E-newsletter | February 18, 2021

Tempted as We Are

“Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”
Sunday will mark the First Sunday in Lent. We were reminded yesterday on Ash Wednesday that it was dust from which we came and it is to dust that we shall return. This is a humbling reminder that all of humanity is in fact made of the same substance. 

We are invited to take this time to enter into in God’s presence and allow ourselves to be stripped of all of the outward ways we try to define ourselves outside of who God created us to be. 

We are asked to grapple with the simple fact that God created us out of God’s infinite love to be a people of infinite love. The implications of that are often too much for us to handle.

This has always been humanity’s greatest challenge. We cannot seem to grasp the fact that sharing the saving grace of God is our only call. In our hunger to be loved, feed our emptiness or “feel safe” in an unpredictable world we can unleash destructive forces in our lives.

This is one of the sweet invitations of our Lenten journey---to rediscover what it means to dwell at the heart of God and be unafraid of others in our world. We can remember that people unlike ourselves are not to be feared but embraced as fellow children of God.

A holy Lent calls us to reawaken the ancient memory that our truest identity is that we are sons and daughters of God and to delight in that fact.  

Living in this truth we are not ashamed to remember that we are all just dust--- just like everything else on the planet. A time of fearless self-examination can give us new eyes to see one another as God sees us and to want for one another all of the wonderful things we want for ourselves and those we love. This is the very heart of the Golden Rule.

God became flesh and lived among us. In Jesus God became flesh and by so doing faced life as we face life. Jesus knows our fear, our pain, and our struggles and Jesus knows what is to be tempted to turn away from God’s purposes.

This Sunday we will encounter a rich and vivid description of the temptation of Christ. We are allowed to see Jesus as he struggles in the wilderness. But the landscape is an interior one.  We like to tell ourselves “the devil made me do it” but the gospel writer simply exposes Jesus’ internal struggles with the things that would lure him away from his true self—from who God created him to be. Jesus must confront the temptations to grasp for power and to win others approval just as we must.

Jesus was alone there in the desert, alone with his demons, as you or I would be, when confronting our own life-changing or pivotal times. The voice that tempted him was an inner voice, just like that taunting, sometimes destructive inner dialogue that whispers to all of us in our most difficult moments.

Sometimes this voice is enticing, sometimes cajoling, calculating, or scorning. This voice is different from God’s because it talks to us of power and control, but it robs us of strength and peace—this voice often tells us to be or feel afraid and ashamed. Or conversely, this shadow voice will encourage us to project shame, hate, and destructive action against others. If we feel afraid or threatened or empty or lonely, surely some thing or someone else is to blame. 

Satan is that energy, a dark force that calls us away from God’s mercy and purpose. The devil is “the slanderer” …the force that from the beginning of time has called and tempted humankind away from the light of God’s truth into places of shadow and doubt.[1]

This is the capacity in all of us for hardness of heart and un-forgiveness, and this is the force that lures the people of God into heartbreaking shame and tells us we are not worthy; that we are not enough just as we are. 

Evil does exist in the world, it always has, God seems to make no excuse for it. But what Jesus does tell us is that the primary way evil enters our world is through those aforementioned fears. 362 times he pleads, promises and pronounces, “Do not be afraid!”
The call to be God’s love in the world is a costly and demanding one, fear is a mind and soul killer and the largest stumbling block for God’s people.

Jesus knows our struggle, our fear, our shame and pain, he even knows our pettiness and capacity to inflict pain on one another and we are still named as God’s Beloved. We are still called to share God’s love with a world in need. Are we broken and fragile? Yes! After all we are people of dust and it is to dust we shall return.  

But we are God’s dust from beginning to end. Because of this we have God given potential and strength to be people of love and mercy, we have all we need to beat back the temptations of this life that lead us away from God. 

The Lenten invitation is to focus on God’s endless mercy not our propensity for sin. Keeping our eyes on God’s grace and love for us and all others is the way to wholeness.

In this Lenten season I pray we may all enter into the wilderness filled with Spirit and come out at the end of our forty days renewed and strengthened; a Beloved Community on fire to share God’s wide, merciful love with this world we live in.

Grace and Peace,
Mother Stephanie

[1] Inspired by Joan Chittister



Episcopal U:
We Pray What We Believe
Beginning March 3rd!

Join Mother Stephanie on Wednesdays at 12:30 beginning March 3rd for a six week journey through the rich tradition of our Eucharistic liturgies.

In the Episcopal tradition we state that we do not have doctrine or dogma, but we make the claim that we pray what we believe, meaning that our Book of Common Prayer and its supplemental resources contain the corpus of our belief system. But DO we believe the claims that are made about God and about humanity, creation, and Jesus in the prayers we hear week by week?

The answer might surprise you!

Please sign up with Mother Stephanie by March 2nd to receive the Zoom link to this adventure in exploration and learning.

Bring your questions, your curiosity, your doubts, and your theological baggage as we embark on this 6 week romp through Liturgical Theology.

If you are interested in a PM offering of this class please make your interest known and we will explore the possibility.

Join us for Worship on YouTube or click on the link on our website!

Like everything else during these unprecedented times, Ash Wednesday took on a different shape with parishioners receiving the Imposition of Ashes as they
drove up to the Chapel entrance. Ashes were administered from 12-2 by Mother Stephanie and from 4-6 by Deacon Susan. Mother Stephanie reports her joy in putting some “partial” faces with the names she’s seen on paper.

Thank you to all who came by for this ministration.

