News from Grace Episcopal Church ~ Martinez, California
December 20, 2018 
Scripture of the Week

"And Mary said, 'My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;  
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed: 
the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.' "
Luke 46-49
"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, but children and youth share in the ministry of the church year-round, serving as acolytes, readers, and oblation bearers. 


This Sunday in Godly Play: We will be practicing for the Christmas Eve Pageant. All are welcome to join us for our Christmas Pageant and Children's Service at 5:00 on Christmas Eve.  If you have guests or visitors, they are all welcome to join in the Pageant.  We will costume the kids at 4:30 in the afternoon in the Godly Play Area (follow the signs for "Education Building").  This is a great chance to see one of your younger loved ones dressed as an angel or perhaps a camel.  No practice or preparation needed.

Baby Frederick Update: Nate, Amelia and Sondre Brooks would like to thank all of the people of Grace for their faithful prayers and offers for assistance following the early birth of their son Frederick. They have felt so beloved during this difficult time and are most grateful for your  continued prayers.


Christmas Pageant Rehearsal: THIS FRIDAY (December 21). There will be a rehearsal for the Christmas Eve Pagaent on Friday at 6:30 p.m. If you have a part, please plan to be there to participate. We will be providing PIZZA and beverages for dinner. We will keep the rehearsal as short as possible. Many thanks!

Christmas at Grace

Our Christmas services will be as follows :
Christmas Eve, Monday, December 24, at 5 p.m.: 
A wonderful Christmas pageant written and produced by our youth with music.  Walk-ins welcome! ALL children are invited to participate in the pageant. Simply get to the church by 4:30 p.m. and you will get a part! A festive reception will follow the service in the Parish Hall. 
Christmas Eve, Monday, December 24, at 10 p.m.: 
Concert featuring both vocal and instrumental Christmas music.  
Christmas Eve "Midnight Mass" beginning at 10:30 p.m.: 
The Celebration of the first Christmas Eucharist with Choir and instrumentalists (otherwise known as the "leaving at Midnight Mass"). A festive reception will follow the service in the Parish Hall. 
Christmas Day,  Tuesday , December 25, at 10 a.m.:  Eucharist with traditional Christmas carols.
Christmas Lessons and Carols, Sunday, December 30, 10 a.m.

Please join us and BRING FRIENDS!
If you are able, please bring finger foods to share at the receptions following both the 5 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. services on Christmas Eve.
It's bean soup weather!
There are still bags of St. Christopher's Guild's bean soup mix available. Check out the basket in the Narthex on Sunday. Suggested donation $5.  
Church Office Closed for Feast of St. Stephen

The Church Office will be closed on DECEMBER 26 for the Feast of St. Stephen. Rev. Deb will be available by cell phone for pastoral emergencies only. There will be NO WEDNESDAY EUCHARIST AND BIBLE STUDY. The office will re-open on Thursday.
Upcoming Yoga Holidays:
We welcome certified Yoga Instructor Noah Yuzna every  Tuesday evening at 6:15 p.m. to conduct a 60-minute yoga class.  All levels are welcome and modifications are available for folks with limited mobility.  Classes are open to the community and there is no set cost.  Participants are invited to contribute what they can for each class. 
There will be no yoga classes on Christmas and New Year's Day (12/25 and 1/1/19).
A request from the Casserole Patrol
One of Grace's most important pastoral ministries is the
Casserole Patrol, which provides meals to those who, for
one reason or another, can benefit from having a meal
delivered to them. Currently, our supply is running low. Casseroles should be frozen, or freezable, and preferably the size of 4-6 servings (or less.) If you can contribute, please let Connie Towey know.  
Stewardship Wrap-Up

The Grace Vestry is tasked with completing a 2019 Budget prior to our Annual Meeting on January 27. To do this, we must have all of the pledge income figures. Unfortunately, we are still behind the amount of pledged income we received last year, even though the church has grown in numbers. If you have not pledged, please consider doing so before the end of the calendar year.  Many thanks!

P.S. from Treasurer Paula Menconi - Personalized boxes of Pledge envelopes will be available in the Narthex for pick-up starting this Sunday.
Here's an idea for a New Year's resolution: Join the choir!
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!
Coffee Hour News!
In January, we will try out a new system for Coffee Hour using an all-parish rotation. All parishioners who agree will be sorted into Coffee Hour Teams. Coordinator Christina Reich will then assign a team to each Sunday. If most folks agree to participate, it will mean being responsible for Coffee Hour as part of a team once or twice per year. Please let Christina Reich if you are willing to "opt in" to the new system. Many thanks.
Bible Study for Everyone!

On Wednesday mornings at 10 a.m. at Grace we celebrate the Holy Eucharist, followed by Bible Study. (There is no Holy Eucharist or Bible Study on December 26.) We have been studying 
Advent Women,  by Lyn Fraser. "Not always virtuous, the women of Advent are endlessly creative, wondrously adventuresome, necessarily defiant, occasionally manipulative, and absolutely faithful to God. Read their stories and celebrate these women including Elizabeth and Mary without whom there would be no Advent or Christmas. 

