Thoughts & Updates

News, perspectives and updates from Grace Episcopal Church

Grace's Vision - Love God

Grace

Grace's Vision

It doesn’t seem like much of one in our rush to get everything done before Christmas day, but Advent is a time of waiting.  One thing is for sure, no matter how much we get done, the celebration of the birth of Christ will be here next week.  Advent, I believe, is a good metaphor for what it means to be a disciple of Christ.  There’s a lot of activity, but in the final analysis it’s up to and all about God.

On December 7, at our Annual meeting, I talked about Grace’s mission to love God, to love neighbor and to change the world.  All three are interrelated.  Loving God means loving our neighbor and changing the world.  Although I am going to look at them as different parts in successive posts, it is important to remember that they are inextricably interconnected.

Continue reading
  1331 Hits
  0 Comments
1331 Hits
0 Comments

A Story Worth Hearing Again

A Story Worth Hearing Again

My Dad passed in February.  One of the things I miss are his stories.  His father built boilers for ships.  I loved the one Dad told about how, when he was little, his brothers stuffed him into a 14-inch wide ship’s gun barrel.  Another favorite was how a boilermaker intentionally hit my grandfather in the head with a red hot rivet.  Even though a small man, he jumped up and beat the daylights out of his attacker.  One more was about pi.  My grandfather started to work in the shipyards when he was a child.  With little education, he had few advancement opportunities.  No one in the competitive yards would tell him the value of pi, essential in shipbuilding.  My grandfather taught himself eventually becoming boiler shop supervisor.

As a child, I groaned, hearing Dad’s stories over and over again.  It wasn’t until I was older that I understood that they told me who my Dad was and who I was.  They taught important lessons.  I learned the value of good natured kidding from the story about the ship’s gun.  The red hot rivet taught me that you had to get back up when life knocks you down.  I understood the importance of learning from the one about pi.  Every society, also, tells its own stories to teach its values and lessons.

Continue reading
  1378 Hits
  1 Comment
Recent comment in this post
Guest — Sue and Sawyer Manly
I loved the story about your Dad. So sad for his passing, but he is celebrating with Jesus this year!! What a glorious Christmas... Read More
Tuesday, 23 December 2014 12:22
1378 Hits
1 Comment

Advent Collection for Teens

Advent Collection for Teens

Grace's Advent collection for Johnston County teens in need was picked up yesterday.  The Department of Social Services will give them to the young people.  This effort is one of our annual services to the community.  Thanks to all who donated!

  1142 Hits
  0 Comments
1142 Hits
0 Comments

The Birth of Our Thanksgiving Holiday

The Birth of Our Thanksgiving Holiday

This article was published in the Raleigh News & Observer about the pivotal role that Episcopalian Sarah Josepha Hale played in making Thanksgiving a national holiday: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/11/26/4356508/not-your-childrens-thanksgiving.html.

  1020 Hits
  0 Comments
1020 Hits
0 Comments

Are You Engaged in Civic Society?

Are You Engaged in Civic Society?

The Clayton News-Star published the following reflection on our need to be engaged in the world us. Grace is a voting site, which is one way we serve the community.  The picture is from voting at the church during the November 4, 2014 election. Are You Engaged in Civic Society?

  946 Hits
  0 Comments
946 Hits
0 Comments

All Saints' Sunday

All Saints

All Saints

Happy Halloween!  While I imagine most of you know, Halloween is short for All Hallows’ Eve.  All Hallows or All Saints’ Day, which is always on November 1, hence All Hallows’ Eve on October 31, is one of the major holy days in the church’s calendar.   Although All Saints’ falls on Saturday this year, we will observe Sunday November 2.  This is the only saint’s day, except for a church’s patron, that may take precedence over the celebration of Christ’s resurrection that we celebrate every Sunday.

Continue reading
  1261 Hits
  0 Comments
1261 Hits
0 Comments

What Grace Means to Nacy

What Grace Means to Nacy

Those of you who have been in military service or even to summer camp as a child will recognize the bugle.  Its notes are bright and clear and can be heard for miles.  The bugle regulates the day, telling us when it is time to eat, when to sleep, when to wake and when to gather.  For me, Grace has become my bugle, helping regulate my days and my seasons.  It tells me when the stark season of Lent blooms into the joy of our risen Lord.  It tells me when Wednesday noon comes around to quietly reflect on the gospels at Fr John’s Listening to God meditative services.  It tells me when it’s Wednesday night  and time to gather with our grief support group.  It’s bright voice calls me on Sunday morning where I know I’ll be uplifted by my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Next,I brought a compass this morning.  Being an American man, I don’t often ask for directions and when I do, sometimes I don't follow them.   But Grace has become my compass.  It unwaveringly points me in the direction I need to go.  While I do my best to follow, I know I often stray off course.  Nevertheless, Grace is always here to point the way for me to bring me back.  All I have to do is listen.

