28 June

  THE GABRIEL
Parish Newsletter for St. Paul’s Episcopal Church June 28, 2021
Calendar Reminders
June 28 6:00 pm NA Meeting, Parish Hall
Jun 30 6:30 pm Bible Study, Basement meeting room
July 3 9:30-11:30 am AA Meeting
July 4 10:15 am Holy Eucharist with Rev. Suzanne Barrow
On Facebook Live: https://www.facebook.com/StPaulsJeff/live_ videos/
July 5 10 am and 6:30 pm Circle of Prayer on ZOOM
July 5 6:00 pm NA Meeting, Parish Hall
Collect for 6th Sunday after Pentecost (July 4th)
O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and
ever. Amen.
The Lessons: Ezekiel 2:1-5; Psalm 123; Corinthians 12:2-10; Mark 6:1-13
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OUR PARISH PRAYERS:
Today, we pray for our church: for Michael, our presiding bishop, for Jennifer our bishop, and for the people of our companion diocese of Brasilia, and their bishop, the Rt. Rev. Mauricio Andrade; and in the diocesan cycle of prayer we pray for St. Andrew’s, Greencastle--
The Rev. Mark Van Wassenhove. In faith and hope
We pray to you O God.
We pray for those in need of food, shelter, clothing, and of God’s healing touch, especially for those who have asked us to remember them in prayer: Virginia, Beverly, Juanita, Gwen, Mary Sue, Delani, Nan, David & Michele, Patricia, Sonny, John, Fred, Laura and Michael. Comforter of the suffering, warm our hearts and hands to loving service.
We pray to you O God.
For all who fear God and believe in you, Lord Christ, that our divisions may cease, and that all may be one as you and the Father are one, we pray to you, O Lord. Make us one in heart and mind to serve you with joy forever. Amen.
FROM THE GABRIEL TEAM:
NEXT SUNDAY (July 4th): Holy Eucharist will be celebrated by Rev. Suzanne Barrow. Rev. Barrow is new to us, so please try to be here (bring your family along!) to welcome her on the first of many Sundays to come. Also, don’t forget—the little red wagon is waiting to be filled with food donations for the Center for Lay Ministries!
ONLINE MORNING PRAYER SERVICES: The next service will begin Sunday, July 4th at 10:15 am. It will be live and in person at St. Paul’s, and on Facebook Live: https://www.facebook.com/StPaulsJeff/live_videos/
Please join us, during or after the service, and tell others about the service. Also check YouTube for videos of past services: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCynD2CNlCMbJ5YOb1Euce5Q.
THE COVID REPORT Clark County, Indiana (IN) - COVID Vaccine & Risk Tracker - Covid Act Now
MANY THANKS for your continued faithful responses to the need for funds. Please bear in mind that with our return to in-person services, costs begin to escalate and your contributions are still needed.
PARISH OFFICE HOURS : MTWF 10:00-4:30 and Thurs 10:00 to 1:00 pm.
If you have something you’d like to add to the next newsletter (including a brief update on what you and/or your family have been doing since last we met together), please email the team at stpaulsjeff@gmail.com by Sunday afternoon. Please put “newsletter” in the subject line.
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DEACON JIM RETIRES; Sharing his final duties of that office
Yesterday was Deacon Jim’s final service as deacon for St. Paul’s, as he now begins his retirement. He and Kathy will be spending some time in Florida with Kathy’s family, and we sincerely pray that on their return they will rejoin our church family. The observation of Morning Prayer service was beautiful and touched all our hearts. You can read the sermon at the end of this newsletter, and/or watch and listen to it on Facebook Live or through our webpage.
Jim has been such a consistent blessing to our community. We recall that when he completed his year of “internship” with us, how we prayed that (against tradition) he would be allowed to return to us as our Deacon. God answered that prayer, and not a week has gone by that Deacon Jim has not been a constant blessing to all who have had the privilege of interacting with him. In addition, as a professional musician and hymn writer, he has added depth and meaning to our Celtic services in particular, and all of our services in general.
After Don and Nancy moved to West Virginia, Jim stepped into the gap as our spiritual leader and when COVID closed our doors, he walked us into a new phase of ministry by broadcasting our services to a wider audience—a practice we are continuing now that we can meet together again. Jim’s spirit and soul are as beautiful as his music and Sunday reflections, and as our impromptu choir sang for him yesterday, we pray that he may “Go in Peace.”
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Brendan O'Sullivan-Hale, Canon to the Ordinary for Administration & Evangelism visited St. Paul’s on June 27th to share our celebration of Deacon Jim’s life with
us. At the end of the service, Canon Brendan read to us the vows that Deacon Jim had made when he was ordained, followed by a lovely prayer for church musicians and artists. We had a lovely visit with him and really appreciate the time he spent with us.
