VOLUME 2, NUMBER 52, NOVEMBER 20, 2011
Thanksgiving, Stewardship and a New Church Year
The following Thursday is Thanksgiving—a holiday with Puritan roots and only recently raised to the level of major feast in the American Anglican tradition. The Puritans, who had rejected the traditional Church holidays like Easter, Christmas and saints' days (along with things like stained glass windows, altars, and The Book of Common Prayer), replaced those holidays with "public days" of fasting, meditation and supplication to God. Thanksgiving is one of those days. Despite its anti-Anglican roots, Thanksgiving is a great holiday and it fits in nicely with the themes of Christ the King (it is fitting that one should give thanks to the King from whom all blessings flow) and of the annual stewardship campaign usually running at this time of year in most congregations of many denominations.
The following Sunday is the First Sunday of Advent, which is also the first Sunday of the Church year. Advent is that season which had its origins in the Western Church as Winter Lent for the Winter Pascha we call Christmas and Epiphany. Even so, this season's emphasis is not so much on penitence (though it has some of that quality) as it is on the Christian's hopeful expectation of the coming Messiah—both at the second coming, but also his first coming as a baby in Bethlehem. There are two things to note about this Advent:
The Vestry will be basing next year's budget very strictly on the pledges we receive this year and so ask that you please return your pledge card (if at all possible) on the First Sunday of Advent.
Also, as we have the last two years, we will simplify the liturgy in Advent, liturgically making away for the coming Messiah. We will return to Rite II (familiar to our Wednesday healing Mass regulars) at the 10AM Mass for the four Sundays of Advent, but we will use a different—appropriately simple—Mass setting than we have in recent years. Because we have struggled with the Rite II sursum corda (the dialogue before the Eucharistic Prayer that includes the phrase "lift up your hearts"), after today's Mass and during the announcements at next Sunday's Mass, we will practice both saying and singing it (especially the second of the congregations' lines, which is where we seem to trip up—"We lift them to the Lord").
As usual, there is a lot going on at Grace Church. God is working in our midst. God is good. Christ is King. Thanks be to God.
CALL FOR VOLUNTEERS TO ASSEMBLE THANKSGIVING BASKETS... This year Zion Lutheran Church is again preparing Thanksgiving baskets for those in need. They are planning to assemble the baskets Sundayng, starting at 6:15 pm and are calling for volunteers. In the past, a delegation of members from Grace Church has helped. Your participation would continue the tradition this year. The people at Zion would also appreciate monetary contributions to the program. Please send them directly to Zion Lutheran to the attention of Trudy Maul. Thanks.
INTERFAITH PULPIT SWAP IN ADVENT... Judaism and Christianity are sister religions sharing common history, basic common traditions of worship and prayer, and some common scripture. A Christian faith that has lost touch with Judaism is a diminished faith. On the weekend before Christmas, the people of Grace Church will be given a unique opportunity to engage in a special way with a congregation of our Jewish brothers and sisters. At 8pm on Friday, December 16, Father Rhodes will preach at Erev Shabbat services at Congregation B'Nai Israel (53 Palisade Avenue, Emerson, NJ—www.bisrael.com). On the following Sunday, December 18th (the Fourth Sunday of Advent), Rabbi Debra Orenstein will preach at the 10am Mass at Grace Church. Both congregations are encouraged to attend both services, to mingle after them, and to learn from each other about our respective traditions.
NEW CHURCH SIGN... As a way of improving the visibility of Grace Church at Five Corners, our Evangelism Committee had sought and recommended an upgrade of the church sign facing Five Corners. The new sign will be burgundy and gold with two lower attached information boards indicating service times and our website information. Further to this, we are looking to provide some appropriate landscape lighting, front and back, to improve its visibility during the evening hours. We are happy to report that we have received donations and have access to memorial money that will cover the cost of a new two-sided church sign and the evangelism committee and the Vestry would like thank all of those who have contributed to this new sign and look forward to its installation in the near future.
THANK YOU TO ALL WALK-IN-DINNER PARTICIPANTS... On Thursday, November 3 Grace Church served a dinner of chili over rice, salad, bread, cookies, and beverage at the county Housing, Health and Human Service Center in Hackensack to 98 persons. Thank you to all who prepared food, contributed items, or went down to Hackensack to serve the meal. By providing this food with no questions asked, Grace Church has witnessed again to what grace means. Our next Walk-In-Dinner is scheduled for Thursday, January 5, 2012. It is never too early to volunteer. Those who want to participate should speak to Jim Freeman during Coffee Hour or call him. The main menu item for January is barbecued chicken.
PLEASE REMEMBER FOOD FOR FRIENDS... Autumn reminds many of the bounty of Creation. But it also reminds us that some difficult days lie ahead as the heating season begins–difficult especially for people who have lost their jobs or are underemployed and are struggling to keep their homes heated or even to keep their homes and to keep food on their tables. St. Paul's Community Development Corporation Food Pantry, which receives our donations, especially welcomes high protein items, such as beans and canned meats. Otherwise, their wish list asks specifically for tuna, cereal, peanut butter, rice, coffee, and pasta. As we approach Thanksgiving, they would especially like canned vegetables, cranberry relish, potatoes, and stuffing. Alternatively checks may be drawn in favor of St. Paul's Community Development Corporation and marked Food Pantry. Please send checks directly to St. Paul's at 451 Van Houten Street, Paterson, NJ 07501.Thank you.
Ministers of the Assembly
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