E-newsletter | September 10, 2020
Holy Arithmetic

From the moment we are born we have to learn our way through relationships where sometimes we are bumping roughly into others and other times others are ramming into us. 

As one essayist says, “We have to learn to negotiate relationships in our families, first playmates, preschool through high school, college, work, extended family, blended family, church, neighborhood, community, country, and world…the list is endless and exponential.”

And equally endless and exponential is the myriad of ways we can hurt or wound others and others can hurt and wound us.  From the micro level of human interactions that make up our most intimate relationships to the macro level of how we negotiate a large and multi-cultural world, the possibilities for anger, hurt, disaffection, and war are endless.

I suppose that is why Sunday’s holy arithmetic gives us an answer that is equally endless and exponential. 

Our friend Peter is center stage again and he asks Jesus, "how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"

I think to most of us that sounds generous in the extreme. But Jesus significantly expands what has been called “the arithmetic of forgiveness.” “Not 7” says Jesus, “but seventy-seven—or my favorite translation: 70x7!”

He then tells this outlandish parable about an "unmerciful servant" who received forgiveness for his own enormous debt, but then instead of extending forgiveness for a small debt that was owed to him, he imprisoned his debtor.

I say outlandish because when we hear it, it seems so extreme that we are safe from ever committing such a horrible offense as this merciless servant. But, if we dare to examine ourselves closely we know that it is far easier to withhold forgiveness than it is to give it, even if we have been the recipients of the sweet gift of forgiveness ourselves.

So Jesus tells Peter forgive not merely seven times, but seventy-seven times, or seventy times seven, which is to say beyond calculation or even comprehension.

Every time I hear this I remember Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer:

Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone
indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial.

When the disciples wanted to understand Jesus’ intimacy with God he teaches them what we call the Lord’s Prayer. The beauty of this simple prayer is that it covers the basics.” After praising God and praying for God’s justice and mercy to happen on earth as in heaven, the prayer petitions God for what the human creature needs the most. People need food and the basics to survive. To have the same deep intimacy with God that Jesus has, we need food and forgiveness. Let’s think about that a minute…in Jesus’ prayer forgiveness gets equal billing with food. 

I do think it is important to note, that sometime we must forgive without the kind reconciliation that creates a restored relationship. We are not asked to put ourselves in harm’s way from someone or a situation that is physically and emotionally abusive.

And giving or receiving forgiveness doesn’t mean that an offense was not committed, just the opposite in fact. Forgiveness is the releasing of a debt. And whether we are giving forgiveness or receiving forgiveness the transaction itself acknowledges the truth of real pain, but offers the mercy of release. Who among us has not longed for that release?

God is always ready to forgive. Forgiveness is the last thing Jesus did for us even as we put him to death. Forgiveness is the first thing he did for Peter and his disciples post-resurrection after they deserted and betrayed him.

Forgiveness of this magnitude and magnanimity finds its basis not only in our own sense of need but, even more sure and certain, in the character of God as a fundamentally forgiving God.

As Richard Rohr rightly points out, “God does not love us if we change; God loves us so that we can change. Only love, not duress, guilt, any form of shunning, or social pressure effects true inner transformation.

When we forgive others we liberate them from their sins and failures, unshackle them from the chains of anxiety, guilt and shame, point them toward a future of hope instead of mire them in a past of regret, and encourage them to hit the "reset" button to begin afresh.

When we forgive others we liberate our own selves from feelings of victimization, vengeance and bitterness that will corrode our souls as surely as any wrong we have committed.

As Rohr says, “Forgiveness reveals three goodnesses simultaneously. When we forgive, we choose the goodness of the other over their faults, we experience God’s goodness flowing through ourselves, and we also experience our own capacity for goodness in a way that almost surprises us. We are finally in touch with a much Greater Source of Love, and we slowly learn how to draw upon this Infinite Source.”

