E-newsletter | December 23, 2021
Christmas Eve:
God With Us

I have noted through the years how the word “Christmas” can mean so many things to so many people. Christmas is a word that has the power to draw forth hope, love, and excitement, or despair, anger, and depression. Why the very mention of Christmas has even started a war of words over how we greet people in this holy season. 

I personally don’t imagine that Jesus really cares whether we say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays; I don’t really remember him being a stickler for such things. He seemed far more concerned about how we care for one another than some unnecessary, imaginary conflict.  

Jesus was more interested in freeing God’s people than arguing over manger scenes at public buildings. I personally don’t think he’d object to us using his special day as an occasion to include all peoples and all faiths in our seasonal greeting routine. 

But know that no matter where this holy season finds any of us on the emotional or spiritual scale, whether Christmas is a time of joy or a time of sadness, tonight we are all beloved of God. We are all the same in God’s eyes and we all approach this season with the same desire to enter into the wonder of that most Holy night.

We will gather on the wonderful and mysterious night of Christmas Eve to celebrate the astounding event that in Jesus, God came to dwell with us. 
We can marvel once again at the depth of God’s love for all of God’s people and rejoice that God’s joy always has the last word.

But let’s face it; the pressure generated around Christmas these days can make this a difficult time of the year. I’m willing to bet that as we approach our Christmas gatherings some families or a couple or two will find themselves in petty arguments that are made a little bit more intense by the pressure of the season. 

There are probably a few of you preparing to have Christmas celebrations with an extended family and all of the stress that can come with that--- and you are praying with all of your might that things will go well, but in the meantime, the stress of it is making you crazy.  

Maybe some of you are feeling the pain of old arguments that have never been resolved and the holidays just seem to open up old wounds you’d rather forget.  

So, let’s just admit that amid the joy there are moments when we smile and say, “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas” even as we ache inside and wonder if, in the end, the birth of this miraculous baby has anything to do with us at all.  
And the good news is that the answer is yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes!  This is precisely the miracle of Emmanuel, the miracle of our God who has chosen to be with us.

God chose to bring us God’s love in the flesh. The infinite, unknowable Creator of all things chooses out of infinite, boundless love to be born of a poor woman-child, draw first breath in a stable on the outskirts of town, and be raised by a carpenter in a town in the middle of nowhere.

So often we can get lost in despair because we feel we must somehow be perfect or have perfect lives in order to be worthy of God’s love. We think we must ascend to a state of some undefiled holiness in order to rise to God’s presence.  
But in the birth of this child, our God says, “It is I who will come to you.” I come to you in a stable, I come to you in bumper to bumper traffic, I come to you in the busyness of your own making. I come to you in the midst of family stress and I especially will come to you in your grief, your pain, and your imperfections.  

The name Emmanuel means God—with—us. This means God with us everywhere, in any condition, we may find ourselves in. In our happiness or sorrow, in glory or disgrace, God never abandons us.  

From his birth to his death Jesus laughed, cried, suffered, and grieved. He even had serious arguments with members of his family---- just like us. This tells us God is with us in every aspect of our life—not just the shiny parts!  

There is no situation in our lives no matter how secret or hidden, how embarrassing, or shameful that is beyond the reach of God’s love. Our God comes to us in the flesh and heals us and makes us whole.  

In the middle of all the chaos, boredom, and craziness of everyday life, hold fast to the good news that we always have access to Christ’s joy, love, and peace, ----not just sometimes, but always---not just when we deserve it, but always.

And God is holding us close in the tension of making multiple families into one, and God is especially with us in those places of deep sadness working to comfort us when we feel the most lonely, imperfect, and afraid.

So, my friends, I believe the Good News to remember is this: No matter what Christmas calls out in us, no matter what the word has come to mean, what is worth hanging our hat on is this mysterious Truth: God in Christ comes to us.
God comes to us again and again and again in the midst of all that this crazy, busy, and broken world has to offer. God does not need manger scenes at public buildings; God does not require perfect families or even perfect worship.
God only needs us to accept this wonderful gift and then believe it and live it with every fiber of our being. So, wherever you find yourself this Christmas, good, bad, or indifferent, lost or found—just sit tight, because God will come to you right where you are. 

Merry Christmas,
Mother Stephanie 
Christmas Eve Schedule
4pm Eucharist in the Chapel
8pm—Festival Eucharist
Preservice music begins at 7:30pm

Come out and celebrate the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ with us!

12 Days of Christmas
Food not Flowers!

This year instead of donating toward our Christmas flowers, we will celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas by offering donations that will go to feed our neighbors at North Wilkesboro Housing and the North Wilkesboro Food Bank. In these times of food scarcity, we want our love and joy to spread from our faith community out into the community at large.

