News from Grace Episcopal Church ~ Martinez, California
December 13, 2018 
Scripture of the Week

"Sing aloud, O daughter Zion;
    shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
    O daughter Jerusalem!"
Zephaniah 3:14
"Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs."  Jesus

At Grace, we have Godly Play (Sunday School) during the school year, but children and youth share in the ministry of the church year-round, serving as acolytes, readers, and oblation bearers. 
This Sunday in Godly Play:  
This week is Family Sunday. The children will join us for the entire service in the sanctuary, participating actively by reading and acolyting. There will be more familiar hymns and a Children's Homily. Please join us!
Think Pink!

This Sunday is Gaudete or Rejoice Sunday! 
Advent is one of the penitential seasons of the church. In the old days, the people would fast throughout such a season. In order to provide a break, both Lent and Advent have one Sunday that is considered to be a day of refreshment. Gaudete Sunday in Advent is customarily a time to "lighten up"  and focus on the joy that is coming with the  birth of Jesus. In some churches, vestments this week are rose colored, or pink, to signify a
"lightening" from the usual violet worn for the season. The rose color reminds us that "the Lord is near."  On the Advent wreath, the four candles signify the four weeks before Christmas. Three  candles are violet, to represent the preparation for Christ's birth, but one is pink, or rose, to
remind us of the joy that is yet to come.  Gaudete Sunday is also known as "stir up" Sunday, from the words of the opening  prayer, "Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us ..." We ask God to
stir up the passion in our hearts and our faith, to get us ready to welcome the baby Jesus who is  our Savior. It was also customarily a time when the Christmas pudding would get one more stir up in  preparation for Christmas baking. Please join in the light mood by wearing pink this Sunday.
Stewardship Wrap-Up

The Grace Vestry is tasked with completing a 2019 Budget prior to our Annual Meeting on January 27. To do this, we must have all of the pledge income figures. Unfortunately, we are still behind the amount of pledged income we received last year, even though the church has grown in numbers. If you have not pledged, please consider doing so before the end of the calendar year.  Many thanks!
Coffee Hour Hosts needed!
We are in need of hosts for our post-10 a.m. service Coffee Hour on a couple of dates later in December. This is an essential part of being a welcoming parish.  If you can, please sign-up on the sheet posted on the bulletin board in the Parish Hall. In January, we will try out a new system using an all-parish rotation. All parishioners who agree will be sorted into Coffee Hour Teams. Coordinator Christina Reich will then assign a team to each Sunday. Details to follow! Many thanks.
Advent at Grace
Christmas is coming, but in the church we will first celebrate a season of preparation for the birth of the Christ child. 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 Women," a seasonal Bible study exploring the role of women in scripture, following our weekly Wednesday, 10 a.m. Holy Eucharist service;
Opportunities to help those in need during the holidays;
In addition, we encourage you to prepare for the Christmas season outside of church by participating in one of these Advent activities:
Celebrate Advent Using Your Camera Phones - Join Episcopal and Anglican churches around the world in celebrating Advent through prayer, meditation, and by contributing to a global Advent calendar on Instagram.
Advent Words - This Advent, our Jesuit brothers invite you to join them in looking clearly and honestly at our lives and taking action. Subscribe to Advent Words and every day a new gift will arrive, offering you a moment of solace and reflection on the true meaning of Advent and the coming Christmas season.
Make a  Reverse Advent Calendar or an Advent Wreath with your family!
We will conclude our Advent season on Sunday, December 23 with a 10 a.m. Choral Eucharist and The Decorating of the Christmas Tree.  Following the 10 a.m. service, children will be asked to help put ornaments on the Grace Christmas Tree in the Narthex while enjoying hot chocolate and treats!   
Invite friends!
Bible Study for Everyone!

On Wednesday mornings at 10 a.m. at Grace we celebrate the Holy Eucharist, followed by Bible Study. 
During the season of Advent   we will be studying Advent Women,  by Lyn Fraser. "Not always virtuous, the women of Advent are endlessly creative, wondrously adventuresome, necessarily defiant, occasionally manipulative, and absolutely faithful to God. Read their stories and celebrate these women including Elizabeth and Mary without whom there would be no Advent or Christmas. 

