News from Grace Episcopal Church ~ Martinez, California

February 22, 2018

Scripture of the Week

"[Jesus]  called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, 'If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel,will save it.   For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?   Indeed, what can they give in return for their life?   Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.'"
Mark 8:34-38
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 
Godly Play Sunday School   
This Sunday: The Faces of Easter 1 and 2. 
 We begin this week focusing on the story of Christ as a newborn child. This "face of Easter" is a picture of Mary, Joseph and the newborn baby. We then focus on a second picture,
the face of Jesus as a youth surrounded by the rabbis, as we tell the story of Mary and Joseph losing Jesus in the city of Jerusalem. The panic of Jesus' parents is real, as is their relief and joy when they discover Jesus in the Temple taking to the rabbis. We also identify their confusion when Jesus says something very strange: "Didn't you know I would be in my Father's house?" The children are told that Mary and Joseph did not understand what Jesus meant, but they never forgot what he said.
The Story of the Rainbow
Several folks requested a copy of the skit that Rev. Deb and the children of Grace performed as part of last Sunday's Children's Homily. It was adapted from "The Story of the Rainbow," which you can find here. The relevant scripture passage is Genesis 9:8-17. 
Calling all prospective acolytes!
The Episcopal Church has a long tradition of inviting young people to be part of the liturgy by assisting the clergy at the altar as acolytes. We are currently recruiting children/adolescents approximately 9 years of age and older who are interested in acolyting at Grace. We will be having a gathering of interested young people and their families on Friday, February 23, at 5 p.m. at Grace. Pizza will be provided! For more information contact Don Dyer.
Lent is here!

Here is the Grace Lenten schedule of activities:
This Sunday, February 25:
Starting this week and continuing throughout Lent, we will begin our liturgy with The Penitential Order, which includes recitation of the Ten Commandments and Confession of Sin.  The Penitential Order is often used as an entrance rite during Lent  to emphasize the penitential aspect of Eucharist during this solemn season.  

Sundays during Lent :
8 a.m. Holy Eucharist II
9 a.m. Pancake breakfast
10 a.m. Choral Eucharist

Wednesdays during Lent:
10 a.m. Holy Eucharist followed by Lenten Bible Study: The Good Book Club

March 25, Palm Sunday
8 a.m. Holy Eucharist II
9 a.m. Corned Beef Hash Breakfast
10 a.m. Choral Eucharist

March 29, Maundy Thursday, 6 p.m. in the Parish Hall, Soup supper, Foot Washing, followed by Stripping of the Altar;
Overnight Vigil in the Sanctuary following the service (hourly shifts by sign-up)

March 30, Good Friday:
12 p.m. - Stations of the Cross
7 p.m. - Good Friday Liturgy

March 31, Holy Saturday
10 a.m. Holy Saturday Liturgy
8 p.m. Easter Vigil with the Exsultet and The Lighting of the Paschal Candle

April 1, Happy Easter!
8 a.m. Holy Eucharist II
10 a.m. Choral Eucharist and Egg Hunt

