E-newsletter | March 11, 2021

Let These Bruised Bones Dance

Death that leads to new life, grief that leads to joy, fearless self-reflection that leads to repentance—as we move deeper into this Lenten season I am much in mind of its deepest themes.
Each year I am struck by how there is a paradoxical quality to Lent. It’s a time of fasting and self-denial, yes — but it’s also a time of hope and optimism, waiting for the arrival of spring and longer days.
Lent is not about the absence of joy; on the contrary, through silence and simplicity and emptiness, Lent invites us to reconnect with a joy that often is hidden by the fullness and busy-ness of ordinary life or the excesses into which we can so easily fall.
Some believe Lent is a time to beat up on ourselves, for reflecting on how sorry we humans should feel for our sins. But as I said way back on Lent 1, that’s not the best approach at all.
As I said then, a more excellent way to travel Lent is to place our focus on God’s compassion and mercy. The light of God’s compassion and mercy might come to us as soft, comforting and healing. 
Or it might set our hearts ablaze with a desire to be more present to God’s hope for our lives, to put away old baggage or self-centered desires and look outward at others with a greater care. Repentance, a word long abused and misunderstood, simply means learning to “see with the eyes of our heart enlightened” as Paul so beautifully says it.
Where once we may have looked upon someone in poverty and thought them lazy, with the eyes of our heart enlightened we see a valued child of God struggling valiantly against a system that punishes the poor. Or where we perhaps saw an immigrant as “illegal” we now see them as a beloved child of God putting everything at risk for the hope of a better life.
More personally it might mean suddenly wanting to forgive where previously your heart was hardened. Check your own hearts and minds—where do you see the eyes of your heart seeing things differently?
All of which is to say that I believe Lent is best encountered by staying centered on God’s mercy rather than on our sinfulness. This way we can see that God’s unconditional love and forgiveness is not something we have to earn—it is ours already. And this leads us to understand that all of creation is loved by God in this same way.
This is how we begin to understand that Lent is not something we do to appease God. The spirituality of Lent and our reflection and attention on what separates us from being whole and joyful is something we do in response to God’s love, to bring about change within ourselves.
As Annie Dillard says, “God needs nothing, asks nothing, and demands nothing, like the stars. It is life with God that demands these things… You do not have to sit outside in the dark. If, however, you want to look at the stars, you will find that darkness is necessary. But the stars neither require nor demand it.”
I believe she describes beautifully what it means to claim a full life with God. God does not require us to be a certain way to receive God’s love, but to claim the life for which God designed us we must first encounter our own darkness.  This is how we can then fully embrace the light of God.
Lent began with the cross of ash placed on our foreheads. This dark, carbon, temporary tattoo is sitting precisely on top of the cross that is placed upon our foreheads at baptism. 
This ashen cross is a reminder of our mortality reminds us that between the beginning of our life with Christ and the end of our life in God there is just a short span in which we can love, laugh, grow, forgive, learn, fail, get back up and start over again, and again, and again.
This 40-days is a time to rejoice in the light of God’s love, but also to remember that length of days is only a promise we imagine, but not one that God actually made. 
What God does promise us and what the spirituality of Lent invites us to claim, is that life is best lived when we live in the freedom of mercy, compassion and forgiveness—both for ourselves and for others each and every day. The mortality reminder of Lent reminds us that putting off our joy, wholeness or forgiveness is a dangerous practice.
Every Ash Wednesday, just after we receive our ashes we pray the 51st Psalm, commonly called the Psalm of repentance. My favorite version is a beautiful paraphrase that says, “Fill me with happy songs; let my bruised bones dance.”
That is the most beautiful description of repentance I have ever heard. Letting go of fear, anger, un-forgiveness, damaging forms of grief or seeing--or whatever keeps us feeling bruised to the bone in this world is the only way to freedom.
Lent can be a time of silence, simplicity, meditation, humility, and attentiveness. It is a time of waiting with quiet joy for the blessings to come at Easter. It is trusting that the necessary darkness we are invited to encounter during this time is preparing us for full bloom.
Lent is how we remember that all that we love and care for is mortal and transitory, but our mortality is the inspiration to ever-present celebration and love.  Mortality is the invitation to let our bruised bones dance through the darkness of winter and burst forth renewed and alive in the eternal Spring of God’s love.  
Grace and Peace,
Mother Stephanie


We would like to welcome Morgen Love! Previously the Nursery Worker at St. Paul's, Morgen returns to our team as the new Parish Administrator.

