News from Grace Episcopal Church ~ Martinez, California

January 4, 2018

Scripture of the Week

 "John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins...He proclaimed, 'The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.'"  
Mark 1:4, 7-8
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, Feb. 18, March 15)
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 we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany. We first touch base with the people we met during our Advent lessons - the prophets, the Holy Family, the shepherds, and sages traveling to Bethlehem - then the pure joy of Jesus's nativity bursts forth as the Christ child comes into the world. The rest of our story centers around the traditional gifts of the magi, which suggest Jesus's divinity.  The children have a chance to see the gold and smell the myrrh and burning frankincense for themselves and to make the connection between these first offerings to Jesus and the gifts we give one another during this season. This lesson draws together all of our learning from Advent to Epiphany. The children will then have the opportunity to witness the rite of Holy Baptism and welcome two of their friends into the household of God.

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.
This Sunday we will baptize Ty and Fred Lytton, sons of Amelia Worfolk and Dennis Lytton and welcome them as full members of the household of God.  All children will be invited to come forward to the font and witness this blessed event. 
Upcoming dates for Baptism at Grace are:
  • Sunday, April 8, 2018, (Easter Vigil transferred)
  • Sunday, May 20, 2018, Pentecost Day
If you are interested in being baptized or having your child baptized, please contact  Rev. Deb .
Church beyond Sunday

You may not know it, but Grace has a mid-week Eucharist service at 10 a.m. on Wednesdays in the Chapel, which is followed by Bible study. We are currently reading "Welcome to the Bible," which "describes the Bible and its literature, offers a perspective on its theological and religious meanings over time, and makes some suggestions about how to read and study it. Our hope is to make the Bible more accessible and intelligible to people who are exploring a deeper relationship with God in Jesus Christ." You don't need the book to participate, but if you would like a copy you can get it  here.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Youth Weekend of Service and Overnight at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco
Grace Martinez teens are invited to join youth (Grades 6-12) from around Northern California at beautiful Grace Cathedral in San Francisco oSunday, January 14, 2018, at 5:00 pm until Monday, January 15, 2018, at 1:00 pm, 
for fun, reflection, and action in honor and application of the teachings a nd life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We will gather, worship, play games, dive deep, make friends, enjoy food, and march! If you are interested in going, please contact Jes or Josh Senn.
How many Episcopalians does it take to change a light bulb?
Change?! We don't want to change! Episcopalians have a reputation for not being willing to change, but studies show that change is good for us, both as individuals and as an institution. At Grace, we try to maintain a balance between continuing and treasuring our liturgical traditions and growing and maturing as Christians by experiencing new worship patterns. The Episcopal Church follows a liturgical calendar, which has different seasons. (Ask the children of Grace about this; they follow the church calendar in their Godly Play lessons). Our primary worship resource is always the Book of Common Prayer (1979), but we also use other church-approved supplemental resources. Reverend Deb, with the counsel of the Worship and Liturgy Committee, changes the liturgy seasonally. The most obvious sign of a liturgical season change is the color of the altar hangings and vestments. This Sunday, the 10 a.m. service will learn a new "Fraction Anthem," and beginning on January 14, both services shift into the "season after the Epiphany." That change brings with it a new color, a new version of the Prayers of the People, and a new Eucharistic Prayer.  Rev. Deb and the committee are delighted to receive both positive and negative feedback about our liturgical planning, so see if you can identify the seasonal changes and let us know what you think!
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.

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.

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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.