E-newsletter | September 2, 2020

Tough Love

Jesus said, “If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone… Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”

This coming Sunday Jesus leads a master class for his disciples in the art of tough love. I think that every time this scripture comes around in the Lectionary cycle, preachers all over the world get the old “deer in the headlights” look. We all want to deny that damaging conflicts can happen in faith communities and as a beloved community that is still bruised by conflict, I feel particularly protective of you as we engage Jesus’ challenging teaching.

We have before us some tender work to do on reconciling the experiences of the past couple of years. This is a holy and sacred responsibility and we will take exceptional care of one another as we travel this journey together. I think one of the most important things I can call our attention to in order to support us is that there is a teaching on conflict in faith community because Jesus already had conflict in his community of followers and he fully expects there to be conflict in other communities of faith.

So the good news is that Jesus is not saying, “Never have conflict!” He affirms that conflict is not to be avoided. Elsewhere in the Gospel he tells us, “I have come not to bring peace, but a sword.” 

In any church, in our families or relationships, when the dynamic is healthy we learn and grow in trust and love as a result of conflict.  As Barbara Brown Taylor puts it, “Healthy faith community life has a way of smoothing our rough edges by making us rub up against each other, like tumbling pebbles in a jar.” 

So I invite early on that we not feel alarmed or surprised that this beloved community has experienced conflict; it is a natural part of building strong faith communities. What we do next, in response to our conflict, is what becomes important and determines whether we are creating the kingdom of God on earth or something else.

Christian community has always had a deep stake in matters of brokenness and reconciliation. In the Outline of the Faith in our Book of Common Prayer we read the question: What is the mission of the Church? And the Answer is: The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.

In fact, our reconciliation with one another as members of the same faith community in matters of conflict is just as much our mission as our attempt to reconcile the world to Christ. It is just as much our mission because we cannot do for the world what we cannot do for and among ourselves.

So yes, we all know conflicts arise in every church community. Conflict in churches is not unique. What is unique is that we have a special call to be courageous and intentional in engaging with conflict when it arises.

Jesus’ teaching on Sunday guides his followers into how we confront such problems.  We see that what is most required in these situations is strong combination of love and courage. Like any powerful act of love, this kind of intervention comes with the specific goal of reconciliation. Jesus is telling his disciples that they have to be committed to being reconcilers. 

In her book, The Argument Culture, author Deborah Tannen details the challenge we have in our modern culture in dealing with conflict due to the prevailing and inaccurate assumption that there are two sides to every story: a right side and a wrong side. But in fact, she reminds us, conflict is often a complex and multi-faceted issue. There are multiple “sides” and nuances in any conflict and to try and reduce conflicts to a right or wrong answer or party results in a culture of blame and shame, of winners and losers. (Yes! I highly recommend this book—especially during an election year…)

Jesus already possessed this wisdom long before modern sociologist surfaced it again and that’s a very important truth to hold onto: Jesus is calling us into something more nuanced and life-giving than creating winners and losers.  

Jesus is teaching us that this is tender, arduous work and it requires great care. 

And, you will learn that I am fond of saying, “context is everything.” The same is very much true here in this Sunday’s Gospel. We only receive a brief snippet of what is a long discourse on the endless cycle of God’s unlimited forgiveness and Christ’s love for that one lost sheep. 

This difficult teaching is held gently between Jesus’ dogged determination to leave the 99 that are safe to seek out and find that one that is lost and then a treatise on our participation in the endless cycle of God’s forgiveness. 

In the end you see, the gospel calls us to focus not on our brokenness, but on God’s love. And we are to be zealous in creating a community of reconcilers; a community strong enough and gentle enough to let go of resentments and offenses before they grow into the horrible wounds that necessitate such intervention as what Jesus describes.

The bottom line is that Christian community, all community, really, is, as St. Benedict said, a "school for souls," in which we learn not just how to live, but also how to experience abundant life. Jesus knew something, that experience affirms for us whenever we undertake the holy work of reconciliation; we understand best and deepest how God loves and forgives us when we are, in our limited but growing way, extending that kind of love and forgiveness to others.

I think that this is the real invitation Jesus offers is to love more than we think we can and to approach others with an open and generous expectation that the people in our lives and community of faith do not set out to offend or wound; this single act of love, practiced with deep fidelity, can change the world as we know it. 

Grace and Peace,
Mother Stephanie

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.  
September 6th 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 6th.

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 our September 6th Worship live-streaming on YouTube or click on the link on our website!
Altar Guild Call! 

This is different from the Altar Call in the Baptist Church. We are asking anyone who wants to get involved in the important, behind the scenes, work of the Altar Guild to let us know. As we have begun new, outdoor services, the requirements for set up for each service have changed somewhat. We are refining our system to meet the new requirements. If you are looking for a way to get back involved at St. Paul's, let us know. Involvement of women and men is encouraged. Men are good at carrying things - think pack mule.

If you want to get involved, please advise Pam and Drew Mayberry at dmayberry@charter.net. Or, you can text us at 336-414-5456.
Worship Notes:

As these Covid-19 days have come upon us learning to worship in new ways is a constant invitation. Before his departure, Father Steve initiated a return to in person worship in Coventry Garden that I think has been a wonderful return to in-person gathering. As with any new, experimental endeavor your Vestry and I discussed the service and how we might refine it as we move forward.

In the coming weeks you will notice some refinements in the way we share the Eucharist as well as the return to bulletins. We are still working to keep everyone safe and so our social distancing and masks will remain a vital part of how we care for one another during this time.

Currently we are using Eucharistic Prayer B, which emphasizes God's love for us and celebrates that because of this love we need not feel ashamed, but are in fact "worthy to stand before God." It is a lovely affirming prayer for these challenging times and I invite you to listen closely to its celebratory notes!

Also in "the pipeline" is a Worship Service on Wednesdays at 1 PM that will become our pre-recorded Worship service that is posted on YouTube for those who are not yet able to join us in person. This will help us ensure a high technical quality for our on-line presence. This service will, because of Covid-19 restrictions, be limited to clergy, readers and worship support ministries like Altar Guild.

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.
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 Dick Sloop
Sept. 16 Nancy Scroggs
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. 6 - Debbie Ferguson
Sept. 6 - Noah Wansley
Sept. 7 - Benjamin Searcy
Sept. 8 - Jim Andrews
Sept. 10 - Linda Wansley
Sept. 11 - Richard Canter
Sept. 11 - Aaliyah Kilby
Sept. 12 - Bailey Koch
Sept. 12 - James Southwell

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 6, 2020
Exodus 12:1-14

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbor in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted over the fire, with its head, legs, and inner organs. You shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the passover of the Lord. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance.

Psalm 149

1 Hallelujah!
Sing to the Lord a new song; *
sing his praise in the congregation of the faithful.
2 Let Israel rejoice in his Maker; *
let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.
3 Let them praise his Name in the dance; *
let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp.
4 For the Lord takes pleasure in his people *
and adorns the poor with victory.
5 Let the faithful rejoice in triumph; *
let them be joyful on their beds.
6 Let the praises of God be in their throat *
and a two-edged sword in their hand;
7 To wreak vengeance on the nations *
and punishment on the peoples;
8 To bind their kings in chains *
and their nobles with links of iron;
9 To inflict on them the judgment decreed; *
this is glory for all his faithful people.
Romans 13:8-14

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.
Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Matthew 18:15-20

Jesus said, “If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
St. Paul's Episcopal Church | 336-667-4231 | office@stpaulwilkesboro.org | https://stpaulwilkesboro.org