Continue reading
  1057 Hits
  0 Comments
1057 Hits
0 Comments

Fall Barbecue

Fall Barbecue

A great time and good food mark the fall barbecue fundraiser!  Thanks to all who made it a success!

 

  1092 Hits
  0 Comments
1092 Hits
0 Comments

Prayer

Prayer

What would Jesus teach you?

If you could ask Jesus to teach you one thing, what would it be?  Would it be to turn water into wine?  Would it be to walk on water?  Would it be to heal the sick?  Would it be to raise the dead?  If I had my choice, I would probably ask for something showy, something that would impress others, something along the line of these miracles, but, according to scripture, the only thing the disciples asked Jesus to teach them was how to pray.  The disciples often get the rap of being spiritually slow, to put it charitably, but if we take this as any indication, they were more advanced than they are given credit.

Continue reading
  1030 Hits
  0 Comments
1030 Hits
0 Comments

Transitioning into Fall

Transitioning into Fall

Day at Tucker Lake, Saturday September 6

Milestones are important in life.  This week we will acknowledge several.  The first is our day at Tucker Lake!  I’m excited about this fun time to mark the end of summer and the beginning of the new school year!  I’ve looked longing at the lake for years whenever I drive by on Interstate 40.  Cindy and I have been talking about zip lining, kayaking, paddle boarding and hanging out with our Grace friends.  Invite your friends! 

Continue reading
  951 Hits
  0 Comments
951 Hits
0 Comments

Work and Renew

Work and Renew

Labor Day Weekend is here!  Although summer officially end September 21, for all intents and purposes it’s over.  Although no shorter than the others, summer seems to be the most ephemeral almost like the heat waves rising from the pavement on a hot day.  I never hear people say, “I can’t believe winter is over already!”  While almost everyone enjoys the long days, slower pace of life, and time to relax, we act as if work is the most important thing in life.

My mother told me that when I was a small child I asked my grandmother when she was going to retire at the time my grandfather retired from the Prudential.  Before she could reply, I answered my own question, “You can’t retire.  You’re a wife.”  My childish remark aside, women and men today work later and later in life.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this trend dates to the early 1990s, long before the financially induced necessity of the dot-com bubble burst in 2000 or the great recession of 2008.   We Americans work harder than anyone in the industrialized world.  Dean Schabner writes in a May 1 ABC news piece that we “take less vacation, work longer days, and retire later, too.”

Continue reading
  987 Hits
  0 Comments
987 Hits
0 Comments

Anna Dittman's Baptism

Anna Dittman

One of the most joyful occasions in the church is a baptism.  We had the privilege to baptize Ana Dittman. 

  1045 Hits
  0 Comments
1045 Hits
0 Comments

God Our Father

God Our Father

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads, granddads, and step-dads in the congregation.  Father’s Day is a time to remember our fathers.  It is also a good time to think about what it means to say that God is our Father.  First and most importantly, God is neither male nor female.  The book of Genesis tells us that we are created in the image of God, male and female (1:27).

God Our Mother

Continue reading
  2575 Hits
  0 Comments
2575 Hits
0 Comments

Grace's Garden

Grace

There’s an old saying that to plant a seed is an act of faith and hope.  There is no guarantee that the seed will sprout, and if it does, there is still no guarantee that it will grow, blossom, bloom and bear fruit. The weather, of course, is a major variable but then there are also animals, disease and insects.  It’s a wonder anyone ever plants anything, but they do with faith and hope.

One of the great symbols of our congregation is our garden!  The idea came from the Abundant Life Project, sponsored by Episcopal Relief and Development, the theme of Grace’s 2011 Vacation Bible School.  Originally, I am told, it was a hay bale garden.  Larry Dalton built a raised bed in 2012 that Jack and Pat Bachelor rebuilt this spring.  I think this garden is a great metaphor for our faith.  Out of the inhospitable asphalt sprout lush green vegetables.  In the midst of life’s challenges, our garden reminds us that with God all things are possible.  The tiny sprouts encourage us to have faith and hope.  The rustling leaves of the growing plants whisper the good news of the abundant life in Christ.

