News from Grace Episcopal Church ~ Martinez, California
November 21, 2018 
Scripture of the Week

" Look! He is coming with the clouds;
    every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him;
    and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail.
So it is to be. Amen.
'I am the Alpha and the Omega,' says the Lord God, 'who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.'' "    
Revelation 1:7-8
"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 day is officially designated as a "Work Day". It is a day for the children to work (and play) to their heart's content in a room full of games, art supplies, and building materials. It is a little downtime before we launch into the season of Advent.

Children are always welcome to participate in all services at Grace. There is a children's area near the piano at the rear of the sanctuary with toys, books, and coloring materials for children who do not enjoy sitting in the pews.  There is Nursery Care for babies and young toddlers in the education building.

A New Thanksgiving Tradition at Grace

The church office is officially closed on Thursday and Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday, but please join us for Thanksgiving Dinner at Grace.

Please join us, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. ON THANKSGIVING DAY for a FREE, homemade meal of Turkey, Ham, and all the fixin's: Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Yams, Green Beans, Gravy, Cranberry Sauce, Rolls & Butter, Beverages, Dessert, and Good Company. ALL ARE WELCOME, but PLEASE RSVP to Rev. Deb  so we know how many to cook for.
Stewardship update
 
We have officially ended our annual stewardship drive. Many thanks to John Lee, Chair of the Stewardship Committee, and Marj Leeds, Dennis Lytton, and Paula Menconi, members of the committee for their hard work on behalf of the parish. 
 
Although the formal campaign is over, you can always offer your time, talent, and treasure to Grace. Currently, our pledge base is smaller than last year's. If that doesn't change before we develop our budget prior to the Annual Meeting in January, we will have less funds to dedicate to the ministries we learned about during the Stewardship campaign. So, if you are able to pledge any amount, we would be most grateful. Please contact Treasurer Paula MenconiIn addition, there are several ministries here at Grace that are currently in need of volunteers, including Altar Guild, acolytes, Eucharistic Ministers and visitors, and some helpers to do technological and fundraising work at Grace. If this is something you feel called to do, please put it in your pledge card and check in with Rev. Deb
...and continue to keep in mind

Two gentle reminders about our finances: You can set up your pledge to autopay from your bank account. Please contact Treasurer Paula Menconi for more information about how to do this. Also, p lease remember that we are attempting to make our budget/spending process completely transparent. In order to do that, we need your help. Please do not give the church for two purposes or accounts at once (for example, don't write one check for both your pledge and a ticket for an event). This will help us keep our finances in order. Many thanks!
Meet our new Facility Use Manager
Dru Grissom
 
Dru has graciously volunteered to oversee Facility Use duties, handling the scheduling and paperwork for outside user groups as well as helping with scheduling of church activities and events. If you see her, thank her for her service!
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, beginning Sunday, December 2, 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, such as participating in the Contra Costa Interfaith Housing "Spirit of Giving" program;
 
Our festive Christmas Luncheon and Country Kitchen on Tuesday, December 4, beginning at 11:30 a.m.
 
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!
"Spirit of Giving" Drive
Wrapped and Labeled Gifts due this Sunday
Please be reminded that if you "adopted" tags from the Spirit of Giving Tree, we will need the gifts brought to church by this Sunday, November 25. If you are unable to bring your gifts to church, let Jennifer or Dru know and we can arrange a pick-up at your house.  
 
On Monday, November 26, beginning at 9:00 a.m. Jennifer and Dru will be inventorying, sorting and batching the gifts in preparation to deliver them to CCIH. They could use 3-4 people to help (any more would be chaos!) - first come, first serve!  If you can help, please email Jennifer at
info@gracechurchmtz.org or call/text her at (925) 383-8386.    
 
Thank you all for your incredibly enthusiastic response to this year's drive to provide Christmas gifts to families who live in the supportive communities of the Contra Costa Interfaith Housing.  
Help sought for victims of fires
Our dear friends in the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California, our neighboring diocese based in Sacramento, continue to reel from the impact of the fire in Paradise and surrounding areas. Please consider donating to a disaster relief fund for that diocese. Your donation will go directly to assist victims in the first stage of the disaster and later during long term recovery.

To donate online to disaster relief, go to:

Diocese of Northern California donate

Want to send a check?
Please make checks out to EDNC put "Disaster Relief" in the memo line. Mail checks to:  

The Episcopal Diocese of Northern California 
350 University Avenue, Suite 280 
Sacramento, CA 95825 
No Yoga at Grace on Tuesday 11/27
but every other 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!
Worship, welcome, and noise 
 
The people of Grace are known for their friendly, open attitude toward one another and new folks in our midst. This is a blessing. Unfortunately, we are so happy to greet and meet each other that sometimes we get carried away and extend our conversations into parts of our worship where they may be disruptive instead of welcoming.  Over the past year, Rev. Deb has been fielding an increasing number of concerns about noise during worship. These complaints seem to center on three areas of our Sunday worship: 

1) The volume of conversations happening in the Narthex and even the Sanctuary prior to both services,
2) The amount of conversation during and following the Peace, 
3) The distraction of excited children during the 10 a.m. service.

