E-newsletter | December 10, 2020
God of Restoration
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God; 
to comfort all who mourn;
to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.

There are many events in the span of a human life that can make us feel lost and beyond the reach of mercy. Sometimes we feel this way when life deals us a difficult blow or when we ourselves are somehow the cause of someone else’s pain. However we came to find ourselves in the wilderness, wandering lost, God never leaves us to wander alone in an exile of hopelessness and despair.

I feel like I have been speaking endlessly of wilderness and I wonder what more I have to say about both how crucial the wilderness is to spiritual growth as well as how hardscrabble painful the wilderness can be. And I think it is perhaps that very juxtaposition that makes wilderness experiences such rich fodder of thought.

On Sunday we will hear the words, straight from Isaiah, that Jesus read as he announced his ministry for the very first time. And, as Jesus often does, he actually misquotes Isaiah just a little for his own emphasis. But he does it in a good cause. He does it to drive home the paradox that God’s comfort always seeks us in our most difficult moments.   

God does astonishing things. God transforms all things. As children of God we can rejoice in the truth that no difficult situation we might find ourselves in is greater than God’s power to redeem us. When we are blind to mercy or deaf to understanding, God opens our eyes and ears so that we might see and hear words of forgiveness and acts of kindness. 

When we are crippled from the pain of loss or from the dissolution of a long-held dream, God restores hope so that we can resume the dance of a life worth living. 

God breaks into our longing and our need for hope with the good news that the present reality of our suffering can be transformed. In God we have an antidote to our sighing and sorrow. 

The beautiful words of the prophet Isaiah that Jesus spoke are actually what Isaiah was writing to the faithful exiled in Babylon. He is offering them hope that they would return to their own land, the land promised and given by God. But the message God gives through Isaiah is also a message of hope for exiles of every time and place. 

Now as well as then, says Isaiah, God restores. God delivers us from despair. God opens the eyes of the hopeless. God opens the ears of those in despair so we can hear God calling us home from the pain of exile. 

We will also hear from John the Baptist again as he humbles himself to point to Jesus as the one who will ultimately deliver those who suffer. In Jesus what is wrong with the world is being made right. What is broken is being made whole. What is crippled by affliction is being healed. Jesus draws us a clear line between the present and the words of hope delivered by the prophet Isaiah. 

In Jesus we bear witness to God’s compassion for the broken and wounded, for the lost and the floundering. Jesus makes us aware of a power beyond ourselves who nevertheless works in our midst to alleviate suffering. 

Jesus goes to those out on the edges of life, those who society finds untouchable, and he lays his hands on them to remind them that they too are beloved of God. Jesus restores God’s beloved to community, he restores them to their lives, their families, their hopes.

God’s Word is a continuing reality that flows right into today, to our world—to Wilkesboro even, here and now. This is God’s greatest intention for us. God calls us to be a living and breathing container of Jesus’ love. God calls us to bring the reality of Jesus’ love to the places where there is distress, injustice, affliction, or anything that is contrary to God’s purpose and vision for a transformed humanity. 

People are still in exile and God still calls us to go to them with a message of hope. Who among us has not at some time felt cut off from the mercy of God? Who among us has not longed at some time or other for better times and brighter days? Who here among us are the prophets called to go to those in exile with God’s word of hope and transformation? 

As people of faith we are called to continue the work of Jesus. We all share in this call to take God’s message of hope into the places where people are unable to hear it for whatever reason. We are to take this message to the places where people have no voice, both to the poor and the powerless and to those we know among our own family and friends who have been silenced by some form of crippling despair.      

God gives life and that is an astonishing and transforming fact. The prophetic vision of Isaiah calls to us in those places where lives are exiled and broken. Isaiah proclaims God’s saving word that we as people of faith hear echoed as the healing Word of God in Christ. Isaiah’s message of hope to a people in exile becomes the message of hope to all: God is the source of all life. 

