Lamentations: Gratitude as a Spiritual Practice

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” – Lamentations 3:22-23

I discovered the book of Lamentations during a sermon series at my church in Lake Norman about a decade ago. The whiner and complainer in me was so happy to know that when the bad stuff of life rained down, I could grouse and complain and generally be a major nuisance.

Lamentations (as a writer, I even love the sound of that old-fashioned word) is a short book of songs composed after Jerusalem was sacked by the Babylonians in 586 BC, maybe by the prophet Jeremiah. He starts out, “How lonely sits the city that once was full of people! How like a widow she has become…She weeps bitterly in the night…”

I’ve certainly been there. Maybe you have, too.

But in the book of Lamentations, I discovered that even in the middle of all the wailing and the bitterness, the prophet Jeremiah found gratitude: “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” (Lamentations 3:24)

Gratitude is the spiritual practice that keeps me grounded in hope. When I practice gratitude daily, by reviewing my day through the prism of gratitude, it not only reframes the way I feel about my day and my life. It also reminds me that God is my source for all that is good in my life. The Lord is, indeed, my portion. And my portion is abundant. All I have to do is stop to recognize it, and not just in this month of Thanksgiving, but daily. Especially when my inclination is to lapse into lamentations.

– Peg Robarchek, Communications Administrator

Give to the Vision 2016: Generous Abundance

Stewardship Campaign News – November 17: As of the afternoon of Tuesday, November 17, the Give to the Vision campaign has received 254 units totaling $759,550. To help us reach our goal of 100% participation by the Parish family read more and donate online. Together we can meet, if not exceed, the $950,000 goal necessary to fund all aspects of Life at St. Peter’s.

Advent Lessons and Carols

Advent Lessons and Carols: On the Second Sunday of Advent, December 6, the St. Peter’s Choir, clergy, and readers present our annual festival of Advent Lessons and Carols during the 10:45 a.m. This Episcopal/Anglican annual worship opportunity dates back to 1880 in England when Christians gathered to reflect on the gift of creation and humanity, the promise of the Messiah, and the birth of Jesus. Lessons are interspersed with congregational carols, choral anthems, and music for organ. Spread the word and bring guests.

Welcoming Back The Reverend Schaefer

Welcoming Back The Reverend Schaefer: The Reverend Joslyn Schaefer returns from maternity leave on Sunday, November 29. She will serve as celebrant for the 10:45 a.m. service.

Annual Meeting and Luncheon Celebration

Annual Meeting of the Parish and Luncheon Celebration: Sunday, December 6, is a big day in the life of the church. First, join the parish family from 9:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. in the Parish Hall to elect four new members of the Vestry. Nominees for the four open vestry positions are: John Frederick, Paige Ghareeb, John Hall, Michael Koppenal, Tait McMillian, Bert Miano. Candidate profiles are online . At the same time, you’ll meet members of the staff, receive ministry area reports, review the proposed 2016 operating budget before it is finalized by the Vestry, and hear the Rector’s State of St. Peter’s address. Following the 10:45 a.m. service, we will gather again for a parish-wide covered dish luncheon in the Community Room and the Parish Hall. This will also serve as a luncheon for acknowledging and getting to know the newcomers in our midst.

40s & 50s Gathering

40s & 50s Gathering: Tweens, made up of parishioners in their 40s and 50s, will meet at Pintsville in Pineville at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 21. Contact Robert Headley, 980-829-2280.

20s & 30s Chili Cook-Off

20s & 30s Chili Cook-Off: Join the 20s and 30s on Sunday, December 6, for the 2nd annual chili cook-off at the home of Harmony Johnson and Brendan Murphy at 5:00 pm. Bring your best chili or just come to eat and enjoy fellowship!  We will also be collecting food donations for Loaves and Fishes (canned meats, canned pasta, cereal, 100% fruit juice, and canned fruit).  RSVP online or contact Marion Morrison (m.lyle.morrison@gmail.com).

White Beard Project

White Beard Project: Our Youth will be decorating our Advent Tree during their lock-in this weekend, so look for this tree in the Parish House Lobby on Sunday morning. The White Beard project is a ministry to support the 120 residents of McCreesh Place and Supportive Housing Communities. These individuals are all formerly homeless and are working toward self-sufficiency. Here’s how it works: Take an ornament from our tree and return your gift items of inexpensive toiletries, socks and more no later than December 13, so our Youth can stuff stockings during another lock-in on December 19. Watch for more details in the weeks ahead.

A Message from the Interim Associate Rector

A Message from the Interim Associate Rector: I write to share happy news. Upon the return of the Rev. Joslyn Ogden Schaefer from maternity leave and the conclusion of my service as Interim Associate Rector, I will become a part-time Curate down Seventh Street at St. Martin’s. This transition is a result of my active discernment of what and where my ministry might be after this interim season at St. Peter’s. My last Sunday at the parish will be November 29 and last day in the Parish House office will be Tuesday, December 1. Although I am saddened to leave St. Peter’s, I do so with deep gratitude for the welcome you extended to me and my family after we moved to Charlotte from Chicago last year and for the ministry we have shared since then. Our days together are drawing to a close, but I take heart in the fact that Charlotte is a small city, which I hope means our paths will cross again soon, and frequently. – The Reverend Jonathan Soyars

Next Week’s Formation Offerings

Next Week’s Formation Offerings: Topics for Formation (education) on Sunday, November 29, will include the Advent study The Light Will Shine: Waiting Expectancy, and the final week of the 20s and 30s conversation about Ed’s Story.