MINUTES OF THE VESTRY MEETING June 17, 2021
The meeting of the Vestry was called to order at 6:30 PM by Sr. Warden, Walker “Sonny” McCulloch. Members of the Vestry and others present were Steve Fleece, Charlene McAndrews, Susan Madara, Marylee James, Ben Sapp, Clerk Bill McCulloch and Deacon Jim Stanton.
Deacon Jim Stanton opened the meeting with prayer.
Deacon Stanton’s report included recognition that Dennis and Charlene McAndrews have completed the Lay Eucharistic Visitor training as of Tuesday, June 15th. He then offered a list of those to be recognized and thanked, and those to be commissioned at Sunday’s celebration of our Church Life. Those being commissioned include a promotion for Marylee James from Parish Secretary to Parish Administrator, which was voted and approved by the vestry.
The Senior Warden’s report began with the announcement that the Rev. Susan Barrow has agreed to supply our pulpit on July 18th, with more dates to be filled in the future.
The refrigerator that was approved for purchase at the last meeting has been purchased but cannot be delivered until mid-July. Another person has agreed to remove the old unit prior to
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that time. Roberts Heating & A/C have completed the repairs and maintenance of our air conditioners, and will begin working on the heating system in early Fall. The kitchen floor in 321 has been successfully repaired.
We continue broadcasting services from the sanctuary. There is no change in the status of the organ. The idea of preparing and taping a historical tour of our Church for the website was discussed and approved, and plans are being made to move forward on this.
Bill presented the treasurer’s report which showed that our existing funds are presently $6,336.36 lower than at January 1. This is due to the maintenance expenses we have encountered this year. All bills are paid to date, including our church insurance.
Ben presented the endowment report, which has grown steadily in the past six months. The next meeting will be held on July 15th at 6:30. This meeting was adjourned at 7:40 pm.
SERMON FROM DEACON JIM (SUNDAY, JUNE 27TH, 2021)
Many Feet, Mini Steps
Mark 4:26-34
First of all, Kathy, Beth and I would like to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the love and friendship we’ve experienced here at St. Paul’s. Thanks to Father John and to all who contributed to last Sunday’s Eucharist and meal following, and sincere thanks for the generous gifts we received. They’re so very much appreciated!
Today is an end-of-ministry event, and it’s a fair question: ‘Jim, what lessons have you learned since you put on that collar?’ Well, not easily answered in 25-words-or-less but let me say that whatever I’ve learned about warmth, hospitality and grace I’ve learned here, and I’m grateful. But we all know that in the Kingdom of God ministry never ends, does it? When we were baptized we were made ministers, and not only that but we were given a gift to use in our ministry. Sometimes we forget that, so it was appropriate that the high point of last week’s Service was a recognition of all the people that contribute to church life here at the corner of Walnut and Market. It really was gratifying to see how all our individual gifts like threads weave together in a fabric of community and belonging: I was especially moved by Mel’s comments reminding us of the work of all who’ve come before us, those who’ve bequeathed this building and its long history to us for our use in doing God’s work in the world and the charge to pass it on to those who will follow. In spite of the challenges this church and all churches face in an increasingly secular society where organized religion more and more gets pushed to the side, we are still a Body, we are still a Welcoming Body, we are still a Body of Christ.
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But, of course, at this time in our history we are also a Body in transition and if in the chaos of modern living we seek stability to the point where the word ‘transition’ comes to mean ‘fear for the unknown’ then we must not lose heart; we must do what countless faith communities have done over the last 2,000 years: seek inspiration and comfort and, yes, stability in the Scriptures, God’s Holy Word.
For the past several weeks we’ve been looking at Jesus through the lens of the Gospel writer Mark. Mark wants us to think big! These early chapters of Mark present Jesus as a rising star, a superstar in fact, magnetic as he walks the Judean hillsides attracting an ever-increasing crowd of followers. He heals, he performs miracle after miracle, even the waters and the winds obey him, today he raises a little girl from death. And to hear him speak of the new Kingdom of Heaven that’s just around the corner! ‘It’s like a mustard seed’ he says ‘impossibly small at first but growing into something impossibly big’ (By the way, thanks again to Mariane for her beautiful reflection a couple of weeks ago on Mustard Seed Moments). And to be a follower of Jesus, perhaps even a disciple, requires a total commitment, doesn’t it, not just ‘faith’ but ‘leaps of faith!’ Jesus’ disciples gave up everything... family, job... to follow him through the dust and the bugs and the heat and the crowds. There’s no half-heartedness here; discipleship for Jesus is all or nothing; it demands the best we have!
