Mars Hill Proclaimer
St. Paul's Episcopal Church February Newsletter 2020
Mthr Barbara
From The Reverend
Barbara A. T. Wilson

  Ash Wednesday, 2020

     One of the things that always strikes me about this day is that we begin this fresh new season of Lent by remembering “the end.” Calling to mind your ending and my ending “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

    Those words are the hinge between a dusty beginning, “Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground”, and a dusty ending, “earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”

    A couple of weeks ago I was driving home from HyVee when I was overtaken by the thought, “I am finally of the age where I might expect my end,” as writer Rebecca Solnit mused about her own life upon turning 65. It was one of those days when the arthritis in my right knee had kicked in as it does when the barometer drops. From the day we are born death is a presence that accompanies us. It’s our constant companion, invisible and yet ever present. Regardless of who we are or where we go, it goes with us.

    It would be a mistake, though, to think that death comes only at the end of our physical life.
    Death can meet us all along the road of life through various guises that can high-jack our life. Death makes itself known in broken relationships, shattered dreams, and lost opportunities. Death often dresses itself in our regrets and disappointments. It comes in the form of addictions that are at the very least ways in which we waste the precious, limited hours of our life and sometimes hasten it’s end. We recognize death’s presence in those times when we betray ourselves and live contrary to who we truly are or want to be. We can try to forget, ignore, or deny death but no one escapes from its reality in various forms. But we know all of that!

    So, what if escaping death isn’t the issue? What if we’ve not only missed the point of Lent, but maybe even missed the point of the gospel?

    Maybe Lent and the gospel of Jesus are not primarily about being good; or a program for changing from a bad person with bad habits to a good person with better ones, so we can get a future reward. 

    I’ve got nothing against being a good person (whatever that means) but I’ve never read where Jesus said, “I came that you might be good, better, an improved version of yourself.”

    Nope--Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
Throughout the gospel he shows himself giving life, revealing life, and calling us to life.  And that’s not about tomorrow, after you die, or some heavenly future. “Now is the day of salvation,” Paul tells us. Now, in this time and in this place, this very life!

    And yet, how many of us grew up with the promise and hope of life after death as the chief tenet of our faith? For many of us life after death was, and maybe still is, the central focus and purpose of faith, Jesus, the Church. But the older I get and the more I experience, the more urgent life before death becomes.

    Is there life in my marriage? In my parenting or grandparenting? In my priesthood? In my friendships? Is there life in the way I am living in this very moment? Is there life in the way I see the world and relate to others? Am I growing? Am I bringing life to others?

    Is there life in me even as I stand before death? And if there’s not, why not?

    What needs to change, to be let go of, to be done differently? These are questions for all of us now and through the weeks to come.

   What if life before death is really what Lent is about? What if life before death is really what the ashes of mortality are pointing us to? What does life before death mean and call you to?

    Think about it like this. Death is the frame around the picture of our life. It holds before us what is. It focuses our attention. It intensifies and prioritizes what really matters.

    That this life does not last forever does not diminish life’s value, it gives it value. The temporality of life means that this one moment, this one now, is precious.  There will never be another moment like this one. 

    So given Christ’s command to love neighbor and ourselves, and God above all others—what are we to change in this season that invites, calls for life adjustments in order to enhance both your life and the lives of those around you----right now? 

   The question behind today’s ashes is not whether you will die, the question is about your life. What do you want to do with this, your one precious life?   

    The poet Mary Oliver captures this beautifully in her poem “When Death Comes.”

She writes:
“When it’s over, I want to say:
all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up
 simply having visited this world.”
“Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

Yours in Christ,
Beginning  Wednesday, March 4th,  there will be a study of the book  God Can't: How to Believe in God and Love after Abuse, Tragedy and other Evils  by Thomas Jay Oord. We'll meet from  6:00-7:30 PM.  Please feel free to bring a Brown Bag Dinner for yourself to eat during our discussion.