The need to give or receive forgiveness is always a point of beginning, it is this tender and holy need that drives us closer to the image of God implanted in us. Forgiveness is a journey and one that is worth taking. I also think forgiveness is a transformed way of seeing. It is a way of encountering our lives and the people and events in them in a way that stretches us beyond our own limitations into a trust that we can rest assured that our wounds will not end in loss, trauma, brokenness, and defeat. 

There will be another turn, another chapter, another path, another grace. Because God loves us, we don’t have to forgive out of scarcity. We can forgive out of God’s abundance. With God we can wipe one another’s debt clean and start new again and again. Holy arithmetic always begins with God’s infinite love and grace.

Grace and Peace,
Mother Stephanie+

September 13th Service - Sign Up Today and Join Us!
There is still space available to attend the 8:30am and the 10:00am service in the Outdoor Chapel (Labyrinth) this coming
Sunday, September 13th.

We are permitted 35 or less so 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 stpaulwilkesboro.org.

Service will be held WEATHER PERMITTING
Can't be with us in person? Join us for Worship on YouTube or click on the link on our website!
Meet Mother Stephanie

In these Covid 19 times, we’ve tried to come up with a creative way we can meet and welcome Mother Stephanie to St. Paul’s. Following Covid guidelines, we will start out with small groups with social distancing and masks required.

St. Paul’s will host a floating Meet & Greet for Mother Stephanie on

Sunday, September 13 - 11:30, 12:30, 1:30
Sunday, September 27th - 11:30, 12:30, 1:30

in the Parish House. 

This will be a wonderful opportunity for us to get to know Mother Stephanie and even better, an opportunity for her to get to know us. Due to Covid 19 restrictions, there will be a signup sheet limited to ten people per hour. There will be three Meet & Greets on each date with the first one beginning at 11:30a.m., 12:30p.m., and 1:30p.m. Lite Bites and lemonade will be individually served. 

If you would like to attend one of these venues:

Please call or email Ruth Harris
336.984.9690 or rharris122aol.com

with your preferred time and date to reserve your place. We may schedule more dates in the future. If you would like to attend, but you are physically unable to, please call Ruth Harris to discuss other options. 

Unfortunately, due to Covid restrictions, you will not be able to attend without signing up.  
Altar Guild Meeting TODAY :
Thursday, September 10th @ 4pm in the Parish Hall

The Altar Guild will meet today (Thursday) at 4PM in the Parish Hall. Mother Stephanie will be joining us. We will review the new set up requirements for both the outdoor services and the recorded service in the Chapel. We will also discuss our schedule and put together a plan for the next couple of months. All active Altar Guild participants as well as anyone who would like to participate are welcome. Please wear protective masks and plan to social distance in the Parish Hall. We will vote on the most imaginative mask.

Pam & Drew Mayberry

If you want to get involved but cannot attend the meeting, please contact
Pam and Drew Mayberry at
 dmayberry@charter.net. Or, you can text us at 336-414-5456.
Worship Notes:

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 limited to clergy, readers and worship support ministries like Altar Guild.

An addition to this service that may be somewhat familiar to you from the early days of Covid-19 is another version of Father Steve's prayer for Spiritual Communion. You will hear it at the Eucharist and it is a reminder that through the power of the holy Spirit those at home are spiritually gathered with those in the Chapel.

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.

In a fun factoid about church architecture, it is fun to see your high pulpit! Way back in the day this was the outward and visible statement of the importance of the Word of God. The high pulpit, like the high altar for communion, was where the preacher "broke open" the Word of God.

Stay tuned to Worship Notes for upcoming nuances to our worship as well as little tidbits and insights behind the Worship that we love.

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

Mother Stephanie
“It is solved by walking”
-St. Augustine (353-430)
In this difficult and uncertain time, while many of us are staying at home as much as possible and missing contact with our family, church family, and friends, I’ve felt the pull of the labyrinth and thought about how much it means to walk the labyrinth in community. I will be hosting an online Finger Labyrinth Walk and Meditation every Tuesday in September! We will meet in Zoom each Tuesday evening at 7:30 PM EDT.  I invite you to join me!! Please email me so I can send you a labyrinth to use for our “walk” and the Zoom link to attend.
Sheree Sloop—sloopcat60@gmail.com.