Then, for Epiphany we will join  partners from across the Episcopal Church, to participate in the Good Book Club, a church-wide Bible reading initiative. The Good Book Club will focus on Paul's Letter to the Romans, with participants reading a section of scripture each day during the Epiphany season, starting on January 9, 2019.
The Good Book Club kicked off during Lent and Easter of 2018, with tens of thousands of Episcopalians, including members of Grace, reading the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts. Survey results from participants showed a hunger and desire to continue the initiative and provide more opportunities for people to read and discuss scripture together. Romans was the first choice of participants for the next Good Book Club.
Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry supports and encourages individuals and congregations to join the Good Book Club as a way to engage in "Learn," one of the seven Way of Love practices for a Jesus-centered life.  
Parish Life Committee is seeking members!
Want to be part of the magic of helping plan and hold the fun events here at Grace? Please come to a SHORT meeting after the 10am service THIS SUNDAY December 16th to discuss the upcoming Trivia Night and discuss the calendar of upcoming events.
St. Christopher's meeting this Sunday
The next meeting of St. Christopher's Guild will be this Sunday, December 16, at 9 a.m. to determine the allocation of funds to community programs to help those in need.    
Loaves and Fishes
On the 3rd Wednesday of each month, Grace Church cooks and serves the daily meal to the clients at the Martinez facility, located on the corner of Ferry and Green Streets. There is always room for more volunteers! The time commitment is 9am-1pm. Contact Beth Ilog for more information.

The next work day for the Grace team at Loaves and Fishes is next Wednesday, December 19.
Christmas Poinsettias
At Christmas, the nave and altar are adorned with poinsettia plants.  
If you would like to dedicate a Christmas Poinsettia, please email or call the Parish Office: or (925) 228-6574. Please indicate: "In loving memory of _____; In thanksgiving for ____; or, In celebration of ____." Or you may fill out a slip (located on the table in the Narthex) and put in the offering plate on Sunday. Suggested donation $10. 
In order to ensure your dedication appears in the Christmas bulletins, it needs to be received by end of day, Tuesday, December 18.
Christmas at Grace

Our Christmas services will be as follows :
Christmas Eve, Monday, December 24, at 5 p.m.:  A wonderful Christmas pageant written and produced by our youth 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, Monday, 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,  Tuesday , December 25, at 10 a.m.:  Eucharist with traditional Christmas carols.
Christmas Lessons and Carols, Sunday, December 30, 10 a.m.

Please join us and BRING FRIENDS!

Grace Cathedral Bishop's 50+ Anniversary Evensong

We are approaching the Bishop's 50+ Anniversary Evensong celebrating
couples who have been married or partnered for 50 or more years together.
Rev. Deb is compiling a list of couples from Grace who have been together 50+ years. Please email Rev Deb or call the Parish Office at (925) 228-6574, by January 5 to get on the list! 
Upcoming Faithful Forums at Grace

Once a month during the program year we open our doors to a variety of fascinating speakers and invite 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. Click here for the flyer 
On January 13, 2019, we will welcome representatives from Republic Services, who will address "Stewardship of Creation" in terms of Grace's recycling policies. 
February 17, 2019 will bring  The Very Rev. Dr. Malcolm Young, Dean of Grace Cathedral, to Grace to discuss Theology and Nature, specifically the influence of 19th century author and philosopher Henry David Thoreau on religious thought about the natural world.
Save the Date - January 19
Trivia Night!
Question: What's an awesome way to spend an evening? Answer: Trivia Night at Grace!!
On Saturday, January 19th, we will host the first-ever Trivia Night here at Grace Episcopal! The theme for the evening is Movie Trivia, so start brushing up on your big screen knowledge! There is a $20 entry fee per team, and teams can have up to 5 people on them. Teams can sign up in the Parish Hall. Come up with a creative team name (your team will be assigned a table), and we'll see you there!!
Youth MLK Day of Service event

I know you're probably up to your ears in Advent and Christmas planning, but the  annual MLK overnight at Grace Cathedral is only about 6 weeks away!

This year diocesan youth will gather at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco at 5 pm Sunday, January 20. We will attend the 6 pm eucharist, have dinner, games, discussion, and more before we sleep in the Cathedral. On  Monday, January 21 we will have breakfast, a project to help the kids connect the past with the future and prepare them for the MLK March.  We will head down the hill to participate in the march. Return to Grace for lunch. Then head home tired and happy!
This is an excellent event that teaches our youth that we all must do our part to promote peace and justice for all people. The event is open to grades 7 - 12 and costs $10 a person (scholarships available). All youth must be accompanied by a designated adult leader.