Good-bye and Thank You

This Sunday will be our last day with Music Director Gary Evans, who has been at Grace since 2014. We are most grateful for Gary's work here and will miss his easy-going, demeanor, talented keyboarding, and calm leadership of the choir. Many thanks!
During Lent we will be joining Episcopalians around the world in reading the Gospel according to Luke during Lent and the Book of Acts during Eastertide in 2018. As part of The Good Book Club, our Wednesday Bible study will be dedicated to delving deeply into Luke's Gospel. You are welcome to join the conversation on Wednesday mornings in the Chapel, beginning February 21. 10:00 Holy Eucharist, followed by Bible study. This week, we will be discussing Luke and Acts as a multi-volume work intended to be read together and the history of salvation as told in the Hebrew Scripture and New Testament. The passage to be discussed is Luke 1:46-56. The readings can be found online at 
End of Life Planning
Richard Schaper writes, "In the dawning light of Easter we hardly wince to acknowledge that our earthly journeys will one day come to an end. Besides making each passing day more precious, this realization also prompts us to take steps to express our love for those we leave behind." Death and dying can be difficult issues to discuss, but it is a great blessing to our loved ones when we plan ahead for our own eventual death. This is especially true for families whose members are of different faiths (or no faith). As a Lenten discipline, the Grace Worship and Liturgy Committee would like to encourage all of Grace's parishioners to complete their advanced healthcare directive, will or trust, financial planning, funeral arrangements, final instructions and memorial gift planning. To that end, we will be providing resources about funerals in the Episcopal Church, advance directives, and memorial gifts to the church. It is our hope that each parishioner will complete a planning packet and provide a copy of it to the church office. Please consider participating. 
A Different Way to Observe Lent
If you are struggling to figure out what to "give up" for Lent, take on something different instead!  "Lent Madness," the brainchild of two Episcopal priests, is a fun and informative way to make sure that you remember that we are living in the church's primary season of penitence and preparation.  Lent Madness combines the excitement of a sporting event with the opportunity to connect with some of the Christian saints who came before us.  Here's some information taken from the Lent Madness website at
"The format is straightforward: 32 saints are placed into a tournament-like single elimination bracket. Each pairing remains open for a set period of time and  people vote for their favorite saint. 16 saints make it to the Round of the Saintly Sixteen; eight advance to the Round of the Elate Eight; four make it to the Faithful Four; two to the Championship; and the winner is awarded the coveted Golden Halo. The first round consists of basic biographical information about each of the 32 saints. Things get a bit more interesting in the subsequent rounds as we offer quotes and quirks, explore legends, and even move in the area of saintly kitsch...
[Lent Madness has] inspired thousands of people along the way by forming an online community of people who are passionate about taking their faith but not themselves too seriously. Articles and spots about Lent Madness have appeared in the Washington Post, NPR, Huffington Post, FOXNews, NBC, USAToday, and even Sports Illustrated.
As Lent Madness continues to grow and evolve, what won't change is the essence of Lent Madness: allowing people to get to know some amazing people who have come before us in the faith and reminding one another that there's no reason for a dreary Lenten discipline. If this helps people connect with the risen Christ during this season of penitence and renewal, and have a bit of fun in the process, then it continues to be worthwhile."
The bracket poster is posted in the Parish Hall and is updated daily! If this sounds like something you'd like to do as a Lenten observance, sign-up at to receive daily emails. The email will provide the information/bios for the two contestants of the day, and you can cast your vote. The only thing you need to provide in order to sign up is your email address.  
Healing prayer
We have recently begun offering Healing Prayer during both our 8 and 10 a.m. services. If you wish to have someone pray with you for yourself or others, you may go to the prie dieu (kneeler) at the right rear corner of the sanctuary after receiving communion. This is a ministry of the people of Grace to one another -no clergy required!  We are looking for more volunteers for this important ministry, so if you are willing to pray with others, please let Rev. Deb know. No experience is necessary; we will train you!
Save the Date!!
St. Patrick's Dinner
Saturday, March 17 
Social Hour begins at 5:30 pm, Dinner will be served at 6:30 pm.
Tickets are $20. We will serve a Corned Beef Dinner complete with corned beef brisket, potatoes, cabbage and carrots, beer bread, soda bread, and dessert. Live entertainment and Raffle. Pass the word to friends and family! This annual fundraising event has been guaranteed fun, fellowship and fabulous food for over 40 years!
Supporting our homeless brothers and sisters