“The labyrinth literally reintroduces the experience of walking a clearly defined path. This reminds us that there is a path, a process that brings us to unity, to the center of our beings. In the simple act of walking, the soul finds solace and peace.”
 –Lauren Artress

Let's Create Something Beautiful Together
You are invited to join me in Zoom on October 24, 2020 beginning at 10:00am for a virtual Collage workshop. We will create a 12 X 12 inch, 7 circuit Classical Finger Labyrinth. Please let me know by October 1st if you plan to attend. Space is limited. I will send a supply list when you register.
Sheree Sloop – sloopcat60@gmail.com
July 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

Sept. 9 Nancy Scroggs
Sept. 16 Dick Sloop
Sept. 23 Tana Myers
Readers for September, 2020
8:30 AM

6 - Mary Southwell
13 - Tana Myers
20 - Denise Sturdivant
27 - Tom Carnes
10:00 AM

6 - Nancy Scroggs
13 - Steve Reid
20- Cindy Smith
27 - Maggie McCann

Sept. 15 - Whit Loflin
Sept. 16 - Jim Lyall
Sept. 18 - Jim Sturdivant


Sept. 19 - Bill & Marietta Carroll
Prayer Requests

Prayer requests can be made online
or by calling the office during regular office hours.

Bulletins are printed on Wednesday 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 Tuesdays 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, Betty Blevins, John Brame, Fern Brinkley, Jacob Brown, Mary Bumgarner, Rosie Carlton, Paul Clark, Billy Coles, Rancene Cook, LaMar Creasman, Ann Davis, Jackie Davis, Thomas Dellinger, Mike Duncan, John Farris, Craig Freas, Estelle Gille, Mike Graf, Edward C. Griffith III, Bert Hall, Kaye Hall, Janet Hartzog, Larry Hendley, Jackson Hering, Jennifer Gates Icenhour, Steve Jackson, Lisa Lenderman, Lorraine Little, Ken Love, Blake Lovette, 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, Dick Whittington, 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 September 13, 2020
Exodus 14:19-31

The angel of God who was going before the Israelite army moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and took its place behind them. It came between the army of Egypt and the army of Israel. And so the cloud was there with the darkness, and it lit up the night; one did not come near the other all night.
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided. The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. The Egyptians pursued, and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and chariot drivers. At the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and cloud looked down upon the Egyptian army, and threw the Egyptian army into panic. He clogged their chariot wheels so that they turned with difficulty. The Egyptians said, “Let us flee from the Israelites, for the Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.”
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, so that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and chariot drivers.” So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth. As the Egyptians fled before it, the Lord tossed the Egyptians into the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the chariot drivers, the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not one of them remained. But the Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.
Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great work that the Lord did against the Egyptians. So the people feared the Lord and believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.

Psalm 114

1 Hallelujah!
When Israel came out of Egypt, *
the house of Jacob from a people of strange speech,
2 Judah became God's sanctuary *
and Israel his dominion.
3 The sea beheld it and fled; *
Jordan turned and went back.
4 The mountains skipped like rams, *
and the little hills like young sheep.
5 What ailed you, O sea, that you fled? *
O Jordan, that you turned back?
6 You mountains, that you skipped like rams? *
you little hills like young sheep?
7 Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, *
at the presence of the God of Jacob,
8 Who turned the hard rock into a pool of water *
and flint-stone into a flowing spring.
Romans 14:1-12

Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. Those who observe the day, observe it in honor of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honor of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honor of the Lord and give thanks to God.
We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written,
"As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall give praise to God."
So then, each of us will be accountable to God.

Matthew 18:21-35

Peter came and said to Jesus, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.
“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
St. Paul's Episcopal Church | 336-667-4231 | office@stpaulwilkesboro.org | https://stpaulwilkesboro.org