bring a Friend

Markell brought it to my attention this summer.  I wanted to bring it to yours before Cindy and I leave to visit her son Travis and his wife Lauren in Pittsburgh.

It’s Back to Church Sunday on September 18.  Thousands of congregations across the country are making a concerted effort to invite people without a faith community to attend their church that day.

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Grace's Gardens Grow Beautifully

Grace

Thanks to Jack and Pat Bacheler and Jill and Sam Allen, who donated the new arborvitae and their planters!  They beautify the building!  Thanks also to Jack Bacheler for all his work tending Grace's garden and planters which are thriving under his daily watering during the hot summer and tender loving care.

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Painting the Parish Hall

Painting the Parish Hall

Sunday Grace members removed bulletin boards, banners and other things from wall and moved everything to the center of the room for the painters, who stripped the wallpaper and painted the walls and cabinets this week.

 

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Appalachia Service Project

Appalachia Service Project

Hannah, Sierra and Pastor John went to Newport TN July 10 - 16 with adults and youth from St. Paul's, Cary to make homes warmer, safer and drier with the Appalachia Service Project.

 

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Renovation Phase II

Renovation Phase II

Thanks to all the people who stayed Sunday to clear out the classrooms and church office!  We are off to a great start in the second phase of our renovation project.  This phase requires less work since we frontloaded the project last year.  Our goal this week is to paint these rooms and the men’s bathroom before our landlord installs new carpet and tile.  The women’s bathroom was painted last year.  It will also get new tile this year.

Friday morning at 9:30 a.m. we will spackle, remove the paper borders, sand and do the other prep work necessary for painting.  Saturday morning starting at 9:30 a.m. we will pull up the carpet and paint all of these spaces.

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Renovation Prep Day

Renovation Prep Day

 

Sunday Grace started the second phase of renovations by removing everything from the classrooms and church office.  Saturday we will paint those spaces.  In the next two weeks, new carpet will be installed in all of them.

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Congrats to Our New H.S. Grads

Congrats to Our New H.S. Grads

 

Each year the women of Grace make a comfort wrap for our H.S. grads.  Each knot on the wrap is tied with a prayer.  Becky presented the wraps to Gabrielle and Jake, who both graduated from Clayton High.  Congrats to you both!  We wish you well as you take the next step in your life journey!

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Father's Day

Father

 

We give thanks for all the fathers at Grace and pray for God's blessing upon them and their ministry to their children!

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Orlando and Sunday Worship

Orlando and Sunday Worship

Early Sunday morning a lone gunman committed the worst mass shooting in American history.  This atrocity of course was not isolated.  San Bernardino, Charleston, Fort Hood, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Columbine and many more massacres have been seared into our memory in recent years.

While the United States has only 5% of earth’s population, it accounts for more than 31% of the world’s mass shootings.  Mass murders have become routine in the U.S., most involving a rifle or pistol.  The FBI says that in the last 164 days there have been 136 mass shootings (4 or more victims), leaving a bloody swath of dead bodies, wounded persons, grief stricken families, friends, and co-workers and traumatized communities.

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Farewell to the Couglers

Farewell to the Couglers

We said good-bye to the Couglers who are moving to Florida.  They have contributed to Grace in many ways and will be deeply missed.  They hold a comfort wrap a tangible sign of our love and prayers for them.

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