A Note from the Rector – 1/5/2019

Merry 12th day of Christmas and Happy New Year!  Today is the last day of Christmas, which means tomorrow is the feast of Epiphany.  At Epiphany, we celebrate the “the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles.” The Gentiles in question are the wise men who came from the East being led by a star to Bethlehem.  Epiphanytide, the season surrounding this celebration, is all about the light of Christ manifesting itself in various ways in our lives and in the world around us. 

In the life of this parish church, Epiphanytide is when we prepare to hold our annual business meeting.  At this meeting, the entire congregation will ratify the church’s operating budget, and will elect three new members of the vestry.  Because of inhibitions caused by the reflooring project, our annual meeting has been pushed back to February 2, 2020, which is also the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple and marks the end of Epiphanytide.  Fun fact: some hardcore liturgy nerds keep their Christmas decorations up until the Feast of the Presentation, also known as Candlemas.  

In preparation for our annual meeting, I want to briefly write about what a vestry is and what a vestry does.  The vestry system is fairly unique to American Anglicanism (the Episcopal Church). In Colonial America, there was an enormous clergy shortage in our churches because the Archbishop of Canterbury refused to send a Church of England bishop to the 13 Colonies.  This meant that any clergy persons would either have to come from England or make the arduous journey to England and back in order to be ordained. This created a situation in which lay leaders had to take a bigger part in the administration of the church than was common in that day.  As a result, our system of church governance is a hybrid between the congregational model (think Baptists, UCC, Quakers) in which individual local churches have complete authority over their affairs, and the hierarchical model (think the Roman Catholic Church) where bishops or other authorities have complete control over the affairs of each parish.  The Episcopal Church incorporates both models. Individual congregations have some power to determine their affairs, but they are by no means autonomous from the bishop and the wider church structures. When it works, it’s a great compromise which avoids the problems and extremes of both models. Churches that are too autonomous have no support and no accountability.  Absolute hierarchies run the risk of being disconnected from what is actually happening at the local level of a parish church, and of disenfranchising the laity who need to take an active role in the affairs of their church. The vestry system is meant to strike a balance between the two.

Parish churches in the Episcopal Church, through their vestries, have the responsibility to call their own priest instead of having one appointed to them.  Vestries are also charged with the responsibility to manage the temporal affairs of the church—the finances and the buildings. By local custom, our vestry organizes and oversees much of the other ministry that happens in the church such as outreach, fellowship and Sunday School.  

The vestry of Holy Apostles is comprised of nine lay members, all of whom are to be confirmed or received into the Episcopal Church.  The vestry meets once a month. The Rector usually sets the agenda and presides over the meeting, but does not have a vote. All spending over $500 has to be approved by a motion of the vestry.  There are several committees which are made of both vestry and non-vestry members who make recommendations to the vestry, especially on matters of finance and property. While the vestry often takes up important practical matters, it is actually a spiritual calling.  With the Rector’s guidance, the vestry helps to shape the vision and future plans of our parish, and this important work needs to be done in the context of prayer and reading Scripture. It’s a big job but it is also rewarding and empowering.  

This is your church, and God is calling each of you to take part in it.  St. Paul reminds us of this when he writes that the Church is the body of Christ, made up of many members.  Each member has their own job to do and unique gifts and talents to bring to the task. If you are interested or if you feel God is calling you to offer your unique gifts to the task of being a vestry member, please let me know!

In Christ,

James+

This Week at Holy Apostles – 12/22/2019

Sunday, December 29
First Sunday After Christmas
Officiant: Mr. Jeremiah Mustered

10:00a Lessons and Carols


Monday, December 30

Parish Offices closed

Tuesday, December 31

No Morning Prayer

Wednesday, January 1

9:15a Morning Prayer

Thursday, January 2

9:15a Morning Prayer
11:00a Bible Study

Friday, January 3

9:15a Morning Prayer

Sunday, January 5
Second Sunday after Christmas
Celebrant and Preacher: The Rev. James Stambaugh

8:30a Morning Prayer
10:00a Holy Eucharist

Announcements – 12/29/2019

Worship

† We will celebrate the Epiphany of Our Lord on January 6th with a Eucharist that will include the blessing of the chalk.  Come and learn about what means, and get your very own piece of chalk with which to bless your home!

