E-newsletter | August 26, 2020

Take up Your Cross

“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?”

Last Sunday we bore witness to that shining moment when Peter “got it right!” But this week as Peter and Jesus stand on that dusty road outside of a great Roman city, Peter opens his mouth and he begs Jesus to take up worldly power and free himself from the burden of God’s love for the human race.

Jesus rebukes Peter in a way that cannot be mistaken, we are to understand that Jesus is utterly shaken by Peter’s words. For Jesus, “Satan” represents all that seeks to destroy what God creates. He is very clear with his disciples that to follow him means that they put themselves at great risk to tear down barriers between God and God’s people; to be co-creators of a world where all and not just a privileged few have access to God’s promise of justice and mercy.

"If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” This isn’t a message that encourages either ancient or modern people to follow Jesus! Historically speaking, we all know that those who genuinely conform their lives to that of Jesus do not always fare that well with the powers that be.

If this is true, how is it that we might “take up our cross and follow Jesus?” 

First, we must realize what taking up our cross really means. Taking up our cross is not a throw away phrase for putting up with things that we aren’t really happy about. Jesus is not calling us to bear some small or even great personal burden or illness without complaint. 

The cross of which Jesus speaks is not about the amount of burdens we have in life. The call to pick up our cross is about great love. This cross is about having the unflinching courage to be reconcilers in our families, in our workplaces, in our social groups and certainly in our communities of faith. And it does indeed require great courage to demonstrate God’s love in this way.

In these areas of our daily lives reconciliation can entail everything from forgiving 70x7 as Jesus teaches us, speaking out when someone is being abused or treated unjustly, it can mean refusing to laugh at racist jokes, deciding to seek counseling for a struggling marriage instead of having an affair, it can mean gaining sobriety, standing up for someone being bullied, offering friendship to someone who is isolated, refusing to be petty and vicious with our words…

It can mean working for a world where war, hunger, poverty and exclusion no longer find a home. Put simply, taking up our cross means to love others as Jesus loves us and to show compassion for others as Jesus shows compassion. To give up your life to find it takes courage and imagination. And it takes a Love that is far greater than what we usually muster. This is not a soft, touchy-feely, sentimental love. 

Loving others as Jesus loves us is a very dangerous proposition. He didn’t have to go looking for the cross. Jesus only had to share the love of God with those that established society and religion deemed unworthy and the cross found him.

The love that Jesus teaches is less a feeling and more of an act of will. The love that finds us taking up our cross as Jesus did is an act of will that becomes deeply fused with the places in our hearts that are broken by the injustices we see or horrible or destructive words we ourselves have spoken.

Picking up our cross means being unable to turn away from the suffering of others and even if we are frightened or we feel helpless and can’t think of what we can do, it means finding the courage to be present, present with our thoughts if pain is distant or with our actual presence if unspeakable sorrow is up close. 

But, I think our modern culture rails at risking ourselves in this way. We are more conditioned to think of self-protection or self-fulfillment. 

Sometimes we become overwhelmed by the larger sufferings and sorrow of this world and though we desire to pick up our cross as Jesus does, things seem so impossible that we become immobilized. 

But if we can find the courage in our up close and daily lives to stare down young or adult bullies on behalf of others, if we find the courage to “call people out” on hurtful actions, gossip or bigotry or hate toward others we begin to build our “pick up your cross” muscles.

When we begin this process in our up close and personal spaces we begin to gain the courage and strength to not only see, but confront unjust suffering of others in larger and larger ways.

Jesus is clear that creating a world in which all have full access to God’s promises means making choices that are for the greater good of all as opposed to just ourselves or a chosen few; these choices will inevitably lead us into some challenging and painful situations.
But the Holy Spirit is with us every step of the way, fulfilling Jesus’ promise that he would always be with us. Be not afraid. None of us are alone, we are members of a faith community and we can love, guard and keep one another as we learn together how to be peacemakers and cross bearers and we will find our voice and help heal this hurting world. With God’s help, all things are possible!

Grace and Peace,
Mother Stephanie

August 30th Service - Sign Up Today and Join Us!
There is still space available to attend the 8:30am and the 10:00am service in the Outdoor Chapel (Labyrinth) this coming
Sunday, August 30th.

We are permitted 35 or less so if you would like to worship in person with mask on and social distancing in place, please reserve your spot by emailing the office at stpaulwilkesboro.org.

Service will be held WEATHER PERMITTING
Can't be with us in person? Join us for our August 30th Worship live-streaming on YouTube or click on the link on our website!
Altar Guild Call! 

This is different from the Altar Call in the Baptist Church. We are asking anyone who wants to get involved in the important, behind the scenes, work of the Altar Guild to let us know. As we have begun new, outdoor services, the requirements for set up for each service have changed somewhat. We are refining our system to meet the new requirements. If you are looking for a way to get back involved at St. Paul's, let us know. Involvement of women and men is encouraged. Men are good at carrying things - think pack mule.

If you want to get involved, please advise Pam and Drew Mayberry at dmayberry@charter.net. Or, you can text us at 336-414-5456.
Worship Notes:

As these Covid-19 days have come upon us learning to worship in new ways is a constant invitation. Before his departure, Father Steve initiated a return to in person worship in Coventry Garden that I think has been a wonderful return to in-person gathering. As with any new, experimental endeavor your Vestry and I discussed the service and how we might refine it as we move forward.

In the coming weeks you will notice some refinements in the way we share the Eucharist as well as the return to bulletins. We are still working to keep everyone safe and so our social distancing and masks will remain a vital part of how we care for one another during this time.

