I know only too well how unsuccessful I am in keeping New Year resolutions—God driven or otherwise. Within a few months I usually can’t remember the list of changes I had planned for my life. And, it follows that, without the word remembered, the desired change would not come about. At breakfast, though, my husband noted that the day’s Wall Street Journal editorials included one that had Biblical allusions: first to “epiphanies” in the White House, and then to the CDC seeing “a great light.” My word was established: I would consider epiphany as a guide.
I have grown to like the season of Epiphany. The word, of course, refers to the manifestations of Christ as the Son of God, one famous event being the coming of the Wise Men to the infant Christ. Other manifestations are artfully collected in Hymn #135 in The Hymnal 1982 by Christopher Wordsworth and Bland Tucker. We will learn and relearn of more throughout the Season. When my children were young, I emphasized the concept of the Twelve Days of Christmas, helping them to remember the several saints celebrated or remembered therein, and, of course, the events for the newborn Christ. We kept our decorations up until Epiphany and I even saved a small gift to give them on the twelfth day, even though they were well into school assignments and social activities by then.
The Liturgical Season celebrates the Manifestations then, but this is now. How do we see Christ manifested in the world today? We can begin by observing non-manmade events in nature (earthquakes in South Carolina??), shooting stars, flocks of birds. But, consider also what you see in people as manifestations of the workings of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. In our weekly parish staff meetings, our priest often begins by asking us how we saw God in the world over the past week. Or she asks, did you see Jesus in someone? With epiphany as my guide, I could begin asking myself: Have I acted like Jesus this week? Would someone see Jesus in me?
So, perhaps I (and you?) will adopt this word as a plan for my life. However, I am new to this, so I will set a limitation: I will consider it a guide for Epiphany season. Hearing the Word in church on Sunday and singing the hymns about Christ’s manifestations will keep me focused on seeking out Christ in our world today. And maybe even noticing my own understanding of Jesus’s actions and thoughts such that I could act accordingly. Perhaps you will join me.
Elaine Sandberg, Worship Chair
Please continue to pray for peace, love and God's light to prevail in all situations that affect our nation.
Remember to pray for all of our fellow sisters throughout the diocese, and their church families. God knows each and every one of our needs...love and prayer are the best gifts we can share with each other.
Parishes and Chapters for 2022 Prayer Cycle Assignment
Advent Sisters of Prayer Senior Spartanburg 02/06/22
Ascension Blessed Virgin Mary Senior Clemson 02/13/22
At Large Senior Various 02/20/22
Atonement Lutheran Rose Senior Laurens 02/27/22
Christ Church St Margaret Senior Piedmont 03/06/22
Church of the Ridge St Clare of Assisi Senior Ridge Spring 03/13/22
Epiphany Dorcas Senior Spartanburg 03/20/22
Faith Lutheran St Therese of Lisieux Senior Liberty 03/27/22
Good Shepherd Bishop Howe Senior Columbia 04/03/22
Good Shepherd Julian Of Norwich Senior York 04/10/22
Good Shepherd St Joan of Arc Junior Greer 04/17/22
Good Shepherd St Teresa Senior Greer 04/24/22
Grace Mary & Martha Senior Camden 05/01/22
Holy Cross St Clare Senior Simpsonville 05/08/22
Holy Trinity Mary E M Laib Senior Clemson 05/15/22
Incarnation Martha & Mary Senior Gaffney 05/22/22
Redeemer St Agnes of Rome Junior Greenville 05/29/22
Redeemer St Therese Senior Greenville 06/05/22
Resurrection St Margaret Senior Greenwood 06/12/22
St Alban St Alban Senior Lexington 06/19/22
St Andrew Our Lady of Walsingham Senior Greenville 06/26/22
St Augustine Sisters of Prayer Senior Aiken 07/03/22
St Bartholomew St Bartholomew Senior Warrenville 07/10/22
St Christopher St Clare of Assisi Senior Spartanburg 07/17/22
St David Dove Senior Columbia 07/24/22
St Francis of Assisi St Clare Senior Chapin 07/31/22
St George Sisters of Prayer Senior Spartanburg 08/07/22
St James Ruth Senior Taylors 08/14/22
St Luke St Luke Senior Columbia 08/21/22
St Luke St Monica Senior Newberry 08/28/22
St Martin St Martin Senior Columbia 09/04/22
St Mary Daughters Of Mary Senior Columbia 09/11/22
St Matthew St Angela Senior Spartanburg 09/18/22
St Michael Cindy Parrott Senior Easley 09/25/22
St Michael & All Angels Mary of Bethany Senior Columbia 10/02/22
