News from Grace Episcopal Church ~ Martinez, California 
December 19, 2019 
Scripture of the Week

An angel of the Lord appeared to [Joseph] in a dream and said, 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.' All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
'Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,'  which means, 'God is with us.'" 

Matthew 1:20b-23

"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. During the summer we continue to offer Nursery Care. School age children are invited to join their families in the Sanctuary. We provide coloring and drawing materials, books, and soft toys, as well as a children's area for children who prefer not to sit in the pews with their families.

This week in Godly Play: Pageant Practice!

Christmas is coming and so is our annual Christmas Pageant. This Sunday we will be preparing for the 5 pm Christmas Eve Family Service. Please come if you or your children are interested in participating!
Christmas is almost here and blessings abound!
We will conclude our Advent season THIS Sunday, December 22 with a 10 a.m. Choral Eucharist and The Greening of the Church.  Following the 10 a.m. service, children will be asked to help put ornaments on the Grace Christmas Tree in the Narthex while the adults decorate the Sanctuary. Invite friends! 

We will also have an opportunity to see and bless our former Rector, The Rev. George Ross as he celebrates his 90th birthday and the 54th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood! Please take a moment to congratulate and thank Father Ross for his many years of faithful service to Grace and the Episcopal Church at large.
Christmas at Grace
Our Christmas services will be as follows:
Christmas Eve,
Tuesday, December 24, at 5 p.m.: Christmas pageant  
Christmas Eve , Tuesday, December 24, at 10 p.m.: Organ Concert.
Christmas Eve "Midnight Mass" beginning at 10:30 p.m.: The
Celebration of the first Christmas Eucharist with Choir
(otherwise known as the "leaving at Midnight Mass")
Christmas Day, Wednesday, December 25, at 10 a.m.: Eucharist with traditional Christmas carols.
Christmas Lessons and Carols, Sunday, December 29, 10 a.m.
Please join us and BRING FRIENDS!
And join us in the Parish Hall following both Christmas Eve services on Tuesday for a festive reception!
If you are able, please bring a finger food - savory or sweet - to share.  
Update: Our Brother James

On Monday Rev. Deb spoke to our brother James, who was a member of our congregation who suffered from homelessness in Martinez and who has now gone to live with his family in Mississippi. James said he was sorry that he didn't get an opportunity to say good-bye to all his friends at Grace and in Martinez, but wants us to know that he is doing well and is grateful for everyone who helped him over the years. 
Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Many thanks to all of our generous parishioners who donated to this year's Stewardship Campaign. By pledging to give a certain amount of time, talent and/or treasure to the parish on a regular basis you allow have allowed the church leadership to pay our bills and plan our ministries for the upcoming year. We are happy to report that pledges were up this year, increasing by approximately $15,000.  This is the third year in a row in which pledges at Grace have increased. We are still projecting a budget deficit, but it is about half of what we had expected it to be. Rev. Deb is most grateful to be part of this loving and giving Christian community!
Bible Study
On Wednesday mornings at Grace we have a 10 a.m. service of Holy Eucharist followed by Bible Study.

There will be no Bible Study on Christmas Day, December 25, New Year's Day, January 1.

On Wednesday, January 8 we will begin our Epiphany Bible Study: The Gospel of John with the Good Book Club
Start 2020 in the beginning-with the Good Book Club and the Gospel of John! Each day, from Epiphany on January 6 through Shrove Tuesday, February 25, we'll read a passage from this compelling gospel, inspired by "the disciple whom Jesus loved."

We'll encounter the favorite verse of football fans and inspirational sign makers with John 3:16, and we'll also hear stories only heard in John: Jesus turns water into wine at the wedding of Cana, encounters the woman at the well, and raises Lazarus from the dead.

The spiritual Gospel of John uses beautiful poetry: Jesus as the bread of life and as the vine. And it's in John that we hear the great I AM statements.

The text for the course is  A Journey with John:  This book explores the Gospel of John with fifty days of scripture, meditations, and prayers written by dynamic spiritual leaders from across the United States and around the world.It is available as an ebook from most digital platforms.  For information, go to The Good Book Club webpage.
Presiding Bishop's Christmas message

Our Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, has released his annual Christmas message.  You can read or watch it here.
Opportunity to participate in the Winter Nights Shelter program

This year, we have the opportunity to serve as a co-host for the Winter Nights Family Shelter program. Winter Nights is run by the Contra Costa Interfaith Council and provides shelter, food, transportation, and case management services to homeless families with children during the winter months. The families spend the winter staying at multiple churches throughout the county, usually moving from one host church to another every 2 weeks. Other congregations are able to act as co-hosts by providing volunteers and material support to the host churches. 

