News from Grace Episcopal Church ~ Martinez, California
December 6, 2018 
Scripture of the Week

""The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth;
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'"
Luke 3:4b-6
Reverend Deb is away this week

Reverend Deb is in Connecticut visiting with her mother. The Rev. Molly Haws will be with us this Sunday, December 9 and Rev. Walter is available for pastoral care. The church office is open on its usual days: Tuesday-Thursday, 8:30-4:30.

Reverend Deb is away and the snake will play
Reverend Deb was gone for one day when the serpent tried to enter the garden! Our brave Parish Administrator, Jennifer Sabroe, found and drove out the tiny intruder. Three cheers for "St. Patricia" for driving the snake out of Grace!
Thanks to our wildlife expert, Pam Nave, the intruder has been identified as a Sharp-tailed snake!
"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 is a Sunday of preparation, as Advent is a season of preparation. We will light a candle and tell the story of the prophets who foretold the birth  of Christ in Bethlehem. After a second candle is lit, we will share the tale of the Holy Family - Mary and Joseph - traveling on a  donkey to Bethlehem. With the lighting of the third candle, we will hear the story of the shepherds and the angels and their journeys to Bethlehem. The lighting of the fourth candle brings the story of the sages (wise people) and their travels to Bethlehem. We are all traveling together to share in Jesus' birth.  
Coffee Hour Hosts needed!
We are desperately in need of hosts for our post-10 a.m. service Coffee Hour. This is an essential part of being a welcoming parish.  If you can, please sign-up  for December on the sheet posted on the bulletin board in the Parish Hall. Beginning 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.
Many Thanks!
Thank you to all who made St. Christopher's Annual Holiday Luncheon a success -- $1,800 was raised! There are still plenty of items left at the White Elephant and Country Kitchen tables - including bags of the famous bean soup fixin's for $5. It will all be available for sale on Sunday. Also, Shelby Taylor will be selling a variety of goods and goodies to raise money to participate in the People to People Ambassador trip to Europe in 2019. Drop by the conference tables in the Education Wing before or after worship services and check it all out!   
The next meeting of St. Christopher's Guild will be on December 16, at 9 a.m. to determine the allocation of funds to community programs to help those in need.  
All women of Grace Church are welcome to a Festive Holiday Gathering at Susan Bremmer's house THIS 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.   
And if you need a BABYSITTER...

The Youth of Grace are hosting a Parents' Night Out at Grace THIS Saturday, December 8, 4-8 pm. The Youth will welcome children of all ages to the Education Building at Grace. They will feed and entertain them and even get them ready for bed while you enjoy shopping, dinner, or the activity of your choice. Please email Jess Senn if you are interested.   
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!
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 on December 16th to discuss the upcoming Trivia Night and discuss the calendar of upcoming events.
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 Wednesday, December 19.
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 starting this Sunday, December 9. Come up with a creative team name (your team will be assigned a table), and we'll see you there!!
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 
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!
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 (beginning Wednesday, December 12), 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 
THIS SUNDAY, December 9The 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.
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!
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!
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.
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.  
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!
  Outreach Committee Update
The Outreach Committee met last Sunday. 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.
  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.
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 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.