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December 24, 2008
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Dear Friend,

Finally! Advent ends and our celebration of Christmas begins.

In church, white replaces royal blue as the color of the season, and the church is wonderfully decorated for the twelve days of the Christmas celebration. The anticipatory music of Advent is replaced by the joyous music of Christmas.

At home, our Christmas tree comes inside, Christmas decorations new and old go up, and Christmas parties begin.

What a season! 

Merry Christmas!

A Note on our Christmas Services

Welcome to Grace Church.

Christmas FlowerToday we celebrate the birth of the world's Savior. The hymns and readings remind us that the Son of God was born into this world at a specific time and place. This is a celebration of more than an idea or a philosophy. It is the coming of God to be one of us and to join his divine life to our humanity, thus joining things earthly and things heavenly into one new life. That life is ours to share with God, with each other and with all the world.

You are invited to join us in this celebration, regardless of your race or tongue or faith, for God is the salvation of all people in all times.

We hope you will find in this service renewed certainty that God has visited his people. We know that it is in this birth that the deepest and best hopes of humankind are met.

May the holy child of Bethlehem be born in our hearts this day.
The Vicar's Christmas Message for 2008
The Reverend Ernestein FlemisterMy Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

At this time each year, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, Our Savior.

This year, it will be difficult for many to hear the Good News of Jesus' birth, let alone celebrate or share.  2008 has been a turbulent year; with the historic election of the country's first African-American president, the massive meltdown and bailout of Wall Street and its aftershock of job losses, foreclosures, and the collapse of the auto industry, we are uncertain of what the future holds. 

As we approach the end of this year, we need to focus on the birth of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who bring us hope in the midst of our anxiety and concerns.

The birth of Jesus brings light and hope to a broken and struggling world.  We remember and recall that we worship and serve a God who is faithful and able and is with us no matter our circumstance.  This event in our salvation history points to a God of love who has never given up on us, a God who continuously welcomes us into his warm and loving embrace, a God who comforts us in our time of despair, a God who lifts us up when we fall, and a God who brings us compassion and joy.
Now, more than ever, we need to remember and celebrate the God who became flesh and dwells with us.  We need to remember the love that binds and keeps us together.  We, the Body of Christ, need to be the heart, hands and feet of God in our community and the world.  We need to respond to the needs of those who have lost their jobs, their homes or their hope for the future, showing the love and compassion of Jesus as he modeled for us in his life and ministry.  We need to be the community that cares and comforts, feeds and clothes, and provides support when times seem the darkest.  It is only by bearing one anther's burdens, by sharing and identifying with our sisters and brothers in need can we truly become the community of faith that God calls us to become.  

"Do not be afraid; for see--I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger."

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!"

Merry Christmas and a blessed and Happy New Year to you and your family!

Rev. Ernestein+
Coming Events at Grace

Grace Church Calendar

In the coming week:

ChristmasGrace's celebration of Christmas begins with a festive Christmas Eve Service on Wednesday, December 24, at 10 pm.

We continue our Christmas celebration with a quiet Christmas Day Service on Thursday, December 25, at 10 am.

For the rest of the week:
  • Choir Practice, Thursday, December 25, 7 pm.
  • Parish Christmas Dinner Dance December 27, 7 pm.
  • Choir Practice, Sunday, December 28, 9 am.
  • Eucharist Rite I (traditional words), Sunday, December 28, 10 am.
Coming special events:
  • Bishop Breidenthal Visitation, January 4, at the 10 am service..
  • Annual Meeting January 26.
Take a look at the newly-reformatted Grace Church Calendar for uptodate information on meetings and services at at Grace.  Let us know if we've missed anything.
Katherine Jefferts SchoriA Message from the Presiding Bishop  

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it (John 1:5). 

The world settles into winter, at least in the northern hemisphere, and life to many seems increasingly bleak. Foreclosures, layoffs, government bailouts and financial failures, continuing war on two fronts, terrorist attacks, murders of some identified only by their faith--this world is in abundant need of light.

We know light that is not overcome by darkness, for God has come among us in human flesh. Born in poverty to a homeless couple, to a people long under occupation, Jesus is human and divine evidence that God is with us in the midst of the world's darkness. Emmanuel, Prince of Peace, Divine Counselor is come among us to re-mind, re-member, and re-create. A new mind and heart is birthed in us as we turn to follow Jesus on the way. The body of God's creation is re-membered and put back together in ways intended from the beginning. And a new creation becomes reality through Jesus' healing work.

Christians tell the story again each Christmastide, and the telling and remembering invites us once again into being made whole. Our task in every year is to hear the story with new ears, and seeing light in the darkness of this season's woes, then to tell it abroad with gladsome hearts to those who wait in darkness. Where will you share the joyous tale of light in the darkness?

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop, The Episcopal Church
Twenty West College Hill Children Receive Gifts

Christmas PresentsTwenty smiling children received personal gifts of clothing and toys this week at the children's holiday party at the West College Hill Community Center. Their happiness was a result of the generosity and thoughtfulness of many members of Grace Episcopal Church in response to the annual "Giving Tree" project of the Outreach Committee.

Those interested in participating took a "tag" from the tree which had been prepared by WCH Center staff with the child's name and clothing size.  They personally shopped for that child and returned the wrapped gifts under the tree on December 21. 

The Outreach Committee thanks all those who made these children's holiday brighter and who helped carry on this Grace Church tradition.

Thanks to Grace Staples for this article.
Christmas FlowersChristmas Thanks

The church is at its most beautiful at Christmas, and this year is no exception.

Our thanks go to Carol Lyon, Susan Givler, Grace Staples and Ken Lyon for coming in Tuesday, undeterred by rain and sleet, to prepare our church to support our celebration of Christmas in worship.

Our thanks go also to those who contributed the Christmas flowers:
  • At the High Altar: Susan Givler in thanksgiving for children and grandchildren; John and Christine Thayer in Memory of our Grandparents,George and Mary Matile.
  • At the Communion Table: Ken and Carol Lyon in Thanksgiving for family and friends.
  • Aisle greens: Wanda Miller; Judy and Walter Handy.
  • Poinsettias: Mary McLain, Charlotte Battistone, Grace Staples, Tammy Robertson in thanks for all babies; Florence and Bob Poyer in memory of Don Poyer.
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Ken Lyon, Editor.
Grace Episcopal Church | Phone: 513-541-2415 | 5501 Hamilton Avenue at Belmont Avenue | College Hill (Cincinnati) | OH | 45224