Blessed Advent,
Mother Stephanie

*** Lunch Bag Update ***

Many, many thanks to those that contributed to a very successful “Christmas Lunch Bag Treats” for children and adults. We will deliver 45 children’s bags and 50 adult’s bags to Hope Ministries for a COVID safe distribution. As you can see from the picture, the children’s bag lunch also contained many special treats. The boy bags were the same as the girls with the exception of less pink and the necklaces were replaced with Matchbox Cars. Adult lunches were the same as previously posted but also contained sweet treats as a bonus. I will be able to make festive lunches, minus the gifts for children, throughout the month of December.
I reached out and you responded. This is what I love about St. Paul’s.
With sincere thanks,

Ruth Harris
Ramona Curtis and Ruth Harris are in the process of updating the church directory from 2018. If you’ve had any changes since 2018 to your phone numbers, mailing address, email address, or if you want to be added or deleted, or if you know someone that you would like to add, please email your changes/requests to:
Thank you for helping us with these updates.
Christmas FOOD (Flower) Donations

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

Just as with our Christmas flowers, your donations can be in honor of someone you love. Suggested donation is $10-$15.00 and your monies will buy food boxes that will help our neighbors celebrate with a Christmas dinner!

Make your checks payable to St. Paul's and please write Christmas food in the memo line. We look forward to sharing your generosity of spirit with our neighbors this Christmas.

Live Streaming

Begins SUNDAY!

We begin live-streaming THIS Sunday, December 13th at 9:30 AM and we are offering expanded opportunities with a ZOOM coffee hour (see permanent link below). If you are a little
technophobic please notify Mother Stephanie and she or someone else will be happy to teach the ways of Zoom!

On Christmas Eve we will have one live-streamed service beginning with music at 3:45 and Liturgy beginning at 4PM.

Our worship at 4 will be followed by an opportunity for those who watched the service to receive communion (individually wrapped wafers consecrated during Christmas Eve worship) from your vehicles. Please notify Mother Stephanie if you would like to participate and she will instruct you.

Join us for Worship on YouTube or on our website!
St. Paul’s Zoom Coffee Hour Begins THIS Sunday!
Our live-streamed service begins at 9:30 to be followed by a time of fellowship at

If you are not yet Zoom proficient please contact Mother Stephanie at rector@stpaulwilkesboro.org and she will help you!
Join Zoom Meeting by clicking on the link below:
Meeting ID: 851 9114 3705
Passcode: Coffee20 
Children, Youth, and Families are invited to join a family fun night of Zoom trivia on Sunday, December 13th at 5:00pm. We will also discuss how we might present a virtual Christmas pageant this year.
Email Rachel (rachlhawkins@gmail.com) to RSVP!
Fill the Box to Overflowing before Christmas
Your offerings of deodorant for Hospitality House were greatly appreciated! You did so well that we are going to do it again.
Disposable Razors, Rolaids and Tums.
The box is back out in front of the office and we want to collect as much as we can to offer to them by Christmas. Thank you in advance for the avalanche of Razors, Tums and Rolaids to come!
Candidates For Vestry Announced!

We are delighted to announce that three excellent candidates for Vestry service have said yes! Carol Canter, Joe Fesperman, and Gwen Temple will be presented at the Annual Meeting on Sunday, January 27th. The Annual Meeting will be held by Zoom and details are in process, but please mark your calendars to join us on that day following our streamed service.

In the continuing work of our process of healing and reconciliation from recent events, it is the deepest desire of the rector and Vestry to have a transparent process in which all questions are welcome.

The Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church do not require either contested elections or the nomination of candidates from the floor. The Vestry selection process is governed by Parish by-laws. The pertinent section of St. Paul's reads as follows:

6.a. The nominating team shall consist of the outgoing members of the Vestry whose terms are expiring and the rector.
b. Vestry will review number of Vestry seats needed each year.
7.The nominating team shall meet November-December each year prior to the date of the vestry meeting to review nominations that have been compiled through a variety of means. A list consisting of qualified candidates will be recommended to the Vestry to fill the number of empty seats. Approved nominees will be presented at the Annual Meeting and nominations from the floor will be permitted if the person(s) have agreed to stand for election prior to the meeting and meets all other qualifications.

St. Paul's By-laws were amended by the Vestry in October to reflect the desire for transparency and have been amended to allow for nominations from the floor. This will probably be amended again to remove this provision as a transparent process of invitation and selection should suffice, but in the interest of healing we wanted to leave that option open for this year.