† Are you friendly?  We need you! Our greeter ministry is one of the key ministries of our church.  Greeters welcome visitors, make people comfortable, hand out service leaflets and take up offering.  They make sure the service runs smoothly. Starting in October, we will be organizing a monthly Greeters breakfast with the Rector, probably at a local restaurant.  If you’re interested in serving God in this way, talk to Jim Jervis or Fr. James.

† Morning Prayer is offered at 8:30AM on Sunday mornings and at 9:15AM Tuesdays through Fridays.  Anyone can pray the service privately using the Book of Common Prayer or one of a number of smartphone apps!  See the last section of the digital edition of the “Acts of the Apostles” for details.

Outreach

† Connect by Night Sheltering Program. We are over halfway through the December Connect by Night Shelter program and things are going well. The schedule is full and a link and the instructions are below. We are also creating a few other opportunities for our guests for the week of Christmas:

-Books: The Woestmanns started a box of books for our guests to take, feel free to add to that

-We will create a box of toiletries and soaps; feel free to add to that as well.

-Christmas Day gifts: We have purchased socks and chocolates and the Sunday School is making cards

† Lunch-making involves coming to church in the evening at a time of your choice and preparing 50 bag lunches for the guests. If you are able to greet them when they arrive at around 9:30, that is also wonderful, but optional. If you would like to bring a donation, the best item is to bring individual juice boxes to put in the lunches (50 per night), or donations to the Outreach committee. The program asks not to provide snacks for the guests while they are staying with us, but we put out water for them and will be organizing some Christmas presents from the congregation and cards from the Sunday School. The lunch-making items are being stored in the kitchen and on the shelves  and upright freezer in the storage room in the  church basement to the right at the bottom of the stairs. Instructions are in the kitchen.

† If you have questions or need to get into the church and don’t have a key, contact Joe Zorc at zorc@email.chop.edu or 215-776-4285.

† The sign-up sheet is available in the church hall and at this Google docs link: https://bit.ly/2WbmPn3

† There are lots of opportunities to participate in Holy Apostles Outreach through our various programs:

      – Delivering items to a food pantry in Northeast Philadelphia

      – Meals at Darby Mission (3/17). Other ideas are welcome.

Children and Youth

† Nursery childcare is available during the 10:00AM Sunday service for children ages 3 and younger in the Godly Play Room.

† The Holy Apostles Choir School is off and running.  If you have a potential student, apply today.  More information is available at holyapostlespa.org/choir-school/. Please forward this information to friends and neighbors who may be interested. Contact Deb Stambaugh if you have any questions.

Parish Life

† On Sunday, January 19, we are headed to Holy Apostles and the Mediator (51st and Spruce Streets, Phil’s) for a shared 10am Eucharist.  We are exploring the option of renting a charter bus to make it easier to get there and find parking.  It’s going to be a lot of fun!  That Sunday, our parish hall, kitchen, and upstairs bathrooms will all be unusable due to our parish hall reflooring project.  

† Our annual parish meeting will be Sunday, February 2, after the 10AM service.  At this meeting we will elect new members of the vestry, and approve a budget. Normally this meeting is held the 3rd Sunday of January, but necessary parish hall renovations have caused us to push the annual meeting back.

† In January 2020 we will see some exciting improvements to our building.  The office hallway is being refreshed, and along with the parish hall, it will receive a badly needed new floor.  Stay tuned for more information!

† If you have an announcement to be included in Acts of the Apostles, please send it to holyapostlescomm@gmail.com before Thursday at noon of each week.

† Don’t forget to enter the church through the Parish office door and grab a “Church Member” badge from the office during Daycare hours (7:00AM – 6:00PM Mon-Fri)!

† The Cash for Causes Program at Giant Supermarket:

· Purchase through JT Wertz

· 5% of card value is given to Holy Apostles operating fund.

· Can be used in store or when ordering Giant groceries through Peapod online delivery service.

Education

† Join us for BASICS class, every 3rd Sunday at 9AM. 

† Bible Study on Deuteronomy, Thursdays at 11AM.  All are welcome.

† FacePsalm online study of the Psalms: bit.ly/2ndKq9o

A Note from the Rector – 12/29/2019

I wish you all a merry 4th day of Christmas!  As I write this I am sitting on a runway at the Albuquerque International Sunport (airport) waiting to get off a plane.  We are visiting my parents and siblings, and Deb’s sister and grandmother.  We will return home on December 31.  I am grateful for Jeremiah Mustered, our officiant for today’s special service of Lessons and Carols.  I am going to miss the peacefulness and simple joy of singing some of my favorite songs with you.  