Youth Registration
A request from the Casserole Patrol
One of Grace's most important pastoral ministries is the
Casserole Patrol, which provides meals to those who, for
one reason or another, can benefit from having a meal
delivered to them. Currently, our supply is running low. Casseroles should be frozen, or freezable, and preferably the size of 4-6 servings (or less.) If you can contribute, please let Connie Towey know.  
Christmas is coming: Join the choir!
Be part of the joyful celebration of Christmas at Grace by lending your voice to the choir. Not only do we have wonderful Christmas music to sing, but the choir is already diligently practicing for our traditional Lessons and Carols service on December 30. Choir rehearsals at Grace are Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. You don't need experience or even the ability to read music. Please join this amazing ministry!
Please do your part to keep Grace beautiful!

Due to a few Monday conflicts (one of which is Christmas Eve) we have moved our cleaning day to Fridays for the month of December. We appreciate your patience and cooperation in observing the people-free zone in the parish hall, kitchen, education wing, and all restrooms (including the ones off the narthex) on cleaning days. Because of the change, we need to be particularly diligent about leaving the entire campus clean on Sundays after church. Please do your part to make sure whatever areas you use on Sundays are left clean. If you need to access the building on Fridays, please check with Jennifer or Rev. Deb in advance. Thank you for understanding!
Flower Chart for 2019
The Altar Guild has posted a new flower chart for 2019, in the Narthex by the stairwell. When signing up for a date on the chart, please be sure to also write your name in the flower dedication notebook, on the corresponding date. The notebook is on the little table below the flower chart. Include your dedication message in the notebook (for example, in loving memory of ...; in celebration of ...; in thanksgiving for...). Suggested donation $35.
There is also a sign-up notebook for candle dedications in the Narthex on the table under the bulletin board. Suggested donation $5.    
Do you have an announcement?
If you have a parish-related announcement for the bulletin or Grace Notes - meeting reminders, upcoming events, special requests, etc. - please email the text of your announcement to the Parish Office by end of day on Tuesday. Thank you! 
  Outreach Committee Update
The Outreach Committee met on December 2. Much of the meeting was spent engaged in informal discussion reflecting on the past year's successes and challenges, and envisioning the year to come. Highlights included:  
  • Wanting to continue with all of our current projects 
  • Planning to use part of January's meeting to solidify a basic calendar for the year to help with organizing our projects
  • Desire to work more with the youth group - perhaps a quarterly event.
  • Additional passions held by members of the committee include working with children, working with immigrants/refugees, and working to protect the environment
  • We agreed to spend December contemplating our own interests and talking with other members of the parish about their interests and passions, and then come back in January to have further discussion about future projects we might add (while being conscious of not adding more projects than a church our size can reasonably support)
The full meeting minutes are posted on the Outreach bulletin board in the Parish Hall.
Yoga at Grace on Tuesdays 
Every Tuesday we welcome certified Yoga Instructor Noah Yuzna every  Tuesday evening at 6:15 p.m. to conduct a 60-minute yoga class.  All levels are welcome and modifications will be available for folks with limited mobility.  Classes are open to the community and there is no set cost.  Participants are invited to contribute what they can for each class.  Invite your friends!
  C.O.R.E. Homeless Outreach donations
C.O.R.E stands for Coordinated Outreach Referral and Engagement. It is a program of the Housing and Homeless Services Division of Contra Costa County Health Services. Grace will be providing the C.O.R.E. team with needed items to distribute to individuals suffering from homelessness. This is an ongoing project, so we are requesting:
  • Sleeping bags
  • Blankets (moving blankets are inexpensive and durable)
  • Backpacks - ideally large capacity, durability is less important as they are frequently lost or stolen after a few weeks/months
  • Healthy food - preferable non-perishable items that don't require cooking, a can opener, or good teeth. Pull-top cans are good.
  • Bottles of water
  • Hygiene items including (but not limited to) soap, shampoo, oral care, shower wipes, shaving supplies, feminine hygiene items
  • Socks
  • Sunscreen
  • Pet food (in particular, wet food in pull-top cans). Other pet goodies would be appreciated too!
We also encourage parishioners to consider developing the habit of thinking of our homeless neighbors when shopping (i.e. picking up an extra item or two) and traveling (bringing home the hotel soaps/shampoo).

During Advent, C.O.R.E. donations may be left under the Christmas tree in the Narthex.


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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.