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February 14, 2009
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Dear Friend,

Your editor left our annual meeting two Sundays ago feeling rather discouraged. Yes, he had heard all the good things, but he had also heard about a huge budget deficit that needs to be somehow brought into balance.

"What if we can't find the money" he thought. "We'll have to close if we can't," he thought. He reviewed his mental list of things he wanted to do at Grace, and suddenly, he felt very very tired.  What's the point, he thought, if our demise is imminent?

During last Sunday's service, he remembered Jim and Susan, two long-time active members whose funerals had just taken place. Death seemed all around.

He thought about Jim and Susan. They had been energetic contributors right up to the ends of their lives. They had certainly been old enough to realize that their life wouldn't go on forever, but that hadn't slowed them down. Then he thought about his own reaction to being told that he had a potentially fatal disease. He had experienced a sense urgency and great energy: if time is to be short,  then now's the time to put aside unessential things and get on with the important things he had been putting off until later.

"Hmmmmph!" he thought. "Why not take that attitude about Grace?  If our life is to be short, then why not use that time to be the people and do the things we haven't gotten around to yet?"

It was only then that he remembered overhearing Paul Zoller, Grace's Senior Warden a couple of decades back, say, "People are worried that we might run out of money soon and might have to close the doors. Some want to cut back on our progams to extend the time we can stay alive. As long as I'm warden, I say that we should continue to operate full blast for as long as we can, and if that means we have to close our doors sooner, then at least we'll do it with all flags flying." 

Interesting persective, he thought....

Ken Lyon, Editor

PS: You can read the 2008 Annual Reports, including the work-in-progress 2009 budget here.
This Sunday's 10 AM Service

This Sunday's 10 am service will be a Deacon's Mass with Deacon Gary Givler presiding and preaching. Vicar Ernestein is in Chicago and will return on Tuesday.

Join Bennyce Hamilton for coffee hour and refreshments in the parlor after the service.

A Deacon's Mass?

In the absence of a priest to consecrate the bread and wine, a deacon may lead the service using bread and wine previously consecrated by a priest. In that case, the words of consecration are omitted from the service.
Valentine's Day Reflections

Laura Hall and Vicar Ernestein offer this reflection for today--Valentine's Day.

As Valentine's Day approaches, Vicar Ernestein and I were discussing the origin and history of Valentine's Day.  We questioned the significant meaning of Valentine's Day for us today.  It is more than just about romantic love and giving flowers, candy and cards; does it hold a deeper message? Primarily, what does Valentine's Day mean in the context of our faith in today's struggles?
The history of Valentine's Day is rather obscure. Legend states that its roots are in the ancient pagan Roman festival of Lupercalia, which was celebrated on February 15th to ensure protection from wolves.  This celebration paid homage to the gods Faunus and Lupercus and to the twin brothers Romulus and Remus, the mythological founders of Rome.  According to mythology, Romulus and Remus were suckled by wolves in a cave in the city of Rome.  The cave was named Lupercal and the
Romans used this cave as a center of Lupercalia ceremonies.  During these ceremonies, young men called Luperci (priests) allegedly struck women with animal hides to increase their fertility. 
Many scholars agree that Lupercalia was moved from February 15th to February 14th and was Christianized by associating it with St. Valentine. It still remains unclear who the historical St. Valentine was.

One legend holds that St. Valentine was a Roman martyred for refusing to get up his Christian faith. While St. Valentine was jailed, he healed the blind daughter of his jailer and sent her a farewell note signed "From Your Valentine."
Another legend states that St. Valentine was a temple priest who was jailed for defiance around the year A.D. 269 during the reign of Claudius the Goth.  Emperor Claudius believed that marriage weakened the ranks of his army and therefore outlawed marriage. This particular St. Valentine was said to have performed many secret marriages despite the proclamation that made marriage illegal.  When Emperor Claudius heard about St. Valentine he attempted to convert him to paganism.  But, St. Valentine in turn attempted to convert Emperor Claudius to Christianity.  His fateful attempts resulted in his execution.

It was Pope Gelasius in 496 A.D. who Christianized the pagan festival and moved it to February 14th as a celebration in honor of St. Valentine's martyrdom.
So what does all this melding of paganism and Christianity have to do with our lives in relationship to our faith community?  Is there a hidden message we can extract from this history and legend? 

Perhaps the most wonderfully significant message that can be used to reflect on St. Valentine's Day is found in Paul's letter to the Christians in Corinth in which he discusses spiritual gifts.  Paul says that the greatest gift of the spirit is love.  This love is not love in an ordinary or general sense, but the love which is known within the church--agape.

"Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. ... Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. ... So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the great of these is love."

We celebrate love on Valentine's Day. That love as expressed by the Apostle Paul is the greatest of all gifts.  The love we share with partners, children, family, friends and neighbors is to be treasured and used to provide comfort, strength, healing, reconciliation and peace in a world that often looks with cynicism on it.  It is a love that endures and abides with us through all circumstances and situations. 

On this February 14, 2009, remember and appreciate all those you love and who love you. Cherish the joy of their love in your heart throughout the year. 

Festival Choral Eucharist to Honor Absalom Jones Sunday

Absalom Jones Service

Keep in Your Prayers ... 