40th Annual Citywide Interfaith Thanksgiving Service

40th Annual Citywide Interfaith Thanksgiving Service: Wilderness and Hope is the theme for this Thanksgiving tradition hosted by MeckMin in partnership with Crisis Assistance Ministry and Loaves & Fishes. The service begins at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 24, at St. Paul Baptist Church, 1401 Allen Street. This year’s special guest is the Reverend Dr. S. Todd Yeary, Senior Pastor at Douglas Memorial Community Church in Baltimore, Maryland. Canned goods and donations will be collected and a reception follows the service at 8:15.

Advent Retreat for Women

Advent Retreat for Women: Ministry Partner the Galilee Center is hosting a women’s retreat to welcome the Advent Season on Saturday, December 5. Come spend a quiet and reflective day with women of all ages. The $10 fee includes lunch. The Galilee Center is at 3601 Central Avenue. To register, contact Toni Hagerman (tonih@adventlu.org).

Parish Advent Bazaar Starts This Sunday

Parish Advent Bazaar Starts This Sunday: Help St. Peter’s youth raise funds for their 2017 Youth Pilgrimage when the Parish Advent Bazaar begins this Sunday, November 29, and continues through December 6, in the Parish Hall. Among the items to be sold are handmade items, including Anglican prayer beads and new St. Peter’s t-shirts.

The Christmas Pageant

The Christmas Pageant: All children ages two through 12 are invited to join the cast of this annual tradition, which will be offered within the context of the 4:00 p.m. Holy Eucharist on Christmas Eve. Children take on various roles as active participants in the Gospel of Luke. In addition to the Holy Family, shepherds, angels, sheep and shepherds, young readers for the lessons are needed. Teens are also needed to help herd the shepherds and fly with the angels. Please contact Director of Children’s Formation Anna Hurdle (ahurdle@st-peters.org) if your child or children would like to participate in the pageant, and or if you would like to assist in the production of the pageant. Costume and script distribution will be Saturday, December 5, 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Alternative arrangements can be made for children who are unable to attend the first session. A final rehearsal will be held on December 24 from 2:30 p.m. until the beginning of the service. Snacks will be provided at both rehearsals.

Room In The Inn 2015-16

Room In The Inn 2015-16: St. Peter’s, along with dozens of other area churches and other organizations, will help house and feed our homeless neighbors during the coldest months of the year as part of the Room in the Inn (RITI) program. RITI begins on Wednesday, December 2, and continues on Wednesdays through the end of March. For those four months, St. Peter’s hosts a dozen of our neighbors, transforming our Parish Hall into a safe, warm place to sleep. Our neighbors will be fed dinner and breakfast and leave early Thursday morning with a sack lunch. As many as 80 of our parishioners participate in this program every year, cooking and serving meals, preparing lunches, setting up beds, doing laundry and staying at the church overnight as chaperones. Please consider volunteering for RITI. There will be a sign up table after church this Sunday. You can also contact St. Peter’s RITI co-coordinators Des Keller (des@dkcommunicationsgroup.com, cell 205-243-6989) or Bert Miano (miano204@gmail.com) or contact the church office at 704-332-7746. Room in the Inn is administered by Urban Ministry Center.

Christmas Tree Sale

Christmas Tree Sale: The Choir School at St. Peter’s offers Christmas trees in a variety of sizes-all fresh from the North Carolina mountains. Trees, from 4 to 10 feet, may be picked up at the lot at 1312 East Boulevard beginning the day after Thanksgiving between 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Learn more online.

Parish Hall Forum

Parish Hall Forum: The topic for Sunday, November 22, is Spiritual Lessons from Spain: The Youth Present at 9:30 a.m. The pilgrim class of 2015 will offer a PowerPoint presentation and share their insights from its summer pilgrimage to Spain. In addition to adults, youth from the Rite 13 class and J2A class will attend.

20s and 30s Formation

20s and 30s Formation: A four-week discussion based on the video series Ed’s Story (http://edsstory.com) continues this Sunday in the Tower Room at 9:30 a.m., with Dan Nelson leading the discussion that touches on issues such as worry, identity, forgiveness, gratitude, healing and, in the midst of challenges, hope.

Children and Youth Offerings

Children and Youth Offerings: Weekly offerings of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for children and Journey to Adulthood for Youth, as well as a nursery, are available for infants through high school, 9:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m. at various places throughout the Parish House.

Evensong

Evensong: The Evensong service at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 22, will be sung by The Choir of Holy Comforter Episcopal Church, Charlotte, NC, under the direction of Dr. Patrick Pope, Organist and Choirmaster. The Holy Comforter Choir spent a week as resident choir at Bristol Cathedral, England, during the summer of 2015 and brings to St. Peter’s some of the repertoire they offered there. Michael Rowland, Organist at Trinity Presbyterian Church, Charlotte, will be the organist. Join us for a beautiful service of choral evensong this Sunday. The officiant will be The Reverend Canon Catherine (Cathie) Caimano, Regional Canon of the Diocese of North Carolina. In keeping with the long-standing custom of the church, incense will be burned during Evensong as part of our corporate worship. Those parishioners with allergies or respiratory issues are invited to attend some other service where incense will not be offered.