The kids of Casting Nets took a trip to the Mississippi Aquarium.
Join us this week as celebrate the season with our year end party and decorate our ornaments.
SPECIAL NOTE: The 10:30 service will be the Children’s Walk Though Bethlehem and WILL NOT be streamed.
Episcopal Ladies Night Out December 27th at CHIMNEYS !
Join us at 5:30 for Meeting and Greeting We’ll Dine at 6pm
MEN’S GRILLIN GROUP
will NOT meet in December.
ADVENT EPISCOPAL RELIEF and DEVELOPMENT
Each year, during the season of Advent, St. Peter’s by-the-Sea raises funds for ERD. This year our focus will be on supporting Episcopal Relief & Development in providing humanitarian aid in response to the crisis in Ukraine. By donating to the Ukraine Crisis Response Fund, you will help meet critical needs for people fleeing the violence including food, cash, blankets and hygiene supplies.
Our Deacon, Rev. Scott Williams will be setting up a donation point in the rear of our sanctuary. An on-line giving page will be set up within the week.
Spreading Big Love outside our four wallsJoin a team !
2023 Biscuit Brigade
Did you know we prepare brown bag breakfasts EACH Saturday of the year?
Breakfast is delivered to Feed my Sheep for distribution for anywhere from 40 – 60 folks.
Teams cook one Saturday each month,
sometimes the 5th Saturday AND for Cold Weather Shelter openings.
Cold Weather shelter cooking will take place at the Salvation Army
Call: Jan Shook @ 228-860-4407 for more info
First shift helps serve dinner.
Last shift includes helping prepare and serve breakfast.
Call: Stacy Crandle @ 228-326-4353
PART of the ARTS !
‘THE WORK OF CHRISTMAS’ : HEALING A HURTING WORLD
A Gallery of Christmas Artwork from the Episcopal Relief and Development Website
O God, whom saints and angels delight to worship in heaven: Be ever present with your servants who seek through art and music to perfect the praises offered by your people on earth; and grant to them even now glimpses of your beauty, and make them worthy at length to behold it unveiled for evermore; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Candles have extensive ceremonial use in the Christian liturgical tradition. Lighted candles may be seen to symbolize the light of Christ, or the light of the gospel, or simply to remind the congregation that the time and space for worship are sacred. Candles provide illumination that enhances the beauty of the church, and may provide additional light for worship. Candles may be carried in procession by acolytes, and held as the gospel is said or sung. Candles may be placed on the altar, or on a reredos behind the altar, or on pavement lights beside the altar. The BCP provides for the lighting of the altar candles at certain times in special services. At the Easter Vigil, the altar candles are lighted after the Renewal of Baptismal Vows and before the Easter Acclamation, “Alleluia. Christ is risen” (BCP, p. 204). Candles are lighted after the dedication of the altar by the bishop at the Consecration of a Church (BCP, p. 574). At the Order of Worship for the Evening, the lighting of the altar candles and other candles follows the Prayer for Light and precedes the hymn “O Gracious Light” (Phos hilaron). (BCP, p. 112). The BOS provides a variety of anthems (Lucernaria) at the candle lighting for optional use at the Order of Worship for the Evening, including seasonal anthems. Certain candles have special liturgical uses. The Paschal candle is a large, decorated candle that symbolizes the light of Christ who was crucified, died, rose, and ascended into heaven. It is lighted at the Easter Vigil, and at all services during the season of Easter. The Advent Wreath has four candles that represent the four Sundays of the season of Advent, and may also include a “Christ candle” that is lighted on Christmas Eve. A candle may be given to each of the newly baptized or a godparent after baptism. This candle may be lighted from the Paschal candle, and it serves as a reminder of baptism. Candles may be lighted and extinguished with a candle taper.
Candles are often used as a sign of festivity and solemnity in Christian worship. The use of such lights has a long and varied tradition. Acts 20 records that there were “many lights” at the service at Troas when Paul and other Christians gathered to break bread. Lamps and candles were in normal use in Christian worship by the fourth century, but for many years it was not customary to place candles on the altar. The first known mention of the use of altar lights was a twelfth-century report that two candles flanked an altar cross in the papal chapel.
The injunction of Edward VI in 1547 called for there to be two lights on the high altar “for the signification that Christ is the very true light of the world.” Candles have been used in some English cathedrals and churches since the seventeenth century. The use of candles at the eucharist was disputed in the Church of England and in the Episcopal Church during the nineteenth century. During the years of the ritualist controversy in the Episcopal Church, the General Conventions of 1868, 1871, and 1874 considered proposals to prohibit the use of altar candles. Use of candles in worship was strongly favored by Episcopalians of the catholic tradition and resisted by those of the evangelical tradition. The use of altar candles was never prohibited by General Convention. Use of altar lights and other candles in the worship of the church is now customary. Some BCP services make special provision for the use of candles in worship. The Easter Vigil service begins with the lighting of the Paschal candle, which is to burn at all services from Easter Day through Pentecost (BCP, pp. 285-287). In an Order of Worship for the Evening, the candle lighting follows the Prayer for Light (p. 112).