Now these stories, including the two seminal stories we read today, define our faith; they’re the ground of our Christian identity, and if you were in the audience long ago when a master story- teller would stand before you and draw you in with his dramatic recitation of these verses, you might be tempted to stand and shout ‘Yes, Count me in!’ but if I may be so bold and confess something that’s rather personal, but maybe it’s something you’re experiencing, too, today when I read these words... they make me tired. Wait, that’s not quite right, they make me realize how tired I am. Leap of faith? I can’t remember the last time I leaped! Well, there was a time I tripped and wound up in Urgent Care but I don’t think that’s what Jesus meant. Folks, this past year has done a number on us, hasn’t it, and it has nothing to do with faith, it has to do with energy and how a year of masks and social distancing and Covid variants and virtual worship and the general societal climate have left us exhausted. Our joy in returning to church is just now giving way to a realization of the energy necessary to be a church, especially a church in transition (There’s that dreaded ‘T’ word again!). And it is the unknown and the unsettled that drain us, isn’t it? It’s fear that the ‘new normal,’ whatever that may be, might not be as familiar or as fulfilling as the ‘old normal.’ Never mind that our faith tells us that it’s exactly in these situations that God does his best work; it’s still hard to see how the Parable of the Mustard Seed applies to us. Or to put it another way, ‘Oh Lord, you are my rock, but I’m going to need some help pushing that rock up the mountain that lies ahead.’
But then we remember that even as we’ve been trudging along behind Jesus these past weeks we’ve also had the opportunity to eavesdrop on another community of faith, this one founded by that last apostle and first great missionary Paul, and located in the large Greco-Roman city of Corinth on the Aegean Sea. As twenty-first century Christians we are so lucky to have Paul’s letters addressing the goings-on in these young faith communities and the problems they had. These were real people living in the real world facing real consequences for their faith. Corinth was a cross-roads city and it had a sort of Las Vegas feel to it with all the temptations and distractions you’d expect, and the people Paul persuaded to give his fledgling church a try were
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diverse to say the least. Men, women, rich, poor, Jew, Gentile... culturally speaking, these people shouldn’t have been in the same room together, much less try to form a covenant of faith. And, oh my, Paul had a time with these Corinthians. You want an example? One time, Paul received complaints that on the day of the gathering, highlighted by a common meal meant to symbolize how we’re all equal in God’s eyes, the rich people who didn’t have to work would get there early and sit around and eat up all the food! When the working people finally arrived everything was gone. You can imagine Paul’s frustration! Another time, when Paul tried to draw them into a fellowship by persuading them that each person had a unique, God-given gift or talent to contribute to the group, they all thought that the gift of ‘speaking in tongues’ was just the coolest thing in the world, much better than the gifts they had supposedly been given, and so they all started speaking in tongues... well, not really, it was all gibberish, but they said, ‘Listen to me, God has really blessed me, etc. etc.’ Again, you can imagine Paul’s reaction. Now, I’m not trying to put these Corinthians down, I mean I love these guys! If we can’t understand their circumstances we can at least understand their confusion, can’t we, we can at least sympathize with their struggle. Let’s face it: they were a group ‘in transition.’ After 18 months of forming them, 18 months of molding them and teaching them and inspiring them Paul had left them to start another congregation somewhere down the road, and with him went their cohesion and their identity. They were grabbing on to ‘leaps of faith’ without understanding what they were leaping to. I wonder how many of them sought stability and found only exhaustion? In today’s reading, Paul is writing to the Corinthians trying to persuade them to contribute to a fund to aid the home church in Jerusalem. There was most likely some wealth among the members and Paul was trying to loosen their wallets, for a good cause obviously. But what I’d like to point out isn’t about money. I’d like for us to focus on a verse buried deep in today’s Epistle reading: ‘I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a fair balance between your abundance and their need.’
Balance and abundance! For those words we owe everlasting gratitude to Paul, because as we try in our time of transition (there’s the ‘T’ word again) and in fact as we try in our faith to find a balance between the cost of discipleship and our fatigue, we can still dare to envision abundance. This is one of those times when it’s great to be a Christian; we can be ‘poor in spirit’ but not ‘poor.’ In fact, Jesus had something rather profound to say about the ‘poor in spirit,’ didn’t he? He said ‘Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.’ Again, this parish, like so many others, has faced, is facing and will face all sorts of challenges and maybe it’s going to be our lot that we will always have to keep a close eye on the budget, but in my time here I’ve never ever thought of us as poor. Have you? As a community of faith receiving the abundance of a loving God we must never buy into that! And I’m going to suggest that our balance going forward during these uncertain times is simple: ‘Many feet, mini-steps.’ Many M-A-N-Y feet, mini M-I-N-I steps.
