E-newsletter | October 1, 2020
Laws of the Heart

This coming Sunday we will encounter what is one of the multiple times Moses and what we call the Ten Commandments are delivered to the Israelites as they continue their sojourn through the desert.

The so called “Ten Commandments” (so called because only once are they referred to in this way) have, in many ways, become a backdrop to our life with God. And for Christians we more often quote Jesus’ summation of the Law and the Prophets, saying that the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, mind, and soul, and the second is like it, that you should love your neighbor as yourself. It’s that simple. The way to serve God is to love God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself. The Ten Commandments are often alternately discarded for seeming “old fashioned” or perhaps at times seen as a fundamentalist tool for oppressive religion.

But when we hear “You shall have no other God’s before me” and the rest what we are hearing are words of direction from a loving creator. At the heart of understanding these commandments is to see them as a gift from God. In the original Hebrew these sayings are not called “Commandments” at all.

These are ideas that are beyond and above all cultures, these are the foundational bedrock of what matters in this life, they are not in fact Laws and Commandments as much as they are a vison of what it means to be a generous, healthy human community.

The Hebrew word is davareem, meaning words, things, or matters. The best translation is “matters,” as in “concerns.” Just in case you wanted to know what life with God is about, God tells us right up front, “Here are ten things you can keep in mind when deciding whether something is close to God’s hope for how we will care for one another; want to know if something is following God’s will; consider these ten concerns of mine.”

This is very different from seeing these as harsh commands of a judgmental God who is just itching for us to cross the line so that God can smite us down. Instead, God says I have these ten concerns you should know about. Make no mistake, these are BIG concerns and there are deep consequences in our life when we ignore these concerns of God. Not following God’s desire in these matters leads to serious problems, the consequences might well destroy our life or community. 

We might not be able get everyone to agree on what is right or wrong or even if there is such a thing as an absolute right and wrong. But as wars, oppression, and poverty and their subsequent effects, for instance, roll on and on, we can see how ignoring these commandments can lead to disaster for the human family.

Wars, poverty, systemic bigotry, and oppression of all kinds, with their horrific attendant destructiveness would be eradicated if everyone would live as God asks us to live. Going to war is one extreme result of humanity’s inability to follow God’s desires for our lives. Yet what are we to do? We can’t control world events. How can we? In the chaos of our current divide and living in a world seemingly at the brink of disaster in any moment, we must begin at the only place where we have the power to make a change. We must begin within our own hearts and minds; we must seek our own transformation. 

What would this look like in your own life? How could you begin the work of loving God with all your heart, mind, soul, and body, and to love your neighbor as yourself, as Jesus summarized God’s concerns? I will tell you that a good place to begin as we travel through Covid-19 and this time of personal, social, political, and global upheaval means going back to that first concern—the commandment to have no other gods.

Don’t give that God-spot in your life over to personal fears, popular culture, a political ideology, America’s military might, or that amorphous, all-consuming fear that everything is just hopeless. These are all small, pitiless “little g” gods that lead us into pain and division.

Trust God by grounding and surrounding your anxiety in the deep love and hope of God for all. Trust God by letting go of fear, tearing down the “little g’ gods, resting in the assurance that God can show us a better way through the challenges of this life. Grounding your anxieties and cares in God is only the first step. Trusting God with all your heart, mind, and soul, and truly loving your neighbor as yourself, well that’s where grace, healing and hope will happen---in our lives and in our world.  

Grace and Peace,
Mother Stephanie+ 

This Liminal Time: “What’s Next?”