When burned or heated, usually over charcoal, certain woods and solidified resins give off a fragrant smoke. Both the materials and the smoke are called incense. Incense was widely used in Judaism and other cultures of the ancient world as a means of sacrifice, purification, and veneration. Frankincense or pure incense, the resin of certain trees, was among the gifts brought by the Magi to the young child Christ (Mt 2:11). Despite this scriptural precedent, early Christians avoided incense as a pagan practice connected with sacrifice and emperor worship, and churches did not begin to use it until the fourth century. Thereafter incense was burned at several points in the Daily Office and the Eucharist, and extensively in eastern churches. For Christians today, incense is associated mainly with prayer, as Rv 8:3-4 suggests. Many Anglicans feel free to use it as a sacred symbol and aid to worship. The first option in the BCP for an opening sentence at Evening Prayer is “Let my prayer be set forth in your sight as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice” (Ps 141:2) (BCP, pp. 61, 115). The BCP states that incense may be used during the singing of Phos hilaron in the “Order of Worship for the Evening” (p. 143), and during the covering of the altar in the “Consecration of a Church.” There are congregations where incense is used at the Easter Vigil and other major feasts, and some parishes use it regularly on Sunday.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
From the fear of waiting, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of uncertainty, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of failure, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of change, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear that your promises will not come true, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear that my suffering has no meaning, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear that my suffering will not bear fruit, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of my weakness, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear that your grace will not be sufficient, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear that your will is not for my good, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear that your plans will not fulfill the desires of my heart, deliver me, Jesus.
From the belief that I wait alone, deliver me, Jesus.
From the belief that I am waiting because I have done something wrong, deliver me, Jesus.
From the belief that I will wait forever without resolution, deliver me, Jesus.
From the belief that I am waiting because you will never respond, deliver me, Jesus.
From the belief that you have abandoned me in my waiting, deliver me, Jesus.
From the taunt of temptation and discouragement that whisper to me while I am waiting, deliver me, Jesus.
When it is hard to wait joyfully, Jesus, I will wait with you.
When my prayers seem unanswered, Jesus, I will wait with you.
In my joys, Jesus, I will wait with you.
In my sorrows, Jesus, I will wait with you.
In the ordinary events of daily life, Jesus, I will wait with you.
In times of celebration, Jesus, I will wait with you.
When I feel stuck, Jesus, I will wait with you.
When discerning big decisions, Jesus, I will wait with you.
When I am tired, Jesus, I will wait with you.
When I am sick, Jesus, I will wait with you.
When I am uncertain, Jesus, I will wait with you.
When no one else will wait with me, Jesus, I will wait with you.
Through the pilgrimage of my life, Jesus, I will wait with you.
Son of God, Emmanuel, you are my hope. In all circumstances, help me to wait with you, on you, in you, and through you.
From Rejoice! An Advent Pilgrimage into the Heart of Scripture, Year A is a prayer resource that offers daily reflections on the Sunday mass readings that will help you enter more deeply into the season of Advent.
Expectation, Advent III (A)
December 11, 2022
This sermon is also available as part of Sermons for Advent and Christmas 2022, a compilation for download here. Each sermon includes questions for reflection with your small group, congregation, or personal devotions.
The Third Sunday of Advent is traditionally known as “Gaudete” or “Rejoice” Sunday, so called because of the heightened excitement in anticipation for the birth of Christ. But as we listen to the gospel appointed for this day, it may strike us that today is more like a “Blue” Third Sunday of Advent rather than a “Gaudete” Sunday. In the gospel lesson, we find John the Baptist languishing in prison. He heard what the Messiah was doing and he was not happy.
A week ago, the gospel from Matthew 3 told of John the Baptist’s high hopes as he hyped about the Messiah, for whose coming he was to prepare. He explained to the crowd who went to listen to him in the wilderness of Judea: “I baptize you with water for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is more powerful than I, and I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
It is possible that this expectation of the Messiah emboldened John in his preaching. He was notably fearless in confronting the Pharisees and Sadducees, calling them a “brood of vipers,” and calling out Herod for divorcing his wife and marrying his sister-in-law. It was because of this that Herod had him arrested and put behind bars. But perhaps John did not mind going to prison because he was expecting that once Jesus had settled into his role as the Messiah, he would make everything right. He would make quick work of their Roman enemies and rescue him from prison.
But after many months of waiting in prison, it has become evident that Jesus did not live up to all the hype that John heaped upon him. When he heard what Jesus had been doing: healing the sick, casting out demons and teaching people that the meek and the persecuted are blessed, telling them to turn the other cheek and to love not just neighbors but enemies, he sent his disciples to Jesus to ask if he is the one who is to come, or should they look for another. It has become disappointingly clear that John’s expectation of Jesus did not pan out.
Like John, we have expectations of God and have experienced being disappointed by God – some of us more regularly than others. Many of us believe God to be invincible and powerful and expect that God would use his divine powers to heal the sick, solve world hunger, wipe out injustice and racism, stop all wars and reward our faithfulness with material and spiritual blessings. Like John the Baptist, we wish Jesus, our savior, would not act like us finite, ordinary humans, but rather be more like Captain America or Superwoman or any of the many Marvel superheroes and heroes.