"Hello everyone! I am very excited to be back here at St. Paul's. I can't wait to get to know all of you!
A little bit about me: I began working with St. Paul's in 2018, and unfortunately was not able to continue in that position due to COVID. I have previous experience in accounting and office work type positions, so I believe that this will be a good fit for me. I am privileged to get to call St. Paul's my home once again."

I know that all of you join with me in welcoming Morgen into this new position and in looking ahead to all of the wonderful times to come!

The office remains closed to the public due to COVID restrictions, but "regular" office hours of 8-4 are in back in effect.

Its daylight savings time! Don't forget to reset your clocks one hour ahead starting Sunday.


Keep your eyes peeled to this spot for upcoming news and information about Holy Week 2021.

COVID restrictions are still in order, but we hope to mark the transition back into outside worship beginning with an Easter Sunday service in Coventry Chapel.

Your Vestry meets on the 21st and after that we will have further information about numbers, sign up and other guidelines coming soon.

Holy Week Worship videos will include Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Resurrection Sunday in addition to the live gathering outside on Easter morning (time to be announced)

In the meantime, please be getting those vaccinations scheduled and maintain social distancing and face masks so that we can come back together soon!


Episcopal U:
We Pray What We Believe

Join Mother Stephanie on Wednesdays at 12:30 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 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.

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

To quote Howard Thurman, "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." 
One of my goals this year is to help provide opportunities to allow church members to "come alive" and share their spark with others on behalf of the church. To that end it is my hope that we can build 2 teams. One to nourish, enrich and beautify our grounds and the other to help keep our buildings in good repair. Our first endeavor will be to spruce up the campus for the beauty of spring and the Easter to come. As the year progresses there will be discussions on the needs of the church office. In between I feel sure that there will be a multitude of small jobs that will require many hands and a diversity of skills as we reoccupy spaces that have mostly been vacant for a year. If you are interested in helping with gardening, "handy person" skills, good manual work or thoughtful planning, please let me know. 

You can contact me via email: joefesperman@yahoo.com, cell (call or text) 202-821-5885 or leave a message on my landline
Great news! Over the last few weeks we have raised $500 for the Student Choice Food Pantry at North Wilkesboro Elementary School. Rachel Minick started and helps administer this offering. This project provides weekend food for approximately 100 children and is an alternative to the backpack program. The Pantry allows students to "shop" for their own food preferences and provides a special sense of satisfaction and pleasure. 
Your ongoing support throughout Lent is appreciated.  

To donate: Make checks out to St. Paul's and add "Food Pantry" in the memo line.

Join Zoom Meeting by clicking on the link below:

Meeting ID: 851 9114 3705
Passcode: Coffee20 

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

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

Mar 14 - Joe Fesperman
Mar 19 - Sharon Burkenbine
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, Thomas Dellinger, Mike Duncan, Tina Duncan, John Farris, Laura Gentry, Karen Hennig, Paula Jameson, Doug Johnson, Margo Hurd, Ken Love, Misty Millsaps, Tyler Olender, Denver Owens, Iris Parker, Kris Riley, Tara Riley, Jordan Samuel, Rebecca Shaw, Karen Shupe, Linda Sloop, Delores Weaver, Bob Webber, Donna Webber, Joyce Wheeling

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 Szvtitz, 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 March 14, 2021
Numbers 21:4-9

From Mount Horeb the Israelites set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; but the people became impatient on the way. The people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.” Then the Lord sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.” So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.

Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, *
and his mercy endures for ever.
2 Let all those whom the Lord has redeemed proclaim *
that he redeemed them from the hand of the foe.
3 He gathered them out of the lands; *
from the east and from the west,
from the north and from the south.
17 Some were fools and took to rebellious ways; *
they were afflicted because of their sins.
18 They abhorred all manner of food *
and drew near to death's door.
19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, *
and he delivered them from their distress.
20 He sent forth his word and healed them *
and saved them from the grave.
21 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his mercy *
and the wonders he does for his children.
22 Let them offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving *
and tell of his acts with shouts of joy.
Ephesians 2:1-10

You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-- by grace you have been saved-- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God-- not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

John 3:14-21

Jesus said, “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”
St. Paul's Episcopal Church | 336-667-4231 | office@stpaulwilkesboro.org | https://stpaulwilkesboro.org