As I mentioned in an E-News recently, St. Paul’s is in a time in-between; a liminal or threshold time. In these interim times parishes are invited into specific work and in addition to taking care of others in our community, this is a very special, focused time—an extended parish retreat, if you will, in which we get to focus on our journey as a faith community. If we envision parish life as climbing a Holy mountain this is a welcome plateau; this is the time to turn around and admire how far we have come as well as to prepare for what comes next. In my Letter of Agreement with the Vestry and Diocese I have promised to lead you in some very specific tasks as outlined in this Letter of Agreement, or better yet, our Covenant as Priest and People. This time will include the following: 

  • Coming to terms with the history of this congregation and its relationships with previous clergy. 
  • Discovering the congregation's special identity, what it dreams of being and doing apart from previous clergy leadership. 
  • Dealing with shifts in leadership roles that naturally evolve in times of transition, allowing new leaders to come to the fore constructively. 
  • Renewing and reworking relationships with the diocese, so that each may be a more effective resource and support to the other. 
  • Building commitment to the leadership of the new rector in order to be prepared to move into the future with openness to new possibilities. 

In this time I am to lead St. Paul’s as pastor, priest and teacher, sharing in the councils of this congregation and of the whole church, in communion with our Bishop. As mandated I am to:

  • Help the congregation deal with its grief and any other unresolved issues arising from the    previous rector's departure. 
  • Deal with internal conflicts and help heal any divisions within the congregation. 
  • Help the Vestry, lay leaders, and staff make such changes as may be needed to align parish life and administration with generally accepted standards in the diocese. 
  • Work with the Vestry and other lay leaders to maintain the regular schedule of worship services and preaching, education, pastoral care and pastoral offices during Covid-19 and beyond, calling upon the sick and shut-in, visiting newcomers, and ongoing administration of the parish. 
  • Supervise all parish staff in the exercise of their responsibilities and ministries, for which they shall be accountable to the Interim Rector. 
  • Function as Chair of the Vestry, and support the Vestry in its responsibilities. 
  • Work with the Vestry to reduce the level of anxiety among the parishioners and the staff.
  • Work with the Vestry to rebuild infrastructures as needed.
  • Work with the Vestry to attend to stewardship, financial, and administrative matters.
  • Train the congregation in church leadership skills.
  • Focus on the spiritual needs of the membership.

“What happens next?” is usually a question that means when can we “get on with it?” or “When we can get back to normal?” But, this is what is next! How far you and I travel together as a priest and parish is an unanswered question at this time, but we have lots to do long before we can answer that question. For now, we have our very sacred, important and needful “to-do” list to keep us very busy growing, learning and living into the Kingdom of God in the ever-present now.

I am so glad to be with you! Buckle up my friends and get ready for a Holy Adventure,

Mother Stephanie
October 4th Service - Sign Up Today and Join Us!

There is still space available to attend the 9:30am and the 11:00am service in the Outdoor Chapel (Labyrinth) this coming
Sunday, October 4th.

Please note new service times!

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 office@stpaulwilkesboro.org.

Service will be held WEATHER PERMITTING
3 Wednesday Worship Slots!

As you may know, at this time the Sunday Virtual Service is recorded on Wednesdays at 1:00 pm in the historic chapel. There is room for 3 people to attend worship during this time. If you would like to sign up to worship on a Wednesday at 1:00 pm click below.

Can't be with us in person? Join us for Worship on YouTube or click on the link on our website!
Worship Notes:
Updated 9-24-20!
New Lectern and Tables for Coventry Chapel!

We thank the thoughtful parishioners who have upgraded our liturgical furniture in Coventry Chapel. Not only does it resonate with the Labyrinth Altar, it saves the Altar Guild the herculean task of setting up and breaking down every Sunday. We are very grateful for this kind and wonderful gift!

And...more 'new' news for Coventry Chapel:

Worship Times are on the move!

With the chilly fall mornings rolling in and with our desire to do everything possible to gather as a community for in-person worship, the Vestry has elected to shift our Sunday morning worship times to allow for more warmth to find us as we gather!

Beginning Sunday, October 4th
the first service will now begin at 9:30 am and the
second service at 11:00 am.

Thanks to all of you who are helping to make this service happen for our faith community and thank you to all who gather.

