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

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his mercy endures forever. Let Israel now proclaim, 'His mercy endures forever.' The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation. There is a sound of exultation and victory in the tents of the righteous: 'The right hand of the Lord has triumphed! the right hand of the Lord is exalted! the right hand of the Lord has triumphed !'...On this day the Lord has acted; we will rejoice and be glad in it."
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-16, 24
What is the Triduum and why should we show up for it?*
The term "Triduum" may not be familiar to many Christians, but many Christian denominations celebrate it every year - including Grace Episcopal Church, Martinez. "Triduum" means "three days," and refers to the three days before a major religious feast. The Easter Triduum consists of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday - the Great Three Days - known collectively as "Triduum Sacrum." The Easter Triduum ends when the new fire is lit at the Easter Vigil.

Thursday in Holy Week is called Maundy Thursday, from the Latin for mandatum novum, "a new commandment": John 13:34: After Jesus washed the feet of the disciples he said "A new commandment I give you, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another." It marks the beginning the Great Three Days leading up to the proclamation of the resurrection at the Easter Vigil. The Maundy Thursday Eucharist commemorates the first Eucharist at the Last Supper. At Grace, we begin our Maundy Thursday liturgy with a simple meal in the Parish Hall, eating and worshiping with friends, just as Jesus did. We continue with foot washing, which commemorates Jesus' demonstration of humility and love for his disciples.  The service concludes in the Sanctuary with the solemn stripping of the altar. The service ends in complete silence. The altar is stripped and all decorative furnishings are removed from the church in recognition of the despair and death to come.

Priests are often asked why it's called "Good" Friday when it commemorates a very dark day, indeed. The name comes from "God's Friday," and on God's Friday, we commemorate the Crucifixion. It is a continuation of the Maundy Thursday service and begins in silence as the night before ended in silence. 

The Eucharist is not celebrated on Good Friday or Holy Saturday. Lent ends officially at midday on Holy Saturday. The Great Vigil on Saturday evening is one of the most dramatic services the church offers. A study in contrasts, it begins outside in our atrium, in the darkness. The Holy Fire of Easter is lit from the Paschal Candle and we hear an ancient hymn, the Exultet. The Exultet is an ancient chant which reminds us of our links to the Israelites' exodus from Egypt. Several Hebrew Scripture stories are read, one of which is always the wonderful story of the parting of the Red Sea, and songs are sung. These lessons and songs trace the history of our redemption from the time of creation up through the prophets. Darkness then turns to light and we are once again able to sing our praise to God: "Alleluia. The Lord is Risen." The lights come on. The organ plays. Bells are rung in a great fanfare to indicate that this is indeed a festival. (Worshippers are encouraged to bring their own bells from home and to join in.) We move into a church bathed in light, and celebrate the first festive Eucharist of Easter together, as the light of Christ returns to our midst. Families are most welcome at the Easter Vigil. Children enjoy the drama of the ritual and are invited to attend in their pajamas!

*Edited from "Anglicans world-wide mark Holy Week and Easter," Anglican Communion News Service," http://www.anglicannews.org/news/2008/03/anglicans-world-wide-mark-holy-week-and-easter.aspx
Maundy Thursday Overnight Vigil
"Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, 'So, could you not stay awake with me one hour'"?
Each year we hear the story of Jesus praying alone in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before his arrest as his disciples sleep nearby. Their inability to stand vigil with their beloved rabbi is one of the saddest parts of the crucifixion narrative. For this reason, we seek to symbolically stay awake with Jesus on the evening of Maundy Thursday. This year at Grace, we will be trying out an overnight vigil. Beginning at the end of the Maundy Thursday service and continuing until the noon service on Good Friday, we will try to have someone in the sanctuary at all times.  Volunteers can use that time to pray, sing, or meditate as we contemplate the great sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf.  Please pray for those who have committed themselves to this spiritual practice.
Lent Madness: And the Golden Halo goes to...  
Throughout Lent, many of our parishioners have been taking part in 
"Lent Madness," a fun and informative way to be involved 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.  This week, after a tough contest between the very worthy "faithful four," the Golden Halo of 2018 was awarded to Anna Alexander!

Anna joins the ranks of previous Golden Halo winners George Herbert (2010), C.S. Lewis (2011), Mary Magdalene (2012), Frances Perkins (2013), Charles Wesley (2014), Francis of Assisi (2015), Dietrich Bonhoeffer (2016), and Florence Nightingale (2017). 
 
Congratulations to the well-deserving winner and those living saints who elevated her to this enviable status.  If you didn't participate in Lent Madness this year, never fear -  there's always next Lent!

