E-newsletter | October 8, 2020
336.667.4231
office@stpaulwilkesboro.org
God Binds Our Broken Hearts

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Something about which I lament at length, and for me one of the saddest aspects of modern American Christianity is this idea of a wrathful, punishing God. So many of us, regardless of our various original denominations, grow up in the faith feeling that somehow, we have to measure up before we are worthy of God’s love. 

This notion is so prevalent that many of God’s children simply leave God’s house, never to return, because they feel they just don’t need the punishment. Life is challenging enough without constantly hearing that we must earn even God’s love by attaining some sort of moral or ethical perfection. That if we are good enough then God will love us.

Is this a mantra with which any of you have ever silently tortured yourselves?

And since I have become a priest in God’s Church, I have continually been brokenhearted by how many people simply feel utterly unworthy of God’s love and care and absolutely refuse to hear that the truth is otherwise. 

But this coming Sunday we will hear again that what God desires most is that we believe that God loves us and that we turn to God in all things. We will be hearing the reading from Exodus but in the alternative reading Isaiah speaks to God’s desire for this in a poetic vison that I personally find breathtaking. The prophet speaks of how God longs for us to feast at a banquet of not only the best food and wine, but a banquet where there is nothing to wound us, hurt us or give us sorrow in any way:

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, 
of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear.

And he will destroy on this mountain
the shroud that is cast over all peoples,
the sheet that is spread over all nations; 
he will swallow up death forever.

In the midst of these troubled times we hear that God desires us to know celebration and hope to ease the grief and trouble of troubled days … Do you long for such an experience of such comfort? 

And in the lines from Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi above, we also hear words of comfort. This small and struggling church is undergoing some very difficult times. Some of their suffering is self-inflicted, but far from an admonishment to straighten up and fly right, Paul writes out of intense desire to fold them in the knowledge that God is with them in the midst of their pain, that above all, God’s peace is still theirs to share.

Paul is no stranger to suffering and he talks eloquently of his own pain frequently. So what is Paul saying? What does it mean to rejoice always; to pray without ceasing and give thanks in all circumstances, without being in some tragic state of denial? 

Could it be that Paul is telling us that the power of God’s love for us is always close at hand? So close that when we stumble and fall or when the world pushes us down that God wants to come along side us in our pain. To hold us and soothe us until we can bear our own weight again?

I remember in my own life my mother gave me my first experience of this kind of love. When I came to her in tears from a scraped knee or hurt feelings she never told me to hush up or quit being a crybaby. 

Her first response was always to pick me up, hold me close and rock me in her arms. She would hold me this way until I could speak and then she would listen to my tale of woe or bandage the knee, being sure to blow softly on the scrape to ease the sting of the antiseptic. 

And as I grew up and my wounds became more complicated she found new ways to bind up my broken heart. She still just listened, uttered soft words of love and then she would always follow up with a phone call the next day to see if I was okay. That simple phone call held a wealth of love.

Through this kind of consistent care she taught me that I did not need to fear falling. Knowing she was there in this way taught me that even when life was not going my way, I could still risk hope and love, because falling, while painful, wasn’t fatal. 

Now expand the nature of this kind of love out into God’s realm and imagine the power of God’s love, God’s desire to comfort.

Imagine what it means to know that far from being unworthy of such love in God’s eyes that God desires nothing more than to be there for us always. This love doesn’t depend on whether we deserve it or not, it just is!

We all need to be reminded of celebration and joy in the midst of difficult times and grief, we all long to be soothed, and comforted in ways large and small—we do not outgrow this human need. God has already made us worthy of God’s love. When we claim this unassailable fact our whole lives become a song of celebration and thanksgiving, no matter what! 

Trust in God’s love for you. God is faithful and God will bind your broken hearts.

Grace and Peace,

Mother Stephanie


You've Got Mail... coming your way!

The office is currently preparing to mail out giving statements. These statements should contain any financial contribution that you have made from January 1st, 2020 through Sept 30, 2020. If you made a pre-pledge in 2019 for the 2020 year it will not show on these statements.

Please contact the office if you have any questions.