Prayer Requests Eloise Pinto, Ruth Bertram, Joyce Markham; Mrs. Matthews; Judy Handy, Shelly Martin, Barbara Todd; Kim Martin, Robb Martin; Florence and Bob Poyer; Dean Bryeans, Mary Hall, Chris; Irene Bryeans; Joshua, Caleb, Anne, and Darryl Handy; Marcus Flemister; Kim Herrmann, Al Berghausen; Teri; Mary Lou Bellows; Jackie Lewis. The families of Jim Dietz and Susan Dewbrey.
Episcopal Healing Ministry Update

Episcopal Healing Ministry Foundation LogoGrace member Hawley Todd is Formation Director for the Episcopal Healing Ministry Foundation. He sends along this update:.

Dear Friends,

Over the past year, many of you have asked me what I am doing with the Episcopal Healing Ministry Foundation (EHMF). In the Fall, EHMF put together a newsletter to explain what we are doing and our goals for 2009. It is on our web site.
Since the News was written, I have agreed to lead a breakout session for the Refresh Your Soul conference in March and will doing two different workshops for the National Episcopal Health Ministries conference in Omaha in April.  Another high point is that the Rt. Rev. Thomas Breidenthal, the Bishop of the Diocese of Southern Ohio, has agreed to be our Bishop Advisor.
EHMF needs your help.  While we currently have about 50 intercessors, my hope is to recruit more people to pray for the requests we receive. Prayer is at the heart of all we do, so if you'd like to join us, email me and let me know!  We also need financial donations.  Over the past year, those of us on staff have donated our own resources to cover all of the expenses of the foundation.  Asking for donations has never been an easy task for me.  I am comfortable doing many ministries in the church, but fund raising is one I always avoided.  However, if you can help in any way, please send your contributions to the Episcopal Healing Ministry Foundation, Christ Church Cathedral, 318 East Fourth St., Cincinnati, OH 45202.
I truly love what I am doing and feel that the Lord has blessed our work.  The most rewarding aspect of the work so far has been mentoring healing teams and helping parishes establish wholeness and healing ministries.
May Jesus bless you in all that you do!
In Christ's Love
and my love
PancakesShove Tuesday Pancake Supper Ushers in Lent

Mark your calendars now for our Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper February 24 starting at 6 pm. Enjoy pancakes, sausages, orange juice, milk, coffee & tea. Donations go to Grace.
Grace Hosts Workshop on Reconciliation in the Church

Grace Church Vicar Ernestein Flemister and Lisa Hughes of Worklife Associates will lead a workshop on "Reconciliation in the Church" at Grace Church on Sunday, March 1, from 1 to 3:30 pm.  Light refreshments will be served. The workshop is open to members of any and all churches.

This interactive workshop will present an overview of conflict transformation suitable for members and leaders of churches who are currently experiencing conflict or those who simply want to recognize and ease potentially destructive conflicts that jeopardize mission and relationships.

Topics include:
  • The Nature and Role of Conflict
  • Conflict in the New Testament: Finding Renewal in Conflict
  • Interpersonal Peacemaking Skills

Deanery Lenten Series Begins Tuesday March 3

Clergy from the Cincinnati West Deanery of the Diocese will host a a Lenten Series beginning Tuesday, March 3, and continuing through March 24. Classes on a variety of topics will be led by the Reverends David Halt, Bob Hufford, David Bailey, Rosa Autry Brown, Pat Merchant and our own Ernestein Flemister.

The series will be held at Ascension and Holy Trinity Church in Wyoming.  Each evening will begin with a put luck meal at 6:30 pm. 
First UCCFirst UCC Holds Annual Sauerkraut Dinner

First United Church of Christ in College Hill holds its annual Sauerkraut Dinner Saturday, February 28. Along with the featured sauerkraut, the menu will include sausage, mashed potatoes, spatzle, vegetable, and dessert. Some spaces remain at the 4:30 seating. Cost is $9.50 for adults, $4 for children. Take-out orders, as well as sausage by the pound, are available. Make reservations at 513-541-7302.

(We are posting this notice here in return for First UCC publicizing our own Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper.)
Heating System Update

The old heating system in the education wing is being completely replaced with five separate hot air systems. This will allow us to cut our gas bill by heating only the parts of that building that need heat.  At this point, the heat in the Parlor is complete and the system in the Small Assembly Room will soon be complete.
Coming Events

Grace Church Calendar

In the coming week at Grace:
  • Choir Practice, Sunday, February 15, 9 am.
  • Eucharist Rite II, Sunday, February 15, 10 am. Coffee Hour follows the service.
  • Choir Practice, Thursday, February 12, 7 pm.
Coming special events:
  • Absalom Jones Service, at Christ Church Cathedral, Sunday, February 15, 4 pm.

  • Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper, February 24, 6 pm.
  • Stir the Pot Series: 
    • The Freedom Files, Sunday, February 22. Highlights vital civil liberties issues.
    • An Inconvenient Truth, Sunday, March 15. A film about one man's view of global warming.
    • Do Not Go Gentle, Sunday, April 26. A film about the power of imagination and aging.  The filmmaker will be with us.
See the Grace Church Calendar for more complete and uptodate information on meetings and services at at Grace.  Let us know if we've missed anything.
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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