I remember in school seeing an artist’s conception of the building of the pyramids. Lots and lots of people under lots and lots of stress; not a single one was ‘leaping about.’ Their progress was measured in inches, yet the pyramids DID get built. “Many feet, mini-steps.’
Jesus said ‘if you had the faith the size of a mustard seed you could move mountains!’ I know many faithful people; none can move mountains. But in the history of our Christian faith mountains have been moved, most of the time not by one person but through the simple faith of
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many, many people taking small steps, balancing Christian service and daily living. ‘Many feet, mini-steps.’
Before our friends the Corinthians could take their faith to the seedy streets of Corinth they had to take their own mini-steps. The poor Jewish woman who answered Paul’s invitation because in spite of ostracism by friends and even family she clung to her belief that Jesus was the promised Messiah, she had to learn to trust, well, more than trust, to find rapport with the rich Gentile man sitting next to her, someone she had been taught to fear, someone who thought Christianity might be just another philosophy to provide a brief amusement before going on to something else. And he had to take the mini-step of looking at her and saying ‘I always thought Jews were strange, but you are the most compassionate person I’ve ever met. I think I could talk about things with you.’ They all had to do that; break down walls and cultural barriers so they could sit side by side. ‘Many feet, mini-steps.’
So, what are some mini-steps for St. Paul’s Jeff? As we seek our own balance in these uncertain times maybe the first mini-step we can take is to remember our baptisms. When in doubt go back to the basics. Sometime in our pasts promises were made by us or for us in which we pledged to, among other things, proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ, to seek and serve Christ in all persons and to strive for justice and peace for all peoples and respect the dignity of every human being. Do those pledges still ring true, do they restore a sense of purpose in our Christian lives, do they refocus our energy, do they rekindle our membership into the Body of Christ?
Mini-step #2: If we accept that we are God’s own, can we then look around us to our brothers and sisters in faith? Do we see ourselves as part of something bigger, something bigger than just one parish? Can we feel a kinship with our sister church St. Paul’s in New Albany? Or Christ Church in Madison? Or Trinity Church in Lawrenceburg? These are the congregations closest to us. All are in transition. All are seeking guidance, seeking balance and abundance in their communities, all figuring out what their own mini-steps should be. Are we walking together? Are we cheering each other on? Do we understand that we are not alone?
Mini-step #3: Even in the separation and alienation we suffered in a horrific year, are we still a Welcoming Church? Do we still keep an eye for those who come through our red doors in search of hospitality, community, perhaps a place of refuge, a place where they can explore their own faith in safety and loving acceptance? I’ve been here long enough to know that God’s unquestioning love has been the heart of our outreach to the community. Do we need to reaffirm it?
Mini-step #4: Finally, are we able to carry God’s love to the community? We envision a tireless Paul preaching on every street corner, evangelizing before every crowd, persuading folks of every philosophy and faith to give this Jesus of Nazareth a try. But if that’s not us, and don’t take this the wrong way but I sort of hope it isn’t, can we still be open to opportunities for ministry in our daily lives? If we open our eyes and ears they’ll present themselves, and when they do, when, say, a casual conversation turns into a cry of despair, can we listen, can resist the urge to judge, can we meet them eye to eye, can our witness be our empathy, and if we feel called on to respond can it be as simple as taking a card out of your wallet (there are some
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in your bulletins), can you hand it to them with a smile and simply say ‘This is where I go to church. It’s meant a lot to me. You’d be welcome.’
These are all small steps, mini-steps. But if many feet take mini-steps then by God’s grace our footing becomes more steady, our energy begins to return, our vision once again clears, and Mariane’s Mustard Seed Moments get planted to grow and flower and return to us much more than we put in. As Paul said to those Corinthians in last week’s lesson: ‘Don’t take the gifts of God in vain.’
In a minute we’ll say the Apostles Creed where we once again reaffirm that in which we believe, that which we cherish; then we’ll sing an offertory hymn where we offer God our resolve to take our mini-steps not in fear but confidence, not out of poverty but abundance. That’s the lesson I’ve learned at this church: God provides.
Thank you for your loving-kindness. May God bless this CrazyWonderful group of believers today, tomorrow, and in the next chapters of our faith story.
  REJOICE ALWAYS, PRAY WITHOUT CEASING, GIVE THANKS IN ALL
 CIRCUMSTANCES,
 FOR THAT IS THE WILL OF GOD FOR YOU!
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