Phone 336-667-4234
email: office@stpaulwilkesboro.org

OUTREACH

In the next several weeks the Outreach committee will gather online to discuss the distribution of our 2020 allocated funds ($4667). We will also hear any ideas you may have for our work within the community in these trying times. Rachel Minick will be our technological leader in this endeavor. If you have not received an Outreach email recently and would like to take part let
Joe Fesperman know via email (joefesperman@yahoo.com)
or text (202-821-5885).  
Your enthusiastic participation and coming together is eagerly anticipated.
Worship Notes:
Updated 10-8-20!

Adult Forums Are Coming Soon!

I am eager to begin Adult Spiritual Formation very soon in a couple of possible formats: One choice is by ZOOM so that those who must shelter in place can join us, and the other is to add an Adult Formation time to the Sunday line up when we move to ONE SERVICE (date TBA). Or, a possible combination of ZOOM during the week combined with another option on Sunday mornings.

Please contact Mother Stephanie and let her know if you have preferences or hopes for subject and format! rector@stpaulwilkesboro.org.



Blessings,
Mother Stephanie
-St. Augustine (353-430)

The Virtual Labyrinth Walks continue! You are invited to join this growing community every Tuesday at 7:30pm in Zoom. I am happy to announce that Rebecca Husband Maynard has joined in with me to share this time and lead us in a couple of Labyrinth Finger Walks each month. Rebecca shares my love of the labyrinth and has been trained and certified as a facilitator through Veriditas also. We invite you to join us for this time of prayer and meditation in community with others. No labyrinth experience is needed. You can reach out to either Rebecca or me with your email address for the Zoom link. 

Sheree Sloop: sloopcat60@gmail.com 
Rebecca Husband Maynard: rev.rebecca19@gmail.com
October 11th 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 11th.

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 Thursday Worship Slots!

Beginning Thursday, October 15th the Sunday Virtual Service will be recorded on Thursdays 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 Thursday 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!
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
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
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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
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Birthdays:
      

Oct. 11 - Glenn Smith
Oct. 12 - Rosa Jolly
Oct. 13 - Teal Griffin
Oct. 15 - Maggie Boyd
Oct. 15 - Lisa Cline
Oct. 16 - Betty Morris
Oct. 17 - Willie Barber
Oct. 17 - Amber Wansley
Anniversaries

Oct. 11 - Bert & Sandra Hall
Oct. 14 - Bill & Margo Hurd
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.
Illness
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, Margo Hurd, Steve Jackson, Lisa Lenderman, Lorraine Little, Ken Love, 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 11th, 2020
Exodus 32:1-14

When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered around Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make gods for us, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” Aaron said to them, “Take off the gold rings that are on the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off the gold rings from their ears, and brought them to Aaron. He took the gold from them, formed it in a mold, and cast an image of a calf; and they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a festival to the Lord.” They rose early the next day, and offered burnt offerings and brought sacrifices of well-being; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to revel.
The Lord said to Moses, “Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely; they have been quick to turn aside from the way that I commanded them; they have cast for themselves an image of a calf, and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” The Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are. Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; and of you I will make a great nation.”
But Moses implored the Lord his God, and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’” And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.


Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23

1 Hallelujah!
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, *
for his mercy endures for ever.
2 Who can declare the mighty acts of the Lord *
or show forth all his praise?
3 Happy are those who act with justice *
and always do what is right!
4 Remember me, O Lord, with the favor you have for your people, *
and visit me with your saving help;
5 That I may see the prosperity of your elect
and be glad with the gladness of your people, *
that I may glory with your inheritance.
6 We have sinned as our forebears did; *
we have done wrong and dealt wickedly.
19 Israel made a bull-calf at Horeb *
and worshiped a molten image;
20 And so they exchanged their Glory *
for the image of an ox that feeds on grass.
21 They forgot God their Savior, *
who had done great things in Egypt,
22 Wonderful deeds in the land of Ham, *
and fearful things at the Red Sea.
23 So he would have destroyed them,
had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, *
to turn away his wrath from consuming them.
Philippians 4:1-9

My brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.
I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

Matthew 22:1-14

Once more Jesus spoke to the people in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.
“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”
St. Paul's Episcopal Church | 336-667-4231 | office@stpaulwilkesboro.org | https://stpaulwilkesboro.org