The Epistle Volume 1

December 1, 2018 – December 31, 2018
 
Volume 1 | December 2018
 
The Epistle
 
Come, thou long expected Jesus,
Born to set thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in thee.
(Charles Wesley)
 
Thus begins one of the season’s great Advent hymns. It was written by Charles Wesley in 1744 in response to the great poverty that surrounded him. It speaks to the longing of the human heart for the coming of the Messiah into all that surrounds us: a planet seeking healing, a world in search of harmony, a neighbor longing for consolation and the human soul’s need for peace. It is a quiet time of year. The nights are long; the sun fades before its time. It’s a time of preparation to cast aside that which distracts us that we might hear the faint whimper of a newborn Child. Come, thou long expected Jesus, come.
 
During the season of Advent, St. Paul’s has been tending to the needs of our neighbors. We are open to offering a Safe Space for “unhomed” youth in our neighborhood. We provide a place for 12-Step groups to find a path for recovery. We are a space where all are welcome to come and worship – business people and those in need standing side by side to pray. We’ve shared coats, blankets, sleeping bags and sack lunches. Come, thou long expected Jesus, come.
 
As our Advent Wreath shines more brightly each week, we look to the night when it is lit in full glory and the bells of Christmas Eve ring out for all to hear. For on that night, fear and sin are put to flight and we will catch, even if only for a few moments, what it is to experience the Light of Christ coming into the world, scattering the darkness from before our feet.
 
I invite you to bring your family, invite a friend and join us these during these last few weeks of Advent and prepare to hear the sounds of the newborn Child who has come into the world to set us free.
 
Advent Blessings to all,
Lynell+
The Rev. Canon Lynell Walker
Priest-in-Charge
 
Thank You!!
 
St. Paul’s members and friends are deeply grateful to Keith Askew assisted by Richard Kennedy for installing scaffolding this week and repairing and replacing the burned out lights in the sanctuary. There was a time when we could call the fire department to help with such chores, but that is no longer an option due to the high demand on their time.
 
Keith was able to repair a broken connection and replace necessary bulbs so that we can more fully enjoy Christmas Eve and Sunday services as well. Renting the scaffolding yielded a major savings to our parish and we are most grateful to these two beloved elves! Please join me in extending our gratitude.
 
Pledge Campaign Update
 
St. Paul’s Vestry is grateful to our members and friends who have pledged for 2019.
We have received 41 pledges totaling $75,234.50. Last year we received 33 pledges
for $61,409.00. The Vestry passed a budget for the new year and they work
very hard to be good stewards of God’s bounty.
 
With deep gratitude,
Lynell+
Rev. Canon Lynell Walker+
The Greening of St. Paul’s
December 15 th 9:00am to noon
 
This Saturday from 9am to noon we will be Greening St. Paul’s for Christmas. Please come in “gardening gear” and help us string the garland and decorate the Christmas Tree for the upcoming holiday season. Many hands make light work and we should be finished by noon if we get started on time. It’s a wonderful time to help adorn this sacred space that we might honor the Christ Child to be born anew in our hearts and in our lives.
Outreach at St. Paul’s
Sack Lunch Sunday, December 16 th
 
We are making sack lunches one week early this month and invite you to bring individually wrapped and non-perishable items to the Parish Hall Sunday December 16 th. Items can include: foil packed tuna, Vienna sausages, jello, fruit cups, protein bars, juice boxes, individually wrapped cookies or fruit roll-ups. Following the 10am service we will create the individual sack lunches to distribute during the holidays. The next ingathering will be Sunday, January 27 th .
 