St Peter Peace of the Holy Comforter Senior Greenville 10/09/22
St Philip Good Samaritan Women Senior Simpsonville 10/16/22
St Simon & St Jude Mary Magdalene Senior Columbia 10/23/22
St Thaddeus St Thaddeus Senior Aiken 10/30/22
St Timothy Mary and Martha of Bethany Senior Columbia 11/06/22
Trinity Cathedral St Helena Senior Columbia 11/13/22
Episcopal, Anglican, Lutheran, Roman Catholic Parishes without Chapters Both Upper South Carolina 11/20/22
The Order of the Daughters of the King Outside of our Diocese Both Not Upper South Carolina 11/27/22
The Order of the Daughters of the King Upper South Carolina 12/04/22
All Junior Daughters Chapters Diocesan 12/11/22
GRACE, pt. 2
Earlier this year I wrote about God’s grace, emphasizing that, since we have free will, we sometimes believe we do not need God’s grace and sin willingly, sometimes violently. We should realize that God does have grace to offer and we should be open to receiving it. Without it, we cannot come to Him.
Let’s revisit this concept of Grace. There is more to be said.
During the second half of August the selected readings for the daily offices have included the death of Stephen, a faithful apostle of Christ. We know the story of this beloved servant of God, who may have been the one to carry the cross for Jesus on the route to Golgotha. He continued to preach the new faith in Jesus Christ, but was not accepted by the Jews or Romans. After coming once again before the Sanhedran, we learn of his stoning and death. Even as he dies, he asks God to forgive the people.
How could God have allowed Stephen to die? Why did He willfully suspend His grace to his faithful servant and strike down his tormentors? Webster’s New World College Dictionary definition of Grace includes this concept "The unmerited love and favor of God toward human beings; divine influence acting in a person to make the person pure, morally strong; the condition of a person brought to God's favor through this influence.” Sounds as though Stephen qualified! He certainly kept his faith and witnessed to everyone about the blessings of God, even asking God to forgive those who were killing him. What was God doing here? Why wasn’t Stephen saved?
But, back up a moment. Did you notice something in that definition above? It states unmerited love and favor of God toward human beings. And passages in God’s Word enforce this idea:
· Titus 2:11-14 “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,
· Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
· Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
In other words, God loves us all, sinner, nonsinner (or so he thinks), believer and nonbeliever. He extends His grace to all, allowing all people another chance to come to believe in His love and salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ. In fact, in the telling of the death of Stephen, we learn of a familiar figure in Biblical literature: Saul, who hated the Christians and witnessed the stoning of Stephen, even holding the coats of those who threw the deadly weapons. God granted Saul, and others there that day, His grace to live another day, and another day. Until, one day Saul “saw the light,” repented and became the voice of God to many churches and believers. God spared the life of Saul that day, waiting for him to repent and come to a faith in Jesus Christ. God’s grace was not only for Stephen, who was taken to eternal life, but for the stoners and Saul.
It is always difficult to learn of the death of a dear friend or relative, especially now in these days of the Covid-19 affecting so very many. How many times do you find yourself asking “dear God, why him? He had so much faith that You would protect him.” But, of course, God does protect him—from eternal damnation. He gives His grace to all people, even those who do not (yet) believe, those who disobey His commandments, to those who have not yet heard of Him or have even rejected Him. We all receive His grace to live another day to continue our work here on earth: to please Him, to love Him, to spread the news of Him whenever and wherever we can.
So, let’s be about our work! Continue to please Him. Continue to love Him. Continue to spread His Word. It is what we can do, it is what we ought to do.
A Collect for Grace
O Lord, our heavenly Father, almighty and everlasting God, who hast safely brought us to the beginning of this day: Defend us in the same with thy mighty power; and grant that this day we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that we, being ordered by thy governance, may
do always what is righteous in thy sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Elaine Sandberg, Worship Chair