Just as with our "normal" Christmas flower donations, your contributions can be made in honor of someone you love. Suggested donation is $10-$15.00 and your money will go to buy food boxes that will help our neighbors through the Twelve Days of Christmas and into the New Year!

Make your checks payable to St. Paul's and please write Christmas food in the memo lineAlso, enclose a note with the name(s) of those you want to honor by noting "Memorial" or "Thanksgiving"

We look forward to sharing your generosity of spirit with our neighbors this Christmas season.
Vestry Leadership 2022

Dear Members of St. Paul’s,

It is not a surprise to hear that the last 20+ months have been more than a little extraordinary for your Rector and Vestry Leadership.

Into the tumult of an uneasy pastoral leave-taking, a difficult and heart-rending time for everyone involved, we also experienced a worldwide Pandemic, and our life together as a Faith Community has been altered time and again as this time in our history has unfolded.

What we believe we all crave right now is a sense of stability, constancy, and dare I say it (!) progress! To that end, and in consultation with the Bishop, I have asked the current Vestry Leadership if they would continue in service for an extra year in their term. This would allow us to continue our work, uninterrupted by bringing new Vestry members on board who have not been involved with the Vestry’s work this past year, allowing us to have a slight “stutter step” and keep the continuity and momentum we are currently experiencing.

As the Bishop made very clear, that decision is governed by our Parish by-laws and it is through the Parish by-laws that such decisions can be enacted and ratified. The Vestry has updated our current by-laws to reflect that this would represent a change in our Vestry selection process only until the terms of the present Vestry members have expired with the one-year continuance to each of their terms.

This represents a sacrifice and deep state of commitment from your current Vestry and I for one am very thankful for their willingness to offer themselves in service to our parish as we continue to make our way through these ever-changing times. We are deeply committed to the succession process of parish leadership and welcoming new voices and new energy into our number and that process will return in full beginning with this year's current senior members rolling off at the beginning of 2023.

As ever, we are deeply committed to hearing your feedback with any questions or concerns answered in a timely and welcoming fashion. We are committed to transparency in all decisions and want to hear from you as you feel moved.

See updated by-laws below.

Wishing You the Blessings of Advent,

Your Rector and Senior Warden
We would like to say “Thank you!” for your faithful giving and dedication to St. Paul’s. Without your support, and the support of the parish, St. Paul’s would not be able to have the impact on our community that we do.

We have had an amazing response thus far and this is your invitation to make your pledge if you have not already done so.

we have so much for which to be thankful and your generosity of spirit never ceases to amaze! Thank you for all that you do and for all that is made possible by your generosity. 
Download our church app!


Masks will be worn for inside worship and other inside activities for the foreseeable future.

In small group gatherings of vaccinated individuals it is appropriate to have a discussion as to whether you want to wear masks or not. But please wear masks if even one member of the group prefers this important safety measure.

Please help us put an end to this Pandemic by getting vaccinated.

Love yourself, love your neighbor, get vaccinated!


Assistance Ministries on Thursdays!

Our Assistance team is back in business! A special thank you to all of those who come out and volunteer their time.
Crisis Assistance and Step Ahead will be holding lunches from 11:30am-1:00pm on Thursdays. For now, the lunches provided will be bagged.

Sponsor our Sunday Flowers to Honor Your Special Memories and Occasions!

Signup sheet and envelopes are in the commons.
Cost: $40 for one vase and $80 for two.
Sign up for one or both vases.

Standing order with City Florist, who will bill the church monthly. If you want something special for your two vases, call City Florist with your request. In that case, if you pay them directly, let them know your flowers replace our order.
If you want to “do your own thing” sign up for both vases then let Kathie Smith know at least a week before your chosen Sunday, so that the standing order can be canceled.

You can now access the flowers sign up form online! Click the button below to sign up today.
The form can also be accessed via the app.
Join us for Worship on YouTube or click on the link on our website!
Ongoing Ministry Opportunities Below!
Listed below are on-going opportunities to give, participate, and serve at St. Paul's. We don't want these ministry activities to become "wallpaper" as they do change slightly from time to time so check in each week and see what invitation to serve might be calling your name!
Offering Hospitality in Time of Need
Thank you for your generosity! $2230.00 so far...

Hospitality is a primary call of faith community. We all have times in our lives when circumstances overwhelm our basic needs and that is when the the care and feeding of our members becomes a paramount need.

There are many in our church family that could use and appreciate a meal. Since COVID, our Feed My Sheep Teams have been inactive.

Until such a time when we can get those teams up and running we are starting a Care & Feeding Fund.

We have received $2230 worth of donations towards our Care and Feeding Fund. A special thank you to those who contributed.

If you would like to donate to this fund by writing Care and Feeding Fund in the memo line of your check, we will purchase food and deliver to our parishioners in need.