Hail Thee Festival Day!

Each year following the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday and the 10 a.m. Choral Eucharist on Easter Day, Grace hosts festive receptions.  If you can bring finger foods for either or both of these events, please let the  Parish Office  know.

Above all, BRING FRIENDS TO ALL OF OUR EASTER SERVICES!!!
Easter at Grace!!



8 a.m. Holy Eucharist, Rite II (with Alleluias)!
10 a.m. Choral Eucharist Rite II (with MUSICAL Alleluias)!
 
Feel free to bring a fresh flower, to adorn the Flower Cross that will be presented at the Offertory.

Easter Egg Hunt
 for the children and Festive Coffee Hour
The children are invited to participate in an Easter Egg Hunt following the 10 a.m. service on Easter.  And how did the tradition of dying eggs get started? There is a story about Mary Magdalene. She travelled to Rome and was received by Tiberius Caesar. When she met him, she held up a plain egg and proclaimed the resurrection of Christ. Caesar laughed and said Christ rising from the dead was as likely as the egg in her hand turning red. Then the egg turned red. It has become an Eastern Orthodox tradition to greet one another on Easter by giving bright red eggs and proclaiming "Christ is risen!" The egg represents new life, Christ bursting forth from the tomb. Some churches today use red eggs at funerals and memorial services as a symbol of the hope of resurrection.
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. 

 

Godly Play Sunday School   
This Sunday:
Easter Sunday - The children will join their families in the Sanctuary for the celebration of the resurrection. And, of course
there will be an Easter Egg Hunt following the 10 am service! Bring friends!!!
Earth Day Volunteer Opportunity

Attention all "green" parishioners. Grace Episcopal Church has been invited to participate in an Interfaith booth at the John Muir Birthday/Earth Day Celebration here in Martinez on  April 21, 10am to 4pm. The theme is "Green Spirit Contra Costa". If you have ideas about how Grace can contribute and/or if you would like to attend, please let  Rev. Deb know!
Music Director update
 
We are looking for the right person to serve as Grace's Music Director. We have had a good response to our advertising and the Music Director Search Committee, consisting of Barbara Brooks, Bob Burman, and Marj Leeds, currently interviewing candidates. We are fortunate to have several candidates playing during Holy Week.  Please welcome:
Richard Thomas on Maundy Thursday and for our Easter Vigil, and Lyena Ryepkina on Easter Sunday!
End of Life Planning Packets available  
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. 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). To that end, we have developed resources about funerals in the Episcopal Church, advance directives, and memorial gifts to the church. These packets are now available in the Narthex and on our website. It is our hope that each parishioner will complete a planning packet and provide a copy of it to the church office. Easter is almost here, so finish up and turn yours in!
D uring Lent, a s part of  The Good Book Club,   o ur Wednesday Bible study, along with Episcopalians around the world, have been dedicated to delving deeply into Luke's Gospel.  There will be no Eucharist or Bible study next Wednesday (April 4). The following week (April 11) we will begin our study of the Book of Acts (or "Luke 2").

No rest for the weary - except Rev. Deb!

 

Rev. Deb will be taking a well-deserved week of rest after Easter.  She will be leaving following the Easter Egg Hunt and will return on Tuesday, April 10. The Rev. Heather Erickson will be presiding at both services on Sunday, April 8th. Pastoral care needs will be covered by The Rev. Kathryn Schreiber, Pastor of the First Congregational Church here in Martinez. Please contact the Parish Office if you have a need and they will give you her number. Mahalo!

Serving others through Grace
 
Grace Episcopal Church has a long tradition of reaching out to our community and helping those in need. With our recent growth in members, we have the opportunity to do even more good work. The Outreach Committee is having conversations about what Grace is already doing to assist our neighbors and what else we might do.  Here are two ways you can help:

Kindness Kits for our homeless friends. These bags will be filled with items to assist with basic needs like food, water, hygiene products and a list of local service agencies. They will be available to parishioners who would like to have them in their cars to give to folks they encounter who are in need, as well as to volunteers who wish to distribute them at our local encampment where homeless individuals live. If you are interested in assisting with this ministry, please let  Deacon Walter know.

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. Beth Ilog is the Grace Church point person for this longstanding outreach ministry and oversees our team of volunteers, supplies, meal preparation, service and clean up. There is always room for more volunteers! (And, there are a couple of jobs that can be done sitting down.) The time commitment is 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. Please talk to Beth if you're interested or would like more information. Email Beth or call her at (925) 370-8142.
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.
 
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!
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!
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.

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.
 
 
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