From the website :
Hurting people ask heart-felt questions about God and suffering. Some "answers" they receive appeal to mystery: “God’s ways are not our ways”. Some answers say God allows evil for a greater purpose. Some say evil is God's punishment.The usual answers fail. They don't support the truth that God loves everyone all the time.  God Can't  gives   a believable answer to why a good and powerful God doesn't prevent evil.
Sundays in Lent,  beginning March 1st , we'll meet at  9:15 AM  for a program titled:  Signs of Life: Why Church Matters,   which is an opportunity for participants to engage with elemental aspects of liturgy and scripture: light, water, food, shelter, community. Each forum session will help participants connect the Sign of Life to their own spirituality, Christian worship, and a spiritual practice. The curriculum was created by the monks of the Society of St. John the Evangelist in cooperation with Virginia Theological Seminary. ( No discussion on March 8th - Parish Meeting )

Lectionary Discussions - Sundays at 11:45 AM in the Conference Room. Beginning on March 1st, there will be a forum for anyone interested in discussion about the morning's sermon or Lectionary readings in the Conference Room (except on the 3rd Sunday of the month - Vestry Meeting).
February 26, 2020

To My Dear St. Paul’s Family,
I am grateful to you all for the work that you do on St. Paul’s behalf. We are a small but mighty band of brothers and sisters, and this was brought to the forefront at our annual meeting. Everyone has a hand in the “operations” of St. Paul’s and I thank you for your service!

At our annual meeting, Marilyn Cleland reminded us that our mission as followers of Christ is broader than budgets and operations. She asked that we set time aside to talk about who we are as a congregation and to share our visions for the future. Once we have established our goals, we would create an action plan to achieve them. This conversation will begin at a Parish Meeting on Sunday, March 8, at 9:15 am. Please plan to attend – we want to hear your ideas!

In Faith & Hope,


Friday, March 6, 7 PM 
Please join us for an evening
of prayer, meditation, and music!

A meditative candlelit gathering that is simple, beautiful, and more about praying and listening with the whole self than with the mind only.
Music Ministries
The St. Paul's Choirs are in rehearsals for Lent and Holy Week. Their work always shows great heart, as shown and heard in their singing of the anthem for Ash Wednesday, "Create A Pure Heart in Me" by Susan Matsui (Link is from St. Paul's Choir recorded in 2015), a beautiful start to Holy Week. Join us in song, fellowship and worship!
Tyrique McNeal, Bass, will be presenting and performing in his Junior year recital at Northern Illinois University on Sunday, April 4, 2020, 1:30 PM . Hannah Buckle, Pianist, will be accompanying Tyrique. In support of Tyrique, a group from St. Paul's will be hosting his reception. Come join us celebrate to hear him perform, and share some St. Paul's community hospitality.
Meal Ministry
Grace Place NIU Campus Ministry is located at the corner of Normal and Lucinda. On Tuesday evenings they share a fellowship meal at 6:00pm followed by worship time. St. Paul’s has provided the meal once or twice a semester for several years. This involves a team of 4 to 5 people. Each person on the team prepares a portion of the meal at home (or buys their contribution) and the food is delivered by 5:30 by one or more of the team members. Because the meal starts at 6:00, we usually set up the food when we arrive and have it ready to go. The students take care of the rest. We have always been invited to stay for the meal and worship, but it is not expected. St. Paul’s has committed to provide meals on March 24 th and April 7th.  Expenses can be reimbursed. Anyone interested in participating in this outreach ministry to our NIU family, please sign up in the fellowship hall or see Jocelyn Prall. 
Grace Place Campus Ministry Friendraiser Celebration
and Silent Auction
Friday, April 17, 2020 6:30 - 8:30 PM
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Please join the Grace Place Board for a fun evening and learn about our Episcopal-Lutheran shared ministry
at Northern Illinois University!
Music, good food and beverages, and conversation will be provided.
Contact Kristen Borre at  or Pastor Mack at
for more information.
The Garden Team met on February 16 to make plans for the coming year. We are planning to continue serving local food pantries with our vegetable produce but want to emphasize that parishioners who would like some fresh vegetables for themselves and cannot grow them are also very welcome to enjoy our harvest. Please let us know if there are particular kinds of vegetables you would like to see planted. We currently are planning spring greens like types of lettuces, spinaches, kale and collards; beans and peas; onions and garlic; beets and carrots; tomatoes and peppers, summer and winter squash, and a selection of annual herbs. Butterfly attracting flowering plants will also be included to help with pollination. This year we are trying to grow a Malabar Spinach in a tub, which is not spinach but a very nutritious green that flourishes all summer and can be eaten raw or cooked.

Our garden team plans to work on planting peas, beets, and lettuces very soon, later this month. Our first major workday will be April 18 , when NIU students will join us to do the heavy lifting jobs. We do need volunteers to bring garden tools such as shovels and rakes for use that day. We also desperately need about 6 wheelbarrows. We will begin planting more spring greens, green beans, additional peas, onions, and other spring season crops.

Our workdays this year, after April 18 will be early Monday and Wednesday mornings. Growers will begin about 8:30 to 9 AM. Helpers are needed for weighing and washing vegetables, packing them and transporting them to food pantries beginning around 10 AM. Please let Rebecca, Jocelyn, or Kris know if you would like to join us later in the mornings for this work.

