E-newsletter | September 30, 2021
Jesus and Divorce:
It’s Not What You Think
Some Pharisees came, and to test Jesus they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 

Women are property and children are useless and unimportant. A man has the right to dismiss his wife with a handwritten note for an offense as simple as burning the beans she was preparing for supper.
And children…especially children without families to protect them are left in the streets to make their way in life as best as they can; left to live or die, destined to beg and scrounge for food and shelter.
These are offensive notions to our modern ears and we reject them both. They are equally offensive, it appears, to Jesus. It is long before women’s liberation or children’s rights and he is rejecting not only these cultural norms, but he is calling us to remember that God’s hope for humankind is found not in the letter of the law, but in the deep and abiding memory of God’s creative and steadfast love.   
So if you have ever been divorced or if someone you love has suffered this heartbreak, be not afraid, Jesus is not in any way shape or form compounding your heartache with the threat of condemnation or rejection by God. Unscrupulous and punishing religions and ill-informed preachers might tell you so, but it is simply not true.
Jesus’ difficult confrontation with the religious authorities is in fact a wholesale repudiation of his culture’s ill-treatment of women and their children. And he reminds these learned men that before Moses was forced to offer them a painless way to reject their wives, God had a better plan.  
In God’s plan, the human creatures were knit together as in one flesh---they were made as a gift for one another so that they need never face life alone without a helper or know the excruciating fear of feeling all alone in the world. They were created as equal partners knit together with a bond so strong that to rip it apart was like tearing limb from limb and bone from bone.  
The authorities seek to test Jesus and trap him in a teaching that they could use against him, but instead he calls their whole social order into question and reminds them that before the law turned women into little more than cattle, God had held them in much higher esteem.
And Jesus’ conversation with his disciples about the little children might seem unrelated, but in fact, Jesus is still beating the same drum. These little children suffered much the way the women did and Jesus’ point to his disciples is clear and sharp---in the kingdom of God such as these little ones are as important as any male, any rich person, or any religious authority.
So what initially sounds like a strict, perhaps harsh prohibition against divorce followed by a sloppy, sentimental moment of Jesus welcoming the cute little children is, in point of fact, a radical and subversive social revolution—his teaching totally upends both the legal and cultural presuppositions his world held about women and children.  
So Jesus' hard teaching is about far more than the legality of divorce. 
Likewise, Jesus’ reminder of God’s original blessing of human union was not simply about a man and a woman. This scripture cannot rightfully be used as a blunt instrument against same-sex unions, that too would be an abuse of Jesus’ teaching.

As Richard Helmer puts it, “Being "bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh" is a profound statement about how interconnected the whole human family really is. And how divorce, as painfully necessary as it can sometimes be, ultimately tears at the fabric of this human family and affects all of us, as well as the world around us.” 

And here is where Jesus’ teaching about divorce touches both our world and our church. Divorce is not just about dissolving a marital union. Divorce is about all of those places in life where we have taken our eyes off of God’s hope for us and have failed to recognize each other as "bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh."  

These are the places in the human family where we divide and unbind, sometimes mercilessly, casting white lives as more important than black lives, rich people as more important than people ravaged by poverty; we rip at the sacred bond God forged between us all at the foundation of creation; the ties that bind us in love as the human community. 

But, it is vitally important to say that sometimes divorce is the only compassionate response to a very bad situation. Jesus never desires the forced oppression or subjugation of one human or group of humans over another and his teaching is very clear on that point.

God created the human family so that couples and communities could thrive and abide with one another in joy. God gave us life with God’s own breath and we are made in the compassionate and life-giving image of God.

In those heartbreaking times when we forget our deepest identities and lose our way, Jesus reminds us that there is no such thing as an easy answer, but love is always a good start.

Jesus wants to heal our hardness of heart and help us to recognize once again that we truly belong to each other, we belong to the world we call home. And again from Richard Helmer, we belong ultimately to a God who has, for all eternity, refused to divorce us.

Grace and Peace,
Mother Stephanie


This coming Sunday you will note that there are a few changes to our worship.

The first thing you will notice as you open your worship booklet is that I am inviting us to say the Collect for Purity together. This is something that I have instituted at former parishes and I want to try it with you and see how you respond to it.

Originally said in private by the Celebrant, it made its way to the opening liturgy. But as we are all preparing ourselves to welcome God in worship I like to include everyone in the prayer. Please do let me know how it feels for you and if it is a practice you might want to continue.

The next difference will be a new form of Prayers of the People. There are no set rules about how often these are changed and some parishes change them weekly. As you may have noted, what we have been doing lately are forms that are different from those found in the Book of Common Prayer (BCP). This is one place in the BCP where we are encouraged to be creative. You will discover that I often use the BCP forms, but it is also important to pray from a number of different perspectives.

Then, we will be using a form of Confession from a Supplement to the Book of Common Prayer, Enriching our Worship 1. I love this form of the confession, especially the line that reminds us to ask forgiveness not only for the evil we have done, but the evil done on our behalf. This is a very powerful recognition of the fact that we participate in wounding the world when we benefit from another's oppression or degradation, when we do not speak out against it.

And finally, we will be using the second option for the Post-Communion Prayer from the BCP. Like every part of the Book of Common Prayer that offers options, it helps us "turn the crystal" to another view so that our prayers do not become rote. Saying these powerful prayers by rote would represent a heartbreaking loss of opportunity for sacred conversation with God.

As ever, feel free to share your experience and observations of these nuances--I am always interested to hear.

Mother Stephanie

St. Paul’s has launched with a new giving platform with serval ways to streamline the giving process.