In conversation with the Worship and Liturgy Committee, it became clear that a reminder about sacred space and the nature of liturgy might be helpful in resolving these concerns. Here is some information:

1) The Sanctuary is a sacred space, designed and sanctified for the purpose of worship. Once we enter it, we are asked to focus on God and not our earthly concerns. Grace is fortunate to have an atrium immediately outside of the church where folks are welcome to chat prior to entering the Sanctuary itself. As a reminder that the liturgy is about to start, we ring the church bell prior to each service. When it is cold, folks may want to quietly greet one another in the Narthex (the lobby), keeping in mind that there are people praying in the Sanctuary. 

2) The Peace is part of the liturgy and has a theological explanation. It is not intermission or half-time or the seventh inning stretch. According to the Episcopal Dictionary, "The practice of saluting one another with a kiss dates from ancient times and is recorded in several places in the New Testament. The kiss of peace has two meanings, existing in tension: 1) the greeting of holy people, who love one another and share the peace of the risen Christ, and 2) the reconciliation of sinful people, who seek forgiveness before they share the sacred meal." 

The 1928 Prayer Book does not include provision for passing of the Peace.  It was added back into the 1979 Book of Common Prayer to remind us of the words of Matthew, "If you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to them, and then come and offer your gift." Thus, it is appropriate to offer a handshake and wish of peace (or a hug or kiss, if it is okay with the recipient) as a sign of love and reconciliation to your neighbors, and to briefly welcome and invite others to join you for more conversation after the liturgy. 

3) Our Godly Play instructors have been working with our children to help them to enter the Sanctuary for Eucharist quietly and ready to worship. It would be very helpful if we all reinforce the concept of Sacred Space by demonstrating it to our children. For children who are not comfortable in the pews, there is a children's area near the rear doors. Rev. Deb always encourages children to approach her at any time.

Showing respect for our liturgy and sacred space is not unfriendly. It is a demonstration of our love of God, our liturgy, and one another. When we feel tempted to relay a story or give a lengthy update on a topic, we should remember that our actions might inadvertently be discourteous to other worshipers. In order to avoid this, please get in the habit of conversing outside of the church itself.  Thanks so much!
Living together as Christians
 
As the world around us becomes more polarized, it is important that we, as Christians, follow the words of our Savior Jesus Christ to love one another as we would be loved. Our scriptures are full of helpful reminders about how we should treat each other. You can find some of them here.

At Grace Martinez, we have established behavioral norms to help us live together in harmony:

1) Love God and love your neighbor as yourself
2) Show respect for all people
3) Do not gossip

The Diocese of Washington provides additional guidance for pastors to share with parishioners. Rev. Deb has them posted outside her door:
  • If you have a problem with me, come to me.
  • If I have a problem with you, I'll come to you
  • If someone has a problem with me and comes to you, send them to me.
  • If someone consistently will not come to me, say, "Let's go to the pastor together. I am sure s/he will see us about this."
  • Be careful how you interpret me - I'd rather do that.
  • I will be careful how I interpret you.
  • If it's confidential, don't tell.
  • I do not read unsigned letters or notes.
  • I do not manipulate; I will not be manipulated; do not let others manipulate you.
  • When in doubt, just say it.

These simple rules will assist us in following the way of Jesus and keeping this community of Christ healthy. 

#GivingTuesday is coming!

#GivingTuesday is a global giving movement that uses the internet to raise awareness about nonprofit organizations we love. So before you start buying Christmas gifts for your families and friends, remember that we have two days for getting deals - Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but ONE day - #GivingTuesday -  for giving back. Together, we are creating a new ritual for our annual calendar. #GivingTuesday is the opening day of the giving season. 

It's easy to participate. On  November 27, use your social media accounts to spread awareness of Grace Episcopal Church Martinez by posting your  favorite pics of you at Grace, showing why you love Grace and how you are giving back the community through it. Be sure to use  #GracefulGiving on Facebook and Instagram and @GraceChurchmtz on Twitter. Then draw attention to your posts by using #givingtuesday #giving #nov27 or #unselfie. Once you are inspired and have inspired others, set an example by giving financially to Grace by contacting  Treasurer Paula Menconi
Bible Study for Everyone!
On Wednesday mornings at 10 a.m. at Grace we celebrate the Holy Eucharist, followed by Bible Study. We are currently studying  the letters of Paul, which constitute about two-thirds of the New Testament. We are using Church  of England bishop and theologian N.T. Wright's series, "Paul for Everyone." On Wednesday, November 28, we will complete our study of Galatians, looking at Galatians 6:6-18.  We will consider the questions, "What does scripture say about money?" "What does it mean to 'sow to the flesh' or 'sow to the spirit'?" and "What is Paul's ultimate message to the Galations (and us)?" (Special bonus points if you can find the reference to supersessionism). All are welcome!