Currently we are using Eucharistic Prayer B, which emphasizes God's love for us and celebrates that because of this love we need not feel ashamed, but are in fact "worthy to stand before God." It is a lovely affirming prayer for these challenging times and I invite you to listen closely to its celebratory notes!

Also in "the pipeline" is a Worship Service on Wednesdays at 1 PM that will become our pre-recorded Worship service that is posted on YouTube for those who are not yet able to join us in person. This will help us ensure a high technical quality for our on-line presence. This service will, because of Covid-19 restrictions, be limited to clergy, readers and worship support ministries like Altar Guild.

Stay tuned to Worship Notes for upcoming nuances to our worship as well as little tidbits and insights behind the Worship that we love.

And, as always, you are invited to contact me with any questions, comments or feedback.

Mother Stephanie
“It is solved by walking”
-St. Augustine (353-430)
In this difficult and uncertain time, while many of us are staying at home as much as possible and missing contact with our family, church family, and friends, I’ve felt the pull of the labyrinth and thought about how much it means to walk the labyrinth in community. I will be hosting an online Finger Labyrinth Walk and Meditation every Tuesday in September! We will meet in Zoom each Tuesday evening at 7:30 PM EDT.  I invite you to join me!! Please email me so I can send you a labyrinth to use for our “walk” and the Zoom link to attend.
Sheree Sloop—sloopcat60@gmail.com.
July Minutes Now Available

The 2020 Vestry Meeting minutes are now available on St. Paul's website under Vestry.

Click button to go directly there
Readers for Virtual Service

Sept. 2 Nancy Scroggs
Sept. 9 Dick Sloop
Sept. 16 Drew Mayberry
Sept. 23 Tana Myers
Readers for September, 2020
8:30 AM

6 - Mary Mary Southwell
13 - Tana Myers
20 - Denise Sturdivant
27 - Tom Carnes
10:00 AM

6 - Nancy Scroggs
13 - Joe Fesperman
20- Cindy Smith
27 - Maggie McCann

August 30 - Drew Bowers
August 30 - Tony Goodnight
August 31 - Christine Oliver
Sept. 1 - Debbie Absher
Sept. 1 - Cooper Morris
Sept. 1 - Kevin Morrow
Sept. 3 - Monte Shaw
Sept. 4 - Susan Dudek
Prayer Requests

Prayer requests can be made online
or by calling the office during regular office hours.

Bulletins are printed on Wednesday 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 Tuesdays will be included in the weekly e-newsletter.
Prayer List

Please remember in your prayers: All who are ill or unemployed and those who are on our prayer list.
Mike Adams, Jim Andrews, Ken Asel, Pam Baugh, Robert Baugh, Dot Beamon, Betty Blevins, John Brame, Fern Brinkley, Jacob Brown, Mary Bumgarner, Rosie Carlton, Paul Clark, Billy Coles, Rancene Cook, LaMar Creasman, Ann Davis, Jackie Davis, Mike Duncan, John Farris, Craig Freas, Estelle Gille, Mike Graf, Edward C. Griffith III, Bert Hall, Kaye Hall, Janet Hartzog, Caleb Hawkins, Laurence Hawkins, Virgil Hawkins, Larry Hendley, Jackson Hering, Steve Jackson, Lisa Lenderman, Lorraine Little, Ken Love, Blake Lovette, Pete Mann, Wes Martin, Maggie McCann, Ann McNeill, Gus Newton, Bertie Pardue, Ryan Rigby, Stanley Sanders, Ann Self Sigmon, Beth Sims, Bob Skees, Linda Sloop, Carolyn Stephens, Shirley Sturdivant, Fanny Triplett, Mari-Claire Ucello, Marie Waddell, Robin Walsh, Delores Weaver, Bob Webber, Donna Webber, Dick Whittington, Kim Wyatt, Cole Younger

Armed Forces
Let us pray for the safety of all our troops, especially Rob Beauchaine, Matthew Cage, Alex Cline, Philip Cooney,  Karl Duerk, William Grant, Edward C. Griffith IV, Jacob B. Hall, Brandon Moore, Russ Necessary, Zach Necessary, John W. Pardue, Charlie & Lauren Pendry, Adam Pinkerton, Avery Smith, Philip Southwell, Mark Stone, Patrick Szvetitz, Jackson Triplett, Levi Walker, Jason Westmeyer, Nathan Wyatt, and all others who serve in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the world.
The Lessons for August 30, 2020
Exodus 3:1-15

Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said further, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
Then the Lord said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”
But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” He said, “I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.” But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’“ God also said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’:
This is my name forever,
and this my title for all generations.

Psalm 105:1-6, 23-26, 45c

1 Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his Name; *
make known his deeds among the peoples.
2 Sing to him, sing praises to him, *
and speak of all his marvelous works.
3 Glory in his holy Name; *
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
4 Search for the Lord and his strength; *
continually seek his face.
5 Remember the marvels he has done, *
his wonders and the judgments of his mouth,
6 O offspring of Abraham his servant, *
O children of Jacob his chosen.
23 Israel came into Egypt, *
and Jacob became a sojourner in the land of Ham.
24 The Lord made his people exceedingly fruitful; *
he made them stronger than their enemies;
25 Whose heart he turned, so that they hated his people, *
and dealt unjustly with his servants.
26 He sent Moses his servant, *
and Aaron whom he had chosen.
45 Hallelujah!
Romans 12:9-21

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Matthew 16:21-28

Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?
“For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
St. Paul's Episcopal Church | 336-667-4231 | office@stpaulwilkesboro.org | https://stpaulwilkesboro.org