As noted previously, per Parish by-laws, the Vestry selection team is made up of the Vestry Members whose term of service is over and the Rector/Interim Rector/Priest in Charge/Vicar. This year Mother Stephanie was joined by Dave Barton, Ruth Harris, and Tana Myers.

After prayerful reflection they began a two part process of invitation that included names from the Selection Team and an invitation to the wider parish for names to be added for consideration. In the course of these invitations three excellent candidates were invited and consented to volunteer for Vestry service.

It is our goal to fill these three seats for a total of ten seats this year and only nine seats next year so that the size of the vestry more accurately represents the size of our parish.

As always, you are invited and encouraged to reach out to Mother Stephanie or a member of the Vestry if you have any questions or concerns about this process. The Book of Common Prayer states that our primary mission is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ. Your Interim Rector and Vestry believe deeply in this mission and we hope to join with all of you in unleashing the joy, vibrancy, and hope of this wonderful parish!

Rest in Peace
Rise in Glory
Etta Idol
June 9, 1922 - December 7, 2020

The Nov/Dec/Jan
Forward Day by Day
are here and in the brass mailbox by the front door of the office.
Readers and Altar Guild for December, 2020

Readers for Live Stream Service
Dec. 13 - Tana Myers
Dec. 20 - Nancy Scroggs
Dec. 24 - Cindy Smith
Dec. 27 - Mary Anne Caplinger

Altar Guild
Dec. 13 - Mary Lankford & Sharon Greene
Dec. 20 - Mary & Mike Southwell
Dec 24 - Pam & Drew Mayberry
Dec. 27 - Mary Anne Caplinger & Tom Carnes

Dec. 10 - Donnie Bishop
Dec. 10 - Colleen Manolovich
Dec. 13 - Philip Stone
Dec. 14 - Joyce Wheeling
No Anniversaries this Week.
Prayer Requests
Outside of a few long-term prayer needs, our prayer list begins fresh on the first Sunday of every month. To keep someone on the prayer list please refresh your request on the last Wednesday of the previous month to make our printing deadline.

Prayer requests can be made by emailing the office at office@stpaulwilkesboro.org
or by 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.
Prayer List

Please remember in your prayers: All who are ill or unemployed and those who are on our prayer list.
Jim Andrews, Pam Baugh, Robert Baugh, Bella, David Blair, Nancy Blair,
John Brame, Thomas Dellinger, John Farris, Laura Gentry, Karen Hennig, Margo Hurd,
Barbara Kepley, Ken Love, Misty Millsaps, Tyler Olender,
Jordan Samuel, Rebecca Shaw, Linda Sloop, Jeff Smith, Delores Weaver,
Bob Webber, Donna Webber

Armed Forces
Let us pray for the safety of all our troops, especially
Dr. Matthew Cage
Edward Colville Griffith
Zach Necessary Walker Pardue
Philip Southwell
Mark Stone
Lt. Col. Patrick Szvetitz
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
especially those abroad
Third Sunday of Advent

The Lessons for December 13, 2020
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
They shall build up the ancient ruins,
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.
For I the Lord love justice,
I hate robbery and wrongdoing;
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants shall be known among the nations,
and their offspring among the peoples;
all who see them shall acknowledge
that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.
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.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.

May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.

John 1:6-8,19-28

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.

This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’” as the prophet Isaiah said. Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.

Psalm 126

In convertendo

1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, *
then were we like those who dream.
2 Then was our mouth filled with laughter, *
and our tongue with shouts of joy.
3 Then they said among the nations, *
"The Lord has done great things for them."
4 The Lord has done great things for us, *
and we are glad indeed.
5 Restore our fortunes, O Lord, *
like the watercourses of the Negev.
6 Those who sowed with tears *
will reap with songs of joy.
7 Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed, *
will come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves.

Next Week's Scripture
Fourth Sunday of Advent

2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16
Romans 16:25-27
Luke 1: 26-38
Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26
St. Paul's Episcopal Church | 336-667-4231 | office@stpaulwilkesboro.org | https://stpaulwilkesboro.org