News from Grace Episcopal Church ~ Martinez, California 
December 5, 2019 
Scripture of the Week

"The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them ."
Isaiah 11:6
"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: Preparation

This is a Sunday of preparation.  We will light a candle and tell the story of the prophets who foretold the birth of Christ in Bethlehem.  A second candle is lit and we tell the story of Mary, Joseph and the donkey travelling to Bethlehem.  With the lighting of the third candle we hear the story of the Shepherds and the angels and their travel to Bethlehem.  And the lighting of the fourth candle tells the story of the eastern sages and their travels to Bethlehem.  We are all travelling together to Bethlehem. 

We use the term "Outreach" to talk about our ministries to those in our community outside of Grace's walls. There will be a meeting of the Outreach Committee THIS Sunday, December 8, following the 10 a.m. service in the Chapel. All are welcome!
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:
Some changes in our Liturgy
The church calendar works differently than our day-to-day calendar. At Grace we make changes in our liturgy when we rotate into a new liturgical season. We are now in the season of Advent, which is the church new year. We belong to a group of churches which follow the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL), which is a three-year cycle of assigned scripture readings. Because it is a "new year" in church terms, we will begin reading texts identified in Year A of the RCL. Advent is a contemplative season of preparation, a time in which we prepare for Christmas, when we remember and celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus the Christ. In the Episcopal Church, as in many others, we use the color purple to signify times of preparation and penitence. As has been the tradition at Grace for over 30 years, we will have the opportunity to tell the story of Jesus's sacrificial life and death with a new Eucharistic Prayer (Prayer B). We will also change over to a different form of the Prayers of the People (Form VI) and we will be chanting the psalm instead of reading it. We will continue with our current service music (which we are still learning), but instead of singing the Gloria, a hymn of praise, we will be introducing a new Trisagion ("Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy"), which is a more penitential musical offering.

Finally, we will be trying a new approach to  the Lord's Prayer. Most Christian churches have some version of the Lord's Prayer. According to the Episcopal Church, 
" This prayer of Jesus was given to his disciples as an example of how they should pray. The phrase 'Lord's Prayer' is not used in the New Testament. The prayer is found in Mt 6:9-13 as part of the Sermon on the Mount and in Lk 11:2-4 when Jesus and the disciples are on the road to Jerusalem. Luke's version is shorter and more compact than Matthew's. Scholars have argued that ...Luke's version is probably closer to the original. As a prayer, the Lord's Prayer is similar to Jewish prayers. It begins with an address to God ..., continues with petitions which ask God to act in a way which would achieve his purposes, and then has petitions which ask for God's help. The traditional closing, the doxology, is probably a later addition. It is not found in Luke nor in all the manuscripts of Matthew's gospel."  
The 1979 Book of Common Prayer (BCP) introduced a new Lord's Prayer which was more faithful to the biblical text. Specifically, it corrected a theological misrepresentation. In the version that existed in the 1928 BCP, the scriptural phrase "lead us not into temptation" was included. As Christians we believe that God would never willingly tempt us to do wrong, so the phrase was changed to "save us from the time of trial" which is consistent with our belief that as human beings we experience trials, but these are not God's will for us. 
At Grace, when the 1979 BCP was introduced, Father George Ross adopted its new liturgies, including the "new" Lord's Prayer. When the Rev. Jill Honodel became Rector, she reinstated use of the "old" Lord's Prayer. Many people are very attached to the "old" Lord's Prayer, and find comfort in its familiar words. This is understandable. However, in the spirit of continuing spiritual growth, we must always closely examine the words we say to and about God. For this reason, Reverend Deb and the Worship and Liturgy Committee have decided that the people of Grace should be afforded the opportunity to say either the more accurately translated 1979 version or continue to recite the more familiar version. Therefore, both versions will be printed in the bulletin this season and Reverend Deb will encourage folks to say whatever version of the Lord's Prayer they like. (There are many, many other versions as well, including the one without the doxology used by our Roman Catholic brethren). We are aware that this may sound cacophonous at first, but this is a practice used by the Diocese of California (among others) and our diocesan representatives have found it to be beautiful in practice. 

Other activities for Advent include:

Healing prayer at Sunday services each week;
"A Thrill of Hope," a seasonal Bible study exploring artistic representations of the Nativity story, following our weekly Wednesday, 10 a.m. Holy Eucharist service;
Opportunities to help those in need  during the holidays, such as participating in the Deacon's Pantry and CORE donations;
Evensong, on Wednesday, December 18, 7 p.m.    
In addition, we encourage you to prepare for the Christmas season outside of church by participating in one of these Advent activities:
Advent Calendars: 
We have purchased a set of Advent poster calendars for families with suggested ways to prepare for Advent. These can be found on the table outside of the Parish Hall.
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 22 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! 
New Bible Study for Advent!

On Wednesday mornings at Grace we have a 10 a.m. service of Holy Eucharist followed by Bible Study.

For Advent, we are engaging in a new curriculum called, "A Thrill of Hope: the Christmas Story in Word and Art." Participants will have the opportunity to consider how familiar Advent and Christmas texts from Matthew and Luke are brought to life in the art of John August Swanson by watching DVDs of his work and then discussing them. Please join us!
St. Christopher's Guild Special Meeting

There will be a Special Meeting to discuss the future of St. Christopher's Guild on Sunday, December 15 at 9 a.m. in the Education Building. If you are a member or have an interest in this ministry, please plan to attend.
Faithful Forum for December: SWEEPS Ministry Faire

SWEEPS is an acronym that helps us understand and organize the ministries of the parish. SWEEPS stands for Service, Worship, Education, Evangelism (Welcome), Parish Life/Pastoral Care and Stewardship . These seven areas identify the major areas of ministry at Grace. On Sunday, December 15 following our 10 am service we will use our Faithful Forum time to provide information about the many wonderful ministries at Grace and give folks a chance to sign up to participate in them.  Don't miss this fun and informative event!
Photo by Allie Smith on Unsplash
Christmas Poinsettias
At Christmas, the nave and altar are adorned with poinsettia plants. If you would like to dedicate a Christmas Poinsettia, please email or call the church office (925) 228-6574 (Option 2), indicating: "In loving memory of ___; In thanksgiving for ___; or, In celebration of ___." Suggested donation $10. Or you may fill out a slip (located on the table in the Narthex) and put it in the offering plate on Sunday. In order to ensure your dedication appears in the Christmas bulletins, it needs to be received by end of day, Tuesday, December 17.
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.: Choir 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!
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.
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.   
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 Coffee Hour schedule through December is posted on the bulletin board in the Parish Hall. Please be sure to take a look at it for your assigned Sunday.
If you're new to Grace and would like to be part of a Coffee Hour team and to "learn the ropes" please email Coffee Hour Coordinator Tina Reich or leave a note in her box. 
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.