A Message from the Rector:

Happy New Year!

With the beginning of Advent we begin a new church year. Starting the church year in the growing dark before the winter solstice (at least in the northern hemisphere) is an evocative way to mark the waiting time before the coming of the Light. It is no secret that the church adapted the message of the coming of Jesus, light of the world, by turning to already existing images and holidays. (As a note from your resident religion scholar, this is what all religions do—and what we do naturally in our formal and informal interactions with one another as we reach out to make connections with people we’d like to know better and with whom we share what is important to us. It is “translation” in image, in action, and in resonance and shared meanings.)

I mentioned the “new year” a few weeks ago and that our scripture focus would change—a few people asked what that meant. The new church year, and new scripture focus, is connected to the pattern of readings that we follow called the Revised Common Lectionary, or “RCL.”

In the 1980s, the Episcopal Church along with numerous other mainline church communities including Methodists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, some Baptists, Lutherans, Catholics, and several others—formulated a three year cycle of Bible readings through the church year. We just finished Year A, which uses primarily readings from the Gospel according to Matthew, and are now in Year B, which features readings from the Gospel according to Mark. In Year C we draw primarily from the Gospel according to Luke. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are the “synoptic” Gospels—they shared common sources and share many parables and accounts of Jesus’ life. The Gospel according to John is the fourth gospel, and is very different from the other three. This Gospel does not have its own year; instead selections from John placed throughout all three years, especially in the seasons of Easter and Christmas. Other readings—the Hebrew Bible, the Psalm, and the Epistle readings—are chosen to coordinate with the Gospel passage for each Sunday of the three-year cycle.

There are some drawbacks to the RCL. It does not invite “sermon series” which are often a deep dive into a longer section of the Bible. The RCL jumps around from theme to theme, and we can lose important information about sequence and context that are essential to understanding Jesus’ teaching, life, and work. (That’s why that I spend some time each sermon giving context for the day’s lesson.) Another problem is that it is impossible to have every verse of the entire Bible included in a sequence of three years, unless we were committed to much longer Sunday services. Thus there are some parts of the Bible that you only read if you read them on your own. And the RCL often selects from here and there, not starting at the beginning of the Gospel or Book or Letter and going straight through. For the Gospel reading, which is the center of Christian scripture, this can be a problem. I think this is why Mark Allan Powell, one of my seminary professors, said that once a month we should plan to read the Gospel of the Year beginning to end so that we could become familiar with the larger theme and trajectory of each particular Gospel.

The RCL is a great gift, though, for many reasons. First, we can’t just pick and choose our favorite parts, and ignore the other parts. This is important to me personally: there about six years when I was not a church goer and did not consider myself Christian, in part because I had become aware of parts of the Bible that challenged and troubled me. It was only when I came to see the Bible as a conversation with the Holy One, as a way to foster a relationship, that I came back to the church. There’s stuff to work on in this relationship! The RCL helps me live into a commitment to engage all the Bible. I don’t get to pick my favorite parables and encounters and sentences to preach on. One of the great gifts to me of my time at St. Andrew’s that that many difficult and previously cringe-inducing passages that I would have avoided have opened up to me in beauty and in meaning because they were part of the RCL and I had to engage them fully to prepare for Sunday.

Another great gift of the RCL is that so many Christians around the world share it. It is quite common for my Methodist, Presbyterian, UCC, and Lutheran friends to ask me what I’m preaching on and how I approached the Word this week. There is a wealth of commentaries, meditations, past sermons, and resource books based on the cycle of the RCL, and these sources are enlightening and inspiring. The RCL creates a world wide ecumenical Christian community: you are hearing the same scriptures that your friends in many churches in Greencastle are hearing. [Note: I have not yet been able to preach someone else’s sermon, even when I have a tough week and am pinched for time. It just doesn’t work that way! Sermons are highly personal, both in terms of what I have discovered through study and prayer, and because while I prepare and write them I am thinking of you. I see individual faces of parishioners at St. Andrew’s in my mind’s eye who may have reason to respond to a particular way of understanding the week’s scripture. Other preachers I know all feel the same way—it is a weird but wonderful thing about being a priest and preacher.]

The RCL also works particularly well for the Episcopal church and its specific liturgical flavor, which has deep roots in the movement of the church’s seasonal calendar. We live and relive the times and the stories we find in the Bible in the seasons of the church that don’t always map onto the secular calendar. The seasons at their most basic are:

  • Advent and preparation for the coming of Christ as a baby in a particular time and place by God coming in human flesh
  • Epiphany, the celebration of the light of Christ in the world and key moments of what the light of Christ brings
  • Lent, another time of preparation, but this one that has us looking at the brokenness of humanity and being called to be honest about ourselves so that we can grow closer to God
  • Holy Week, especially Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, when we relive Jesus’ “Passion”—that is, the great challenge and trial with religious and political leaders who were threatened by his message of peace and acceptance of all
  • 50 Days of Easter—Easter Sunday and the seven weeks or 50 days that follow—delving into the mystery that from death and apparent failure came new and abundant life in seeing the astounded disciples find Jesus in the midst and themselves utterly transformed
  • The Feast of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit and launching of the church after Jesus’ time on earth
  • The Season after Pentecost, a growing time when we dig into key stories, when our church finds its growing time and its faith in the everyday outside of Christmas and Easter.