We have begun the Worship Services on Wednesdays at 1:00 PM that will be posted on YouTube for those who are not yet able to join us in person on Sunday. Because of Covid-19 restrictions, this service is primarily limited to clergy, readers and worship support ministries like Altar Guild. But, we are excited to invite up to three more people to join us for this worship!

If you would like to attend please contact Vanessa at office@stpaulwilkesboro.org

If you want to follow along with the worship you can find the bulletin on St. Paul's webpage that is the service booklet for the on-line service.

Continual adjustments to accommodate the ever changing realities of Covid-19 means that some of our ministries are temporarily very different than what we are used to. Please say a prayer for your Altar Guild members as they are on the forefront of dealing with worship services that are in constant revision. We thank you all!

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

Mother Stephanie
August 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

Oct. 7 - Cindy Smith
Oct. 14 - Nancy Scroggs
Oct. 21 -Tana Myers
Oct. 28 - Laurie Love
Readers for October, 2020
9:30 AM

4 - Lisa Beard
11 - Dick Sloop
18 - Mary Southwell
25 - Denise Sturdivant
11:00 AM

4 - Maggie McCann
11 - Cindy Smith
18 - Tana Morrow
25 - Joe Fesperman


Oct. 4 - Carla Bowers
Oct. 9 - Amy Will
Oct. 9 - Thomas Will

Oct. 10 - Don & Pam Curley
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.
Mike Adams, Jim Andrews, Ken Asel, Pam Baugh, Robert Baugh, Dot Beamon, David Blair, Nancy Blair, Betty Blevins, John Brame, Fern Brinkley, Jacob Brown, Paul Clark, Billy Coles, Rancene Cook, LaMar Creasman, Ann Davis, Jackie Davis, Thomas Dellinger, Mike Duncan, John Farris, Craig Freas, Laura Gentry, Estelle Gille, Mike Graf, Edward C. Griffith III, Bert Hall, Kaye Hall, Janet Hartzog, Larry Hendley, Jackson Hering, Steve Jackson, Lisa Lenderman, Lorraine Little, Ken Love, Pete Mann, 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, 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 October 4th, 2020
Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20

Then God spoke all these words:
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.
Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. For six days you shall labour and do all your work.
Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
You shall not murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
When all the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, they were afraid and trembled and stood at a distance, and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or we will die.” Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come only to test you and to put the fear of him upon you so that you do not sin.”

Psalm 19

1 The heavens declare the glory of God, *
and the firmament shows his handiwork.
2 One day tells its tale to another, *
and one night imparts knowledge to another.
3 Although they have no words or language, *
and their voices are not heard,
4 Their sound has gone out into all lands, *
and their message to the ends of the world.
5 In the deep has he set a pavilion for the sun; *
it comes forth like a bridegroom out of his chamber;
it rejoices like a champion to run its course.
6 It goes forth from the uttermost edge of the heavens
and runs about to the end of it again; *
nothing is hidden from its burning heat.
7 The law of the Lord is perfect
and revives the soul; *
the testimony of the Lord is sure
and gives wisdom to the innocent.
8 The statutes of the Lord are just
and rejoice the heart; *
the commandment of the Lord is clear
and gives light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the Lord is clean
and endures for ever; *
the judgments of the Lord are true
and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
more than much fine gold, *
sweeter far than honey,
than honey in the comb.
11 By them also is your servant enlightened, *
and in keeping them there is great reward.
12 Who can tell how often he offends? *
cleanse me from my secret faults.
13 Above all, keep your servant from presumptuous sins;
let them not get dominion over me; *
then shall I be whole and sound,
and innocent of a great offense.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my
heart be acceptable in your sight, *
O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.
Philippians 3:4b-14

If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.
Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 21:33-46

Jesus said, “Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.” So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.”
Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures:
‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is amazing in our eyes’?
Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.”
When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.
St. Paul's Episcopal Church | 336-667-4231 | office@stpaulwilkesboro.org | https://stpaulwilkesboro.org