News from Grace Episcopal Church ~ Martinez, California

December 7, 2017

Scripture of the Week 
"Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth shall spring up from the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven."

Psalm 85:10-11
Advent at Grace
We welcome you to join us each Sunday in Advent to hear and respond to the story of the coming Christ in word, song, and action. Our time of preparation includes both contemplative and celebratory activities, including:

Healing prayer at Sunday services each week;
"Advent in Narnia," a seasonal Bible study using the writings of C.S. Lewis, following our weekly Wednesday, 10 a.m. Holy Eucharist service;
Opportunities to help those in need during the holidays.
We will conclude our Advent season on Sunday, December 24 with a 10 a.m. Choral Eucharist and  The Decorating of the Christmas TreeFollowing the 10 a.m. service, children will be asked to help put ornaments on the Grace Christmas Tree while enjoying hot chocolate and treats!  Invite friends!
Spiritual Resources
Advent is a wonderful time to begin a new spiritual practice. Here are a few recommendations:
Daily Devotionals: "Forward Day by Day" is a booklet of daily scriptural reflections available in our Narthex for free; "Watch for the Light," a collection of spiritual readings for the season can be purchased at  this link Worship:  Come to Wednesday Holy Eucharist at Grace at 10 a.m. or worship at home with t he Daily Office web app from the brotherhood of St. Gregory, which has the full lectionary and text of the Episcopal Daily Office, found Here. Music: The Great "O Antiphons" are an ancient Christian series of prayers that are often chanted.  Watch this meditation based on The Great O Antiphons.  Activities: Create a family Advent wreath or, for something different, make an Advent paper chain. Giving to others: Donate to your favorite charity, to the Grace Church Rector's Discretionary Fund, or make a Reverse Advent Calendar.r e
Spirit of Giving Project - Thank you Grace Family!  
Our contributions to The Spirit of Giving project for the Contra Costa Interfaith Housing were met with much appreciation and thanks. All 81 gift wishes (and then some!)  for the eleven families we "adopted" were fulfilled and delivered last Monday to the CCIH office in Pleasant Hill. Thank you so much for your support, participation, and generous giving of time-talent-treasure. A special thanks to the many "elves" who helped behind the scenes to pull it all together.  Looking ahead, Rev. Deb has invited a representative from CCIH to give a presentation at the January Faith-full Forum, so we will learn more about this organization and their important work.
St. Christopher's Luncheon Recap  
Cheers to everyone who made our Annual Christmas Luncheon and Fair such a tremendous success! 74 folks enjoyed a wonderful lunch and one another's company while raising funds for The St. Christopher's Guild charitable fund. Your hard work resulted in a $2,080 profit, with $770 coming from the Country Kitchen and $200 from the White Elephant table. This is the kind of event that is at the heart of Grace - fellowship and fun in the service of helping others!
At Grace, Christian education for children ( Sunday  School) is called "Godly Play" and is held during the first part of the  10 a.m.  service after which children join their families for Holy Communion. 
On the 3rd Sunday of the month we have Family Sunday and the children participate in the entire 10 a.m. service. 


There is no Godly Play on Family Sundays (Dec. 17, Jan. 21)
Godly Play Sunday School            
We have moved into the foundational stories of the Hebrew Scriptures. These are known as the stories of the "People of God", which is a term we often use to refer to the Jews of the Hebrew Scriptures. We will tell the stories of Creation and the Great Flood. After that the stories will be set in a box of sand known as the desert box which signifies that the People of God are wandering, nomadic, and often in a foreign land. These stories are The Great Family (beginning with Abraham and Sarah), Exodus, the Ten Best Ways (Ten Commandments), The Ark and the Tent, and the Ark and the Temple. You might ask yourself what happened to the Garden of Eden, or Moses in a reed basket, or Jonah and the whale, or a dozen other stories. The reality is that there are more stories to be told than Sundays in which to tell them. But, there is always next year.
This Sunday: 
We begin this week by lighting the first two candles on our Advent Wreath and reviewing last week's stories about the prophets who foretold the birth of Christ and the journey of the Holy Family to Bethlehem. We then jump ahead to the lighting of the third candle of Advent by telling the story of the shepherds and the angels who were witnesses at Jesus's birth. We finish the session by lighting the fourth candle and learning about the eastern sages (usually called, "wise men") who traveled far to find the Christ child.
Faith-full Forums     
Once a month since June we have opened our doors to a variety of fascinating speakers and invited anyone who is interested to come and see. Through them, we have had the opportunity to learn about everything from the Dead Sea Scrolls to teenage cell phone use! Please come and invite friends to any and all of these presentations.
Upcoming Forums
THIS SUNDAY December 10th following the 10 a.m. service we will welcome Kathryn Barush, who will be speaking about   Mary, the mother of Jesus. Queen of Heaven, Mother, Advocate,  Our Lady of Victory, Star of the Sea:from the early Christian centuries to today, representations of the Virgin Mary have evolved and changed, and are as diverse as her many titles.  This illustrated talk will explore the making, meaning, and reception of Marian artwork and devotion across time and within diverse cultural contexts.