Donations can be mailed or dropped off by the church office. And again, please make all checks out to St. Paul’s with the memo of Care & Feeding Fund.
Thank you!
“You created every part of me, knitting me in my mother’s womb. 
For such handiwork, I praise you. Awesome this great wonder!”
 Psalm 139:13-14

Prayer shawls are made to provide warmth, comfort, healing, and peace to those who may need it.

If anyone is inclined to knit or crochet a shawl and would like to donate it to the churches shawl collection, donations can be dropped off at the church office.

A special thank you to those who have made and donated shawls in support of our ministry.

For further information please visit www.shawlministry.com

The Oct/Nov/Dec issues of Forward Day by Day are in the mailbox by the front door of the office.

New Vestry Minutes have been added. November minutes are now available!

Click button to go directly there
Serving in Dec. 2021
Altar Guild
Dec 24 - Pam & Drew Mayberry (Early)
Dec 24 - Pam & Drew Mayberry (Late)
Dec 26 - Mary Lankford, Sharon Greene, & Bonnie Merritt

Dec 24 - Robin Shumate & Denise Sturdivant (Early)
Dec 24 - Lisa Beard & Joe Fesperman (Late)
Dec 26 - Robin Shumate (8:30)
Dec 26 - Jeri Martin (10:30)

Dec 24 - Jenny Nelson & Drew Mayberry (Early)
Dec 24 - Tom Carnes & Drew Mayberry (Late)
Dec 26 - Tom Carnes & Jenny Nelson

Dec 24 - Jeff Beard (Early)
Dec 24 - Joe Richardson (Late)
Dec 26 - Mike Adams (8:30)
Dec 26 - Ryan Minick (10:30)

Dec 26 - Doug Merritt

Dec 26 - Russell & Teri Ferree
Dec 28 - Mark & Muluani Cook
Prayer Requests

Prayer requests can be made by using the app under "contact us" and then the "prayer request" tab, or by emailing the office at office@stpaulwilkesboro.org, or calling the office during regular office hours.

Bulletins are printed on Thursday mornings and requests submitted after that time will not be in the printed bulletin for that week, but may still be spoken. Prayer requests received by noon on Wednesday will be included in the weekly e-newsletter.
Please remember in your prayers: All who are ill or unemployed and those who are on our prayer list.

Rick Brockner, Jeff Smith, John Stinson

David Temple

Armed Forces
Let us pray for the safety of all our troops, especially Micha Duerk, Cole Griffith, Zach Necessary, Walker Pardue, Philip Southwell, Mark Stone, Jason Westmeyer, and all others who serve in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the world.

Please send to the church office the addresses of troops with connections to
office@stpaulwilkesboro.org, especially those abroad.

The Lessons for December 26, 2021
Isaiah 61:10-62:3
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
my whole being shall exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to spring up before all the nations.
For Zion's sake I will not keep silent,
and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest,
until her vindication shines out like the dawn,
and her salvation like a burning torch.
The nations shall see your vindication,
and all the kings your glory;
and you shall be called by a new name
that the mouth of the Lord will give.
You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

Psalm 147
Laudate Dominum
[1 Hallelujah!
How good it is to sing praises to our God! *
how pleasant it is to honor him with praise!
2 The Lord rebuilds Jerusalem; *
he gathers the exiles of Israel.
3 He heals the brokenhearted *
and binds up their wounds.
4 He counts the number of the stars *
and calls them all by their names.
5 Great is our Lord and mighty in power; *
there is no limit to his wisdom.
6 The Lord lifts up the lowly, *
but casts the wicked to the ground.
7 Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; *
make music to our God upon the harp.
8 He covers the heavens with clouds *
and prepares rain for the earth;
9 He makes grass to grow upon the mountains *
and green plants to serve mankind.
10 He provides food for flocks and herds *
and for the young ravens when they cry.
11 He is not impressed by the might of a horse; *
he has no pleasure in the strength of a man;
12 But the Lord has pleasure in those who fear him, *
in those who await his gracious favor.]
13 Worship the Lord, O Jerusalem; *
praise your God, O Zion;
14 For he has strengthened the bars of your gates; *
he has blessed your children within you.
15 He has established peace on your borders; *
he satisfies you with the finest wheat.
16 He sends out his command to the earth, *
and his word runs very swiftly.
17 He gives snow like wool; *
he scatters hoarfrost like ashes.
18 He scatters his hail like bread crumbs; *
who can stand against his cold?
19 He sends forth his word and melts them; *
he blows with his wind, and the waters flow.
20 He declares his word to Jacob, *
his statutes and his judgments to Israel.
21 He has not done so to any other nation; *
to them he has not revealed his judgments.
Galatians 3:23-25; 4:4-7
Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian.
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.

John 1:1-18
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.'") From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known.
St. Paul's Episcopal Church | 336-667-4231 | office@stpaulwilkesboro.org | https://stpaulwilkesboro.org