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were joy-filled and holy celebrations at Holy Apostles.  The liturgy was hope inspiring, and the music was beautiful.  I loved having our guest harpist, Carol Melaragni, with us.  And it was wonderful to see so many guests, visiting family, and friends.  The combined attendance of all three services was approximately 240.  Thanks to all who made it a special Christmas celebration.  

In Christ,

James+

Announcements – 12/22/2019

Worship

† We will celebrate the Epiphany of Our Lord on January 6th with a Eucharist that will include the blessing of the chalk.  Come and learn about what means, and get your very own piece of chalk with which to bless your home!

† There are still open spots for readers, greeters and intercessors for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. (See Liturgy Participant schedule.) Contact Beth Johnson if interested.

† Are you friendly?  We need you! Our greeter ministry is one of the key ministries of our church.  Greeters welcome visitors, make people comfortable, hand out service leaflets and take up offering.  They make sure the service runs smoothly. Starting in October, we will be organizing a monthly Greeters breakfast with the Rector, probably at a local restaurant.  If you’re interested in serving God in this way, talk to Jim Jervis or Fr. James.

† Morning Prayer is offered at 8:30AM on Sunday mornings and at 9:15AM Tuesdays through Fridays.  Anyone can pray the service privately using the Book of Common Prayer or one of a number of smartphone apps!  See the last section of the digital edition of the “Acts of the Apostles” for details.

Outreach

† Connect by Night Sheltering Program. We are over halfway through the December Connect by Night Shelter program and things are going well. The schedule is full and a link and the instructions are below. We are also creating a few other opportunities for our guests for the week of Christmas:

-Books: The Woestmanns started a box of books for our guests to take, feel free to add to that

-We will create a box of toiletries and soaps; feel free to add to that as well.

-Christmas Day gifts: We have purchased socks and chocolates and the Sunday School is making cards

† Lunch-making involves coming to church in the evening at a time of your choice and preparing 50 bag lunches for the guests. If you are able to greet them when they arrive at around 9:30, that is also wonderful, but optional. If you would like to bring a donation, the best item is to bring individual juice boxes to put in the lunches (50 per night), or donations to the Outreach committee. The program asks not to provide snacks for the guests while they are staying with us, but we put out water for them and will be organizing some Christmas presents from the congregation and cards from the Sunday School. The lunch-making items are being stored in the kitchen and on the shelves  and upright freezer in the storage room in the  church basement to the right at the bottom of the stairs. Instructions are in the kitchen.

† If you have questions or need to get into the church and don’t have a key, contact Joe Zorc at zorc@email.chop.edu or 215-776-4285.

† The sign-up sheet is available in the church hall and at this Google docs link: https://bit.ly/2WbmPn3

† There are lots of opportunities to participate in Holy Apostles Outreach through our various programs:

      – Delivering items to a food pantry in Northeast Philadelphia

      – Meals at Darby Mission (3/17). Other ideas are welcome.

Children and Youth

† Nursery childcare is available during the 10:00AM Sunday service for children ages 3 and younger in the Godly Play Room.

† The Holy Apostles Choir School is off and running.  If you have a potential student, apply today.  More information is available at holyapostlespa.org/choir-school/. Please forward this information to friends and neighbors who may be interested. Contact Deb Stambaugh if you have any questions.

Parish Life

† Our annual parish meeting will be Sunday, February 2, after the 10AM service.  At this meeting we will elect new members of the vestry, and approve a budget. Normally this meeting is held the 3rd Sunday of January, but necessary parish hall renovations have caused us to push the annual meeting back.

† In January 2020 we will see some exciting improvements to our building.  The office hallway is being refreshed, and along with the parish hall, it will receive a badly needed new floor.  Stay tuned for more information!

† If you have an announcement to be included in Acts of the Apostles, please send it to holyapostlescomm@gmail.com before Thursday at noon of each week.

† Don’t forget to enter the church through the Parish office door and grab a “Church Member” badge from the office during Daycare hours (7:00AM – 6:00PM Mon-Fri)!

† The Cash for Causes Program at Giant Supermarket:

· Purchase through JT Wertz

· 5% of card value is given to Holy Apostles operating fund.

· Can be used in store or when ordering Giant groceries through Peapod online delivery service.

Education

† Join us for BASICS class, every 3rd Sunday at 9AM. 

† Bible Study on Deuteronomy, Thursdays at 11AM.  All are welcome.