From January 2-5, Grace will be co-hosting the shelter while the families are staying at First Congregational Church in Pittsburg. For those four days, we will cook hot meals, stock the pantry, help with laundry, and provide fun activities for the kids. We will need plenty of help from our congregation to make this a success, through gifts of both time and money. We need volunteers for dinner all four nights, and for breakfast on Saturday and Sunday. You can help by emailing Nate Brooks and there  is also a sign-up sheet on the Outreach bulletin board in the Parish Hall.

Thank you!
Join the 2020 Census Team!

The Amazing Grace Youth Choir!
Young people ages 7-17 are invited to join in learning to read, appreciate and perform music in a low-stress environment.
Rehearsals are on Sundays at noon (following our 10 a.m. service and coffee hour).
To enroll, contact Music Director Arthur Omura by calling the parish office (925) 228-6574, after the greeting, select Option 4.   
You are invited to a Contra Costa County Interfaith Event

Online Directory 
E arlier this year Grace moved to a new church recordkeeping solution called RealmĀ® Inform to  serve the administrative needs of our church. The online directory feature is 
an important part of the way we connect with each other.  We know that it is an adjustment to go from a paper to online directory, but it is now the primary way the church office can reach you, so please enter your information in it.  The information below will help you do that.  Remember, regardless of whether you opt-in to the directory, by keeping your information current, you are helping Rev. Deb and church staff.

Church members get a unique Profile that contains information that you want people in our church to know about you. When you're logged in to your Profile you can update your contact information, change family details, display your photo, and view the online directory. You can customize your privacy settings to select as much or as little contact information to display in the directory. 
If you are a church member and fit any of the scenarios below, please contact Parish Administrator Jennifer Sabroe,
-         You want access to the online directory (aka Realm) but haven't gotten around to creating a login,
-         You want your contact information available to fellow parishioners in the online directory (aka Realm) but don't want to do the login thing, or don't have a computer,
-         You don't want to be in the directory, but want to confirm or update your contact information for the church office.
Grace Book Club
Our next get-together is January 15, at 6:30 p.m., at Smooth Season restaurant at Muir Station shopping center, when we will discuss The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah. For more information call/text Jennifer Sabroe at (925) 383-8386.
There will be a Spaghetti Dinner and Trivia Night on Friday, January 17, 2020. Dinner begins at 6:30 p.m., followed by competitive trivia nerd action. Come and bring friends! If you would like to help or need more information, conact  Amy Eudy
Make a joyful noise! 
  Be part of the joyful liturgy at Grace by lending your voice to the choir. 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! 
For more information contact Music Director Arthur Omura by calling the parish office (925) 228-6574, after the greeting, select Option 4.   
Flower and Candle Dedications
We are blessed by having fresh flowers on our altar each week. These are paid for by parishioners who wish to dedicate flowers (or candles) in thanksgiving or memory of loved ones. There are many open dates available on the flower and candle dedication calendar, located in the Narthex. When signing up for a date on the chart, please be sure to also write your name on the corresponding date in the flower dedication notebook (located on the little table below the chart). Suggested donation $35. The candle dedication notebook on the table under the bulletin board. Suggested donation $5.
  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 provides 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
  • Hygiene items including (but not limited to) soap, shampoo, oral care, shower wipes, shaving supplies, feminine hygiene items
  • Incontinence products (e.g. "Depend") (men's and women's) all sizes
  • 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
  • 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). Please leave donations in the Narthex.
Coffee Hour
The sign-up for the coffee hour schedule for January through April, 2020 is posted in the Parish Hall. Please enter your names in by December 24 to get your preferred dates. Tina Reich will assign any dates that aren't filled in (unless you expressly told her not to add you). As always, thank you for your generosity in making coffee hour welcoming to newcomers and enjoyable for us all. If you are new to Grace and have questions about coffee hour, give Tina a call at 925-266-0567 or email her at
Yoga at Grace
Please join Certified Yoga Instructor Noah Yuzna on Tuesdays at 6:15 for a class which is suitable for all ages and ability levels. The class is free with all proceeds divided between Noah and the Church. 
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 Parish Office 
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.