E-newsletter | February 25, 2021
People of the Covenant

“I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.”

This week we witness God’s covenant with Abraham, then Abram. This is important as the season of Lent invites new actions or new decisions that usher in a change of heart and mind.  This is a time for us to explore what it truly means to be in covenant with God as well as how we live this covenantal relationship with God through our community of faith. 

Scripture constantly speaks about Covenantal relationships. God makes covenants with Noah (last week), Abraham, Moses, and Ishmael and as we share the Eucharist, we celebrate the remembrance of Jesus in another new covenant.  

I think an interesting thing that we don’t often understand is that new covenants do not cancel the former covenants they actually expand the promise of God’s love for the world.

Covenantal relationship says that when we accept God’s love for us, we understand that our lives are then profoundly linked with God’s will. 

As I have mentioned in other places, almost all of the things we do in life can be done outside of a covenantal relationship with God—marriage, children, work, voting—name it, but when we decide that we are God’s person and we enter the world as such—we pledge our highest loyalty to God’s purposes; we vow to see the world through God’s loving eyes and not simply our own sometimes fearful or narrow view. 

It is then and only then that our relationships, our work and play and life become intertwined with God’s hope for us. God never forces our hand, it is we who must invite God in.

Loving the world as God does means that sometimes we must have the courage in our day to day lives to empty ourselves of our need to control, dominate, or just go along to get along, and seek to do God’s will instead of our own, even, quite possibly, at personal cost. 

This might mean opening our hearts and changing our minds about something about which we were certain, but now realize it just doesn’t seem like truth anymore.  God tapping us on the shoulder can challenge our old worldview. 

Taking a risk based on our relationship with God can lead us into all kinds of challenging “transformational opportunities” that twist us up for a while, but have a deep, soul driven “rightness” and freedom about them.

If we can be brave enough we can all begin to see the places in our own lives that cry out for transformation or healing or letting go.

Our tired spirits bloom into vitality when we make the decision to love the world as God does and claim the courage to be a people of compassion, and mercy. This is what it means to stand with Abraham, Jesus and all the rest and say, “I am God’s person!”

God created the world and loves everything that is in it. And it is important to say that God’s will and God’s love never ever intersects with injustice, oppression, shame or abuse of a person or persons.

God, who is revealed in the life and actions of Jesus, longs to have our lives oriented toward reconciling the whole world to God once and for all. We do this in covenant with God. And we cannot fulfill this covenant with God unless or until we are fulfilling it with one another.

When we welcome God’s constant forgiveness of ourselves and in turn open ourselves to admit when we have caused harm to others or forgive those who have harmed us, it is then that we are creating a covenantal community.

Lent offers us a sweet invitation to examine our lives and to reorder our relationships and decide once again that we belong to God. We resolve to take up God’s purposes of spreading joy. We embrace God’s hope for the tearing down of walls and the building of building bridges. 

As Henri Nouwen reminds us:
“When God makes a covenant with us, God says: 'I will love you with an everlasting love. I will be faithful to you, even when you run away from me, reject me, or betray me.'
He says, ‘In our society we don’t speak much about covenants; we speak about contracts. When we make a contract with a person, we say: 'I will fulfill my part as long as you fulfill yours. When you don’t live up to your promises, I no longer have to live up to mine.' Contracts are often broken because the partners are unwilling or unable to be faithful to their terms.

He goes on to say, ‘But God didn’t make a contract with us; God made a covenant with us and God wants our relationships with one another to reflect that covenant. That’s why marriage, friendship, life in community are all ways to give visibility to God’s faithfulness in our lives together.”[1]

So, I say to us all, in this time of Lent, we need not be afraid. We do not have to fear our unfaithfulness, our doubt, or be afraid of the wounds or the petty smallness that we hide even from ourselves. Our covenanting God of mercy and grace will have the last word in all of our concerns.

Our challenge, like all who came before, is to believe that this will be so, in spite of frequent and impressive evidence that would suggest differently. Trust in the love of God that is never-ending and, in this trust, have the courage to heal broken relationships and love beyond your limits.

Wishing you a blessed Lent,
Mother Stephanie



Episcopal U:
We Pray What We Believe
Beginning NEXT WEEK 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 and Deacon Susan reported some happy reunions!

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 

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

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.


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

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

Mar. 7 - Nancy Scroggs
Mar. 14 - Jeri Martin
Mar. 21 - Maggie McCann
Mar. 28 - Joe Fesperman
Altar Guild

Mar. 7 - Mary Anne Caplinger & Tom Starnes
Mar. 14- Laurie Love & Ramona Curtis
Mar. 21 - Mary Lankford, Sharon Greene & Bonnie Merritt
Mar. 28 - Mary & Mike Southwell

Feb 28 - Ken Asel
Feb 28 - Bob Skees
Mar 5 - Beth Boyd
Mar 6 - Elanor Richardson

Feb. 28 - Monty & Diane Shaw
Mar 2 - John & Sandra Oliver
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, Ken Canter, Rosie Carlton, Thomas Dellinger, Tina Duncan, John Farris, Laura Gentry, Karen Hennig, Paula Jameson, Doug Johnson, Ken Love, Tyler Olender, Denver Owens, Iris Parker, Jordan Samuel, Karen Shupe, 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 28, 2021
Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous.” Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.
God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.”

Psalm 22:22-30

22 Praise the Lord, you that fear him; *
stand in awe of him, O offspring of Israel;
all you of Jacob's line, give glory.
23 For he does not despise nor abhor the poor in their poverty;
neither does he hide his face from them; *
but when they cry to him he hears them.
24 My praise is of him in the great assembly; *
I will perform my vows in the presence of those who worship him.
25 The poor shall eat and be satisfied,
and those who seek the Lord shall praise him: *
"May your heart live for ever!"
26 All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, *
and all the families of the nations shall bow before him.
27 For kingship belongs to the Lord; *
he rules over the nations.
28 To him alone all who sleep in the earth bow down in worship; *
all who go down to the dust fall before him.
29 My soul shall live for him;
my descendants shall serve him; *
they shall be known as the Lord'S for ever.
30 They shall come and make known to a people yet unborn *
the saving deeds that he has done.
Romans 4:13-25

For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.
For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”) —in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Therefore his faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Now the words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.

Mark 8:31-38

Jesus began to teach his disciples that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “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, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
St. Paul's Episcopal Church | 336-667-4231 | office@stpaulwilkesboro.org | https://stpaulwilkesboro.org