† FacePsalm online study of the Psalms: bit.ly/2ndKq9o

A Note from the Rector – 12/22/2019

Advent is drawing to a close.  Slowly, as the days got shorter, the number of our candles grew.  Now we have only a few short days to wait, and then the light and glory of Christ’s Nativity is here.  

I want to thank Dan McKeon, our Parish Communications Coordinator for all the extra work this time of year brings, with many extra service leaflets to print.  

I would also like to thank Paul Emmons, our organist and choir director, for the extra music that we receive as a gift this year.  

Finally, I want to thank Suzanne & David Lees for hosting our Christmas Caroling Party, Deb Stambaugh and Arreon Harley-Emerson for coordinating the caroling and making us sound so good, and to all who came out on a chilly Friday evening to sing and spread good cheer in our neighborhood.

Thank you! 

In Christ,

James+

This Week at Holy Apostles – 12/22/2019

Sunday, December 22
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Celebrant: The Rev. James Stambaugh

8:30a Morning Prayer
10:00a Holy Eucharist


Monday, December 23

Parish Offices closed

Tuesday, December 24

9:15a Morning Prayer
5p Holy Eucharist
10p Holy Eucharist

Wednesday, December 25

10a Holy Eucharist

Thursday, December 26

9:15a Morning Prayer
11:00a Bible Study
3:30-6:00p Choir School

Friday, December 27

No Morning Prayer

Sunday, December 29
First Sunday after Christmas
Celebrant and Preacher: The Rev. James Stambaugh

8:30a Morning Prayer
10:00a Holy Eucharist

Announcements – 12/15/2019

Worship

† There are still open spots for readers, greeters and intercessors for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. (See Liturgy Participant schedule.) Contact Beth Johnson if interested.

† Are you friendly?  We need you! Our greeter ministry is one of the key ministries of our church.  Greeters welcome visitors, make people comfortable, hand out service leaflets and take up offering.  They make sure the service runs smoothly. Starting in October, we will be organizing a monthly Greeters breakfast with the Rector, probably at a local restaurant.  If you’re interested in serving God in this way, talk to Jim Jervis or Fr. James.

† Morning Prayer is offered at 8:30AM on Sunday mornings and at 9:15AM Tuesdays through Fridays.  Anyone can pray the service privately using the Book of Common Prayer or one of a number of smartphone apps!  See the last section of the digital edition of the “Acts of the Apostles” for details.

Outreach

† Connect by Night Sheltering Program We have completed the schedule for lunch-making for our annual Connect by Night Shelter program. Our guests will be staying in the church every night during the month of December. Lunch-making involves coming to church in the evening at a time of your choice and preparing 50 bag lunches for the guests. If you are able to greet them when they arrive at around 9:30, that is also wonderful, but optional. If you would like to bring a donation, the best item is to bring individual juice boxes to put in the lunches (50 per night), or donations to the Outreach committee. The program asks not to provide snacks for the guests while they are staying with us, but we put out water for them and will be organizing some Christmas presents from the congregation and cards from the Sunday School. The lunch-making items are being stored in the kitchen and on the shelves and upright freezer in the storage room in the  church basement to the right at the bottom of the stairs. Instructions are in the kitchen.

† If you have questions or need to get into the church and don’t have a key, contact Joe Zorc at zorc@email.chop.edu or 215-776-4285.

† The sign-up sheet is available in the church hall and at this Google docs link: https://bit.ly/2WbmPn3

† There are lots of opportunities to participate in Holy Apostles Outreach through our various programs:

      – Delivering items to a food pantry in Northeast Philadelphia

      – Meals at Darby Mission (3/17) or our annual holiday meal with the East Parkside Community Association (12/9). Other ideas are welcome.

Children and Youth

† Nursery childcare is available during the 10:00AM Sunday service for children ages 3 and younger in the Godly Play Room.

† The Holy Apostles Choir School is off and running.  If you have a potential student, apply today.  More information is available at holyapostlespa.org/choir-school/. Please forward this information to friends and neighbors who may be interested. Contact Deb Stambaugh if you have any questions.

Parish Life

† Christmas Flower Memorials—Suggested donation of $8 a name. Please have names to the office or email by December 20.

† Caroling rehearsals at 6pm on December 19. Christmas Caroling is on December 20, followed by Christmas Party!

† We are getting ready to refresh the hallway outside the church offices including some new paint, new furniture, and eventually new flooring.  As a result we have been moving some things around. The Lost & Found box is now located in the church office.