Aid to Paradise Fire Victims
 
If you would like to aid the Fire Victims in Paradise please make a check out to St. Paul’s and put “Fire Victims” in the memo line. We will match the gift with monies from our bequest and send to the Diocese for distribution.  To date, St. Paul’s has sent $1200.00. So grateful for you generous response.
Canned Food Drive
for River City Food Bank
 
Thank you for your donations to River City. We will be collecting cans and packaged food through the end of December. They are especially needing Lentils, Beans and Raisins. I have just delivered our most recent donations so the baskets are empty and ready to refill. Please check to be sure that the use date is current. We can’t send anything that has an expired date.
Blue Christmas
at All Saints Episcopal, Sacramento
 
The service of Blue Christmas will be held on
Sunday, December 16 th , at 4:00pm
at All Saints, 2076 Sutterville Road, Sacramento 95822
 
Blue Christmas is a time to bring our whole selves and our whole lives into the presence of God, particularly those parts that make us sad, or “blue.” Whether it is the loss of a loved one, a change for the worse in health, or any difficult life situation, God longs to be with us and to let us know God’s love and comfort. At the service of Blue Christmas we gather, hear and reflect on God’s word, and share the bread and wine, Christ’s body and blood, broken and shed for us, as Christ was one of us. We have the opportunity to allow God to comfort us and those around us. All are invited.
Have a Stress Less Christmas
 
By Barb Chandler
 
Do thoughts about Christmas’s past make you sad? Or, the demands of entertaining, shopping, baking, parties, and decorating cause your stress levels to skyrocket? Planning for the season may help ward off these unwelcome Christmas guests.
 
E. Christine Moll, PhD, chair and professor of counseling and human services at Canisius College, Buffalo, New York, says the following three areas can trigger stress or depression:
 
  • Relationships: During the holidays conflicts and misunderstandings often occur when family members gather. If you are facing the holidays without a loved one, you may find yourself lonely or sad.
 
  • Finances: Gifts, travel, food and entertainment cause stress as you try to make ends meet while ensuring that you have everything to make the holiday happy for all.
 
  • Physical Demands: The endless stream of shopping, social gatherings, and preparing holiday meals is exhausting, causing your stress level to rise. Exercise, sleep, and eating properly may take a back seat to holiday preparations setting the stage for holiday illness.
 
What Should You Do If You Are Feeling Anything But Jolly?
 
“When stress is at its peak, it’s hard to stop and regroup,” says Moll. “Take steps to help prevent normal holiday depression from progressing into chronic depression.” Moll suggests the following tips:
 
  • Acknowledge Your Feelings: It’s normal to feel sadness or grief if a loved one has recently died or you aren’t near your loved ones. Seek out people who will listen to your feelings and be supportive. If you feel isolated or down seek out community, religious, or social services. Consider volunteering. Getting involved and helping others can lift spirits and broaden your social circle. You don’t have to force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.
 
  • Be Realistic: Just the same as life changes so do traditions. In some cases, it may no longer be possible to keep all the traditions. If you’re not able to be with your family or friends for the holidays, modify the old traditions to your present situation or create new ones.
 
  • Set Differences Aside: Try to accept family members and friends as they are― even though they don’t live up to your expectations. With stress and activity levels high, set aside grievances for a more appropriate time.
 
  • Stick to a Budget: Gifts, travel, holiday foods and entertainment can be beyond one’s budget, yet some feel compelled to spend beyond it and become stressed when money is just not there. Before going shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend on gifts and other items. Then be sure to stick to your budget.
 
  •  Plan: Make a list of what you need to do, then set aside specific days for shopping, baking, and, other activities. By planning your menus and gift buying, you can avoid last minute trips to the store to buy forgotten items.
 
  • Don’t Abandon Healthy Habits: Don’t let the holidays become a dietary free-for-all. Overindulgence adds to your stress and guilt. Have a snack before holiday parties. Make some time for yourself. Spending 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Continue to get plenty of sleep and schedule time for physical activity.
 
  • Forget About Perfection: Real life is not like holiday movies that have happy endings. Something is bound to come up that you never thought about. You may get stuck at the office and miss your child’s Christmas play; your sister may dredge up an old argument; you may forget to put an ingredient in the cake; or your mother may criticize how you and your partner are raising the kids. Expect and accept imperfections.
 
  • Seek Professional Help If You Need It: Despite your best efforts, you are still feeling sad, anxious, or plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. Talk with your doctor or a mental health professional.
 