Grace Episcopal Church has a long tradition of reaching out to our community and helping those in need.  With this in mind, Rev. Deb recently suggested stocking backpacks filled with basic needs for any homeless individuals who visit the Grace campus. Following the announcement of this proposed program, however, several parishioners  expressed concern that giving things out on church property would endanger parishioners who spend time at the church alone or at odd hours. In response to these concerns, we asked parishioners to offer their opinions about this to their vestry representatives. A t their meeting this week, after prayer and consideration of the numerous and thoughtful responses we received, Rev. Deb and the Vestry decided against proceeding with Rev. Deb's plan. Instead, we are inviting parishioners to assist with filling backpacks for our homeless neighbors which will then be distributed off church property. If you are interested in assisting with this ministry, please see Reverend Walter.
Confirmation at Grace
Confirmation is the sacramental rite in which individuals "express a mature commitment to Christ, and receive strength from the Holy Spirit through prayer and the laying on of hands by a bishop" (BCP, p. 860). Through Confirmation, those who were baptized at an early age are invited to make a mature public affirmation of their faith, recommit themselves to the responsibilities of their baptism, and receive laying on of hands by a bishop (BCP, p. 412). Individuals who were baptized into other denominations and wish to affirm their commitment to the Episcopal Church may be received by a bishop. Bishop Marc will be visiting and performing confirmations at Grace in July. We will  be preparing individuals for Confirmation using the Discovery Series: A Christian Journey, which is a ten-week educational program for confirmation preparation Those classes will begin on April 22. If you are interested in being confirmed, please let   Rev. Deb know.
The church is us!
We use the word "church" in many different ways: to describe any Christian place of worship; to talk about the larger Episcopal denomination; and, most frequently, to refer to our parish, Grace Episcopal Church, Martinez. But scripture tells us that "the church" is not a piece of property; it's the People of God! We also know that people are very different and that individuals find the Holy Spirit in a variety of ways, including through quiet, meditation and boisterous interactions with one another. At Grace, we attempt to provide room for all people to find God in their own way. Our "church building" helps us do that. We have an area for getting information and chatting (the Narthex, or entrance area) and a sacred space reserved for worship (the Sanctuary). In order to help remind us of the sacred nature of our worship space, we are asking all worshippers to use the Narthex for social visiting and, on Sunday mornings, to stop conversing in the Sanctuary after the bell calls us to worship immediately prior to the service. Thank you in advance for demonstrating respect for the Church!
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.
On March 18 we will welcome Kathleen Piraino, Executive Director of The Episcopal Impact Fund, which s upports organizations that address the root causes of poverty in the San Francisco Bay Area, both financially and through mentorship and guidance. Rev. Deb is an EIF Board member and in 2017 Grace sponsored a table at the EIF Night of Light event.  Please come and hear more about their wonderful work!
Dr. Donn Morgan will be here on April 15 to discuss his book, Fighting with the Bible: why scripture divides us and how it can bring us together.
Donn Morgan is Professor of Old Testament Emeritus at Church Divinity School of the Pacific. Always a student and teacher of the Bible, he also held administrative positions at CDSP (academic dean, president). He has been deeply involved in theological education in The Episcopal Church and the Graduate Theological Union, as well as teaching in Asia and England. We are lucky to host him!
St. Christopher's Guild  
St. Christopher's Guild welcomes all women to join us the last Sunday of the month between services at 9 a.m. for fellowship and event planning meetings in the Parish Hall. Our events foster community building and the funds we raise are distributed throughout the community to groups serving those less fortunate than ourselves.
We had our first meeting of the year last Sunday, and set the dates for three fundraisers:

Spring Luncheon Fundraiser: "Layette Shower," Saturday, June 2, 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. We will be hosting a presentation and 'layette shower' for babies born at the County Hospital (Contra Costa Regional Medical Center.)  

Hawaiian themed party, Saturday, August 18, 4-9 p.m.  

Christmas Luncheon, Tuesday, December 4, 11:30am - 1:00pm  

Fran Trant
Opportunities to help at Contra Costa Interfaith Housing
Interested in helping run a summer day camp for one week?  We are currently putting together summer programming for kids (toddler through middle school), and we need your help.  Many of these kids are formerly homeless or very low-income.  In the past, volunteers (teens and adults) have organized small groups to host different "camps".  These activities take place at our housing sites (Pittsburg & Concord) for a couple hours/day for 1-4 days during the week.  Some examples include:  hosting a four day dance camp; art camp; putting on a science camp; hosting a music camp; theater/improv.  Feel free to call and discuss ideas or just offer general help to an already formed camp week.  All camps are supervised by on-site CCIH staff. Email  Gloria for more information.

An easy way to contribute to Grace


Grace Episcopal Church Martinez is now 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!

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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.