† If you have an announcement to be included in Acts of the Apostles, please send it to holyapostlescomm@gmail.com before Thursday at noon of each week.

† Don’t forget to enter the church through the Parish office door and grab a “Church Member” badge from the office during Daycare hours (7:00AM – 6:00PM Mon-Fri)!

† The Cash for Causes Program at Giant Supermarket:

· Purchase through JT Wertz

· 5% of card value is given to Holy Apostles operating fund.

· Can be used in store or when ordering Giant groceries through Peapod online delivery service.

Education

† Join us for BASICS class, every 3rd Sunday at 9AM. 

† Bible Study on Deuteronomy, Thursdays at 11AM.  All are welcome.

† FacePsalm online study of the Psalms: bit.ly/2ndKq9o

A Note from the Rector – 12/15/2019

Today is pageant day!  A big thanks to all our children, parents, Sunday School teachers, and helpers for putting on this wonderful Holy Apostles tradition.

With today’s pageant and last Sunday’s guest preacher, I’ve been on a little preaching hiatus.  I’ve tried to use the time wisely, as St. Paul writes, “redeeming the time because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16).  So, I’ve been working on my sermons for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Casting about for inspiration, I landed on For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio by the Episcopal poet, W.H. Auden.  Of course, this long complex poem begins, not with Christmas, but with Advent.  

Darkness and snow descend

The clock on the mantlepiece

Has nothing to recommend,

Nor does the face in the glass

Appear nobler than our own

As darkness and snow descend

On all personality…

Everyone will be relieved to know that this hardly uplifting bit of poetry will NOT make it into my Christmas Eve sermon.  But, the Advent section of Auden’s long poem does capture the mood of mid-December pretty well. Darkness and snow. Both sound so dreary in Auden, but remember that both darkness and snow figure mightily into the magical formula of those treasured, glowing coals of Christmas nostalgia.  Who doesn’t dream of a White Christmas, covered in snow? And all those Christmas lights don’t look very interesting or impressive unless its dark. Snow and darkness are sort of essential elements, at least in the imagination of cultural Christmas.  

The Church insists that you can’t have real Christmas without Advent. That a season of waiting and expectation is essential. Advent tells us that part of preparing for Christmas might mean facing the realities under which we live; facing the darkness.  This is what Fleming Rutledge, perhaps the best Episcopal preacher now living, has to say about Advent: “Advent begins in the dark… [It] teaches us to delay Christmas in order to experience it fully when it finally comes.  Advent is designed to show that the meaning of Christmas is diminished to the vanishing point if we are not willing to take a fearless inventory of the darkness…The authentically hopeful Christmas spirit has not looked away from the darkness, but straight at it.  The true and victorious Christmas spirit does not look away from death, but directly at it. Otherwise, the message is cheap and false.” (from a sermon given on the first Sunday of Advent, 1996, printed in Fleming Rutledge, Advent: The Once and Future Coming of Jesus Christ, page 251).

Of course, we are all in different places in our lives, and we have a variety of experiences during this time of year.  If this is a time of unremitting happiness for you, then you should go with that. I pray with one of the Prayer Book’s best prayers, that God would “shield the joyous” so that they may continue in their joy under God’s protection. But, if you experience some of the darkness of loss, loneliness, or sadness this time of year, do not let yourself despair. You are not alone. In Advent, we are reminded the whole world is waiting in darkness for the dawning of the light.  And I pray that you, that all of us, that the whole world, will ultimately find the Light of Christ’s coming. I pray that God will transform us, including our suffering, and give us healing and health and peace that only the Light of God’s love can bring.  Oops. I guess I can’t help but preach, even when I’m not supposed to be preaching.

In Christ,

James+

This Week at Holy Apostles – 12/15/2019

Sunday, December 15
Third Sunday of Advent
Celebrant: The Rev. James Stambaugh

8:30a Morning Prayer
10:00a Holy Eucharist


Monday, December 16

Parish Offices closed

Tuesday, December 17

9:15a Morning Prayer
3:30-6:00p Choir School

Wednesday, December 18

9:15a Morning Prayer

Thursday, December 19

9:15a Morning Prayer
11:00a Bible Study
3:30-6:00p Choir School

Friday, December 20

9:15a Morning Prayer

Sunday, December 22
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Celebrant and Preacher: The Rev. James Stambaugh

8:30a Morning Prayer
10:00a Holy Eucharist