“The holidays can trigger stress and depression. Accept that things aren’t always going to go as planned,” says Moll. “Then take active steps to manage stress and depression during the holidays. You may actually enjoy the holidays this year more than you thought you could.”
FACT OR FANTASY:
YOU BE THE JUDGE
 
By Barb Chandler
 
“I wonder what the ducks will talk about?” I thought staring at the group of ducks floating on the water.
 
My question came from a story I heard about the animals talking at midnight on Christmas Eve. I wanted to find out about the origins of the myth so Googled the subject.
The legend stems from the belief that Jesus’s birth leads to a lot of supernatural occurrences and comes from the story of the animals in the stable bowing down when He was born. There are several versions of this tale from around the world.
 
In the book “Tailor of Gloucester” by Beatrix Potter, she writes that a tailor’s cat, Simpkin, makes peace with the talking mice, and the animals finish the coat the tailor was too sick to finish.
 
According to Earl Hammer’s “The Homecoming,” there was a tradition of children living in the Smokey Mountains to go to the barn at the stroke of midnight, so they could hear the animals pray. The cows would start lowing or the sheep bleating but not in their normal way. It sounded as if they were crying or bellowing. The belief harkened back to when the animals were present when the Christ child was born.
 
A charming story titled “The Night The Animals talked” from a Norwegian legend about animals talking on Christmas Eve. The story focuses on the stable suddenly showered with light from the Christmas star. The sleeping animals woke up and realized they could talk to each other. The animals use their ability to talk to establish superiority over each other, and especially over two hogs who aren’t allowed inside the stable. The leader of the animals, an ox, becomes angered by their behavior and reveals they are acting like humans. The animals realize the error of their behavior and begin to make amends. When the donkey carrying Mary announces the couple needs shelter. The animals, who usually did not allow humans into their stable, relented and that night the Christ child was born. The animals were overwhelmed with love for each other, and even the hogs were invited in to see the baby. The animals realized they had been given the gift of speech, so they could tell the world about the miracle. When they ran through the streets of Bethlehem to spread the good news each animal loses his gift. They return to the stable with newfound love and respect for one another. The last to lose his speech was the ox who was left to wonder if humanity will ever understand the miracle it has been given.
Animals aren’t the only ones talking.
 
Hilda Ransome in her book “The Sacred Bees in Ancient Times and Folklore” says that in many parts of England and Scotland at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve bees are said to emit a buzzing sound.
 
From his book “Folk-lore of the Northern Counties of England and their Borders,” William Henderson tells about a European legend where bees swam in order to hum a Christmas Carol at midnight.
 
These are only a few of the many tales from various cultures about animals or insects talking on Christmas Eve. They are fanciable stories to be sure, yet very suitable for a night when the veil between heaven and earth lifts and the world is turned upside down reversing roles.
 
Christmas at St. Paul’s
 
Lessons and Carols:
 
The St. Paul’s Choir will sing Lessons and Carols at the 10:00am service on Sunday, December 16 .  Please join us and invite your friends and family. This is a stunning service of music, prayer and Holy Eucharist and will help us prepare for the coming of the Christ Child into our hearts and lives. (The 8:00am service will be the standard Sunday liturgy.)
 
Advent IV and Christmas Services:  
 
Sunday morning services (Advent IV) ,
December 23 rd at 8:00am and 10:00am  as usual. 
 
Christmas Eve Candlelight Service
Monday, December 24 th at 8:00pm.  
 
Christmas Day Service
on Tuesday, December 25 th at 10:00am.
 
Christmas Greening/Flower Donations
 
You are invited to make a donation to cover the Christmas Greens and Flowers. Please make a check out to St. Paul’s with “Christmas Greening” in the memo line. If you wish to honor a friend or loved one please use the form below. Names will be listed in the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day programs.
 
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
1430 J Street, Sacramento, California 95814
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 160914, Sacramento, CA 95816
Phone: 916.446.2620 + Emergency On-Call Phone: 916.214.0382