Dr. Barush is an Assistant Professor of Art History and Religion at the Graduate Theological Union with a courtesy appointment to the Jesuit School of Theology. She received a D.Phil. and M.St. in the History of Art and Visual Culture from the University of Oxford  and has worked at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and the Yale University Center for British Art.
On Sunday, January 21, 2018, we will welcome Gloria Bertolozzi, Volunteer and Outreach Manager of Contra Costa Interfaith Housing, which  provides permanent, affordable housing and vital support services to homeless and at-risk families and individuals in Contra Costa County. We participated in the CCIH Spirit of Giving program recently and look forward to getting to know them better.
Christmas at Grace

Our Christmas services will be as follows :
Christmas Eve, Sunday, December 24, at 5 p.m.: This is a traditional Christmas pageant with music.  Walk-ins welcome! ALL children are invited to participate in the pageant. Simply get to the church by 4:30 p.m. and you will get a part!
Christmas Eve, Sunday, December 24, at 10 p.m.: Concert featuring both vocal and instrumental Christmas music.
Christmas Eve "Midnight Mass" beginning at 10:30 p.m.:
The Celebration of the first Christmas Eucharist with Choir and instrumentalists (otherwise known as the "leaving at Midnight Mass")
Christmas Day, Monday, December 25, at 10 a.m.: Eucharist with traditional Christmas carols.
Christmas Lessons and Carols, Sunday, December 31, 10 a.m.

Please join us and BRING FRIENDS!
If you would like to dedicate a Christmas Poinsettia, please email or call the church office (925.228.6574), indicating: "In loving memory of ___; In thanksgiving for ___; or, In celebration of ___." Suggested donation $10.   
Or you may fill out a slip (located on the table in the Narthex) and put it in the offering plate on Sunday.   
Baptism at Grace

Holy Baptism is one of the primary sacraments of The Episcopal Church. Through full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit we become members of Christ's Body, the Church. The bond which God establishes in Baptism is indissoluble.
Holy Baptism is a gift given by the grace of God, and not merited by one's acceptance or understanding of it. Infant Baptism is a sign of the faith of the community into which a child is baptized. Infants are baptized so that they can share citizenship in the Covenant, membership in Christ, and redemption by God.
The Episcopal Church has stated that Holy Baptism is appropriately administered in the context of one's own congregation. Although membership at Grace is not required, an important part of Holy Baptism is when the members of the congregation who witness the baptismal vows agree to do everything within their power "to support these persons in their life in Christ." Baptism is, therefore, a community event.
Grace follows the Episcopal Church practice of administering Holy Baptism on or near the Great Vigil of Easter, the Feast of Pentecost, All Saint's Day and the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord (the First Sunday after the Epiphany).
Upcoming dates for Baptism at Grace are:
  • Sunday, January 14, 2018, The Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ
  • Sunday, April 8, 2018, (Easter Vigil transferred)
  • Sunday, May 20, 2018, Pentecost Day
There is no fee for Holy Baptism. 
If you are interested in being baptized or having your child baptized, please contact  Rev. Deb.
Invitation to be part of the counsels of the church
The Episcopal Church considers all of its members to be equal partners in making decisions in our parishes. One of the primary venues for discussion and planning is The Annual Parish Meeting. We will hold our annual meeting on January 28, 2018.  At the gathering we will set our annual budget and elect new members to the Vestry.  Vestry members serve for three (3) year terms. If you are interested in serving, please contact one of the members of the Nominating Committee: Stan Applegate, Les Marks, or Sally Hanson. To be eligible to serve on vestry you must be a baptized, pledging member of the parish.

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Serving the community of Martinez
and Contra Costa County since 1868.

Our Mission:
Working together to welcome,
support, and serve all God's people.