Our sanctuary speaks the language of church season through colors that coordinate with these times. The colors you see in the sanctuary are another language:

  • Blue/purple for times of preparation (blue for Advent, echoing the traditional portrayal of Mary; purple for Lent as a color of royalty to remind us of Jesus’ unique kingship)
  • White for times of feast and celebration (feast days like All Saints, Epiphany, Transfiguration and Trinity, the season of Christmas and the season of Easter)
  • Red for the Feast of Holy Spirit, Pentecost, to invoke the tongues of flame that appeared over the community as people began hearing the Bible in their own languages. Red is also used to observe the feast day of a martyr, the red symbolizing blood
  • Green for the growing times—the season of Epiphany after Christmas and the day of Epiphany, and the long season after Pentecost until the beginning of Advent.

If any of this—Years A, B, and C; church calendar, RCL, liturgical colors—is news to you, let me encourage you to make a New Year’s resolution to make this the year that you lean into the seasons and the lectionary. Mark is the shortest Gospel—this could be the year to spend one day each month reading all of Mark. You will likely begin to see patterns and rhythms that weren’t apparent with the bite-sized passages heard on a Sunday. Pay attention to the moments of the church year through its seasons. Since we live in the Northern Hemisphere, where the church first took root, note the way the symbols and readings connect to what is happening in nature. It is no accident that our long “growing time” coincides with the growth of crops in the fields during the late spring, summer, and early autumn.

When the Bible encourages us to “taste and see that the Lord is good” it is more than figurative. It is an invitation for our worship and our walk in faith to use all that we have and all that we are: our intellect, our emotions, our bodies and five senses, our inspirations. The Christian walk is a Way of life that can be integrated into every moment of our lives and of the life of the world.

Jen+

Connect With Us

Rector’s Office Drop-In Time

Rev. Jen has set her office drop-in day as Wednesday of each week from 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. for anyone who would like to stop in and visit. You are always invited to make an appointment for a time convenient for you. Mondays are her Sabbath day. NOTE: Rev. Jen will be out of the office January 2 – January 11, 2024.

The Second Sunday of Advent

Sunday Morning In-Person Worship Service, December 10, led by The Rev. Dr. Jennifer Oldstone-Moore, 10:15 a.m.

You can stream the service via St. Andrew’s Facebook Page. Click on this link to view the Live Stream. We will start the Live Stream 5 minutes prior to the start of the service.

Click here for the service booklet for December 10.

The Latest Updates

YOUTH GAME AND CRAFT DAY: SUNDAY, DECEMBER 10

All are invited for an afternoon of Advent crafts, games, and a potluck lunch this Sunday, December 10 at approximately 11:45 a.m. Youth from Gobin will join us after the service for a festive afternoon of fun and fellowship.

GIVING TREE

We have received the Giving Tree tags. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this organization, it is for children in need living in Putnam County to receive Christmas gifts. Each child receives an article of clothing, a toy, and one other item. Our assigned children range from 2-15 years of age. If you would rather not shop you can make a donation and we will do the shopping for you! If you choose this option you can give me your donation at church or mail them to me at 709 Toddson Drive. The checks can be made out to me or to St. Andrew’s. All gifts must be unwrapped. The limit for each gift is $25.00. Please bring your items to church or deliver to my house by Wednesday, December 6. My phone number is 653-6734 (H) or 720-0105 (C). Thank you in advance for your generosity and kindness. Blessings, Gwen Morris.

PLEDGE DRIVE EXTENDED

Due to not all forms being received back on November 26, the drive has been extended until this coming Sunday, December 10. If you didn’t receive your form, please call Renee in the office and she will take care of you!

CHRISTMAS FLOWER REMEMBRANCES

Christmas flower forms were included in the December 3 service sheet. Please return those to the church office by Sunday, December 17.

HELP NEEDED WITH SEVERAL MINISTRIES

Both the Altar Guild and Beyond Homeless Shepherds are in need of persons to help out monthly. If you are able to help out a month or two a year or just want more information, please contact Renee in the church office. We are also in need of Ushers, Lectors, Intercessors, Chalice Bearers, Coffee Hour hosts, and Youth Acolytes.

EVENING PRAYER

Most weeks, the Tuesday Bible and Book group meet at 4:30 p.m. On these Tuesdays, there is a service of Evening Prayer beginning at 4:00 p.m. Don’t be afraid to join in even if you come late.

COMMUNION AT THE WATERS, SUNDAY, DECEMBER 10

Once a month Sunday services are continuing at The Waters. The next service will be this Sunday, December 10 at 2:00 – 2:45 p.m. If you’d like to help with this ministry in any way, please contact Rev. Jen or Renee. All are welcome to attend!

BIBLE AND BOOK GROUP, TUESDAY, DECEMBER 12, 4:30 PM

Our Bible study/books group(s) started up again. We are reading “Belonging” by Karoline Lewis.