Continue reading
  865 Hits
  0 Comments
865 Hits
0 Comments

Moms

Moms

Mother’s Day is this Sunday May 11!  Happy Mother’s Day to all moms!  Mother’s Day is an important celebration for all of us because each of us is or has had one.  I am thankful for my mom, an incredibly vivacious woman, who deeply loved my brothers and me.  She was also a devote Episcopalian dedicated to serving others.  My mom was a great example.

The first Christian might have been a mother.  Some say that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was the first Christian.   Mary was a devout mother even standing at the foot of the cross while her son suffered and died when almost everyone else had deserted him.  Mary has been called the first Christian though not because of her witness at the cross but because she consented to be the mother of Jesus, indeed, as the tradition says, the mother of God, “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

Continue reading
  825 Hits
  0 Comments
825 Hits
0 Comments

Serving Those in Need

Serving Those in Need

When Cindy and I were returning from our visit to Iowa, we met some folks on the shuttle from RDU to the Fast Park lot.  After they found out where we had been, we talked about the tornados striking the Midwest.  They told us how Raleigh’s 2011 tornado felled trees that blocked their driveway and smashed their home’s roof.  It destroyed the house across from them.  Without knowing that I was a priest, the blonde daughter turned her head, looked me hard in the eyes, and said, “The church did the most to help us.”

Over 2,000 biblical verses talk about poverty, wealth and social justice.  1 John 3:17-18 says, “But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”  Many call this God’s “preferential option for the poor,” because throughout the scriptures God gives preference to the well-being of the poor.  It isn’t that God loves those who are struggling to survive or trying to break the chains of generational poverty more than others, but that it is all too easy to ignore or worse, scorn, those that are not healthy, strong and well-to-do.

Continue reading
  1259 Hits
  0 Comments
1259 Hits
0 Comments

The Resurrection

The Resurrection

Holy Week is the most important time of the Christian year.  Jesus’ death and resurrection are at the heart of our faith.  While only a few doubt that Jesus lived and died on a cross, many doubt that he rose from the dead.

For me, evidence is found in the change that takes in his disciples after the resurrection. Scripture tells us that the disciples were cowering behind locked doors after Jesus’ crucifixion.  “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders” (John 20:19).  I would have been hiding, too, if I had been one of his disciples.  After all, Jesus had just been publically humiliated and brutally executed.  The disciples had every reason to fear they were next!

Continue reading
  970 Hits
  0 Comments
970 Hits
0 Comments

Easter at Grace

Easter at Grace

Only seven (7), count them, seven (7) shopping days until Easter!  Have you bought your Easter gifts?  Mailed your Easter cards?  Put up your Easter tree?   Planned your Easter party?  What?!  You haven’t done any of these?!  I confess….  Neither have I.

Our society puts so much emphasis upon Christmas that Easter almost seems like an afterthought.  The truth is that Easter is more important.  Don’t get me wrong!  The birth of Christ is an important holy day, but his resurrection confirms the story of his birth, affirms the witness of his ministry, and reveals his power over sin and death.  

Continue reading
  897 Hits
  0 Comments
897 Hits
0 Comments

Making Palm Crosses

Making Palm Crosses

One of the traditions at Grace is making palm crosses for Palm Sunday, the day the church remembers Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem, before his crucifixion on Good Friday.  The Episcopal Church Women (ECW), young and old, make crosses at their monthly meeting.  Kathryn Adams, standing, teaches the right technique for making the crosses.  ECW meetings are a time to get together and catch up over a potluck dinner, to serve through various projects, and to grow closer to God by prayer and devotions.

  1176 Hits
  0 Comments
1176 Hits
0 Comments

Goals 2014

Goals 2014

On Saturday March 15, your vestry and I met with the Rev. Dr. Trawin Malone, Canon for our diocese’s Northeast Region.  We brought in Dr. Malone because he specializes in congregational development.  We spent the day looking at who we are as a congregation – our strengths, growth areas and Clayton demographics.  At the end of the day, we came up with three goals for the next year: 1) expand outreach, 2) grow the congregation, and 3) strengthen stewardship.

The vision for expanding our outreach includes developing a hands-on after school tutoring program twice a week for elementary school students.  College and high school students would be able to participate with adult supervision.  In addition, we would like to expand our involvement with the Episcopal Farmworker Ministry located in Newton Grove.  Currently, every Lenten season, Grace collects money through the mite boxes, and clothing and other items for this essential ministry.

Continue reading
  957 Hits
  0 Comments
957 Hits
0 Comments

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to https://graceclayton.org/

­