Then, for Epiphany we will join  partners from across the Episcopal Church, to participate in the Good Book Club, a church-wide Bible reading initiative. The Good Book Club will focus on Paul's Letter to the Romans, with participants reading a section of scripture each day during the Epiphany season, starting on January 9, 2019.
The Good Book Club kicked off during Lent and Easter of 2018, with tens of thousands of Episcopalians, including members of Grace, reading the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts. Survey results from participants showed a hunger and desire to continue the initiative and provide more opportunities for people to read and discuss scripture together. Romans was the first choice of participants for the next Good Book Club.
Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry supports and encourages individuals and congregations to join the Good Book Club as a way to engage in "Learn," one of the seven Way of Love practices for a Jesus-centered life.  

Grace Cathedral Bishop's 50+ Anniversary Evensong

We are approaching the Bishop's 50+ Anniversary Evensong celebrating
couples who have been married or partnered for 50 or more years together.
Rev. Deb is compiling a list of couples from Grace who have been together 50+ years. Please email Rev Deb or call the Parish Office at (925) 228-6574, by January 5 to get on the list! 
Upcoming Faithful Forums at Grace

Once a month during the program year we open our doors to a variety of fascinating speakers and invite 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. Click here for the flyer 
On January 13, 2019, we will welcome representatives from Republic Services, who will address "Stewardship of Creation" in terms of Grace's recycling policies. 
February 17, 2019 will bring  The Very Rev. Dr. Malcolm Young, Dean of Grace Cathedral, to Grace to discuss Theology and Nature, specifically the influence of 19th century author and philosopher Henry David Thoreau on religious thought about the natural world.

On Sunday, January 13, set aside time in the afternoon to head downtown to visit the Martinez Museum at Escobar and Court Streets. We have been invited to the opening of the Martinez Historical Society's exhibit "Amen!"  which will focus on the history of churches in Martinez - and, of course, Grace is one of them! There will be displays of artifacts and photos, with accompanying historical information. The Open House is from 1:00 - 4:00 p.m. The exhibit will until March, 2019.
Save the Date - January 19
Trivia Night!
Question: What's an awesome way to spend an evening? Answer: Trivia Night at Grace!!
On Saturday, January 19th, we will host the first-ever Trivia Night here at Grace Episcopal! The theme for the evening is Movie Trivia, so start brushing up on your big screen knowledge! There is a $20 entry fee per team, and teams can have up to 5 people on them. Teams can sign up in the Parish Hall. Come up with a creative team name (your team will be assigned a table), and we'll see you there!!
Youth MLK Day of Service event

I know you're probably up to your ears in Advent and Christmas planning, but the  annual MLK overnight at Grace Cathedral is only about 6 weeks away!

This year diocesan youth will gather at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco at 5 pm Sunday, January 20. We will attend the 6 pm eucharist, have dinner, games, discussion, and more before we sleep in the Cathedral. On  Monday, January 21 we will have breakfast, a project to help the kids connect the past with the future and prepare them for the MLK March.  We will head down the hill to participate in the march. Return to Grace for lunch. Then head home tired and happy!
This is an excellent event that teaches our youth that we all must do our part to promote peace and justice for all people. The event is open to grades 7 - 12 and costs $10 a person (scholarships available). All youth must be accompanied by a designated adult leader.

Youth Registration
Please do your part to keep Grace beautiful!

Due to a few Monday conflicts (one of which is Christmas Eve) we have moved our cleaning day to Fridays for the month of December. We appreciate your patience and cooperation in observing the people-free zone in the parish hall, kitchen, education wing, and all restrooms (including the ones off the narthex) on cleaning days. Because of the change, we need to be particularly diligent about leaving the entire campus clean on Sundays after church. Please do your part to make sure whatever areas you use on Sundays are left clean. If you need to access the building on Fridays, please check with Jennifer or Rev. Deb in advance. Thank you for understanding!
Flower Chart for 2019
The Altar Guild has posted a new flower chart for 2019, in the Narthex by the stairwell. When signing up for a date on the chart, please be sure to also write your name in the flower dedication notebook, on the corresponding date. The notebook is on the little table below the flower chart. Include your dedication message in the notebook (for example, in loving memory of ...; in celebration of ...; in thanksgiving for...). Suggested donation $35. There is also a sign-up notebook for candle dedications in the Narthex on the table under the bulletin board. Suggested donation $5. 
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! 
  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 will be providing 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
  • 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
  • Hygiene items including (but not limited to) soap, shampoo, oral care, shower wipes, shaving supplies, feminine hygiene items
  • 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).

During Advent, C.O.R.E. donations may be left under the Christmas tree in the Narthex.


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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.