We will also have flowerbeds blooming in the front of the church and our raspberry bed producing berries in July. If you enjoy flower gardening contact Mary Short, Rick Johns or Kris Borre to learn the ways you can help out. Tasks as simple as helping with watering one day a week in the summer are greatly needed. Our flower garden offers a special quiet place for meditation, reflection and sharing coffee, so plan to check it out as soon as the weather warms.

Everyone can help out in some way to make our grounds beautiful and productive with food for anyone who would like some. For information see Mother Barabara, Kris Borre, Linda Lorbach, or Jocelyn Prall.


All St. Paul’s Readers.   

With all the Lenten activity this month, the Book Club will take a break and resume meeting in April. Keep reading and watch for news!
On the third Wednesday of each month there is an Episcopal Service of Holy Communion in the OakCrest Chapel. Mother Barbara Wilson of St. Paul's and Father Georges Jalouf of St. Peter's conduct this service on alternate months. On March 18, Father Georges will be officiating.
In his annual invitation to keep a holy Lent, Bishop Lee reflects on the ways that Jesus transcends the destructive power of the world and into new life.

You can listen here.
The Way of Love podcasts continue - find them on whatever you use to tune in to podcasts.

Check the Episcopal Church website for more resources to follow The Way of Love.
The Rector's Discretionary Fund Collection

First Sunday of the month,
March 1, 2020

Donations allow us to assist people in need in our community. We would like to collect gift cards that could be used for basic necessities and groceries this month.
Food Pantry Collections
Sunday, March 8, is the next collection date, but you can bring items throughout the month.

Food Pantry collections were 21 food items and 306 diapers for a total of 327 items. February collection included 39 food items, 78 diapers, and 1152 wipes for a total of 1269 items. Year to date total is 1596 items.

There really is a need for more ushers for Sunday services. If you like to welcome people and make them feel at home, we'd love to have your help. Let Mother Barbara know if you would be interested.
Activities & Events

3/1 Sunday 1st Lent     
8:00 AM and 10:30 AM Services
9:15 AM Adult Formation
10:00 AM Choir Anthem Rehearsal
11:45 AM Lectionary Discussion
Rector's Discretionary Fund

3/4 Wednesday
6:00 PM Book Discussion " God Can't "3/4

3/5 Thursday
5:30 PM Children's Choir
7:00 PM Adult/Youth Choir  

3/6 Friday
7:00 PM "An Evening of Taize"

3/8 Sunday 2nd Lent
8:00 AM and 10:30 AM Services
9:15 AM Parish Meeting
10:00 AM Choir Anthem Rehearsal
11:45 AM Lectionary Discussion
Food Pantry Donations

3/11 Wednesday
6:00 PM Book Discussion " God Can't "3

3/12 Thursday
5:30 PM Children's Choir
7:00 PM Adult/Youth Choir  

3/15 Sunday 3rd Lent    
8:00 AM and 10:30 AM Services 
9:15 AM Adult Formation
10:00 AM Choir Anthem Rehearsal
12:00 PM Vestry Meeting

3/18 Wednesday     
2:00 PM Service at OakCrest 
6:00 PM Book Discussion " God Can't "

3/19 Thursday
5:30 PM Children's Choir
7:00 PM Adult/Youth Choir  
3/22 Sunday 4th Lent
8:00 AM and 10:30 AM Services 
Healing Liturgy
9:15 AM Adult Formation
10:00 AM Choir Anthem Rehearsal
11:45 AM Lectionary Discussion

3/25 Wednesday
6:00 PM Book Discussion " God Can't "

3/26 Thursday
5:30 PM Children's Choir
7:00 PM Adult/Youth Choir  

3/28 Saturday
 Community Taizé Rehearsals. 10 AM Readers and 11 AM Musicians

3/29 Sunday 5th Lent
8:00 AM and 10:30 AM Services 
9:15 AM Adult Formation
11:45 AM Lectionary Discussion

March Birthdays

March Birthdays

3/6                 Jimmy Russell
3/8                 Emily Russell
3/9                 Jane Nenonen
3/10               Danny Russell
3/11               Julie Stubblefield
3/11               Karyn Perkins
3/27               Jackie Dickow
3/27               Mary Lincoln
3/28               Gail Piper
St. Paul's Episcopal Church Contact Information
900 Normal Rd., DeKalb, IL 60115 
Parish Office: (815) 756-4888 
The Rev. Barbara A.T Wilson, Rector