Join Zoom Meeting by clicking on the link below:

Meeting ID: 851 9114 3705
Passcode: Coffee20 

Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina
February 17, 2021

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we recognize Ash Wednesday and begin this season of Lent, I invite you to reflect on the ways that we as human beings may work to live our lives more like Jesus did. In this way, as we reflect on the gift of life, may we prepare ourselves for Jesus' ultimate sacrifice, so that we may celebrate his resurrection as people dedicated to walking the Way of Love every day.

The Rt. Rev. José A. McLoughlin
Bishop of the Diocese of Western North Carolina
Outreach Opportunities

Giving to the Student Choice Food Pantry

As you are probably aware next Wednesday 2/17 is Ash Wednesday. In the past when we could gather to enjoy Shrove Tuesday pancakes prepared and served by the men of the church, the offering went to support Samaritan Kitchen's Backpack program. This year, as Lent begins, I would like to propose each of us prayerfully consider sending the same amount of money we would have given at the supper to the church to support Rachel Minick's new Student Choice Food Pantry at North Wilkesboro Elementary. This provides food for approximately 100 children weekly and gives them an option to make their own food choices. My challenge is for us to raise $1000. There is no doubt we can do it. What better way to begin a season of reflection than to keep those who are hungry foremost in our minds?

Volunteer Service with County Health Department

Volunteers are needed by the Wilkes County Health Department to register people receiving the Covid-19 vaccine. Appointments have been made to give a total of 2000 vaccinations on Thursday and Friday at River's Edge. Recipients remain in their vehicles, and are appreciative. Volunteers walk from car to car, filling in a brief questionnaire and temperature check for each person. Significant walking is involved. Hours are 8:30 am until around 2. I have been able to leave before 1 the last 2 weeks. Community service, exercise and masked social interaction outside all in one activity....a win/win/win. For more information call or text Joe Fesperman @ 202-821-5885 or email me at joefesperman@yahoo.com
Thank you for thinking of our student pantry. I spoke with the mother of one of the students who uses the pantry and she expressed her gratitude that her son is allowed to self select food. She said he is proud of the food he brings home each week. She said that the food does not go to waste because it is food he likes!  - Rachel Minick
Outreach Supports Student Choice Food Pantry

Thanks to a commitment from ancillary Outreach funds provided by the Strickland Foundation, a Student Choice Food Pantry has been initiated at North Wilkesboro Elementary School. Each week, students receive a grocery bag and are allowed to self select meal items and snacks from tables. Food is categorized (proteins/dinner items, fruit and vegetables, snacks, and breakfast items) and students choose the amount indicated on the table. Joy radiates through the room as students choose their food for the weekend. Allowing students to have choice has given them dignity and pride in their weekend food bags. The students smile and laugh as they pick out food.

Some comments overheard:  
“My mom loves this oatmeal.” 
“I’m getting applesauce for my little brother.” 
“Thank you for letting me shop!” 
"Rice and beans are my favorite! Thank you."
“I liked picking out my food- it was kind of the best.”
If you would like to provide ongoing financial support to this food pantry, donations can be made to St. Paul's with Food Pantry in the memo line.
Thank you for your support, 
Rachel Minick
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.

Messages left on the office voicemail are directed to the email associated with the either the rector or administrator depending on your selection. If you leave a message someone will return your call. Thank you!

Thank you for your patience during this transition.


The Feb/Mar/Apr issues of Forward Day by Day are now in the mailbox by the front door of the office.

2021 Annual Meeting Report can be found on the website.

Copies of the 2021 Annual Meeting can be picked up from the office or we can mail one to you. If you would like a copy, please email the office to request a copy mailed to you or to schedule a time to stop by.


New Vestry Minutes have been added. December , January, and Annual Meeting minutes are now available!

Click button to go directly there
Serving in February 2021
(Recorded Service)

Feb. 7 - Laurie Love
Feb. 14 - Cindy Smith
Feb. 21 - Mary Southwell
Feb. 28 - Bev Cook
Altar Guild

Feb. 7 - Laurie Love & Ramona Curtis
Feb. 14- Mary Lankford & Sharon Greene
Feb. 21 - Mary & Mike Southwell
Feb. 28 - Pam & Drew Mayberry

22 - Ken Canter
27 - Becca Hartzog

Feb. 22 - Mary Sue and Dayton Pruitt
Prayer Requests

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, Nancy Blair, John Brame, Rosie Carlton, Thomas Dellinger, Tina Duncan, John Farris, Laura Gentry, Karen Hennig, Paula Jameson, Doug Johnson, Ken Love, Tyler Olender, Denver Owens, Jordan Samuel, 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
office@stpaulwilkesboro.org, especially those abroad
The Lessons for February 21, 2021
Genesis 9:8-17

God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

Psalm 25:1-9

1 To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul;
my God, I put my trust in you; *
let me not be humiliated,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
2 Let none who look to you be put to shame; *
let the treacherous be disappointed in their schemes.
3 Show me your ways, O Lord, *
and teach me your paths.
4 Lead me in your truth and teach me, *
for you are the God of my salvation;
in you have I trusted all the day long.
5 Remember, O Lord, your compassion and love, *
for they are from everlasting.
6 Remember not the sins of my youth and my transgressions; *
remember me according to your love
and for the sake of your goodness, O Lord.
7 Gracious and upright is the Lord; *
therefore he teaches sinners in his way.
8 He guides the humble in doing right *
and teaches his way to the lowly.
9 All the paths of the Lord are love and faithfulness *
to those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
1 Peter 3:18-22

Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you-- not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

Mark 1:9-15

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
St. Paul's Episcopal Church | 336-667-4231 | office@stpaulwilkesboro.org | https://stpaulwilkesboro.org