But Jesus is not this kind of savior. He did not come with military might or wealth. His way of saving the world is through soft power – sacrificial and loving service. It is no wonder that when one looks at the religious landscape, at conservative, liberal, progressive, religious right, or via media Christians, John’s question seemed to have become the reality as people reject the Jesus of the gospels and look for another version of the Messiah that fits their lifestyle and ideology.
This Advent, as we get ready to welcome Christ anew, we are given another opportunity to get it right. For although Jesus did not give an easy and clear answer to John, he gives him some concrete hints about what he’s up to: “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”
These words of Jesus recall the words of the prophet Isaiah in today’s lectionary. These words describe what will happen when the Messiah comes. It was not a popular image associated with most of the Jews’ expectation of the Messiah at that time and yet there it is, hidden in plain sight.
In other words, Jesus tells John that the work of God is not bombastic or earth-shattering as John and many of us imagine it to be. John expected that Jesus would come with an ax to cut down the trees that are not bearing fruit, separate the wheat and store it in the barn and burn the chaff. Instead of this, Jesus tells him to break free from his narrow expectation that has figuratively imprisoned him, to see beyond the destructive and angry God that he expected the Messiah to be, and open up to the God who heals, who teaches to transform people, who desires not the death of sinners but that all might repent, who shows love, mercy, and compassion. In short, the gospel invites us to open our eyes and our ears to the handprints of God in the hidden, nontraditional, and unpopular, amid our anguish, disappointments, and doubts.
Then, perhaps, when we begin to see God in these “hidden” places, we can be a sign to the world that what Jesus said is true. We can be Jesus’ answer to John’s question. We can be the blind whose eyes were opened, the lame whose legs can walk again, the lepers who have been cleansed, the deaf whose ears have started hearing, the dead who have been raised, and the poor who have received good news.
The gospel does not tell us whether John eventually understood, accepted, and set aside his assumptions of Jesus. What we know is that Jesus welcomed his questions and his doubts and praised John as “more than a prophet” in front of the crowds. This tells us that we should not be ashamed or afraid to voice our questions, name our doubts, and share our stories of disappointments. Often, we do not raise questions because we are embarrassed that people might think of us as ignorant, and we do not share our doubts because we are afraid people will think we are weak. But the way we move past our ignorance is by raising questions; we rewire our brains when we doubt and open ourselves to other possibilities, and we remove the sting of our disappointments by naming them. It is when we share our stories of darkness that we begin our journey toward the light.
The story of John ended tragically when he was beheaded by the order of Herod in Matthew 14. The price of preaching the gospel is that people receive the Good News and are healed and made whole. The other side is that others who enjoy the oppressive status quo will be offended. And so, just like many of the prophets before him, John died, standing up for the truth and serving as light in the darkness. We wish that Jesus would have done more than praise John and would have rescued him from prison. But the gospel is not a fairytale with a happy ending. The gospel is a kaleidoscope of joy, pain, hope, suffering, peace, fear, triumph, surrender, faith, doubt, disappointments, meaning, loss, and fulfillment. Using rhetorical questions, Jesus shakes up the crowd as he tells them to look for God – not among those who are dressed in fine robes or live in royal palaces – but rather among the least and vulnerable, among God’s prophets, like John the Baptist, Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, and Zechariah. Amen.
This sermon was written by the Ven. Irene Egmalis-Maliaman, of the Episcopal Church of St. John the Divine in Tamuning, Guam.
This sermon was written by the Ven. Irene Egmalis-Maliaman, of the Episcopal Church of St. John the Divine in Tamuning, Guam.
As the life of John the Baptist amply illustrates, our lives are frequently punctuated by very high points and very low points. How do you maintain hope through disappointment? How can you share that practice or those practices with others?
Take a small piece of paper and write, “Rejoice!“on it. Carry it with you – in your pocket or purse or wallet or even shoe! – to remind you of the joy that characterizes this week.
Monday, December 12, 2022: Psalm 42; Isaiah 29:17-24; Acts 5:12-16
Tuesday, December 13, 2022: Psalm 42; Ezekiel 47:1-12; Jude 1:17-25
Wednesday, December 14, 2022: Psalm 42; Zechariah 8:1-17; Matthew 8:14-17, 28-34
Thursday, December 15, 2022: Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19; 2 Samuel 7:1-17; Galatians 3:23-29
Friday, December 16, 2022: Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19; 2 Samuel 7:18-22; Galatians 4:1-7
Saturday, December 17, 2022: Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19; 2 Samuel 7:23-29; John 3:31-36
Sunday, December 18, 2022: Fourth Sunday of Advent
Monday, December 19, 2022: 1 Samuel 2:1-10; Genesis 17:15-22; Galatians 4:8-20
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“O God, our heavenly Father, whose glory fills the whole creation, and whose presence we find wherever we go:
preserve those who travel; surround them with your loving care; protect them from every danger;
and bring them in safety to their journey’s end; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.