THIS WEEK’S SHOPPING LIST FOR NON-FOOD PANTRY

Please add tampons, toilet paper, and bleach to your shopping list for the NFP. Every little bit helps our budget go farther in helping meet the needs of folks in Putnam County. The next Non-Food Pantry will be Saturday, December 16 from noon – 2:00 p.m. There is a sign-up sheet posted in Hamilton Hall for folks to help with a product pick-up and/or as well as for help on December 16 at the monthly distribution. FYI: Baskets at church are now dedicated for the NFP and not the food pantry.

SAVE THE DATE FOR FEBRUARY 21, 2024

The Philadelphia Eleven documentary will be shown at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday, February 21, 2024 at Korb Classroom in the Wabash College Fine Arts Building. After the screening Bishop Jennifer will participate in a panel discussion.

FREE DAILY DEVOTIONAL

We have some large print Day by Day daily devotionals in the sanctuary that you are free to take home for your personal devotions–and if we know that people would like copies, we can order the right amount. Many of you may also appreciate the on-line version of Day to Day. Click here.

ON-GOING COVID PROTOCOL

We continue to respond to both our county’s current CDC designation and to the current variant. Masking is optional. Those who serve bread and wine will mask so that anyone who comes to the altar can feel secure. Decisions on COVID policy have moved from the Reconvening Committee to Rev. Jen and the Wardens.

Prayers and Reflections for This Week

We have heard that the daily reflections and scripture readings provided during Lent were appreciated. The meditations are written by persons from Gobin UMC and Beech Grove UMC. They will be in the newsletter each week and go from Wednesday to Tuesday, except for Sunday. Whether you enjoy these every day or as the Spirit moves you, may this resource continue to bring you spiritual food for the journey. Blessings!

Click here to view the readings and accompanying links.

Non-Food Pantry Latest

Saturday, December 16

• Noon to 2:00 p.m.
There will be a distribution in Hamilton Hall and light lunches will be served inside. We are grateful for all those who have worked so hard to obtain supplies for the Non-Food Pantry. Items are having to be purchased from a variety of sources making it much more expensive. Donations to help offset this extra cost will be gratefully accepted! NOTE: Distributions now take place indoors and participants must provide proof that they live within Putnam County. Note new hours of operation beginning December 16, 2023, noon – 2:00 p.m.

Top 3 Needed Items
  • Bleach

  • Tampons

  • Toilet Paper

Your prayers are asked for:

Peggy Angleton
The family of Gabrielle Antonidias, friend of Jen+
Haile Bane, grandson of Joanne Haymaker
Beth Benedix, friend to many of us at Saint Andrew’s
Sharon Bone, friend of Emily Knuth
Douglas Butler, brother-in-law of Claudia Butler
Richard A. Butler, father-in-law of Claudia Butler
Adam Cohen, friend of St. Andrew’s
Anita Edenfield, friend of Skip Sutton
Nathan Elson, friend of Michael Knuth
Bob Fatzinger, brother of Barbara Pare
Cynthia Florindo, friend of Claudia Butler
The family of Alan Good, father of Tim Good
The family of Adele Rietz Grobe, mother of Claudia Butler
Mae Haymaker, granddaughter of Joanne Haymaker
Kimberley Heithaus, niece of Joe & Jenny Heithaus
Lisa Breese Kincaid, daughter of Bob & Mimi Breese
Thad Jones, brother of Steve Jones
The family of Jane McRae, friend of Claudia Butler
Mary Mountz
Tom Mullen, father of Patti Harmless
Logan Murray, grandson of Dave & Sue Murray
Marilyn & Leo Nelson, sister & brother-in-law of Joanne Haymaker
Sarah Oldstone, sister-in-law of Jen+
Brian Pohlar, friend of Trudy Selvia and many at St. Andrew’s
Martha Rainbolt
Gordon Redden
The family of Jack Romer, friend to many at St. Andrew’s
The family of Kathy Sanders, friend of Suzanne Hassler
Elizabeth & Natalie Sheffler, daughter & granddaughter of Page & Narda Cotton
Gloria Smith
Skip Sutton
Karen Swalley, friend of Thom & Gwen Morris
The family of Jerry Taylor, friend of Warren & Connie Macy
Sydnor Thompson, brother of Harriet Moore
Deb Wilder, sister of Connie Macy
The family of Bill Yeazell, friend of Chris Oldstone-Moore
Dwight Ziegler, brother of Stephanie Gurnon

Diocesan Cycle of Prayer: Trinity Church, Anderson: The Rev. Bob Dekker, Rector.

Our companion dioceses: The Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil: The Most Rev. Mauricio Jose Araujo De Andrade, Primate of Brazil and Bishop of Brasilia. The people and Diocese of Haiti and Saint Andre’s in Mithon.

Anglican Cycle of Prayer: The Church of Pakistan (United).

Birthdays: John Berry, December 10; Dennis Knuth, December 12; Joe Heithaus, December 13.

Anniversaries: None.

Special Events and Services

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