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The Collect

O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The First Lesson

Acts 17:22-31

Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said,

‘For we too are his offspring.’

Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

The Response

Psalm 66:7-18

Jubilate Deo

Bless our God, you peoples; *
make the voice of his praise to be heard;

8 Who holds our souls in life, *
and will not allow our feet to slip.

9 For you, O God, have proved us; *
you have tried us just as silver is tried.

10 You brought us into the snare; *
you laid heavy burdens upon our backs.

11 You let enemies ride over our heads;
we went through fire and water; *
but you brought us out into a place of refreshment.

12 I will enter your house with burnt-offerings
and will pay you my vows, *
which I promised with my lips
and spoke with my mouth when I was in trouble.

13 I will offer you sacrifices of fat beasts
with the smoke of rams; *
I will give you oxen and goats.

14 Come and listen, all you who fear God, *
and I will tell you what he has done for me.

15 I called out to him with my mouth, *
and his praise was on my tongue.

16 If I had found evil in my heart, *
the Lord would not have heard me;

17 But in truth God has heard me; *
he has attended to the voice of my prayer.

18 Blessed be God, who has not rejected my prayer, *
nor withheld his love from me.

The Epistle

1 Peter 3:13-22

Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil. For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you– not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

The Gospel

John 14:15-21

Jesus said, ”If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

”I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”

From our Rector, Rev. Patrick Sanders

Good People,
 
I just wanted to reach out to you here at the end of our first real week of social distancing. I can only imagine that this will get weirder as we move deeper into the realities of battling the spread of the Coronavirus. How are y’all doing out there?
 
As you know, it is a challenge to discern what it looks like to be the church in the midst of this as it is unprecedented in my lifetime. Bishop Seage has suspended public, face-to-face worship and programming through and including Easter Sunday. Please know that Liz, Scott, JT, and myself are being creative and thinking through how to approach on-line worship in a way that is authentic and meaningful. JT Anglin, you are a treasure to your church and our Lord. Being in this with you is one of the blessings found in a weird wilderness. We are trying to stay connected through Facebook and other streaming formats. I have also collaborated with my clergy friends on the coast to offer formation and Christian Education in the form of panel bible studies as well as question and answer sessions. I will keep the good people of St. Peter’s By The Sea posted as those things go live. Please visit our website for updates! ( https://stpetersbytheseagulfport.com/ ) I encourage you, if you are not already in the web world, to connect in some way. Some people I know who despise Facebook have logged in during this time as a way to avoid loneliness and isolation. I am grateful to be a priest in a time where we have this as an option. I will be working with Gail Hendrickson this morning (remotely of course!) on ways that we can “rise above the noise” and present on line connection moments that are unique to our community. Big love will be expressed and felt I hope!
 
I have asked Susan Prendergast to work from home as has her other boss. If you’re wondering, I am in fact her favorite boss. She will be coming in for a bit on Thursdays to do necessary bookkeeping and to let our 12-Step folks in the building. (I will say more about this in a minute.) We have turned off all AC units to conserve energy and save some money as the coming months will be tighter than usual without our regular offerings. I don’t expect a major dip as folks are already reaching out about giving on line and mailing their pledges. However, it would be naive of me to ignore the possible economic impact this will have on our community and our church. We are well prepared for this so I’m not anxious but we are being as cautious as possible during these strange days. Y’all, I can’t put into words how lucky we are to have Susan. She is our rock.
 
We have a healthy discretionary fund so people needing groceries and/or financial relief in the coming months will have a place to go for that help. Nearly all of the on line worship and study will have a “give” button so that folks can support the church as well as the discretionary fund and our ability to be the church will be sustained or more than likely strengthened. Jan Shook and our amazing Sr. Warden are keeping an eye on the needs of our community so that our church can respond to them in abundant and transformative ways. There is a note from Jan attached to this email so please keep reading! If you would like to contribute please do! Follow this link https://stpetersbytheseagulfport.com/services-2-2-2-2/#PLEDGE
 
Pastoral care was the very first conversation we had when this all began. I met with Liz and our pastoral care team about this last week and we began reaching out to folks immediately. We are calling folks when we think of them as well as using the church directory to make sure folks are not falling through the cracks. This is imperfect but working. Please do not hesitate to reach out to Liz or I if you discern a pastoral need or if you yourself need some care! I am asking for prayer requests and spend a good bit of time each day praying for our church family. I believe deeply in the power of prayer as it connects us in holy and miraculous ways.
 
I am allowing, with the bishop’s blessing, our 12-Step group (Step Sisters) to continue their meetings on Thursdays. I am especially concerned about those battling addiction of any kind during all of this. Regular life is hard enough.
 
Last but not least, I ask for your prayers for our priests and deacon. This is a new style of ministry that is taking some creativity and trial-and-error. There are also previously unseen pastoral situations as people are scared, confused, the strength of some marriages is being tested, addictions are being triggered, and folks who were already battling anxiety and/or depression prior to this are having a more difficult time coping with such heightened tension around them. I am trying to tend to them as best I can but your prayers are coveted. I am so so grateful for Liz Jones right now. She is a pastoral ninja and we are blessed to have her in our corner! Scott Williams’ return to our church could not have come at a better time. Scott, you are loved and appreciated more than you can know!
 
I will be in touch concerning a virtual vestry meeting soon.
 
Thank you for being in the kingdom with us and I love each you SO BIG!
 
Father Patrick
 

 
A Note from Outreach Chairperson, Jan Shook
 
Biscuit Brigaders!
 
Please feel free to say that you’d rather not serve during this time. All of you know your personal needs medical and otherwise so I ask you use your best discernment 💜
 
I feel we should assist our neighbors who are in need now more than ever…but within the parameters of safety.
 
We will continue to cook and serve until told otherwise.
 
I am requesting plastic shopping bags as our supply has diminished.
We can put the paper bag, water and apple juice in the plastic bag and less passing.
 
I will being a small pop up table and we can simply set the bags on the tables and monitor til gone.
 
There are amazing groups of people in our community coming together to reach out to others’ need.
 
Please pray for those daring to cook and serve the Elderly.
 
Text or call me with any questions or request to work.
 
**All the above will be under the advisement of our authorities.
If we receive self-isolation orders…we will follow.
 
Thank you for supporting the Biscuit Brigade.
 
Peace and Love in Christ,
Jan Shook

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