Text “GIVE” to 336-891-4231 to receive a link to go to the online giving form. After your first donation, you will be able to text an amount to the number above (i.e. $50) and send your donation that way without going through the form.

The online giving form is always accessible via our website, www.stpaulwilkesboro.org, under the “Give Now!” tab in the upper right-hand corner.

There is a 3% processing fee that is optional. If you choose to cover the processing fee instead of the church covering the fee, the additional amount will be credited towards your amount given for the year and be tax deductible.

Click the button below to try it now!
Download our church app!

Download the “Church by MinistryOne” app to your phone.
Search for “St. Paul’s Episcopal Church”
Click “Select this church” once you’ve found our church.

From the app, you can contact the church, submit prayer requests, find all our recorded sermons, donate and view your online giving history, find information on church events, and receive notifications and reminders from the church.

Communication will begin going out this week through the app.
A special thank you to those who have taken the time to utilize our online giving platform. A lot of hard work and time went in to the launch. Starting this week, communication will be going out to the parish through our MinistryOne app. If you have any questions, or need assistance in setting up the app, or using the online giving platform, please contact Morgen at the office.

A big thank you to everyone who donated clothes towards our clothing drive! As the seasons change and it gets colder outside, the need of our clothing ministry also changes. Our clothing ministry is in need of winter clothes, specific: coats, sweaters, gloves, mits, and toboggans of all sizes and genders.

Please consider donating only new or very gently used items to this important cause. We appreciate your generosity and please consider the question: "Would I wear this?"

Let's offer the best of who we are to help our neighbors!

If you have clothing you would like to donate, it can be dropped off at the office.
Plans are underway to upgrade the parish office space. In the most recent history of our parish (50 or so years) our Administrative office space has been in flux and Mother Stephanie notes that this is something to be curious about: "Why hasn't there been appropriate and dedicated office space for such a clearly important part of our Parish life?" These are always interesting questions to think on as we move into times of discernment and decision.

The discussion so far has centered around renovating the current Parlier House or moving to the ground floor of the sanctuary that houses the library and choir room. If you would like to share your thoughts or tour the areas under consideration contact Joe Fesperman via landline 336-667-3594, cell text 202-821-5885 or online: joefesperman@yahoo.com. All inquiries are welcomed.

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.

We will continue to sing, but masks will be required during singing as well.

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

We are at a point when vaccinations are no longer just a "personal" decision. The numbers of unvaccinated persons filling our hospitals and ICU's means that both Covid and non-Covid patients alike are dying for lack of beds and treatment availability.

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.
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! $2130.00 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 $2130 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

The prayer shawl collection at St. Paul’s is very low.
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 Aug/Sept/Oct issues of Forward Day by Day are in the mailbox by the front door of the office.


New Vestry Minutes have been added. June's minutes are now available!

Click button to go directly there
Serving in Oct. 2021

Oct 3 - Lisa Beard (8:30)
Oct 3 - Cindy Smith (10:30)
Oct 10 - Robin Shumate (8:30)
Oct 10 - Joe Fesperman (10:30)
Oct 17 - Laurie Love (8:30)
Oct 17 - Dick Sloop (10:30)
Oct 24 - Lisa Bead (8:30)
Oct 24 - Beverly Cook (10:30)
Oct 31 - Edward Southwell (8:30)
Oct 31 - Denise Sturdivant (10:30)
Altar Guild

Oct 3 - Drew & Pam Mayberry
Oct 10 - Mary Lankford, Sharon Greene, & Bonnie Merritt
Oct 17 - Laurie Love, Ramona Curtis, & Tom Carnes
Oct 31 - Mike & Mary Southwell

Sept 30 - Lorraine Little
Oct 2 - Amelia Koch
Oct 3 - Karen McElwee
Oct 4 - Carla Bowers

No anniversaries this week!
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.

The short term prayer list resets the first Sunday of the month.
The long term prayer list will reset next on the first Sunday of November.
Please remember in your prayers: All who are ill or unemployed and those who are on our prayer list.

Ken Love, Wes Martin, Nora McCann, Kris & Tara Riley, Jeff Smith, Tracy Taylor, Joyce Wheeling, Susan Whittington, Randall Woodruff

Dot Beamon, Christina Floyd, Kitty Owens, 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 October 3, 2021
Genesis 2:18-24
The Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
this one shall be called Woman,
for out of Man this one was taken.”
Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Psalm 8
Domine, Dominus noster
1 O Lord our Governor, *
how exalted is your Name in all the world!
2 Out of the mouths of infants and children *
your majesty is praised above the heavens.
3 You have set up a stronghold against your adversaries, *
to quell the enemy and the avenger.
4 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, *
the moon and the stars you have set in their courses,
5 What is man that you should be mindful of him? *
the son of man that you should seek him out?
6 You have made him but little lower than the angels; *
you adorn him with glory and honor;
7 You give him mastery over the works of your hands; *
you put all things under his feet:
8 All sheep and oxen, *
even the wild beasts of the field,
9 The birds of the air, the fish of the sea, *
and whatsoever walks in the paths of the sea.
10 O Lord our Governor, *
how exalted is your Name in all the world!
Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12
Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
Now God did not subject the coming world, about which we are speaking, to angels. But someone has testified somewhere,
“What are human beings that you are mindful of them,
or mortals, that you care for them?
You have made them for a little while lower than the angels;
you have crowned them with glory and honor,
subjecting all things under their feet.”
Now in subjecting all things to them, God left nothing outside their control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to them, but we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, saying,
“I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters,
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.”

Mark 10:2-16
Some Pharisees came, and to test Jesus they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.
St. Paul's Episcopal Church | 336-667-4231 | office@stpaulwilkesboro.org | https://stpaulwilkesboro.org