And looking forward...

During the season of Advent (beginning Wednesday, December 5, 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.  
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 
 
 
Looking forward to December 9, The Reverend Dr. Paula Nesbitt will be here to present on "Engaging the Feminine Face of God." The Bible offers rich imagery of God as Lord and Father. Less often do we encounter the biblical imagery of God that evokes feminine traits. Both masculine and feminine qualities are necessary in order to understand the full esse
nce of God and the radical equality of all humanity that God has intended through our creation. This session will explore some of the feminine biblical images and theological understandings of God found in both Jewish and Christian traditions, and their meaning for our church today. The Rev. Dr. Paula Nesbitt, has taught gender and religion in both seminary and university settings for two decades. Her publications on this topic include "Feminization of the Clergy in America" and numerous book chapters and articles. She currently serves on the International Anglican Women's Network Steering Group charged with developing a biblical and theological curriculum on gender justice for the Anglican Communion.
 
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.
Invitation to be part of the counsels of the church
 
The Episcopal Church is structured as a representational democracy. It considers all of its members to be equal partners in making decisions in our church government. One of the primary venues for discussion and planning is The Annual Parish Meeting. We will hold our annual meeting on January 27, 2019.  At this gathering we will set our annual budget and elect new members to the Vestry and Deanery/Diocesan Convention Representatives.  Vestry members serve for three (3) year terms. Deanery members officially occupy one year terms. If you are interested in serving, please contact one of the members of the Nominating Committee: Lynda Dyer, Pat Hambly, or Ron Luttringer. To be eligible to serve on vestry you must be a baptized, pledging member of the parish who attends church regularly.
Happy Holidays!
All women of Grace Church are welcome to a Festive Holiday Gathering at Susan Bremmer's house on Saturday, December 8, 3-6pm. Susan will provide beverages and is asking that attendees bring an appetizer to share. Holiday garb is encouraged! Please RSVP to Susan at (925) 348-6309 (call or text). Her address is 2152 Monterey Ave., Martinez.   
Tech nerds wanted!
We are in need of individuals who are savvy about and enjoy technology to help us with our sound system at Grace. Specifially, we are looking for folks willing to come in early for the 10 a.m. service and set microphones, check levels, and record the sermon. If you are willing, please let Rev Deb know.
History buffs needed!
We recently received a letter from the Martinez Historical Society letting us know that the next new display at their museum will go up on January 1, 2019 and will be titled, "AMEN!" It will feature information, photographs, history, and artifacts from any and all houses of worship in Martinez who choose to participate. They are interested in photos, objects for worship, and anything else we would like to share with them. If you are interested in spearheading this effort, or simply have ideas and or articles to contribute, please let Rev Deb  or Dick Evans know.
Book Group
 
Read any good books lately? Want to participate in a book discussion group? Like to eat out? Come drop in on the Grace Book Group! We'd love to see you! 
Our next get-together is next week, Wednesday, November 28, at 6:30 p.m. when we will discuss "Lipstick Brigade" by Cindy Gueli.  Smooth Season restaurant at Muir Station Shopping Center.  For more information call/text Jennifer Sabroe at (925) 383-8386 or  Email Jennifer.
Join the choir!
Now that we have a fabulous new Music Director and a fancy chamber organ in the Sanctuary, it's time for anyone who has been hiding their vocal light under a bushel to step forward and sing a new song unto the Lord! 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!
  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).

Parishioners are invited to make donations of items by leaving them in the bin in the Narthex (labeled "C.O.R.E. Outreach"). The items will be blessed by Rev. Deb, and handed off to members of the C.O.R.E. team who distribute while doing their mobile outreach work in the local community.
Cleaning Schedule Change for December
Due to a few Monday conflicts next month (one of which is Christmas Eve) the cleaning crew will be coming in on 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. If you need to access, please check with Jennifer or Rev. Deb in advance. Thank you for understanding!

 

 

Grace Episcopal Church Martinez is on Amazon Smile. If you are shopping at Amazon, simply go to the Grace Martinez Amazon Smile link and we will receive a portion of their sale to you.  Spread the word!

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 office (info@gracechurchmtz.org) by end of day on Tuesday. Thank you!  

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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.
 
 
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