News from Grace Episcopal Church ~ Martinez, California 
December 12, 2019 
Scripture of the Week

" B e patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors! As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord ."
James 5:7-10
"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: Family Sunday

This Sunday is Family Sunday at Grace when we invite our children and youth to join their families for the entire service in the Sanctuary. (Child care for younger children is available in the Education building). During this service we enjoy more familiar hymns, a children's homily, and our young people take important roles in the service. Please join us!
Think Pink!
 
This Sunday is Gaudete or Rejoice Sunday! Advent is one of the penitential seasons of the church. In the old days, the people would fast throughout such a season. In order to provide a break, both Lent and Advent have one Sunday that is considered to be a day of refreshment. Gaudete Sunday in Advent is customarily a time to "lighten up"  and focus on the joy that is coming with the  birth of Jesus. In some churches, vestments this week are rose colored, or pink, to signify a "lightening" from the usual violet worn for the season. The rose color reminds us that "the Lord is near."  On the Advent wreath, the four candles signify the four weeks before Christmas. Three  candles are violet, to represent the preparation for Christ's birth, but one is pink, or rose, to remind us of the joy that is yet to come.  Gaudete Sunday is also known as "stir up" Sunday, from the words of the opening  prayer, "Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us ..." We ask God to stir up the passion in our hearts and our faith, to get us ready to welcome the baby Jesus who is  our Savior. It was also customarily a time when the Christmas pudding would get one more stir up in  preparation for Christmas baking. Please join in the light mood by wearing pink this Sunday.  
St. Christopher's Guild Special Meeting

There will be a Special Meeting to discuss the future of St. Christopher's Guild THIS Sunday, December 15 at 9 a.m. (between services) in the Education Building. If you are a member or have an interest in this ministry, please plan to attend.
Welcoming Committee!

There will be a Welcoming Committee meeting at  
4 p.m. on Tuesday, December 17 in the space outside Rev. Deb's office. We are looking for members from the 8 o'clock service! Contact Tina Reich if you have any questions: 925-266-0567 or email her at   deadheadtina63@att.net.
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. THIS Sunday, December 15 following our 10 a.m. 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!
Loaves and Fishes this Wednesday

Loaves and Fishes provides meals for individuals who suffer from food insecurity. Grace parishioners volunteer monthly with this ministry. Our volunteer day is THIS Wednesday, December 18 from 9 am until 1 pm. There are many different jobs, including ones you can do sitting down. Please contact Phyllis Weston.
 
Evensong this Wednesday evening

Many of us remember the days when the Episcopal Church only celebrated Eucharist on one or two Sundays a month. The other Sundays were reserved for "office" liturgies, such as Morning and Evening Prayer, which do not require the presence of a priest. The Anglican Communion, of which we are a part, has a long tradition of offering a sung version of Evening Prayer, referred to as "Evensong." This beautiful, contemplative service has recently enjoyed a surge in popularity as young people have discovered the peace and beauty it conveys. Next Wednesday December 18 at 7 p.m. Grace will offer Evensong for the first time in many years. Please join us and experience this lovely new addition to your Advent preparation. If it is popular, we may schedule it on a regular basis.  As always, we welcome everyone!
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!

Our Brother James

Here at Grace we attempt to follow Jesus's command to love our neighbors as ourselves.  For about two years, we have had the privilege of getting to know James Beavore, an individual suffering from homelessness. Several of our parishioners have offered James rides, food, clothing and emotional support, and Rev. Deb has worked collaboratively with the CORE homeless outreach program, the Martinez police, and Contra Costa Regional Medical Center to try to help James improve his situation. On Thanksgiving our parishioners made sure that James was able to attend our dinner. James later called Rev. Deb to thank her and mentioned that he would love to talk to his brother, whom he had not seen for several years. With James' input, Rev. Deb was able to find James' brother Jeffrey, and Jeff called James that day. James' family then decided that they wanted James to come to live with them in Mississippi. We are happy to report that last Thursday James and his brother and sister-in-law were reunited here at Grace and James has gone home with his family. Many, many thanks to this generous and compassionate congregation for all you have done to provide a happy ending for one person in need. God is good all the time!
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 info@gracechurchmtz.org 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.
 
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! 
Advent Bible Study

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!
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. You can help by:

1) Visiting our table at the SWEEPS fair after church on 12/15 to sign up for one or more shifts helping in the kitchen. Not going to be there on 12/15 but still want to sign up to help? Email Nate Brooks. We need volunteers for dinner all four nights, and for breakfast on Saturday and Sunday

2) We will be accepting monetary donations on 12/15 via a special offering during the offertory (in lieu of offerings for the rector's discretionary fund) and we'll also have a basket on the table at the SWEEPS fair.

3) This Sunday's offertory collection will go to providing funding for our participation in Winter Nights rather than to the Rector's Discretionary Fund.

Thank you!
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!
In case you wondered....
why Rev. Deb has to go to the Cathedral so often, here's an article from this week's Diocesan News:

Your 2019-2020 Standing Committee! 

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of California consists of four lay members and four clergy members of the diocese elected by the annual Diocesan Convention and authorized by the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church.
From left: The Rev. Pam Jester (Vice President), Andrew Han, 
The Rev. Dr. Deborah White, Noreen Huey (Secretary), The Rev. Michael Barham (President), Dr. Dorothy Randall-Tsuruta, Albe Larsen, and The Rev. Matthew Dutton-Gillett.
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.   
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, info@gracechurchmtz.org
-         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.
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.   
  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.
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.
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.
 
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. 
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 deadheadtina63@att.net.
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.
 
 
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