News from Grace Episcopal Church ~ Martinez, California

December 21, 2017

Scripture of the Week

 "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation."

The Song of Mary
 (from Luke 1:46-50)
Advent at Grace
We will conclude our Advent season this  Sunday, December 24 with a combined Choral Eucharist service at 10 a.m., followed by  The Decorating of the Christmas Tree . (There will be no 8:00 a.m. service on December 24.) Following the service, children will be asked to help put ornaments on the Grace Christmas Tree while the Altar Guild decorates the sanctuary. In order to gently encourage parishioners to help with the rapid change in seasons, there will be no Coffee Hour.  Instead, we'll have hot chocolate and treats for the workers! Invite friends!
Spiritual Resources
Advent is a wonderful time to begin a new spiritual practice and it's not too late to try something new. 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
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 (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: 
It's almost Christmas Eve!  In lieu of Godly Play, the children will be using their time together to rehearse for the evening's Christmas pageant.
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!
Singing through the Twelve Days of Christmas
Christmas doesn't end on Christmas Day! In the western Christian tradition, December 25 is just the first day of Christmas. Christmas season lasts for 12 days until January 6th, which marks the Epiphany and the celebration of the arrival of the sages from the far east. That means you can keep giving presents and singing Christmas carols right into the new year. To honor this tradition, Grace will hold a service of Christmas Lessons and Carols on Sunday, December 31 at our 10 a.m. service. There will be no Eucharist at that service, but there will be Holy Communion at 8 a.m. that day. Please join us for one or both of these Christmas celebrations!
An opportunity to add to the beauty of the church
The beautiful flowers we see each week in the sanctuary are donated by parishioners. This week we will post our 2018 Flower Chart. If you would like to give money for the flowers on a given Sunday, please sign up for that date on the flower chart.  You can dedicate the flowers on that day in memory or in honor of someone or to celebrate a special day or event.  The recommended donation is 35 dollars to cover the cost of the flowers. Thank you in advance!
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 7, 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.
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
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.
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. We will also elect Deanery delegates who attend quarterly meetings of our regional church council. 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.
Calling all party animals!

If you have ever had fun at Grace, this post is for you! Traditionally, the Vestry has taken the lead in planning gatherings at Grace, but with the parish growing and the vestry concentrating on the overall leadership of the parish, it's time to spread the wealth. For this reason we are putting together a Parish Life Committee, which will oversee the creation and planning of social activities like the Oktoberfest and St. Patrick's Day Dinner.  If you are interested in being part of this group, please let Sr. Warden  Stan Applegate know!
Talented landscapers sought
Grace has a wonderful and faithful Buildings and Grounds Committee, which makes sure that the parish property is in good repair, as well as a talented group of gardeners who take amazing care of our campus plantings. Recently, we removed the old deck and several trees from behind the Parish Hall. As a result, that area could use some sprucing up.  Since this a project that will require all kinds of outdoor talents, we have decided to form a Landscape Committee to look at options for developing this area.  If you are interested, please let Jr. Warden  Les Marks know.

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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.